Thursday, December 31, 2009

Washington again thinks it knows best for our schools

Notice the first word here. Washington. Not Obama. The reason is that Bush gave us "No Child Left Behind" and Obama is just building on what Bush did. It's "more of the same" and that's not a good thing when it comes to the federal government's propensity to micromanage things. We elect school boards. As much as I can be a critic at times of the boards, I can at least say they are OUR boards. We shouldn't have Washington, or even Lansing micromanage things. Both parties have a problem there. It was the GOP that took over Detroit schools. Yes, they suck outside of  Cass Tech, Renaissance, and maybe one or two others, but that is the choice the voters there made when they elected school board members. It's the Detroit schools, not the suburban schools. Suburban schools don't want Detroiters running their schools. Detroiters don't want suburbanites running their schools. Livingston County doesn't want either running theirs. Nobody wants the feds running theirs.....but the legislature wants their money that isn't there.

From the Argus:

n late December, the state Legislature approved a series of education reforms required to be considered for the funding, known as the Race to the Top competition........
Some of the provisions in the legislation — expected to be signed Monday by Gov. Jennifer Granholm — include:

  • Identifying the state's lowest-achieving 5 percent of public schools and placing them under the supervision of a state office.

  • Raising the legal age to leave school from 16 to 18.

  • Tying teacher evaluation to student performance.

  • Allowing flexibility in the state-mandated high school curriculum.

  • Allowing the appointment of a chief executive officer for multiple schools.

  • Allowing creation of up to 10 new charter schools.

  • Creating a process to grant interim teaching certificates.

  • Addressing the points.
    1. Supervision.'s that going to be much different than the takeovers?
    2. Sounds great, but keeping people who don't want to be there for two years isn't going to help.
    3. What's considered "student performance?" MEAP? MEAP's a joke. ACT scores would be a good measurement.
    4. This I can agree with. The curriculum requirements are too rigid.
    5. I need to see the details here, but I think consolidation is something to look at, so I lean in favor of this.
    6. More competition the better.
    7. Don't know enough about that to have a solid opinion.

    More from the Argus.

    Raising the dropout age to 18 could force schools to repeat
    failing efforts to educate children at the current legal dropout age, said Janet Sifferman, superintendent of Hartland Consolidated Schools.
    If nothing else, the state would have to fund schooling for would-be dropouts for another two years, she added.
    "I would hope that districts would be able to find out how to provide some alternative forms of education for these kids. You can't keep doing the same things that cause them to fail," she said.

    That's true. Does is help dropouts by forcing them to stay where they don't want to be. Let's be honest. It's not A or B students that drop out. If students are failing in classrooms and have 1.0 averages, and don't want to be there, why keep them there, in the same situations. Everyone has talent in something, and sometimes it's not the classroom. If the 18 year mandate is required, then there better be more opportunities for skilled trades and non-traditional skills.

    Now the problem these days is that a HS diploma isn't a gold standard, and even a bachelor's degree outside of something like engineering is a dime a dozen these days. Part of this so-called diversifying the economy means throwing manufacturing under the bus. Even skilled trades. Why learn new stuff when it's going to China or India in 10 years (Dot-coms). This is yet another reason why we need to get a handle on outsourcing. When it comes to outsourcing, Ross Perot and Pat Buchanan were right.

    This here got my guard up even more:

    Sifferman said school officials didn't have time to review or digest information in the legislation before they were asked to sign the agreements.

    She said she was stymied in mid-December when questioned by the district's school board about the document.

    I really couldn't answer their questions. It was very unclear what we were signing," Sifferman said.
    "It's gone way too fast," she added.

    We had a contentious debate awhile back when I was on the Livingston County GOP board over one particular issue long past. One guy said to all of us something that stuck with me. "When you rush, you're wrong.' Looking back, the issue could have been handled better than it was by all sides. The advice can apply here too. Did they sign it? Did they sign it without reading? This reminds me of Howell Schools and the Breiner contract. I hope they did read it, and knowing Hartland schools, they probably did.

    Heads up. These could be some expensive strings attached.

    1 comment:

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