blogged/reblogged by former LAUSD principal and principal’s union mucky-muck Dan Basalone, retired but not retiring in the Boise suburbs:
Here is the latest post on ThomasPaineLives regarding public education. Comments welcomed | http://bit.ly/OYA9EW
Monday Aug 6th :: For the past twenty years in the United States, public education has been vilified and reformed. Unfortunately, the vilification has been based on one size fits all standardized test data using tests that by their very nature do not allow more than 50% of the test takers to be highly successful. This skewed test data has then been used to justify the establishment of state and federal test standards that are impossible to attain. So called reform then further exacerbates teaching and learning by using the carrot and stick approach to public school funding. So, we now have a situation created by political reformers where the one size fits all standards approach created by politicians is used to compare school districts, individual schools and now individual classroom teachers and most unfortunately individual students. The United States has always had a gatekeeper mentality when it comes to educational success because our colleges and universities through their restrictive entrance requirements dictate who gets in or doesn't get into their schools, especially the most prestigious schools. For over 50 years until the politicizing of education in the 1990's, educators believed in comprehensive high schools where students could take college preparatory courses or get a degree that could lead to a technical specialty such as auto mechanics. We also had a community college system that allowed a student after high school regardless of level of success or interest to pursue a college degree of their choosing. Of course, this was all done when funding was basically from local property taxes with most decisions made by local boards of education. When funding switched to the state and federal levels primarily, state and federal politicians started dictating every aspect of education and made the local boards relatively meaningless. The state and federal mandates were compounded by grossly underfunding the very mandates that were imposed. While recognizing that their were funding inequities between rich and poor districts by use of local property tax revenue; by not supplementing the underfunded districts by the state instead of outright state control of education, we lost local control. So, what is the solution to educational dysfunction? How about returning local control to individual school districts by having federal and state governments allowing local school districts to allocate funds without mandated restrictions? How about allowing school districts to develop pre and post course and grade level tests that truly test what is being taught in classrooms instead of using standardized instruments that condemn 50% of the students to failure by their very nature? How about funding true comprehensive high schools so that we can train plumbers and electricians as well as college entrance students? How about establishing meaningful teacher evaluation systems that recognize that teaching challenges vary from classroom to classroom? How about recognizing that public schools are the backbone of our democracy and as such should be praised and not vilified? How about bringing control of public schools back to every community in this country by allowing their elected Boards to truly make decisions based on the Constitutional guarantees of fairness for all students? Isn't this just common sense?
Hope that everyone is having a most enjoyable summer.
Best wishes always,