Missouri Education Watchdog
State and national educational policymakers once again illustrate how out of touch they are with taxpayers, parents, teachers and administrators when it comes to crafting more onerous mandates. Instead of education reform, the plans from DESE and the Department of Education will add to the bureaucratic nightmare of public education, creating more harm than true reform.
From the St. Louis Post Dispatch:
An attempt to recalibrate how school districts are rated by the state has triggered a unified uproar among educators and administrators throughout Missouri.
Groups representing teachers, principals and superintendents say they're concerned about a proposal that could double the number of standardized tests issued in public schools, including 10 more exams at the high school level in such courses as chemistry and physics. They don't like a recommendation to report the percentage of each high school's graduates who earn college degrees within three or six years, particularly if it means school administrators have to do the tracking.
While they say they agree with (Commissioner) Nicastro's goal, they oppose more testing and more tracking. State exams in chemistry and physics, they argue, would push schools to require students to take these courses, when there aren't enough science teachers to educate them. The groups also question who would pay for the additional tests, who would be responsible for tracking high school graduates through college, and whether expecting all students to take chemistry and physics exams is the same as the state dictating that every student take higher level science.
The increased tracking of students at the district levels is time-consuming and costly. At a time when Missouri (and other states) are having education budget cuts, how can these goals be accomplished? It's not only a concern at the state level, but national level as well. Arne Duncan is under increased scrutiny for the mandates he wants for education:
Frustrated by what he called a "slow motion train wreck" for U.S. schools, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said he will give schools relief from federal mandates under the No Child Left Behind law if Congress drags its feet on the law's long-awaited overhaul and reauthorization. (Grumpy emphasis and red, think Obamacare waivers)
Duncan has warned that 82 percent of U.S. schools could be labeled failures next year if No Child Left Behind isn't changed. Education experts have questioned that estimate.
Still, no one thinks states will meet the law's goal of having 100 percent of students proficient in math and reading by 2014. A school that fails to meet targets for several consecutive years faces sanctions that can include firing teachers or closing the school entirely.
Duncan said he's encouraged by talks with federal lawmakers in recent weeks indicating the law might see revisions this year. But he said he wants a backup plan in case that doesn't happen.
"We can't afford to do nothing," he said. (Emphasis added)
Reading the comments from the readers, superintendents, administrators and teachers on these mandates from DESE and the Federal government, it seems as if the vast majority of them believe it would actually be best for education reform if the governmental bureaucrats did nothing. It would be preferable to them if no action was undertaken, the "slow motion train wreck" occurred, and the authority to education students was left to the local districts.
Here is a reader's comment from the msnbc.com site: