All Hat NO Cattle
America needs students to achieve more! That is why we have instituted an extensive testing program to make sure that our kids are getting more and better education. Everyone knows that more testing with greater consequences for teachers whose students do not test well will improve outcomes for our students. Not happening but we are still true believers Even though institutions of higher ed report as many freshman as before testing needing remedial coursework. As Americans we care greatly about better outcomes for our kids- all of our kids, that is why we want vouchers so poor kids can have better choices. Such wonderful words! Sorry but that is all they are is words. Let’s look at the action.
There is the great state of Oklahoma. Citizens of that wonderful state pay their teachers among the least in the country. Teachers with a master’s degree and 20 years of teaching are earning in the mid-forties. Taxpayers have refused to increase taxes for schools. So what is a school system to do? Simple, reduce the days in school to four a week instead of five. That way the system can still get some people to teach there because they get paid the same amount of money for 4 days that they were paid for 5. How does the school system save money when teachers' salaries make up by far the largest share of the budget? The systems save on fuel for the busses and utilities for the buildings. As one superintendent put it, “I can’t remember the last time we talked about what is good for kids, rather than how to save money.”
Then there is the District of Columbia schools. In some schools in the District as many as 25% of the teachers have quit mid-year. The teachers know this behavior is bad for kids but they feel they have no other choice. One young new teacher quit in January. She has a degree in math from Tulane University. School started in late August. By September she knew she was having trouble with behavior management. She asked the administration for help. No help came. By January she couldn’t take it anymore and resigned. With the proper support she might have been a great teacher. The DCPS admit that some schools are using anyone who is upright and breathing to staff classes. The students say they are passing courses for classes they never attend.
U.S. Secretary DeVos tells us she is going to solve all that by giving vouchers to students so kids who go to bad schools can use a voucher to go to a private, presumably, better school. But the experience in Indiana, a state that has used vouchers extensively, shows that most of the vouchers are NOT going to public school students but to students who have always attended private school at parental expense. So now we will be providing discount coupons for the wealthy while still denying the lower socio-economic kids. Now that shows how much we value a good education for all the children.
Maybe if we talked less about how much we want to improve education and did more, our children might get the education they deserve. All talk no action. All hat no cattle.