Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Let's DO something with all that money

Let's DO something with all that money

Lots of chatter about the Kirwan Commission and how much money it will cost, how much good it will do and whether or not we can afford it.  Let’s get rid of the first bug-a-boo, whether or not we can afford it.   Maryland is one of the richest states in the country with, by some surveys, the highest per capita income in the country.   The more relevant question is should we afford it.  Is this the best use of billions!, yes with a B, of dollars.   Just because we can afford it does not mean we should afford it.
The results are in for the national testing of reading and math.  Once again Maryland’s results are down.    Of course, the advocates for Kirwan were all over it, proving without a doubt the necessity of funding Kirwan.  What is odd about this conclusion is that the test scores used to be higher and the funding was much lower.  Seems to me that could be an argument for lowering funding LOL.
I am not advocating for that, but I do not think the expenditure of the money Kirwan is recommending is going to improve education, yet alone test scores.
Kirwan recommends spending more money on teachers’ salaries, bringing starting salaries to 60K.   Maryland already has one of the largest median salaries for teachers in the nation.    There has never been any evidence that paying a bad teacher or a mediocre teacher more money will make her an excellent teacher.   Yet we keep insisting on doing that.    The elephant in the room is the union.  No one wants to admit in this union addicted state that it is the union which assures that weak teachers get to stay on the job.    And it also assures that there can be no differentiation of staffing so everyone is a teacher or an administrator.
If we are going to spend this kind of money on education then let’s do something dramatic and bold.   Let's dramatically re-align and re-assign what the people in school buildings do.   Let's raise the salaries of the stars, lower the salaries of the bottom of the barrel and use any money we save to hire social workers and community workers.  Let's help teenage and lower socio-economic mothers learn how to parent.  Let's have school libraries open into the evening for family activities and food.  Let's put school employed community action workers into the community to help parents enrich the experiences of kids and teach everyone the value of an education.   A parent cannot read to his/her child if he or she can't read or if he or she is working two or three jobs just to survive.  Schools do not exist in a bubble.
The so-called “Independent Oversight Board” is just another expensive way to layer bureaucracy on top of bureaucracy.   If the Board is needed because MSDE and the State Board of Education are not doing their jobs, then fix that.   Don’t just add another layer so no one knows who is in charge and the dance of the lemons can just dance to a faster beat.  A chunk of money will be paid to the members of the Board, plus, of course, they will need physical facilities and support staff that take more money.  
The education system is limping along.   Throwing money at it will not fix the problems.   Nor will the contradictory approaches of paying teachers more (supposedly to increase the attractiveness of the profession) and making it more difficult to get into the profession so there will be better teachers. 
With the kind of money Kirwan wants the citizens of Maryland to spend, Maryland could actually create a new and exciting system instead of throwing money at trying to patch this one.

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