If you ask most parents you’ll find that they are happy with how well their child’s school is doing. Research data shows that a majority of citizens support their public schools and school districts, and view public schools as vital to their child’s future. (1) It is the corporate media and corporate “reformers” like the American Federation for Children, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Better Education for Kids (B4K), the Center for Education Reform, Education Reform Now, and on ad-nauseum…that bash community supported public schools, their outstanding performance records, and dedicated teachers. (2) These reforms are not for the benefit of children but for the profit of a few. Since the Clinton presidency our nation has seen the largest privatization efforts to take away public and local control of our schools to private corporations and federal control.
Our schools actually do well preparing students for life after high school. Schools are a microcosm of our society and reflect the values and culture of a community. The public schools that teach and nurture our children are being slowly dismantled and shut down because the federal government begins to impose punitive rules on our public schools for not meeting standards at one-hundred percent. Between President Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) and Obama’s Race to the Top Act public schools have seen good teachers fired or had their contracts non-renewed; class sizes double; and public schools closed for not meeting state standards imposed by the feds to compete for government funding dollars.
Barack Obama’s Race to the Top Act is the first time in United States history that the states and public schools have had to compete for dollars than funding schools based on the number of children that fall into poverty and in need of more instructional time. (3) Instead, Obama’s law created an environment of hyper-competition between states and school districts to grab up the meager federal dollars set-aside for our children’s education. States and schools districts now spend over a third of public tax dollars on consultants, software, staff development, grant writers, and standardized tests. (4) Our tax dollars are better spent on classroom instruction, hiring highly qualified teachers, assessing the whole-child, authentic assessments or portfolio assessments, helping poor parents access schools through parent engagement, teacher preparation, and reducing class size.
Both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party have gulped down the “privatization punch” so toxic to education reform and even more toxic to our children’s ability to succeed in schooling. Both political parties are making education reform decisions that are neither research based nor properly tested. The Common Core and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) tests have not been thoroughly tested to show academic improvement. Certainly the PARCC test was piloted, software readied and purchased at great cost to the Colorado taxpayer, but it has never been shown to show improved academic achievement. In fact, none of the standardization that has occurred over the past three decades has shown improved academic achievement. Instead, what it has done is create a multi-billion dollar industry for tests, test prep materials, consultants, consulting companies, for-profit charter operators, and charter school companies. All at taxpayer expense!
The people of Adams County and the state of Colorado are paying a large amount of money for very little return.
The “reforms” Adams County residents are paying for are costly and take up valuable instructional time from our children who could be experiencing a progressive, holistic education instead of preparing for standardized tests using an untested standardized core curriculum.
Education reforms that are cost-efficient, authentic, and research based are portfolio assessments; increased parent engagement; proportional teacher tuition and career pre-assessments; mentorship for new teachers; and teacher/site-based curriculum and instructional reform. Portfolio Assessments are the gathered evidence and student product of learning in a set period of time. I will discuss portfolio assessments in Part 4. Increased parent engagement will be covered in Part 5 is the inclusion of parents in the school decision-making process and the training of parents for communication between themselves and their schools or teachers. Part six of this blog subject on education reform will explain the advantages and research data on charging teachers lower tuition rates and pre-assessing a teacher’s readiness or skill toward a successful career in education. The Part 6 explains how mentorship for new teachers benefit students, teacher longevity and the taxpayer’s wallet. Part 7 is about site-based curriculum and instructional reform. Parts 8, 9, and 10 will deal with Charter Schools, Unscientific and non-Researched Based Curriculum, and Adams County Citizen Action toward School Reform.
2.) Ravitch, Diane (2013), Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools, ‘The context for Corporate Reform, ‘ Chapter 2, Pg. 21, Alfed A. Knopf, New York.
3.) Ibid., Pg. 17
4.) Brown, Jennifer, “Cost Doesn’t Spell Success for Colorado Schools Using Consultants to Improve Achievement,” Denver Post, February 19, 2012.