Third Party & Independents Archives

A Reasonable Dosage of Rigor

The fact that House Republicans had to call recess on their education bill is yet another reminder of how thorny an issue education has become. The House’s attempt to update George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind ran into conservative opposition over issues of state and local control over education. But the issue goes far beyond that. The role of public education, especially since Common Core appeared on the scene, is now a big question mark and one that elicits a multitude of responses. Progressives and Liberals want more money with more regulatory strings attached - all of it going through the federal government before actually reaching the states - to ensure that gaps in education results are filled. Conservatives want the freedom to choose flexible solutions, including charter schools, to try and improve student performances, both within America and in comparison to other developed countries. And some raging moms want to bury their heads in the sand and pretend that their children do not face a far different world, a more demanding one that requires more skills in everything from language to science and math and computing, than they ever did.

What is clear is that the current system is not working. The gaps remain within America and with it's fellow OECD members. And the unsettling reality is that many public schools seem unable to solve their own students' under performance. Should states be allowed to let failing public schools be replaced by charter schools, with federal money flowing out of the traditional public school system into private schools? And what is in fact is a private school that is subsidized by the feds? Further, Common Core seems to have worsened the clash of values by layering political goals, like diversity and inclusiveness over results, on top of what originally was a plan to improve math and science scores for high school students. But education has always been a policy-wonk magnet and straightforward solutions get lost in the web of conflicting goals that are stitched together by ambitious bureaucrats in Washington D.C. and advised by education experts who are now faced with the huge problem of how to educate recent immigrant students. With many if not most illegals, and most if not all of them possessing severely limited English skills.

In other words, the problems are as much outside the classrooms as inside the schools themselves. It has never been easy to rise out of poverty in America, but it has always been possible for those who strive and persist, unlike almost any other society on this planet. It has never been sweat-free to assimilate into American society, despite its generosity, nor should it be. It will not be easy for immigrant and poorer students to improve their results, nor should it be. More flexibility and less hand-holding seem to be in order. And always understanding that you can never guarantee results, even as you ensure students are tested fairly and with a reasonable dosage of rigor.

Posted by AllardK at March 2, 2015 8:34 PM
Comment #390349

“What is clear is that the current system is not working.”

Thanks for the post Allard

Education will continue to fail as long as we continue to place the well being of teacher unions and Washington Bureaucratic regulation over students.

I have used this example numerous times. In California the “Teacher of the Year” in her district, got a pink slip because of budget cuts and her lack of seniority.

It was state law that gave her the axe. The legislature considers the union money funding their election as paramount over the education of their children by the best teachers.

In jobs controlled by unions, seniority always prevails over competency and performance.

I wonder if my liberal friends would prefer to have their brain surgery performed by the surgeon with the highest seniority or by the surgeon with the highest rate of survival and cure.

Posted by: Royal Flush at March 3, 2015 2:53 PM
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