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Feds dangle $4 Billion carrot at schools

July 24, 2009

Is anybody else upset at the latest tactics our Federal government is resorting to in an attempt to get schools to comply with their latest initiative for “fixing” education?

Yesterday’s Washington Post carried an article where, as it describes, the Obama Administration is using $4 Billion in additional funding to “strong-arm the education establishment to accept more charter schools and performance pay for teachers.”

So, last month is was national education standards; this month it’s teacher pay and charter schools (which, BTW, tend to be more-or-less independent from their resident districts, so how would “national standards” work in autonomous charters?).

Am I the only one that is concerned about this unending litany of “solutions” when the establishment has yet to really identify the problem — or more importantly, the CAUSE?

If we can’t — or aren’t willing to — ask, “What problem are we trying to solve?” then how do we expect to come up with a real solution?

What problem are we trying to solve by implementing more charter schools?  Sure, there are many that really do produce better students, have safer environments, and keep parents and teachers happy. But a large number of them fail or see their charters revoked.

Link teacher pay to performance?  How can we do that when a great deal of teacher “performance” is hampered by unruly, disruptive kids who don’t know any better or weren’t taught what they need to succeed in a classroom environment?  Most newbie teachers won’t last long enough to figure out how to survive in the educational jungle, and those that do frequently end up burned out and demoralized.  I don’t know about you, but you can’t pay me enough to stay in a job where I can’t “succeed” or don’t feel like my time is accomplishing anything.

Before we start throwing yet MORE money at the problem, why can’t we step back and take a look at what is really going on. What are the needs of the students, the teachers, the principals and administrators. I’m willing to bet most of them, if you asked, aren’t going to say, “Gee, we should become a CHARTER school.”

However, there seems to be only a limited set of correct answers our government expects. Anything else, and you forfeit $4 Billion.  Sorry…you lose. Or rather, our kids do, which means we ALL do.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. August 6, 2009 3:11 pm

    Good post, and to answer your question: No. You’re not the only one. Here’s my post on the same topic (http://askatechteacher.wordpress.com/2009/07/29/education-week-race-to-top-guidelines-stress-use-of-test-data/).

    So much for the wisdom of ‘Don’t teach to the test’, huh?

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