Friday, May 16, 2014

The Governor's Grades, Part II (The Travesty Continues)

Quick thoughts on the Morning After:

If student achievement can be shown (albeit in a flawed way) to be so low among high-poverty area schools, the only thing schools can do (since we can't give everyone jobs and health insurance) is change: move away from "education delivery" and toward education empowerment. In other words, create a school system where tests and scores are unheard of.
It is a cruel irony that poorer schools serve areas where the need for services is greater and the $$ is scarce. Michelle Rhee and her band of reformers insist that we stop "making excuses" for the poor performance of high-poverty schools--so they blame the teachers for those test scores.
That's not what I'm doing. We need services that help create stable home environments for kids, and we need to institute an educational philosophy that centers on the interests, strengths, enjoyments of kids. Help them find an identity outside of their SES. Create a system that doesn't show with every grade and assignment that they are the po' folks.
I'm also not saying all poor kids are bad students. In the Cooley Triad of Student Needs, you have to have an adequate income, stable family and an interest in education; all three and you can drop a kid into any school model and he/she will probably succeed. Two and you might do well too. But a stable family is IMHO most critically important. There are also outliers who can transcend their circumstances. I just don't believe in building a system or a philosophy around those outliers.
It takes money. Where do we get it? We shake our heads and grouse about the economy and the impossibly hard situation. But it's not rocket science. Billions upon billions are being spent on those damned standards and the high-stakes tests that enforce them.
Yes, that's where things really get ironic, right? We get an F as a result of the test-driven culture, which makes perfect sense statistically, as we have around 70% poverty according to the free/reduced lunch numbers. And the money that could help us do a better job by those kids is being poured into a system that makes it impossible for them to succeed.
We can change this. If 6% of the kids at our schools opted out of testing, we would get an automatic F. That's like 25 kids at our high school. If we all did that, they'd have to throw out the numbers. 

They'd have to listen.

It's not that far out of our reach.

Join us.

Opt out of the tests. It's legal, and it won't affect your student's academic status. Find out more.