Wednesday, January 27, 2016
Education Deformer Pursuit Of The Holy Grail.
Since the turn of the century, education deformers have been in pursuit of the "holy grail" that would make every American student academically proficient. This futile search for education excellence has been met with disappointment, frustration, and failure as all their attempts to improve education has made it worse instead as they ignore the root cause of the problem..
First, there was no child left behind that required all schools and their cohorts meet academic standards by 2014. Over the years many states obtained waivers, like not hiring "highly qualified teachers" and carving out exemptions for different cohorts of students. Then there was the Bill Gates pushed small schools initiative that claimed small schools that replaced large schools help students. Once the playing field was leveled, (take a look at the Bronx) even Bill Gates realized that small schools were not the answer. Next, were the charter schools, surely the charter schools freed from union regulations was the answer. Innovative teaching and the ability to impose strict discipline will allow for academic achievement. However, most charter schools became test prep factories and failed to provide a stable teaching staff as teacher turnover hurt the very student academic achievement they were trying to achieve. Moreover, in the few successful charter schools like "Success Academy" , those schools found ways to suspend struggling students, not promote them, and make life miserable for their parents until the student was removed from the school. Even, the biggest supporters of charter schools are slowly realizing this model does not work,
Bill Gates, then spent his billions to push for a teacher evaluation system, making teachers accountable for student growth scores. Encouraged by the Obama Administration who dangled billions of federal dollars to the states during the depth of the recession, 47 states jumped at the money, called "Race To The Top"with many of the largest teacher unions supporting it. It mattered little that most teachers were dead set against such an unfair teacher evaluation system but it was much needed money. Furthermore, despite a study that shows teachers account for between 1% (high school) to 14% (K-2) of a student's academic growth, some states like New York requires student growth scores to be an astonishing 50% of a teacher's evaluation! Now, many States are rapidly retreating or eliminating their teacher evaluation systems as being punitive (Danielson) and riddled with errors (junk Science). However, the damage has been done with a teacher shortages spreading throughout the country and fewer qualified individuals willing to be disrespected and abused by electing to become a classroom teacher.
Finally, the newest idea that ed deformers are picking up on is "blended learning" that is a combination of classroom and online courses. However, experience has found that "blended learning" has not lived up to its promise and many school districts, including New York City, are using it to eliminate teaching positions to save money and use it as a "credit recovery course" . Unfortunately, the use of "blended learning" is already morphing into just another way for struggling students ti get easy credits.
Will the education deformer world find the "holy grail" for that great education? Not very likely unless they solve the social-economic factors of family, poverty, and community first and then spend the funds needed to reduce class sizes and provide quality teachers to the schools. Unfortunately, that's the ed deformer blind spot on what's really needed to improve student academic outcomes.