Written on Feb. 23:
We have some tough issues in education right now, and as a conservative, Christian, union member, Tea Party member, public school teacher, I find myself torn on many of the issues. But what makes me really angry is that it doesn’t seem like anyone is willing to sit down and have an honest, adult conversation about it. Instead, it seems like everyone just wants to throw fits and use dirty tactics to get whatever they want. For example, the teachers in Milwaukee who got the fake doctor statements so that they could miss work and protest, forcing schools to close and, as Megyn Kelly points out, forcing parents to pay extra in childcare because school wasn’t in session. Watch it here.
Then there are the Democrats who skipped work and left Wisconsin to go to Illinois to avoid voting on these issues. And if that’s not bad enough, the Indiana Democrats have decided to join them in Illinois. Grow up, people!
There are different teacher union rallies taking place each day throughout the state, and there’s a big one planned for the state house on March 5. And now the Tea Party is planning a rally for the state house tomorrow, demanding that Democrats get back to work. I feel like the last thing we need is more rallies, but what choice does the Tea Party have at this point? And here I find myself torn right down the middle. I think a lot of the legislation itself is just ridiculous. I can see and understand both sides of the argument, but I feel like most of the proposed “solutions” are the wrong solutions. It’s like this: I feel like Republicans are trying really hard to solve some real problems, but the ideas they’re coming up with are not the best ideas (I’ll talk more on this in a later post). They sound really great in theory but will fail horribly in practice. That’s why our law-makers need to go to work, sit down together, listen to each other and the people they represent, take their time, and settle this like adults—with open minds and no interruptions. That’s the only way anything is going to get accomplished.
As for the unions, the issue is this, plain and simple: the unions have way too much power that they abuse, and they’re out of control. And I can’t wait until I get the chance to drop my membership. I’m getting out, and I plan to take with me as many as I can. With that said, Republicans need to listen to school teachers, get out in the schools, do some real qualitative (not quantitative) research, and decide how to really solve the problems, and I can tell you right now that the solutions are not going to come in the form of standardized tests or evaluating teachers based on student scores. Anyone who steps into a public school for any length of time will see how ludicrous that is.
There’s an interesting blog post I came across that sums things up pretty well.
If schools are data-driven, they might make decisions like keeping students who are “borderline” between algebra and a higher-level of math in algebra so that they do well in the algebra state test. Or, in English, teachers might focus a lot of energy on teaching a “strand” that is heavy on the tests — even though it might not help the student become a life-long reader. In other words, the school can tend to focus on its institutional self-interest instead of what’s best for the students.
In schools that are data-informed, test results are just one more piece of information that can be helpful in determining future directions.
I’ve actually witnessed this firsthand and, one of these days if I get the time, will explain.