Getting back to Arne Duncan’s statement, it seems obvious that no one respects his views—especially legislators who are in bondage to oxymoronic thinking (or perhaps the more apropos term would be—moronic). Otherwise, if their brain cells were actually functioning on “an average level” they would increase budget allocations for education rather than cut them. Giving some states more money has proven that the lack of money is not the problem. The real problems that need addressing are standardized testing that in no way improve test scores. If we want to see an improvement in test scores we need to develop the means to motivate students to want to learn and provide teachers the opportunity to teach, not test. Teachers in classroom across the nation are bombarded with testing which yields no relatable results as to their efforts in the classroom.
Specifically, in Michigan the Detroit Public School system spends money for testing on a monthly and quarterly basis in addition to the State testing. Michigan has the lowest level of literacy across the nation with most only able to read at a fourth-grade level when the student is in high school. However, Michigan’s Tea Party Governor boasts improvement in graduation rates, but does the increase of students graduating mean much when they no reading comprehension skills? We have students who graduated from high school in college settings who do not know how to do simple division—add, subtract, multiply and divide. We cannot even consider their inability to do algebra or higher mathematics. For the record, the federal government and other foundations have poured good money after bad in their attempt to gain a measurable foothold in academics and have failed miserably.
First of all, anyone who wants to teach should know how to teach his or her subject content. Aspiring teachers should be qualified—through coursework and experiences—that demonstrate their ability to get the job done. In Michigan, twenty years ago—teachers were not tested to see what they knew or understand. They only had to complete the coursework to receive a teaching certificate. This is not to say it is the teachers’ fault! I hate people blaming the downward spiral of academic proficiency on the teachers. Educating a student—any student—should be a partnership between parents, teachers, and the community. At this point in our state (and this is probably true for others), there is no partnership because most parents will not engage in the process! Since I do not wish to be redundant in a diatribe against the Michigan School system, I suggest reading my findings in, “If Parents Cared Enough, Johnny and Juaneshia Could Read” available wherever books are sold.
Another foil to keeping academics competitive was the course of action taken by a Superintendent in Detroit who arbitrarily decided that teachers did not need to teach grammar in an English class. What he really meant was that the “black students” did not need to know grammar or they might be able to compete with their counterparts from the suburbs for quality jobs. For the record, I am not a racist; I just call things the way I see them since there was no justification for this course of action. Even with the foolish, not every black person is incapable of using the language appropriately. After all, I am black and have up to this point, demonstrated competency in using Standard American English. Now, twenty years later, the students in Detroit School Systems and in surrounding suburbs do not know how to use Standard American English because some idiot(s) decided it should not be taught. This is why, our students cannot write proficiently. They are reading with an inadequate proficiency level because all the testing does not allow time for them to read anything of substance as part of the “standardized” curriculum.
What education really needs is to get back to basics and leave all the pseudo-reforms in the pit they have dug, along with those who proposed them. How does all this factor into resulting in ravaging politicism? The legislative changes that take place that attempt to be politically correct are digging trenches we may not be able to survive.
How does this factor into the equation? Textbook publishing companies connect with legislators and they climb into the proverbial bed of allegiance with kickbacks to those creating legislation and money for all to enjoy. This is the real reason for the educational gap in measured achievements. What we have as our guiding influence in many areas is a pseudo-façade of anyone caring about the students, but all wanting their share of the till.
Upcoming sections–legislative morality, religious deficits, parenthood, looking forward