Saturday, May 23, 2015

Will Common Core education standards leave more children behind?

Common Core (CC) is just the latest in Federal intrusion into education, but promises to be just as ineffectual as it's predecessors. Even with Jeb Bush as it's top salesman this year, its unpopularity is increasing. Common Core may be the undoing of the Bush candidacy. The big bucks supporting CC nor the cash supporting Bush can provide any salvation to this wayward over reach from the Feds.

Education is a responsibility for the states, not the Federal government.

My house is full of educators (well, there are two of us), and you won't find much love for the ways that the US educational system has been run here. But it is a complex problem.
  1. Kids can't learn if they are hungry.
  2. All kids in the US should be able to get a good education.
  3. Bad teachers should be fired; good teachers should be rewarded.
  4. Corporations should not be allowed to make money off of the educational system.
Of course, the devil is in the details. No, wait, god is in the details. In any event, the details matter. The Federal government could help in a number of ways. First, they can help spread the costs of the educational system over the entire population. It wouldn't be fair if California and New York students got a better education simply because there were more people available to pay for it. And a good educational system costs money. 

But how do you determine whether a teacher is good or bad? Using testing for this purpose is not the way. I just watched a great French movie with my 15-year old daughter called "The Chorus." The story is about a school for troubled boys, and the triumph of a teacher who uses music to bond with the students, and give them a reason to not hate their lives. But teachers can't just be passionate---they also have to be able to teach. Learning is a philosophy of life, and teachers need to be able to impart that desire and process to the students.

There is a general anti-intellectual mood in this country today. We don't value teachers, and we don't value education.

Although some money is needed for a quality educational system, the question is how much. When the recession was just getting started, Mitch Daniels, who was then governor of Indiana, cut the education budget. This was based on necessity, not politics. However, during the next two years, all of the markers used to score the quality of education improved in the state. Higher test scores, more kids graduating, better satisfaction from parents, and every other measure you might look at; They all improved. Less money in education equaled a better educational system. In other words, more spending does not equal better outcomes, smart spending does.

Necessity not politics? That sounds like a false dichotomy. Couldn't they raise taxes, and then there would be enough money?

I'd like to see a study suggesting that spending less money on education improved anything. I don't believe any causal effect could be possible.

You can't raise taxes when the economy is crashing around you. It was the loss of jobs and the loss of tax revenue that forces these decisions. Illinois raised their taxes to cover their losses, instead of cutting expenditures, and now they're on the verge of financial collapse.

Cutting spending doesn't necessarily improve education, but it is true that education can improve even if spending is cut. Spending does not equal education improvements. Some of the biggest spending districts in the country (per student) have the worst educational outcomes.

At the same time we cut spending, Indiana instigated the largest charter program in the country. By encouraging competition, and providing parents some choices, quality improved.

As to good and bad teachers, there are some who are more capable in every field and every job market.

I think a lot of "bad" teachers would be better if they only had 10 - 12 kids in their classrooms, rather than 30 - 40. Hiring more teachers does cost more money. If there is to be an increase in spending, that is where I feel the money needs to go.

I agree that smaller class size can help.

But I'm not too keen on spending Hoosier dollars for failed educational programs in other states. Every state has the duty to provide education to its own students in their own Constitutions. No where in the US Constitution is education in any form listed as a prerogative of the Federal government. It is helpful for the DOE to collect data and pass it on, so states know how they compare to other states, and to the rest of the world, but nothing else.  The problem is they have tied this information to money. Any teacher will tell you they hate "teaching to the test", and yet when finances are tied to testing, that is what you get. All states would be better off funding their own educational policies, and leave the Feds out. It would save us all a ton of tax dollars, too, if the DOE ceased it current over reach.

Would your opinion change if you lived in a state that couldn't afford to educate its own kids? I want every child in the country to have a good education. Actually, I'd like every child in the world to have a good education.

I'd move.

I would assume your answer should be for those states that need more money to tax their citizens to pay for their own children's educations. Why rely on the federal government to take money from citizens in one state, and distribute it to a state that is failing it's citizens. Then, people can choose where they want to live. Again, Illinois and California are examples. Bad spending policies have put them into devastating debt, despite having more resources than other states. They've raised taxes, and people and businesses are leaving.

Common Core is only the most recent attempt for the Federal government to completely take over American Education. And it's a mistake.

If the Federal government can help raise the bar in education, I'm all for it. The problem is that the Common Core doesn't. I'd be in favor of a national program to actually help.

Then we agree. There should be no national programs that aren't proven to help the problems they are addressing. And we should eliminate all of the ones that don't.

Whew, it's about time you came around…..

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