A comment from David Warlick’s blog encouraged me to reflect more about “deregulating education.” Here is a copy of my comment post on David’s post and PJ’s comment:
It may sound wishy-washy at this point, but I am not really sure what my opinion on charter schools is. I do support empowering teachers, and to the extent that a charter school does that, it could be a step in the right direction. However, I am very concerned that the legislative push to expand public funding of charters and privates will (and is) directly taking away needed funding from our public school systems. For many students, their only viable choice IS a public school. We have GOT to fight to improve and reform public schools, rather than just throwing up our hands legislatively and saying in effect, “We can’t change public schools, so let’s just support charter/private alternatives.”
The root of this argument is widespread policymaker frustration over the difficulty they continue to have in reforming education. I agree that a BIG problem in our schools today is the inability of administrators to fire teachers who are not doing a good job and should leave the classroom– but because of legal requirements (see the school section of Philip Howard’s website Common Good for more on this) and teacher unions, in most states (even those like Texas with systems supposedly making the process easier) it can be very difficult.
I had a great conversation this past weekend with a college classmate of mine, Tim Kane, who is now an economist at the Heritage Foundation and writes a team blog titled “Right Economy.” Tim’s view on educational reform is typical of many in current US conservative political circles, I think. They contend the only way to reform education and shake it up is to release “market forces” in the educational environment by supporting charters and vouchers.
I do not necessarily agree. Mainly because I think public tax dollars need to go to support our public schools. Tim points to Washington DC as an example of where tons of tax dollars go to support education, but the results are terrible. I am not sure what the solution is there from a government standpoint, but I am convinced more than anything else what students in Washington DC and everywhere else need are passionate, dedicated teachers who care for them and do everything possible to help them learn and succeed.
The motto for the Stanford University College of Education’s STEP program is “Teach to Change the World.” Isn’t that what everyone in education should be doing? Sadly, I don’t think some teachers are. And the hard truth is, those teachers who aren’t need to leave the profession, or be shown the door.
It is so ironic to me to compare the evaluation systems we have for K-12 versus university education here in Lubbock, Texas. At the university level (at Texas Tech, which I am most familiar with,) the only measure of faculty performance is the student evaluation forms that are filled out at the end of each semester. For K-12 teachers, it is the performance of their students on standardized exams that is a primary measuring stick. Why don’t our K-12 students and parents fill out evaluation forms regularly on their teachers? If we value quality, shouldn’t we do that?
Deregulating education is about much more than simply supporting school charters or vouchers. Those are political proposals that are already “out there” and well known. To me, deregulating education is fundamentally about empowering the teacher to teach, to serve his/her students as a creative artist of engaging instruction, rather than some sort of automoton that can spoon feed the prescribed teacher-proof curriculum of the day.
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On this day..
- Evaluating AllGirlArcade.com for my 11 Year Old Daughter - 2011
- Visualizing A Twitter Feed-based Digital Newspaper with Flipboard - 2010
- Using text messaging to prevent school violence (and other crimes) - 2010
- Empowering 21st Century Learners (Canyon ISD, Texas) - 2010
- Geography 2.0: A Juicy Way to Mash Up Learning - 2008
- Education, Learning and Media Megatrends - 2008
- Ecto 3 Alpha released, not recommended - 2007
- Real versus fake learning experiences - 2007
- Great list of open source software tools - 2006
- More cities and towns considering municipal wireless - 2006