Current test results for Kentucky's schools have been released, making this an excellent time to rethink and re-evaluate.
On the surface, qualifying public schools to prove tax dollars are wisely spent to produce a future educated generation seems like a great idea.
However, a closer look at the reality of the situation shows an atrocious waste, assuring the loss of opportunities for all Kentucky children, especially for those who are most vulnerable.
The data shows that for the past 10 years, the schools which have been labeled persistently low achieving are consistently in the poorest school districts.
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What the public may not realize is that the current evaluation system is exacerbating the problem rather than alleviating it.
The most financially irresponsible effect of this remnant of "No Child Left Behind" is the grotesque amount of state and federal tax money drained away from the children it is purported to target.
Teachers who are on the front line and see the system for what it is must immediately demand the de-funding of the "education abuse system" and dismantling of the "teacher abuse agencies" that are draining our monetary resources.
The education-abuse system comes in two varieties. Some have opted into the Grover Norquist idea that all taxes are bad and that giving money to educate anyone else's child is socialism. This group is attempting to break up the teachers' union (which is the strongest supporter of public education) and to privatize all schools.
The second variety is simply capitalists who see the opportunity to make a buck by selling tests to show that schools are failing and then selling the hardware, software or new techniques to fix the problems they have diagnosed.
The teacher-abuse agencies are the real traitors — people who were once educators but who left the classroom, unhappy or unsatisfied with the pay or prestige afforded to them as mere teachers.
You will find most of these education specialists clicking their heels or sporting their ties throughout the halls of finely decorated taxpayer-funded office buildings, such as the Kentucky Department of Education or Kentucky Education Development Corporation, developing ways to evaluate those silly teachers who have decided to stay in those neglected classrooms and teach children.
The rest of these can be found in the data rooms of your local low-achieving schools being paid a yearly six-figure salary as "education recovery specialists" to tell teachers what they are doing wrong.
At a total cost of $750,000, Martin County's low-performing school has had two and a half of these for the past three years. Preceding these specialists was a five-year parade of "highly skilled educators." The school has yet to reach proficiency. In fact, very few of Kentucky's low-performing schools have.
This fact seems to beg the question: Where is the evaluation system for these evaluators?
The ultimate disconnect? The NCLB formula weighs most heavily on how schools bring up the "gap groups." These are the children of poverty (free and reduced lunch), minorities and those with special needs.
How much money has poured into industries and agencies that could have been spent to hire more teachers, thus reducing the student/teacher ratio, where it is most needed?
Intensifying the problem, "education specialists" decided that all special-needs students must be mainstreamed within high school classes. Since the law requires that there be an equal number of regular education students, these classes are overloaded, often with 31 to a room.
The teacher's aide may or may not be a certified teacher and may or may not know the content to help teach science, social studies, etc. These aides are shifted from subject to subject each period with no time for planning with any teachers.
Many of the special-needs students have individualized education plans stipulating they need extra time but there is no plan for that opportunity. "Standards-based" grading requires that students who don't meet learning targets be re-taught and retested, but there is no plan for the extra time needed for such individual attention.
Wealthier schools are more likely to have the resources for extra help, lower student to teacher ratio and more qualified teachers. So of course the poorly performing schools are more likely to be high schools in poorer areas.
As the test scores are classified and categorized, might I suggest that the public and their classroom teachers re-evaluate the data in a new, more educated light.