I’m Confused. Are You Confused, Too?

03/17/2010
Mental confusion
Confusion by Adi Ron (2005) Image via Wikipedia

I’m confused.

I’m very confused.

For the past ten years or so schools have been working hard to raise the levels of student learning, at least as far as that learning can be demonstrated on a standardized test.

Then the other day the current President, the one whose campaign byword was ‘change,’ came out with his education plan that didn’t change the emphasis on standardized testing.

On the plus side, Mr. Obama’s plan does allow students to demonstrate learning gains in subjects other than English and Math.

That makes me anticipate standardized tests in science, social studies, music, art and physical education.

Oh, wait. Music, art and physical education were all cut to leave room for extra math and English language arts instruction.

Schools added math and language arts teachers to help raise student levels on the tests in those areas.

I think those teachers worked very hard, but others say teachers are a bunch of lazy bums who take two month vacations and spend the rest of the year eating baked goods in the teachers’ lounge, grousing about students and the administration between bites.

Many people are saying that. Newsweek Magazine is saying that. It must be true.

But that’s not what confuses me.

I’m confused by these two news stories:

Obama to governors: Raise education standards

and…

Some U-46 schools see culture destroyed by layoffs

In the first, the President told state governors that improving schools will “require more than new standards.”
“It’s going to require better teaching, better curriculum. It’s going to require better assessments,”

He went on: “So we are calling for a redesigned elementary and secondary education act that better aligns the federal education approach to your state-led efforts while offering you the support that you need.”

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

But the second story tells how the U-46 school district in Elgin, IL is laying off 1,037 staffers, 732 of them teachers, due to anticipated cuts in state aid.

Similar cuts, and resulting layoffs are occurring in districts across the country.

Am I the only one who sees a disconnect here?

One hand is holding a speech saying we want students to learn more while the other hand is giving out pink slips to the teachers who help students accomplish that.

This is not about firing bad teachers.

This is about eliminating bilingual departments, raising class sizes, and destroying student support networks.

A lot of those cut will be the math and language arts teachers added to help raise student levels. Go figure.

“All of us have had a chance to have teachers that have inspired them to be so much better, do so much more,” Elgin High junior Kathy McCain told the school board Monday. “A lot of that will be gone next year.”

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