Sunday, September 25, 2011

War on Public Education Rages.

There is no doubt in my mind that, especially since their 2007 defeat by public referendum, the Utah State Legislature has been waging a war against public education.  There are more than enough rumors of legislators referring to “starving the beast” of public ed. for them to be believable.  Especially in view of legislation passes since then, and three bills that most likely will be put on the floor during the 2012 legislative session.

  1. Public High Schools will be charged for remedial courses their students are required to take in college.
  2. Amend the Utah Constitution to give the Governor direct control over Public Education.
  3. Require failing schools to be dismantled and put out to private contractors.

I’ve been at 6 different schools, from the upper income east side to lower income inner city schools.  The majority of the teachers I know are doing their damnedest to educate their students with the largest class sizes and lowest per-pupil funding in the nation.  I do agree that the reforms of the last couple decades were necessary to help bring education into the 21st century, and education in general needs to continue being required to adapt to the changing face of our society.  But since George W first introduced the No Child Left Behind concept, the silence regarding parental and student responsibility has been deafening.  Here’s my comments on these three pieces of legislation:

  1. And the student is not the least bit responsible?  A motivated student will learn even if they have a bad teacher, a student determined to fail will fail despite a great teacher.  Success in school depends on a trifecta: Students, parents and teachers.  This legislation puts absolutely no responsibility on either the student or the parents.
  2. Uh.  Hm.  Let’s not leave the running of education in the hands of people elected (despite being hand-picked by the Governor) for the sole purpose of making decisions for education.  Nah, let’s put that power in the hands of a single person, whose responsibility includes the entirety of the State Government.
  3. This is my favorite one.  If a school fails, let’s fire everyone responsible for it’s failure.  Oh, wait.  The students are responsible too (see #1).  And what about the parents who can’t, or won’t, help or even expect their student to succeed in school.  (YES, that does happen).

I had a 9th grade student at an inner city school that just about fell asleep in class.  I asked him about it and he told me that he was out late working.  He told me that, in addition to school, he worked about 30 hours a week.  I made a comment about how great it must be to have all that money to spend.  He looked at me and said “Nah, I have to pay the rent.”

How can I compete with that?

I will bet an entire month’s paycheck on two things if this privatization of “failing” schools passes.

  1. No private school can improve the scores of students if they are required to do it with the exact same clientele and money per student.
  2. Somehow, miraculously, the Utah State Legislature will find a way to improve education funding, helping line the pockets of their cronies in the private education business.

I love my job, can’t imagine doing anything else right now.  But with each and every attack on my profession (and I do not view every change or criticism as an attack, there is a lot I agree with) managing a Chevron is looking better and better.


Lisa Shafer said...

And you wonder why I'm trying (however feebly to begin with) to make a second career in writing books?

Max said...

Don't blame ya. And you know I'm rooting for ya.

Lisa Shafer said...

You could go over to my page at amazon and click the "like" button and click that you like each review there. That would help.
In fact, any of your readers who wish to be helpful could do the same. (They can also BUY the book if they really feel generous. *hint, hint*)
Here's the link:

Max said...

Here's a quick link for those of you who are interested.

Lisa Shafer said...

You are awesome. :)