Friday, April 2, 2010

Learnin' Smarter

It's Education Week for Cathy McMorris Rodgers and she's got it all figured out.

As Congress considers education reform, my three goals are:

1. Help each child achieve his or her full and unique potential
2. Give students the tools and knowledge to succeed in the 21st century
3. Ensure America’s educational system is the best in the world

To achieve these goals, several actions must be taken. First, we have to accurately measure the results that are being achieved in each school.

Second, administrators must have the authority to hire and fire teachers along with the flexibility to set their salaries.

Finally, we must encourage the growth of charter schools and voucher programs to provide real, immediate, alternatives to students in failing public schools.

Perhaps she is anticipating more failed public schools once they receive their new textbooks.


Anonymous said...

What's your point?

"We cannot afford to have our children dropping out or graduating without adequate preparation for college or work. It isn’t fair to them. And it leaves our businesses unable to compete against educated workers across the globe."

She states a valid concern, lists reasonable goals and provides a solid action plan to achieve those goals.

The textbook comment is not relevant.

Do you have a better plan to reform education?

Anonymous said...

anonymous, are charter schools and vouchers the answer? Who will decide what is taught at some of these schools. I am not opposed per se but I sure don't want my taxes spent on textbooks that revise history and lie to our youth. Some on the right would love to indoctrinate our youth while they say communists are educating our youth in public schools. I'm tired of it. Ms. McMorris Rodgers needs to look at helping our public schools and not siphoning money from them. We need to support ALL our children, not just a chosen few.

Anonymous said...

rosehips. Putting aside your clear emotional disapproval of anything republican, the question still stands.

Do you have a better plan to reform education?

So far, I have only only read a partisan disapproval of Mrs. Rodgers clearly stated concern, goals and action plan. (I will readily admit I support her position.)

However, any criticism of a position should be followed up with a valid solution. Otherwise, it is just bad mouthing a view in contrast to yours and serves no useful purpose in an open and honest debate.

Also, with all due respect, here is the reason the textbook issue is not relevant. It pertains to the Texas Board of Education. If I am not mistaken, Washington state is not a part of the Texas education system.

Anonymous said...

anonymous, I do not really have to offer a better solution in order to criticize something. I can condemn what they do in Texas and know that there are many who would like to do the same here.

I have worked in education, so I have some knowledge of what works and doesn't. I have opinions. I don't necessarily feel that expressing them will do any good, so why waste breathe?

Hank Greer said...


After pondering this for a bit...

Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers lists her goals, but they're generic enough that most people would go along with them.

She also lists actions that she says must be taken and that's what I have an issue with.

First, we have to accurately measure the results that are being achieved in each school.

I'm all for that, but it's far easier said than done. No Child Left Behind tried with lacking results. The wide variety of control systems for school districts and school districts in themselves makes using a national standard very difficult.

Second, administrators must have the authority to hire and fire teachers along with the flexibility to set their salaries.

I'd like to see the basis for this. What difficulty are administrators, who are paid more than teachers, having in hiring and firing teachers and what is the correlating effect that is having on student education? Where is the lack of flexibility in setting teacher salaries affecting student education?

Finally, we must encourage the growth of charter schools and voucher programs to provide real, immediate, alternatives to students in failing public schools.

If a public school--assuming this is based on the measurement techniques she addresses the need for in her first action--is failing, why not address the needs of that school? What's the basis for a charter school being the only alternative?

As to the relevancy of the textbook reference, here we have a school board of education with a majority who are changing the direction of the state's education process based on ideology and religious belief. If the textbook publishers follow suit, then educators and children across the country are affected.

This our-system-is-superior-to-yours approach to education they're promoting is insulting to everyone else in this global age. We should be proud of our accomplishments and admit to our mistakes and not trying to rub everyone else's noses in our perceived perfection. In additional, denial of science that conflicts with religion breeds ignorance, invites disdain, and contributes to an education that miserably misses the mark when compared to those of other countries.

Lucas said...

The "hire and fire" comment is a dig at teacher's unions. Charter schools are just a way to take a public good and move it to the private sector where a small group of elites can profit. I am certainly not against private schools, but I think that when we take the public schools and transfer them to private industry we are heading down a slippery slope.

Also, if we really want to improve graduation rates we need to look at how we handle low-income households and the working poor in this country. It is very difficult to focus on getting an education if you live in a single-parent household where the parent has to work two jobs just to make ends meet. It's hard for a young person to get the kind of guidance and support they need in absentee-parent situations.

People want to blame graduation rates on the school system, but there is much, much more going on there and until we get serious about addressing the underlying issues not much is going to change. We can continue to demonize the poor in this country and assign their station in life to moral failings (and for some segment of that population it is true, though there is plenty of moral failing among the wealthy as well) or we can take a good hard look at our society and decide to make changes that will positively impact our future.

Anonymous said...

rosehips. You did give you opinion when you asserted the "right would like to indoctrinate our youth." Although, I disagree, you were giving your opinion.

Hank. In my opinion, most government goals tend to be generic. Politicians, both left and right, hate to be pinned down.

I agree with you that accurately measuring results is easier said than done. However, does the goal have merit or not? If not, then why not? What is a better goal? (BTW, she didn't say "must" when stating this goal.)

As for the second goal, my opinion is that once teachers reach "tenured" status, it is difficult for them to lose their positions. For lack of a better statement, it would take an act of congress to rid schools of poor teachers. Poor teachers do exist and I trust you agree a poor teacher is a detriment to learning.

I think your question regarding teacher salaries and student education has merit. I am not sure it does affect student education when measuring competent teachers with student learning. The teachers I know are dedicated to serve and care deeply about their students and their learning.

With regard to charter schools and vouchers programs. I think I view this as increasing school choice. I want to point out that she says must "encourage" and not must "demand". I am all for encouraging the growth of these programs, but they should be kept at the state level. I know the state of Washington has rejected charter schools. However, Idaho has, I think, 28 charter schools. If it is important to parents to send their children to charter schools, then move to Idaho if that is their choice for their child's education. So, although I agree we "must encourage" the growth of charter schools, it should stay at the state level. As for vouchers, I like the idea.

We fundamentally disagree wiht the Texas textbook issue. I see merit in learning about our founders and their Christian beliefs (warts and all). Please don't take that as being "rigid" just that I see merit. I also understand both sides aren't perfect and that debate will continue.

I do not see the "our-system-is superior-to-yours" approach in any of Mrs. McMorris' goals. Her approach is reasonable and worthwhile to pursue. Think of it this way, if nothing else, it is encouraging a healthy debate for those willing to rationally discuss its merits and demerits.

Thank you!

Hank Greer said...

>I do not see the "our-system-is superior-to-yours" approach in any of Mrs. McMorris' goals

I was referencing the changes being made by the Texas State School Board.

Anonymous said...


I apologize, I thought this was a commentary on the goals and action plan of the congresswoman regarding education. I did not find any reference to the Texas textbook issue anywhere in her position.

I must conclude the one line statement at the end of your original commentary was a clear jab at her because she is a republican. Therefore, it wasn't relevant to the discussion of her stated goals and action plan.

Hank Greer said...

While I often disagree with my congresswoman, this was not a jab at her because of her party politics. It was an attempt to make a connection between two separate events and get people to think.

Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers has nothing to do with the Texas School Board and I have no idea what her position is on their decisions or even if she has one. But that board's decisions can affect childrens' education across the country, including District 5. To me, the congresswoman's solutions indicate a simplistic answer of a complex problem.

I rarely explain myself like this--not that I'm trying to make this sound like it's a real treat--because, in my own feeble way, I try to make connections for people to think about. I'm not always successful.

Most of the time comments--even my own, but I'm trying to get better--reflect the writer's predilection towards one view or another.

Thanks for chiming in. Your comments have helped me remember to give more thought to what I'm trying to say.

Anonymous said...

I have one more comment.

I think it is fair to say you look at issues more from the left while I look at them more from the right. Where you see a problem, I see some merit. I am sure the reverse would be true if you were reading my commentary.

Many blogs are so emotionally charged with diatribes against the other side that an honest debate is not possible. That isn't the case here. It is obvious you think through what you write (whether anyone agrees with you or not) and provide a rational analysis based on what you believe.

It was nice to come here and comment and not be blown out of the water because I disagree with your analysis. You disagreed without calling names or becoming emotionally charged that someone dare question what you wrote.

Hopefully, through your analysis, you will come to the "right" side one day. ;)

Take care!

Hank Greer said...

And I have a good sense of humor, too. Maybe we'll meet in the middle someday. :-)

Sherry said...

See? This is just what America needs more of these days: a rational, thoughtful discussion of issues and ideas without name-calling, hyperbole and hysteria!

On the other hand, I LOVE the "Rabble Boys" and what they bring to the table--nothing--but in a most fun way!