Sunday, January 8, 2012

Aren't You Tired of This Yet?

On Sunday, January 8, 2012, on page A14 of the Providence Journal there was a report by staff reporter Jennifer Jordan ("Is Achievement First a better model?").  In it was a statement that makes one gasp. According to the article, opponents of charter schools apparently said "Give the local schools decent financing, and they'll improve." Really?

According to the National Education Association, in 2009 Rhode Island spent $18,729 per pupil, highest in the country. But state performance rankings from the National Center for Educational Statistics for 8th grade reading revealed that we were only in 36th place nationally.  In 2010 the spending dropped to $15,803, fifth highest, but our students were still low, in 29th place.  Clearly Rhode Island local schools do receive decent funding - and if student performance were first or fifth it would be money well spent.

Decent financing is apparently not the problem given the above numbers. But neither is high stakes testing the answer, nor being able to fire poor teachers nor giving money to poor people.  There is no single answer and anyone who suggests otherwise is doing a disservice to the students and the people of Rhode Island.

We need a comprehensive approach involving first and foremost, the mothers and fathers of low performing students such that they improve their attitudes and expectations. NOTHING will work without that. We need to listen more to our many good teachers and enlist them in this crucial battle. We need to stop the partisan bickering about whether Democrats or Republicans, conservatives or liberals, union officials or school committees, public or private schools have the answer.

While we sling mud and point fingers our children suffer.  If we don't work together and restore the backbone of our great nation, an educated public, shame on us all.