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Washington 1st State to Lose NCLB Waiver
April 25, 2014 6:31 AM   Subscribe

No Money, Mo' Problems. "School districts throughout Washington will have to redirect roughly $40 million in federal funding toward private tutoring efforts next year, instead of using the Title I funds to pay for district programs for low-income students." No big deal, right? Washington was probably the only school to even have a waiver for No Child Left Behind, you're thinking. Nope. Washington was one of forty three states and the District of Columbia that have federal waivers from NCLB. Kate Tromble, the director of government relations for the Education Trust, said revoking the waiver was the right thing to do. "It is unfortunate because Washington students are going to bear the burden of the failure of adults' in the state." NCLB previously.
posted by kinetic (46 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
To simplify: the state legislature let die a measure to tie teacher salaries to their students' results on standardized tests.* The federal government finds the failure of this measure "unacceptable" according to the terms of No Child Left Behind. Because many Washington districts haven't been improving their tests results, you see. So now every district in Washington has to come up with x amount to spend on tutoring and training teachers to teach reading, whether that school has been struggling or not. Also many schools will have to send letters home to parents explaining why they have let their students down.

Fortunately, all of this will make education much better.

* Pause for a moment to consider why this measure may not be a good idea. Congratulations! You've now thought about this longer than many legislators and most pundits.
posted by argybarg at 7:04 AM on April 25 [10 favorites]


whether that school has been struggling or not.

Not that simple, though. From your second link: The Evergreen State is still choosing to pinpoint "priority" schools (the lowest performers) and "focus" schools (other struggling schools.) The result will be an accountability system that is a mishmash of NCLB and the state's waiver system, potentially resulting in some muddled messages for low-performing schools.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:10 AM on April 25


No Child Left Behind says that all students must be passing state math and reading tests this year. State officials predict that "nearly all schools" in Washington won't meet the standards going forward, OSPI spokeswoman Kristen Jaudon said Thursday. She questioned whether that means the schools are actually failing, though.

"Not meeting 100 percent proficiency could mean they're at 99 percent," Jaudon said. "I think it would be a stretch to classify that school as failing.”


Could mean, but if you look at the OSPI report card you see that approximately 80% of Washington state students meet national standards for reading and only about 60% of students are meeting the standards set for math and science. If some schools are at 99% (and unfairly classified as failing according to Ms Jaudon) it means that others are performing much worse than the abysmal state average. Anyway you interpret the results it would seem that lots of children in Washington State are not achieving the Federal Government's standards for a basic education.

Obviously you can see why teachers and schools would not want their performance evaluated based on these pitiful results. Someone might get the idea that teachers and schools are doing their job very well and that just can't be possible.

So I blame the students. Fire all of them and bring in new ones who will try harder to make the teachers and schools look better.
posted by three blind mice at 7:11 AM on April 25 [1 favorite]


"It is unfortunate because Washington students are going to bear the burden of the failure of adults

Specifically, the failure of adults to stop NCLB.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:15 AM on April 25 [26 favorites]


I don't know all of the details of this specific situation but this sounds insane.

All of these laws are designed to facilitate two terrible things: breaking teacher unions and privatizing public education. There is no good end for Washington's students here.

In regards to the tying teacher evaluation to state test scores, this is a bit of a dishonesty. Individual schools, teachers and districts may use local tests in place of state tests to benchmark and measure student progress. My department (i'm in Virginia) has a test designed by our department that we use to measure progress. It is a regularly reviewed and revised test that we have been working on for 8+ years now. It has not gone a year without a revision and most years we will actively improve more than a third of the questions.

This to me smacks of some Washington lawmakers wanting to take a swing at teacher unions, but again I'm not there and I don't know the history.
posted by Fuka at 7:17 AM on April 25 [6 favorites]


Yes, this is the year for all students to be 100% proficient in math and English, even English Language Learners and students with learning disabilities. Getting waivers didn't give those 43 states a longer timeframe to meet the 100% proficiency mark, but a higher hurdle each year as they missed the mark for the prior year. 100% proficiency a good goal, the same way zero drunk-driving related fatalities is a good goal, but neither are achievable, unless you provide specific caveats students with learning disabilities.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:17 AM on April 25 [2 favorites]


Fula: true, I was simplifying a bit. Expecting a small, struggling district to come up with its own evaluation system and administer it fairly is unreasonable, though. There will either be a lot of ad hoc nightmares or just compliance with state-level tests, many of which are atrocious. And what about, say, voc tech teachers? Japanese language teachers?

And there are so many things fundamentally wrong with standardized tests as drivers of education, let alone as measures of a teacher's worth, that I don't even want to get started.
posted by argybarg at 7:23 AM on April 25


So with 43 state plus D.C. getting NCLB waivers, at what point is someone brave enough to say that the emperor has no clothes, and the thing should be chucked?

Will it age out, like the omnibus farm bill does every few years, or is it separate from federal educational funding and so have to be addressed specifically?
posted by wenestvedt at 7:24 AM on April 25 [1 favorite]


How could you possibly hit 100 percent success on any test, even an impossibly perfect and fair test? Even in a perfect world (which this is not), there are always going to be kids with such difficult home situations or with personal issues such that they can't or won't learn the material. And in the real world, there are also of course imperfect teachers and school systems that have long-standing patterns of failing certain groups of students, and that can't disappear overnight even if everyone's intentions are good.

I strongly believe that mediocre teachers should all be fired, and that good teachers should be earning far higher salaries (so as to attract more good teachers), but these testing regimes look to me like attempts to break the unions rather than actually improve things for the students.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:25 AM on April 25 [4 favorites]


Here's a fun list of things that NCLB offers, including the option for students to leave under-performing schools. Who can really leave such schools? Those who have the support system to drive them to another school, which will likely be farther away than their original school. What will this likely do? Get kids with more affluent parents (who are often the better performing students, as the correlation between financial well-being and education are known).

And while we're looking at the details, here's the funding for NCLB, which includes a "teacher incentive fund." Sounds good, right? Except this is that bullshit "performance-based teacher and principal compensation system," with improved testing scores providing the potential for teachers to earn more. Why not increase base teacher pay, to entice more qualified teachers?
posted by filthy light thief at 7:30 AM on April 25 [1 favorite]


The whole idea that you improve struggling schools by punishing them is also insanity.
posted by argybarg at 7:33 AM on April 25 [7 favorites]


This is entirely to gut public schools and make private schooling the norm. We don't want to spend our money on poor schools where the teachers are horrible and the students are bad people because they're poor, so we set up this testing system that they can't possibly do well in and shuttle all the money and perks to private systems.
posted by xingcat at 7:34 AM on April 25 [10 favorites]


Dip Flash: How could you possibly hit 100 percent success on any test, even an impossibly perfect and fair test?

That's the joke sad reality that anyone who thinks about the range of students in any given school. It's like some warped American Dream that all children will be perfect in school, if we only continue to apply pressure on teachers to perform better each year. Yes, what 100% proficiency means can be lowered so it is more likely to be achieved by students with learning disabilities, but this undermines the purpose of a broad standard if the bar is too low.

In reality, there are people who will never be able to read, and they are in schools with the rest of the students. Along with other students who receives special education and related services, they have Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), which tailor the expectations for the students, and what the teachers will provide the students. But as far as I know, this doesn't change the final score necessary for these students as part of the NCLB standardized testing.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:36 AM on April 25 [1 favorite]


way too much federal involvement in education. the feds suck up all the tax money, then dole it back $40 million at a time based on arbitrary, capricious standards. we need to get rid of the department of education.
posted by bruce at 7:38 AM on April 25


And there are so many things fundamentally wrong with standardized tests as drivers of education, let alone as measures of a teacher's worth, that I don't even want to get started.

YUP! One of the big ones (and this is true of a lot of teacher evaluation systems, not just standardized tests) is that you end up firing a lot of first and second year teachers just as they're getting competent so you end up having this constant grind of new teachers just learning what they're doing instead of supporting the people you actually have in place.

Another part of the problem with firing teachers so much is that what many of our low-performing kids really need is consistency, something they lack in their home lives. Having a clear set of expectations and a sense of the faculty from year to year would be immensely helpful, but we keep firing teachers.

And while we're looking at the details, here's the funding for NCLB, which includes a "teacher incentive fund." Sounds good, right? Except this is that bullshit "performance-based teacher and principal compensation system," with improved testing scores providing the potential for teachers to earn more.

One of the problems, too, is that the easiest way to earn this money is to work in a really good school. I did my student teaching in very different schools from those in which I worked, and the teachers there generally all got "highly effective" ratings and bonuses. The thing is, the kids in those schools were probably going to make a year's worth of progress anyway, because they read at home and did enrichment activities and didn't have to deal with the same in-class behaviors and disruptions. This drives good teachers away from struggling schools because teachers from Northwest who move to Southeast generally lose their highly effective status and might even end up getting fired after two years (in DC this breaks down super geographically). If you know that you'll lose your job security and earn less money if you try to help at-risk kids, why would you?
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:42 AM on April 25 [16 favorites]


A local reaction from a state lawmaker

And an interesting observation from the comments:

I think their choice of our state as the first is intentional. They know we'll just say "screw you", and that will give the rest of the states some cover to more politely say "screw you" to the DOE.
posted by trunk muffins at 8:29 AM on April 25 [1 favorite]


An article from 2007: 'No Child' Target Is Called Out of Reach
posted by smackfu at 8:30 AM on April 25


filthy light thief: "In reality, there are people who will never be able to read, and they are in schools with the rest of the students. Along with other students who receives special education and related services, they have Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), which tailor the expectations for the students, and what the teachers will provide the students. But as far as I know, this doesn't change the final score necessary for these students as part of the NCLB standardized testing."

Yep. We give standardized tests to nine-year-olds with a mental age of six months and no motor control whatsoever who are fed through tubes and spend their school day doing physical therapy to keep their muscles from completely atrophying and having stories read to them and looking at flashcards of colors and whatnot. There's a two-part issue here, actually, which is that a) necessary medical services for severely disabled children are basically ONLY provided through schools in the United States, snuck in as educational services required for a free, appropriate public education, when in fact it's straight-up medical care and there's not a lot of "educating" going on;* and b) EVEN THESE CHILDREN are counted in our "100% of children meeting standards" for NCLB. We haven't even been pretending we'll meet standards for a good seven years now; we've just been budgeting for the penalty phase because it's not like we can get rid of our severely disabled students, our special ed/learning disability students, our autistic classrooms, our large ELL population, our deaf students who received no services at all until they were five, our hospital classroom for kids getting cancer treatments or inpatient mental health care who TEND TO FALL BEHIND AT SCHOOL WHAT WITH THE CHEMO, or our kids in various juvenile-detention programs.

*Our specialists who work with these kids do a GREAT job, but realistically they're trying to help the kids learn to communicate their needs with a few gestures or grunts, or to manipulate their own wheelchair, or to push a button when they need a nurse. The "teachers" do lots of reading and singing and storytelling and show them art and listen to music and try to give them things they enjoy to be engaged with, but realistically this is about giving people with extremely limited capabilities a stimulating and happy environment, not about "education" per se.

(You actually are allowed to give an "alternative" assessment to a certain percentage of your students, but you're still giving an assessment, and it's a very low percentage. So we use up our "alternative" assessment spots on the children who can't speak or move, and then our children who are in juvie or speak no English or are deaf but didn't start learning ASL until kindergarten or have Down's all have to take the standard test.)

We're glad to have data and we try to use what the data tells us that is useful, about underserved populations and problem areas in our curriculum. But we don't even pretend we're ever going to meet "standards" because the standards are completely ridiculous; we focus on improving what we can improve, and mitigating the damage where the penalty phases are dumb.

It's a difficult problem to some degree because you don't want schools to be able to shift failing students into special ed populations to "hide" those scores (which is what used to happen in a lot of places, and you'd end up with kids in poverty or minority kids with sky-high rates of imaginary learning disabilities, when in fact the school just didn't want to deal with them), but just insisting "all students are widgets who can be educated the same" is a very wrong solution to that problem.

I don't know about these tutoring companies in other states, but in Illinois the requirements to run a tutoring company that gets these NCLB funds are totally minimal, and there's basically no oversight; the idea is parents will choose the service that best meets their family's needs, and bad tutoring companies will die out, introducing free-market competition and parental choice to education. But for the most part parents' whose kids use these companies aren't very sophisticated about judging the quality of tutoring, and the tutoring companies lure families with iPods. There are two in our district that SPELL THEIR NAMES WRONG and it drives me crazy. (They seriously have names like "CRAY-Z Tutoring" and shit like that.) The Chicago Tribune did an investigation of the ones operating in Chicago and more than half of them were just straight-up taking government funds and doing nothing.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:30 AM on April 25 [36 favorites]


1) Eyebrows McGee is, as always, spot on and very articulate on this issue and it is deeply appreciated.

2) I don't know about these tutoring companies in other states, but in Illinois the requirements to run a tutoring company that gets these NCLB funds are totally minimal, and there's basically no oversight

I actually wrote a paper on this in grad school, admittedly about five years ago, and my conclusion was basically "this tutoring thing seems like a good idea and might even BE a good idea, but we haven't actually evaluated it at all to see if it is beneficial in practice." We put a TON of emphasis on gathering data from schools (even if the data is, as Ms. McGee says, not always gathered in helpful or meaningful ways) but we just throw lots of money at this whole private tutoring thing on the basis that it seems like a pretty good idea. It is bonkers.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:39 AM on April 25 [1 favorite]


What's even worse is that 34 CFR 200.13 places caps on the number of advanced and proficient scores of students assessed under modified standards (2%) and students with the most significant disabilities tested under alternate achievement standards (1%) that can count towards AYP. There are some exceptions in there (e.g., an LEA can exceed the 1% cap if the school's total population of students assessed under alternate standards exceeds 1% or if the student population is so small that it would take only a couple of students to exceed the cap) but that's another example of the absurdities in this law that serve to disincentivize too much achievement.
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:45 AM on April 25


Well said, Eyebrows McGee. I could cry.

I posted this because I'm infuriated as a high school principal and as a parent. I mean, there's so much wrong with this picture.

Small example of how NCLB can also affect teachers.

In Massachusetts, here's how the testing works: the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System is administered every November for most kids. Our federal funding is based on these results, as are teacher evaluations.

Imagine this: last year, my current students took the test in November, beginning-ish of the school year and they did ok. Let's say they scored 91%*. Pretty good, right?

As their current teacher, my position is evaluated by whether or not the kids beat that 91% score, otherwise they're not making "Annual Yearly Progress." Those numbers gotta go UP.

But it turns out that last year, their teacher sucked. Or had personal problems. Whatever. The kids didn't learn a lot last year.

And now they're my students. And in November, they will take the MCAS. They will score at 80% because last year they didn't learn all that much.

In most school systems, that 80%, that inability to make progress?

That score is reflected on MY performance.

Teachers are evaluated on how much their current students learned in the previous year.

*And these are neurotypical kids who aren't even ON IEPs.

Everyone hates this testing system, most teachers and administrators despise NCLB and we have NO IDEA HOW TO STOP IT.
posted by kinetic at 8:46 AM on April 25 [11 favorites]


And now they're my students. And in November, they will take the MCAS. They will score at 80% because last year they didn't learn all that much.

Yup! It is crazy nonsense!

ALSO, based on the timing of the test, you may not have covered all the material and, in fact, you possibly SHOULDN'T have. When I was teaching second grade, my first year, I went by the DCPS Scope and Sequence which tells you what you should teach when, so there were some math topics I wasn't planning to cover at all until after spring break. It turns out EVERYTHING is on the test which happens BEFORE spring break so there was stuff on there my kids hadn't seen because I was FOLLOWING THE TEACHING SCHEDULE GIVEN TO ME BY THE SCHOOL SYSTEM. I had no way of knowing that I shouldn't follow the official teaching guide because it would be screwing over both my students and me when testing happened. WTF, guys.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:52 AM on April 25 [2 favorites]


Question - if Washington State wants to give a definitive "up yours" to the federal requirements, and given that there are few federal requirements for the tutoring companies is there anything to stop the state legislature from forming its own tutoring company that could just rehire all the low-income support staff that are currently paid for by the federal funds? Or is this just wishful thinking?
posted by Zalzidrax at 8:53 AM on April 25


I often wonder what the most destructive Bush legacy will be, from the idiotic invasion of Iraq, to watching while New Orleans drowned, to trimming brush while a man waved a memo called "bin Laden Determined to Attack in US" in his face; but "No Child Left Behind" may trump them all in terms of long-term damage to American society.

Why yes, let's create a structure where the only thing that matters is making sure kids pass a test, and punishing those that fail with less money, because surely that will mean they will do more with less. There's no way that comes out wrong, right?
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 9:55 AM on April 25 [6 favorites]


Speaking of impossible and poorly thought out expectations, my state is in the middle of some massive educational restructuring, as is my particular district, and the state DoE has been rolling out new teacher and school evaluation metrics on the regular. The most recent guidelines lay down the expectation that "no more than 3-5 percent of any school's population should score below the 10th percentile."

Indeed.
posted by absalom at 10:33 AM on April 25 [9 favorites]


I just came out of a 75-minute presentation about Outcomes & Assessments here at work, a small school in Rhode Island. The Director of Outcomes & Assessments (I think her title is) told us about the year of planning already in place, and the four years they will spend on implementing the project. Assessments will all be reviewed to see whether they are measuring the actul objectives, and those objectives will be reviewed, and rubrics will be tied to curricula, and then a program of ongoing measurement and reporting and reevaluation will be set up.

FOUR YEARS. And she's already done something similar in one of our schools, but now it's university-wide.

In my small town 15 minutes away, the superintendent wants to roll out new curricula (EngageNY), standardized grading (rubrics), and a new grading scale (1-4). In ONE YEAR.

We're in a state with a NCLB waiver, but I am now afraid what that fragile, doomed plan will come to should that waiver also get ganked: things are bad enough already in our town, and we are better than some.
posted by wenestvedt at 10:53 AM on April 25 [1 favorite]


It is my understanding that a lot of the Federal requirements on schools come from the strings attached to Federal funding.

That is to say, if you accept this grant, or accept this Title I money, you need to do X, Y, and Z.

Is that correct? If it is, has any state ever seriously run the numbers on whether or not accepting the money works out in the end?

I mean, if you get $40 million in Federal funds, but need to spend $39 million complying with the requirements for those funds, it seems like a losing proposition.

* I realize there are aspects of Federal law that the schools must comply with regardless. I'm talking specifically about the money with conditions, like required testing, etc.
posted by madajb at 10:58 AM on April 25


It's like stack rank, for kids!
posted by ryoshu at 12:44 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


"It is unfortunate because Washington students are going to bear the burden of the failure of adults' in the state."

News at 11:00?

Or ever?
posted by carping demon at 1:04 PM on April 25


> "... children who are in juvie or speak no English or are deaf but didn't start learning ASL until kindergarten or have Down's all have to take the standard test."

> "Teachers are evaluated on how much their current students learned in the previous year."

> " The most recent guidelines lay down the expectation that 'no more than 3-5 percent of any school's population should score below the 10th percentile.'"

What.

The.

Were these rules designed by the supporting characters in a KAFKA NOVEL?
posted by kyrademon at 1:04 PM on April 25 [2 favorites]


Who can really leave such schools? Those who have the support system to drive them to another school, which will likely be farther away than their original school.

This specific complaint doesn't seem valid because one of the NCLB requirements is that a failing school provides funds to transport students to a non-failing school at their request. I suspect that the students who transfer are still likely to have more support behind them, but not for this reason. (eg)
posted by the agents of KAOS at 1:36 PM on April 25


America: It's unfortunate because students are going to have to bear the burden of the failure of adults
posted by dry white toast at 2:54 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


Out here, I hear my public school colleagues referring to it as "No Child Gets Ahead."

Thanks, Dubya.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:04 PM on April 25


As a pretty firmly committed non-Republican, federal involvement in education seems to be one area where Democrats do about as poorly as Republicans. I've got no firm evidence but I don't remember Clinton doing much better and is Obama fixing anything?
posted by benito.strauss at 3:32 PM on April 25


I only mention Dubya because NCLB was one of his signature accomplishments.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:50 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


I have to ask. I went to public schools in the 80s and graduated in 1995. I recall it being an overall good learning experience, and one I always think any child should have. But to hear parents tell it (I have no kids of my own), the system is Fucked, and those with the means wouldn't dream put their kids in public school. Is it all the fault of NCLB? Or a general defunding of education? Am I just remembering my time in public school through the rose colored glasses of nostalgia?
posted by [insert clever name here] at 4:12 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


I think it partially depends on what state you lived in. My public school experience was in Connecticut, which has one of the top systems in the nation (and, not coincidentally perhaps, one of the highest pay rates per teacher). I think part of the "school is terrible we must fix it" thing is a little true, but a lot of it is "the way we must fix it is to destroy it so we can make everyone pay for private school or better yet put kids to work as janitors."

Granted, I lean socialist, but I think things like NCLB were specifically designed to make sure the poor stay poor.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:21 PM on April 25 [3 favorites]


Is there any data that correlates the ability of lower income people to use school choice programs? I know in my school district if your neighborhood school doesn't meet AYP for a defined period, then your child can enroll in another school and there are busses.
posted by humanfont at 4:58 PM on April 25


Dip Flash: I strongly believe that mediocre teachers should all be fired...

I hear this sentiment a lot, and it's always completely impractical, and kind of elitist to expect. Look, what proportion of teachers are great? Maybe 30%? You could bump it up to 50-70% if you also included the good and average ones. What would happen if you fired 30-50% of the teachers? A massive teaching shortage and a huge spike in unemployment. Ton of people with four-year degrees (and students loans) for a field in which they cannot work. Huge class size increases. A total lack of people willing to teach in low-income and problem schools, since they can't risk looking bad and getting fired and because with the shortage everyone can take a cushy job in a wealthy suburb.

And what of the teaching field? A field that's already having trouble attracting strong candidates becomes much harder and far more hostile. The greater difficulty drives off some students, and more fail. A lot more of them get fired and wash out early before they have any chance to build experience. No job security for teachers, ever. A job that already runs way over hours gets even worse. A career that should be one of the most family-friendly instantly become family-hostile as women can't risk slowing down for an instant and washing out of the field, and don't have time to raise their own kids anyway. No life stability for the majority of teachers, who have to worry about getting fired during a bad average year and have to go through whatever re-certification process exists or whatever. An education system that is in continual rapid employee turnover.

It's just a really bad idea, and it's kind of an elitist thing to expect. Most fields depend on the long tail of merely adequate people to build up sufficient numbers to function, including doctors, engineers, and even scientists. It's ok for your kid to go to an average doctor, but they must have an amazing teacher? I understand why you want this, but there are not and will never be enough 'champion' teachers for everyone. Getting rid of all of the average teachers will only guarantee that there won't be nearly enough for demand. Which is kind of a big deal when class size is so important in education.

I also don't like the implied lack of concern for the careers of the mediocre teachers; getting fired for being crap at your job is one thing, but being fired for not being amazing is unreasonable, especially when good assessment metrics don't exist.
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:53 PM on April 25 [8 favorites]


I think a huge chunk of the problem is that local funding for schools seems like a great idea, until it's also tied into local control of schools. Which, in turn, leads to unexpected consequences like the state of Texas controlling the content of textbooks for much of the nation because they're an enormous market and can dominate with their purchasing power. Or building a multi-million-dollar stadium next to your previous stadium while the infrastructure crumbles.

I feel fortunate that I lived in a state that valued education and made sure that it was a priority. Now that I've moved away, and heard people bitch that they don't need to pay for schools because they don't have kids, it drives me absolutely crazy.

Though really, the biggest problem is that we do not place much value in education. We think the sun goes around the earth and invisible beings help us drive. Then we complain about how we have to look outside the country to find doctors and programmers.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 10:23 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


I hear this sentiment a lot, and it's always completely impractical, and kind of elitist to expect.

Look, it's totally utopian and will never happen, but in my perfect world I'd declare that teaching is Important and Vital, and I'd set the salaries and entry requirements to capture the bright and motivated people who are currently going into academia, tech, law, or banking, instead of it being a safe profession that largely (though far from exclusively) attracts people with lower academic credentials. They still won't all be great, but looking back at the very nice but very unmotivated and undynamic teachers I had all through school, there is a lot of room for improvement on this front.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:22 AM on April 26


Mitrovarr has it exactly right.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:08 AM on April 26


The whole problem with NCLB is that the Feds didn't take over education completely. if they want to make the rules they should run the system. Otherwise, get off the state's backs and let them educate kids, not test them to death.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 3:11 PM on April 26


Dip Flash: Look, it's totally utopian and will never happen, but in my perfect world I'd declare that teaching is Important and Vital, and I'd set the salaries and entry requirements to capture the bright and motivated people who are currently going into academia, tech, law, or banking, instead of it being a safe profession that largely (though far from exclusively) attracts people with lower academic credentials.

For whatever it's worth, I'd suggest that many of the people in tech, law, and banking have personalities that render them unsuitable for teaching (whatever it paid), and mining academia for teachers would undermine higher education which is also important.

However, more importantly, I think it's a mistake to blame most of the deficiencies in teaching in the US on the quality of the teachers. I'd pin the problem more on a political system that is at best misguided and destructive and at worst actively trying to undermine education, a cultural system that doesn't always value education highly (particularly in the lower classes), and a economic system that doesn't put in enough funding, overworks parents, and forces students to divert too much energy to side jobs while in school (a problem in high school, but especially bad for college students). Teacher quality is honestly not the problem. And the education system works better than people give it credit for (it's been mentioned many times here that the system is putting out more highly-trained workers, particularly scientists, than there are actually jobs for).
posted by Mitrovarr at 1:22 AM on April 27 [1 favorite]


Economic pressures that are unfriendly to the formation of stable families and communities are the biggest culprit. The new flexible and mobile American workforce isn't exactly a recipe for stable and predictable community and social life.

In the quest for more predictable accounting in the corporate world, all the uncertainty and risk has been pushed down onto the labor pool.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:13 PM on April 27


Keep in mind that Washington has no state income tax, so school funding is tied much more to local property tax than elsewhere. Despite enormous wealth and a long liberal tradition, the state has many schools that are among the worst-funded in the country.
posted by miyabo at 3:57 PM on April 27


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