Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Public Education - An Oxymoron?

I could make a career out of documenting the failure of our public school systems, but I have better - or at least more interesting - things to do. So I'll restrict myself to posting this notice of what Pima Community College in Tuscon AZ is doing to increase standards. I have no idea where Pima CC stands in relation to its peers, but based on my experience with community college transfers I suspect they're not that far away from the middle of the pack.

Arizona college to require 7th-grade skills
Pima Community College in Tucson will restrict admission to high school graduates or GED holders with at least seventh-grade proficiency in reading, writing and math, starting in 2012. The new admissions standards will encourage success, writes Roy Flores, the college president.
Think about that. There are high school graduates out there who are unable to read, write, or do 'rithmatic at a seventh grade level. How on earth did they advance to the eighth grade, much less graduate?
“Students who test below this level have little chance of succeeding in a college environment,”
Candidate for understatement of the year. 
Of 35,000 students at PCC, about 2,300 students — 6.3 percent — test below the seventh-grade level.
This is so sad on so many levels. IMO the most depressing thing about all this is that the public school system is doing such a huge disservice to the very people it is supposed to be helping - the students.

There are a myriad of reasons, but again IMO the majority of the blame lies with parents who abandon their responsibility to their kids and just hand them over to our public schools. It's been said that we get the government we deserve. Well, we also get the public school system we deserve.

With that as a backdrop, it is interesting to note that obama recently announced he was exempting states from requirements of George W. Bush's No Child Left Behind Law.
What’s the major difference between George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind law and the new education program that will be announced by President Obama today?

It’s there in the very sentence above.

The Bush law is a law. It was the result of arduous bipartisan negotiations that led to an agreement between, of all people, Bush and the late Sen. Edward Kennedy.

The Obama program is a program. It is federal fiat, a decision about what’s best by your superiors in the Obama administration. It’s a unilateral move to bypass the legislative process. It may or may not be good education policy.
Reasonable people can disagree on the effectiveness of the No Child Left Behind law, but at least it was a first step in holding public schools accountable for the quality of the education they are imparting to their students. And it was approved by conservatives, moderates, and liberals, gaining a consensus that seems impossible in these contentious times.

Unfortunately, none of that matters to obama and his teachers union supporters. Accountability be damned...


JT said...

I'm with you, how did those people graduate from high school with 7th grade proficiency? And what classes could they possibly take in community college that would serve them? Other than 8th grade math, English and science? Anything with 'college' in the title shouldn't be teaching anything below a 12th grade proficiency.

I think it is important to note that Jill Biden teaches at a community college and promotes community colleges as her 'second lady' platform.

CenTexTim said...

I was channel surfing this a.m. and ran across a news show where they were interviewing the head of a very successful charter school in Watts. This woman explained that their success was due to two things: freedom and accountability.

The have the freedom to innovate with not only structural matters like the length of the school day (they go from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.) but also what and how they teach. Individual teachers are held accountable for the success of their students. Good teachers are rewarded and bad ones fired. Both of these factors are, of course, feared and hated by the teachers unions.

The news show's hosts were all nodding and agreeing.

Ironically, it was on MSNBC.