Three Cycles

If you can remember your senior year and senior class, do you think today’s batch of graduates are smarter than your class? Think back to the year 1999. The Clinton educational policy was being implemented and the class of 2012 was entering kindergarten. As the graduating class of 2012 was getting their feet wet in the educational system designed by one political entity, another comes into power. In 2001 as the class of 2012 entered the 2nd grade a new political czar decides that they have a better plan for these students. The NCLB Act was signed into law in 2002 and by school year 2003/2004 changes begin to roll into schools changing effectively the target, the tests and scores students had to achieve. In the ensuing years the policy was tweaked, new targets were set, and finally graduation was achieved. In all three different cycles of political presence were experienced, dozens of different testing targets selected before the class of 2012 reached their goal.
Now all through this process the teachers were constantly adjusting their sights. What was important and necessary yesterday, is no longer the issue. The foundation established in elementary school was adjusted in junior high then changed again in high school. Junior high school teachers blaming the elementary teachers and high school teachers blaming the junior high teachers for a student’s failure. Throughout this all the administration had to adapt and change sometimes successfully other times not causing further disruption to the faculty. Absolutely no way to win the war on student success.
Now in this new political battle year, yet more changes are proposed. Romney proposes eliminating the education department, going back to the early days of every district for themselves. Obama proposes tweaking the system already in place. Every body has their own ideas but they never seem to ask those who have been at it the longest — the teachers. Why not put together a policy making panel of senior and junior educators from across the states. To assist them as advisors, add the leading educational researchers, political advisors, economic advisors, and others as the panel requires to assist in formulating a plan that cannot be changed. Common Core State Standards (CCSS) is an excellent starting point. To allow individual districts decide what is best is and always has been wrong. This leads to schools teaching for example, American History and spending 80% of the educational time on the civil war. Each district and state has its’ own targets – most of them no where near the target needed for successful college classes, or success in the job market place.
You cannot nor would not be able to run a business this way, how can we expect our students to?

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