catmandu 
Member since Mar 23, 2013


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Posted by THE SYSTEM on November 27, 2014 at 12:32 AM

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Recent Comments

Re: “Real School Reform

Thank you for a thoughtful article that doesn´t pull any punches. As for your "radical" ideas, I´d ask "by whose standards?" Even more ´radical´ reform is needed:

Restructure public education funding in general, which continues to shift between burdening local taxpayers and the false hope promises of politics. Further, states have vastly different funding models, and districts within them differ even further, yet most would agree that if schools ONLY funded for what the State provided, public school as we know it would be a shell of its former self with few, if any, extracurricular programs, etc.

With that, regulate and fund for smaller class sizes. It doesn´t matter the subject, student, age or situation: relationships are critical to the educational process and it´s near impossible to build solid relationships with kids when you have 30 students in a class. We might even regulate school size. On what planet is a school numbering several thousand a good idea?

Consolidate districts so that you benefit from smaller schools that could co-op resources only available to larger schools. A win-win. And it reduces overhead, which is often part of the highest salary expenditures.

Eliminate Charter Schools, which undermine public education funding and operate with somewhat impunity, further separating the haves and have-nots and dessicating school populations often by class and ethnicity.

Overhaul teacher education, which seems more focused on finances than actually culling to create the best-of-the-best. How some teacher candidates even make it to the student-teaching phase is beyond me. And how teacher education can continue to be taught by academics who haven´t ever taught or been in a classroom for 20 years is inexcusable.

And then teacher pay needs to be correspondingly much, much higher, with an evaluation model that doesn´t necessarily do away with tenure--protection from censure is important--but rewards teachers for education, experience, and exemplary performance...and that does not mean test scores alone!

Strip unfunded mandates. Period.

Require kindergarten AND fund it.

Restructure the "grade" system including retention and promotion. Too often kids "fail" throughout lower grades, only to hit a roadblock in junior high and an insurmountable wall in high school, when credits actually "count."

Maintain caps on digital learning credits acceptable and monitor their implementation. They are not the panacea and the education kids receive from them is not even remotely equivalent to what can be provided in a quality classroom setting.

Put the burden back on parents and then continue to strengthen relationships with parents who are involved with their kids. Schools are expected to do more than just educate: they transport, feed, sometimes clothe, shelter, counsel, etc. How about if a child is violent, they go home. Inappropriate behavior? Home. Truant? Parent´s are responsible. Not working in class? Home. Oh wait, we have these laws...they´re just difficult to enforce.

On your final point, Mr. Herold, I couldn´t agree more. Parents are THE most important part of the equation yet the one that is least involved in the discussions about education reform. That to me is the most radical of all the ideas.

Posted by catmandu on 06/05/2010 at 8:25 AM

Re: “Portrait in Mediocrity

First, it´s nice to see Idaho being included in the news section of a Spokane-based paper. Mary Lou Reed is an excellent source for providing knowledgeable and hard-hitting commentary on Idaho education, as well as a host of other issues we (Idaho) readers (and subscribers and advertisers) would like to see covered.


Second, it´s no small thing what the Idaho Legislature did this year. As happened last year, there were extremely devisive attempts to deconstruct public education, especially the bargaining rights so hard fought for (which many Washington teachers may take for granted, since union membership is not voluntary in Washington).


The main premise for the Legislators seemed to be that Idaho´s teachers had not yet "felt the pain" of budget cuts. Last year when the Legislators froze the salary scale, they funded educational advancement (which was probably an oversight) then, based on faulty data and foolish misinterpretation, they accused Idaho districts of issuing raises to their teachers (except, of course, the ones who lost their jobs).


So this year they made darn sure teachers felt it. Never mind that teachers--unlike most other "professional" employees--spend an inordinate amount of their own money on supplies, even food for their kids. Never mind that many saw an increased workload, larger classes and a much more stressful environment. Never mind that benefits may have increased or been cut. Or that the base pay for teachers is not comparable to other professional careers with similar work and educational requirements. Oh, gosh, but they do "only" work about 10 months out of the year so never mind the hours after the typical workday and weekends (and more of the summer than most people realize).


Never mind that pleny of organizations, like IEA, had a wealth of ideas Idaho´s Legislature could explore:

       $40 million: 5% Surcharge on taxable income over $50,000


       $9.5-30 million: Freeze the grocery tax credit


       $18 million: Tax compliance


       $180 million:  Increase sales tax by one penny


       $4.4 million:  Postpone election consolidation for a yea


       $10 million:  One penny on 12 ounce can of soda pop


       $12 million:  Increase cigarette tax by 50 cents


       $180 million:  Tax professional services



 


Why didn´t they even look into these things? Teachers needed to feel the pain. And next year--an election year--they´ll feel it even more because they can´t even count on the Superintendent of Instruction, the person who is supposed to be helping education.


 


Posted by catmandu on 04/24/2010 at 2:44 PM

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