White Flag Policymaking

Re the teacher evaluation bill moving in Colorado here’s a good example of the subtle and pernicious effect of the disproportionate attention to out-of-school factors that is promoted today.  A legislator opposed to the bill writes that (emp. added):

I say the problem is that we have growing numbers of students who lacked a quality early childhood and thus will always be behind, students who need more intensive services, students who need more individualized instruction – while, at the same time, we have dwindling resources to meet the needs of these students.

I’m there on intensive services and individualized instruction.   And I want to see an expansion of high quality early-childhood programs, too.   But, the achievement gap grows while students are in K-12 schools, it doesn’t shrink.  And none of this has anything to do with whether or not to evaluate teachers to ensure that the kids who need the most are getting it.  Let’s not run up the white flag or use it as an excuse not to get on top of the things we can do more to control within the system — like teacher quality.

Update: Willingham is on this theme, too, this week.

2 Replies to “White Flag Policymaking”

  1. As an education reporter I heard teachers and administrators talk about how poor kids come enter school so far behind their wealthier peers, but never were they willing to make substantial changes to address the issue. And they always use a lack of resources as an excuse. One problem with that argument is that districts are constantly spending money on the newest fad curriculum while failing to make concrete changes. It’s almost as if they realize that by trying to address the issues that poverty causes, they might expose the shortcomings of the current system, i.e. teacher quality, and therefore be expected to fix them.

  2. Although John may be correct in his assumption that school districts buy into the latest fad curriculum, it still does not mean that schools receive adequate funding. I agree that we must always be looking for smarter ways for schools to spend money, but they are still underfunded. This makes it really difficult for teachers and schools to help students catch up to their peers.

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