Jan 23, 2013

My Turn to Speak On Pence and Education

A few snippets (i.e. selectively edited) and comments about the following story (any emphasis is mine):
Pence Touts Education Proposals In First State Of The State Speech:
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images (File)
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence
“Despite progress in education, too many of our schools are still lagging behind — some way behind,” Gov. Mike Pence told assembled Indiana General Assembly lawmakers in his first-ever State of the State address Tuesday night. 
Our jobs budget is all about getting this economy moving, but we can’t succeed in the marketplace if we don’t succeed in the classroom.
What does that even mean?  Is success an A or D (passing)?  In my years of teaching I have witnessed students have success by bringing grades from 30% to 50% through great effort of their own ambition.  They succeeded, in a way, however their letter grade will only ever be seen as a F.  I've seen students fail a course one year only to return the next year more determined by that experience and turn it around.  Yet the record of that failure scars the student's, teacher's and school's record/reputation far stronger than the reality of the child's improvement will ever be noticed by more than the student, teacher and school.
We have to put kids first and ensure that every child in Indiana has access to a world-class education at public school, public charter school, private school or home.
That sounds great, but really?  It's a slogan.  He should put it on a billboard.
When most people tell you about their favorite teacher, they tell you about the one who pushed them the hardest, who challenged them to grow; the teacher who held them to a high standard.
And others will tell you about the one that cried with them or took them in.  The one that had food (against policy) in their room and freely offered it to students (against policy).  They remember the one that praised them for improving attendance even if it was too late to improve grades or those that worked to improve their grade from a 30% to a 50%.  (I am thinking of two ACE teachers right now and they know who they are).
Those teachers know that setting high expectations works. We believe that, too.
Indiana teachers and schools have shown that they will rise to the challenge and make tremendous gains for our children.
This October, we learned that 207 schools received the highest school ranking for the first time. Forty-three schools moved up three letter grades. Twenty-eight schools moved from the lowest ranking to a mid-ranking. This is a testament to the commitment and excellence of our teachers, and proof that our accountability system produces gains for our schools.
When it comes to our public schools, I believe we should fund excellence in our schools and our teachers.
 I really need to rant on this topic, but for now I'll simply put it this way: Moving the goal posts do not mean that real gains have been made any more than using poor metrics to begin with means that gains need to be made.

There are lies, damned lies and statistics. 

That’s why we proposed an increase in funding for schools each of the next two years, with the second year based on school performance and an additional $6 million in teacher excellence grants to increase pay for our high-performing teachers.
Can we get a definition of that, please, and one that does not involve a test?
And our administration also will work with our new Superintendent of Public Instruction to cut the red tape that teachers face in the classroom, and let them teach
Really? By giving us more standards?  Standards that set us on a nearly scripted lesson plan so that students can take a test.  I lived it in IPS (English teachers had it the worst as they actually did have their daily plans scripted for them).  If my current school were to drop from it's rating then I have no doubt it would face similar controls.

Our children will get the best education when good teachers have the freedom to teach and are rewarded for excellence.
We didn't get into this job for rewards and when you phrase it like that you make it a competition.  One that stifles cooperation between districts and colleagues.  It makes teachers not want to teach inclusion classes or anything other than the top students.  Our reward is our job so just pay us a fair wage and stay out of the way.
I have long believed that parents should be able to choose where their children go to school, regardless of their income. 
So, you are going to make it possible for a single mother making minimum wage to be able to send her kids to any school?  Please, you don't believe that.  You believe that the affluent and privileged should be able to move their children out of public schools.
High-quality early education programs can have immediate and long-term positive effects for our kids.
You don't say?  Then why all the red tape?  Why is it 2013 and Indiana is talking about Pre-K as if it's a new idea.  Perhaps if we had not spent so much money on testing and bloating the education bureaucracy (not to mention trying to push obviously unconstitutional legislation into our schools: 12) we would have the money to take care of our youngest students.
Many communities across Indiana are already launching efforts to provide pre-K programs for at-risk children. One of the best examples is the Busy Bees Academy in Columbus, which serves at-risk and disadvantaged children in my hometown.
Ha, which voters rejected funding for the program. 
Like Kennedy Davis and her brother Isaiah. The Davis family, from Indianapolis, used the voucher program to send Kennedy to first grade at Trader’s Point Christian Academy. She’s a second grader there now and her brother Isaiah is in kindergarten thanks, in part, to Indiana’s school scholarship and tax credit program. Kennedy and Isaiah are thriving. They’re with us today. Keep it up, kids, Indiana is proud of both of you!
One example?  Statistically insignificant.  Just an attempt to gather emotional support in your politics.  The reality of vouchers is that, if it continues, we will see a new form of segregation between the classes.  Upper-middle class here, middle there and lower-middle and lower class.....wwwwaaaaayyyy.....over there.
Let’s be clear, every Hoosier child should be encouraged to go to college, and we must work to make sure our kids are college ready and make college more affordable.
Not every person should go to college.  Forget the reality that not every person is capable of going to college, but by forcing more people into college you devalue the degree (see degree inflation).  Not only that, but it makes it more difficult for a non-college bound student to get a high school diploma.  A student that may enter a trade program and make many times more money than I do as a teacher, but instead they have to take courses that are irrelevant to their future and in contrast to their skills and abilities, which may result in lower scores (or no diploma at all) making it impossible to enter that trade school.  Education is not a destination, it is the journey.
To that end, we are proposing to increase funding to our state-sponsored colleges and universities and to tie our funding and financial aid to on-time completion.
Great!!!  So, soon higher-ed will face the same testing (more money) and mismeasures of teacher abilities in order to support a proposition that is not in the best interest of anybody.
 our schools should work just as well for our kids who want to get a job as they do for our kids who want to get a college degree.
Our schools should exist to provide an education not to set them up for a job or college.  Being able to read and write have been the historical difference makers in people's lives.  However, the purpose of education should not be to set somebody up for a job.  It is the individual's responsibility to set themselves up for a job by the choices they make and the skills and knowledge they acquire.
To expand career and technical education, we need greater collaboration between agencies, and I propose we create Regional Works Councils to work with business and educators across the state to develop regional, demand-driven curricula to bring high-paying career options to more Hoosiers in high school.
"Show me the Money!"  Are you not blinded, as I am, by the glaring bureaucratic proposals by that statement.  Teachers across the nation spend thousands of their own money to by items necessary to have a workable classroom, yet we can afford to fund another program (with private companies I am sure, perhaps we should see who is in the line-up and compare to last election's campaign contributions).

This post exhausted me.  I have no more to contribute or rant about.  I won't be listened to (not by any politician) and legislation will push through continuing the raping of, our once proud, education institution.  I'm sure he means well, but in my opinion he is only continuing the culture of "deforming" education based off poor metrics and statistically insignificant data.  Guess that's why I'm not a politician cause the facts of reality don't sound quite so pretty in a speech.

NB- I'm sure I will re-read this post and edit it for grammatical and factual errors, but I just want to hit the publish button so that's what I'm going to do.  Any edits will follow with a comment at the end: "edit" [date] [what was edited].

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