Monday, March 26, 2007

Holy cow, candidates are saying that District 95 is doing a good job

I have written about District 95 test scores recently. You will have to register for the Chicago Trib to see the story, but it just takes a second and there doesn't seem to be junk email involved (look for that opt out box).

I realized it is what voters want to hear, but does anyone really think that District 95's real results are up? Oh sure, the state can dumb down the tests, give more time, grade less answers. A better question is, do we really think that learning is up in District 95?

The number one reason you should be worried, the new Superintendent showed up and quit after 6 months. We heard it was because his father or cat was sick, but now he is going to start a new job next year someplace else. When the best Super you could hire quits in the middle of the school year with anything beyond incurable cancer, we should be worried.

If learning is up, why are the parents fleeing out of district? Is it because they are just racists and are afraid of their little darlings being around black children? Is it because the parents are being convinced one by one that in fact, their children will get a better education elsewhere? Consumer trends are real and telling, as are test scores for whole schools. Why are there so many private schools, home schoolers, and moves out of district, if things are going so well?

I was reading an article about a baseball player that was traded recently to a new team. The article suggested that the player's stats are down, because he had been playing for a few years on a team without a chance of winning. The general belief is that his numbers will go right back up, once he is on a winning team. Think about how hard it must be to teach in a school district with so many problem children and bad management. I wonder how many teachers have given up? You haven't done the research yet? The back channel is that many, many teachers have given up and are just waiting for the day they can retire.

Does District 95 have nice buildings? Yes. Are the teachers as good or better then most other schools? I'm sure on paper. Are many children getting a perfectly good education there? Yes. Are the exceptional kids (say top 10% or 25%) being challenged? Humm? Are the bottom 25% really learning? Humm? The new Illinois test scores make us have no visibility. You have read the Trib article right?

I have written about this extensively over the last few months, so I will not bore you much more.

If District 95 is doing so well, why are their test scores so much lower then Unity Point and Giant City? Why do the kids who are poor, have test scores about equal to the worst school districts in the state? The real world have voted on this issue, District 95 isn't as good as it once was and it is hurting the city.

It is amazing to be that the school board members and the candidates haven't boned up on this yet. Can you imagine being involved in this issue and no understanding that Illinois is messing with the test scores? The common idea the school board members have is that the scores are up and it must be our new buildings that are doing it!!!! Yippeee! No, it is because they dumbed down the tests.

SIU is doing the same thing. It is just market conditions that have made the students go from 25,000 to 19,000 on campus. It can't be something we are doing. It is just random bad luck and if we keep doing the same stupid things, someday it will magically get better.

I'm sorry, it is such a difficult problem. It has been many years in the making, with many reasons outside of the school district's control. But, telling the voters that everything is OK isn't right. Feel free not to believe it, not to think. I guess that Nero played fiddle while Rome burned.


James said...

Improving Education in general is going to require a different societal mentality. Laziness and ineptitude are prevalent in government and education because there is no market orientated mechanism to put people onto the treadmill.

You could tie bonuses with test scores but that would lead to the good schools getting better and the bad ones continuing to crumble. As we are heading deeper and deeper into a larger divide between the high income earners and the low income earners.

Likewise in k-12 and higher ed we also have winners and losers in the race for better facilities, more dollars, and increasing test scores. SIU is just still playing by the old rule book and refuses to play by the new rules (those that require much harder work just to maintain the status quo let alone move ahead)

I think the philosophy is if it’s been working for so long why fix what isn’t broke, it would be easier just to make it look dandy from the outside while the real data show steady decline. They love to say things are going betterby downplaying some data (low enrollement) and emphasizing the excuses as to take out the responsibility aspect from the equation. Hence the common argument it’s not our fault it’s the economy or it’s the state budget allocation or this or that. It’s all just a bunch of BS allowing the legislatures and administrators to sit on there arse while collecting their nice check at the end of the week. This is a nice system for them and why should they want to do anything for us when they are collecting the money anyhow, change is hard. What’s new?

Peter in Carbondale said...

Don't kid yourself, teachers and administrators are being rewarded for test scores already. Our whole educational system is based on them. The citizens aren't smart enough to figure out, the system is being gamed to make the numbers go up.