"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

Search This Blog

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Who is Smarter Than an Education Bureaucrat? The Taxpayer Paying for the Bureaucratic Nonsense.

State and national educational policymakers once again illustrate how out of touch they are with taxpayers, parents, teachers and administrators when it comes to crafting more onerous mandates. Instead of education reform, the plans from DESE and the Department of Education will add to the bureaucratic nightmare of public education, creating more harm than true reform.

From the St. Louis Post Dispatch:

An attempt to recalibrate how school districts are rated by the state has triggered a unified uproar among educators and administrators throughout Missouri.

Groups representing teachers, principals and superintendents say they're concerned about a proposal that could double the number of standardized tests issued in public schools, including 10 more exams at the high school level in such courses as chemistry and physics. They don't like a recommendation to report the percentage of each high school's graduates who earn college degrees within three or six years, particularly if it means school administrators have to do the tracking.

While they say they agree with (Commissioner) Nicastro's goal, they oppose more testing and more tracking. State exams in chemistry and physics, they argue, would push schools to require students to take these courses, when there aren't enough science teachers to educate them. The groups also question who would pay for the additional tests, who would be responsible for tracking high school graduates through college, and whether expecting all students to take chemistry and physics exams is the same as the state dictating that every student take higher level science.

The increased tracking of students at the district levels is time-consuming and costly. At a time when Missouri (and other states) are having education budget cuts, how can these goals be accomplished? It's not only a concern at the state level, but national level as well. Arne Duncan is under increased scrutiny for the mandates he wants for education:

Frustrated by what he called a "slow motion train wreck" for U.S. schools, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said he will give schools relief from federal mandates under the No Child Left Behind law if Congress drags its feet on the law's long-awaited overhaul and reauthorization.

Duncan has warned that 82 percent of U.S. schools could be labeled failures next year if No Child Left Behind isn't changed. Education experts have questioned that estimate.

Still, no one thinks states will meet the law's goal of having 100 percent of students proficient in math and reading by 2014. A school that fails to meet targets for several consecutive years faces sanctions that can include firing teachers or closing the school entirely.

Duncan said he's encouraged by talks with federal lawmakers in recent weeks indicating the law might see revisions this year. But he said he wants a backup plan in case that doesn't happen.

"We can't afford to do nothing," he said. (Emphasis added)

Reading the comments from the readers, superintendents, administrators and teachers on these mandates from DESE and the Federal government, it seems as if the vast majority of them believe it would actually be best for education reform if the governmental bureaucrats did nothing. It would be preferable to them if no action was undertaken, the "slow motion train wreck" occurred, and the authority to education students was left to the local districts.

Here is a reader's comment from the msnbc.com site:

C'mon now, this has been law through half of Obama's term without a whisper of change. Shooting for 100% proficiency in what would be its 13th year is not exactly like setting a goal for zero crime. All they did was shoot for reasonable improvement each year to get kids up to grade level, and obviously they failed.

The Federal Education Department needs to be disbanded - they are a waste, a redundancy, and accomplish nothing except to spend our money on useless bureaucrats. Tell me exactly what does some idiot in DC know about a school district in Dos Palos, or anywhere else for that matter?

All education is local - it's far passed time to stop sending money to DC to waste on useless bureaucracy.

Sun Jun 12, 2011 2:12 AM EDT

and from the St. Louis Post Dispatch article:

westcountyteacher said on: June 11, 2011, 7:44 am
There will never be enough money to do any of this. The state mandates, but provides no funding. The state cannot even afford to maintain its own program let alone expect schools to jump through more hoops. Will private schools have to jump through these hoops? Doubtful, which once again gives private schools another advantage over public schools. Private schools can use their money to actually help students and not waste the time of teachers and administrators. Is DESE trying to destroy public education?
Once again, the taxpayers who are paying into a system in which they have no administrative control or voice, demonstrate they have more common sense than the bureaucrats deciding what children must learn and how they are tested, with no regard to the cost or outcome.


  1. With high unemployment and the economy still sour, it is hard to understand dollars put into a new generation of tests.

  2. I agree that districts should have local control and the the DOE should be banished. But a word of caution. Local administrators and BOE's see themselves as the local control. Be aware that if they ever achieve total control the stake holders (students, parents, teachers and taxpayers) will need to keep an eagle eye on their decision making. They may be progressives and want to bring an World Class education (IB)to their districts even at time of economic downturn. Local control means stakeholder involvement.

  3. Anonymous... You got that right

    A wise old gentleman told me taxpayers should always vote down the annual school budget, and make the BOE rework the numbers... then look closely, Local boards have learned DC math and forgotten the basic arithmetic their own schools teach

    Remember; almost every member of every school board envisions their name on a bronze plaque in the lobby of the fanciest new building money can buy..all they need is half an excuse to build it..


Keep it clean and constructive. We reserve the right to delete comments that are profane, off topic, or spam.

Site Meter