A Superintendent Shares… An Analysis of HB5

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LYS Superintendent, Dr. Mike Seabolt, shares the following:

LYS Nation,

I was asked to analyze and comment on the details of HB5 and the proposed senate compromises.  The following is my analysis, for what it’s worth:

In short, they have only changed names from some existing laws.  The one that comes to mind first is the Foundation Plan, which compares closely to the current Minimum Plan.  So essentially, as a state, we are defaulting everyone to the minimum requirement. The college readiness indicator states the student must pass testing at the readiness standard.  That means nothing. It’s a political bar that can be changed at will by bureaucrats. I like the idea that all students take the SAT or ACT, but that will generate an unintended, but predictable, consequence. Average statewide ACT and SAT scores will drop if all students take the test. Which creates an interesting caveat: All students, by design, default to the minimum plan, which without question does not prepare one for college. Yet, by design, all students have to take the SAT or ACT.  There seems to be a logical inconsistency here, and when I see logical inconsistencies, experience has taught me that there is a political agenda at play, not an educational agenda. As far as feasibility, I think for the majority of schools this is a pipe dream that only works on paper.  In practical terms there is a significant problem with the tremendous amount of flexibility given to students to choose their paths and course requirements.  Where I must say the flexibility appeals to me, it is foolish to think this is not expensive. For example, if I have a store and I want to stock the shelves with variety, this increases both cost and risk.  I can stock the shelves with things I am certain will move fast, and that may satisfy 60% of the population.  To reach the other 40% I have to get into variety.  The problem is, what happens if I invest in inventory that only appeals to 5% of customers?  Now I have tied up cash and profits into overhead that may never be recovered.  In fact, if the items I stocked only appeal to 5% of the customers but I invested 15% of my capital into the items, it may turn out be a costly venture indeed.  The point is flexibility costs money.  Which brings us to reality. The reality is that without increased funding from the state to pay for mandated flexibility, there will be none.  For example, if I have 15 students who want Year 4 Math Option 1 and 12 students who want Year 4 Math Option 2 and 20 students who want Year 4 Math Option 3, I have generated three needed sections for a teacher.  In the old system I could have taught the same 47 students in two sections if they were given no choice of the 4th year math. The desire for flexibility has significantly increased the cost of educating my students.  At our high school which is by all definitions, small, I will need at least two additional teachers (most likely four) in order to offer any real flexibility to students.  That is a substantial increase in spending and I don’t see any mention in the bills to pay for this.  Without funding, schools will continue to funnel students into 4th year courses that available staff can teach, hence flexibility paper, blame for the provider.  In short, the wording of these bills tries to please everyone: fewer required courses; college testing for everyone; more flexibility; and no extra money from taxpayers to pay for it. 

This is governance? Seriously?

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