A Reader Responds… Transforming Schools – Part 1

In response to the 2/11/14 post, “Nelson Coulter Writes… Transforming Schools 2.0,” a reader responds with the following:

In other words, Texas school administrators in the South Plains are dead-set on further implementing Common Core practices and repackaged/renamed outcomes-based methodologies which have consistently failed for the last 45 years.

SC Response Thank you for not sending this in anonymously, which I take to mean that you are serious in your convictions.  Which is why I am bumping up the posting of our exchange.

I’m going to start with this. We are not going to agree to disagree.  You are just wrong.

1. Texas schools are not dead set on implementing the Common Core, and to insist otherwise is either delusional, ignorant, or duplicitous.  Texas schools are accountable to teaching the TEKS which predate the Common Core by at least 10 years.  Why the Conspiracy Theorists can squint their eyes and see a connection is that the TEKS were held up as a model for what other states should adopt, by Texas Republican politicians.  You may remember them, George Bush and Margaret Spellings being early, extremely powerful advocates/examples.  Additionally, the sanctions for not teaching the TEKS to a sufficient level of competence (a level that has increased at a pace dramatically greater than resources) lead to destroyed careers.  And trust me, when the choice is feeding your family or teaching what is not mandated, feeding your family takes precedence.

2. Texas schools are using repackaged/renamed outcomes based methodologies.” And your point is?  As an educator you can focus on inputs (what you do as a teacher and the resources you provide to a student) or you can focus on outcomes (student performance based on a mix of inputs).  The current school focus on outcomes, which you seemingly do not agree with, is driven by political structures and mandates that have been orchestrated by a Republican Governor, Republican Lt. Governor and Republican Legislature.  When it comes to schools policy, Accountability, Testing, Standards, Sanctions, and Inadequate Funding have been the hallmarks of the Republican Politician in Texas for the past 15 years.  Are you surprised that schools have evolved to meet these ever increasing operational parameters?  And for the record, as an educator, I do believe that we (schools and teachers) should be accountable for the performance of our students.  And I do believe that we (schools and teachers) have been lacking in embracing this fact.  And I also believe that just because someone ONCE attended school, this does NOT qualify that person to accurately weigh the complex variables that determine student performance for the purpose of rating a school successful or unsuccessful. 

3. “Texas schools have consistently failed for the last 45 years.” All I can surmise is that we have different rubrics for success.  Here is what I know Texas Public Schools now accomplish compared to  what they did 45 years ago.

  • Educate more students than ever before.
  • Graduate more students than every before, both in raw numbers and percentages.
  • Serve more special education students than ever before, both in raw numbers and percentages.
  • Serve more limited English proficient students that ever before, both in raw numbers and percentages.
  • Serve more economically disadvantaged students than ever before, both in raw numbers and percentages.
  • Serve more GT students than ever before, both in raw numbers and percentages.
  • Offer more course/theme/degree options than ever before.
  • Provide more social services than ever before.
  • Teach at higher levels of Instructional Rigor, for longer periods of time, than ever before.
  • Teach at higher levels of Instructional Relevance, for longer periods of time, than ever before.
  • Face higher levels of performance accountability than ever before.
  • And all in the face of increasingly inadequate funding and resources.

The quality of education provided to a random student today is significantly better than what was provided to a random student 30, 20, 10 and even 5 years ago.  So where is the school failure?  Or are you angry at the failure of agenda driven politics and the purposeful dismantling of public infrastructure?

Think. Work. Achieve. Your turn…

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A Reader Asks… HS Math Lesson Frames
A Reader Asks… The Instructional Rigor/Relevance Shift Map

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