A Superintendent Writes… How Well Meaning Politicians Hurt Students

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A LYS Superintendent shares the following:

LYS Nation,

I was recently talking to educators about learners with special needs.  Be it learning disabilities or learning a second language, our discussion led us to consider our school’s impact on learners with special needs. We concluded that consistency was very important.  The school should have a consistent curriculum, a consistent learning environment, and consistent discipline.  The idea is that schools should remove as much variability as possible.  Removing variability means the learner is not struggling with re-interpreting their environment over and over again, but rather can concentrate on academic learning.

A week or so later I was having an unrelated conversation with the parent of a learner with special needs.  The parent was concerned that constantly changing tests were impacting her child.  It occurred to me that she was on to something; as testing changes, so does the school’s curriculum, structure, and even instructional delivery.  We know consistency is important, especially for learners with special needs, yet the due to a steady stream of mandates we constantly inject systemic inconsistency into our school systems.

From the USDOE, to state legislatures, to state agencies, there is very little consistency in public education.  We all understand that everything changes with time, but the whirlwind changes in education policy are unprecedented in recent history.  I recall that when a recent Texas Commissioner of Education first took the job he commented that we need to get on a path and stay on it.  Great idea, but at best an empty promise, at worst a guaranteed lie.

Education is a political battleground and I suspect that the resulting policy inconsistency is causing structural and environmental inconsistencies that are doing significant harm to many more children than we would ever suspect. How could it not?  Schools have no choice but the twist and contort to policy changes. And though I believe that this harm to children is unintended, the harm is being done nonetheless. Children need policy, structures, and environments that are consistent.  For politicians to think their policies have no impact on school structures and environments is incredibly naive. 

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A Superintendent Writes… How Well Meaning Politicians Hurt Students – Part 1

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