I started this series several months ago with “Why do our schools consistently avoid the most successful teaching approach of all?” Today I add the fourth blog to the series, and the inspiration comes, shock of shocks, from the far from conservative The Atlantic, proving once again that education isn’t a liberal or conservative issue. For the continuing picture on why our schools continue to fail our kids, click the “Read more” link.
About two and a half months ago, I wrote about “Why do our schools consistently avoid the most successful teaching approach of all?” That blog discussed the mystery behind Kentucky’s public schools consistently avoiding the most successfully researched approach to education, a program called Direct Instruction, which firmly plants teachers as a “Sage on the Stage” and does not follow the currently trendy “Guide on the Side” approach.
Then, on April 21, 2018 I added another blog asking similar questions, “How’s that – Explicit instruction in math works best.” This one discusses observations from a highly experienced math teacher in Seattle who also knows that the teacher in math, at least, needs to be a Sage on the Stage.
Now, the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) adds to the discussion with their post-mortem of the mess with the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress results, “Reading into flat NAEP scores.” The NCTQ doesn’t mince many words pointing to some of the issues, including continued Ed School focus on the wrong approaches to teach reading despite the existence of decades of research that shows what actually works. Our teachers don’t know this, however, because their teacher preparation programs and even the Masters’ Degree programs are not telling them what works.
The NCTQ isn’t impressed with the quality of Ed School programs to prepare teachers to teach math, either. As of 2016, this teacher quality organization found that only 13 percent of the Ed School programs were getting it right.
No wonder our kids do abysmally on NAEP math, too.
So, what is it going to take to shake our teacher preparation programs out of their misguided ways so we can finally get the teachers our kids need?
To be honest, it’s becoming harder to believe that some of our Ed Schools even care about preparing teachers to instruct academic subjects well.
Aside from the NCTQ, other people looking at education such as George Will, and Joy Pullmann have questioned the real motivations in our teacher preparation institutions. And, that is pretty upsetting.
Meanwhile, thousands of Kentucky’s kids are not learning to read well while even larger numbers of our kids can’t perform acceptably in math. And, those deficiencies will plague these kids for the rest of their lives.
Here are Dr. Lewis’ initial comments:
With the conversation elevating over the announcement today that Interim Commissioner of Education Dr. Wayne Lewis is recommending that the state board of education take over the Jefferson County Public School System (JCPS), a little review about another state takeover of a chronically failing school district seems in order.
Kentucky took over the Floyd County system many years ago and ran it until 2005.
It seems to have helped.
In the last year of Unbridled Learning, the district got ratings of Distinguished/Progressing and was in the rewards category of District of Distinction. While I am not a fan of Unbridled Learning, the district clearly wasn’t at the very bottom of the pack anymore.
For more, check out this Herald-Leader report: “Once the scourge of Kentucky education reform, Floyd County schools now the star.”
Here’s one interesting quote from the article:
“Floyd County is now showing more affluent, more urban districts how increased achievement is done — and it’s doing it with modest resources in an area with a great deal of poverty.”
Maybe the lofty JCPS school system has something to learn from this previous takeover district.
(LOUISVILLE, Ky.) –– The Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, Kentucky’s first and only free-market think tank, has been bringing much-needed sunshine to the Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) for many years now.
JCPS has been mismanaged for decades and the achievement gap continues to widen. Since the inception of national tests in 2009, low-income and minority students have been falling further and further behind. Jefferson County has 17 of Kentucky’s 25 priority schools, but as the audit points out, the district has no structure to provide needed support to these schools.
State testing shows that nearly 70 percent of all third-graders in JCPS failed to reach proficiency in reading last year despite attending school in a district with a $1.5 billion budget – the largest of any school district in Kentucky and nearly twice the size of the entire Louisville Metro Council budget.
That is a travesty and it’s more than time for big changes.
The Bluegrass Institute looks forward to the turning of a new page for all JCPS students.
For more information, please contact Jim Waters at email@example.com, 859.444.5630 (office) or 270.320.4376 (cell).
Editor’s note: The Bluegrass Beacon is a weekly syndicated statewide newspaper column posted on the Bluegrass Institute website after being released to and published by newspapers statewide. This column has been updated to reflect the override of Gov. Bevin’s vetoes of tax-and-spending measures.
Changing a commonwealth long mired in poverty perpetuated by misguided policies designed to satisfy voracious appetites for ever-more government programs, dollars and dependency takes more than a single election and politicians whose top priority is maneuvering simply to survive voters’ next trip to the polls.
While the GOP made progress in the 2016 election by winning enough seats to control the Kentucky House of Representatives’ for the first time in nearly a century and then demonstrating political pluck during the 2017 legislative session by passing important economic-growth policies like right-to-work and accountability measures such as making politicians’ pensions transparent, the 2018 session was filled with too much worry by too many Republicans about the next election rather than focusing on continuing the dramatic change in direction.
How else to explain opening the door to charter schools by passing enabling legislation during last year’s General Assembly session only to slam it shut faster than you can say “teachers’ unions” by refusing to provide funding for charters this year?
“Kentucky will be a charter state with no charter schools,” Western Kentucky University professor and state Board of Education member Gary Houchens, Ph.D., writes on his blog.
Also on stark display in debates that occurred during this year’s General Assembly regarding pension reform and the budget is a maddening reality for conservatives which commonly occurs when the GOP controls the process: Republicans exert too much political capital trying to please ideological constituencies who will never support them or free-market causes while taking their base for granted.
Despite Gov. Matt Bevin’s budget proposal to spend around 60 cents of each of the $22 billion in the next General Fund spending plan on pensions and education alone, one liberal after another stood during floor debates in the House and Senate to accuse Republicans of wanting to ruin public education.
Notwithstanding Bevin’s budget plan puts $3.3 billion – or 15 percent – of the entire budget into public pensions, one sign after another displayed during loud, raucous and largely uninformed protests organized and funded by teachers’ unions demonized Bevin and the Republicans.
One protester even flew a Socialist Party USA flag.
What makes lawmakers claiming conservativism’s mantle believe protesters waving socialism’s flag will ever support reforms that cut government spending, empower parents or reward hard work and productivity?
Socialism results in government wresting fruits from those who labor to provide products and services and giving it to those with their hands out and their signs – and Socialist Party flags – raised.
Some House Republican leaders seem fully intimidated by these groups to the point of agreeing to implement reforms to the retirement systems demanded by the Senate only if they could raise taxes and restore funding cuts Bevin proposed to free up additional pension funding without tax hikes.
If teachers’ union bosses or protesters tolerating a Socialist Party flag order “jump,” why should mousy conservatives’ response be limited to: “how high and how far?”
Bevin rightly vetoed these tax-and-spending increases; the legislature wrongly overrode his veto.
Responsibility for raising taxes and restoring government programs should be borne particularly by House politicians who voted for them – and state senators who failed to stop them – in the next election when their records will be available to opponents and Donald Trump won’t be on the ballot.
Fewer politicians and more statesmen and stateswomen are needed before the transition to the kind of legislature that not only implements growth-friendly policies but defends them vigorously when they’re attacked is complete.
Why does any representative unwilling to do so even want to return to Frankfort? Surely it wouldn’t be for personal political gain, would it?
President Woodrow Wilson once said, “If you think too much about being re-elected, it is very difficult to be worth re-electing.”
Now, there’s an informed Democrat.
Jim Waters is president and CEO of the Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, Kentucky’s free-market think tank. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org and @bipps on Twitter.