Every sector of the economy, public and private, is facing some tough choices due to the present downturn, and public education is no exception. Certainly, this situation looks awfully cloudy.
But, on the plus side, fiscal stress is pushing state leaders to seriously reassess our public school system, and some real out-of-the-box thinking is apparently taking place according to the Daily Independent.
Some of the ideas being floated – like evaluating our dubious CATS school assessments with an eye towards adopting a simpler, more accurate and less expensive testing program – are long overdue. The Institute has written plenty on that subject.
Other ideas, such as cutting the school year to save money if CATS is dropped, are new surprises. The point is well taken that schools generally abandon effective education during the last three weeks of the year after CATS testing is completed. Legislators are wondering, “If those days are being wasted, why not just drop them.”
Certainly, there must be a better “bang for the buck” potential hiding behind this long-term problem, though whether it’s just cutting the wasted part of the year, or recovering those wasted days with productive education effort, is something still to be determined.
In any event, the fact that legislators on both sides of the aisle are doing some really serious thinking about our schools is a refreshing “plus” in our current cloudy financial situation.