You Make the Call

March/25/2014 5:09AM
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Three articles about education hit the editorial page of the Arizona Republic today, St. Patrick’s Day, 2014.

The first is titled, “Arizonans Need to Decide”, the second, “Public Schools Under Attack”, and the third, “Tempers sizzle at Gilbert School Board Meeting”.

Education must be a hot topic in Arizona these days. Let me try to summarize each article.

On Arizonans deciding, it’s the newspaper talking. Addressing a letter written by all but eight of the state’s public school superintendents. The second editorial is by the superintendents who elaborate on their letter. It all boils down to a bill that would drastically expand Empowerment Scholarship Accounts which would increase both charter and private school attendance. Shifting tax dollars from public schools to do that.

Here’s what the paper says the state needs to do in far too many words under the guise of objectivity, “Let a fully informed citizenry weight in before moving forward with any bill to radically change public education.” Translation, do nothing, like we have done for two generations, while test scores continue to drop against global competition. At least wait until we can brain wash you as to why this is a bad idea.

Here’s what the superintendents say: “we can’t let the government dismantle our local public schools, endanger the health of our communities and diminish decision-making at the local level all the while undermining  the fabric of our democracy.” Translation: Let us continue to provide your kids an inferior product at ever-increasing prices so we and our marginal teachers can keep our jobs and accept an unacceptable performance because you have for years. Change is bad. Bad for us.

Here’s the nub of the third article about the Gilbert School Board meeting. A teacher was fired in 2012 for documented incompetence. She evidently lost control of her classes. She sued, naturally, with the help of her union to get the job back. Here’s the result “to loud jeers from the crowd, the board voted 3-2 to reinstate the teacher. One board member who voted against the reinstatement, asked, “How is it fair that we bring back a poor-performing teacher?”

To me, the last statement says it all. It’s broken, badly broken, and we need to break some eggs to fix it. Eggs, like school superintendents who don’t get the fact that it’s broken and protect their turf not improve their product, unions that allow incompetent teachers to keep teaching, and teachers, who don’t perform and get paid the same as those who do exceptional work. It’s going to take charter schools to do that. Run by people who must get good test scores by having teachers who are good and create those higher scores. You ever been in a  class where the teacher loses control? It’s not pretty. Some poor kids in Gilbert are going to get a good dose of that thanks to their spineless school board.

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