January 12, 2010

A Real Reform Menu for Education?

Carroll Andrew Morse

Traditionally, Rhode Islanders have been offered a choice of two options for improving their troubled educational system…

  1. Spend more money on district-level bureaucracies, with minimal change to existing school practices.
  2. Spend more money on non-educational social service programs.
According to Jennifer D. Jordan of the Projo, however, in the case of six currently underperforming Rhode Island schools, while the spend-more-money piece is still in play, state Education Commissioner Deborah Gist is putting forth four new options to replace the above two...
  • “School closure and sending students to other schools“.
  • “A turnaround model which replaces the principal and retains 50 percent or fewer of existing teachers and staff.”
  • “A restart model which invites in a regional collaborative or a charter management organization to take over the school”
  • “A transformation model which replaces the principal, evaluates all teachers, revamps classes and offers ‘expanded learning time’ including longer school days or weekend classes.”
Significantly, unlike the usual RI options, these new options involve making changes directly at the individual school level. The message is that schools, as a fundamental unit of education, matter. Expect wailing and gnashing of teeth to commence soon.

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

Commissioner Gist is certainly demonstrating dynamic, problem solving leadership.

Posted by: Robert Balliot at January 12, 2010 12:29 PM

"evaluates all teachers"

[gasp] Not that. Anything but that ...

(Ditto what Robert said.)

Posted by: Monique at January 12, 2010 1:53 PM

Right wingers sure do like unfunded mandates and vague plans.

Posted by: Slapdap at January 12, 2010 2:02 PM

The teachers unions still own the General Assembly (e.g., the healthcare panel legislation).

The teachers unions will get their way, because Democrats want their money and political support more than they care about children.

So Rhode Island's education system will remain mired in mediocrity (at best) -- the preferred status quo for all things Rhode Island.

Posted by: Ragin' Rhode Islander at January 12, 2010 3:36 PM

Ragin writes: "So Rhode Island's education system will remain mired in mediocrity (at best) -- the preferred status quo for all things Rhode Island."

If the schools were simply mediocre, this sort of attention would not be required. Mediocrity evolves into failure when no one tries. Those schools are failing.

Posted by: Robert Balliot at January 12, 2010 4:55 PM

It's sad how indoctrinated people are as to the necessity of government schools. Of course this is largely the product of government schools themselves, so the system is self-perpetuating.

I wonder what the drop-out rate/failure rate would have to be for people to see that privatization is a better-quality and more affordable alternative to public schools. Sometimes I think if half of the students were graduating functionally illiterate people would still be reluctant to privatize just because of the status quo. It's 20% now and people still fight the idea, on what basis I will never understand. Private schools could not possibly do worse than our public schools are doing right now. It is not physically possible.

Posted by: Dan at January 12, 2010 7:00 PM

Dan, right on. America did just fine for over a century before the Progressives, led by John Dewey, commandeered education and installed their German-based system.

In the slums of India there are private elementary schools. Parents pay pennies per day for their kids to be taught. You can bet that everyone involved cares enough to do their best - children, teachers and parents - all because it is a private, voluntary system.

The Statist system has been with us so long that alternatives to it are considered by the Establishment to be not merely radical, but insane. That's why it is so critically important and urgent to dismantle that system now.

Posted by: BobN at January 12, 2010 7:52 PM

The only way these schools can be saved is by returning the decision-making power to the stock-holders, that is, the members of the school community. On this point, Gist is right on. Unfortunately she is also increasing the power of the bureaucrats by adding state mandates and increasing RIDE control. Does she want to empower the schools, like charters, or not?

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