The Scarlet Letter…..Again

scarlet-letter-17

During the 1600’s, if a woman was caught being unfaithful to her husband then she was forced to wear a large scarlet letter “A” on her clothes to indicate she was/is an adulterer. Despite being publicly humiliated, adultery continued. In the 1800’s, they used to have public hangings as a means of deterring crime, yet they still had crime. Maybe school principals should be hung out on the front lawn of the school if it is underperforming!

Newly elected Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick is pushing an agenda that includes assigning “letter grades” to each campus in the State of Texas. He is pushing for those letter grades to be posted on the marquee in front of the schools so that anyone who passes by can see the grade.

Maybe we should assign some more labels such as:

P –for Poor (Economically Disadvantaged)

S – for Special Education

D – for Dyslexic

E – for English Language Learner

I could probably go on, but you get the idea. Public labels and attempts at humiliation have never served a purpose and will not serve a purpose in public education.

Without having actual data to support my position, I would have to guess that the schools with high wealth and a lower percentage of poor students will be labelled mostly “A or B”. Conversely, the schools with low wealth and a high percentage of poor students will be the schools with “C”, “D” or “F”.

There is lots of research available indicating the problem with most low-performing schools is poverty, not poor teaching. Poor students are having a greater difficulty learning to read on grade level.

http://prospect.org/article/stress-poverty-and-childhood-reading-gap

http://www.urbanchildinstitute.org/articles/research-to-policy/policy/poverty-can-jeopardize-the-development-of-literacy-and-early

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10573560903547445?journalCode=urwl20#preview

Another one of the new LG’s brilliant ideas is to form a 55 member committee to “advise” him on policies, including education. The strange part of this committee is that it does not contain educators from any level. As I have said before, “I broke my arm, quick call the plumber”. This is the same backwards logic being used by Mr. Patrick. If he wants to truly impact education, then he needs to involve educators in the process and review the literature regarding what is best for children and not just for his political career.

Mr. Patrick is hell bent on creating some kind of voucher program that will only benefit the people that can already afford private schools. If a private school charges $18,000 a year to attend and the voucher covers only $5000, then lower income people that couldn’t afford it before still can’t afford that remaining $13,000.

If he really wants to create some policies that will make a difference then start with some hard classroom size numbers. In most high schools and larger districts, the secondary classes start at 30 and go up from there. Can a teacher truly manage 180-220 students? The data shows otherwise.

 

Poverty Percentage 0-25% Poverty 25-50% Poverty 51-75% Poverty 76-100% Poverty
PK 3&4 15 14 13 12
K-3 18 17 15 13
4-6 20 18 16 14
7-8 21 19 17 16
9-12 22 20 18 17

There will be no waiver for large class size in low-performing schools. This will force some larger districts to reevaluate the pay structure. The state will also need to fund the additional teachers that will be required. It will not be cheap, but it will be effective.

Research on class size has shown that a smaller class size does have an impact on learning.

http://www.centerforpubliceducation.org/Main-Menu/Organizing-a-school/Class-size-and-student-achievement-At-a-glance/Class-size-and-student-achievement-Research-review.html

http://nepc.colorado.edu/files/pb_-_class_size.pdf

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/02/24/class-size-matters-a-lot-research-shows/

http://www.classsizematters.org/research-and-links/

Mr. Patrick also speaks of cutting property taxes. Will this be another hot check by the state that they can’t cash? The last one was $25 billion, so how much will this one be? Stop trying to create problems that are not problems, like property taxes. Instead, he should be trying to find a way to put several billion dollars in reserve for when the Texas Supreme Court rules against the current school finance system.

SCHOOLS ARE NOT FAILING, rather the State of Texas is failing the students in this state. Stop making policies that do not benefit the students of this state.

David R. Taylor

27-Year Teacher, Coach and Principal

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7 Responses to The Scarlet Letter…..Again

  1. Larry Haynes says:

    Well said. I have a hard time using the name Dan Patrick and the phrase “good idea” in the same sentence. Maybe we could assign the new LG a letter grade based on the effectiveness of gator hunters in Louisiana. Keep writing!

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