“Urgency is Needed to Improve our Schools”

Boston Herald Editorial:

It may sound simple, but it helps illustrate the urgent need to change the state’s approach to improving failing schools.
As it stands, the state can deem a school underperforming if students fail to meet minimum standards for two or more years.
Then it’s six months to come up with an improvement plan, another two years to make changes and only then does the state even consider intervening. Meanwhile, another generation spends its most important years in schools that aren’t getting the job done.

  • Larry Winkler

    I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment/opinion expressed in the Boston Herald article.
    However, I have a bigger problem.
    There is no knowledge, not even a modicum of agreement about what’s wrong with the schools; and most districts don’t agree that there is anything is wrong with their district in the first place. How can that be?
    Answer: There is NO SCIENCE in the educational system.
    In the 100 years of “improving education”, there has not been, as far as I can tell, any progress in the area — but plenty of opinions and philosophies masquerading as science. Whether Piaget, Bruner, Gardner, Slavin, Wiggins, Bernhardt, Dewey, there is nothing akin to science because there has been no convergence to truth.
    There are no objective assessments (I didn’t say “test), no subjective assessments (I didn’t say “test) for which there is any agreement of what indicates educational progress.
    Is it the TIMSS study, or the PISA study, a State’s standardized test, or the NAEP tests; could it be Time’s measure of AP courses x graduation rate, or the Expansion Magazine’s ranking, or the number of National Merit Scholarships awarded, or the graduation rate, or the Black vs White gap, or IB designation. The assessments give difference results.
    “We have the best teachers in the State”. Funny! Every school district in the nation says that.
    “The decision on the curriculum is a professional decision, and we are the professionals. We’ll tell you, the citizens and parents and students, what we are going to do.” Every school district in the nation says and does the same thing.
    And all the experts disagree, fundamentally.
    And every few years the some experts change to a new fad because these experts now agree that the previous fad, that these experts told us would improve education, did not work. Seems to me, the “experts” are always wrong!
    Back to the Boston Herald. So, allow the principal to fire teachers, or force a “partnership” with a “turn-around” company, or get new management, or convert to charter school or give control to a “for-profit” company. Based on what criteria? THERE ARE NO LEGITIMATE CRITERIA!
    This is just another case of the delusion that a change in process somehow will magically improve the substantive problem!
    The substantive problem? There are no experts, there is no science, there is no progress; just educational fads — and failure.