Thursday, February 23, 2006

Anti-dropout Bill

Indiana has proposed an anti-dropout bill that would NOT allow a student to drop out of school before the age of 18 unless it were for medical reasons or financial hardship.

Why am I skeptical? A law can't really address WHY students dropout - it can only say "you aren't allowed to." The reasons are so socially complex in most cases I know of that simply saying "you can't leave here" isn't going to make a difference.

How do we address the emotional and social complexities of why 20-30% of our students give up at this point in their lives?

What some principals predict is that a significant number of potential dropouts will willfully break known rules in order to get themselves kicked out. If they don't want to be here they won't be there - a new rule won't change that.

Sooooooo....back to the real issue. How does society address the real reasons why so many students find school irrelevant?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Liberty VS Equity

The tug of war between liberty and equity is a never ending battle. However, if it ever does end, our country is doomed. When the teeter totter tips to the liberty side, equity decreases. When the teeter totter tips to equity, personal and social liberties decrease. And so the epic struggle between political views goes on.

This liberty VS equity debate is evident in some recently proposed legislation here in Indiana that would allow schools more freedom to operate. The bill supposedly targeted over 900 rules and regulations that schools could be freed from. It does protect some core laws, such as collective bargaining, compulsory school attendance, discipline, parental access to records, immunizations, accountability, assessment and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

But the scope of what could be out the window was astounding to some on the committee and several who testified.

It seems to me that schools often cry out for more freedom, then when offered it they get nervous.

Yesiree, we want liberty and freedom from onerous regulations, whoooops ..... not THAT much. Hmmmm. Why not? It depends on how much inequity society can tolerate. I admit it. I have lived with so much regulation that I sometimes have trouble even recognizing it anymore. That's why we should be embracing it at some level.

Personally, I think we need to pursue deregulation or eventually the only deregulated schools will be private schools. Until they start taking federal and state money of course!! They should think long and hard about that. The trade off might not be worth it!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Voucher advocate proposes "no fiddling with the data."

Another recent study of 13,577 schools shows that public schools hold their own against private schools. The report calls the public school students’ scores “statistically significantly higher,” because 10 points is generally considered to represent one grade level’s difference. “This analysis makes it appear that there isn’t anything magical in private schools that leads to a significant difference in achievement,” Mr. Lubienski, co-author of the study, said.

In what has to be one of the most nonsensical quotes ever, Joe McTighe, Executive Director of the Council for American Private Education had this response to Education Week, “When you look at the data as is without any fiddling, students in privates outperform those in publics by a wide margin,” he said.

Let me interpret "without any fiddling." It means "don't look too closely at the data." When they broke the data down and compared students with similar backgrounds, public schools outperformed private schools.

Look for a huge push from voucher advocates in the next year. Indiana has already vowed to do so. I think there will be more desperation to do so soon because the longer time goes on the better and more thorough the research base will get. And that....might not be what private schools and voucher advocates really want.

Vouchers fail in IN - advocates vow to return

The Indianapolis Star reflects on the voucher bills dying in this year's General Assembly. Supporters vow to return with a grass-roots appeal to the public.

Look for a greater push next year. They believe the time is now.