Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Jerry Brown Calls For Less Standardized Testing While Cuomo Calls For More

In this Era of Accountability, when every politician in sight seems to have bought into testing as the sole measure of school and teacher accountability, it sure is refreshing to see the governor of a large state not only call for less tests, not more, but actually say something nice about teachers.

Seriously - that happened just today in California when Jerry Brown gave his State of the State speech:


“I want to say something about our schools. They consume more tax dollars than any other government activity and rightly so as they have a profound effect on our future. Since everyone goes to school, everyone thinks they know something about education and in a sense they do. But that doesn’t stop experts and academics and foundation consultants from offering their ideas — usually labeled reform and regularly changing at ten year intervals — on how to get kids learning more and better. It is salutary and even edifying that so much interest is shown in the next generation. Nevertheless, in a state with six million students, 300,000 teachers, deep economic divisions and a hundred different languages, some humility is called for.

“In that spirit, I offer these thoughts. First, responsibility must be clearly delineated between the various levels of power that have a stake in our educational system. What most needs to be avoided is concentrating more and more decision-making at the federal or state level. For better or worse, we depend on elected school boards and the principals and the teachers they hire. To me that means, we should set broad goals and have a good accountability system, leaving the real work to those closest to the students. Yes, we should demand continuous improvement in meeting our state standards but we should not impose excessive or detailed mandates.

“My budget proposes to replace categorical programs with a new weighted student formula that provides a basic level of funding with additional money for disadvantaged students and those struggling to learn English. This will give more authority to local school districts to fashion the kind of programs they see their students need. It will also create transparency, reduce bureaucracy and simplify complex funding streams.

...

“No system, however, works without accountability. In California we have detailed state standards and lots of tests. Unfortunately, the resulting data is not provided until after the school year is over. Even today, the ranking of schools based on tests taken in April and May of 2011 is not available. I believe it is time to reduce the number of tests and get the results to teachers, principals and superintendents in weeks, not months. With timely data, principals and superintendents can better mentor and guide teachers as well as make sound evaluations of their performance. I also believe we need a qualitative system of assessments, such as a site visitation program where each classroom is visited, observed and evaluated. I will work with the State Board of Education to develop this proposal.

“The house of education is divided by powerful forces and strong emotions. My role as governor is not to choose sides but to listen, to engage and to lead. I will do that. I embrace both reform and tradition — not complacency. My hunch is that principals and teachers know the most, but I’ll take good ideas from wherever they come.”


Imagine - a governor calling on people to have "humility" when approaching education reform and policy, proposing to give back power to the districts and the schools, to listen to principals AND teachers instead of berating them, to talk with respect about teachers rather than treat them like garbage.

How refreshing.

Quite the contrast to anti-teacher thug Andrew Cuomo.

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