NYTimes Editorial on US Primary Education

nyt education(Community Matters) The NYTimes says we’re way behind and falling further so. It cites inequality in funding and less rigorous teacher training and professionalism as two main contributors to less than average performance in USA student assessment.

I couldn’t agree more with the inequity in funding argument – even Texas’ hodgepodge Robin Hood funding is a joke – disincentivizing districts with 60% low to moderate income students like Austin from adequately funding programs & compensation and further aggravating inequality between wealthy and poor schools as PTAs/PTOs for wealthy schools easily close the gaps for privileged children – I’m not knocking the parents at these schools, of course they would & should. Initiatives like the national core curriculum are necessary to raise the baseline of performance standards and shouldn’t be used as an excuse to limit expectations. Kids who learn the three Rs, critical thinking skills, problem solving skills and are inspired to perform will do just fine on the common assessments and don’t need to be taught to the tests. While Top 10% rules for college admission & the increased competitiveness of admissions have furthered integration of children in the face of opposition to affirmative action, it’s locked out really bright and deserving children from high performing schools and caused highly engaged parents to fight testing standards.

As to teacher training, the prestige of the profession, the quality of university teaching schools – we’re extraordinarily lucky to be living in Austin. We (Austin & Central Texas) hadn’t availed ourselves enough of UT’s Center for Teaching and Learning – though whether at the direction of funders or their own initiative, regional school districts appear to be engaging more & more with the world class resources of UT. I know some of the credit goes to the E3 Alliance. We’re still, however, seriously underinvesting in this area. Especially in many rural Texas & US areas – where we still promote former football coaches & other good ‘ol boys as principals – we’re shortchanging our students and our economic development prospects . . . our future.

 Reading results of the 2013 Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) – shows Austin performing at better than average urban results but without measurable differences since 2011. The gap between higher and lower performing students is way too high & unsustainable, an admitted problem in Austin and all urban areas.

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