Friday, October 06, 2006

You Down Wit AYP (Yeah You Know Me)?

It's called Adequate Yearly Progress, and not a single South Carolina public school district made it this year.

That's right, not one.

A central component of No Child Left Behind, AYP is supposed to tell us whether schools are meeting specific proficiency goals year-in, year-out.

This morning's Charleston Post and Courier has an interesting article by reporters Diette Courrege and Mindy Hagen explaining AYP and giving substantial ink to its detractors.

Critics say South Carolina's standards are much higher than the rest of the nation, thus making it more difficult for schools to achieve AYP.

"We continue to feed ignorant regional bias against our state and our public schools by participating in this farce," Berkeley County Assistant Superintendent for Learning Services Mike Turner told the Post and Courier.

"I don't think the measuring stick is measuring effectively," said Dorchester superintendant Joe Pye.

And from our State Superintendent Inez Tenenbaum in this morning's edition of The State: "No Child Left Behind says that every school in America must be perfect, and that's not going to happen."

To be fair, South Carolina's standards are among the toughest in the nation, but that's probably a good thing in a state with the worst graduation rates and SAT scores in the country. Tenenbaum has petitioned the federal government for a uniform measuring stick, but let's be honest - is setting up a system where more schools make a less-stringent AYP standard really a victory?

One of the quotes we found most interesting in this morning's coverage was from Colleton County superintendent Charles Gale, who said that No Child Left Behind was a "political move to make public schools look bad."

Actually, South Carolina's public schools already looked (and were) pretty bad prior to No Child Left Behind, and the progress we've made in the intervening years has failed to even remotely keep pace with the increased taxpayer investment.

There's a reason AYP gets tougher every year, it's because every year the world we live in gets that much more competitive.

So let's have the annual debate over standards. And let's watch as both sides spin the isssue as either another indictment of our public schools or an indictment of No Child Left Behind itself.

But as we argue over AYP, let's not lose sight of the fact that one out of every two South Carolina schoolkids isn't graduating.

We are leaving thousands of kids behind - and we're doing it every year.

Sure, we'll pour another couple hundred million dollars into our public schools again next year, just like we poured another couple hundred million in this year, and last year, and the year before that. Every year it's the same thing, and if you happen to oppose these massive funding increases or support any proposal that veers from the monopoly view, then expect Inez, The State newspaper, the SCEA, the S.C. School Boards Association, the S.C. Association of School Administrators and the rest of the educrat establishment to put out press releases saying you hate public schools.

Maybe one day we'll realize that if we want our kids' test scores to go up by any yardstick, we've got to accompany all that new money with real, market-based accountability.

And maybe one day we'll also realize that supporting that kind of thing doesn't mean you hate public schools, it just means you're ready to try something new to help them.

The old formula - by any standard - isn't doing the trick.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really look forward to the day when citizens stop trying to turn every government service into a capatalist venture. We are talking about children. Many are far too quick to forget the human componant. Children do not simply fall behind because of the condition of the schools. The fall behind because the are living in abject poverty and any measures to improve scores with school choice are not going to fix the root problem.

8:27 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

AMEN fits, right on!

8:33 AM

Blogger faithinsound said...

Dear Anon #1,

Abject poverty? Are you kidding us? Look, call it gut-wrenching, call it debilitating, hell, call it Dickensian if you'd like, but if you're going to offer up that kind of hackneyed, overused penny-ante political speak, we suggest you take your comments elsewhere.

Ms. Manning may coddle your lack of originality and lowest common denominator mode of thinking, but you shall receive no such quarter from us.

It's precisely the "human component" that our one size fits all government monopoly is incapable of even comprehending, let alone actually fixing. And the last time we checked, sir or ma'am, market- responsive "capitalist ventures" had a much better track record of solving society's ills than inflexible government programs.

You say that you "look forward to the day when citizens stop trying to turn every government service into a capitalist venture?"

Well, we look forward to the day when bureaucrat apologists like yourself stop saying "it's about the children" as you pledge blind loyalty to a system that keeps half of them from graduating high school.

"We're talking about children?" No s---, Sherlock. For a minute there we thought we were talking about space androids, but thanks for clearing things up.

Do us a favor, send us your name and address over at the bromide farm and we'll mail you a Thesaurus.

Abject poverty. Please.

Oh, and enjoy your service.


9:08 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Geez Will, you are kind of cranky this morning.

I thought it was entertainment. I guess I hit a nerve.

9:19 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

will you served and then got served. lotsa servicing this AM

9:59 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am always open to being educated. Could you please give me two or three examples of "market responsive capitalist ventures" that " solved society's ills.?" (no gov't.-subsidized ones please0

10:54 AM

Blogger Earl Capps said...

I'm not sure I'd believe those people when they claim No Child is bad ... after all, it's like listening to a student saying testing is unfair.

There are plenty of people who don't want any kind of metrics used to assess performance. That's the kind of thing that got me flunked out of college on my first try (graduated with honors my 2nd try, so I guess I learned something).

But I will, in the defense of the edu-crats, say that two-thirds of what influences a child's performance is outside of the classroom, for which it would be unfair to hold the educators responsible.

We have large parts of our state's population with a cultural death wish who do little to nothing to provide any kind of supportive influence upon their children. If a child is raised in a family which is ignorant, and school is seen as free day care - how much can any school, program, or specialist reverse that, given just a few hours a day, 180 days a year?

While "the system" in education is a problem, the real enemy of progress which destroys the futures of children before they even have a chance to have one ... is our fellow South Carolinians.

That's the ugly truth nobody wants to talk about.

1:42 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm, Anon #2, since you didn't get a response to your query, I guess we can assume that "market-responsive capitalist ventures solving society's ills" must just be another example of "hackneyed. overused penny-ante political speak."

3:15 PM

Blogger Martin Guerre said...

Interesting trend in Indianna:


Options which can add up to better performance: Public Schools + School choice + Home school = Maybe-Better-Than-Now-In-SC

So far, one approach doesn't seem to be the cure all...

5:09 PM

Blogger faithinsound said...

Dear Impatient Anonymous,

You want some private Sector Innovations? OK, how about the light bulb. Or microwave ovens. Or the Model-T. Or Microsoft Windows. Or plastics. Or airplanes. Or radios. Or X-Rays.

Dwarf wheat was another good one, but that was only half market-created. The other responsible party? The Mexican government.


7:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You list a number of inventions, most of which did owe their final creation to private enterprise. However, they would have done the average American very little good if the gov't had not provided a means for the public to take advantage of them.
Who provided the highways for the Model-T, the airports for the airplanes, the hospitals(in most cases) for the x-ray machines, or regulated the airwaves to make the radio practicable? The government. And in the case of rural S. Carolinians, light bulbs, microwaves or any electrical appliances would have been useless if FDR and the Congress hasd not set up the Rural Electrification Admn in the 1930's. after private enterprise refused to do it--not enough profit. The point is that the American public and private enterprise has been well-served by an involved, caring gov't, and all this right-wing rhetoric(including that of our governor) that somehow gov't. is the "enemy"and is deleterious to American society and free enterprise is simply not supported by history.

1:34 PM

Blogger faithinsound said...

Our Dear Anon,

Government is not the enemy in our book. It should most certainly be there, and its growth (yes, we think government should grow) should be commensurate with the growth of our population and inflation.

Our state's recent success in luring films is a great example of government working for the people, making decisions that directly stimulate capital investment.

Unfortunately, far too much of the 22% government growth over the last two years has NOT been targeted to job growth, it's been wasted on special interest or political pork. If we can stop wasteful spending and ineffeciency, we can better target resources toward vital or useful spending.

For example, we complain about our roads being among the worst in the nation yet we continue to pour billions into a bloated higher ed system that consumes 17% of our state budget (national average is 10%).

Why can't we take that wasteful 7% and put it toward roads?


2:53 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good point. Interesting that you use education and roads as an example. The present similar examples of misplaced resources. In both cases, we have many poor to mediocre ones, and because we spread available resources so widely, few really good ones. SC is something like 4th in the US in miles of roads per capita and of course the inordinate number of state instituions of higher learning is well-documented. The problem is, it does not seem to matter which political party controls the legislature and the governor's office, none are willing or have the political skills to change things.

9:11 AM


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