>In a fight over the best way to provide an education, things can get complicated fast. Testing, merit pay, vouchers, unions, tenure, curriculum standards, NCLB…as a young educator I have trouble understanding all all that goes into regulations for education, it begs the question how do lay people understand it? The answer is that few of them do. (This is the not the simple answer as indicated in my post title, I’m just laying the groundwork for it.) The thing is, public education is held accountable to the public, but few can speak about it with a decent amount of knowledge or critical perspective on the subject. Instead, many people put in their meager two cents based upon what they think they know and it is often ill-informed.
Everyone thinks they have the answer. Everyone thinks they know how things should be run. You may think you know what merit pay is or what answers state and national testing delivers, but do you really know how it all trickles down to the classroom? As in many professions, it’s the people in the trenches doing the grunt work that can provide the clearest, most practical answers. Yet, it’s the higher ups who make the decisions, often without listening to those who actually have the answers.
Throwing new laws, regulations, and red-taped legislation at education is like trying to clean up gum from a shag carpet. The more you mess with it, the more it gets spread around and ground in and the harder it is to actually fix. Glizty solutions like the latest testing methods, trying to run a public institution like a private one by offering bonuses (aka merit pay), or calling vouchers “school choice” as they drain funds from schools already struggling only complicate matters. The easiest and best solution is to simply properly fund education.
When you buy a house you might find some of the following; new cabinets hiding an old leaking pipe, a sinking deck that wasn’t footed right and three layers of linoleum, tile and carpet over perfectly good flooring. You might feel aggravated that people covered things rather than do it properly in the first place. Do you see where my metaphor is going?
Public education is not a fad. Public education is not a competitive service industry up for bid. Public education is a right, not a privilege. It’s our duty to provide it. Stop trying to cover up the problems by throwing things over it. Do it properly. Fund it and it will work.