Wednesday, February 16, 2005
MILLARD MILLIONS: LIKE CALORIES, MORE IS NOT ALWAYS BETTER
You knew it: the $78 million bond issue in the Millard Public Schools passed, as expected, yesterday. Since Millard was just about the first district in Nebraska to cave in to Outcome-Based Education in the 1980s, it points the way of the future for other districts.
This is what OBE, now called “standards-based” or “performance-based” ed, inevitably becomes. You spend more and more money on stuff that has less and less to do with academics, with less and less accountability to your patrons for the academic product. What leverage do Millard voters have, now that they’ve given the shirts off their backs?
Oh, well. Let’s sit back and see if Millard West gets diamond-plated laptop covers and a cappuccino machine for the teachers’ lounge, like last time, while Millard South and the other less-tony schools get plastic three-ring binders and lots of individual packs of Folger’s decaf. Just kidding: but still. . . .
COUNTRY SCHOOL DEFENDERS STRIKE BACK
Two good letters to the editor appeared recently in the Lincoln Journal that effectively refute efforts by the Education Committee chairman in the Unicam, Sen. Ron Raikes of Lincoln, to ax Nebraska’s elementary-only, country schools. Too bad the senators are ignoring common sense and plowing ahead with the ax murder, as LB 126 has now gone to the hold-your-nose-and-compromise-so-it’ll-pass stage.
One was from George Lauby of Lexington, a Class I school-board member where annual spending per pupil is $7,070, more than $1,000 less than the statewide average. That contradicts Raikes’ contention that it would save Nebraska money to force the 231 little schools to close. Lauby pointed out that in those Class I schools which do have higher than statewide average spending, it’s because there are kids with unusual special-education needs; with smaller enrollments, just one or two SPED kids can sky the numbers. Lauby blasted Raikes’ contention that people opt in to Class I schools to segregate their kids from minority students in the town schools; he pointed out that in two of the Class I schools in Dawson County alone, 40% of the student body are Latino or Native American. Meanwhile, he scolds Raikes: if Class I kids all appear to be high-income because nobody’s on the list of federally-subsidized lunches, well, duhhhh. It’s because kids BRING THEIR LUNCH to Class I schools, Senator. Geeeez.
The other letter was from Karen M. Johnson of Gering, an administrator shared by three Class I schools in Scotts Bluff County. She pointed out that forcing the 8,000 kids in Nebraska’s country schools to move to town schools would increase transportation costs astronomically, while “saving” just 62 cents per child per day, administratively-speaking. She contended that the drive to push the Class I students into larger districts is to raise the larger districts’ test scores for federal and statewide assessments because Class I kids have higher achievement. So duhhhhh! Maybe the larger districts should be forced to consolidate under the management of the Class I schools, which are doing a better job!
Great letters from two smart Nebraskans. Much appreciated.
For more data on this issue, see www.ruraledu.org/docs/nebraska/intro.htm
COLORADO SOUNDS OFF ON EDUCATING ILLEGAL ALIENS
A guy named Frosty fired off a red-hot column on the impact that illegal aliens are having on Colorado education in a www.newswithviews.com article last week. It’s instructive for the current discussion of whether school attention drawn away by non-English speaking Hispanics has driven Nebraska kids away from town schools and into rural Class I schools in search of an education of acceptable quality.
Frosty Wooldridge reported that in 2003, Colorado taxpayers paid $140.6 million for educating the children of the 250,000 illegal aliens in that state. He said half the kids can't speak English, “which degenerates the educational process for Colorado children.” He also reported that one-half of the potential Denver Public Schools graduating seniors three years ago flunked out or quit before graduation.
Read the article for yourself and see what he says about illegals taking college slots away from the children of American citizens who are longtime taxpaying Colorado citizens. Was that steam coming out of his ears in his mugshot? Is that steam coming out of yours? Nebraska’s numbers may be less, but could Nebraska’s situation be that different?
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