Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Hope Nebraska lawmakers are paying attention. We don't need the stinkin' socialistic Learning Community or some fancy-pants focus schools and the like to improve education for Nebraska children, especially the needy. We just need smarter public policies on K-12 education.

Florida has much tougher-to-teach demographics than we have, but managed to lift their low-income kids' standardized test scores a whopping amount with a few simple tactics:

-- Reform the way kids are taught to read. (I've been raging about this for 20 years, but few, if any, educators or legislators in Nebraska "get it"! We just MUST get rid of Whole Language, phony memorized spelling, idiotic word walls and all that kind of stuff that turns kids into morons by fourth grade, and get back to simple, effective and much cheaper and better phonics ONLY for the K-2 years.)

-- Frequently test them with meaningful and tough tests. (Nebraska's statewide assessments are covering up systemic underachievement even in the wealthy suburbs, and generally come in two forms: so easy, it's embarrassing that someone considers that level of academic achievement the "standard," or so subjectively scored on the wrong factors, such as the writing assessment, that the results are meaningless, and certainly not worth all the expense and hoopla.)

-- Give poor parents lots of options for school choice to form at least the start of a true educational marketplace. (Nebraska has ZERO parental choice for parents of any income level, and boy, does that need to change, since competition is the No. 1 route to quality, but we don't have any.)

The funny thing is, the tax dollars lost to the state in Florida through the school choice policies didn't hurt a bit. The fear in Nebraska about school choice ideas, including vouchers and tuition tax credits, is that many poor parents will yank their kids out of the failing urban public schools the moment they get a little tuition assistance for the more-effective private schools. When that happens, as it instantly did in Florida, the declining enrollment reduced the corresponding district's state aid funding. But that's the point: good government policy de-funds what doesn't work, and funds what does. These three simple changes didn't hurt the state at all, since the overall test score averages improved dramatically.

Why? Because of the simple and cheap things that Florida did, especially the crucial one -- reading reform.

So you can do more . . . with less money . . . if you just do education right?!?! What a concept!

And there's no reason NOT to do these three simple things here, too?

Come on, Big Red -- let's do this!

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Right on, Susan! We don't need no stinking, politically inspired, inscrutable learning community! All your ideas work and are relatively very inexpensive. That's precisely why the educational establishment rejects them. They aren't complicated and "sophisticated" (expensive) enough. They don't create more educrats and mediocre to poor teachers and administrators.They don't lead to empire building by the establishment, which includes teachers unions.
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