Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Longer school year? Nah, too much work.

The public school apologists are gearing up to tamp down the legislative effort to extend the school year. As reported by Radio Iowa.

The Director of the Department of Education is urging Iowa lawmakers to think twice before proceeding with any plan to lengthen the school year. Both Governor Vilsack and Senate Republicans have proposed more class time for Iowa kids -- but education director Judy Jeffrey says that may not produce the results they're looking for.

Jeffrey says, "Our research has indicated that for some students it may help. For instance, our struggling students, our at-risk students, but it doesn't seem to apply across the board to all students. So, whether or not you really want to make that kind of financial investment for all students is a very legitimate question." Jeffrey says demanding more classroom time could cut into teacher development and she says that would really hurt students. She says, "Because what we've found is, it really is the quality of the teacher and the way we use the time, not the amount that really makes a difference in raising student achievement." Jeffrey says schools may get more bang for their buck by putting resources into after school tutoring programs for kids that do need extra help.

Is anyone else confused by this twisted bit ‘o logic?

It’s a crafty play on words to lump ‘quality teachers’ and ‘use of classroom time’ together to argue against extending the school year. To believe that increasing the length of classroom instruction would not improve student achievement is odd, to say the least; however, if you use a handful of studies, perhaps missing the recent paper out of the SMU econ department, a policy leader/political hack could reasonably utter this nonsense. But please, is Jeffrey (and her experts in the Iowa department of education) so beholden to the unions that she can ignore reams of data suggesting that other countries are kicking our academic achievement butts in part because of longer school years?

Rigid school systems remind me of the basketball coach/counselor guy that every public school is issued when the building goes up. You know the one; has the ten requisite catch phrases in use since 1979 and good for all occasions, from the b-ball court to the career development class to the graduation glad hand. A great guy for football Sundays, but probably not offering up much in the way of thoughtful comment…although any coherent string of profanity about a certain U of I basketball coach (did I say Steve Alford?) might qualify as “thoughtful” this year…intended to inspire great things.

Judy Jeffrey is our state educational system’s version of a coach-counselor, and she’s certainly working her ten catch phrases; ‘our research indicates…’, ‘it’s the quality of…’, ‘we know best…’. These phrases are all designed to move the status quo along and cover up any of the potential challenges to the public education monolith, and it’ll work, so long as the education lobby keeps their sheeple agitated and willing.

The real question; how long can a statewide school system survive with this coach-counselor mindset? The unfortunate answer; indefinitely.

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