Good Job… Keep Doing the Same Thing

In his weekly Post column, I actually agree with Jay Mathews’ assessment of the campaign promises on education issues being tossed around by the two candidates for Virginia governor:  Pleasant sound bites with little substance.

Whichever Virginia candidate wins will do his best for kids, even if much of what is being proposed is standard American campaign pap. Both want to raise teachers salaries, a wonderful idea, but neither presents a realistic plan to pay for that. Both support school-business partnerships to prepare students for the real world but don’t say how they are going to solve the old problem that neither business executives nor educators have the time or energy to make such plans work. Both want to reduce dropout rates but cite no examples of this happening recently in any significant way, given the drag of poverty on many children’s lives.

I have to admit that Mathews is also right when he says that Virginia already does a pretty good job of supporting public schools.

Unfortunately, that support is almost entirely in the context of the traditional educational structure.

Neither of the people running for governor, much less anyone else in the state political or educational administrative structure, is proposing anything that would substantially move teaching and learning beyond the process familiar to anyone attending school in the last half of the 20th century.

Charter schools don’t do it – the vast majority are just private schools being run with public money using the same curriculum and pedagogy.

AP and IB classes don’t do it – they still lock schools into a college-is-the-only-goal mentality using programs written by the even more tradition-bound university system.

Improving teacher quality is certainly a good idea but not if the plans are centered around enhancing teaching methods designed for students from 1965.

More standardized testing?  More crap is not better crap!

Yes, voters should feel good “about the great job Virginia educators have done” in the past.

But that’s no reason to keep doing the same thing, only more of it, and assuming that every other factor outside the school will remain static.

Oh, and paying for it with leftover small change.

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