McDonnell should get an F
Governor McDonnell’s Grade
Yes, we have discussed this topic before. However, it is getting very close to becoming a reality. Most educators are horrified. The politicians all love it. Parent opinion is mixed. Just wait until their kid’s school doesn’t get an A. Then there will be a hue and cry. NCLB looked good on paper also. Don’t judge a book by its cover.
The House of Delegates passed legislation Monday that would assign letter grades to public schools in Virginia just as teachers grade students from A to F.
The bill, a conspicuous piece of Gov. Bob McDonnell’s education reforms, won final House passage on a bipartisan 54-40 vote with six delegates not voting.
Egging McDonnell on was Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal who said that this plan helped improve his state’s schools. For starters, Virginia isn’t Louisiana. The two states have very different demographics.
McDonnell also made erroneous statements while trying to sell his plan to the General Assembly. In his state of the state address, McDonnell said the following:
“The brutal fact is, when it comes to educating our young people, America is slipping,” McDonnell said in his State of the Commonwealth address on Jan. 9.
“While Virginia’s schools rate well nationally, according to the Program for International Student Assessment, the United States now ranks 14th in reading, 17th in science, and 25th in mathematics.” he added. “This is unacceptable. Those are not grades that we want to put on the national refrigerator.”
It really is far more complicated and the United States’ test scores have remained consistent, according to politifact.com. Slipping strongly implies that test scores have lowered. That is not the case. It is also not the case for Virginia’s schools. McDonnell’s legacy will be that of class warfare rather than real reform.
More importantly, assigning a school a letter grade creates a whole new system of haves and have-nots in the state. The grades, in 95% of the cases, will go right along with your average home values in the neighbors of the school being graded. We all know this. Why isn’t anyone just coming right out and saying it? This plan just adds another layer to the crippled, flawed, No Child Left Behind or what remains of it.
Education is supposed to be a great equalizer. The McDonnell plan will certainly nix that idea. Schools are buildings. Schools are also the students, teachers, administrators, support staff and parents. A grade of F goes to what? Whom? Obviously an empty building doesn’t get a grade, so the grade must go to the holistic concept of school. Does the F go to the students and parents?Absolutely not. The F goes to the teachers and administrators. Who is taking the test that will be the basis for the grade? The students.
I fail to see where students have any responsibility in the plan, which is becoming more and more typical in public education today. The McDonnell report card will once again punish the teachers and principal for working in the wrong school. There is a great deal in some of those schools over which school personnel has no control.
Maybe there should be some incentives for students. For starters, the curriculum is not designed for those not headed to college. More vocational training is needed with certificated completion provided. Not everyone should go to college and not everyone can afford to go to college. More meaningful studies would be a good place to start.
Lifting the restrictions on status for college admissions would also do a great deal to incentivize the immigrant community. Virginia has a fairly large immigrant population.
Encouraging early graduation would help students. Making it easier to combine college and senior year for good students would also incentivize kids. The state of Virginia could recognize academic success for each student who meets certain criteria starting in kindergarten to establish good study habits and pride in success. The state could tie academic success to the drivers license. There are lots of ideas out there. If all else failed, the State could poll the students. What would make them better students. Why not go to the source?
Shame on McDonnell and shame on the Virginia General Assembly for putting artificial political window dressing on our Virginia education system. Now there will be even more stress added. At what point are teachers just going to pack up and leave the profession in droves? When are dumb-ass politicians going to stop biting at every cast?
Real education reform will start with curriculum change and must involve those who don’t plan or want to go to college. Until school becomes a part of any child’s real world, it is, for the most part, just a place to go because you have to.