topshelf wrote:The two things that will greatly help the education program in this country is the removal of standardized testing and funding.
In public schools, everything is driven by the test scores that a school produces on their state's standardized tests. Schools with good results get more funding, more funding means more resources and more faculty/staff, more faculty/staff means both happier faculty/staff plus smaller class sizes, smaller class sizes mean more one-on-one time for the students. The problem with this is, teachers end up teaching to the standardized tests as opposed to the curriculum out of fear of getting poor tests results. They are forced to cut out valuable information from the curriculum, and they're left with no option but to teach at a rabid pace to get the lessons done before the testing. The tests don't adequately assess the student, they don't take into account the fact that some students test better than others, or that a school who already has poor resources and large class sizes is already at a massive disadvantage, etc. It is a flawed system, but the system exists because it is a cash cow.
Regarding the funding... yes and no. Title I schools are schools that get more money and more resources that other schools. They have a high percentage of low income families. Those Title I schools end up with smaller class sizes and more resources than your average public school. The test results are one aspect of Race to the Top that help determine some federal funding, but most funding comes from the state. Race to the Top is Obama's brainchild, with the help of Arne Duncan, that was supposed to improve NCLB, but is just as bad. The schools in high income areas get more local help because people are willing to pay more in taxes. The schools that are especially screwed over in funding are the ones in the middle. They don't get the Title I funds and they don't get the extra local money from local taxes.
And you're right about the cash cow. Standardized testing companies are making bundles of money right now.
topshelf wrote:In regards to funding, when you look at the funding schools get vs. what they need, there is a major deficit. Here in Central Florida, a proposed 1% property tax that would go directly to my county's school system was voted down about 8 years ago (only 1%), and the result of that is the county has been on a hiring freeze for teachers for 3 years, 5 schools have closed, and schools are way to over crowded. These poor conditions will only perpetuate the larger problems with the education of today's youth.
Since about 2008 most areas are not willing to vote for any type of tax increase. I live in a county that has a decent tax rate, very good schools, and population growth. However, the local government is not willing to raise taxes to increase teacher salaries. As a result, salaries have been frozen for 6 years. Last year we did get a 1% bonus of some sort, but that was a one year stipend. With health care costs increasing, many teachers are seeing their take home pay go down. As a result, good teachers are leaving this county to work in Charlotte Mecklenburg County because they pay more. At some point local leaders will realize that a lot of people move to this area because of the schools and you pay for what you get.
But putting all that aside, the biggest factor in school success is parent involvement. You can get a ton of money, like Title I schools, but if the parents don't care it's very hard to reach those kids.