The Wawascene was created by Dr. Mark Stock, former Superintendent of the Wawasee Community School Corporation. Due to its local popularity, Dr. Stock has left the blog site to future Wawasee administrators.

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Comments should be respectful and pertain to the topic posted. Comments about personnel matters should be made directly to the administrators responsible. Blog moderators reserve the right to remove any comment determined not in keeping with these guidelines.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Editorials for Today

Here is the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette's editorial on charter schools and charter school funding.

Meanwhile the Star's voice on public education, RiShawn Biddle, teed off on ISTA and all the other educational lobbying groups again. (Note: this is a re post from 2006)

More interesting than RiShawn's daily rant are a few of the comments that explain the figures tossed around in his blog.


bcbho said...

I guess if you budget a war to cost $50 billion ($300+ billion later and counting) you can convince yourself that moving the Istep will only cost $4 million.

Are you for change? said...

The Journal Gazette? Surely you jest. The Gazette can't even connect the dots between their editorial position and the editorial cartoon they ran on the same page. (which was directly from the Sunday Indy Star).

RiShawn raised the same questions in '06 that are on my mind today: Why is ISTA dictating public policy at the legislature?

Because they are an anti-change machine. Their role is to perpetuate the status quo.

I stay at a hotel and I get a customer satisfaction survey. I get my car washed, I get a postcard to tell the franchise owner about my level of satisfaction.

Every year, (well at least on the old days) the top students in a graduating class single out the teacher that made a difference. Why not ask them to write down their opinions on the bottom performers, then take action?

I'll keep repeating this until the question gets answered: as superintendent, how are you thinning the herd?

Where is the elimination of the bottom 5% of the faculty that is not making a positive contribution to education? Is tenure not the enemy of improving education?

The best can not overcome the corporate slugs known by the name "good enough."

Anonymous said...

This is definitely off subject but I'm not sure who to ask. I am a parent who has some questions about this year's prom. Is there someone I could email them to?

Superintendent Mark Stock said...

You might try Mrs. Oswald, Family and Consumer Science teacher at WHS.

so much fun, so little time said...

RU4 change asked, "Why is ISTA dictating public policy at the legislature?"
Wow, is that really happening? If so, we can sure save a lot of time and taxpayer $ by sending the legislators home early from now on. I didn't realize that dictating policy required debates and votes. If what you are saying is true, then the legislative process is a sham. Of course, if what you are saying is that the ISTA has more influence than you want them to have, then that is different. That sound you hear in the background is a tiny violin playing a very sad song.

I like the way you try to compare public entities with private companies. There are positives and negatives with both types of management. All is not nirvana in the private sector regardless of how many satisfaction surveys you complete. And the world is not coming to an end in the public sector, regardless of your spin.

I think it would be a great idea for a group of eighteen year old high school students to decide which teachers stay and which ones go. After all, we know that teenagers know everything they need to know at that point in their lives. It only makes sense to give them final word on a teacher's career. What a brilliant idea! (sarcasm off)

Of course, if you view teachers as merely a herd of animals that need to be "thinned", what difference does it make if few end up being slaughtered.

You keep repeating your disengenous question to the superintendent about "thinning the herd" knowing full well that in an entity such as a public school, the process is much more complicated than you make it appear. It is apparent from reading your comments that you have no interest in healthy debate, you are merely a troll who wants to take pot shots. That's fine, Dr. Stock has opened the blog to all kinds of comments. Some add value, others not so much.

And finally, the "best" overcome "good enough" all the time, whether in the private corporate world or in the public sector. I don't know what seminar or management guru you picked that saying up from, but you should send them a customer satisfaction card requesting your money back.

fram said...

Most commenters on this blog are interested in the healthy exchange of ideas. Others are merely interested in rattling off talking points and issuing faux challenges based on faulty premises.

I suggest readers ignore the latter.

Anonymous said...

hey hey hey!

Anonymous said...

As a public educator myself, I believe that the ISTA is one of the worst things that could have happened to education. Public educators are not held accountable for student leanring.

I do not however, believe that public educators should lose their job based solely on test scores. Public educators should be evaluated often (even though their contract may state that they are only to be evaluated once every few years). The ISTA would never go for this.

I believe that public educators need to be held accountable for implementing research based strategies. These strategies have been scientifically researched and proven to be effective. This also means that these are the most current practices which many public educators with tenure do not want to follow because they would have to change their ways.

Instead of implementing these research based strategies, many tenured public educators would rather hide behind the ISTA and forget about the needs of the students. What association do the students have to hide behind? None! They are held accountable, just as we should be!

Anonymous said...

The enemies of good public education are too much and inappropriate televison, video games, violent and immoral movies, the lack of social responsibility by society, ignorant legislators, and parents who overly indulge their children and require no responsibility from their children. Considering these factors, the public schools are working miracles.

Anonymous said...

STOP BLOCKING ALL THE WEBSITES......everyone uses msn all the time to look up research. When we need pictures for a report or something this was the only site we could use to get them. And now you took thatand it seems like you care less about our eduaction and more of how you look. not everyone uses all these sites you block for bad. in fact less then you think do. You think your being helpful by blocking every website ever made but your making it to be useless to even have internet at school. you might as well just take away the computers.

RU4 change ? said...

So much fun -

My concerns about improving staff quality are fully genuine. "Thinning the herd" means replacing the bottom performing corporate employees with the goal of improvement. Clearly, you are not comfortable with that concept.

At what point in your world view do you have concerns? When the bottom 5% become the bottom 10%? How can that not be a barrier to improvement?

Is the corporate world nirvana? I wish. We have Tyco, Enron, MCI and many others that show us it is not. Those problems, in my view, tend to solve themselves. I see these outcomes as the thinning of the corporate herd.

My second point was to seek out the opinions of the top of the graduating class. The opinions of these students can be trusted to select the top performers, but not the poor performers?

My question remains: Is the process of education management and the people who have that responsibility doing what can be done to improve the quality of education?

In your reply, you state "the process is much more complicated than you make it appear." I agree.

My observation is pretty simple. When I see the ISTA lobbyists at the door of every elected official, when I come out of the state capital, look up and see the ISTA building, I think Dr. Stock and everyone like him has a difficult job.

But it is a job that someone needs to do.

So if my observations and concerns make me a troll, a pot shot taker, then I'll take that criticism. There is an 800 pound gorilla in the room, and it is blocking the way to improvement.

I think that the professional educator post paralleled my issue without the sharp point that gored your ox.

I'll consider that approach for the future.

wttxe said...

I appreciate the response of RU4 Change?. I would question the premise behind the debate. That premise is that the performance of public schools is so dismal that "school reform" is urgently needed. In fact, that is one thing NCLB is doing. As time goes on, more and more schools will be designated as failures, regardless of actual performance, which will fuel even more calls for even more extreme reform. Fingers will be pointed and blame will be assessed by various parties. What ultimately happens at that point will probably depend on which political party is pulling the levers of governmental policy.

But if we take a step back, we might approach the situation in a different manner. What if school performance is not as dismal as is currently portrayed?

The most recent issue of Edutopia magazine ( references the seminal text "A Nation At Risk" that basically formed the starting point for many, if not most, of the current reform initiatives.

While I would encourage all readers to read the article, I think one particularly enlightening part of the article is a sidebar which compares some of the claims of "A Nation At Risk" to actual data (which apparently was never released.)

"What the report (A Nation at Risk) claimed:

* American students are never first and frequently last academically compared to students in other industrialized nations.
* American student achievement declined dramatically after Russia launched Sputnik, and hit bottom in the early 1980's.
* SAT scores fell markedly between 1960 and 1980.
* Student achievement levels in science were declining steadily.
* Business and the military were spending millions on remedial education for new hires and recruits.

What was actually happening:

* Between 1975 and 1988, average SAT scores went up or held steady for every student subgroup.
* Between 1977 and 1988, math proficiency among seventeen-year olds improved slightly for whites, notably for minorities.
* Between 1971 and 1988, reading skills among all student subgroups held steady or improved.
* Between 1977 and 1988, in science, the number of seventeen-year-olds at or above basic comptetency levels stayed the same or improved slightly.
*Between 1970 and 1988, the number of twenty-two-year-old Americans with bachelor degrees increased every year; the United States led all develped nations in 1988."

Again, I would encourage the readers to read the entire article. But the point is that how we define a problem has a bearing on such things as where we place the blame and what solutions we ultimately implement.

No one that I know would suggest that public education in America is just fine as it is. There are notable successes and high profile failures. There will always be a need for improvement, just as there always has been. The issue is whether "reform" issues should be worked out on a local level or on a larger state or federal level.

I guess the question for readers of this blog would be if you think the same people who brought us intelligence failures, a failed response to Katrina, the current scandals du jour, etc. are the ones best qualified to bring about school reform.