As a professional educator who prepares teachers, and as a parent of five children who’ve all been through the K-12 system, I encourage everyone to carefully consider their vote on Amendment 66.
Once again, we are asked to give more money to schools in the name of achievement with little or no accountability attached (we even forfeit our voice in future spending decisions). Do some research: more money has never guaranteed better educational achievement. And when my local district has hundreds of thousands of dollars to spend on consultants, I’d like to see some tangible results before I send them still more of my money (and let’s not mention the continued tax so they can have a new football stadium).
Let me be clear: there are many things schools need, especially in the SLV.
And let me be very clear: I know many dedicated, qualified teachers who go above and beyond every day for the children in their care.
Many of these teachers still need a living wage and fully-covered health care (but not Obamacare, of course).
Many districts still have outdated facilities. Many students come to school unprepared and don’t receive the ongoing support from home and community that are key to academic achievement. And too many students from poor and linguistically diverse backgrounds still do not receive legally mandated services.
The list could go on. But simply throwing more money at schools is not the solution, for two main reasons: 1) the most important factor in high quality schools is teacher effectiveness. Whatever you think about teacher accountability measures like S.B. 191, this is a clear and consistent research finding. Amendment 66 does nothing to ensure such teachers are hired, supported, and retained; and, 2) schools will not and cannot solve the social problems and inequities that are challenges to student academic achievement.
The consequences of poverty, poor health, one-parent families, mobility, poor literacy skills, and so on—-these are the great challenges to student success and Amendment 66 is silent on these issues.
If Colorado and Coloradans are serious about school success, then rectifying the social inequities and misplaced priorities that place kids at risk in the first place should be the priority.
Amendment 66 is the wrong approach to school reform. Again.
For the complete article see the 10-10-2013 issue.
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