Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Alaska Legislature Determined To Give Alaska The Record

The headline in this morning's Alaska Dispatch News front page:
"GOP legislators eye health, education for cuts"

 The headline in Section B:
"High school graduation rate among worst in US

With a new round of education budget cuts, maybe Alaska can get ahead of Washington DC, Nevada, and New Mexico and be at the very bottom.  Way to go legislators, always thinking of ways to make Alaska stand out.

I would put some caveats in this though.

First, graduation rate is a tricky measure because it's something the schools can manipulate.  Teachers are told to pass marginal students.  Graduation standards can be reduced.  It's a good thing to increase, but the best measures aren't ones school districts can control.

That said, I'm not too sure what having a high school diploma actually means these days.  Not having one has big consequences.  But does it represent something significant enough to justify the stigma (particularly ability to get a job) not having one imposes?  For the clear cut cases, sure.  But the student who just barely misses it?  Not so sure.  But then GED's are available for those who finally get there stuff together.

Two more points.  Money alone doesn't make a better school.  How the money is used is important.  We have a basic system and it's hard to tinker with.  When I taught 6th grade for a year, I concluded that I could teach a lot more to each kid if I had only five in class.  The results would be significant enough that setting up school so that each kid only had academics for ten weeks would be more effective than having a class of 30 for forty weeks.  I'm not proposing that, but I am saying ways to tinker with education delivery could greatly impact output.  But all things being equal, if more money means smaller classes (rather than more highly paid administrators) more money is better than less.

Finally, there is a national conservative effort to get public education money diverted to private schools.  Vouchers, for example.  One way to achieve their goal is to make public schools so bad, that the public gets totally fed up and supports diverting public money to private schools, including religious schools.  I'm sure that some of the Republicans wanting to cut the education budget consciously or unconsciously have this goal.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments will be reviewed, not for content (except ads), but for style. Comments with personal insults, rambling tirades, and significant repetition will be deleted. Ads disguised as comments, unless closely related to the post and of value to readers (my call) will be deleted. Click here to learn to put links in your comment.