Not all schools are meeting the benchmarks required by No Child Left Behind. There are several possible responses:
- Lower the standards so that 100 percent proficiency is not required;
- Dumb down the tests so that 100 percent proficiency is achievable;
- Fudge the numbers in various ways to make 100 percent proficiency possible;
- Make incremental changes to current practices
- Increase the number of inputs to the system: more teachers, longer school days, make the school year longer
- Make structural changes, such as implementing merit pay and school choice
Many of these options can be pursued at the same time. In an editorial (Back-to-school time for citizens, too, August 15), the Wichita Eagle suggests that we ought to increase the number of inputs:
“Besides, with the No Child Left Behind Act demanding more of schools by the year, there is a powerful argument to be made that schools not only need to maximize classroom time but need more of it.
“This first day of school finds the district asking more of taxpayers as well as students. The school board voted unanimously Monday to raise its local property-tax mill levy — known as the local-option budget — by 2 mills, from 27 percent of the district’s general fund to 30 percent of it.”
It points out that teacher pay has increased dramatically:
“It’s great to see the district’s teachers receive a 4 percent raise, on top of last year’s 11 percent increase in their total pay package. But given that the district also is receiving $18 million more in state money this year as a result of the school-finance lawsuit, the community should see significant improvement — and hold board members and administration accountable if it proves elusive.”
But then comes back to the approach that might be called: Give some more.
“That said, members of the community can and should do more than watchdog the district’s success.
Businesses and individuals can add their contributions to Education Edge, the private fundraising effort that reaped another $195,000 for the district this week to be used for fine arts, athletics and classroom mini-grants.
The schools always need tutors and other volunteers, people to share their talents and connect with kids. To learn more about mentoring or tutoring, call Communities in Schools at 316-973-5110.
Perhaps the most powerful educational tools of all are parents, more of whom need to inject themselves in their kids’ homework, learning and, frankly, lives.”