A Public Trust

When you look at the words “Education is Too Important to Be Entrusted to Government,” what do they mean to you? Do you see the statement as right or wrong, true or false, or somewhere in between?

If not government, then who?

If not government, then who?

Words are meant, among other things, to make a statement, persuade or to sell an idea. So with the re-writing of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) being debated in the Senate Education Committee, now would be a good time for the country to discuss entrusting government to run the institution of public education.

With the damage inflicted upon schools through NCLB, money wasted on Race to the Top grants, and the chaos created through NCLB waivers, the government owes its people an explanation as to what was learned and give us reason as to why we should trust them to move forward.

The reality today is that testing every child, in every school, every year has left us financially unable to address the dire needs of every child. This situation was created by government as directed by the education industry.

State government took on the responsibility to provide public education. The quest for quality used to be an American principle we could rely upon. When equal access for the poor and minorities was seen as another principle of our republic, the federal government became the engine for equality.

When the United States of America was entrusted to be a country of the people, by the people, and for the people, we could trust government because we could trust ourselves through representation of our ideals.

The trust has not really been lost; it has been sold. Let us hope there is a reclaiming process in the very near future. Our children are depending on it.


Reform: Where to Begin?

It would seem obvious, you begin where you are. But to really know where you are with education reform, you do need some assessments—these assessments are not what you might think. To really assess where you are, you have to step back to get a wider view of what is happening and what has happened that contributed to producing what now exists as your reality.

Unfortunately, this first step appears to be where the first mistakes are made. We need to spend more time at this point because our assessment of our current state of affairs, the status quo, will play a huge role in determining the beliefs and assumptions that will guide our actions.

Whether you are looking at the local level with school improvement or at state and national levels with education reform law, you must have a very clear and accurate picture of the conditions that need changing and how they were created.

So my advice on where to begin is to assess not just the students’ scores on tests but to proceed with assessing where teachers, parents, and the business community believe we can improve. That input should then narrow the choices for further assessment tools that can be used. For every aspect of reform that you may be concerned about, there’s an assessment for that!

Then with our principles firmly cemented in our hearts and our assessments in hand, we are there – where we begin.