I wrote yesterday about the many aspects of Wednesday’s Ohio House Committee hearing on education funding that I thought were positive. The witnesses who testified were four of the pillars of American conservative education reform – Eric Hanushek of the Hoover Institution, Rick Hess from the American Enterprise Institute, Students First (Michelle Rhee’s group) and Marguerite Roza of the Center for Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington, which provided the blueprint for the Cleveland Plan.
I repeat that it is unfortunate similar pillars on the more progressive side of the issue, like Diane Ravitch of New York University, or Linda Darling-Hammond of Stanford have yet to be consulted.
While there were a few positive pieces of Wednesday’s testimony, there were significant concerns as well:
I wish we would try to figure out if we can quantify critical thinking, creativity, etc. and build that into an accountability system. Instead, the panel focused on Value Added data, which they admitted is a complicated and dicey calculation, though I think it’s a bit better than straight proficiency scores. In some areas of the country, Value Added scores have been so unstable that one year a classroom rates the best in the district, the next year it rates the worst.
For example, Ohio’s Value Added Measure is proprietary, so it’s not really able to be scrutinized – and it was never meant to judge excellence anyway. It was meant to help educators figure out where students needed help in reading and math.
These were a few of the major concerns I had with what was said. In short, Hanushek said bad teachers are the reason for bad test scores, even though test scores are almost perfectly correlated with poverty. Therefore, we need merit pay (that doesn’t improve scores) or make being a teacher an even tougher job than it is today.
Meanwhile, the speakers gave us no property tax relief and little more than ‘let’s get a few great teachers teaching as many kids as possible.’ All in all, very disappointing and problematic approaches to the complexities of educating 1.8 million kids.
Tomorrow: Charter Schools