Tampering With Education . . . - The Missourian: Columns

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Tampering With Education . . .

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Posted: Wednesday, April 30, 2014 8:15 am

There’s nothing wrong with changing education standards as long as the end result is improved products of the system. We all know tampering with many of the basics in education have had dire results, along with a dumbing down of requirements for advancement. Then there have been the social problems in which children are being sent to school with near zero preparation from the home environment. Many, many years ago kindergartens were established to better prepare children for the first grade. Now we have preschool programs for the very young since the need has been determined beyond a reasonable doubt.

In spite of all of the tampering and the negative social problems, such as broken families, our schools have turned out many topnotch students who have gone to brilliant careers. To condemn the entire educational system we have today is ignorance. Yes, there are problems, but the ship is not sinking.

There is reason to doubt if we are turning out the well-rounded educated person that we once did when there was emphasis on the liberal arts. We have felt from our own personal experiences that a college education should impress upon a person how much there still is to learn and that the education that has been received should prepare the mind for that post-college learning process — in other words, being able to adjust to the learning that is required to be successful in a chosen field.

There’s been too much experimenting with education, trying new methods when the old still was working, but was damaged by the social ills. Today there is much emphasis on measuring the success of the teaching process. There is a belief that if there are failures it must be due to the process rather than the students who are in the process. Of course, both the process and the students can be blamed in some situations.

Added to the mix are the teacher unions that protect the poor teachers and in some instances the school board associations that have questionable influence and need.

Then there is the battle over who should control education — the local people, the state and/or the federal government. There have been good intentions on all levels. Good intentions don’t always spell success.

In 2010, Missouri and more than 40 states adopted the national Common Core Standards, which had the stated purpose of standardizing reading, writing and math benchmarks across state lines. Indiana earlier this year became the first state to quit Common Core. Missouri may be the next if legislation to that effect makes it through the General Assembly. Supporters of dropping Common Core believe that system takes away the state’s power to determine the education process for public schools.

Critics of Common Core also say that lawmakers should have been consulted on the decision when the State Board of Education adopted the standards. Lawmakers want a say when standards are adopted by education officials.

Missouri education officials defend Common Core, saying the standards have helped students to think critically in the classroom. The governor’s office defends the standards and said the process is a success.

Under the legislation work groups would be formed to write new standards for English, math, science and history on both the elementary and secondary levels. The key would be the composition of the groups charged with writing the new standards. The legislation calls for involving lawmakers, education associations, the executive branch and parents in the work groups.

If the legislation is enacted, Missouri schools would continue to use Common Core in the classroom and for student assessments, but teachers and schools could not be downgraded for poor performance on the Common Core-aligned tests scheduled for this fall. In other words, the punishment for not meeting Common Core standards would be eliminated.

Some people have given up on our educational systems. That’s why they homeschool. That system has produced some good students. It’s not for the masses, of course.

There should be an ongoing evaluation of the educational systems, public or private, but we have had too much tampering with the basics. Changes made haven’t always led to better performance.

/opinion/columns

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