Parent X

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Parent X
Posted about 2 years ago
Is Education Reform Really Possible?
Hi Cary, I think it would help to define what "reform" means before we discuss whether it is possible. It's been my experience that many of the people who champion a reform agenda are a lot more interested in reallocating education funding than impacting academic results and student achievement. Look no further than the Arizona legislature to see what I mean. There has been over a decade of libertarian-leaning leadership in the state legislature, and the state now ranks between 47th-50th on every national education funding survey. Although total costs have gone up along with enrollment numbers, when you adjust for inflation, Arizona's government now invests less per pupil than they did in the early 1980's. Like many other places, Arizona schools are also having to address a number of policy mandates that come with little or no funding. Additional testing, security measures, reporting, etc. may be beneficial, but unfunded (or inadequately funded) mandates ultimately have a negative impact on other areas of service delivery. I see the calls for additional civics classes, philosophy, creative arts and vocational ed in the comments below...and what school wouldn't want to offer these great classes to their children? But do not forget that it is the legislature that primarily dictates what will be tested and what services schools MUST provide before any 'extras' can be considered. One more thing to add before even thinking critically about what successful 'reform' would look like. 47% of Arizona children live in poverty (defined as income below 200% of the federal poverty level). All of those psychologists, social workers and special education aides that Mike bemoaned above come courtesy of poverty-related legislative mandates. Not because teachers (or school administrators) decided to just add some more positions. Public schools have to address special education needs, health and mental welfare. And none of that is cheap.