Saturday, August 4, 2012

Time to Prioritize: Educational Values Compared to Unlimited Texting and 57 TV Channels

In an age of questionable priorities should anyone be amazed that Colorado school districts excessing 20% of its teaching staff does not result in public outrage?  Massachusetts experienced similar cuts in teaching staffs during the 1990-91 economic recession.  Given such layoffs, would anyone question the exacerbation of the opportunity gap created by school budgets reliant on property taxes?
Related to educational values, should there be more outrage over what is happening in your district?  If you are satisfied with the level of layoffs in teaching and support staff, does the outrage then need to center on having too many staff for too long?  By contrast, do layoffs to teaching and support staff cause you to question how your school district will implement effective instruction?  In either case, should there by outrage focused upon forcing children's education to be victimized by politics?  Perception in the debate means a great deal.  This is why core educational values need to be reinforced and held accountable by measurable goals.  
It is a fact that we live in an age in which Consumer Reports identifies the average family paying $1800 annually for cell phone service and CNN reports many families spending $1200 per year for cable television.  Yet, people complain about property taxes being too high despite property taxes being the most common source of revenue for public education.  Is it ethical for local political leaders to focus constituent outrage on property taxes without focusing on how school funding is reliant upon this revenue stream?
We are spending hundreds of millions of dollars nationally to assess student progress, or lack thereof.  Given the wide disparity in average state expenditure per pupil, there is room for accountability in the debate referenced above.  For instance, in the 2003-04 school year, state's per-student expenditures ranged from a high of $13,338 in New Jersey to a low of $4,991 in Utah.  If New Jersey students were rated in the middle of the pack on NAEP testing would New Jersey residents have a legitimate complaint about the use of their taxes for school revenues?  By contrast, if Utah residents saw their students' NAEP scores merely average compared to other states on the NAEP list of scores, would anyone be surprised?  Unfortunately, the latter is more consistently true than the former, which should be supportive data for proponents of increasing public revenues for public education. 
Where does accountability fit into the funding debate considering ethical public education is evidenced by equity in quality (Ravitch, 2011)?  Lips (2006) suggests "we won't see widespread improvements in American education until we as taxpayers begin to recognize the costs of the current American education system and demand something better" (para. 12).  Do you believe it is important for all educational institutions to have measurable systemic and educational goals that are based on a "learning for all" mission grounded in a clear vision illiminated by solid ethics?  Will explication of the seven correlates for Effective Schools help all Americans become more willing to pay for a world-class public education?  Is this the next level of communication necessary to hold each other accountable for educational results beyond AYP test scores?