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All Iowa children are left behind

2012-06-25T02:00:00Z All Iowa children are left behindTimes editorial staff The Quad-City Times
June 25, 2012 2:00 am  • 

Students in Delaware will return to school later this summer focused on learning, achievement and good grades, without a care in the world the federal government will label their schools as “failures.”

Students in Ohio return to schools that will be assessed in easy-to-understand letter grades that specifically summarize overall student achievement, not just a pass/fail grade.

Students in Iowa will return to schools anchored to the disastrous No Child Left Behind standards that are dooming most American schools to failure.

Delaware and Ohio are among 19 states that put together comprehensive, timely requests to the federal government to replace the No Child standards that have punished local school districts for a decade.

Critics early on saw the uselessness of No Child measurements backed by former President George W. Bush and the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. Those measurements required all students in every school to pass a standardized test. No meaningful testing program can assure 100 percent passage. That impossible measure sounded good on Capitol Hill.

It created meaningless rote work in American schools, where teachers and parents know that students proceed at different paces and excel in different areas.

So while the rest of the world raced to embrace technology and individualized learning, the U.S. anchored students to standardized dot tests that determined how federal aid would be used and, ultimately, who would control local schools.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan projected that 82 percent of American schools are on target to fail this measurement by 2014.

He championed the waivers to encourage states to innovate better solutions since congressional leadership is incapable of reforming the flawed assessment.

Iowa’s failure to get students out from under these useless tests falls squarely on elected leaders. Gov. Terry Branstad on Thursday blamed the Legislature, one suitable target.

Lawmakers of both parties failed to pass his comprehensive education reform plan before surrendering with tepid measures that didn’t meet the minimum federal requirements.

But Branstad can’t hide from accountability. He opted for his comprehensive Blueprint for Education but failed to muscle it through the Legislature.

By ineffectively managing his reform through the Legislature, Branstad and his education chief, Jason Glass, left Iowa school kids anchored to the failing No Child measures for at least another year.

Branstad showed muscle on other issues, notably on May 11 when he issued an executive order overturning a legislative ban on using lead shot to hunt mourning doves.

That’s right. He used executive power to appease a handful of hunters. But for Iowa school kids, the governor was less forceful and effective.

So Iowa teachers and students next school year will jump through hoops that 19 other states have abandoned in favor of more effective, useful tests that actually help students instead of labeling their schools, and them, as failures.

Copyright 2015 The Quad-City Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(11) Comments

  1. machineboy
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    machineboy - June 27, 2012 8:08 am
    Supposse? Hmmmmm. I did not imply that tenure still exists. I was making an example from years ago of a bad teacher. We will have better education for our kids when schools are run more like businesses and less like PTA meetings. It should never be a feel good program. It should be serious business, run by skilled business administrators.
  2. grimm
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    grimm - June 26, 2012 12:53 pm
    I think most adult citizens should arrange to spend a day in our local public high schools.

    Make sure you're not taken on a dog n pony show.

    Then render a judgment.

  3. ref
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    ref - June 26, 2012 8:42 am
    It is SUPOSSE to be medium difficult to get rid of experienced teachers.

    1. Because of the nature of mass education; introducing students to a wide range of ideas, asking them to question things, bringing up controversial  topics; the system can become very politicized.  Having just cause to terminate helps to protect not only the teacher, but the teaching.

    2.  The easiest way to balance a school budget would be to terminate experienced teachers and hire first year people at half the cost.  Look at all the districts that offer early retirement incentives.

    Iowa does not have "tenure".     They want it to be easy to get rid of ineffective teachers.  When a teacher is hired  into a district they are probationary for three years.  During this time the district can terminate at will.  Just say, "Sorry, we don't think you will work out."  That's it.  The teacher has little to no recourse.  So, the system has THREE years to figure out if the teacher is good or bad.  If they decide the teacher is good and wants to keep them, then he/she start to get some protections.

    The teacher starts to slide, he/she can still be terminated.  The district needs to document the deficiencies to insure the termination is not for some other reason, but there is a process for terminating staff.

    Evaluations ARE an important part of this process.  I posit that the weak link in this process is not the laws and codes currently in place, but in the administration's willingness to put in the time to make accurate and timely evals, terminating incompetent staff before  the probationary period; and to document any shortcomings after the probationary period. 

    But, Gov. B's  plan to tie student test scores has no basis in research wrt student achievement.  Instead, regular, professional observations tied to analyzing teaching techniques used has been shown to increase student achievement.  But that paradigm takes more time and involvement.
  4. machineboy
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    machineboy - June 26, 2012 7:22 am
    Oh, yes, my little lefties, let's go back to the old days when teachers were not evaluated on any student learning criteria at all. I remember being in American History class and the teacher simply read from the text book every day. No teaching whatsoever. They kept him on as a tenured teacher because he was a good basketball coach. There have to be some measures. That means there have to be tests and evaluations of ranking. The days of free-form teaching of basket weaving and macrame are gone. Grow up.
  5. Over taxed
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    Over taxed - June 25, 2012 3:35 pm
    You are correct, Mr. Baltar. You can thank Jimmy Carter for the Dept. of Education (and also Energy). Both should have been disbanded decades ago.
  6. MrGadfly
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    MrGadfly - June 25, 2012 1:42 pm
    Everyone needs to watch Waiting for Superman! It is a great documentary that shows many of the ills that causing our children harm! Education has been telling us for years that their ideas are the only way and what has it gotten us? More money is not the only the answer to the situation.
  7. getinvolved
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    getinvolved - June 25, 2012 10:19 am
    Branstad didn't show too little "muscle." He should have led his Republican legislators to rational compromise rather than this stupid "my way or the highway" attitude. His education plan wouldn't have been good for Iowa, and Democrats were right not to buy into it.
  8. Gaius Baltar
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    Gaius Baltar - June 25, 2012 10:03 am
    Indeed, our "education system is abysmal". But throwing more money at it is NOT the answer. Rather, getting the federal government out of it is. We should start by ridding ourselves of the Dept. of Education.
  9. christiec1976
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    christiec1976 - June 25, 2012 8:50 am
    I find it ironic that Governor Branstad has anything to say about the education system being failed when he was the one who wanted to change the beginning school date based on tourism. The man doesn't care one bit about the children of this state. They don't have the money that supported him all the way to the capital.
  10. ref
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    ref - June 25, 2012 8:48 am
    Gov. B's failure is not being able to muscle his reforms through the legislature, it was presenting reforms that have no basis in research to expect them to improve education.
    In fact the only reform they agreed to, retaining third graders that don't read on grade level, has been shown by research to NOT be productive.

    The education system is constantly striving to improve.
    Think of your own teen. They know everything. The same thing is true of college kids. Every undergraduate thinks they can do it better. Later as graduates they author studies. They study everything.

    Third grade retention? Been there, done that. Studies show doesn't help.
    Tie teacher pay to test scores? Been studied, doesn't seem to help.

    Gov. B needs to go back to the drawing board.



    I have been involved in education for over fifty years. I have seen and experienced almost evry change, fad, and band-wagon issue in education during that time.
  11. pta mom
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    pta mom - June 25, 2012 8:19 am
    Our education system is abysmal. Teachers are handcuffed into teaching to fill-in-the-dot tests. Students' minds are unstimulated and atrophied. Moreover, the tests themselves take up an inordinate amount of class time and results are not reported for months. The tests are not helpful as benchmarks to help the individual students, rather they serve as a tyrant's excuse to underfund the schools.
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