"The taxpayers (who are paying most of the freight), are looking at this and wondering why this is so hard, so expensive to fix. ANSWER: Because our government schools are broken so badly, they don't need to be funded - they need to be fixed. And I mean fixed from the top down."
Well played Star/Tribune! Artfully done! In this morning's paper, it was the lead in the "A" section. GASP! Sure didn't see this one coming! Right after this highly compromised legislative session, where the whining Governor got his way and a ton more money for education, comes this headline: "$600 Million a year to fight Minnesota's achievement gap, and still it persists."
Where in the world was this story when the legislature was still in session? Before Senate Republicans caved and allowed the taxpayers to get fleeced by sending yet more money into a failing education system? But the best part of the story was in the details. Not only has the achievement gap stayed the same over the past decade (and maybe become a bit worse), many districts cannot account for how they spent this extra taxpayer funded money, to fix the gap.
Now in a business, if company investment was put into a project which resulted in zero progress, and the project manager could not account for the monies he was given to succeed in that project, he (and his staff), would have been walked out the door faster than one could say Taxing Timmy. In government however, that is not the case. The Democrats are looking at this and saying, "See! I told you we needed MORE MONEY to fix this problem." The taxpayers (who are paying most of the freight), are looking at this and wondering why this is so hard, so expensive to fix. ANSWER: Because our government schools are broken so badly, they don't need to be funded - they need to be fixed. And I mean fixed from the top down.
I have addressed this issue many times before. It would easy to say we have an achievement gap because kids in poverty or kids of color are not as bright as the white kids from better neighborhoods. But that would be a lie. There is no difference in how a kid can learn depending on income or skin color. But there is a difference based on expectations and commitment. That is why private schools such as Cristo Rey operate on a fraction of what the government schools do, have a zero achievement gap. Hmm...
This school year is almost over. For some districts, it already is. The failure machines in the inner cities are once again producing young people who are under educated. That is, the ones who have not flunked out or dropped out already. We need to value every kid in school as being a future member of our work force - not a statistic.
Many years ago, when my wife and I were getting ready to graduate from the University, we both needed an elective. So we took a class on child psychology. On the books which was required reading was How Children Fail, by John Holt. It was an eye opener. The book not only talked about how children fail, but also how they succeed. How failure leads to more failure and success begets success. This should be required reading for every lawmaker (and our carpet bagger Governor) before one more dime is spent on our failing education system.
Will this blog article do any good. Probably not. The beat will go on. Education Minnesota will continue to control the system which produces our achievement gap. And poor kids and kids of color will continue to fail. Actually - the only failure comes from us. We failed these kids. And will continue to do so, until we fix our education system.