Those Pesky Academics
Predictably, today’s editorial in the Oklahoman completely misses the point of the OU/OSU study critical of our state’s A-F Report Cards. Here is the first paragraph:
With the release of Oklahoma school sites’ A through F grades looming, opponents of accountability are predictably ramping up attacks. School officials should think twice before embracing one such tirade issued by a small group of college academics. To discredit A-F school grades, those researchers effectively argue that there is little correlation between a public school education and actual student learning.
The second sentence is the kicker for me. Policy makers and editorial writers who eschew the work of the highly educated are quick to reveal their own limitations. This was no tirade. This was a long, methodical study of student data, including test scores and key socioeconomic variables. And their finding was quite different than the representation given here by the paper.
Read the report for yourself. The findings are compelling and spot on.
Of course, it wouldn’t be an editorial from the Oklahoman if they didn’t mention money. Here’s the last paragraph:
Even as some school administrators demand a $200 million education funding increase, it’s ironic that they may also embrace a report that suggests public school expenditures are as beneficial to raising student achievement as dumping money from a helicopter.
Yes, those darn school people want enough money to do the things that state and federal laws require them to do. The premise conveniently forgets that $200 million would not even restore per pupil funding to 2008 levels.
Teacher quality matters. School culture matters. Communication with parents matters. Money matters. Nothing matters as much as the home life of children, however. Some children come to school with every advantage in the world. It isn’t hard to get that group to be successful. Some children come to school from a foundation of distress. While it is possible to get individuals in this group to experience success in school, it is much harder.
It is worth the effort and yet incredibly draining. Teachers burn out faster teaching kids from poverty. And the gains they make with students are harder to maintain. That said, even Oklahoma’s most challenging schools have teachers show up every day, ready to teach, bruised from being tossed around among reform movements, and committed to the children.
Editorials, by their nature spin the truth. They take shreds of facts and swirl them together with a larger agenda. Fortunately for us, the Oklahoman does not even attempt to hide theirs.