Editorial: System failure
January 15, 2011
A myriad of factors lead us to the conclusion that there’s only one word to describe the education system — broken. Our society has disrupted and devalued education enough that it’s no surprise our students have sagging test scores.
There seems to be but a few times a year society decides to take a good, long look at the education system and that's when student test scores are released.
Throughout the year, we allow education to be hindered by deep budget cuts, short salaries for teachers, tenure for teachers whose performance is weak, an emphasis on standardized tests above real learning, and a lack of parental involvement, among others.
We allow these things to happen and say nothing.
But when test scores come out and they're not the sparkling results we want — as recently seen in the Moffat County School District — we wonder why and how this happened.
The better question, as asked by the Editorial Board at its Monday meeting, is why would we expect anything different?
Our public school system is broken and has been for quite some time.
Our administrators are handcuffed by rules and constraints beyond their repair, as are our teachers. They can do nothing about repeated funding cuts, state and federal regulations, weak candidates for teaching positions, and non-existent parental involvement.
Administrators and teachers aren't innocent, certainly, but they're not the only, or the most glaring, problem.
That comes from the top, the overall institution.
If we want real change in education, that's to say if we want to someday see better test scores, but more importantly, better overall student performance, then our society as a whole needs to get serious about it.
That means lawmakers and government officials need to do what it takes to secure improved school funding. That means we have to make teaching a lucrative enough field that we're getting, as we should be, our best and brightest minds to become educators rather than hangers-on who simply want summers and vacations off.
That means parents have to start taking responsibility for their child's education, too. That means ending this period of gauging a student's preparation for the world by a metric other than standardized tests.
In short, it means flipping the whole flawed system on its head, from top down and starting over.
Will this happen? Unlikely.
But until it does, we can count on the same uphill struggles from our school districts, the same weak test scores and the same old, tired complaints about those scores.
A system overhaul is the only way things will get better for our schools. Until then, we're simply trying to mend symptoms and forgetting about the disease.
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