Friday, January 22, 2010

Race to the top

Oregon has applied for a share of the $4.35 billion in grants that the government will award to states who are deemed worthy in the Race to the Top program.

The objective is to raise standards, prepare students to compete in the global economy and reward effective teachers. All well and good. Performance pay is coming to public education and the teachers’ unions are going to have to deal with it.

The way that performance will be based is on test scores. It seems simple enough. In fact, the simpletons at The (Bend) Bulletin wrote in an editorial: “Tying effectiveness to pay is common practice in many private businesses, and there’s no reason to believe it wouldn’t work as well in public schools.”

No reason?

Well, class is now in session. Be seated.

When a business receives poor or faulty raw materials or equipment, they send it back and shop elsewhere. In the public schools, when unprepared and ill-equipped students enter the public school system, they are not sent back home because home is likely worse than one can imagine. And, the school can’t buy better students. No, they’re stuck with what they have and most try to do the best they can to see that those kids succeed in life.

It’s a favorite pastime of the chattering class to dismiss public schools, because, afterall, the students are taught by union teachers. If the unions were gone, they believe, we would have the best schools in the universe. They’d be run like well-oiled businesses. It would be a “win-win” situation.

To those people, the response is: Please, grow up, get an education and then maybe you’ll learn that school is not a business. Children aren’t widgets and teachers aren’t millionaires. Until they are, schools will be schools and businesses will be businesses.

Class dismissed. Keep the apple.

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