by Jack Minor
While School District 6 focuses on budget cuts, another statistic has come out that may cause alarm. A government report says the vast majority of all public schools are failing.
U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, told the House Committee on Education and the Workforce in March that, under existing criteria, 82 percent of the nation’s schools are in danger of failing.
A frequent criticism from teachers and students in the local school district is that the school district is forced to spend too much time testing students. During a recent public engagement meeting, Nicolette Peerman, an 8th grader from Franklin Middle School, said many of her fellow students were frustrated with the testing requirements and feel the testing is actually a hindrance to learning.
As a condition of receiving federal funding, states and districts have been forced to spend large amounts of time complying with requirements.
The Obama administration has said the results point to a failure of President Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” program and wants to overhaul how results are calculated. Under the new plan, schools would be rated not on actual scores, but on the amount of academic growth seen in students. Schools that excel would be rewarded, while lower performing schools would face strict federal mandates to improve.
The Heritage Foundation, the nation’s largest think tank with over 710,000 individual members, explained that the numbers illustrated federal policy shortcomings in evaluating actual academic standing or improving achievements. The organization calls for less federal oversight and allowing states and districts more flexibility to resolve local issues. That is also a frequent concern brought up by parents in the district.
Jack Jennings, a former Democratic Congressional aide who is currently president of the Center on Education Policy, expressed skepticism over the numbers. Jennings thinks the report is simply hype to get Congress to support the President’s plan. “I find it hard to believe, I think they really stretched it for dramatic effect.”
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