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Readers Respond: Are "Race to the Top" Reforms Good or Bad for Public Education?

Responses: 9

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Do you believe that reforms required by "Race to the Top" initiative are good or bad for public education? Why or why not? Which reforms do you most agree or disagree with?

Reform?

Race to the top is wrong. It is bribery. The federal government needs to get out education altogether. You do not reward anyone for doing their jobs. Teachers should teach and not facilitate. Learning is a two way street. You cannot blame the teachers if the kids do not learn. NCLB was the brainchild of Margaret Spelling, a political scientist, not an educator. Why is it being praised? We need to get back to teaching the basics and stop trying to have our schools be all things to all people. Stop trying to have schools solve all of society's evils. Reform can mean a change for the worse. NCLB and Race to the Top are both changes we do not need.
—Guest e148

Current Assessments are Unfair

I agree that teachers should be held accountable, but Obama's solution will not be a fair assessment. If you want to measure student performace then a test should be given at the beginning, middle, and end of the school year to judge how much learning has taken place during the year. If a student comes to me in the fifth grade with a second or third grade reading level it is nearly impossible to get them to a sixth grade level by the end of the year. I can give them skills to use to become better readers and they will improve, just not enough for the state to consider it a success. Is this fair then to judge this as a failure? The student did improve and learning did take place. Students are not products in a factory; they are individuals. Current standardized tests being given once a year do not fairly judge growth. Students are being compared to other students and not given credit for the success they have or the progress they make. New name on this program, but the same old story.
—sisems

Race to the Top is NOT the Answer

RTT says to make our student CONTENT standards more rigorous. Our standards are already DEVELOPMENTALLY INAPPROPRIATE for our children, which is why children cannot retain and master the material! Making the CONTENT standards more difficult will only exasperate this problem! To be clear, revising the content standards doesn’t mean to lower our expectations for our children. RTT asks for more assessment. Our children are currently being assessed for at least 12 days per school year, which means that they are BEING INSTRUCTED 12 DAYS LESS PER YEAR. RTT asks for more teacher accountability. Yes, teachers need to be held accountable, but let's make the MATERIAL teachable, by revising the standards - moving them down 1-3 grade levels where they belong! Kids WILL learn, retain, and master DA material which they can discover, analyze, and draw conclusions from, NOT material that they memorize for a test! Come on Obama, let's reform EFFECTIVELY for our nation's SUFFERING children!
—Guest K E

Not so good...........

Until reforms include placing a significant portion of the responsibility for learning and the work required to for same on the student and parent(s) of those students, reforms will not work. Teachers are not baby-sitters and students are not babies. Same with 'grading' of teachers based on student performance. The teachers who have the better students in their classes (and this is always the case) will get rewarded for having better students, not for providing better instruction. How does one make this fair? Administrations are not equal in their assignment of students. These are very difficult issues and simple solutions are just that.......simple.
—Guest Glenn

race to the top

Race to the Top is bad for everyone. Keeping track of achievement gains could harm students. Students will small gains could be labeled, and determined not to be college material.
—Guest mary

Florida is making another mess

Please have the Federal Department of Education stop Florida legislatures from allowing Jeb Bush who is working behind the state committee for educational reforms. He wants to weaken the already weak associations or teacher unions that we have. His plan would make every teacher in title 1 schools want to leave to go to schools with middle and upper middle-class students. Ads usual, Florida leads the way in stupidity and chaos in lack of funding public schools and hurting students in Title 1 schools by punishing teachers for children who come to school totally unprepared with little or no home life. The message is clear- the most creative and best teachers will stop working in title 1 schools. Check out the ideas the Florida state legislature has to try to meet Obama's national education goals. You will swear that the Bush boys are trying to undermine this program as well.
—Guest kate

Have you ever worked in a school?

There are so many factors that influence student performance. While it is important to have good teachers, you cannot measure that with student test scores. Is a high school teacher in Detroit responsible for their students inability to read? What is the difference between the student who goes to an inner city school versus the one the goes to a suburban school? In the 'burbs, many students arrive at school with reading skills, and their parents continue to teach them throughout life. Do inner city kids have the same support? Not usually. Reforms are needed, but they need to be based in early intervention. Furthermore, the punishment a lot of these NCLB and RTTT reforms include is takeovers and financial cutoffs. You think having LESS resources is likely to spawn a better education? Get a clue. Govt reforms on education are noble ideas being drawn up by people with no experience in the field of education. (PS It'll cost more to implement reforms than states will get from RTTT funding.)
—Guest Joe

Education Reform

I like Obama's Race to the Top agenda. Injecting billions of dollars into the educational system is what progressives have wanted for years. But it can't happen without oversight and performance goals, or else it will be wasted. School systems that don't want the grants don't have to apply for them. Additionally, there is ample evidence that teacher performance is a huge factor, if not the most important factor, in educational outcomes. Teachers need to be evaluated based on how they are performing. Test scores are one important way of gaining insight into an individual teacher's performance. Likewise, if charter schools produce better educational outcomes than government administered schools, I don't see the liberal complaint. The schools are still available to the public and funded with public money. If they give parents and students options and do a good job of educating our children, then we should have no problems integrating more charter schools into our educational system.
—Guest Peter Lake

Another nudge of elementary education

Your thoughts are correct. We have a elementary system that leaves hundreds of thousands children on our streets. The system will change the future thinking and if it does this will build upon No Child Left Behind which nudged our future. We will need sevearal years to turn this into a first class school system for all children.
—Guest harry Featherstone

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