Editorial agenda-page-2013

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Editorial agenda-page-2013

  1. 1. Tuesday, January 1, 2013 O PIN IO N Wyoming Tribune Eagle Page A7 Education reform TALKING EDUCATION TALKING EDUCATION 2013 A JOINT PROJECT OF THE CASPER STAR-TRIBUNE AND WYOMING TRIBUNE EAGLE 2013 A JOINT PROJECT OF THE CASPER STAR-TRIBUNE AND WYOMING TRIBUNE EAGLE Wyoming schools are making progress, but overall they continue to languish in mediocrity. It’s time to make real changes in the system. TALKING L aramie County School District 1 is a good example of the state of education reform in Wyoming. Superintendent Mark Stock last fall reported to his stakeholders that LCSD1 has seen academic progress at nearly every school and in nearly every grade. That’s the good news. Indeed, the entire state of Wyoming is enjoying similar progress. Test scores are on the rise; so are many other indicators of student, school and district success. But what Mr. Stock failed to say in his message is that even as LCSD1 is seeing progress, it continues to languish in the middle of the state in terms of its test results. That is the not-so-good news. It is the same with Wyoming. State scores and other academic indicators EDUCATION 2013 TALKING EDUCATION 2013 generally reflect mediocrity in a nation successes and best practices should be Competition, including that trails many of its major internapushed into school districts that are tional economic competitors in academ- struggling, first through incentives and, charter schools ic success. if necessary, from pressure at the state As with anything else, competition That puts the Cowboy State in the level. A joint project of the A joint project of the can make schools perform at a higher Casper Star-Tribune and mediocre middle of the mediocre midSimilarly, officials should be looking Casper Star-Tribune and We would like to see a true charter level. Wyoming Tribune Eagle Wyoming Tribune Eagle dle. It is safe to say that Wyoming is not outside the state to see what is working school movement in Wyoming. That adequately preparing its young people and seek to implement those ideas in never will occur under the current law, to compete in a global economy. Wyoming schools. It which requires local apWith that in mind, this state’s educaseems that too often state proval of these schools tion leaders – elected and appointed officials feel they TALKING have to TALKING and limits what they are officials, legislators, school board mem- reinvent the wheel or at EDUCATION EDUCATION able to try in terms of bers, business owners – must continue least recreate it in “the innovation. to press forward on a number of educaWyoming way.” They Wyoming conservation fronts. Now is not the time to predon’t. tives who push vouchers scribe patience or delay in reforming fail to see that there are the state’s schools. not enough schools to More face time Over the next year, the Wyoming make those effective. Tribune Eagle will focus on the followThey should be pushing a Wyoming students are ing issues. We believe it is in these areas not putting in enough time better charter school law where the biggest impacts can be made instead. in class by either national on the Cowboy State’s push to academic or international stanThat would include an excellence. Of course, we will write appeals process for redards. They spend 175 about other education issues as they jected schools (or a sepadays in school each year; rise to the forefront: rate authorizer), guaranthe majority of states tees of maximum autonorequire 180. Many intermy under charters and national competitors Celebrating A joint project of the A joint project of the proper funding. require even more. Casper Star-Tribune and Casper Star-Tribune and excellence A model law can be Increasing the school Wyoming Tribune Eagle Wyoming Tribune Eagle found at http://www. year by five days would be There are good things publiccharters.org/data/ a good start toward giving happening in Wyoming’s Wyoming students more face time with files/Publication–docs/ModelLaw–P7schools and districts, and wCVR–20110402T222341.pdf too often they go unreported their teachers. We also favor a longer school day, including before- and afteror unshared. The state school programs both to help struggling Department of Education is De-emphasis on local control students and to provide enrichment for making an effort to capture those who want it. No doubt, the concept of local control and share these. We also believe that Wyoming needs appeals to conservatives’ political senBut that is not enough. These to get serious about summer school. The sibilities as well as the desire for indeloss in academic skills over the summer, pendence by local school boards. But we particularly for low-income students, is have seen no data that prove it works in significant. terms of yielding consistent academic It is time to require summer enrichexcellence. Rather, the wide variations ment in all schools, regardless of cost. in test scores in districts across the state Year-round school also is an option to prove just the opposite. consider to counter summer loss. ReWe support a more centralized apteaching material every fall is ineffiproach at the state level, similar to what cient and a waste of taxpayer funds. LCSD1 has done. It requires that all of its schools teach the same material and demands that their students succeed. Accountability/standards Wyoming never will enjoy academic and testing success as long as 48 individual districts pull in their own directions. As for the We appreciate and support legislative argument that districts know what is efforts to hold schools, teachers and best for local students, that no longer is districts accountable for results. On the valid, given that Wyoming students are other hand, we worry about the being sent out to compete in a global Legislature’s tendency to water down economy. good ideas, so we urge legislative leaders to keep the accountability bar high and demand excellence for Wyoming’s The push for vo-tech children. While we have no objections to We also find the pushback against schools preparing young people for testing a concern. There are no other vocational-technical futures – such objective measures of performance. courses might even serve to keep them Testing should provide data on student growth for teachers as well and serve as in school – we oppose the current effort by some to install certificate-producing status reports to stakeholders. As for those who say students do not take these programs in high schools. First, these programs are expensive tests seriously, we support making them to set up and maintain. But more imporhigh stakes: If students can’t pass these exams, they should neither advance nor tantly, we believe it is the job of the public schools to provide a basic education graduate. that will help students better adapt to economic and technological changes. Teacher assessment/ Actual training for vo-tech careers is rewarding of good teachers better done by the community colleges. 2013 2013 and removal of bad Directly related to the accountability effort must be tough, regular and unannounced teacher assessments. These should do three things: provide direction, training and support to help teachers get better at their craft; recognize and reward excellent teachers; and weed out poor performers who are hurting students. We support merit pay for quality instructors as well as speedier processes to get bad teachers out of classrooms. We also oppose tenure or similar systems that serve as covers for inadequate performance. Appointing a state superintendent of public instruction The performance of schools head Cindy Hill over the past two years, including a scathing report on her unwillingness to enforce legislative efforts at accountability, proves this job should not be in the hands of an elected politician. Rather, the schools should be run by an expert in education who is focused on improving the system, not on currying the favor of districts, teachers and other voting blocs. One option is a constitutional amendment to abolish the office. The other, which we favor as an interim step, is creation of an appointed position, a CEO of public education, to run the system and to suggest and implement reforms. This would keep the current superintendent in place to serve on state boards and such. But it would ease the impact of politics on the system.

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