Public School Registration – A Case for Reform

photo_082908_001Have you had to enroll a kid in public school? If so, you’ll feel this post.

I spent two hours today doing paperwork and queing up for it to be reviewed, so my son can go to kindergarten. I understand that this was relatively painless, as school reg goes. Now, the lost productivity here is huge, as around the country, millions of parents take time off work for similar processes.

Forget social media, this is where the Government 2.0 rubber hits the road for the general public. William Eggers’ “Government 2.0” is resplendent with examples of – and solutions for – problems like this.

The simplest thing to reform what I saw today would be to put the process online, have one document to fill out that would populate other mandated documents, and to allow submission of proof-of-residence docs electronically.

Of course, in transition this might cost more, as it may not be feasible to do away with the lines and paperwork right away. But, reform is messy. I just don’t think we should keep doing it like we do now.

How about you?

23 thoughts on “Public School Registration – A Case for Reform

  1. Adriel,

    I have to agree with you. The simple idea of using technology to streamline public education seems to have faltered along the way. Most public school systems I have been in a struggle just to get technology to the students in the classroom, let alone for the administration of the schools. This has to change if we are to promote education and gain more across the board.

    There will always be those who resist change. Kind of like the old folks in church – they don’t want the contemporary music, just the old hymns that never change. The problem with that is, an entire generation is being missed on the outreach. I wonder how long until an entire generation is being missed in the public education system from lack of modern outreach and interaction?

    My wife homeschools our 2 children, while the 3 from her previous marriage go to public school. Well, a charter school, that has them in high school and college classes at the same time. This means my step-daughter is graduating in May with HS diploma and will have her EMT Basic certification to boot. My step-son will graduate next year with HS diploma and most, if not all, of his associate’s degree. But the paper work, the interaction with the school has been horrible at best. The homeschool is actually a public school system, COVA (Colorado Online Virtual Academy) and is thus far providing an excellent alternative to traditional classroom. But again, getting setup for it was tons of paper work, only some of it was online.

    Duplicate data is always an issue in any business, and unfortunately education is a business, albeit poorly operated. The simple principles of modern web and interactivity available seem missed by this sector – and this duplication could be resolved with proper systems in place. Moreover, the majority of these paper forms get entered into a system at some point – so the education system is paying someone to duplicate already duplicated data into an electronic format. Empower the people to do it once, do it right and be done with it.

  2. Adriel –

    I am a public school teacher, and I can assure you that we would love to do this kind of thing online. However, developing the infrastructure, personnel, and maintenance capacity necessary to pull it off requires resources, which the taxpayers do not seem inclined to give. Since the most important resource in the schools remains the teachers, hiring them will always beat out tech when the choice has to be made.

    As to the first commenter, education is not a business. It’s education. The same number of customers are going to walk through the door whether we have enough money or not. We don’t close down a factory, and we don’t make profits. We educate children. There’s a big difference between education and business.

  3. Sorry for the lengthy response – having 2 seniors, 1 junior and 2 home schooled children this is important to me. And I can’t say I disagree with you Sue – you bring some very good points to the table. I liked that you point out that the same number of customers will come through the door no matter what….but is that accurate? Your customer base is growing every day as the population grows. Most school systems dictate where a child goes to school to even out resources, funding and availability district wide – district zoning I believe it is called. It is supposed to help aleviate high teacher:student ratios and provide better education. If that is true in many districts across America, then why do some schools in “wealthy” neighborhoods prosper compared to those in other “not so wealthy” neighborhoods? Does that community of taxpayers pay more educational related taxes? I don’t think that’s quite how it works. I answer this later on below. So why do some parents in districts that allow school choice clamor to get their children in a certain school? Because, just as in business, education has different profits, and different communities expect a more valuable return on investment via their taxpayer money and special interest “funding” (grants, gifts, equipment donations etc).

    If education is not a business, why use standardized tests to dictate public taxpayer funding? Is that not similar to an employee evaluation to determine compensation raise/decrease? Not all students are equally adept at learning. Not all educators are equally gifted at teaching and not all school districts are equally wise at spending. An employer gives a standardized evaluation form to evaluate employees by, but it is a one:one relationship. Education is a many:many:many relationship. Many administrators, many educators, many students. Changes the results measurement drastically in my view, and the current measurement system is not working.

    Maybe by closing down schools that are failing, it will be more like a business? Is that not the purpose of No Child Left Behind and the use of standardized tests? To dictate funding and closure of schools whose students do not rank well enough on these tests? Very much the same in business – if a business or business unit isn’t producing the expected results, try to revamp, cut spending on it, close it down all together. Education sure sounds like business to me, albeit a poorly administered business.

    Whose failure is it? Students? Teachers? Administration? I personally see all three failing. American students not valuing the education, teachers not giving 100% and administrations bent on special interests.

    Who is going to be the first of those groups to stop pointing fingers, stand up and make a difference and do what is right?

    The true issue is, too many public school systems have well paid administration, under-paid educators and poor uses of funding. I guarantee there are TOO many educators who, because they are underpaid, are just like any other employee in any other business – not giving 100% because they don’t feel fairly compensated for performance. They do not feel safe at work, they do not get the tools necessary to do the job and they do not see a direct value return on their efforts each day. Not saying you personally are, but having several educators in my family and having taught at the Junior College level, I have personally seen this happen.

    Spending more on drama, sports and extra-curricular activities when the classroom’s don’t have enough textbooks, workbooks or other resources is absurd, AND it happens and not just in public mainstream schools, but also in charter schools, private schools, community colleges and private universities. I enjoy sports, theater and all the extras and feel it adds for a well versed student population, but at the cost of basic education is wrong in my honest opinion….and it is just that, an opinion, though based on personal experiences over the years ๐Ÿ™‚

    For example, at my children’s charter school: brand new building, brand new sports equipment, brand new many things. Yet not enough textbooks and workbooks, meaning students have to share them, can’t write in the workbooks because they have to be reused and sometimes the teaching materials – slides, PowerPoints or “extras” are never purchased to truly educate the students. So sports trumps having enough textbooks since all the athletic teams receive enough training equipment, enough tools and enough resources to create athletes who are more able to compete in their field. Yet the classroom, the real meat and potatoes of education, isn’t given enough tools to create students who are more able to compete in their field.

    That IS the BUSINESS part of education – the administration dishing out the funding for special interests, while kids are failing to even learn how to read, add, subtract and in the end the community pays the ultimate price – wasted taxpayer money for education that nets an 8th grade reading and math level (sometimes lower) in many of the graduating class of seniors.

    Failure is what I call it – each school system is different, and each has it’s own woes, but I guarantee too many have overpaid administration that cater to the community elite, over spend on the wrong “important” items and take away too big of a paycheck at the end of the month. To me that says the students as a whole are less important than they should be, which smells of wrongness in all the ways possible.

    Here’s a youtube link to a 20/20 special that aired sometime ago that I found interesting:

    I guess what I am trying to say is this: One college I know cut 90% of it’s technology course offerings. The focus was placed on agricultural offerings instead. The basis? The Dean that was over the technology education also was over the agricultural education dept. and was an old-time farmer who didn’t see the value in technology. He also didn’t realize that even in agriculture, technology plays a vital role in today’s economy. Self-interest and special-interest wins again – students and community suffer again.

    Oh, and my view? Anything that involves money is business, since business can be described as the exchange of goods and services for monetary or other material value. The school systems get taxpayer money to provide a service to the community. Not just part of the community, but the entire community. Leave special interest, wealthy families and personal favoritism out of the equation. I bet then the money and resources in many districts could be found to accomplish what is being mentioned here – the modernization of schools, school administration, teacher enrichment and education as a whole. How? By focusing on what’s best for the community as a whole, rather than catering to special interest groups, wealthy parents and personal interests, the focus would be on funding the basic education of the community. No more 25 year old people working at McDonald’s who can only order your Big Mac because there is a picture of it on the touch screen order entry system…that is if the students of America are taught how to value their education once again, and if we stop making workarounds for failed education independent of the reason for failure.

    Oh, and the cost of a web system to do data collection, with a highly secure back-end that is accessible directly by the administration, complete with data control, reports and accountability? Much less than what business wants to charge the education system. Open-Source and free software already do that for mainstream business use, why not create the same level of tools for educational use? It does not have to be convoluted and complicated.


    And Sue, THANK-YOU for being an Educator and for doing what you do for your community. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. @Bill, you say “Whose failure is it? Students? Teachers? Administration? I personally see all three failing.”

    Where are the parents in your failure equation?

  5. @Gwynne –


    I will go sit in the corner with the “dunce” hat on now. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I knew that, and missed it completely – but you are spot on. Parents are just as key as the other three – thanks for pointing out my HUGE missing piece of the puzzle and giving the topic more food for thought.

    How can parents be more accountable for their child’s education? Is there a completely failed generation or two that doesn’t value it as past generations did, that are passing that on to the students and children now?

    Scary food for thought – but it needs to be digested all the same.

  6. Though I agree that moving this entire process online would be amazing, I have to agree with Sue in the sense that funding for schools is so pitiful and the list of needs is so long that reforming the registration process might never happen.
    Here in California (where we can now boast having the LEAST amount of money per pupil in the ENTIRE country), a school is really only as good as the parents & community that support it. Where I live PE and Science are no longer offered to any grade below 5th grade because of budget cuts. My son’s school is the ONLY school in our entire city that does offer PE and Science because the PTA pays for it. Our PTA designates money every year to paying the salaries of the one PE teacher and one Science teacher to teach ALL grades. When the CAlifornia school budgets were frozen a couple months ago, our school had no white copy paper, no toner, they couldn’t even buy coffee. It was only by the kindness of the parents and community that things kept moving. Some local businesses (almost ALL requesting to remain Anonymous) donated a box of paper here or a check for $500 dollars there while parents religiously brought office supplies that they got donated from their own offices, and those of us who couldn’t, brought coffee. It’s a strong PTA and community that makes or breaks a school right now, plain & simple.
    Be active in your PTA and in your neighborhood, and most of all treat your school like family. Because when the chips are down for the school you go to (as it has been for ALL schools here in California) parent and community support is all they have to survive.
    All these issue totally trump the horrific registration process. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Hi Adriel,

    This isn’t a purely US issue either.

    This year both my children were enrolled in a new school in the ACT (Australian Capital Territory) in Australia.

    While the initial process went smoothly, with student records entered into an interim system, when it came time to transfer them into the system the new school was using things went haywire and the records could not be uploaded, leaving the new school with no idea who was enrolled or in which grades or classes – except on paper.

    This has created enormous strain on the school resources as well as on parents.

    Moreover, the school system (which is gradually being manually populated with the help of parents), does not cater for children with separated parents, who have different primary carers at different times and live at several addresses.

    The school took the view that the mother was the primary carer and the primary address, without consulting any of the parents involved. Sexism in action.

    Needless to say the confusion continues. The school is asking parents to complete all documentation by hand rather than online, which I find both more time consuming and doesn’t support the reuse of information.

  8. Well, Bill, since I happen to be a music teacher, perhaps you’ll not thank me after all.

    Arts, by the way, foster the kind of discipline, creativity, ability to work with others in a way that puts the group success ahead of individual stardom, and flexible thinking that I hear business leaders are looking for these days. In my most radical opinion, once kids get to about sophomore year, we should stop requiring subjects in particular and let them take what they want. When was the last time you really needed calculus? If a students wants to take 4 science a math and band, let ’em. Beyond reading the paper, filling out a job app, and writing a letter, “society” doesn’t really care, right? Or 3 lit classes, American History, and art, why not? Beyond making change in your head, balancing a checkbook and understanding credit, “society” doesn’t care that much, right?

    I am glad someone pointed out the parent thing. That was definitely a miss. I read a study once, I no longer remember where, sadly, that pointed out that parental involvement and a high value placed on education in the home made more difference than anything else in student achievement.

    I do not know where you live, but in my state the local communities can make a big difference in ed funding through choosing to adjust their tax rate. The state commits some, dictates a minimum contribution for the towns, and then the school says what it needs beyond that and the towns try to come up with it.

    Not all students are equally adept at learning, and yet No Child Left Behind expects them to be. Or at least to be able to get to the same level. Does that seem logical to you? And instead of helping the schools that have the most difficult students, and thus the most difficult time getting them to that level, they cut off funding, after not completely funding in the first place? Seriously? That just seems silly.

    Educators aren’t all equally adept? Maybe. But when we set them up to fail by overloading the classes and discouraging them with public bashing and singling them out for criminal background checks, why should they feel valued? When we don’t fund really great mentoring programs, how will they grow into the gig? And when administrators are too busy meeting parents who think their children are perfect and should not be disciplined for telling a teacher to “f” off, how can they do the work necessary to properly monitor those teachers and maybe get one or two to consider a career change?

    Charter schools are a drain on the public school system, and create an inequity of access to education for students by providing a private school experience at the cost of the public. They can choose whom they allow to attend, and do not have to educate children with special needs.

    Test scores are only one measurement tool, as you said. But what if your kid learns really well, but has trouble taking those tests, and so never scores as he or she should? And if you want what’s best for your kid, don’t you think every other parent does, too? And don’t you think we in the schools are trying our best to meet every child’s need? You home school two. Multiply that by 14, put 28 kids in your living room, all from different backgrounds, and meet all their needs. Get them all to where they should be.

    I have the solution. Double and triple the teaching staffs of every school in your district. Cut the class sizes to 12 in a class. You’ll see a decrease in behavior problems, and higher student achievement in a year.

    But, hey, you’re going to have to pay those teachers. I hope you notice I never once mentioned I wasn’t satisfied with my salary. My point was that people seem to think there’s all this waste in the schools, but really we are using every penny.

    Education isn’t a business, and to compare it to a business really is comparing apples and oranges. It doesn’t make a product for a profit.

    Our school population goes up and down. Right now we have 3400 students in our district who keep on showing up day after day. And, golly, there is no way to turn a profit on those kids.

    I am afraid this has turned a bit ramblish. Apologies for that – I have been feverish for two days. But I always feel compelled to jump into these conversations.

  9. I usually bite my tongue regarding charter schools, because it’s a sensitive subject in my neighborhood, but they really hurt the rest of us A LOT. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ
    The money would be better spent helping better the education of all the kids in a district than the select few in a Charter School.

  10. @Sue – well, since I am a musician of over 20 years, maybe I can make an exception to you ๐Ÿ™‚

    I am not saying that music, sports and drama should be removed, but they should go before reading, writing and math.

    I agree that schools have lost all ability to run a controlled ship – parents don’t discipline and don’t want the schools to do so either…and that I fear is a major component of the problem.

    As for charter schools – the one my step-children attend really has reached out and taken in many low-income and special needs children to help them succeed. My eldest step-son has mild cerebral palsy, and last week was accepted to Colorado State University. I attribute that to the charter school who refused to let him slip through the cracks as the prior school was doing. Maybe there is a balance that can be found in a hybrid system that functions as a charter with lower student:teacher ratios, but reaches the masses some how?

    I agree Sue, that while we only homeschool two children, an entire classroom is more difficult. The hardest course I ever taught? It was to a room full of 36 adults, many of who were local teachers. Talking, disruptive, and doing their own thing rather than engaging and learning. It was, of course, one of their “enrichment” courses that they are required to take to maintain their teaching certificate so very few felt that they “needed” it, just that they “needed” the credit to maintain. I don’t agree with that philosophy personally, and it is sad that some teachers out there are that way, and I wonder how that shows in their classroom?

    It does indeed take a special person to be a teacher – I just see so many that shouldn’t be….and that is not bashing them, because I see people in public office that shouldn’t be, people managing companies that shouldn’t be. It’s one thing to be able to do something, it’s another to do it when it’s your passion. A teach lacking passion might as well be a CEO who doesn’t value employees.

  11. I forgot a thought in there.

    Education does produce a product for profit. The product is people who are educated to become the next leaders of the community and country they are in. That is producing for profit. How? If education is not producing adequate leaders, education is not providing the necessary positive value to the communities it is calling on for funding, for help and for guidance. If that value isn’t being seen or realized, what does that do to funding and community’s willingness to fund more?

    Meghan points out the community is important – education’s profit is in meeting the needs of that community so it gives back adequately.

  12. Hi, Bill –

    I agree – teachers tend to be a tough audience. Actually, any adults tend to be a tough audience. They have the same disease as the kids – we don’t listen to anything in our society. We talk through everything – the safety announcements on a plane, the speaker at commencement – we just don’t care to listen for more than a minute at a time.

    It drives me crazy!

    As someone who has to take professional development courses, I’ve got to tell you, there’s no money to offer really great stuff there, either, especially if you are in one of the “special” areas like music. Doesn’t your business offer you the chance to go and be caught up on the latest knowledge and tech which is being used in your field? I know my brother goes to a conference every year that costs $1500 just to register, and his company pays for his flight and hotel to wherever it is. Registration for my state level professional conference is only about $175, but I am not even allowed to go if I pay for myself because the school still has to hire a sub. So, my company doesn’t pay for the best professional development for me. They give me sometimes inane “enrichment” that gives me nothing to use with my kids the next day.

    Look, I see you trying hard, but the fact is, education is NOT a business. The profit you mentioned? Yep, it’d be nice for all those kids to “give back.” I am teaching in the school from which I graduated. But they do not pay me enough to actually live in any of the towns that feed into that school. Ironic, huh?

    You know, when things get tough people blame the schools. But when things were great, we never got any credit. Why is that? When the guys landed on the moon, nobody said, “Wow, let’s thank the math and science teachers that got us here.”

    Until you come into the schools and try being a teacher, I doubt you will fully understand. You want the best and brightest to enter the profession? Pay them. Make a schedule where they can use the rest room whenever they need to, instead of having to hold on until there’s a three minute break, or it’s lunch time. Talk about what a great job they are doing. Stop telling the teachers’ unions they have to find a way to “give something back” so we can get through this economic tsunami. Tell them instead how you’ll take care of them like they are taking care of your kids.

    And stop telling them they are making widgets. They are trying to help make humans. It’s a whole lot less predictable, more messy, and harder than making widgets.


  13. As a member who serves on the Board of Education for the 6th largest school district in Illinois, I can tell you that we are working diligently to put our registration process online. It will allow for a much smoother process for one, and will allow us to complete the task much earlier and more accurately for another.
    Having to account for 20K+ students is no easy task. Online registration will have a direct impact on our use of manpower resources. We overhired 30 teachers last year due to the difficulty in forecasting enrollment under our present method of registration. This equated to over $2M in salary and benefits that were not necessary and could have been far better utilized in other areas such as enhancement of technology in the classroom. For example, we just authorized the purchase of 203 Smartboards and these funds would have paid for those with plenty left over.
    Believe me, my tax paying constituents EXPECT our $200M+ organization to be run as an efficient business would be. As a growing District, we recently issued $185M in construction bonds to build several new schools and renovate the existing ones. Those funds could have also been used to reduce some of that debt and ease the tax burden in these difficult times.

  14. John gets it.

    John, do you think the reduction in costs such as paper, toner and electricity used in the reproduction of forms is a significant savings district wide if the registration were moved online?

    What if permission slips and other documents were moved online and allowed administrators, teachers and parents to print “at-will” only when needed to be printed (parent don’t have online access etc)?

    Do you agree that many districts and/or individual schools suffer from special interests redirecting spending at times making the funding poorly utilized?

    I am all for keeping schools in good shape, building new schools. I also believe in hiring adequate teachers – teachers with a PASSION for what they do, regardless of pay. They should have done the research into the career and realized what the pay would be before going to school for 4, 6, 8 years or more and entering the field only to feel lack of appreciation because the pay isn’t what they feel is adequate. Maybe they did – maybe college did not properly educate them on what to truly expect once in the field? Either way there is failure at a point on the pay topic.

    The online registration is just the smallest of the spec on the the tip of the iceberg in education turn-about. I don’t use reform, because some things are broken too bad to reform, reshape or rework and must be made new.

  15. Southplatte,
    The cost of document preparation (and storage) is significant. Unfortunately, we haven’t researched it to the point where I can provide specific figures. I can tell you that we are soon going to approve $90K+ for a District wide document imaging system (for 27 buildings) that will automatically capture docs upon their creation so we won’t have to print and store additional copies.

    We also proactively post a great deal of info on our website in anticipation of FOIA requests, which is a huge area for us. That alone has greatly reduced the cost (of both manpower and supplies) of document management to the degree that we no longer have employees hired just for that specific function. Once we reply to a FOIA, itโ€™s posted online so we don’t have to waste resources on duplicate requests. In fact, the significance of that initiative had led us to be invited to speak on the topic at the National School Board Association’s conference next month.

    The amount of paper we generate administratively is enormous. Therefore, the cost of the ancillary supplies is as well. I can only imagine what it is like in the schools themselves. In the committees I serve on, we have gone green in that the master docs that are needed for a given meeting are posted on our intranet and we access them on our laptops or Blackberries during the meeting. Your suggestion of including forms and permission slips, etc., online is a great one and I will pass it along to our appropriate staff.

    I can’t agree completely with your question asking if special interests drive spending. While there is no doubt that such a dynamic exists to varying degrees in every public school district, in my experience, poor funding decisions ultimately come from a BOE that blindly accepts their administration’s recommendations without doing their own due diligence. It is incumbent upon BOE’s to recognize when and where such “interests” are driving administrative recommendations, and to demand professional quality substantiation.

    One would assume that since educators are supposedly top notch thinkers, they would embrace technological initiatives – both in teaching methodologies and administrative capacities. My experience within my District though doesn’t sync with that notion. Change comes slowly in education and is (often fiercely) resisted.

    I am often surprised (and repeatedly disappointed) at the lack of preparation that is done in support of funding requests – and it is not just for big ticket items. Administrators and individual school leaders all hold advance degrees, and they nearly all have had to defend a thesis to gain them. Yet rarely do I see the same approach taken in their professional affairs. Cost/benefit analysis is not done, both short and long term financial impact is not considered and justifying research is not provided. The whole argument is often based on “this is what our neighboring Districts are doing” regardless of whether it is considered best practice or not. Heaven forbid you actually ask for data to measure the proposed expenditure’s effect on student achievement! Anything that reeks of accountability is fought tooth and nail!

    We have a check and balance system in place to resist special interest manipulation of the budget process. We have recently implemented the EPRT (Educational Program Review Technique) process at the BOE committee level. Each Department Chair has to now defend their budget requests (line item by line item) in the method just described. Any requests for new $ is then ranked by a faculty and staff committee in terms of preferred priority, and brought back to the EPRT Committee for endorsement.

    It must then be vetted by the BOE Finance Committee as well. If, and only if we are fortunate to have a surplus at year’s end will the Finance Committee even consider new funding. Even then, they are bound by BOE policy requiring half of any surplus be automatically directed to our Working Cash Reserve Fund to ensure we have operating funds should the State renege on their funding commitment (which is a real threat nowadays in Illinois). Only then will the Finance Committee also endorse the request for the remaining funds be allocated for new programs before sending it to the BOE for public vote.

    Is such an approach perfect? Absolutely not, but it puts the entire process in public view. If a Department Chair or administrator wants to carry the torch for a special interest, it at least places some speed bumps in the way and makes their effort to do so more transparent in the court of public opinion.

  16. @John – Thanks for sharing with such an enlightening comment!

    It does sound as though your district is starting to take measures to move forward to better serve the students and communities, while still trying to ensure adequate teaching staff and resources for the teaching staff.

    Do you have a web link to your district web site?

  17. Thanks – we’re trying! The website is Its my understanding we’re experiencing a few bugs right now as we’ve both recently redesigned it and switched to a new server. If you have difficulty, there’s a link to the old site as well.

  18. Thanks John. This link, linked to from the main web site, is monumental:

    That is showing, to the public, accountability, goals and current climate. Simply amazing! I definitely liked the “Community Relations” section – so amazing to gain, then not be afraid to display that feedback, the current level and the level of the goal the district is striving to achieve!

    Transparency and accountability are key in education, just as they are in business and the fact that this district is moving in that direction is phenomenal. Sure, sometimes this may not paint a pretty picture – but it gives measurement, which can lead to goals, projects and tasks to create ACTION for forward progress.

  19. Thanks again. We’ve come a long way, but we’re still a work in progress. What I neglected to mention is that two years ago we implemented a very comprehensive 5-year strategic plan. Everything I’ve referred to, as well as the dashboard, is a direct result of that initiative. Even our BOE meeting agendas list those goals and every item on it is referenced to back a specific SP objective.
    As with everything, setting specific goals and developing meaningful metrics to gauge progress is paramount. This approach allowed us to erase a $27M deficit in 2 years. That, along with the Working Cash Fund policy recently afforded us a 5-tier increase in our credit rating. That saved our taxpayers $2M in our last bond sale. Now if we just get test scores up!!!

  20. $27M deficit in 2 years is definitely saying something about the programs you have implemented.

    I really wish they could revamp the testing. I understand the purpose – accountability – but having a standardized test for non-standardized students doesn’t seem that the results are as accurate as we would like them to be.

  21. Indeed! The geniuses at the Ill. State Board of Ed. prohibited the further use of the achievement test Illinois schools administered to spanish speaking students without provideding an alternative saying only a new test was under development and would be ready within 5 years!! In the meantime, we’re still bound to NCLB and State standards. This has resulted not only in lower scores for this demographic, but the likelihood that our predominately hispanic schools will fall to a level where state mandated restructuring will have to take place.

  22. Traditional public schools don’t work. It isn’t about the business processes or the capital infrastructure, or the quality of the teachers. It is about the fact that public schools spend huge sums of money, require enormous amounts of time, and waste innumerable opportunities because they are trying to mass-produce educated citizens. Some things can’t be mass-produced. An educated citizen is one.

    I am a former public school teacher. I taught math, history, language arts, remedial reading and science. We home school. We home school because the sheer insanity I witnessed as a public school teacher is not something I will ever subject my child to. Teaching to mindless tests (how many of you have taken tests to get a promotion, raise, new house, etc.?), completely un-parented children, dangerously ignorant parents, and a bureacracy that seeks, as all bureacuracies do, to simply perpetuate itself. Some teachers try desperately to educate but mostly fail because the public school system won’t let them. Many teachers are simply taking up space. Any honest teacher will tell you this is true. And the final straw for me, no way for me to know what sort of criminals my children are spending their day with, and no power to stop it even if I found out. For example, on more than one occassion I had convicted juvenille sex offenders in my middle school classes and was told specifically to lie to any parent who asked about those offenders. That was the year I quit teaching.

    As if that weren’t enough, look at what schools cut first. Art and music. The two disciplines that foster creativity. The only bastion of imagination left in public schools. That speaks to the real priorities of public schools – to crank out “graduates” so they can bring in the next group and get their per seat money from the state.

    Adriel, figure out how to home school. Figure it out now, before you realize your kids are losing their imagination (remember all those dittos? they haven’t gone away…) and flat out aren’t safe. FIgure out how to home school now before you have no choice and aren’t prepared.

    And as for charter schools, those ARE public schools. If so many parents send their kids to a charter that the local school struggles, then what better proof could there be that the previous monopoly of a local school stunk?

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