The Manassas City Schools, failing to meet “adequate yearly progress” goals for the third consecutive year, have done some thinking about how to turn things around and come up with a plan. Despite its progressive, futuristic label, “Education Forward” is essentially the same idea that drug Manassas into the bottom tier of state education performance, only with a whole bunch of new and dubious tax-busting spending. With municipal elections looming this May, “Education Forward” ought to spark the brushfire that should sweep out the city’s school board.
So how does Manassas actually plan to improve school performance? Will they start enforcing some discipline at Osbourn, try to reduce the burden of illegal immigration that is packing some schools with limited english proficiency students, or refocus on the basics of a solid, traditional educational curriculum? Not really. Superintendent Gail Pope is asking for iPads and laptops for students instead. Then there’s the idea of enrolling every high school student in a simultaneous associate degree program at NOVA Community College, because if they couldn’t get students to successfully complete their existing coursework adding more can’t hurt. Best of all, despite having a per-pupil cost higher than any nearby jurisdiction, Pope wants to spend even more money.
Pope’s laundry list, on which every item has a strong negative budgetary impact, is depressingly short on any ideas to change the way Manassas City Schools do business that might not involve significantly hiking taxes. If school performance was measured by how much money you pour into the system, this would be a great plan, but we’ve already seen that systems that spend the most often have the lowest student performance. Spending is not the solution.
Technology gimmicks and full-day pre-K are little more than thoroughly unproven, fiscally wasteful pipe dreams that won’t fix the problems that are causing our schools to fail. Pope and the School Board don’t even seem to have any handle on what the actual problems are, and are desperately flailing to find some “solution” (inevitably involving higher spending) to throw at the problem in hopes it makes a dent. If you bother to take some time to talk to teachers though, the problems are pretty evident — discipline problems, staff issues, illegal immigration impacts and substandard leadership.
Clearly, the first education reform is to make big changes in the membership of the School Board, find a better superintendent, and cause the City Council to react a little better than this when someone suggests that passing out iPads to elementary students is going to improve any score other than on Angry Birds:
it is precisely what we’ve been looking for: a list of options, some of which are a reach and some more modest.
No, Mr. Harrover, this is a laughably ridiculous list of foolishness proffered by an utter incompetent. I’m stunned your reaction wasn’t complete outrage that someone would offend you by actually thinking you’d buy this drivel.
The opinions expressed here are solely the views of the author, and not representative of the position of any organization, political party, doughnut shop, knitting guild, or waste recycling facility, but may be correctly attributed to the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. If anything in the above article has offended you, please click here to receive an immediate apology.
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