Thursday, March 28, 2002

Public Schools are SOL

Virginia is expanding their statewide assessment (the SOL, or Standards of Learning test) for public school kids - now every student in grades 3 through 8 will be tested every year. This is, in part, an attempt to comply with the test-crazy federal education bill (the "No Child Left Behind Act") that recently became law. Tests are fine, but the question should be what schools do once they have the results. If scores are low, by whatever measure, what exactly is going to happen? Teachers unions say you can't punish schools for low scores by withholding funding - they're the ones who need the most help. They should get extra money! What should be done for exemplary schools? Why, they should get some kind of reward ... maybe grant money to expand their efforts and teach other schools their strategies. I'm beginning to see a pattern. To give credit, the Bush education bill didn't give into this line of argument entirely. The requirements of the reform, in fact, may force schools across the country to fire thousand of teachers who, according to new the standards, are no longer qualified to teach. Which reminds me, didn't the Gingrich of 1994 say that the Republican Revolution was going to abolish the Department of Education?

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