Not Surprising that Student Performance Remains in the Tank and Teacher Morale is Low

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    Gov. Lingle recently met
    with a Hawaii State Teachers Association Legislative Conference and outlined a
    strategy meant to address the related problems of low teacher morale and a
    teacher shortage.

    During this meeting, the governor is reported as having said much of the low teacher
    morale is tied to classroom struggles to meet testing standards.


    Commenting on this meeting ”’The Honolulu Advertiser”’ avers the governor “may
    have to do some bending on her declaration that Hawaii’s assessment standards
    are ‘ridiculously high’ [and goes on to assert] Yes, our standards are high,
    but that should be a source of pride.” (OPINION — Lingle education ideas should
    get close look; Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2006)

    The so called Hawaii Content and Performance “standards” are junk and the
    pretense of holding the annual “standardized” assessment testing bar so high is
    hundred proof snake oil dispensed to divert public attention from the real
    source of the problem now confronting students and teachers trapped in the belly
    of a beast.

    Absent a common core curriculum — which the massive Department of Education
    refuses to establish — there is zero relation between whatever it is the
    students are being taught in the classroom and what they are tested on to produce the humbug “assessment.”

    surprisingly, student performance on these make believe assessment tests remains
    in the tank.

    Indeed as a result of the most recent round of such testing, fully two-thirds
    of the schools in this state — the students, their teachers, their
    principals, their parents, their communities — were publicly branded as “failing” to
    meet annual assessment target scores by the butt covering, obscenely
    overfunded, accountability averse, tap dancing, image conscious bureaucrats who populate
    the upper reaches of the DOE.

    It has gotten so bad DOE is now in the process
    of applying for a waiver from the very assessment targets established by Department of Education to define “proficiency” in order to keep the Congressional No Child Left
    Behind funding streams intact.

    As if this were not enough, our nimble-footed DOE dance team and their pals
    in the one party state Legislature — who want to retain spending control of
    the lavish two-point-one-billion dollar per year DOE slush fund “budget” at the
    highest levels possible no matter what — decided to reinvent education rather
    than let voters determine if the one of its kind state school “district”
    should continue to shamble along like walking wounded under the “management” of
    the abysmally dysfunctional, highly centralized DOE.

    Part of this so called “reinvention” is the imposition of a new Weighted
    Student Formula for funding schools which will put teachers out on the street in
    rural, outer island, unimportant community schools like the one where I teach
    so that the money thus “saved” can be sent to an almost brand new BIG high
    school in the important O’ahu community of Kapolei. Total number of non teaching
    DOE bureaucrats who face layoff under this WSF gimmick: ZERO.

    And somehow it is “news” that teacher morale is low and there may be a
    worsening of the current teacher shortage?

    As my middle school students might put it: Well DUH!

    With all due respect to the Governor, what she proposed to HSTA is a Band-Aid
    that will have little or no effect on the problem with public education in
    this state: the continued damage now being inflicted on bright, capable public
    school children by an outmoded, Stalinist-era, top-down bloat-ocracy
    masquerading as a department of education that excels ONLY at spraying other people’s
    money in every direction except the classroom.

    The Governor had it right her first year in office. She attempted to put the
    question of central vs. local public school governance before parents and
    other taxpayers at election time. If she is reelected in 2006 for another four-year term, this
    initiative to help students achieve success ought to be dusted off and sent back into

    This time around the governor has the evidence with which to remind the public
    the DOE and the Legislature squelched her initiative, instead attempting to
    “reinvent” education.

    ”’Thomas E. Stuart is a public school teacher on the island of Hawaii.”’

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