red river school house

With No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, COMPASS, and Common Core, we now have a decade of top down test based schooling behind us. So, let’s assess — how has that worked for us?

Well, according to PISA, the Program for International Student Assessment, which occurs every three years and ranks schools worldwide, the results would probably tell you– not so good.

The latest results, released in December, show the US scoring below average in Math and close to average in Science and reading. More importantly, there has not been any significant growth in the United States rankings since 2003.

So, we have to wonder, what will work if testing ad naseum and vilifying and sanctioning educators, all while underfunding and starving schools, closing neighborhood schools, selling them for pennies on the dollar, and creating private for profit charter schools have not worked for the past decade?

Just look at the top tier nations, what are their priorities? In stark contrast to our policies, the top tier countries do not have a fixation on testing. They actually respect public education and work to ensure their teachers are well prepared and supported. Their students have curriculum and standards, but they also have the resources needed to meet them. They consider equity issues and insure that students who need extra resources to succeed get them.

Here locally, in Caddo and Bossier parishes, top tier thinking means elevating our approach by working together to ensure that every student in Caddo and Bossier has a school that is a safe and welcoming place for teaching and learning. Top tier thinking means making sure that policies and practices mirror the commitment that all of our teachers will be well-prepared, supported, and have the time they need to plan and collaborate. It means continuing to insist on the arts and music in our curriculum. It means ensuring that there are resources available for all children to have access to Pre-k education with extended day, extended year, and wrap around services. These steps mirror the top tier nation approaches that have been proven to work.

Let’s have the collective courage to say no to failed policies. The only ones to be angered are the ones with their hands out. Let’s instead embrace a steadfast and earnest approach in insuring that our priorities stay our priorities – our children, each and every one of them. That is Reclaiming the Promise of Public Education.