MARK JACOBS' 4 PROPOSALS WOULD HELP--BUT NOT FIX IA SCHOOLS

1-4-16

Greetings, Mark Jacobs, Advocate for Improved Iowa Schools, and all—

Your 885 word Op Ed in the 1-2-16 Register proposed four K-12 school fixes.  The following table provides numbers for their expected test score gains and total costs, which were not included in your Op Ed, for some reason.  Perhaps you have no such numbers, which are not typically provided by excuse making educators either.

Highly experienced and superior educator, Dr. Sue Atkinson, reviewed your proposed fixes and prepared the response below the table.   She calls a spade a spade and makes no excuses for poor K-12 school performance. 

MARK JACOBS’S PROPOSED K-12 SCHOOL FIXES ARE FAR BETTER THAN PAST FAILED FIXES

MARK JACOBS' 1-2-16 REGISTER OP. ED. PROPOSED FOUR K-12 SCHOOL FIXES THAT WOULD ONLY INCREASE AVERAGE STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT BY 17% AND WOULD  INCREASE COST BY $77.5 MILLION--BUT IS  FAR BETTER THAN PAST  ‘FIXES’, THAT MADE SCHOOLS WORSE.  Source:  Iowalive   1-4-16

MARK JACOBS' REGISTER OP. ED. PROPOSED K-12 SCHOOL FIXES

RESULTS AFTER 5 YEARS

% AVG. TEST SCORE GAIN

TOTAL COST

Developing a successful public charter school program. Of the 15 states with the highest levels of improvement in student achievement over the last 10 years, 14 have successful public charter school programs. Rewriting our charter school laws is a good first step to help Iowa attract high quality operators of public charter schools.

13%

$3,000,000

Attracting and retaining the best and brightest into the education field.   To attract top-tier professionals to the classroom, compensation levels must be set accordingly. In addition, we should explore other ideas, such as tuition reimbursement programs, to attract our best and brightest into the teaching profession while encouraging them to stay in Iowa.

1%

$65,000,000

Supporting educators with professional development. We need to provide better professional development opportunities, especially for principals and superintendents.

1%

$7,000,000

Measuring and reporting the key performance benchmark of annual academic growth.   Iowa’s adoption of new assessments for the 2016-2017 school year opens the door to more accurately measuring and reporting school and district level performance.

1%

$2,500,000

TOTAL

16%

$77,500,000

ANYONE CLAIMING TO HAVE BETTER NUMBERS IS ASKED TO PROVIDE THEM

 

DR. SUE ATKINSON RESPONDS TO MARK JACOBS’ SCHOOL FIX PROPOSALS

There following important facts really drive home the point Mark Jacobs wrote was wrong with Iowa education today.

1.    For more than five decades, Iowa education only appeared to be good because the standards were continually lowered and those who could not do well were not counted (in fact, they were scapegoated as an excuse not to count them) – what Iowa was best at was cheating to artificially appear to be good;

2.    When the government finally had to intervene into this dysfunctional education system, Iowa educators attempted to write their own curriculum standards in an attempt to thumb their noses at what they considered an unwarranted intrusion by the government, but their attempt was so embarrassing it had to be replaced by the Common Core;

3.    The only way to improve the math and science curriculum was to have disciplines outside education tell educators what concepts were and provide some training for how to teach them;

4.    The state had to step in to tell Iowa educators what the five concepts of reading are (after the National Council on Teacher Quality repeatedly graded Iowa elementary a failure for not including concepts in their training);

5.    Iowa educators continue to embarrass themselves with their assertion (through the Iowa Center for Reading Research) that summer reading programs constitute sufficient remediation and will get Iowa students up to grade level – while the new Director (Deborah Reed, hired from out of state) says this is provably not true;

6.    Iowa educators insist on using a phonics program that is so bad it fails to cover all words, requiring memorization as a substitute (thus leaving out certain learning styles and putting those students seriously behind) – thus failing to even ask the basic question of whether there was a better phonics program available (which there is and has been for longer than the sixty years Iowa education has been off course);

7.    While the countries out-educating us ask the question of how they can improve teaching techniques that effectively teach all of the concepts to all learning styles (using student results as their data base), Iowa educators jump on one cockeyed, flawed, theory after another that fail to work, then use student results as an excuse to blame students for being defective (when they need to be examining their theories).

Iowa students are not only falling farther behind other states, but they are also falling behind world standards because Iowa continues to use low standards in its new state report card for rating schools, and they focus on blaming demographic groups as the reason for making schools look bad, rather than competently examining their own theories of education.  What business could stay in business making these big mistakes?  Just as investors would not keep their money in such a seriously flawed business, Iowa taxpayers should not keep putting their money into such a seriously flawed education system that has proven incapable of dealing with reality.

Sue Atkinson, PhD

P. O. Box 301

Baxter IA 50028

Sincerely,

Iowalive     A     growing network of volunteer citizens and professionals for improving Iowa