OUR DOOMED STANDARDIZED TEST DRIVEN PUBLIC SCHOOLS Our Delaware State Constitution, on page thirty-nine, gives
the full responsibility and accountability for program and cost efficient public schools to our sixty-two State Legislators. Our Governor also has some direct responsibility as this office appoints our State Superintendent of Public Education and members of our State School Board. For decades these tragically uninformed and misinformed political public education decisionmakers have developed policies and requirements they've stressfully superimposed on school building staff, parents and students driven by detached, irrelevant standardized tests. These coercive, threatening, ineffective rerquirements have caused most citizens to believe this is the correct approach to improving our public schools as it is accompanied by buzz words like "tougher standards" and "accountability."Research proves that even successful private businesses train their workers in best knowledge practices and then empowers them for decisionmaking for improved products and/or services. In our public schools, anyone with a room temperature IQ knows that our school building level staff and parents are the adults who have one hundred per cent of educational interactions with students. They will always be the key human resource in improving our state's dismal record on education indicators, not corporate business CEO's and elected politicians who have to get directions to visit school buildings. Over the past two decades, our national and Delaware corporate business communities and our two state branches of government have superimposed three restrictive, coercive, ineffective "tinker and proclaim" projects presented as school reform that would all give our state "world class schools." Three of these projects were the Sizer Project, Goals 2000 and No Child Left Behind. The latest project is Vision 2015, also tied in with Race to the Top. All of these have or will fail with costly tax-payer and lost human potential results as they contain no research-proven comprehensive reform plan which requires reform components training of school building level staff and parents and then empowering them to make all program decisions within and between school buildings. This readily available program and cost effective reform knowledge is one hundred eighty degrees from our ongoing costly, wasteful bureaucratic organizational arrangement and process. I recommend googling and reading the information about the new movie "Race to Nowhere" that is being viewed by groups throughout our nation and informs citizens as I am trying to do in this article. I also recommend googling Standardized Tests and reading what some Educational Scholars inform about the costly, ineffectiveness of standardized test driven school systems and their schools. Our state level political representatives and their always aligned appointed officials have convinced the majority of citizens that perpetuating failing public schools via "winners/losers" and "one size fits all" standardized tests is the way to operate our public schools. Ask any teacher if standardized tests help with planning lessons of what should be taught and learned in the classroom. An all-purpose excuse for our public school malaise is to point a finger at the victim students and proclaim, "It's there for them to learn and if they don't learn it, it's their fault." No, totally uninformed, you should credibly examine the three fingers pointing back at you. In states like Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio and Wisconsin, charter schools and vouchers supporting private schools were not destroying public schools quick enough. Their recently elected Republican Governors and State Legislators have quickly passed laws eliminating collective bargaining rights for teachers, elimination of teacher job tenure, drastically reducing public education budgets and other assaults designed to deliver a final death blow to public education. Michigan, for example, is now applying a new law which gives their Governor the right to appoint a Financial Director Dictator to take over any local government or public school district deemed in serious financial difficulty. This single Dictator can contract quickly with profit-making corporate businesses to take over operations of these previously publicly controlled local governmental organizations. The other two huge cash cow public programs these corporatecontrolled politicians want to privatize are Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid. Their campaign rhetoric didn't disclose these privatization plans. And this political party proclaims loudly nationwide it wants to keep government out of our lives. As a political independent, among the
now largest number of registered voters, it's not hard to understand why hordes of these independent voters are not supporting these Wall Street goals. There are two thoroughly research-proven comprehensive program and cost effective public school system reform models being utilized in our nation. Both atre explained on the School Reform page of our nonprofit, nonpartisan deinformedvoters.org web site. One is the Kindergarten through Grade Three Primary Phase Developmentally Appropriate Practices program developed by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). The other is the Quality District Model, a total district reform system that's the only comprehensive district-wide K-12 reform system validated by the prestigious Program Effectiveness Panel created by the US Department of Education and eight years later re-validated in adopter districts by the same Panel. For over twenty years, I worked as a Consultant/Trainer for the US Department of Education and the nonprofit national/international Partners for Quality Learning organization helping State Departments of Education and School Districts from Hawaii to Maine train staff and parents to implement these reform systems. All elementary schools in the Canadian Province of British Columbia use the NAEYC reform Primary Phase program. The exemplary Kentucky Education Act mandated this K-3 program in their elementary schools. Their act also mandated initial and continuous best knowledge training be provided building level staff and parents and that all program decisions be made by a school building level committee comprised of the Principal, three Teachers elected by peers and two Parent Leaders elected by peers. I was the first brought in to provide foundational training to some twelve hundred State Department staff and all of Kentucky's District Superintendents, Elementary School Principals and Lead Teachers on these two mandated State Act requirements. Both of these research-documented reform systems train staff and parents to relate instruction, curriculum and AUTHENTIC, ongoing, performance embedded assessment to each student's rate and style of learning. All students make solid academic and other personal/social developmental progress without being flunked, labeled, sorted or segregated. These unnecessary destructive practices cause at least ten percent of teachers and other building level staff's time to be wasted handling inappropriate or disruptive behavior outbursts. School Districts that trained staff and parents and competently implemented the Quality District Model show at least a districtwide academic score gain of at least two grade levels. Students are not taught to pass rote memorization standardized test questions but given interdisciplinary learning experiences that develop their creative, innovative abilities and higher order thinking and problem solving skills. Students' critical and independent thinking are developed in these schools. These reformed districts graduate well over ninety percent of their students compared with our Delaware rate of slightly over sixty percent. That indicator alone would equal a $300 million annual increase in efficiency. Even recent News Journal articles inform us we're seventh from the top state in per student annual funding but forty-third in drop-out rate and forty-seventh in creating students afflicted with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) with fourteen percent of students in this "Hardening of the Categories" illness. I have sent packages of best knowledge explanations and research evidence to our state level elected and appointed education decision-makers and asked to meet with them to explain these two reform systems and arrange a visit to at least one of these continuous education progress for all students districts. Not a single individual or group has accepted my invitation. I suggest a desk paperweight with the following inscription, "The only difference between a rut and grave is depth." Dr. Floyd E. McDowell is Facilitator of the nonprofit, nonpartisan deinformedvoters.org web site. He resides at 11 Dover Court, Bear, DE 19701 and can be reached at (302) 832-2799) or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.