Governor Perry and Bill White are still debating whether or not public schools are on the right track. I don’t know of anyone in higher education who believes that Texas public schools students are better prepared for college. I haven’t talked to an employer who feels like students are ready to figure out the challenges of the workplace. I haven’t talked to any parents who thought that those standardized tests were telling them anything they wanted to know.
Blind faith in the value of standardized tests and “accountability” is slowly strangling the life out of Texas public school. Neither party seems to have accepted the need to put aside the reliance on these tests. In the meantime, the creativity and critical thinking skills that employers need are slowly wrung out of most Texas school kids. By the time they emerge from the K-12 system too many students are ready for little beyond a standardized test. (Coming to the rescue, the state’s Higher Education Coordinating Board is putting together a new formula that will encourage the state’s faculty to lower their standards and pass more students.)
The state’s leaders need to put aside politics and take a serious look at education in the state. The Governor needs to look at providing real leadership in areas like technical training and trade schools. The State Board of Education needs to try to stop trying to dictate every detail of what is said in classrooms and create a curriculum that serves students better than political constituencies. Employers need to step forward and help schools reevaluate the education they offer. Parents need to press their children to work hard and quit telling teachers to declare what their kids are doing now as “success.” And, the Texas Legislature needs to stop enabling all this. Education policy has become a cruel hoax as students suffer needlessly through testing that provides little information about an educational system few state leaders think seriously about.
Voters need to demonstrate that their own education worked and toss aside any candidate (even ones from their favorite party) who suggests that the answers are easy. That’s how we got where we are today. Unfortunately, Texans have forfeited their independence and remain slaves to their partisanship.