Last week, the House Education Committee decided to abolish the teacher licensing system at the same time it abolished all state standards. If it stands, this move would virtually let anyone teach anything in the state without having to go through the arduous process of getting licensed to be a teacher and getting their subject endorsements. At first glance, this move may seem crazy, but is it? In truth, we actually do have a licensing problem in this state and it greatly contributes to the teacher shortages you hear a lot about in the news.
This week, the House Education Committee just voted to abolish our state standards in schools linked to English, Math, and Science. Not amend these, not tweak, but abolish all of them! Their reason: Our ISAT scores that are based on these don’t seem to be moving much. I agree that our test scores are pretty lackluster, but something important to consider: Is it the standards or the tests? Many of these numbers work on the premise that the ISAT, our standard achievement exam, is an accurate measure of what is going on in schools, but is it? Since I’ve administered this exam several times, I’d like to add some information to how schools get an ISAT score that may help to illustrate the problem.
As I write this, another legislative session has begun, The governor is armed with his education task force’s suggestions, a senator has proposed to raise the sales tax for education in exchange for stripping districts of their ability to run supplemental levies, and the house has just passed a bill to limit re-voting on school district supplemental levies. In other words, things are normal in that we have an educational task force and legislators are busy in their usual task of finding ways to reduce ways to fund schools. In this background, though, what no one is talking about is the fact that the majority of our schools don’t have textbooks and that this is a monumental issue affecting the quality of our education.