Sunday, January 21, 2007

Swamp Fox Insights: This week professor closes his eyes to reality

Swamp Fox Insights: This week professor closes his eyes to reality

Swamp Fox Insights takes Professor Paul Thomas of Furman University to task over open enrollment and South Carolina education performance.

He correctly points out that the
The better educated a SC student's parents, the further behind their peers they are.

First of all Professor Thomas falls into the trap of blaming poverty for failing schools instead of schools on poverty. He says:

The best way to improve our schools, to raise student achievement, is to address aggressively poverty in our state.
as if the answer to the schools problems were to give the families of poor performing students a bigger house, a car, and more money.

Oh I know he means we need to create jobs, improve healthcare, etc..., but even doing that will probably result in only tiny improvements in school performance.

In Professor Thomas' next article, he argues agains school choice, even public school choice within a district.

I guarantee that if we allow open enrollment, when a new population of students fills our best schools, the next set of report cards will reflect that new demographic. If a top school sees an influx of high-poverty students, test scores will drop, the school report card will reflect that, and that school will no longer be attractive. We have ample evidence that test scores and school report card ratings directly reflect the poverty levels of our schools — not the talent or effort of the teachers or the administration.

I will leave it to Swamp Fox to answer:

Does Dr. Thomas really believe that if creative, talented teachers have the ability to attract some of the resources currently being spent on students whose needs are not being met, that they wouldn't be straining their brains every day thinking up new ways to make their students education better? And does Dr. Thomas really not understand, that after beating their heads against an unchangable public education establishment long enough, that creative, talented teachers either give up and leave or settle into the frustration of surviving in a system they know is not working well. Given the world he lives in every day, can he possibly not understand that?
If Professor Thomas has so little faith in our teachers, then what does it matter if we give parents a choice, the schools are doomed to failure anyway.