Sunday, May 11, 2008

Exactly what we don't need!

Last week, our principal sent this little blurb he had received from the Minnesota Association of Secondary Principals. It is amazing how policy makers find ways to do exactly the wrong thing.

Late last night the K12 Omnibus Education Policy Committee concluded it's work...The conference committee report will now go to the respective floors of the House and Senate for passage and on to the Governor where it awaits an uncertain fate.

Here are the highlights:

The compulsory attendance and habitual truancy ages are raised to 18. (This provision's effective date is delayed until the 2011-2012 school year.) The Superintendent for St. Paul schools pushed this initiative. Our suggested amendments were not incorporated into the final provisions. We had proposed that districts could move kids to ALCs if they were failing their classes. The ALC's objected and the provision was removed. We proposed that if the principal and parents agreed and the student was 16-17 years old the student could be withdrawn. St. Paul didn't like this idea so it was not adopted. This became a high profile media issue. Privately, some superintendents view this as a revenue raiser. The argument goes that if these kids are kept in school, the district will receive the foundation aid revenue.

There's more, but that's the important part. I don't know anything about the St. Paul superintendent, but I have to assume that he has never been a high school teacher. I also have to wonder if he's ever talked to any. How in the world is forcing 16 and 17 year olds who have no desire to be in school to stay there? Does the stupidintendent have any idea how much damage will be done by forcing them on teachers trying to teach and classmates who want to learn? If I wanted to make education worse in Minnesota, I couldn't think of a more effective tactic.

As much as I disagree with my libertarian friends, boy, do they have a point. When it comes to education, it sure seems like policy makers in government have an uncanny ability to find ways to screw things up.


Blogger ms-teacher said...

After fighting this fight for many months with my own 16 year old, we are currently looking at having him get his GED and getting a job.

I'm tired of worrying more about his grades than he is and the constant battle of wills we seem to have on an almost daily basis.

We need to re-examine our high school policy. Those students who want to be in high school to go onto college should be allowed to do so, but those like my son, there has to be better alternatives.

5/12/2008 4:23 PM  
Anonymous Amy H. said...

Hi Dennis:

I am a teacher and co-administrator at a small 10th - 12th grade charter school in Eveleth, Minnesota. My math students and I were just researching statistics on drop-outs when I heard of this newly proposed law. A few days ago, we discussed it in several of my classes.

Most of the kids felt that raising the legal drop-out age will do little to increase the graduation rate. Most of the kids we know who have dropped out would not have stayed even if there was a law stating they should. Most kids we know have dropped out quietly (just disappeared and not wanted to come back to school), have gone to work, or have announced loudly that they have no desire to be in school.

The students felt that even if a kid had to sit in school for another year or two, it would not make him or her WANT to graduate any more. And in the end, we decided that you have to want it, even just a little, to earn it. The kids did think it would be a good idea to give teens more options on school or job training - they felt that might help keep kids learning and making life progress, even if not "in school".

Thanks. I enjoy reading your writing!

Amy H.

5/13/2008 12:11 PM  
Blogger Dennis Fermoyle said...

Ms. Teacher and Amy, I agree with both of you. I think the GED is a wonderful thing, and we don't use it enough. We have successfully encouraged some kids who were going nowhere in our school to get their GEDs, and anyone who knows the situations would consider them success stories. But instead, they count on our dropout rate. Obviously, there is incentive not to have kids do this even if it is clearly the best option for them. That fits in with the moronic superintendent of the St. Paul schools who sees students only as money from the state. He can't figure out that there's more to education than that. Amy, I just wish we could put your students in charge of things. They'd do a much better job than the stupidintendent of St. Paul and the idiot legislators that he is able to influence.

5/14/2008 5:01 AM  
Blogger Melissa B. said...

The Peter Principle--Mediocrity Rises--seems to apply more often to education than to any other professional discipline. How do these folks get to be stupidintendents, anyway? Our school has just entered the Brave New World of PLC, and we're looking at forcing kids to learn, as well. The state has already raised the drop-out age to 18, so don't know what else they can do. Not exactly craving the prospects!

5/14/2008 5:20 AM  
Blogger Dennis Fermoyle said...

Melissa, I'm afraid you're right. I should say right off the bat that I have known some outstanding administrators, but I've also known some people who have gone into administration because they weren't very good in the classroom. I've also known some who went into administration because all they thought about was money. Kind of sounds like the guy from St. Paul.

5/14/2008 3:15 PM  
Anonymous daniel simms said...

"Obviously, there is incentive not to have kids do this even if it is clearly the best option for them. That fits in with the moronic superintendent of St. Paul schools who sees students only as money from the state."

Dennis, this is what politicians do these days. That should be obvious. In defending public schools, even though I know you don't mean to, you are just giving aid and comfort to politicians, in their quest to increase their power and prestige over the rest of us.

5/14/2008 8:59 PM  
Anonymous flcertifiedteacher said...

Our new stupidintendent is so stupid that I have devoted an entire blog to him:


6/02/2008 9:39 PM  
Anonymous flcertifiedteacher said...

PS CLICK HERE for a live link to that blog:

6/02/2008 9:42 PM  
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