Friday, April 20, 2007

The Law of Unintended Consequences, Part II: NBCT's

A reminder of the South Carolina legislature's short-sightedness regarding National Board Certification appeared in the Post and Courier last Wednesday. The article concerned the report issued by the NBCT Summit held in South Carolina last August. [see ] for the full report.

Why nine months' labor was required to publish the report is not clear, but at least one of its statistics is very predictable: Of the 5000 NBCT's in South Carolina (and aren't we proud that we are third in the nation in numbers!) a mere 132 teach in "high-needs" schools! For the math-challenged, that's about two and one-half percent.

What happened? You may want to check out my post of last August titled, "The Law of Unintended Consequences."

The report of the Summit has several recommendations, including adding an additional $5000 to NBCT's who teach in the failing schools in question. There is nothing wrong with their analysis. It's just that, as usual, South Carolina is trying to lock the barn door after the horse got out.

Would it not be nice to have administrators and legislators with foresight? Seeing this train coming down the tracks would not have taken a rocket scientist.

Now, it's lack of foresight, or intentional neglect, (I'm not sure which) that caused the state legislature (also last summer) to restructure the tax base for school funding without giving any attention to the consequences for the funds it sends to school districts.

That's our $11 million shortfall.


Anonymous said...

I support you for CCSD's Superintendent "vacancy"-
Better yet, will you consider running for Governor?
C'mon, at least run for Mayor of Charleston. You can use my address if you don't live in Charleston (I actually LIVE downtown and NO one checks - trust me)

Anonymous said...

I've attempted to read that report...up until page 10, it's just "blah, blah, blah..." Then page 11 actually has some interesting recommendations. Have we implemented these? I'll get back to you, if I'm able to read past page 11.

Babbie said...

To the first commenter: I need my day job! However, I appreciate being appreciated!

Anonymous said...

This is just an observation from a layman, but don't we have too much centralized planning as it is? I can't speak directly to the NBCT report, but I would think local districts should be allowed to attract teachers and compete against one another. The proposed open enrollment plan might help address this provided local district bureaucracies don’t undermine the intent like they have done with NCLB (i.e. by withholding transportation and employing steering based on race or some other criteria). The key to letting this happen is equitable school funding statewide. Like additional pay incentives for National Board Certified Teachers, the state should directly reward schools with additional support and funding when they are deemed successful by providing meaningful support for the students they serve. Bypass the local school district bureaucracies otherwise we do little more than validate numbers crunchers and educrats, not teachers and students doing their best.

As to Gov. Sanford's push to reduce the number of school districts in SC still further, I would think the current failures of districts like Charleston would only demonstrate that central planning on a massive scale is counter productive. Why can’t local schools be encouraged to match resources to meet geographically unique educational needs? Then it might be possible to eliminate local school district bureaucracies almost entirely by setting basic statewide standards. Leave individual schools or small local school partnerships among related or feeder institutions to develop innovative ways to exceed minimum standards by whatever means that might be most appropriate for the local community. One size fits all offers little or no opportunity for comparison or competition among schools for attracting new students. This is actually pushing parents away from public education and into alternatives outside the public system, especially toward private schools.

What ever happened to innovation, creativity and reaching for new challenges in American public education? Isn't that what sparked the successes in business, science and culture through most of the 20th century? At this rate we are becoming our own worst enemy in adequately preparing the nest generation to face the challenges of the 21st. As long as we measure teacher performance almost exclusively using student testing as measured by a single standardized norm then mediocre results should be consistently expected. Why not also measure a community’s commitment of support for education beyond the limits of the schoolhouse? Who is measuring what becomes of the students after their formal education is completed?

Babbie said...

How do we cope with inequities such as the $400,000 provided for the Daniel Island School by its PTA? Not every school has such deep pockets.

Anonymous said...

Not to begrudge any school for having an active PTA (or similar group) with deep pockets, but I am drawn back to what Joe Riley called the circle of community support. If it truly exists (and I doubt it does except rarely or superficially), then engage it, empower it and make it vested in the local or neighborhood school's success. If a school has that AND there is equitable funding and access to basic resources THEN good things should be expected. The community should share in the results reflected in every public school's report card. I mean the business, political and cultural community should be graded for their competence as if "in loco parentis" for this and other schools within their communities. Charleston, or any other city, should not be able to boast of economic expansion, quality of life and livability while sweeping their local school performance (especially failures) under the rug.

Anonymous said...

Is the P&C part of this "circle" of support that the Mayor describes? So just how committed is the P&C to a vibrant and successful Fraser with its own full time principal? Or is the Evening Post corporate real estate division also considering the possiblility of acquiring more property on Columbus St? The Evening Post has actually been one of the biggest slumlords in this part of town for decades.

Anonymous said...

The mayor should consider using his position and influence with the Community Foundation to help establish permanent endowments for each school (or neighborhood based educational program) within the city. Of course, depending upon how large these endowments grow, individual school holdings might eventually cause indivual schools (and the neighborhoods they serve) to possess new leverage in determining their own futures. G-J spoke of this for the county, but I would be suspicious of any attempt to do this on a county-wide level and not make such community endowments school specific. Individual schools and their supporters should be identified, if only to be held accountable for their results. Corporate and business support should be especially encouraged to look at high needs schools. We shouldn't forget that some of the most successful schools found scattered thoughout history started as orphanages or were initiated as totally endowed programs to benefit the poor. Let the PTA's of communities like Daniel and Sullivan's Islands continue to do what they do, but I would ask the Mayor and the Evening Post Foundation what they are doing for schools like Charleston Progressive at Courtenay School, Memminger School and Fraser School. We already know what they have done for Buist Academy.

Anonymous said...

You are all touching on some interesting topics. Why hasn't anyone mentioned our infamous Buist Foundation? Word is they're not subject to FOIA requests. I wonder what the link between false addresses and the Buist Foundation is. Sallie evidently stated giving priority to District 20 residents would jeopardize the IB program. What did she mean by this? Could it be the Buist Foundation is funded by parents/grandparents of false addresses? I say, if you have nothing to hide, then cough up the info.! Who are your donors, Mrs. Ballard?
Where is a good writer when we need one? Someone needs to start e-mailing this blog site to Hollywood.