This comment was posted a few days ago from a school principal in Texas who just earned his doctorate. He wonders what happened to the noble profession he entered.
I wanted to share some good news with you – I completed my dissertation in education and received my doctorate! It was the most stressful and rewarding experience of my life, and despite all the angst and anxiety, I survived intact!
However, the world of education has changed radically since I began my doctorate. Here in Texas, education is still not funded adequately or equitably. The school that I’m principal of just spent the last of our budget, and we know we don’t have enough supplies for the rest of the year. Costs went up, but the budget stayed the same. We’re still short 40 science books, because the district didn’t account for the growth our campus experienced this school year, but hey, science isn’t tested in the grade affected, so, and I’m not making this up, the book coordinator asked we could just photocopy 40 books. No wonder we don’t have enough paper to make the year!
More disturbing is the fact that state testing remains the gotcha that dooms teachers, administrators, schools and districts. Though some understanding the escalating standards are unsustainable, there are still enough pitfalls to trap educators. For instance, how special education students are assessed.
If you didn’t know, the state expects ALL students to test on grade level and meet the state expectations for students. In the past, testing for special needs students included accommodations and modifications to provide equity in the assessment for them. Now, they take the exact same test as all general education students, just online instead of accommodated.
I recognize the goal to measure every student the same, but it is unrealistic to expect special needs students to perform at the same level as general education students. Several of my colleagues and I liken this to expecting all students, both able bodies and differently-abled, to run the mile on the track at the high school. It’s not just or equitable to maintain a set standard for success in that case, but for the state assessment, we’re doing just that.
Of course, the ramifications of this expectation affects the schools and districts, not the students. In fact, the way the assessment rules have been amended, it is perfectly reasonable for a student to meet the required standards less than 50% of the time 3rd grade through high school, and still be promoted and even graduate. No, it’s how it impacts the schools and the districts. That is so demoralizing.
Since the state demands we get all students to grade level, if we don’t, we are considered Improvement Required (IR), or as I call your school sucks. The hoops you have to jump through are endless and pointless. And, since we are rated on an entirely new and unique population every year, it’s not like there’s a reasonable standard we can ever meet.
So, in four short weeks, the state will demand we test our students over standards that are constantly changing, on a test that has nothing to do with what we should be doing in our classrooms, to please bureaucrats who I believe are truly intent on destroying public education.
I once thought education was the most principled and noble profession, and I think it can be, and it should be. But, right now, I can only feel a target on my back.