It is time to stop throwing away taxpayer money on both the federal and state levels in an effort to improve public schools.
Simply put, the schools are what they are. The teachers are what they are. The administrators are what they are. And they are not going to change anytime soon.
The good news is that public schools in America, and especially in New York state, are pretty darn good.
Reformers are spending billions of dollars annually to improve schools because some students are failing. Read that sentence again, some students, not schools, are failing.
The fact is that a school, any school, does not function in a vacuum. In America, we choose to attempt to educate every child, not just the elite as in some nations. While this is a noble endeavor, no one can guarantee educational success for every student. What can and should be guaranteed is the opportunity for every student to get an education. The concept of educating all children poses a challenge for teachers every day. However, it is important to realize that education is not something that is done to students; it is done with them.
The handwringing over the failure of education will continue until we stop pretending not to know what we really know. While school personnel need to be held accountable for providing sound educational opportunities for every student, it is up to the students and their families to take advantage of these opportunities. Those who do, are successful students. Those who do not, are failing students. It is that simple. It is time to stop blaming failure on the schools any more than we would blame the death of an uncooperative patient on the medical facility. It just does not make sense.
Bring on receivership, more testing, teacher evaluation, budget reform, etc., it will all result in failure in that the perceived failing schools will continue to fail until we change from a focus on school improvement to improving student performance.
Dr. John Metallo is a retired teacher and administrator. Among the positions he has held are the principal of Albany High School and adjunct instructor at the University at Albany and SUNY Plattsburgh. He lives in Slingerlands and can be reached at (518) 577-7530 or [email protected]