Saturday, April 17, 2010

Should Public Education Be About the Children?

Sometimes I ask myself this question from time to time: Who are we serving in the field of education if it isn’t the children?

Because every day I read things in the news that lead me to believe that public education is for the benefit of everyone.

Everyone, that is, except the children it is meant to serve.

TAKS is nearly upon us. In a couple of weeks hundreds of thousands of children will be locked away into stale, sterilized rooms (every classroom poster must be removed from the walls) and made to sit through hours and hours of hellish silence day after day until the ordeal is finished.

And who do these tests serve?

Not teachers, who have to interrupt their lesson progression for nearly a week.

Not students, who learn nothing from the experience, and have only learned the things that will help them to pass these standardized tests.

So who benefits? Sadly, the only beneficiary is the state education agency whose only vehicle to rate how well schools and school districts are performing is through the data that these tests yield.

They need that data so they can check that box that says that they are keeping their fingers on the school accountability pulse.

But what started me on this has nothing to do with TAKS or accountability standards. Those two things, like hurricanes and fire ants, will always be a part of Texas. What started me thinking about this today, about who is being served in public education, is this article in the American-Statesman about the District 10 race for Texas State Board of Education.

Judy Jennings, a PhD in Educational Psychology is running against Dr. Marsha Farney (yes, she uses the title Doctor in her campaign material, Jennings does not) who has a doctorate in curriculum and instruction – or what we call “Education.” Jennings is running under the banner of taking politics out of education and rededicating public education for the children.

This is from Jennings’ website:
“As a board member, I will accept the recommendations of scientists on the teaching of science, of historians on the teaching of history, and of educators on the best ways to reach all of our students, who come to school from diverse backgrounds and with a variety of learning styles and needs. I will work collegially to move past the unproductive contention that has been the hallmark of this board toward developing a public school system worthy of this great state and the vision of Sam Houston.”
Her opponent, Dr. Marsha Farney, is running as “The Common Sense Conservative.” An appellation that, as applied to the Texas SBOE, is an oxymoron. In other words, Jennings has no political agenda, but Farney has nothing but a political agenda.

A political agenda that serves who?

The Children?

The huge question I have, have always had, is this: why does this wife of a successful patent attorney want this job that pays no money at all? Why did Marsha Farney invest all of $279,000 of her own family’s funds just to defeat her two Republican opponents? For a job that pays nothing? What does she hope to gain?

I am suspicious, and rightly so.

Mainly I am suspicious that Dr. Marsha Farney is not in this for The Children.


Jon said...

Thanks for the insightful post. A link to Judy Jenning's website:

Stacy Hackenberg said...

Well said. The recent national media attention the SBOE has made Texas look idiotic. It's time we used that recognition in the fight against the Conservatives.

Unknown said...

I know Judy Jennings personally and I believe that she would bring tremendous experience, passion, and a great point of view to the SBOE.
-Rebecca Bell-Metereau