Monday, April 28, 2008

'Courageous decision-making needed'

In its lead editorial on Sunday, the state's largest newspaper discussed the New Hope Scholarship Act, which went down to defeat on the House floor last week.
Approving the bill would have taken some real courage. Education groups were united in their opposition. They feared the plan would dilute public education funding, and some lawmakers bought into the idea that approving the plan would equate to abandoning public education. Although the bill targeted Oklahoma City and Tulsa, rural school officials complained it might eventually spread their way, too. One lawmaker even suggested what's needed is a study to identify education's problems.

By all means, conduct another study. The problem couldn't possibly be that many parents, educators and policy-makers expect too little of our students and that's exactly what we get. Or that parents are too disinterested. Or that many struggling schools suffer from poor leadership, a problem that often begets poor teaching. Or that it's way too difficult to get rid of ineffective administrators and teachers. Or that we do too little to help keep the good teachers in education or find ways to help them do an even better job.

We all know a lot about what's wrong in our schools. Depending on which classroom one uses as a point of reference, the list can be quite long. What's required isn't a task force. It's the will and the courage to do things differently. ...

The scholarship proposal had weaknesses, and it wouldn't have saved public education. But it might have helped some kids in Oklahoma City and Tulsa's poorest performing schools, and that should have been the focus.

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