Education is important. If you’ve bothered to read my ramblings, you probably know I believe that. So buckle up, because MEAP scores are being released.
To begin, the fifth grade science classes in Ann Arbor Public Schools had a passing rate of 37 percent according to Annarbor.com.
The site mentions, “the 37 percent figure, in fifth-grade science, was nothing to crow about, but it’s not that Ann Arbor students have suddenly gotten a lot worse at science. It’s that the state changed the way the test is scored: It now takes more correct answers than in prior years for a student to rank as ‘proficient.’”
Ypsilanti isn’t doing very well either, as the article notes “…math proficiency rates dipping as low as 9.6 percent for third-graders. Fourth-graders did the best, with 23.7 percent scoring proficient.” Despite some lower scores however, Ypsilanti did better in reading.
Saline’s science scores were also low, which represents a trend throughout the state, probably because of the changes to the test. Charter schools are doing better, no surprise there, but still, things look bad.
While government is trying to cut costs, state education is going down the flusher.
The budget cuts don’t appear to be helping either, with 48 of the state’s school districts under government watch for possible federal control due to budget deficits, according to an article in The Detroit News.
Detroit and Highland Park schools are all ready under state control because of financial strain. The article also says the situation might be getting better, so at least there’s hope, and as long as there’s hope, there’s a chance to fix this mess that doesn’t involve selling the Upper Peninsula to Canada to cover costs.
Getting rid of the emphasis on standardized tests would probably be a good start, but that doesn’t appear to be happening. Neither does “teaching for the test” if it’s going on. The problem is a two-front war on proper education and financial strain. A two-front war needs a two-front angle, financial and educational reform.
A study from Education Trust-Midwest listed some solutions to education reform, according to an article from a2politico.com. The study recommends evaluating teachers’ high curriculum expectations, improving low performance schools and teacher accountability. The key to these ideas is a teacher tenure evaluation law that was passed last year. It’s more or less the linchpin of the study’s reform ideas, and while those ideas are a very good start, they’re not going to be enough.
Financial reform won’t just help education reform, it will allow that reform to continue. How can schools effectively educate students by cutting programs, reducing staff and removing class options? They can’t, obviously. Financial reform is essential to the future of Michigan’s education and education of the nation as a whole.
Getting that reform won’t be easy, unfortunately. Though Michigan has a long history of supporting education, lately that’s been pretty hard to do.
I’m not an economist, so I won’t even try to think up ways for financial reform. I can comfortably say that it won’t be easy, but something worthwhile is rarely easy. And the future of this state’s education is definitely worthwhile.
Ypsilanti, Ann Arbor, Saline and Detroit all need education reform, and dozens of school districts across the state need financial support. The need for change is clear, and getting it won’t be easy, but it has to be done, for the future of the state and country.