Michigan’s new State Superintendent, Brian Whiston, is asking for public input to help improve Michigan’s public schools. His goal is to make Michigan schools among the 10 best in the nation, in the next 10 years. So, the MDE decided to put up an online survey to help collect opinions.
Here are my responses to the survey.
What are the top two or three goals that Michigan should focus on?
1. Fixing the poverty problem. Teacher quality has a minimal impact on student academic performance when compared to the impact of poverty.
2. Drastically cut back on standardized testing. Instead, promote things that foster creativity in our students AND teachers. Increase emphasis on the arts, allow time for teachers to collaborate with those both inside and outside the district.
What current policies get in the way of that goal?
1. Teacher evaluations are too reliant on student growth, which is measured by standardized test scores. The tests are a poor metric, which means the evaluations are flawed. Come up with an evaluation tool that doesn’t encourage teachers to teach to the test, but rather one that asks teachers to get their students thinking and creating.
2. Right to work. Teacher working conditions are the same as student learning conditions. Right to work shows that the state doesn’t value teacher input when it comes to determining those working conditions.
What policies are needed to expedite our progress toward that goal?
1. Policies that address the social issue (poverty) will go a long way toward fixing many educational issues.
2. A repeal of right to work legislation.
If you were the State Superintendent, what are the first three things that you would do?
1. Get rid of as much standardized testing as possible. Long testing days make kids dread coming to school, and these tests don’t teach anything. Give some autonomy back to the teachers, and encourage them to spend this new extra class time teaching and creating with their kids.
2. Encourage districts state-wide to increase their salaries. Teaching is a great profession, we should not struggle to make ends meet when we decide to enter this profession.
3. Encourage the state legislature to get rid of the EAA. This state-run district has been a disaster from the start. Spend some of that time and energy working to address the poverty problem.