Apparently, according to former-general-without-a-second-of-experience-as-a-teacher Superintendent Mick Zais, just a little more.
As reported by Patrick Hayes at EdFirstSC (and not reported at the Charleston Post and Courier because the P&C is all about endorsing the worst possible policies for SC public schools, such as merit pay and VAM as well as TFA, charter schools, and misguided teacher evaluations), Zais
wants to delete rules that limit class size, teacher workloads, and mandatory staffing levels for teachers, guidance counselors, principals, assistant principals, and media specialists.What is Zais’s justification for these changes? Watch for the weasel words:
His staff emphasizes that the goal is to give districts “flexibility”, but that state and federal laws also cover these topics.
When asked how a harmless paper shuffle would add flexibility, I was told, “That’s the way Dr. Zais wants it, so that’s the way it is.”…
The SBE and Dr. Zais have advocated for increased flexibility for school districts and schools to remove barriers to innovation and to raise student achievement.Yep, flexibility and that ever-wonderful innovation!
Hayes notes that Zais has pushed terribly flawed teacher evaluation plans and mislabeled reading legislation grounded in retaining third graders. Zais loves Florida, but again Hayes recognizes that Zais’s affection for the Sunshine State is pretty selective:
Florida spent roughly $25 billion over the last decade bringing down class-sizes at the same time test scores were going up. Classes are capped at 18 students in K-3 and 25 students through 12th grade….
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush doesn’t talk about this because he didn’t want it to happen. He fought two battles to stop it, and was overruled by voters and the legislature.
Dr. Zais talks about Bush’s mandatory 3rd grade retention policy as if it were responsible for Florida’s score gains during this period (he talks a good deal less about the hundreds of millions that were spent on reading interventions to head off retention [$130 million this year alone] and the dip in scores that occurred when this funding was cut).
Ironically, smaller class-sizes have been directly linked to achievement gains, and retention is negatively associated with long-term outcomes.If Zais’s education policies are implemented in SC, just who will they impact in the classroom—which children will feel the brunt of this flexibility and innovation?
- Third-grade retention will disproportionately impact children in poverty, African American and Latino/a children, and English Language learners.
- Removing class size limits will disproportionately impact children in poverty, African American and Latino/a children, and English Language learners.
- Continuing to de-professionalize teaching and committing to temporary-teachers such as TFA will disproportionately impact children in poverty, African American and Latino/a children, and English Language learners (see Charleston for proof).
When political will mis-serves those with the greatest needs, that political system is broken.
The assault on public education in SC is further evidence of what really doesn’t matter—and in my home state, what really doesn’t matter includes impoverished children who have no political power.