Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Education is a Funny Thing

We're always striving to improve it - we need to improve it - but, honestly, Massachusetts students are clearly doing something right. Okay, I'll admit it, we're doing downright well - the best in the country, in fact. We ranked the highest in the country on 4th grade and 8th grade math and reading. Three other states tied with us for 8th grade reading (Montana, New Jersey and Vermont), but I won't hold that against them - or our students. Though, I'll thoroughly expect next year's lot to kick those Jersey butts.

That said, there are still plenty of things we need to do before we have a great educational system. We need to find a way to not only teach our students to do well on tests, but actually have the capacity to think creatively and on their feet. We need to do a better job of increasing access to higher eduction - one thing the Governor, at least, has a very solid plan for (free access to our state's community colleges). There's also the problem that several minorities aren't quite performing as well as the majority - and there are certainly ways we can improve our performance in that area.

Finally, and probably most importantly, with the high cost of health insurance, our entire educational system is very fragile. Point in case: my hometown shut down its best elementary school last year (a Compass school, no less) and laid off ~35 school system employees for a district of only 14,500 residents. We're still going to be in the red next year for at least $800,000. Yikes. I've insisted all along that this is a looming crisis for all of Massachusetts, with no cure other than Universal Health Insurance, but it'll probably be more than a decade before this country wakes up to that reality, so we need band aids galore. If we could ever solve that problem, there's no reason why the Commonwealth can't establish an educational system that stacks up well against any other in the world.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oy. Oy gevalt.

Doing well, Ryan, we're doing downright well.

Ryan Adams said...

Hey, hey, hey. What are you trying to say, that we don't teach our childrens right? (President Bush said that yesterday.)

BTW: If I were writing a paper, I'd have caught that, but the nature of blogging precludes me from having perfect grammar, even in cases where lacking perfect is ironic.

Anonymous said...

Ryan - according to the 1993 Ed formual, Swampscott is a 'rich' town and doesn't need the money like 'poor' towns like New Bedofrd, Lawrence, Lowell, etc.

The fact that the formula is so skewed that these towns have sometimes gotten MORE than 100% of their education budget directly from the state and are releived of any responsibility for their own kids education (New Bedford used the surplus to buy new fire trucks!), well, that's just collateral damage in getting money to 'poor' kids.

Look up the Swampscott EQV (Equalized Value) and you'll see why they don't desrve any money. At least in the eyes of the state education dept.

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