Tuesday, August 06, 2013

That's The Exact Wrong Reason

I was that grouch.

My former state senator, Bob Morton, was as solid a Republican as you could ever hope to find.  Even in his 80s, when I met him, he still cut an imposing figure in his cowboy boots, and the love that he had for the 7th Legislative District was clear.  He also was known for asking some tough questions (and signing his name to legislation) regarding alternative education (ALE), particularly on-line classes, and it's an opinion that he came by honestly from his perspective as a former school board member.

The school districts in the 7th didn't help.  I could write 10 posts about the corruption in Valley, but I think this excerpt from the Colville Statesman-Examiner, about the sudden retirement and return to the classroom of Kettle Falls Superintendent Phil Goodnight, gives you a pretty clear insight into a certain strain of thought that administrators up here have:

Goodnight said the Kettle Falls School District Board of Directors also undertook some bold financial moves during the economic downturn and approved the Columbia Virtual Academy at Kettle Falls to compete for student enrollment across the state.

"The financial benefits from CVA allowed the district to keep teachers for local students," Goodnight explained.  "Last year, all of our students passed their high stakes math test rquired for graduation."

The thing is, ALE isn't supposed to be a cash machine used to prop up other areas in the district, but that's how a lot of administrators used it, and that's why the push-back from the legislature is completely understandable.  When you also consider that the majority of on-line programs are terrible, you could make a very reasoned case that these administrators were playing with students lives in order to keep their reserve funds healthy.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keen insight in a little-known aspect of education policy in WA as always. However, I would say (and did) that the remedy to shorting students services is not to reduce the funding or to end the programs, but to make the services match the funds. It is another example of adult interests trumping student services.

And if ALE programs (and online) show poorly, keep in mind that they generally only serve those who have already been unsuccessful in the traditional program. Many are dropout retrieval programs or serving students with issues that make normal schooling impossible. I suspect that if they didn't exist, the success of traditional programs would show even worse in terms of dropouts or behind levels.

10:40 AM  
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