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Putting the Ill in Illinois

Illinois’ education blob is giving themselves a pat on the back. Their “collaboration” helped pass a bill, almost unanimously, that institutes some form of teacher evaluations based on “multiple measures” yet to be defined, and changes tenure rules, slightly. There are longer school days, strike rules requiring 75 percent of teachers to agree, but not much more. There’s not much here that helps students immediately, or parents, but makes it look like it does. Indeed, the back patting seems to be more about how it was done, not what was done.

Says the press propaganda:

“Unlike our neighbors in Wisconsin, Ohio and other states, stakeholders here worked together to craft an aggressive bill that makes our state the leader in education reform. At a time when many teachers understandably feel under attack, this bill celebrates effective teachers, recognizes their accomplishments and helps keep them in classrooms.”

We’re so glad that no one had to flee a state to keep from voting on major changes to education. Maybe that’s because there was nothing really to flee about, no controversy, no major changes. Time will tell, but a rose by any other name is not a rose. And this bill is not reform.

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Winded

thatgirlIn my junior year of high school, I was caught red handed not signed up for a Fall sports team (we were required to participate in one every season). I was guilty, had no defense, was unceremoniously marched over to the cross-country team and “volunteered”. For the record, this was and remains the harshest punishment ever exacted upon my person.

I showed up every day and did only that which was required, nothing more (sometimes less).

When we competed in a race, though I usually came in last, (I thought) I crossed each finish line in style, sprinting with my last reserves of energy. But it was all for show. Those who stuck around to actually see me finish saw only this explosion of effort and quite rightly wondered why I had not doled it out over the entire course.

It was a sad display of ego and false enthusiasm.

And I am reminded almost daily of this as states rush education legislation through their political machines. One by one, Illinois, Massachusetts, Kentucky, Delaware, Tennessee and their neighbors sprint across the finish line just in time for their ‘Race to the Top’ applications to have a little more content to accompany their creative writing.

What if they had been working on these education efforts over time, with focus and determination? What if they had trained a little harder in order to move beyond the superficial? What if they had made changes to their schools just because it was necessary and right, rather than lucrative?

I was never going to be a cross-country runner, and my finish line sprints proved that. Will the same be true of states in the ‘Race to the Top’?

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