Aaliyah Samuel penned a piece on U.S. News and World Report today about how state governors are the right choice to guide education, and she offered a set of guidelines to do so:
As we as a nation pursue effective education for all, it is paramount we commit to these three foundational principles:
- Equity. Ensure every child, from birth through college and career, receives a high-quality education and has access to the tools and resources they need to succeed.
- Alignment. Create coherence across disparate systems and connect education to economic opportunity to ensure a seamless pipeline from birth through college and career.
- Data-driven. Harness high-quality data to support students and improve schools, programs and educator quality with a fact-based approach.
On the whole, I agree with Samuel. A top-down, one size fits all approach to teaching and learning doesn’t work. However, having state governors guide education is STILL a top-down, one size fits all approach to education, just on the state level instead of the national level. She argues for equity and alignment, which I think are admirable goals, but her third guideline, that education be data-driven, doesn’t work in conjunction with her first guideline. If we want education to be equitable, then we can’t rely on what has been called “high-quality data.” Standardized test results are NOT high quality data, and yet they have been used to make significant, sweeping decisions about education. Test results tell us that schools in low income communities are almost universally failing, and that students, teachers, and schools there need to be fixed.
If we truly want equitable education, then we need to return control of education to individual schools, boost support and compensation for teachers, increase funding to schools in high need areas, and rely on information about schools that includes not just test scores, but observations of teachers, community, student, and teacher feedback, artifacts of student learning, and real world outcomes.
The best place to get that information, and the best place for decisions about education to occur is at the school level. Districts and states can and should provide guidelines, but when it comes to decisions about instructional methods and measuring instructional quality, educators MUST be in charge.