The “F” that the Laurel School District got was disappointing.
The reaction to the failing grade was even more disappointing — and, no, we’re not referring to the people pointing fingers and making disparaging comments. That’s unfortunate, of course, but it’s to be expected.
The words of new superintendent Dr. Toy Watts were the most disturbing reaction we read. Her “intensive plan to address student proficiency” was rife with the buzzwords of a longtime believer in the bureaucracy of the education industry. They were the words of someone who believes education exists to keepeducation hustlers employed until retirement, not to prepare students for the real world.
Now, we’re not picking on Dr. Watts. She is just another cog in the wheel of the burgeoning bureaucracy that is the modern education system. They all learn to euphemistically call the abject failure of more than 80 percent of its students “a great opportunity for growth.”
Sure, OK. Bringing high school students up from a fourth-grade reading level to a sixth-grade reading level would be “growth,” wouldn’t it? But is that admirable? Is it acceptable?
Watts’ plan for improvement that we published includes the go-to remedy for all like-minded bureaucrats— more money! More Chromebooks with wi-fi, more instructional specialists, more consultants, more “support” from the community ... by confiscating more money from people who care to pay for people who don’t care, all in the name of showing that they are “doing something” to help.
It’s all straight from the Department of Education playbook for preserving its gigantic budget (more than 60 percent of the total state budget) and political power. Who can blame them? They get the lion’s share of the taxpayers’ money, and if they don’t have to perform up to par, they get to ask — no, demand — more money. And those politicians who don’t open up the purse im- mediately are labeled as anti-education Neanderthals who hate children.
The failure of those who run the Laurel School District and MDE is their dishonesty when it comes to identifying the primary problem with public education. The failure isn’t the fault of the teachers, the administrators or the students. No, it’s the parents. If there are no expectations, no value of education at home — if kids are being sent to school every day for the purpose of getting free meals and for the free baby sitting for eight hours — then the likelihood of success is low.
It’s rare for a teacher to be able to reach a kid who is being raised in that kind of environment. It can and does happen, and it’s a powerful thing when it does, but that’s the exception.
It has long been our contention that a quality education is available to all local students who avail themselves of the opportunities before them. One need only look at the ACT scores of the Top 10 in each graduating class of our local schools to realize that. The teachers and principals are the most convenient targets for criticism, and there are a few who deserve to be. But if you want to see the real reason for district-wide failure ... well, look up and down the Laurel streets that aren’t featured on TV.