A lot of people seeking office say that they support public education. Unfortunately, few actually offer specific detail to their ideology or offer insight into how they would make positive contributions to the system if elected. In my opinion, our public school system has suffered from a lack of commitment and trust by the legislature in the professionals that have chosen the very noble profession of teaching.
There have been too many “reform efforts” launched out of political motivation and justified through a misrepresentation of the lack of quality of the public school system through a use of subjective test scores. We need to remove the politics from the equation and re-evaluate the continued implementation of the Standards of Learning testing that has become certainly the primary, if not the sole, focus of the academic year for all public schools in Virginia. The enormous pressure to meet these demands has led to a diminution in the quality of the educational experience for the children. Teachers no longer have enough classroom time to give attention to the children that need it most. The demands to cover the testing objectives have destroyed the flexibility for educators to teach children the process of how to learn.
The educational process is about far more than a child successfully processing enough material into his or her short term memory to pass a multiple choice test. The pressures to meet these arbitrary performance standards have led to our children not mastering the tools of “how to learn.” There is no time to expose the child sufficiently to the concepts of analytical, deductive and inductive reasoning and abstract thought. These are the skills that provide the foundation for the next generation of inventors and entrepreneurs. And we, as a society, are throwing these away by requiring our educational system to prove its competence through an annual test. This is not only illogical; it is destructive to the future of our children.
The General Assembly talks about “outcome based” education and support the continued mandate of the Standards of Learning while ignoring the very compelling fact that nearly fifteen years after the implementation of the test our children are suffering from lower college entrance exam scores and a greater need for college remediation than they were when the test was first implemented. If this is truly a system of outcome based education, then the outcome is clear. I have introduced, and will continue to support, legislation that leads to reform for the Standards of Learning in Virginia.
The education of our children is the key to the ongoing development of our localities. Our children’s futures depend on it and, in my opinion, should receive the General Assembly’s premium commitment to its success.