Commonwealth Journal

Columns

November 7, 2011

Help me understand the PCHS dilemma

Somerset — A recent Commonwealth Journal article put my brain in a tail spin. The article; PCHS Grade: Needs Improvement. I'm sure the writer was attempting to relay to the general public the condition of the Pulaski County High School and the attempts being made to improve it. Buried within the article was one paragraph describing what needs to be done to start addressing the problem, I think. Please allow me to quote it here:

“The first step in the process will be a leadership assessment conducted by KDE to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the school for the purpose of developing the strategies for this school's improvement application for improvement grant funding.”

Let me see if I get this straight. When I hear words like “the first step,” it indicates to me there will be many more. To do a “leadership assessment” tells me there must be some kind of committee involved, appointed somewhere with the depths of the Kentucky Department of Education in Frankfort. Now, since the KDE does not believe the leaders at the Pulaski County High School level have the ability to determine the strengths and weaknesses of their teachers, programs and testing methods, the committee representatives must come to Pulaski County and instruct the leaders here on how to get their act together. Once the weaknesses have been identified, the committee will then assist the poor souls at the county level in developing strategies (carefully worked out plans) on how to overcome these weaknesses. Now, these carefully worked out plans must then be transferred to an application which will then be forwarded to Frankfort, to the people who appointed the committee. Someone within the bowels of the KDE will determine if these carefully worked out plans, which their committee helped develop, meet the guidelines of the NCLB (No Child Left Behind) Act, brainchild of Ted Kennedy and signed into law by George W. Bush in 2001. If the guidelines laid out by the federal government are met, the state will then provide the tax payer money to implement the “carefully worked out plans,” with limited assistance from the federal level which created this mess to begin with.  

    I'll stop my interpretation here; my eyes are starting to cross. I have called several friends and asked them to give me their thoughts on the above mentioned article, and without exception their response was: “I have no idea what they are trying to tell us.” It is eerily similar to many political speeches we are bombarded with. They're reasoning and terminologies are beyond the comprehension of the average, everyday citizen. Could this be intentional?

This is one of the reasons many conservatives believe the Federal Department of Education should be abolished and the NCLB Act repealed. Unfair pressure is being placed upon the local educators (teachers) to comply, and as a result, true education is being replaced with “teaching to the test.”

Why does this concern an older person like me? We are raising a great-grandchild and home schooling seems attractive. However, the Home School Legal Defense Association warns there is a move in Washington that would result in “de facto national education standards.” This would require parents who home school their children to teach certain government agenda issues. A report by William A. Estrada of the HSLDA's Federal Relations Office stated that “-national standards would remove control from local boards and districts and allow "unelected bureaucrats, not parents" to decide what subjects should be taught.

Parents pay taxes to the federal government which decides what the parents' children will be taught. The tax money will only trickle back down if and when the local school system implements the government mandated educational guidelines. Can we still call this a free nation?

                                                                 ccalhoun1@windstream.net

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