The discussion in education for standardized testing and teaching excellence has been an ongoing battle for public, private, charter and homeschooling for many years. This will continue until an answer can be found, but the bottom line is the student, not privatization from corporate sponsors. Another part of the dilemma is teacher evaluation, and that can be observed with the number of layoffs that have decimated the teaching ranks. The public school system has taken a beating with loss of budget monies and staff reduction, and the money that is doled out that goes to the private sector makes the situation more deplorable.
The weight of the testing process for funds and how the money is distributed are the weak links in the education of each student. It seems that the test results are a way to examine the importance how each school scores, and that evaluation in poor performance is blasted throughout the country to demonstrate how schools are failing students. To add fuel to this inferno is the interest private domain and corporate dollars are changing the way education should be handled.
The debate that schools aren't doing their job, teacher evaluation and public versus private ventures appear to be heading for a confrontation of what is just and right for students. In Pennsylvania, the budget for schools have been slashed by millions of dollars and the dwindling of programs and teachers are leading to overflowing classrooms and loss of equipment and supplies. The public schools are facing the same problems year after year and only time will tell if an answer can be worked out for the benefits of the students.
The main ingredient that seems to be at the forefront is standardized testing and what the results really prove. A question that enters the foray is if the teachers are prepared and qualified to lead the students to successful learning concepts. That evaluation has the teachers on the hot seat and questions the validity of employment. All it takes is a comparison to see what works, and Finland is a great example of what works. Finland has been recognized as world leader in educational philosophy and educational reform:
- No competition between schools
- One standardized test at age 16
- High graduation rate
- School reform
- Equal opportunities for all students
- Less homework and more creative play
- Teachers given prestige, responsibility and appropriate pay
- The school system is about equity
The Race to the Top is about students, not competition and fighting for federal and state money. It isn't about tracking students performance in testing. The Finnish educational community isn't interested in accountability; it is etched in stone that teacher and student responsibility is at the core of success and the main concern is cooperation, not competition. What direction the United States will take will be the intense conflict of private versus public concerns and hopefully, will not end in the race to the bottom.