More laws mean less teaching

In one of his final school board meetings before his June 30 retirement, outgoing Decatur City Schools Superintendent Sam Houston once again was placed in the position of protecting education from the lawmakers who should be its allies.
The issue on Tuesday was a school calendar forced on every school district in the state by legislators who have no experience in education. On a personal level many teachers welcome the longer summer break, but they know that the extended break and the reduced mid-year breaks will hamper student achievement.
The law – designed to boost tourism revenues on the Alabama coast – received support from several local legislators. These avowed supporters of limited state government substituted their judgment for that of elected school board members in the interest of a theoretical boost in sales on the opposite side of the state.
Hovering in the background is another law passed this session in which legislators again concluded they knew better. The state will implement a grading system for schools that depends on, among other factors, student performance on standardized test scores.
Each school will be assigned a letter grade. This state mandate joins a host of federal mandates that already grade schools on their performance and publicize the results. Like the federal grading systems, the state version will force educators to teach to the test.
This law received support from most area legislators.
With the school-calendar law the Legislature hampered efforts to improve student achievement, and with the grading system it penalizes schools that do not demonstrate student achievement through high scores on standardized tests.
One of the out-of-state candidates for the superintendent position said her primary role would be to guard the schoolhouse door to protect the classroom from outside distractions. What she could not have known is that, in Alabama, one of the major distractions comes from legislators.

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Filed under Alabama politics, education

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