Q: HOW WILL UNIFICATION OF OUR SCHOOL SYSTEMS IMPROVE EDUCATION?Unfortunately, CUEE didn’t stop there. Their FAQ continues:
A: School unification, by itself, will not improve the quality of education for our children.
Unifying our public schools means we can have ONE focus on education in our community. CUEE seeks to unify the strengths, aspirations, goals and resources of both school systems into ONE system with ONE focus on providing a quality education to all children and close the achievement gap.Somehow shouting “ONE” is supposed to magically make these things happen. If CUEE knows how to do these things, why doesn’t it get on with doing them now in the existing school systems? Oh, right: it doesn’t say how, because it doesn’t know.
School unification will affect education reform in key areas including;
- ONE focus on resources that support the critical goal of having all our children be proficient in reading and math at grade level by the 3rd grade. Children who are at grade level by the 3rd grade achieve 10-20% higher graduation rates.
- ONE single school system. Our community should focus on graduating all students to ensure they are ready to enter college, technical school, the military or the workplace.
- Establishing district-wide priorities and standards for all students and schools. Best practices will be applied across ONE school district instead of two. We could have one, highly focused professional development program for our teachers and school leaders. Singularly focused professional development is the key to effective teaching. Great teachers and great principals make great schools, and that makes a difference in the classroom.
- ONE positive focus to closing the achievement gap for all students. Our schools should have a culture of high expectations for all students, regardless of their gender, race/ethnicity, ability, or socioeconomic status. A unified school system will have a focused mission on developing programs and services to ensure all children are performing at high levels, achieving proficiency and receiving equal educational opportunities.
Here’s one way I know CUEE doesn’t know. CUEE said so, on its facebook page, 27 March 2011:
CUEE is facilitating an educational planning process that will consist of local educators, public officials, parents, business and civic leaders, and others. This planning committee will examine many of the issues raised in your FB post as well as other issues facing our public schools. Once this planning process is completed, the plan will be presented to both School Boards and then to the public at a community forum.Note how that works. CUEE organizes its hand-picked committee that produces a plan and presents it to the community.
And according to what CUEE speakers said at their 24 March 2011 “Kick-off” session, that presentation would be after the unification vote (if there is one).
Continuing CUEE’s facebook explanation:
If the Valdosta voters decide to unify with the Lowndes County school system, both School Boards will then come together and develop a school unification plan that will hopefully be implemented by mid-2013. CUEE hopes the School Boards will use this planning document as a resource as they plan for a county-wide school system. And if asked, CUEE will offer its assistance and financial support to their planning process.Well, CUEE, if a unification vote passes, you broke it, you should help pay to fix it. And if your hand-selected committee really can come up with a plan to improve education, why not do that first, try it out in one of the school systems, and if that one improves, then talk about unification? That way there would be some evidence that you actually know how to improve education. Of course, it would also be evidence that unification had nothing to do with it.
And yes, we have and continue to talk with both school systems about this issue. CUEE has also visited several communities in Georgia and other nearby states that have unified their school districts during the last 10-15 years. During these visits, CUEE spoke with school and elected officials to better understand the challenges and issues they faced when unifying their school systems. Much of what CUEE says on school unification is based on what these communities experienced (good and bad) after they unified their school systems.So, what did the Valdosta and Lowndes school systems say? Why don’t you tell us?
And its curious how in talking to other school systems CUEE never came back with any downsides whatever to school unification. This makes me wonder how much they really tried to find out.
Let’s go back to that first sentence, which is the real answer:
A: School unification, by itself, will not improve the quality of education for our children.So why are we considering doing it?
Imagine what these self-styled leaders of the community could do if they put their minds to something that would actually improve things around here!