So, this post will be about Florez's problem, take a look at why this problem exists, and touch on my previously recommended solutions at the end, which are the only solutions that will work. Florez writes:
What's wrong with education? One hundred and four legislators who make a plethora of policy changes each year. That's what's wrong. Lawmakers continue to make policy du jour, based on a whim or what a constituent brings up as the latest fad. Sen. Michael Waddoups set the tone for the quick fixes when he cautioned, " … lawmakers are obliged to listen to their constituents."
Such a trite answer trivializes the problems legislators create. How do they justify passing laws based on what one constituent says, then ignore thousands of constituent signatures who want to change campaign-spending laws? It says volumes about lawmakers' commitment to working for the public good.
Sen. Aaron Osmond is the latest to offer the same silver bullet to fix education, teacher tenure. He says, "The real problem isn't morale or recruitment, but rather the fact that right now there's no incentive for teachers to perform at all." He obviously has not talked to front-line teachers who will tell him about the oppressive and overregulated environment in which they teach.
Then there are legislators who keep trying to pass laws on class size. Other lawmakers passed laws requiring greater accountability, transparency, grading schools and teacher performance. However, they have failed to establish what is the core purpose of education and how to measure what our education system produces. They compound the problem by grading how well the system runs, not what it produces.And he's right. Having a legislature make education policy is the worst possible way to govern education, except for all the others. It's pretty easy for us to get mad at the Legislature. They're the ones in charge of setting policy, and that policy has led to mediocre results (if we're being generous). Let's stipulate: having education governed by the legislature sucks.
But what else is there to do? Have it governed by some other body? The elected Board of Education? You'd get the same problem but with less accountability. At least the legislature has some accountability to voters for their decisions. That's much less true of the State Board. People are not very well informed about their state legislature, but even less so about the school board. Not to mention that in Utah, the board is only marginally "elected" anyway. That sucks worse.
How about an education Czar? Someone with real power to just set policy as an individual, who doesn't care when the legislature does something he thinks is stupid. Just don't follow it. The dictatorship model. No accountability at all. That sucks worst of all.
For better or worse, as long as we elect lawmakers, those lawmakers will pass policy that they think will help them get elected. For education, that means that governors, legislators, and, yes, even State Board members will try to tackle problems with solutions designed as much or more to win votes as to improve education. The only way around that is to have those who set policy not be elected. Whole new set of problems.
What's the solution then?
Put educators in charge of schools and then put parents in charge of their children's education. Relax the legislative rules. Really allow educators to innovate, experiment, and open models of school that they think would address the problems we face. And let a thousand flowers bloom--schools with different models in the same neighborhood, really providing options to students and families.
And then let those parents choose among the options. Let them hold the educators accountable for how schools perform. Let them find the model that works best for their children.
That's the only way, in a society that elects its government, to avoid the problems of that government micro-managing education and turning it into a stagnant bureaucracy so distracted by implementing "the latest fad" it loses focus on what it should be doing--providing a high quality education.