No Dilemma. An Accurate Accounting.
It looks like the effort has begun, in earnest, to invalidate pending graduation requirements, rather than acknowledge that Rhode Island’s current way of doing elementary and secondary education isn’t working:
Thousands of incoming high school juniors may be unable to graduate in June 2012 because of tougher graduation requirements, and state education officials are beginning to grapple with the consequences of their new high standards.
Starting with the Class of 2012, high school seniors must have scored at least “partially-proficient” on the state tests in English and math in order to graduate. The tests are administered during their junior year.
If the new diploma system had been in full effect the last two years, nearly half of the state’s juniors would have been at risk of not graduating because of poor performance on the math portion of the state tests. Forty-five percent of juniors scored in the lowest possible category, “substantially below proficient.”
Let’s be clear: These aren’t “the consequences of new high standards”; they’re the consequences of a failure to meet any standards at all. If the great majority of students were just barely missing adequate performance, then the aggressiveness of the standards might merit some adjustment. That’s not the case. Half of Rhode Island’s juniors aren’t even close. And this explanation only brushes the underlying issue:
State education officials acknowledge that making these changes has been daunting, given the nature of the work and the scarcity of resources.
Scarcity of resources? Rhode Island devotes top-quintile amounts of money to education. The only reason resources for reform can possibly be said to be scarce is that they are locked up in personnel costs for a workforce that is unable or unwilling to perform to expectations. Our entire education structure is built in such a way as to put the compensation and employment satisfaction of adults first on its list of priorities.
As long as Rhode Island tiptoes around the union issue — with all of the legal binds for which unions and other insiders have labored over the decades — our students will continue to suffer. Making it easier for them to graduate will only paper over the problem, exacerbating the harm done to the young adults of Rhode Island.