Thomas Paine
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Only Tom Paine can better phrase the efforts to improve Indiana education as it has gone “from the ridiculous to the sublime.”  The State Department of Education has long lost its way in developing any thinking to improve anything.  Republicans originally didn’t even want national or state Departments of Education and they would be better off if they returned to this thinking.

These government run programs have provided us with nothing more than large budgets and information that has done little to improve education.  Most of the movement has been to set targets, add incentives, and push for higher scores on tests.  Nothing on improving method in the classroom to make our children more competitive internationally.  All results-oriented tracking and thinking that has little to do with education improvement.

The latest plan is using programs with more acronyms and less sense.  TAP is the latest catastrophe in the making.  The whole program is based on test scores matched against previous years to measure “improvement.”  The results will be predictable teachers teaching to the test to get the bonus and new methods being stifled.

The TAP program has bonuses comprised of 50% on principal evaluation, 30% on how students improve (on test scores) and 20% on how the whole school improves.  Evaluation by principals will become a popularity contest as evaluations are always subjective.  This will become a command and control manager’s dream . . . full of coercion and ability to make someone comply.

All these new programs will require scores of new monitoring and inspection to make sure people aren’t manipulating the system.  After all, money is involved.  Our bureaucratic government will grow and deficit widen. 

In education we are in need of valuing the work of the teachers interacting with students . . . this is where the real work is done.  Experimenting with method to teach children to become life-long learners and not regurgitating birds.

So for the true Republicans out there and possibly some tea party folks let’s propose that we eliminate the Indiana State Department of Education and put the money to work in our classrooms where the learning takes place.  Less administration, more money to attract would-be teachers that go to the private sector and a lot less intrusive government with failed programs.

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Tripp Babbitt is a columist (Quality Digest and IQPC), speaker, and consultant to private and public service industry.  

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