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Try a different approach to schools

From EducationViews.org.

Blogger: After 40 years of increased school spending, it’s time to try a different approach

Posted by  on August 13, 2013

WICHITA, Kan. – Some Americans might be disheartened by the revelation that our national K-12 education spending binge over the past 40 years has had no discernible impact on student achievement.

But community activist and Kansas-based blogger Bob Weeks has just the opposite view.

In a thoughtful analysis on WichitaLiberty.org, Weeks urges taxpayers to take hope from the fact that increased public school spending has not led to more student learning.

“If we can eliminate our fixation on spending as the cure for all problems, we can start to seek actual solutions,” Weeks writes in a recent post.

The “actual solutions” he speaks of center around training, hiring and retaining more effective teachers for the classroom.

Weeks’ post was in response to a reader who called for Kansas officials to ramp up K-12 spending so schools could cut class sizes, “which are getting out of hand.”

Weeks acknowledges that Kansas has cut per-student spending over the past two years, but reminds readers that “spending from all sources (local, state and federal) … is much higher than 10 years ago.”

He also rejects the call to reduce class sizes in order to improve students’ academic performance by citing 2011 research from the Center for American Progress – a left-wing think tank – which concludes class size limits only offer “false promise.”

“In a nutshell, class size reduction produces very little benefit for students,” writes Weeks. “It’s also very expensive, and there are other things we should be doing instead if we really want to increase student achievement.”

At the top of his list is improving teacher effectiveness.

Weeks cites this quote from the Center for American Progress study: “The emerging consensus that teacher effectiveness is the single most important in-school determinant of student achievement suggests that teacher recruitment, retention, and compensation policies ought to rank high on the list.”

We like Weeks’ approach to education reform because he simply follows where the facts lead. And the facts affirm that the standard, big-spending approach to fixing America’s failing public schools isn’t working.

Better teachers and more school options for families – those are the ways to rescue America’s failing and flailing public education system.

The 40 years of ineffective K-12 policies bring to mind something Thomas Edison once said: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

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