Look, a laptop is a useful tool, but a disturbing number of my students are getting out of high school not having mastered writing skills that do not require a laptop! Online classes? Those make sense for highly motivated students prepared to work in an environment that does not have such direct accountability as sitting in a classroom, but I am skeptical that this describes most high school students.
There are a lot of small school districts in Idaho that need consolidation. These are districts with 300 students, within a few miles of other districts of similar size. Every district has a superintendent--often pulling down a very impressive salary. Luna wants to see this done, but as one of the state senators points out:
But will the discussion go from lip service to law?
Probably not, Senate Education Committee Chairman John Goedde said Thursday. He expects consolidation legislation to emerge, then fade without gaining traction.
“Every lawmaker wants to see every district in the state consolidated but his own, so it won’t receive much support,” Goedde said Thursday.
Along with consolidation, which makes a lot of sense, much of Luna's proposal seems like something that you would come up with because no one wants to confront the elephant in the bathtub of why public schools (and many private schools) are doing only a so-so job:
1. A lot of parents who do not regard learning as terribly important--at least, not enough to actually role model it to their children. I know one teacher (in a private high school) who told me of a discouraging conference with a parent. The son was not doing well in composition, at least partly because he did not read. Reading for pleasure is part of developing literacy--but the mother admitted that she has trouble finding energy and time to read. Magazines were about as deep as she could manage.
2. A lot of kids are coming from homes devastated by divorce. You think divorce is wrenching on adults? I know someone who taught at a Christian middle school in California, and the devastation that current and previous divorces were having on her students. (And yes, at a Christian school in California, most parents are divorced or divorcing. You expect the parents to be any different from the secular world?)
3. Way too many kids have grown up with enormous wealth and parental indulgence. This is beginning to decline because of the economic collapse, but I'm afraid we have a lot of kids who simply did not see the need to work terribly hard in school--why should they, when everything they want is given to them?
Yes, I want to blame teacher unions. They are certainly part of the problem, especially in places like New York. Yes, there are schools more focused on safe sex than good grammar. But the core problem is that a lot of kids are getting the wrong message at home about education.