According to the articles in your assigned readings, the most significant question considering all three groups of stakeholders is: Who should be in charge? More specifically, context is provided to argue where control should be assigned. Proponents of local control believe control belongs at the district level through oversight of school boards and teacher unions. Opponents of local control believe administration oversight belongs to state departments and political offices.
Write a 3-page argument on where control of educational issues belongs. You may argue for state and federal control, local control, or a compromise between the two.
Support your statements with evidence from the Required Studies, your research, and experiences. Cite and reference your sources in APA style.
The following materials are Required Studies for this week. Complete these studies at the beginning of the week, and save these materials for future use.
Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Educational Issues (Koonce, 2015)
Unit 2 – 2.6: Are Local School Boards Obsolete?
YES: Changing the System Is the Only Solution (Tucker, 2010/2015)
NO: Why Public Schools Need Democratic Governance (Ravitch, 2010/2015)
Unit 3 – 3.4: Do Teachers Unions Stymie School Reform?
YES: A Less Perfect Union (Coulson, 2011/2015)
NO: Lessons on Organizing for Power (Malfaro, 2010/2015)
Unit 3 – 3.5: Should Teacher Preparation and Licensing Be Regulated by the Government?
YES: Strengthen State Oversight of Teacher Preparation (Cibulka, 2013/2015)
NO: Training Must Focus on Content and Pedagogy (Chard, 2013/2015)
Unions and Boards: Who’s the boss, and should they be the boss?
During this week, the issues presented will focus on the groups of stakeholders that make decisions and are responsible for the evaluation of teachers, administrators, and policies that affect how schools spend money and teach children. The three groups of stakeholders that will be examined are school boards, teacher unions, and government associated entities that monitor teacher licensure.
Before you consider each of the arguments, it is important to acknowledge who is making the argument, what the agenda is, and in what manner they use evidence to argue a claim. In general, the disagreement in how each of the groups operate is based on a discrepancy of values. Stakeholders that oppose both teacher unions and school boards that represent “local control” over districts are often in favor of standardizing curriculum, teacher evaluation, and pay based on merit. These stakeholders generally tend to argue the need to make education more efficient.
For example, in the course text, Marc Tucker (2010/2015) claims that removing administrators at the local level will “streamline” the institution (p. 152). The question should be, will that increase the number of state-level administrators and shift control rather than streamline control? Also, when Tucker asserts that parents should be viewed as consumers and teachers should “take the time and trouble to help parents support their children” (Tucker, 2010/2015, p. 153), what does this statement suggest about his perception of teachers and their current behaviors? Is this argument generalizable to all districts and schools? Do all teachers act the same? Is his perception of education universally true enough that one large decision should be made for all public education?
In contrast, proponents of said stakeholders and local control also have agendas and values. Diane Ravitch (2010/2015) makes the claim that dissolving local schoolboards shifts power to the state and federal stakeholders (Ravitch, 2010/2015, p. 155). As a result, the loss of schoolboards removes that opportunity for democratic inquiry and public discussion, where decisions are not made with an informed public body present.
The second groups of stakeholders are unions. Proponents of unions, such as Louis Malfaro (2010/2015), argue that unions are requisite to keeping money and making decisions that regard the classroom as “student-centered” (Malfaro, 2010/2015, p. 204). As this argument is narrated, we should consider the manner and type of argument presented. How well does a single experience generalize to a greater issue? Since Malfaro experienced what he believed to be a positive experience with unions, should we accept his account and reality for all teachers’ experiences with unions across all districts and or states?
In comparison, the opposing side of this issue is much more concise and presents many smaller examples that provide evidence for their case. What needs to be determined is the validity or accuracy of the claims made based on the evidence. Let’s look at an example. The claim to examine is the statement, “Since 1970, the inflation-adjusted cost of a child through the K-12 school system has risen from $55,000 to $155,000. Over the period, the quality of that education has stagnated in math and reading, and declined in science” (Coulson, 2011/2015, p. 200).
To examine this claim, first consider the inflation of education costs. The claim states that education has gone up 281% over the last 40 years. Standing alone, this claim could be good or bad. What is the relativity of spending inflation? In a general search, comparisons of a gallon of gas from 1970 to 2014 indicate the price was roughly 59 cents and has since gone up to roughly $3. The inflation has increased an estimated 500%. Another comparison shows the median housing cost was $48,000 in 1970. Now, the median cost of a home is $270,000. The cost has risen roughly 560%. So, how drastic is education spending really? Another issue with the claim is the conditional association to lower education quality. “Quality” is being defined as a construct measured by international, federal survey, and state standardized tests. However, are the test and student populations similar enough to compare scores 40 years apart?
Questions to consider include:
Are the demographic factors of your students the same then as they are now?
How has immigration and emigration affected test scores?
Is the curriculum being taught now the same as the curriculum taught then?
Have the tests become more difficult? Do they measure the same skills and knowledge they did then?
More specifically, the statement that science scores have gone down could be seen as concerning, but how has technology advanced the sciences?
Does the term “science” mean the same thing it meant 40 years ago?
Thinking about all the factors that contribute to such a general claim, how valid is the inference that greater spending has led to a lower quality of education?
The final groups of stakeholders being examined are the researchers, testing companies, and each state’s Department of Education. The existence and tension for this group of stakeholders lies in overseeing the improvement of teachers who enter the education field. Of additional note, the articles indicate that Education Testing Service (ETS) provides content licensure tests (Koonce, 2015). This is only partly true. In addition to ETS, Pearson Testing Company, who also is a contributor to achievement tests for students mastering the Common Core State Standards, is also a contracted company for teacher licensure tests. In addition to content tests, in many states, Pearson is responsible for summative standardized licensure tests such as the Teacher Performance Assessment (EdTPA). Arguably, the main questions to consider when evaluating whether or not government departments should oversee teacher licensure is, like student curriculum, should teacher licensure be standardized across higher education institutions and should there be a common licensure test for all educators seeking teacher licensure?
Coulson, A. (2011). A less perfect union. In G. L. Koonce (Ed.), Taking sides: Clashing views on educational issues (pp. 200-203). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill. (Original work published 2011)
Koonce, G. L. (Ed.). (2015). Taking sides: Clashing views on educational issues (18th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Malfaro, L. (2015). Lessons on organizing for power. In G. L. Koonce (Ed.), Taking sides: Clashing views on educational issues (pp. 204-210). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill. (Original work published 2010)
Ravitch, D. (2015). Why public schools need democratic governance. In G. L. Koonce (Ed.), Taking sides: Clashing views on educational issues (pp. 155-157). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill. (Original work published 2010)
Tucker, M. (2015). Changing the system is the only solution. In G. L. Koonce (Ed.), Taking sides: Clashing views on educational issues (pp. 152-154). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill. (Original work published 2010)
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