Indoctrination’s Impact on Schools
By Ramblin’ Rose

How long has it been since this country had the best educational system in the world as measured by instruments recognized internationally? How long has it been since Minnesota was a leader in education?

The test results for 2018 became public a few weeks ago. On August 29th, the Times reported “The North Star system, introduced last year, focuses less on assigning punitive labels for schools based on how students scored on one single test — the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments — and more on the nuances of education to create more equitable and well-rounded learning opportunities for all students across the state.”

A punitive label? A single test? Students take multiple tests annually in MN schools—even 5 times a year in Kindergarten and the test is delivered via a computer—those victims are 5 or 6 years old. But the computer testing is a part of the Common Core (CC) that supposedly died. It seems alive and punitive.
(an aside: Did you know that parents have the right to opt out of the mandated tests in MN? Just visit the Department of Education website for the forms and the warnings of possible consequences for the child’s future with such a decision.)

So how did students do in central Minnesota?

The words from Marsha Baisch, assistant superintendeAnt of elementary education at St. Cloud school district, set a tone of gloom: “The first blush doesn’t always tell the whole story.” She continued with five factors to evaluate “the whole child.” The test scores are only one facet of the new (one year old) reporting system.

As one continued to read the article, the tone was gloomy and seemed to celebrate mediocrity—as long as others also have lowered scores, it must be interpreted as “OK.”

“The patterns of our scores mirror the state,” said Sylvia Huff, executive director of research, assessments and enrollment for St. Cloud school district. “So both the state as well as our district saw a slight drop in math proficiency and in reading, it was basically relatively unchanged.”

The data found on the MN Department of Education website shows that MN students do score at a level “slightly” higher than national average. That is still far from the #1 status that many stakeholders espouse.

Back to central MN…

In St. Cloud schools in math proficiency, students dropped from 40% proficient (i.e., meeting or exceeding the standards) in 2018 to 37% in 2019. The statewide average was 54%, also a decline of 2.4% points. In reading, the drop was less—46% proficient to 45% proficient. Across MN, the score was 59% proficient or above.

Other area schools also reported declines.

Sartell-St. Stephen school district:
Math—77% to 75%
Reading—76% to 72%
Sauk Rapids-Rice school district
Math—54% to 52%
Reading—58% to 56%
ROCORI school district
Math—64% to 62%
Reading—66% to 65%
STRIDE Academy
Math—49% to 48%
Reading—49% to 48%
St. Cloud Math and Science Academy – increased scores noted
Math—13% to 21%
Reading—22% to 27%
Athlos Academy – increased scores noted
Math—25% to 31%
Reading—36% to 40%

And the international comparison is a little more dubious. The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) was first administered in 2000 but only to 15-year-old students in 70 countries. Thus, the results do not correlate to the MN results. However, the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Assessment (TIMSS) dates from 1995 in the areas of math and science and tests fourth and eighth graders in approximately 60 countries. In the latest reported data, American fourth graders in math tied for 13th place behind 10 systems, statistically indistinguishable from 9 systems and higher than 34 countries.

In any case, the USA does not score as the leading country in education even though it claims to want to have a leading role on the international scene, as do I. However, unless students have greater academic achievements, they will be followers and not leaders in discussions and decisions based upon information, facts and logic.

It seems that the right answers do count when it comes to international assessments. Maybe the politicians should try to sell Common Core to the educational institutions in order to regain their assumed leadership position.

So, what do parents do in order to attempt to enroll their children in the best schools? They often vote with their feet and the ascribed tuition dollars.

Three obvious alternatives for families are private schools (costly tuition and fees) and charter schools and open enrollments with neighboring districts. We know that Sauk Rapids froze that option recently.

Let’s use one large diverse district as the example of what is undoubtedly reflected in other districts. In the Minneapolis district, there were 45,443 students in a local school and 4,669 attending a school outside the district in 2003. In 2018, the students in a local school numbered 35,141 while those in non-district schools jumped to 18, 044. In this district, 80% of the students leaving the failing district for a chance at a better education were students of color.

The same exodus is occurring across the state. The demographics may vary, but the percentages are probably quite similar. Parents are hoping for better than the government-funded and government-driven schools with the government-dictated curriculum.

Political does not refer to the party of the President; it refers to the ideology of those who control the indoctrination of the system; those committed to the conversion of free thinkers into obedient lemmings who follow their mandates.

Do our schools teach to the strengths of each individual (meet the students where they are and challenge them to do better), or do they embrace CC that mandates teaching to the “lowest common denominator?”

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