It appears as though the future for education is becoming clearer and there is a mighty dislike in our local area over that fact. The latest step is Michigan trying to get local districts to implement the "Race to the Top" initiative launched by the Obama administration.
The state has asked the schools to sign on to the initiative, but there appears to be a lack of information. This lack of what is involved in the program caused the Escanaba Board of Education not to sign a memo of understanding with the state.
The board is afraid the benefits may not outweigh the costs. Some of those areas cover annual teacher evaluations, tenure based upon student performance, charter schools could become schools of excellence, and cyber high schools would be created.
This is where education is going to change and we are afraid the Escanaba board and teacher's union are going to have to change as well. It is quite evident that funding is going to be awarded based upon performance.
Those at the state and federal level want to hold someone accountable for students' learning and that will be the teachers. No longer are teachers going to be able to do very little. This is not to say that is happening here. We have plenty of evidence that our local teachers are doing quite well.
In these difficult times though, it is hard for school boards to say no to funding. If Escanaba does not sign this memo, it could lose more than $223,000. We know that cannot happen.
Accountability is going to become the major buzz word in education in the future and it appears as though the future has arrived. We do understand the concerns by our local board and teachers about how to judge accountability. If it is just done by test scores alone, that is not good. There needs to be more involved.
We hope the board presses the state to get the information on this program and not miss any deadlines that can jeopardize funding. However, we do caution the board and teachers that there may not be much say in this matter or in the future to receive funding. We are afraid this is going to become the norm and not the exception.