Tests results still show public education failings

Public education is touted as a great equalizer. Which is to say that no matter who you are or where you come from, you can better yourself because you can attend public school and receive an education. With a high school diploma, a person could get a decent job, go on to technical school or even attend college.

But there are problems in public education, and they are evident in many ways.

One is the recently released Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments. The statewide tests this year show that just 60.5 percent of students in the state are proficient in reading, 57.7 in math and 52.5 in science. These results are typical.

Some of our area schools do better than the state numbers, but none can claim having even three-quarters of its students meeting proficiency in any given subject.

Yet money, here and elsewhere, is routinely poured into public education. There are lots of new programs and trendy methods being implemented. Plenty of pay for teachers. Lots of expensive buildings. Lots of technology.

Lots of excuses for poor tests results too. Lots of times.

Maybe it is just unfair to try to measure schools this way. Maybe a one-size test cannot fit all. But that begs questions, does it not, about one-size-fits-all education?

The monolithic public education model is a failure. That became evident in the “No Child Left Behind” era in the Bush administration. The idea that every child in every school can achieve state-mandated goals was simplistic and unachievable. We are still searching for a good way to compare our schools and to define what makes good education.

Public education is mandated in the Minnesota constitution, but the delivery method is not. Students are individuals, not a herd of cattle. They (and their parents) need more choices and control.