Montana’s Superintendent of Public Schools, Linda McCullough, has some intriguing ideas about education, specifically about writing. At a recent meeting with the Board of Public Education, McCullough offered this insight:
Superintendent McCulloch questioned how “pertinent” writing is in “today’s world.” She believes that since kids communicate via email, using abbreviations and creative spelling, “we can’t impart on students something that is not applicable now.” She went on to say, “Writing is a different form now; we need to discuss whether we are going back to a previous time [if we teach letter writing].” Finally, she admitted that “our writing skills have slipped” and wondered if we shouldn’t change our expectations accordingly.
This is some spectacular logic. See, because kids can’t write…we shoud really lower our expectations…and let them spell the way they do in instant messages. Unfortunately, that’s not how real education works. Real educational reform means hard work. The Superintendent of Public Schools has a more important job than being a shill for the MEA; she is accountable for the quality of education for Montana students–and letting teachers off the hook by lowering standards is a shameful dereliction of duty.
God forbid that we actually demand some work and accountability from our teachers and students. As a teacher, I find it embarrasing that, in the same news cycle, the Montana Quality Education Council is asking for a $200 million dollar increase in education funding while the OPI, MEA and others are asking to not be held accountable to college entrance writing standards that are, frankly, laughable.
We cannot improve education or educational outcomes in this state or in this nation if we keep lowering the bar. The public, and most importantly, our students, have the right to demand excellence.