Linda McCulloch has an answer that every teacher is familar with to the recent report that suggests Montana schools are not performing well: the test wasn’t fair! Unfortunately, for Montana students, McCulloch is putting politics ahead of being an advocate for the constituents that truly matter–Montana’s kids. Leadership is needed to improve Montana schools, and our Superintendent of Public Instruction has simply been unwilling to show that.
In response to the article, McCulloch said argued that the success of Montana students on standarized tests invalidated the argument that our schools weren’t doing well, stating: “‘‘They’re wanting us to look like states that perform lower than we do in student achievement, and that makes no sense at all.” That’s just like a student ascribing blame to the teacher. There’s no compelling reason to believe that Education Week was targeting Montana–just pointing out some flaws.
Importantly, McCulloch ignores one of the most damning elements of the report: the disparity between low and high income school districts. Until we are committed as a state to educating all students, regardless of their income, can we really rest comfortably on test scores as a justification for our educational system? The State Superintendent needs to be a voice of leadership, challenging the orthodoxy that says it is acceptable for some districts to receive thousands of dollars per student less than others. A leader would see this report as an opportunity to demand change, not cover herself.
Predictably, rather than reporting on the issue, today’s IR gave a thumbs down to the report…how about thumbs down to repeating PR spin from public officials rather than investigating the report?