On Tuesday, the state’s education establishment joined together to offer a “plan” to fix struggling schools in our state. Their plan is simple. It asks the State Board of Education to wave its magic wand and declare a struggling district cured through a simple administrative pronouncement. Here’s how it would work. Once the State Board declared a district unaccredited, the district could enter into a contract with the State Board promising to improve… and presto!, the district would magically be declared provisionally accredited.
This plan doesn’t require any evidence of actual improvement, and it makes a joke of the accreditation process. It changes the school accreditation process from one which requires accountability to one which perpetuates failure without consequence. It’s geared toward protecting existing power structures rather than ensuring substantive changes to improve the lives of Missouri families with students trapped in struggling schools. In addition, it arguably violates the letter of existing state laws and undoubtedly violates the intent of SB 125, the education reform bill I helped pass just last year.
In recent years, the State Board has shown it has the political courage to make difficult decisions regarding struggling districts, and it’s my hope that the Board will continue that tradition.