Monday, February 9, 2009

School District Consolidation

Governor Rendell wants to reduce the number of school districts in PA from 500 to about 100. He says this will save the taxpayer money by eliminating some local administrative positions. There is the claim that consolidation would provide better services, especially for programs like ESOL (English as a Second Language) which is usually only provided in larger districts like Allentown. I have heard that kids from surrounding districts already attend Allentown schools for ESOL programs and special needs programs, so I don't know if consolidation would really change anything in the ASD. Consolidation would also provide better equity from school to school since property taxes would be more fairly distributed. This is good news since every child should have the right to an equal education. Sounds like a good deal, but there are some concerns I have about such changes taking place so quickly.

Will making schools an even bigger bureaucracy really save the taxpayer money, and is there enough research to prove this? Consolidation may help rural students get the services they need, but is there evidence suggesting that consolidation will provide better services for all kids? And with all this focus on saving the taxpayer money, have we lost sight of what is so important, and that's the QUALITY of education for our KIDS?

Rep. Karen Beyer says in The Morning Call that "the creation of large districts allows a more standardized curriculum across a region." Good God, is that what we really want, MORE standardization? A "one size fits all" education for our kids? Just mix that in with the already stifling NCLB "teaching to the test" curriculum and it's a recipe for disaster. This is why decisions about education need to be made by experienced teachers, not politicians or CEOs.