For 16 years or so, state and federal lawmakers and bureaucrats have tinkered around with measuring public education.
This has resulted in Virginia’s Standards of Learning, the feds’ Adequate Yearly Progress, and all kinds of other metrics and measurements and statistics and and charts. Lots of charts.
Now they seem to be admitting all that previous effort just doesn’t cut the mustard. Because this year, the geniuses in Richmond have hit upon a new scheme, pushed by Gov. Bob McDonnell and Sen. Bill Stanley, R-Franklin County: letter grades for every public school in the commonwealth. Both the House and the Senate have passed the bill.
Alas, nobody I’m aware of has ever asked education leaders to grade those measurement-minded lawmakers. That seems unfair. So I gave some area school board members and administrators that opportunity this week.
None seemed more eager than Fuzzy Minnix, a five-year veteran of the Roanoke County School board. He was a 12-year county supervisor before that.
We must forgive Minnix if he sounded a bit frustrated. You see, he ardently believes in turning mediocre schools into good ones and good schools into excellent ones. But his head is spinning from all the different edicts. And Minnix has lost his faith that state government leaders share his goals.
He ticked off some of his own measurements to explain why: Richmond has slashed $14 million in state funding from Roanoke County schools in the past four years. His school system has lost 115 teachers, cut 236 positions, and it’s looking at closing three schools down the road.
“I graded the governor, and he’s in my own party, and he did not get a good grade,” Minnix said. He launched into a long-winded explanation of all the points he deducted for the affronts listed above. The bottom line is, Minnix’s grade was a “D.”
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(This post has been updated to correct the number of positions cut in Roanoke County schools.)