MDE Attempting To Shield Government Schools From Accountability Ratings

By Keith Plunkett | August 15th, 2017 at 4:40 pm

BY: Keith Plunkett / Managing Editor

Keith Plunkett is the Policy and Communications Director for the United Conservatives Fund, and the Founder and Publisher of MississippiPEP.com.

Filed Under: Education, Ethics, MDE, MS State Government, News

Mississippi’s Government Education bureaucrats are at it again.


The Associated Press Jeff Amy reports:

The state Department of Education says there are technical flaws in the system approved last year that must be fixed, or else it will falsely appear that Mississippi has fewer high-performing school districts than last year.

But the plan would push up the number of F-rated districts that could be subject to state takeover, and that’s causing plenty of heartburn.

The state Commission on School Accreditation voted for the change Tuesday, but wants schools and district that would have been rated D under the current system shielded from sanctions after a failing rating.

The state Board of Education is scheduled to debate the recommendation Thursday.

In 2012, the state Board of Education voted 6-1 to drop for one year the requirements that at least 80 percent of students must graduate for schools to earn the top “star” rating, or that at least 75 percent of students must graduate from schools for them to earn the second-highest rank of “high performing.”

In the 2012 instance, Board of Education Chairman Wayne Gann used the same reasons of “technicalities” and “fairness” for defending the manipulation of accountability rankings.

“We’re not trying to lower standards,” Gann said then. “We’re trying to improve the accountability model but it needs to be fair.”

“Technical flaws” and “fairness” in 2017 sound a lot like they sounded in 2012: rationalization for maintaining funding of a failing education system.

Jerel Wade

Jerel Wade, an educator from Jones County and a Mississippi PEP Contributor, said the move hurts efforts to recruit good teachers into areas of the state desperately in need.

“By changing the accreditation formula after test scores are complete, the MS Dept. of Ed. has cut the throats of hard working teachers across this state,” he said. “Want to know why Mississippi has a teacher shortage? Look no further than the powers-that-be in the halls of the old Central High School building in downtown Jackson.”

Wade says one only need to look to the power structure within Mississippi’s government education system to find the reasons for such a blatant move.

“Poor leadership, bowing to demands of a few well-to-do districts, and, obviously, being educated beyond their intelligence makes for the years-long disaster that has become the Mississippi public education system,” says Wade. “It’s not about educating kids, it’s about appeasing powers and strengthening certain regions of the state. It’s not about helping educators be more effective, it’s about keeping certain people at the top.”


 


 

Nearly 5-years later, the 2013 Conservative State of the State Report continues to influence legislation that’s core ideas percolate from the grassroots of Mississippi.