I'm not sweating South Dakota's F on Michelle Rhee's K-12 ideological scorecard. I am a bit more rankled by Education Week's state education report card, which puts South Dakota's K-12 system dead last. Our schools get the only D+ on the list. Here's Ed Week's summary of South Dakota's performance in the six categories surveyed:
The Huffington Post leaps to this dangerous supposition:
Lawmakers in South Dakota are apparently aware of this inferior status -- they're trying all kinds of different things to change education in the state, including a failed ballot initiative that would have abolished teacher tenure. Those lawmakers might find the state's grade useful in pushing their agenda again this year [Joy Resmovits, "Quality Counts 2013 Education Rankings Come In: Maryland First, South Dakota Last," Huffington Post, 2013.01.10].
Noooooooo! Lawmakers in South Dakota are not aware of this inferior status. Their failed proposal, which became a ballot referendum that we South Dakotans overwhelmingly rejected last November, would have abolished teacher tenure and done a number of other things that might have boosted our standing on the Quality Counts report card (centralized teacher evaluations and merit pay would have pumped up our teaching profession scores) but, according to the majority of research available, would not have increased our actual educational performance. And if lawmakers take this report as justification for pushing the agenda we rejected last year, we'll spend a lot of time ignoring a real problem identified by the Quality Counts report: school funding, where we get a hard F for underfunding our schools.
There's much to debate about this report, and I'll keep reading and looking for reasonable policy solutions. But I ask you, dear readers: how do you interpret this report? Could two-thirds of South Dakotans have been wrong? Should we revisit the Daugaard education agenda from last year? Should we seek a whole new crop of reforms for our public schools? Or should we throw this Quality Counts report in the dustbin with the Rhee report and keep doing the good things we're doing in K-12 education?