The Treasure Hunter

A blog by Joanne Yatvin

“Money Can’t Buy You Love”–or Good Schools

on January 30, 2017

In several of my past posts I have said that the biggest problem in education today is top-down decision making. It attempts to control all aspects of teaching and learning, but in the end makes everything worse. Today I will give one example of failed action by the federal Department of Education and then try to explain what’s wrong and what’s right for our schools.


According to an article in the Washington Post published a little more than  a week ago:

One of the Obama administration’s signature efforts in education, which pumped billions of federal dollars into overhauling the nation’s worst schools, failed to produce meaningful results, according to a federal analysis.

Test scores, graduation rates and college enrollment were no different in schools that received money through the School Improvement Grants program — the largest federal investment ever targeted to failing schools — than in schools that did not.

The Education Department published the findings on the website of its research division on Wednesday, hours before President Obama’s political appointees walked out the door

 With the scarce information in the article I can’t begin to understand why the grants produced so little positive change in the schools that participated. I can only say that this information, the low graduation rates across the country, the stagnant student test scores, and the increasing numbers of teachers leaving their profession persuade me that the educational decisions and actions from above are almost always wrong and should be stopped now and forever.

My view, born from my own experiences as a school principal and an observer in many other schools, and supported by what I have read over the years; is that school improvement happens only when schools run themselves. A good principal, working with teachers, students, and parents can choose and make the changes needed in a particular school. Only then can all teachers teach well and all students learn to the best of their ability.

I could go on and give many examples, but I’ve already done that in many of the pieces I’ve written over the past year and a half. My purpose in this blog is to exalt the “treasure” in good educational practice and expose the errors, foolishness, and evil in top-down decision making.



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