Why are we consolidating schools again?
The Bangor Daily ran a nice piece yesterday about our recent report on school district size and student achievement. In criticizing the report, though, Department of Education spokesman David Connerty-Marin seems to have muddied the waters with regard to why we are consolidating the school districts in the first place:
“Connerty-Marin said the school consolidation law was not designed to create larger districts as a way to save money; its primary focus was to improve instruction and results.”
Hmmmm…A look at the Department’s consolidation website indicates that one of the goals of this effort is to “Achieve real savings” and it seems to me that has been a constant theme. In fact, there is almost no mention of student performance in the school district consolidation law.
Connerty-Marin was slightly more revealing when he said that “You can’t implement the best teaching practices with 292 school boards and 152 central offices.”
What does this mean? It means that one of the reasons we’re merging the districts is to further consolidate educational decision-making, giving the state more power to “implement” whatever it wants. It is far easier to tell 70 school boards what to do than 292. In fact, Commissioner Gendron is making plans to have teachers submit to the state a syllabus for each class they teach to see if it meets with state approval. The merger of districts is beginning to look a bit like a gradual state takeover of schools, with the state dictating curriculum and methods of student instruction from on high.
Maybe that is why were doing all this consolidating.