Our public schools are constantly taking a beating by bloggers, commentators, and politicians in the press, so I was happy to see the news today that South Carolina has earned a distinction for something *good* in our public education system. The Thomas B. Fordham Institute graded each state’s U.S. History standards on “clarity and specificity as well as content and rigor,” and South Carolina was the only state in the country to earn an A. From the report:
“Just one state – South Carolina – has standards strong enough to earn a straight A,” the Fordham Institute report said. “The Palmetto State deserves praise for having brought the necessary focus, rigor and innovation to this essential element of a comprehensive education.”
“South Carolina, both by revising its standards and adding innovative expository “support documents,” rose from a mediocre C to an outstanding A and now has the best U.S. History standards in the land,” today’s report said.
While we’ve still got a ways to go before all of our schools are of the caliber that South Carolina children deserve, it’s nice to have something positive to be proud of, right? Success breeds success and all that.
After reading what South Carolina Superintendent of Education had to say in response to the honor, though, I was right back to feeling bleak and hopeless about our schools. I guess that’s what he was going for?
“Standards outline our expectations for classroom instruction,” Zais said. “But world-class standards don’t guarantee world-class results. We have to make sure teachers are covering the right material with their students. We have to make sure they’re properly trained and have the materials and support they need. And we need a system that gives teachers flexibility in creating classroom lessons, holds them accountable for their performance and rewards them when they succeed.”
Zais noted that although student scores on South Carolina’s high school U.S. History and the Constitution end-of-course exams improved in 2010, more than half of student test-takers made failing grades.
“That shouldn’t be acceptable to anyone,” he said. “One positive result of today’s Fordham report is that districts and schools may be convinced to take better advantage of the support materials that are available to them.”
Geez, Mick. As Franck Eggelhoffer would say…
Full press release from the South Carolina Department of Education after the jump.