Sunday, November 10, 2013

Why ?

Best you figure it out then answer the question, why. 
Why ? Why do our local school districts have so many problems today dealing with contested contracts,  declining property assessments, lowering test scores, and addressing the publics' low esteem of current education policies ?

Before we answer those questions, we should look at a very successful component of the education industry, the community college, specifically, The Montgomery County Community College ( MCCC ). MCCC is the poster child for how education around here should be offered to its users. 

Many of you question : how can we be asked to compare apples with oranges ? One is college the other public school; one is compulsory the other voluntary ? 

My comparison here is with the structure of their composition and their way of administrating the system. MCCC is county wide; districts are small, and generally multi-township. MCCC has a county wide board of directors who are of diverse professional achievements; district boards are made up of locals generally caught up in some turf struggles of limited nature. MCCC, I'm sure, works from a grand mission statement outlining systematic growth and accountability, somewhat like a fortune five hundred corporation at their height of professionalism. Local districts are what we read about : they try each year to cobble together a budget or a teacher's contract while some members pander to their little pet projects taking professionalism out of their equation.

Local districts are administered by an elected superintendent and assistants who are chosen by a present board or carry over filling out a contracted term. MCCC takes a longer view, a seemingly more professional vision, putting the administration in the hands of a president and assistants who answer to a board of directors, who in turn, answer to County Commissioners. There is a clear line of command in the MCCC process.

The point is : locals seem amateurish, MCCC professional. Locals are caught up in petty turf wars, MCCC stands above the whims of zealots. Locals seem rudderless; MCCC seems to have charted a course and follows it.

Pennsylvania has been divided up into somewhat equal districts, namely, The Intermediate Units. It so happens that Montgomery County stands by itself as one of these twenty some state districts which is already functioning in its given capacity. 

The problem lies in these units being underutilized as education has changed and moved on. Therefore,  I recommend a commission be organized to look at The Intermediate Unit as a vehicle to change the nature of public school administration. 

Take local away from school districts by making the boundary's of The Intermediate Units the district's boundary, take taxing away from local districts, and force education to adapt itself to a sense of professionalism. The World has changed, why not how we function in educating our young, the highest  responsibility of a mature society.
  Ronald C. Downie

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