Friday, January 31, 2014

Rep. John Moore Marches Backward

Just when you thought the list of bad ideas conceived by the Republicans could not get any more ridiculous, leave it to Rep. John Moore (R-Brandon) to steal the show.

A bill introduced by Moore would reduce the number of days students are required to attend school from 180 to 175. Moore's rationale is that since teachers do not do much teaching the last week of school or before the holidays, it will not make much of a difference.

First, I do not think anyone can concede that Mississippi students spend too much time in classrooms.

Second, according to Moore's unnamed sources, teachers spend the last month of school essentially goofing off. To reward such behavior, Moore introduces legislation to take the burden off of the teachers who are "babysitting" students by giving them five days off of the job. With teacher pay raises in the news in recent weeks, it is intriguing to consider if there anything in Moore's "statistical data" that shows a connection between wages and performance. If Moore considers low wages and low performance to be linked, his prophecy is self-fulfilling.

Third, Moore's school day numbers are going in the wrong direction. His goal should be to maximize school days and classroom time to allow for more intensive instruction and to introduce new lessons to the students. Under Moore's model, if the school year was 200 days, 195 would be utilized. That would mean 195 days a student will be in a classroom learning skills to compete in a global economy.

Maybe Moore is trying to save school districts money. Maybe he is trying to help our underpaid teachers start their lavish summer vacations early. Maybe he is trying to rescue our students from Common Core. Maybe Moore should count to 180 before introducing such a knee-jerk approach to our state's public education system.

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