Sunday, July 19, 2015

Mike Rounds Claims to Care About Education NOW

Mike Rounds was no real friend of education when he was governor.  He recently released a press release to celebrate work done with the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA).  In the release he states about No Child Left Behind:
While standards are important, a ‘one-size-fits-all’ directive from the federal government has proven to be the wrong approach and has led teachers to “teach to the test.” Returning education decisions to its rightful place – in the hands of local governments – is a needed replacement to the No Child Left Behind law, which expired in 2007.  Since that time, 42 states have been operating under waivers from No Child Left Behind– proof of just how much reforms have been needed. [Mike Rounds, Friday, July 17, 2015]
Notice that he talks about the failure of NCLB and the idea of teaching to the test.  I guess he hopes we forget that he was the governor that was praised for implementing NCLB in South Dakota.  In 2003 he sang a different tune about the law-
The No Child Left Behind Act focuses on helping each student, not on building a state system or institution, Rounds told school superintendents from across South Dakota.
"The support of education is the support of our children, and that message has to be sent loud and clear," the governor told the superintendents. "The basics mean educating our children one child at a time."...
Officials announced Tuesday that South Dakota is the 31st state to have its accountability plan approved by the U.S. Education Department. The accountability plan sets academic standards, requires additional tests to determine how students are performing and provides assistance to schools that need to improve. 
Rounds said South Dakota should take advantage of the No Child Left Behind Act to improve the way it educates each student, rather then just meet the law's minimum requirements. [Archives from Department of Education June 4, 2003]
In fact the National Governor's Association had this in its description of Rounds:
Working together with the legislature and citizens of South Dakota, he balanced the state budget, reduced the structural deficit, and created a sales tax relief program on food for individuals within 150 percent of the poverty level. Rounds also reorganized the Department of Education to better embrace the concepts of "No Child Left Behind." Rounds served as chairman of the Western Governors Association and as a member of the Executive Committee of the National Governors Association.  (Copyright 2011)
The Senate version of the ECAA is better than the House version in my opinion, and I am glad we can start walking away from NCLB.  I was also glad to see some action being taken about access for schools in "Indian Country" (although the biggest thing that can be done to improve education there is the reduction of poverty, but I doubt he or the GOP want to deal with that issue).

My beef with his statement is that he is running from his record on education and all of the sudden feels bad about something that he claimed was a good idea.  Just like he hates Common Core now, but supported it when he was beginning to run for office.  In 2014 Mitchell Republic they reminded us about his position on Common Core:
Former South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds and several other former governors continue to support Common Core educational benchmarks that they helped develop...Governors and chief state school officers created the Common Core standards, according to BPC. These standards are state-driven and state-implemented and will hold all students to the same academic rigor while forestalling the need for federal intervention in an area traditionally left to the states. (Mitchell Republic Feb. 3, 2014)
I am glad to see the talk about not over-focusing on  testing and some other talk, but it would be better if the person saying it didn't drift in the political winds.  If Rounds truly sees the errs of his ways, then he should admit the mistakes and explain why things are really different now.

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