Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Congressman Roe's Feeble Email on Education In Tennessee

Must be an election year, as for the first time, 1st District Congressman Phil Roe is shooting out an email proclaiming how good it is to get an education. What daring! What bravado!

In emphasizing the importance of a good education, the email from Rep. Roe (who sits on the Congressional committee for Education and Labor) says of No Child Left Behind laws:

"However, the law’s requirement that all schools meet certain standards are faced with severe punishments that are not realistic and are demoralizing our educators in public education."

Rep. Roe seems to need some after-class work on language skills. (Are needing? Are needs work?)

The well-worn (or just plain empty) language he uses in this email trots out some standard (make that bland and incorrect) notions on economic growth and education:

I believe there is a direct correlation between the strength of our economy and the education that we provide to our young people. The better quality of education we can provide our children, the more opportunities they are afforded in life, and the higher chance they will be able to acquire a job. Economic research has found links between higher levels of cognitive skill—defined as “the performance of students on tests in math and science”—and economic growth. Specifically, Eric Hanushek, Dean Jamison, Eliot Jamison, and Ludger Woessmann write in the Spring 2008 issue of Education Next that countries with higher test scores experience far higher growth rates. In their research, they have found that a highly skilled workforce can raise economic growth by about two thirds of a percentage point every year.

If we create a better education system, I believe we will solve problems like health care and energy because people will simply be able to make the right choices for themselves."

Does that last statement mean "you'll figure it out for yourself one day"? Anyway, these ideas seem to be in direct opposition to the reality in Tennessee, which is that 80% of jobs in this state right now do not require any college experience or degree.

And perhaps Rep. Roe should have taken more notice on the legislation just passed at the state level aiming to increase the number of students who actually graduate from high school. Or take stock of the fact that most Tennessee students heading into college need remedial classes:

Right now, more than half the students who start college in Tennessee need remedial course work, repeating the same math, reading and writing courses they took in high school. Universities will get out of the business of remedial education.

Instead, students who need remedial course work will be steered into community college, where classes are smaller and tuition is half the price of university courses. Universities, meanwhile, will be able to free their professors and resources to focus on more advanced courses.

This sounds fine in theory to the community colleges, where more than 60 percent of students already take remedial coursework, and the schools have spent years fine-tuning their outreach efforts. But Tennessee is in the middle of a budget crisis, and it will cost money to provide the teaching staff, equipment and classroom space to handle the thousands of new students who will be diverted into the two-year schools.

To make sure Rep. Roe is shoring up his base here in the 1st District, his email also takes time to ask your opinion on "Health Care Reform"(CORRECTION: make that "Health Care Survey" but still, another poorly played political 'gotcha' question) by asking you for your opinion on abortion, and concludes with a few swipes at President Obama.

Pretty feeble stuff - the hallmark of a 1st District congressman.

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