Make Government Work Again

Education blogger John Butcher highlights key insights from Matt Hurt’s Bacon’s Rebellion series about Virginia’s Standards of Learning assessments. Butcher, whose skepticism is amply captured in the title of his blog, “Cranky’s Blog,” finds much to admire in Hurt’s analysis and the success of the Comprehensive Instructional Program (CIP) consortium that he heads. Southwest Virginia school systems, where CIP got its start, have emitted the few rays of light in Virginia’s otherwise dismally performing educational system over the past four years.

Butcher closes with this recommendation: “I think our new Governor should, on his first day, fire the members of the Board of ‘Education,’ replace them with people recommended by Matt Hurt, and appoint Hurt as Secretary of Education.”

It’s not enough for Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin to drive destructive Critical Race Theory-inspired policies from Virginia’s schools. He needs to replace them with something positive and forward looking. The Comprehensive Instructional Program is one model he should consider. Hurt’s analysis is driven by data, not ideology. He is interested above all else in what works. That sounds exactly like Youngkin’s style. As Youngkin builds his team and ponders how to turn campaign promises into real-world policies, he would be well advised to pick up the phone and talk to Hurt.


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8 responses to “Make Government Work Again”

  1. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
    Dick Hall-Sizemore

    I agree, but I am not sure Matt would want the job.

    1. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
      James Wyatt Whitehead

      George Washington said the same thing after he was told of his unanimous election.

  2. I don’t know if he wants the job either. I’m just saying Youngkin needs to talk to him. Their philosophies seem to align, and Hurt can bring him up the learning curve real fast.

    1. “Positive and forward thinking” sounds almost progressive. What ever it turns out to be it needs to elicit buy-in from the stakeholders in order to actually take hold and that means listening to people on all sides of the issue.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        meanwhile book-burning in Spotsylvania from “resisting” “working folks” :

  3. LarrytheG Avatar

    I think Mat and the Region 7 district have taken perhaps a more pro-active approach to the problem – and lets be specific – of some kids failing to achieve minimum basic proficiency standards in math and reading in demographic sub groups – economically disadvantaged, English as a second language and African Americans.

    It does not generally seem to address the issue of providing support to kids who are capable of more advanced tracks.

    But the BIG thing that IS different is more central office control of teaching methods and possibly grading standards (not sure) such that teachers are encouraged to follow “models” that have been developed by teachers who have had more success at helping the kids in these demographic subgroups reach minimum basic proficiency performance levels.

    As far as I can tell, most school districts do not do this to the level that Region 7 is – and important to note, I don’t think ALL schools in Region 7 participate in CIP.

    One more issue that Matt has agreed with is that teachers are free to work where they want to and the ones that have taught for a while and are considered “good” do not have to teach at schools where there are numbers of the sub-groups are large and academic performance problems at that school.

    Ergo – good veteran teachers in the Richmond area are not beating the doors down to teach at RPS – and as a result RPS does not likely hire the best teachers and more likely hires newbies and others who cannot find employment at the higher rated schools.

    So – to institute a top-down teaching regime at RPS may have some promise but the sheer numbers of economically disadvantaged kids make it a bigger challenge.

    so to wrap up – I don’t think CIP is the complete answer for places like RPS – it likely works well in rural va but maybe not as well in places like Richmond or for that matter some schools in Henrico that are in the poorer neighborhoods near Richmond but I do agree with the idea of a top-down standardized instruction model for teachers in the non-SOL grades – as well as a standardized grading standard so that we don’t have kids getting A, B and Cs in grades prior to the SOL grades then failing the SOLs.

    Keep in mind, Va is better than most states on k-12 academics – as bad as some say it is……… We’d rank higher against other countries than the USA average.

    1. Matt Hurt Avatar

      I don’t know the state of affairs on the ground, but I suspect you’re right that the CIP would not be all that helpful to Richmond. I suspect that they have foundational issues that would have to be remedied before CIP type strategies would yield much benefit.

      Again, I’m not familiar with their situation, but I do know that many divisions that struggle with producing acceptable student outcomes typically do implement top down instructional strategies. I’ve never witnessed that strategy being all that effective however, as the key foundation of high expectations for all is lacking. Those high expectations are key.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        I guess I thought the Region 7 CIP approach was a top-down model from the most successful teachers to the new ones and others to emulate.

        And that, that model is not really found at other schools for the most part.

        I also thought that low expectations was a description of teachers who gave letter grades in grades not SOL-tested, and that those grades were often higher than what the SOLs would test out as in the follow-on grades.

        And I also was unclear on whether Region 7 had a letter grade standard that all participating schools would adopt- as opposed to letting each teacher decide their own criteria for letter grades.

        I’m quite sure there is a lot I don’t understand, and perhaps some of it you can help me to – better.

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