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Education reform needs more than money

When the bills to discuss how public school funding would be altered died on the Senate floor Thursday, it eliminated the possibility of conversation without further action.

Senator Grey Tollison said a special session is possible, but the calendar days are ticking down.

“The Governor could call a special session within the session between now and the end of March,” said Tollison. “Or he could call a special session any time after, and bring us back here.”

The bills that died Thursday would have brought up the recommendations made by EdBuild on how to improve funding for public schools. Senator Tollison said that lawmakers just weren’t comfortable moving forward until they had a better outline of how any changes would impact individual school districts.

However, fixing the public education system will require more than just money, according to Don Hartness.

Hartness made the decision to pull his son, Joseph, out of public school and put him into homeschool after various problems in the system.

“You have a lot of people with good intentions,” said Hartness, “but if you just throw money at the problem, it doesn’t solve the underlying issue.”

Hartness said the focus shouldn’t be on funding, but whether or not the kids are learning.

“You can have technology, you can show them YouTube videos in the classroom,” said Hartness. “But are they learning anything?”

Hartness’s son, Joseph, admitted to struggling in the public school system.

“You go home to do it (homework),” said Joseph. “And you don’t have any frame of reference because you can’t take your books home…. and you don’t get one-on-one time with the teachers if you need more help.”

Joseph went from being a ‘C’ and ‘D’ student to being an honor roll student through the Freedom Project Academy online in Wisconsin.

“He takes a class with a professor on there,” said Hartness. “And I’ve seen him do chemistry projects and history projects and his teacher grade him on the method, all via camera.”

Hartness added that on top of lack of individual attention, common core was dragging students down.

“They’ve got numbers, shapes, circles all in there together,” said Hartness. “And I can’t help my child with that. I just add and subtract the old fashion way. They’ve turned a 30 second problem into a three minute problem.”


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