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Letters to the Editor

ESSA fails students

Thank you, Newton Daily News, for the article about the ESSA presentation to the Newton School Board. The reporting showed what I have been saying about the Iowa plan for Every Student Succeeds Act: it fails to effectively remediate students already failed by a system of educators with lower skills than what is required to do the job. This was the reason business and military had to go to Congress for No Child Left Behind in 2002.

NCLB required educators to transition away from memorization, back to concepts, effectively teaching these up to national standards. Thirteen years — the time of a K-12 student — was allowed to complete this retraining. Iowa educators completely failed to do any of this, because they are products of a system of memorization and, thus, lacking in the higher quality workplace skills needed to do the job.

In December 2015, ESSA was approved, requiring states to submit their plan for effective education as well as effective remediation. Iowa educators received an overall D for their plan, with some aspects receiving failing grades, such as closing the proficiency gap (because it only lowered standards). Iowa educators continue to fail to close the proficiency gap, just as they fail to educate up to national standards, fail to use effective teaching methods, and fail to use a good concept-based curriculum (except for math).

In January 2019, the Brookings Institute released the results of their updated study of the effects of technology on workplace skills and job replacement, explaining what has already happened and projecting into the future. Jobs requiring repetition (which is what memorization is) will be replaced by Artificial Intelligence. Some jobs will significantly change as repetitive skills will be replaced by AI, thus freeing up time for human in-depth thinking and problem-solving that adapts to changing circumstances (something memorization cannot handle). The last part of the report lays out the types of jobs and areas that will be hit the hardest. Rural areas are in for a big hit. To even attract businesses with jobs not replaced by technology, higher workforce skills must be available, as demonstrated by the quality of the education system.

Iowa’s education system continues to reflect lower skills. Continued use of lower standards from the national skews reality, thus interfering with the process of making quality decisions, but Iowa educators lack an understanding of this due to their own ineffective education and training.

Sue Atkinson

Baxter

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