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Posts Tagged ‘CCSS’

RTTT Schadenfreude

August 20, 2014 Leave a comment

Schadenfreude is the pleasure one derives from seeing the misfortunes of another person. For example,  as a Boston Red Sox fan, it is the tingle we feel when the Yankees lose…. and as one who opposes the use of standardized tests as the primary means of measuring student performance it is the frisson I experienced when I read in an Education Week article that President Obama’s education policy is one of the areas Republicans targeted in their  otherwise ill-conceived lawsuit against his use of presidential power… or read a Fair Test press release in Diane Ravitch’s blog announcing that despite over a decade of mandated standardized testing ACT scores remain flat… or read about the many disgraceful abuses of deregulated privatized charter schools in Florida… or read about a “miracle school”  championed by a pro-privatization Governor closes because of low test scores… or read about the eroding support for the Common Core in the NYTimes and Education Next, a conservative mouthpiece. All of these articles indicate that the top-down and outside-in reforms are resulting in adverse unintended consequences that are eroding public support for the reforms themselves… BUT

The major findings of the survey are unsettling:

1) While Americans asked to evaluate the quality of teachers’ work think, on average, that about half of the teachers in their local schools deserve a grade of A or B, they think that more than one-fifth deserve a D or F; even teachers give these low marks to more than 1 in 10 of their peers, on average.

2) More than one-fourth of all families with school-age children have educated a child in a setting other than a traditional public school.

3) The public thinks less money should be spent on class-size reduction relative to the amount spent on teacher salaries or new books and technologies, if they are told the relative price of each intervention.

If 25% of children in this country are no longer educated in a “traditional public school” we may be approaching a tipping point, especially given that those surveyed believe that 20% of the teachers warrant a D or F grade and the public is unwilling to spend more money to provide small classes for children in public schools. Those who support public education may be winning the battle against the “government imposed” NCLB, RTTT, and CCSS but we may also be losing the battle to gain support for “government schools”.  In the end, it may be that Fox News followers are the ones who will experience schadenfreude as overall support for public schools erodes.

CCSS: A Victory for Reagan, Friedman, and Nordquist

August 16, 2014 Leave a comment

In a blog post yesterday, Diane Ravitch described Bill Gates’ latest efforts to ensure that the Common Core becomes the de facto national curriculum. The Gates and Helmsley Foundation have underwritten a new non-profit with “… plans to review textbooks and other instructional material for fidelity to the Common Core.”  So Gates has underwritten the writing of the Common Core, the implementation of the Common Core, the evaluation of the Common Core, and is now underwriting the effort to bake the Common Core into textbooks for years to come.

Thank Ronald Reagan, Milton Friedman, and Grover Nordquist for this development. The “problematic” government (e.g. the State Departments of Education) got small enough to drown in a bathtub and the “free market” is now “coming to the rescue”. RIP State and local control of the curriculum and hello to the curriculum driven by the oligopoly of standardized test makers.

I am concerned that in their ad hominem attack on Bill Gates many progressive educators are missing the bigger picture…. and some of the problems Gates and his fellow philanthropists are solving are ones created by the complaints of teachers and administrators.

The biggest problem, as described repeatedly in this blog, is that Ronald Reagan and his progeny have persuaded the people that government is the problem… and among the people who bought into this idea were teachers, school board members, and administrators who bemoaned the mandates of the bureaucrats at the State Department of Education. Many educators were happy to see cuts to the State Departments of Education instead of cuts to their districts and many school boards preferred hiring their own curriculum coordinators instead of relying on those “bureaucrats” at the state level.

Nordquist and his acolytes, who wanted extreme limitations placed on spending helped brand public education as “government run” schools and that, in turn, led to cuts at all levels of public education.

In the meantime, Milton Friedman’s concepts about the magic of the marketplace began to take root to the point where his once radical idea of vouchers became seriously considered by both political parties.

All of this created a void that Bill Gates and the tech community were only too happy to fill. Basically, Bill Gates is doing what “the business community” has desired for years: he is standardizing the high school degree so that it has a common definition across the country…. and in developing a national standard he is opening the door for “edu-preneurs” in the technology field to make a profit in education by eliminating the traditional role of teachers. Instead of teachers developing creativity and independent thinking in their students they are being rewarded for developing students who can take tests well. The ability to score well on “objective” tests, in turn, can serve as the “gold standard” for “objectively” measuring school and teacher performance.

In short, decrying Bill Gates misses the point. ALL of Gates’ work on the common core is the result of economic inequality. Because he and his hedge fund friends are able to accumulate wealth that was formerly distributed among school districts and State Departments of Education, ONLY he and his hedge fund friends can provide the services that were formerly provided by “the government”…. and he and his hedge friend funds want to see things standardized across the board. Their motives may or may not be pure, but at this juncture no state government is challenging the federal government’s de facto dictate to adopt the CCSS.

 

Writing Well in Tennessee

August 2, 2014 Leave a comment

Tennessee was the site of the Scopes trial in the 1920s… and even today many of its citizens clings to the Biblical truths instead of the Darwinian theories of science. Now the debate over the common core has ignited a debate on handwriting… and as a result TN is intending to adopt standards for cursive handwriting.

I’m sorry to report this to TN, but people aren’t exchanging information in cursive anymore… and 85% of college bound students PRINTED their answers on the SAT essay question. Personally, I never saw the value of cursive writing though I recall it WAS emphasized in Oklahoma where I attended elementary schools in the late 1950s– that is until Sputnik was launched at which point it seemed that the emphasis shifted to mathematics. Moreover, in my 35 years as Principal and Superintendent from the mid-1970s until 2011 I cannot recall any serious debate about teaching handwriting at the board level or among administrators… though I DO recall many debates about keyboarding….

TN is also a state that values deregulation and charter schools… maybe this is the TN State Board’s effort to drive more parents into deregulated charters where coding is seen as more important than cursive. ;-)

 

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