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Monday, January 26, 2009

Some quick comments addressed to those who wrote Obama’s K-12 reform plan on

The first phrase in each paragraph is the stated Obama-Biden goal:

Reform No Child Left Behind: you used the wrong word; surely you meant “get rid of” and not reform; not a good start

Support High-Quality Schools and Close Low-Performing Charter Schools: what will your measure be for assessing low performance? I hope it is not test scores

Make Math and Science Education a National Priority: why? Is our current economic situation due to too few people knowing algebra and physics?

Address the Dropout Crisis: by making school interesting and relevant for job skills? Nah, not what you suggest at all.

Expand High-Quality Afterschool Opportunities: why? Because what goes on in school is useless? Why not try making it less useless?

Support College Outreach Programs: more people going to college is really not the problem for anyone except college administrators; why is this your issue?

Support College Credit Initiatives: more effort on getting people into college; was your college experience so magical?

Support English Language Learners: teaching English is a good idea; too bad schools don’t do this too well; what are your ideas on improving the situation?

Recruit Teachers: as the economic situation deteriorates there will be plenty of people wanting to be teachers; next?

Prepare Teachers: look, the problem isn’t teachers; it is the nonsense that teachers must teach and the obsession with testing that nonsense

Retain Teachers: make teaching a better experience; that might help

Reward Teachers: not for raising test scores I hope

It would be nice, if those who are in charge of our education policy understood that the issue is not test scores, teacher salaries, or getting into college. High school is an awful and useless experience. Has anyone in your education department noticed that? Stop teaching the 1892 curriculum. No adult knows most of what is taught in high school. Teach stuff that actually matters and see what happens.


doctormark said...

I'd like to know more about your objections to test scores. I do understand a primary objection: the phenomenon of teaching to the test. But, at the same time, I also know that tests like the SAT are good predictors of academic success, better than grades. Are all tests bad? Is there any role for them? What are alternative ways of measuring sucess?

Federico Gomez-Uroz said...

Doctormark, Tests are based on standarization. Who decides what is the standard is the trick here. How do we know what a 18 years old should know? On top of that, tests rarely test beyond memorization and comprehension (and most do not reach truly this level), which leaves any other mental skill untested and, thus, makes teachers not to risk teaching analysis, application, and integration skills. But, above all, tests are to measuring what the constellations (aquarius, orion, etc) are to astrophysics: an assumption that what we see is actually what it is. But, I will not say only bad things about testing. A very good thing about Testing is that it is very profitable.

On a different note, Dr. Schank:

How do you propose it should be decided what really matters?

Leslie Garbanati said...

AMEN! I am so on board with your thoughts. As a middle school teacher, I find these ideas muddled with political mumbo jumbo that sounds great to those who don't know any different! Maybe you and I should be the secretary of education!