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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Don't worry. Mr. Obama will fix the stupidity problem with more math and science

From today's Chronicle of Higher Education, just in time, we have the Obama administration deciding that:

Corporate donors encouraged by the Obama administration will spend at least $260-million over the next four years to help improve student achievement in mathematics and science through specially designed television programs and video games.

The plan, announced today by President Obama, will include new television programming fromSesame Street and Discovery Communications, as well as video games developed by Sony and other members of the Entertainment Software Association.

Sounds like a plan: get the voters who can't think (as illustrated below) to be able to think by teaching math and science to them. It's just that they didn't take enough algebra. That's why they can't explain why they like Sarah Palin.

The product of our education system looks like this..

Does anyone wonder why politicians like voters to stay stupid?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Duncan talks eloquently and kids lose

While the testing companies make great profits, the nation’s newspapers, having a vested interest in those profits, tout testing as the country’s salvation. The most visible touter is, of course Secretary of Education Duncan, who gives eloquent speeches that are, of course, printed in the Washington Post (who owns Kaplan Testing) . Here is an excerpt from one of them given in September, together with my comments:

Let’s build a law that respects the honored, noble status of educators – who should be valued as skilled professionals rather than mere practitioners and compensated accordingly. 

Duncan is saying that teachers are wonderful people so therefore it follows that No Child Left Behind is a great law.

Let us end the culture of blame, self-interest and disrespect that has demeaned the field of education. Instead, let’s encourage, recognize, and reward excellence in teaching and be honest with each other about its absence.

Then he says that we should like teachers a lot because they will help raise test scores.

Let us build a law that demands real accountability tied to growth and gain in the classroom – rather than utopian goals – a law that encourages educators to work with children at every level – and not just the ones near the middle who can be lifted over the bar of proficiency with minimal effort. That’s not education. That’s game-playing tied to bad tests with the wrong goals. 

Then he says there should be accountability which is the code word for testing that makes it sound like it doesn’t mean that number 2 pencils and bubble sheets are what education will be all about.

Let us build a law that discourages a narrowing of curriculum and promotes a well-rounded education that draws children into sciences and history, languages and the arts in order to build a society distinguished by both intellectual and economic prowess.

Then he says that the curriculum should be exactly what it always has been and no other ideas will be accepted.

Let us build a law that brings equity and opportunity to those who are economically disadvantaged, or challenged by disabilities or background – a law that finally responds to King’s inspiring call for equality and justice from the Birmingham jail and the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

Next he argues that black people should have good schools. Does anyone disagree with that? What is his plan? More testing.

Let us build an education law that is worthy of a great nation – a law that our children and their children will point to as a decisive moment in America’s history – a law that inspires a new generation of young people to go into teaching – and inspires all America to shoulder responsibility for building a new foundation of growth and possibility.

I ask all of us here today – and in school buildings and communities across America -- to roll up our sleeves and work together and get beyond differences of party, politics and philosophy.

Next he argues that a good education law would encourage good people to become teachers. While that is true, he certainly isn’t proposing such a law.

Let us finally and fully devote ourselves to meeting the promises embedded in our founding documents – of equality, opportunity, liberty – and above all -- the pursuit of happiness.

More than any other issue, education is the civil rights issue of our generation and it can’t wait -- because tomorrow won’t wait – the world won’t wait – and our children won’t wait.

Then he equates education with civil rights, which means mostly that he is looking to woo the black vote.

Impressively said. Duncan can sure talk. But the speech means nothing and flies in the face of reality. This is all a justification for continuing the policies of the Bush administration in education. Why would Obama want to do the same thing as Bush did especially when he campaigned against No Child Left Behind as I pointed out earlier? The answer is simple. There has been lots of money invested in testing by powerful players that Obama doesn't want to offend. Sadly, the kids are no one’s main concern.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

We voted for change (in education) remember that Mr. Obama?

Here is a piece from then Senator Obama’s education speech given during his campaign in Dayton Ohio in 2008:

We will help schools integrate technology into their curriculum so we can make sure public school students are fluent in the digital language of the 21st century economy. We'll teach our students not only math and science, but teamwork and critical thinking and communication skills, because that's how we'll make sure they're prepared for today's workplace.

Some advisor of his had read my writings obviously and was quoting me on that one. I usually say reasoning and not critical thinking, but this is taken from my book Dynamic Memory Revisited, Cambridge University Press, 1999:

Learning to communicate, function with others, and reason, are the most important parts of any curriculum

I talk about this constantly and am quoted about it constantly:

And what has the President actually done? Zero. Zip. Nada.

He said in that same speech:

And don't tell us that the only way to teach a child is to spend most of the year preparing him to fill in a few bubbles on a standardized test. I don't want teachers to be teaching to the test. I don't want them uninspired and I don't want our students uninspired.

Uh huh. Did he change No Child Left Behind? No. Of course not. Testing dominates education as much as it ever did.

We are killing off anther generation of students Mr. Obama.

Do something.