"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Who Needs the New York Times?

The NY Times, once the mainstream media source to actually print the opinions of liberals alongside conservatives, has a story in today's Education Life, "Who Needs Education Schools?," that reflects how much things have changed toward being the same. The story, a poorly-edited hodgepodge of opinions by conservative propagandists, makes the case that public education colleges are hopelessly out of step with the new purpose of education, i.e., raising test scores. The only exception to the article's conservative lineup of experts (Dianne Ravitch, David Steiner, Harold Levy, David Levin, Kati Haycock, and Anthony Carnevale) is Columbia's Arthur Levine, who speaks so convincingly out of both sides of this mouth that he may remain accused of having latent liberal tendencies.

Without doubt, the most striking content of the piece comes from Anthony Carnevale, the newest economist turned education expert to be named a Fellow at the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE). In a remarkable display of Alice in Wonderland logic, he makes the case that public education colleges, the NEA, and their weak teacher candidates are the culprits in the continued de-skilling of teaching and the teacher proofing of school by the rise of the textbook/testing industry lobby:

Among the historically intractable problems in retaining teachers are low status and low pay, says Anthony Carnevale, a senior fellow at the National Center on Education and the Economy. Because the public sector will never pay as much as the private, he says, and because unions have resisted extra pay for high-demand skills like math teaching, the gap in ability between teachers and other white-collar professionals will become bigger, not smaller.

In Mr. Carnevale's bleak picture, learning will no longer be an act of discovery but a process of drilling in predetermined principles of success. Teachers will become part of a docile force of assembly-line workers, trained to execute someone else's plans, with little room for serendipity. Some teachers complain that this is already happening in urban systems, including New York's.

In this model, education schools will have to compensate for a meager talent pool by idiot-proofing teacher training. "You tie their teaching methods to standards so that in a very aggressive way they learn to teach to the results of those tests, like a soldier," Mr. Carnevale says. "The voluntary military didn't always get the best of human capital. But what you did was make the training so rigorous it didn't matter."

Let's see if I have this right: these liberation-minded Deweyans and Freireans in the schools of education are responsible for turning our future teachers and children into non-thinking drones?

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous1:35 PM

    For more about the history of re-segregation look to Dismantling desegregation : the quiet reversal of Brown v. Board of Education / Gary Orfield, Susan E. Eaton, and the Harvard Project on School Desegregation.
    Specifically Gary Orfield's "Turning Back to Segregation."