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

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Aspen Absurdity

Recently, Gwen Ifill sat down for interview with the Dunce. The event, part of a presentation through the Aspen Institute, includes a lot of run-of-the-mill public school bashing and meaningless eduspeak. Walter Isaacson starts off the shenanigans, but the real juicy bits come right from the mouth of the horse, the Dunce. There's very little that is new in here - heck, the Secretary just repeats the same lines over and over - but there are a few interesting pieces.

Duncan talks about formative assessment, but the only kind he addresses are the kind delivered via computers. He tries to differentiate between evaluation and testing (there is a difference, of course), but there's certainly a lot of wiggle-room with this guy. He seems to totally discount the day-to-day assessment of teachers, the living and breathing person that is a far better evaluator of student abilities than any test the highly profitable testing industry can cook up. These assessments are "no-stakes," claims Duncan - he may be right, but, if these formative assessments are tied to common core standards or simply practice tests for the high-stakes brand that is all-too-pervasive, the testing regime can chalk up another victory in their hostile takeover of public schools, critical thinking, and meaningful education. Formative assessment is a wonderful idea - but it's about to be totally bastardized by technotwits like Gates, Dell, and the rest of the data-driven dips**ts.

No Child Left Behind didn't have competition. That was, evidently, a downfall of the law. RttT has competition, and that's supposed to be a good thing. That's what makes RttT "fundamentally different." "This is literally going to be a race to the top," says Mr. Duncan. Sheesh.

After explaining the "Race to the Top" obsession with standards, competition, and the rest of the bogus education reforms bundled in Obama/Duncan's $4.35 billion in bribe money, Gwen's BS detector seems to pick up on the Dunce's scheme:
"Okay...just want to button that up...because what determines who the winners and the losers are in all of these situations is who's setting the goals and what the goals are. Who is setting the goals? It's you?"
"And why we should trust you with that?"
Duncan, of course, sidesteps the question almost entirely. There's no reason to trust this guy - it's not like his record in Chicago is anything to brag about.

American Students in the Global Classroom from Innovation Economy on Vimeo.

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