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

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Listen for That Wheeze in the Ed Reform Engine

From Anthony Cody, posted at WaPo:
. . . . It is, in fact, inevitable that this test-driven reform will fail. It will fail because it cannot deliver on its lofty promises. The only reason the project totters forward is because of the steadfast sponsorship by an alliance of billionaires and the politicians and policymakers they employ, directly and indirectly.

The challenge for those of us who see that these emperors and empresses of reform are naked is to stay clear on our own vision of what school should be, and continue to call it out. Continue to speak the truth, and shame those who claim to have all the answers. And we must work with parents and students and our fellow teachers, so they understand that our schools will not improve when we have fired ten percent of the teachers, base evaluations on test scores, eliminate tenure and seniority, and expand privately run charter schools.

Instead, they will improve when we seek stability and growth in our struggling schools, and support the teachers there so they are retained, and have time to collaborate and learn together. We will improve these schools when we have small class sizes that allow teachers to give individual attention to students, and differentiate for diverse learners.

They will improve when we give teachers professional autonomy and challenge them to authentically assess their students on meaningful work, not do endless test preparation. They will improve when they have strong connections to the parents and communities in which they sit, and serve their aspirations.

These are the things that must be priorities for our schools -- not more and more money for more and more sophisticated tests and data tracking systems.

It is perhaps inevitable that when we have a society in which one percent of the population has more than one-third of the wealth, these billionaires will believe that they have that power due to their wisdom and intelligence - and thus are entitled to tell the rest of us what to do. But it is also inevitable that some of us will continue to think for ourselves, and continue to fight for schools that serve our communities.

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