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

Monday, June 27, 2011

Media literacy, the common core standards, and the menu fallacy

Beach and Baker, in Ed Week, argue that "core standards must embrace media literacy." http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2011/06/22/36baker.h30.html?r=813299394#comments

The question that first needs to be asked is whether we should have common core standards at all. The idea of standards seems to be innocent and common-sense, but the current movement, from the beginning, has been a means to establish national tests, which are unnecessary (we already have plenty of tests that do the job very well; in fact, we have far more than we need), and expensive (MUCH more expensive than we originally thought).

Susan Ohanian has made this analogy: Proposing standards is like giving out menus to the starving. To extend the analogy, instead of providing food, we are debating what should be on the menu.

We can discuss standards only after we protect children from the effects of poverty (no child left unfed; better health care, access to reading material).
Here is a media and information-literacy activity for all of us.
Examine Arne Duncan's speeches, especially those in which he first announced the need for the common core.
Examine, in detail, the US Dept of Education documents supporting the common core and the related national tests, such as the Blueprint from the US Department of Education.
Examine media reports, comparing those selected for publicity by the NCTE Inbox and other organizations with those posted on susanohanian.org. See especially reports on who will profit financially from the common core standards and national tests.
Examine research related to the standards and national testing movement. Start with Berliner. Reread Bracey, Alfie Kohn.
Read documents both defending and criticizing the common core standards and national testing movement. Start with One Size Fits Few (Ohanian).

Critical literacy? YES
Common-core standards and national tests? NO

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