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

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Krash Course #7: The Reform Narrative EXPOSED

In Krash Course #6, I highlighted the inverse relationship between what educators acknowledge as important education reform and what self-proclaimed reformers claim as educational reform by noting Diane Ravitch'sexcellent blog in the MetLife Survey of the American Teacher.

Since that posting, several key examples of the failure of political leadership and the media are captured in a few examples that can stand as evidence of how educators and researchers must first expose the hollowness of claims about charter schools, teacher merit pay, VAM-style accountability of teachers, charges of "bad" teachers ruining education, and an array of technocratic and bureaucratic minutia that has little to do with the fundamental problems of education, and then present what real reform will entail.

Consider this piece by an editor at The State (Columbia, SC): What real education reform looks like.

Every element of this commentary fits the self-proclaimed reformers' narratives and have all been discounted by research, but still frames as "real" reform more charter schools, helping principals fire "bad" teachers, merit pay, and recruiting the best and brightest to teach. ... As Kurt Vonnegut has offered us, "So it goes."

Instead, real education reform must be couched in the expertise of teachers and researchers, and our messages must look like these excellent pieces:

Anthony Cody: "Cui Bono? The Question Rarely Asked, Let Alone Investigated"

Pasi Sahlberg"What the U.S. can’t learn from Finland about ed reform"

Evidence-based, confrontational, and brave, Sahlberg, for example, explains:
"What I have to say, however, is not always what they want to hear. While it is true that we can certainly learn from foreign systems and use them as backdrops for better understanding of our own, we cannot simply replicate them. What, then, can’t the United States learn from Finland? 
"First of all, although Finland can show the United States what equal opportunity looks like, Americans cannot achieve equity without first implementing fundamental changes in their school system. The following three issues require particular attention. 
"Funding of schools: Finnish schools are funded based on a formula guaranteeing equal allocation of resources to each school regardless of location or wealth of its community. 
"Well-being of children: All children in Finland have, by law, access to childcare, comprehensive health care, and pre-school in their own communities. Every school must have a welfare team to advance child happiness in school. 
"Education as a human right: All education from preschool to university is free of charge for anybody living in Finland. This makes higher education affordable and accessible for all." 

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