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View Diary: "No Excuses" and the Culture of Shame: Why Metrics Don't Matter (10 comments)

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  •  I think the reform debate is triangulated (0+ / 0-)

    between three groups, the corporate reformers as you describe them, the educators/scholars of education as you describe them, and by a third group, which I would describe as educators/scholars of education/parents/and community members who believe there is need for reform of educational methods and policy.

    I believe your horror story about the particular charter school you describe. I agree that it is a nightmare, and I agree that the corporate takeover appears to be heading in the direction of worse, not better, education for children. You make the point that no corporate reform is likely to lead in a democratic or equitable direction, and I agree.

    But we are having this discussion because schools have reported to the public that there is an Achievement Gap and because colleges and universities are complaining that they have to remediate the level of preparedness of incoming freshmen in larger and larger numbers over the last three decades. So the Achievement Gap is one thing, but the overall achievement level is also being debated.

    The Achievement Gap has been presented to the public in terms of tests scores. Educators/scholars of education who blame poverty for the Achievement Gap nevertheless base its existence on tests scores, which apparently are rock solid when it comes to poor kids. But in terms of overall achievement, it seems tests scores are derided as misleading or pointless. I wonder why that difference of perspective continues to show up in the debate.

    I think the true debate exists between the believers in constructivist teaching methods and direct teaching methods, to oversimplify, and I think the horrors you see in corporate models will disappear as the public schools come to grips with substance.

    Here's my horror story, a compendium really, as I have read several like this over the years. A mother has an uneasy feeling about her 3rd grade daughter's ability to read. At times her child appears to be reading normally, and at other times she seems to be unable to read at all. So as a test, the mother finds an old homework page that her daughter read perfectly 6 months earlier and finds that now her daughter can't read it at all, not even the simplest words. After helping her daughter to remember the earlier homework, the child says, "oh, yeah, now I remember it," and describes the story on which the homework was based. This mother learns that her daughter has not been learning to read but has been memorizing passages for the benefit of homework performance. On the basis of this process, the child's teachers have been assessing her as proficient and misleading the child, the parent, and themselves as educators.

    I know this describes an extreme case, but along with fathers who find that their 14-year-old children can't add and subtract or that their high school aged children have a deficit of basic world history, parents become alarmed about such phenomena and become reform activists. Some such parents and community members are themselves educators, public school teachers, and scholars in fields about which they expect public school children to have a basic understanding.

    As to discipline, parents who search for good schools look for safe, high preforming schools. They list safety before academic achievement. Public schools are now listening and are reforming in the area of discipline because parents simply can't have their children in unsafe schools. The discipline concern has not been about children talking among themselves. It has been about assaults, fighting, weapons, intimidation and disruption of classroom peace. Students have a right to peace and security in school.

    •  Lots here but (0+ / 0-)

      In general, I have trouble following what you are trying to offer  or possibly argue...but you have offered a really complex and accurate framing of why there is a problem...

      Corporate/bureaucratic control of schools and reform are horrible and off-base, but dominantly how schools have been and are run...badly

      I get lost in your comment regarding claims about educators reporting this or that to the public...I fear you are blurring educrats (administrators, politicians) with educators...Teachers and scholars don't report anything

      That said, there is NO achievement gap...the test score "gaps" are reflections of the equity gap, but schools are primarily causing them...

      With that said, as both an educator and scholar, I argue constantly that we need BOTH social and educational reform that addresses the huge inequity in both...

      And of course schools should be safe, but the "no excuses" model and the zero tolerance model are NOT valid or necessary alternatives to "unsafe schools"...especially since we allow such harsh environments ONLY with (as I note) "other people's children"

      I genuinely appreciate your offers very solid nuance to the bigger problems

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