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A few days ago I received an email from a former student who lives in France. She wanted to let me know that she has "developed a conscience" and thus was no longer conservative, and that she voted Socialist in the elections there. More importantly, as my purpose was never to proselytize, were her comments regarding the impact of my class. "The discussions we had made a real difference to me. It took a while, but I caught on." She continued, "I hope you still engage kids in political discussions, because, at least for me, it really planted seeds and helped open my eyes." Planting seeds ... I appreciated the metaphor.

This happens quite often. A couple of summers ago I ran into a young lady who has become very successful in the airline business. She credited me and a colleague for profoundly influencing her life in a positive manner. As her track coach I had influenced her, but she said my class had impacted her more. The skills I taught helped her in college. I was puzzled, for my recollection of her was a very bright young lady who nevertheless was primarily interested in grades. Her constant question was, "Is this going to be on the test?" It drove me crazy as that question always did. My classes focused on discovery and exploration. I was interested in getting the students to think. Apparently I had an impact, though at the time I had no idea.

I am sure many teachers have similar stories

I am now an administrator and I was interviewed by a local news outlet regarding the raising of the cut scores on our state tests. The goal is to more accurately reflect "student achievement" ... whatever that means. I think the news people were a bit surprised when I said that I didn't put much faith in standardized tests and that we would use them a one tool to analyze our effectiveness. Other than that we will continue to do what we do well ... provide a well-rounded education for all of our students. We will continue to encourage our kids to follow their talent and we will resist as much as possible the "student as widget" one size fits all approach that dominates the education reform today.

We are constantly exhorted "to run education like a business". We use terms like customers (parents), producers (children) and the latest craze,  "value-added modeling".  

My first reaction when hearing that we should be more businesslike in our approach is, "You can"t be serious! You want to use the model that for the last 30 years has driven people out of the middle-class, has foisted imperialism on large parts of the world, and created the worst economic catastrophe in eighty years? You want to use that failed model? Are you BSC?"

One of the reasons for the failure of this model is the focus immediate profits rather than long term results. This has created the culture of casino capitalism, gangster capitalism, vulture capitalism or whatever term one wishes to use to describe a system where the only thing that matters is last quarter's bottom line. Thus the US auto manufacturers continued to focus on the production of energy hogs despite the certain knowledge that the rise of gas prices would prove to be disastrous to the industry. Only a bailout by the government  ("Thank you, Mr. President") saved two of the big three auto giants.

Despite the documented failures of the corporate state, the business model continues to be pushed on educators.  The value-added model, championed by William Sanders and others,  insists that, by using standardized tests, one can measure the value that is added to each student's education by a particular teacher. In fact some of the disciples claim that one does not need to go into a classroom to measure to teacher effectiveness. 

We know the people do not learn at uniform rates, that one cannot extrapolate one years growth in any human endeavor over three years, and that people have different aptitudes. We know that different people learn in different ways. We know that not only does one size not fit all, one size doesn't fit anybody. Individual learners will vary in their needs from day to day.

William Butler Yeats may or may not have said, "Education Is Not the Filling of a Pail, But the Lighting of a Fire". Regardless, that aphorism is cited repeatedly at education conferences; but it is obviously just another overused adage for the proponents of so-called education reform.

The education "reformers" insist that if we use this particular practice, or teach this method, or use this program or technology, if we tweak the machine that is the human brain a certain way, that we will produce the precise results that we need to meet the "challenges of 21st century". Education reforms often  remind me of my days on the assembly lines in Saginaw.  We have quarterly assessments (quarterly profits?) to make certain we are keeping pace. And we will evaluate teachers on whether  they can produce one years growth annually as measured by a standardized test. It is beyond ridiculous. It is tragic.

And this horrid approach, correctly dubbed the "pedagogy of the absurd" by Ken Goodman, is promoted not just by Republicans but Democrats as well. The administration of President Obama may not be as vitriolic in their rhetoric about educators as the Republicans, but their hostility is evident. Race to the Top is not an improvement on No Child Left Behind, and in some ways is worse, with its focus on charter schools, merit pay, value-added modeling, endless standardized tests, competition  rather than cooperation, and its constant negative drumbeat regarding educators. The Duncanization of education may be the administration's  greatest failure.

I recently attended a wedding of a young lady who also ran on my track team several years ago. She was delighted that I was there, which was to be expected. What I am never prepared for, though it no longer surprises me, is the number of former students and parents of former and present students who come up to me and relate the impact I had on them or their children. It can be embarrassing at times but it never gets old.  

In some instances, such as with the young lady whose wedding I attended, teachers are aware of the positive impact they have. More often than not, such as the case of the former student now living in France or the airline executive, the real impact we have on our students will not be known for years. 

"A teacher affects eternity; he never tell where his influence stops." Henry Brook Adams

Originally posted to Don't Panic on Thu Feb 02, 2012 at 09:33 PM PST.

Also republished by Teachers Lounge, Systems Thinking, and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Good diary, T&R. (15+ / 0-)

    I with you and Diane Ravitch. I find the worship of the "business model" in this country to be just plain stupid at this point. Talk about slow learners. You would think after Enron, MCI, LTCM, Lehman, AIG, and I could go on, America would wake the hell up.  

    •  Thankfully Ms. Ravitch has come around. (14+ / 0-)

      There appears to be a significant push-back against this stupidity. Unfortunately it usually takes 10-15 years to change direction in education. And the Obama administration has imbibed heavily in the Kool-aid. So we may be stuck with this dog and pony show for a while longer.

      A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

      by slatsg on Fri Feb 03, 2012 at 07:54:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  yeah, let's hope President Warren (8+ / 0-)

        will start turning this ship around

        "You're not stuck in traffic, you are traffic."

        by nominalize on Fri Feb 03, 2012 at 08:22:06 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Oh for god's sake (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          slatsg, Calamity Jean

          Elizabeth Warren is not a god who can solve all our problems. We don't even know if she will be a halfway decent senator yet. If she were to run for president now, I would not support her.

          Take the "Can't(or)" out of Congress. Support E. Wayne Powell in Va-07. http://www.ewaynepowell.com/

          by anastasia p on Fri Feb 03, 2012 at 07:48:10 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  me neither. I'd vote for Obama (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            slatsg, Calamity Jean, Chi

            But he can't run after 2012.

            "You're not stuck in traffic, you are traffic."

            by nominalize on Fri Feb 03, 2012 at 08:38:58 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Ever look at Race To The Top? (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              slatsg, grimjc
              •  RttT is worthless. (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Habitat Vic, emal, Lisa, Teiresias70

                It's actually worse tha worthless because not only does it not do anything positive, it actually negatively impacts education.

                Nonetheless, though he doesn't really deserve it, the President will get my vote in 2012, for reasons explained in this diary.

                It isn't about the man himself. I knew he was a Bill Clinton-type centrist when he ran, and I wrote a diary to that effect during the 2008 campaign. He has turned out to be much like Clinton but with a bit more class.

                It isn’t out of any sense of loyalty. Especially since I am an educator and the Democrats seldom have my back.  The President appointed and continues to support Arne Duncan, the failed former school chief of Chicago Public Schools.
                                         .....................
                And it just isn’t the President. As a resident of Michigan I’m used to getting bashed on a regular basis by Democrats who want to appeal to the so-calleed Reagan Democrats. Jim Blanchard was an expert at lining up endorsements from educators and then giving them a shiv in the back. Granholm, another DLCer wasn’t much better. She appointed Mike Flannagan as State Superintendent of Schools. Flannagan never fails to find opportunites to bash public educators.

                So I really don’t owe the President  my loyalty. The idea that I should have his back … or that of most other Democratic office-holder … is laughable.

                It’s just not education either. I disagree with most of the Democratic policies. I find them centrist, often center-right … neo-liberal domestic economic policy and neo-conservative foreign policy.

                So why will I be voting for President Obama in 2012?

                Simply stated, I'm a purist ... just as the President's supporters claim. Only this time it works in his favor.

                It's about the racism. I became an activist during the Civil Rights movement back in the 60s. The fight against racism has always been a priority issue for me.

                Racism manifested itself during the campaign and hasn't abated since. From my personal experience it comes not primarily from the working class or the working poor but from the upper middle class who seem to be particularly incensed that a black man could possibly be the leader of our country.

                It's also quite personal. My wife is a Latino; my son is too .... obviously; my daughter-in-law is Pueto Rican.

                Then there is the Most Beatiful Great-Grandaughter in the World ™ Her mother is Puerto Rican and her father is African-American. She is only five but self-identifies with dark-skinned characters in books and stories. She will undoubtedly feel the sting of bigotry eventually but I will fight to lessen the racism that she will face

                So the President has my vote in 2012. After that any Democratic candidate will have to earn my vote.                        

                A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

                by slatsg on Sat Feb 04, 2012 at 05:08:37 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

              •  I'm not a fan of Obama's education policies (4+ / 0-)

                But I am a fan of many of his other ones.  And the other side offers nothing but immoral "solutions" to non-problems.

                "You're not stuck in traffic, you are traffic."

                by nominalize on Sat Feb 04, 2012 at 07:03:35 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

      •  No change, no vote. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        grimjc
  •  Excellent diary. How does a beancounter (13+ / 0-)

    measure inspiration, consistency, reinforcement, intellectual synthesis, you name it? He doesn't, that's how.

    T&R'd, bookmarked for community edu!

  •  You never know (16+ / 0-)

    I was standing on the side of the course at a famous road race when one of my former students flies by, turns and yells, "Hey Mr. M... I'm a f@#king engineer!"

  •  Well said! (13+ / 0-)

    Indeed, short-term gains, and education only to get a job, these are the two ideas that we must fight.  Education is about a lifetime; and it is not just about getting a job. If they can make us accept either - or worse, both - as "standards" by which we are judged, our students will cease to get an education.

    I don't mind an 18-year-old obsessing about getting a job - but I do fiercely object to administrators and legislators demanding that we think about nothing else, and we measure nothing else.

    Administrators like you will help us save this system. Thank you!

    •  Don't be too hard on us (9+ / 0-)

      Like all schools we have to do well on the tests or sanctions are imposed. Neither I nor any other admin can ignore them.

      It is true that too many admins buy into the propaganda, but I've been tilting at windmills most of my life so I am not typical.

      A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

      by slatsg on Fri Feb 03, 2012 at 09:05:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Please continue tilting! (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        slatsg, sfgb, Matt Z, JanL

        I have had the pleasure of working with really good administrators all my professional life.  My greatest regret is that in the 70's and 80's administration became a bad word among academics.  A friend of mine, while still in graduate school, was said by someone to be potentially a great dean.  Among her friends and indeed quite a few faculty, it was taken as an expression of no confidence in her academic work.

        Without committed administrators, we have no power at all.

        So thank you for fighting the good fight.

        As to the tests - I wish they were real tests instead of these ed college monstrosities.  But that would cost money. They'd have to pay real scholars and teachers to make them up, and the same to grade them.  Genuine tests are very important markers of accomplishment.

        So - continue tilting, and please post here again.  I will look forward to it.

      •  My new favorite poster (6+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        slatsg, maf1029, Matt Z, JanL, IreGyre, Chi

        I left the classroom to be an administrator to save myself from the person who would have gotten the job if I didn't take it. I was the math dept. head the first year the standardized tests counted towards graduation. We did pretty well, and put things in place to help the kids who needed it most.
        I still got to teach a few classes, but it wasn't enough kid time. I only lasted a few years as an administrator and I got my butt back into the classroom full time. I made it through 35 years before I retired.
        Thanks for your post and your replies.

        •  I was never excited about administration (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          maf1029, JanL, IreGyre, Chi

          I knew that I influenced the kids in my classroom. A buddy of mine finally convinced me to take the job. He said: "An administrator has the opportunity to influence the influencers."

          You are absolutely right, however. Being a teacher is the better gig.

          A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

          by slatsg on Fri Feb 03, 2012 at 01:29:42 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  teaching (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            slatsg

            When I was just getting started in teaching, one of the administrators who was a mentor to me was always after me to get admin credentials. I finally had to tell him "If I become an administrator I'll have to hang around with you bleeps."
            I knew right away that the best gig in teaching was teaching.

  •  Thank you! (6+ / 0-)

    FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

    by mole333 on Fri Feb 03, 2012 at 08:41:44 AM PST

  •  To Whit! (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    slatsg, Chitown Kev, commonmass, sfgb, Matt Z

      I had a great public education and in high school, I took those "advanced classes"  When I was first in college, I was an epic failure, based on my own doing.   Fast forward a decade when I got my stuff together and I graduated with honors.
        Some times, it takes students a while to recognize what a good educational background does prepare them for a successful future.  
         Unfortunately, many of my great teacher's died and I never had the opportunity to thank them.  
         It is great to hear that not everyone takes as long as me to recognize how important a sound background is and that the ability to take a test has no bearing on actual success.

  •  I remember and thank (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    slatsg, commonmass, sfgb, Matt Z

    the teachers who taught me haw to learn. I'm an artist and had the good fortune to have a high school art teacher who fostered my budding creativity and gave it shape and form. I was never really very good at taking tests, they seemed to pull facts out of context without measuring anything but the data itself.

    I also had a civics teacher who was an ex Marine and taught a diverse classroom not only the letter of our sacred documents, but applied them to our political history. I remember sheets of political terminology with words like  boondoggle, sword rattling, yellow press, gerrymandering. He would these days not be able to tell the tale of Hearst or of Boss Tweed.

    I think teachers need to be able to teach what they have to offer not just  for test's but for the knowledge they have to give.  One size does not fit all as students do not come in one size. The humanities are important, and learning is a life long endeavor, not a performance that measures how much data you can retain for a test.                

    •  I try to fly under the radar most of the time (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shaharazade

      I don't want to make my school a target.  My resistance is at the local level, mostly protecting the staff and students from the negative impact of state and federal mandates, and keeping sone of the focus on the total educational experience rather than just test results.

      If the state pushes that VAM into the arts curriculum, however, as some are trying to do, then I will forcefully and vocally fight back. Enough is enough.

      A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

      by slatsg on Fri Feb 03, 2012 at 01:41:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Run education like a business? (8+ / 0-)

    You mean fire the students?

    “when Democrats don’t vote, Democrats don’t win.” Alan Grayson

    by ahumbleopinion on Fri Feb 03, 2012 at 08:54:33 AM PST

    •  No ... Just the teachers (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      commonmass, sfgb, maf1029, Matt Z

      A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

      by slatsg on Fri Feb 03, 2012 at 09:08:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  With respect, BOTH teachers and students (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        slatsg, Calamity Jean, Chi, znthahmed378

        There are elements who have always wanted to declare individuals, grade levels, buildings, neighborhoods, districts, etc. complete and irredeemable failures...just because.

        And almost always the real reason is that imposing some "market based alternative" will satisfy some very exclusive ideology and some income capture objective.

        When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative. --Martin Luther King Jr.

        by Egalitare on Sat Feb 04, 2012 at 05:02:19 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Even shorter: (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          slatsg, Chi, znthahmed378

          The purpose of business is (generally) to make money; with the "old" corporation model, the corporation also had an obligation in its charter to "serve the greater good of society" or similar wording.  So, put making money and serving the greater good in any order, or rank them the same, and follow the dictates of the corporate charter.  

          Except, the really simple version today puts "making money" as the first, last, and only purpose of business, mom-and-pop or international corporation.  Thus, asking education to "be run like a business" is asking for trouble.

          IMO, education has as its goals and purpose to educate, and I would argue, a socialization role, as well.  But its purpose is not to make money.  If it were, then we should just close all the schools and fire all the teachers...oh, wait.

          Anyway, I think I make my point.  And, I guess it wasn't really shorter.  How about this: education's purpose is not to make money.  If business' only purpose is to make money, why impose that purpose on education?

          Torture is Wrong! We live near W so you don't have to. Send love.

          by tom 47 on Sat Feb 04, 2012 at 07:50:42 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Precisely (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Chi

            I am continually told that a CEO's only obligation is to the shareholders. The customer only matters for what they can contribute to the bottom line. The welfare of the workers matters not at all.

            This is not the model we should use for education.

            A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

            by slatsg on Sat Feb 04, 2012 at 10:42:27 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Oh, no no no, they DO fire students. (9+ / 0-)

      Back in Texas in the 90's they would find a reason to remove low performing students to "alternative education" or expel them near to test time to prevent them from "polluting" the test scores. I think they still do it.

      Santorum: Man on Dog; Romney: Dog on Car. equalitymaine.org

      by commonmass on Fri Feb 03, 2012 at 09:18:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ah yes ... the Houston Miracle (6+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sfgb, commonmass, maf1029, Matt Z, JanL, Egalitare

        What educator can forget Rod Paige ... the guy who compared us to terrorists.

        And now we have Arne Duncan. Duncan, who once claimed that Hurricane Katrina was the best thing ever to happen to the education system in New Orleans, touts his experience with the Chicago Public Schools. The Chicago Miracle was as much of a myth as the Houston Miracle.  IMO he should have been fired immediately after his Katrina remark.

        A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

        by slatsg on Fri Feb 03, 2012 at 09:36:45 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I'm very glad (7+ / 0-)

    that there is someone like you to articulate the arguments against the primacy of the business model.  When I read teachers' comments about the dilemmas they face, they just don't seem good at articulating the issues or challenging the underlying assumptions [such as running an entity like a business is good-given that most businesses fail anyway] of their attackers.

    THat said, I think it's well past due that we all challenge the whole notion of 'reform' and expose the notion for what it is.  When repubs talk 'reform,' they are simply talking about privatizing profits and socializing costs.  It doesn't matter what endeavor they are talking about, whether it's school 'reform' or soc sec 'reform,' it all adds up to the same thing:  they don't want money going to person XXX; instead it should go to business/business owners of XXX.

    The banks have a stranglehold on the political process. Mike Whitney

    by dfarrah on Fri Feb 03, 2012 at 09:04:02 AM PST

  •  I haven't been a teacher in the public schools (9+ / 0-)

    since 2000, so it's been a while, but I got to see first hand the damage GWB and Rod Paige did to Texas schools with these kinds of approaches.

    While my brother can tell you first hand that there's plenty of education theory BS preached on Appian Way (Harvard School of Ed) there's even more preached in the halls of politics.

    The problem with "business models" of anything other than business is the corporations are inherently un-democratic. The corporation exists solely for the bottom line and to serve their shareholders--even if it means screwing their customers. It's a bad model for education and a bad model for government, which is why whenever I hear a politician say "government should be run more like a business" I run the other way.

    I am glad you're one of the sane administrators. BTW, when I was teaching, one of my best colleague friends was the basketball coach. We were clearly on the same side of things when it came to the stuff that was coming down the pike at the time. Who would have thought the music teacher and the basketball coach would be best buds? It started when his daughter was in my class. He liked my approach and I liked his and we really had a great time teaching together after that.

    Thanks for an important diary.

    Santorum: Man on Dog; Romney: Dog on Car. equalitymaine.org

    by commonmass on Fri Feb 03, 2012 at 09:15:11 AM PST

    •  Teacher's kids (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      slatsg

      I loved having the other teachers' kids in my classes, or on my teams. I hoped they enjoyed my kids. I was very lucky that I had almost 100% nice kids every year. A knucklehead really stood out and the nice kid peer pressure worked wonders.
      Other than other math teachers, I was very close to the English teachers. I have no idea why.

    •  Coaches and teachers of the arts? (0+ / 0-)

      Make sense to me. They are both performance oriented.

      It happens quite a bit. I coached football for 30 years. If memory serves correctly, a couple of years the head of the coaches organization was an art teacher. Though my musical background is limited, I directed a few HS musicals that were very well received.

      My boy was a runner rather a football player, and played in the jazz and marching bands. He enjoyed his jazz solos and wondered if he was showing off too much. I told him no more than the halfback who runs for a TD is showing off.

      A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

      by slatsg on Fri Feb 03, 2012 at 02:06:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Mr Holland's Opus (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lungfish, slatsg, sfgb, Matt Z

    was an excellent film that left me angry and sad. Was it ever prescient. One of Mr. Holland's students has gone on to become a right wing politician. She comes back for his Opus, somehow not understanding that she is responsible for killing the music program in the high school.

    Now I recognize her idea was the same as Mitt's, and the rest of the Republicans, "Git 'er done" really means "Shut 'er down"

  •  The latest in my state (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    slatsg, sfgb, joemac53, maf1029, JanL, J M F

    Is a proposal to require that all graduating education students must have at least a 3.0 GPA in order to get their teaching license.  The idea being, of course, that we don't want people who aren't the "best of the best" teaching our kids.

    Bull.

    I know plenty of people who graduated with well over a 3.0 that I wouldn't trust to have the common sense to pour piss out of boot with instructions printed on the heel.  And there are a wealth of reasons why a student might fall short of a 3.0 and still be a stellar teacher.

    As one person pointed out recently about it, someone who had somewhat lower grades might actually be a better teacher because they may have a better understanding of what struggling students go through more than someone who sailed through -- or just took the easiest classes they could to get the highest GPA.

    And of course, it has been pointed out that perhaps a 3.0 minimum GPA should be a minimum standard for legislators too.

    •  Stuff you figure out (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      slatsg

      I was considered an "old-fashioned" but "innovative" teacher. I was a good student as a youngster, but I always had to figure things out for myself. I had good teachers, but I still had to derive stuff my own way. Some of my crazy ideas were useful when I became a teacher.

    •  Also how on earth (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      slatsg, JanL, Teiresias70

      are you going to force the most accomplished kids to go into an underpaid, overworked, demonized "profession" where other people with no background in education constantly tell them how to do their jobs. We're told we have to increase politician pay or we won't get the best people running for office (ha!) Why not increase pay, cut the constant attacks and allow teachers some autonomy? I'll bet the quality of the teacher pool would radically increase. The issue right now is I don't know a single bright young person going into teaching — not one. They don't need to see their profession smeared on the front page of every publication and be regarded with suspicion that they might be one of the mammoth army of "bad teachers."

      A little respect would go a long way.

      Take the "Can't(or)" out of Congress. Support E. Wayne Powell in Va-07. http://www.ewaynepowell.com/

      by anastasia p on Fri Feb 03, 2012 at 07:54:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree with everything you wrote except (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JanL, Calamity Jean, Witgren

        for the part about the lack of bright young people going into education. I know quite a few. We will be able to recruit quality people, even with the drop in compensation.

        The first question whether we will be able to keep them. The lack of respect is a major concern. They may have the motivation to enter the profession,even with reduced wages,  but the lack of respect will either drive them out or burn them out.

        Secondly, even if they will work for pauper's  wages, the question is why should they? We certainly can race to the bottom and drive wages and benefits down in most occupations.

        This is the issue that I often confront in discussions with other admins. Yes, in this economy it is possible to get people to work for less; but what about the ethics of that approach? What about justice? All workers deserve a just wage and adequate benefits.

        A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

        by slatsg on Fri Feb 03, 2012 at 08:38:44 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  The current "reform" movement is all about money (8+ / 0-)

    The question the reformers are asking is, "How do we improve education without putting more money into it? (Or, increasingly, put even less into it.)

    The answer of course is we can't, but they're going to keep on trying.

    Conservatives believe evil comes from violating rules. Liberals believe evil comes from violating each other.

    by tcorse on Fri Feb 03, 2012 at 10:53:15 AM PST

  •  Thank you, thank you (6+ / 0-)

    a thousand times thank you.

    The business model is the bane of my existence at work.

    It fails for many endeavors, education being just one glaring example.  As you point out, at times, it even fails for business.

    merçi mille fois

    Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

    by a gilas girl on Fri Feb 03, 2012 at 11:18:45 AM PST

  •  The business model fails at everything.... (5+ / 0-)

    Except well,  maybe business. I've seen first hand how it's ruining health care. My physical well being is NOT a commodity to help some clown turn a profit.

    Just another day in Oceania.

    by drshatterhand on Fri Feb 03, 2012 at 11:44:19 AM PST

  •  Why would a business model (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    slatsg, historys mysteries, JanL, Chi

    work on something that is not a business?
    Businesses aren't schools. Businesses aren't even public. They don't have open records or open meetings. They are competitive, not cooperative. They make a profit. They have a completely different value structure.

    "YOPP!" --Horton Hears a Who

    by Reepicheep on Fri Feb 03, 2012 at 03:11:23 PM PST

  •  This reminded me of a talk... (5+ / 0-)

    I ran across on YouTube last year.

    I've always been interested in education, even though I didn't particularly like school. I've read a number of books about the history or education and the use of technology in education. And I even worked on the development of educational software technology for a large chunk of my career (15/16 years).

    This talk by Ken Robinson really resonated with me about some of the problems I encountered as a student. And this article reminded me of this talk. If it hadn't been for my parents, a few great teachers along the way, and a good mentor I'm not sure I would have survived.

    •  I'm a huge fan of Ken Robinson (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JanL, Egalitare

      Purchased one of his books, Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative. I recommend it.

      I saw him speak once. Low key with a understated sense of humor. Fantastic. Received a well deserved standing O.

      A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

      by slatsg on Fri Feb 03, 2012 at 04:25:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great read (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    slatsg, historys mysteries, JanL

    Excellent points.

    The goal of education "reform" is not to make the schools better; it's to take power away from teachers' unions.  And look at the negative impact on a community where the schools are labeled as "failing."

    We should be supporting our public schools, not destroying them.

    27, white male, TX-26 (current), TN-07 (originally), liberal-leaning independent

    by TDDVandy on Fri Feb 03, 2012 at 04:26:02 PM PST

  •  Educating kids (6+ / 0-)

    is not a business.

    Excellent diary.

    I know which side I am on: the one that does the math.

    by Grassroots Mom on Fri Feb 03, 2012 at 07:41:45 PM PST

  •  Beautiful. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    slatsg, JanL, Egalitare

    I could not agree more.

    The spirit reminded me of Alfred North Whitehead's "Aims of Education," although my memory of it's pretty vague at this stage (I read it decades ago).

    "It's called the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it." George Carlin

    by psnyder on Fri Feb 03, 2012 at 07:41:57 PM PST

  •  and hot-house students drilled to pass tests... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    slatsg

    the long term effects of having clones who are not challenged to think and understand further... what will they be? The stunting of the potential in so many minds... the greenhouse blooms on stalks that cannot stand up outside the greenhouse... the minds will still function but they will be like force grown products grown to meet a set of narrow criteria and while apparently meeting them adequately are in fact much more limited in what they will accomplish.

    A tragedy. Can students do it for themselves outside of classes? An Occupy web space for education somehow... the problem is that the early years are the most important and if this is just recitation and memorization... only some kids who have both innate abilities and enhanced  input from outside of class from families or activities that challenge them and add creative logic and thinking to their lives will grow beyond the cardboard fare deemed sufficient.

    Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

    by IreGyre on Sat Feb 04, 2012 at 03:26:46 AM PST

  •  The problem with your "failed model", (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    slatsg

    is that it has worked perfectly for the owners including media owners. The rest of us are nothing but "widgets" or buyers of widgets.

    ",,, the Political whorehouse that is Fox News." Keith Olbermann

    by irate on Sat Feb 04, 2012 at 05:00:09 AM PST

  •  The Duncanization of education (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    slatsg, Teiresias70

    is the administration's greatest failure and may cost them Obama re-election.

    •  The only thing that saves them ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Calamity Jean, Chi

      is that the Republican thuggery that has been demonstrated in Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida, Michigan and other states where they have untrammeled control.

      It's sad that these are the choices.

      A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

      by slatsg on Sat Feb 04, 2012 at 07:14:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Wendell Berry: Education is Forest Management (8+ / 0-)

    or Garden Management, NOT Business Management.

    That is the most obvious and necessary "paradigm shift" we need to impress upon the "reformers."

    If you have ever stood in a forest, or watched foresters work, or watched a farmer work, or even a gardener over a period of 10 years or so, then you have the correct analogy for education practice and reform.

    The student is an organic system of growing and evolving systems, interacting with the changes in the environment, the land, the weather, the inputs and the harvests. The quality of the soil is the all-important parameter. When foresters and farmers work, they are far more concerned with what they CANNOT see; the nutrients, water, beneficial insects and bacteria and fungus that make up a living, breathing (yes, soil needs lots of oxygen and nitrogen from the air). Farmers who adopt a "technological fix" for the accelerated growth of plants, animals and soil often find that their technical inputs are expensive, short- term and often lead to exhaustion of the soil from imbalances of nutrients and microorganisms over time. The field can be "pushed" to its limits and far beyond its limits by technology, but after a time, it must be put into "fallow" to recover its natural fertility.

    So with generations of students. We can artificially increase scores, add inputs, systemetize and corral people into "higher performance.' But the costs are enormous and not sustainable. We use up the resources in a short time and the evidence is unhealthy biomes;  dropout rates, teacher burnout, discipline problems, mental illness rates, and all the other indicators of an unhealthy system.

    When we finally realize that the Native Americans were, and still are, correct, that we cannot live without fully understanding how much a part of the world we are, and how the earth and the soil are the ONLY possible paradigm for how we live and make a living, then we will make  progress in creating the democracy and healthy citizens we so desperately need in great numbers. At the moment, the healthy are outnumbered vastly by those sickened with bad practice. Michelle Obama gets this, and I hope she can influence the President to move away from more technocracy, and  I will support her for President any time she decides to run.

    W e   h a v e   l i v e d   o u r   l i v e s   b y   t h e  
    a s s u m p t i o n   t h a t   w h a t   w a s  
    g o o d   f o r   u s   w o u l d   b e   g o o d   f o r   t h e   w o r l d .  
    W e   h a v e   b e e n   w r o n g .  
    W e   m u s t   c h a n g e   o u r   l i v e s  
    s o   t h a t   i t   w i l l   b e   p o s s i b l e   t o   l i v e  
    b y   t h e   c o n t r a r y   a s s u m p t i o n ,  
    t h a t   w h a t   i s   g o o d   f o r  
    t h e   w o r l d   w i l l   b e   g o o d   f o r   u s .  
    A n d   t h a t   r e q u i r e s   t h a t   w e   m a k e  
    t h e   e f f o r t   t o   k n o w   t h e   w o r l d  
    a n d   l e a r n   w h a t   i s   g o o d  
    f o r   i t .  

    W e n d e l l   B e r r y

     

    Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

    by OregonOak on Sat Feb 04, 2012 at 07:21:19 AM PST

  •  "Business Model" and "No Child Left Behind" are (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DBunn, slatsg, Calamity Jean, nomandates

    inherently at odds.

    The whole point of business is leaving people and things that don't work out, behind.

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Sat Feb 04, 2012 at 07:41:35 AM PST

  •  Standardization (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DBunn, slatsg

    It is a very non-human characteristic, yet it is the prerequisite to business "efficiency". Sameness costs less to replicate, therefore it is desirable in the marketplace. People are a far more difficult puzzle for commerce than a monolithic society.

    So as we conform, we shun the qualities that make us individuals. We teach our kids to be good little widgets that cost us less, rather than be the productive creators that contribute to a richer quality of life for all.

    Sounds like you are the effete liberal educator the right warns us about. Thanks and keep it up!!!

    -7.5 -7.28, I refuse to believe corporations are people until Texas executes one.

    by Blueslide on Sat Feb 04, 2012 at 08:16:24 AM PST

    •  Guilty (0+ / 0-)

      I actually am a socialist. I don't know too many educators who are. Apparently my influence must be greater than I thought .... I wish.

      Thanks for the comment. I will keep fighting, but retirement is looking better all the time.

      A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

      by slatsg on Sat Feb 04, 2012 at 10:51:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  YES, 150% (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    slatsg, nomandates

    You have hit on a subject which is literally like a raw nerve for me: a pro-business model of education which essentially paints college out to be a diploma-mill with student customers rather than an educational experience of transactional knowledge between a group of people ranting in expertise, toward creating advanced levels of thinking.

    My husband is an administrator of a University-wide standardized test that is required. He's also a Professor. Surely I don't need to tell you what his views on standardized tests are. And yet, by law, he must administer and coordinate assessment for this test. I've grown fascinated with assessment for this reason; I have a million theories on why standardized tests -- even qualitative and holistically scored or analytical tests -- are completely meaningless.

    I am fiercely opposed to the GRE and the SAT as measurements of anything, for this reason. I personally score standardized tests regularly, tests which have huge impacts on students... I have been immaculately trained to do this, and according to my test comps (my percentile scored against other scorers, or how I am assessed for my ability to assess others), am within the 1% expected range which is supposedly great. Thus said, I know that the test we give does not accurately measure anything of value, and certainly it doesn't help with student education at all. In fact, it winds up simply being a money-maker for Universities. I am not at liberty to explain why, sorry.

    We're attempting to reform this by a variety of workarounds. But not everyone would be. Some people are incredibly committed to "assessment" and standardization and corporatism in Universities. I refuse to teach as if I were a diploma-farmer. I don't "do" banking in my classes. I am aghast at the ever increasing class sizes, since they promote this. And I encourage students to push back against all of these, because where it's coming from is simply the dominance of the Business Departments at most Universities. Anyone who works at a University can probably think of a dozen examples where the Business Department has made sure to place itself on every major University committee! Moreover, union negotiations are literally bulwarked by Business Department Faculty. The last time faculty tried to stage a bit of a coup about not increasing funding (a strike, technically), that was outvoted at the union level by faculty from Business and a few other Departments, flat out, despite the unions themselves supporting this.

    That's a bit of backstory that some may not be aware of which lends further complexity to it all.

    This is too long. All due apologies. I am in strong agreement with your diary, particularly the lifelong influences teachers can have on students. Even well after the fact.

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