"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Having a National Educational Curriculum Makes Certain Aussies and Kiwis "As Cross as a Frog in A Sock"

Some of the current educational buzzwords in the United States have been:
  • globally competitive
  • career ready
  • common core standards
  • cradle to grave education
  • education equity
  • social justice
  • STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) ready
  • international standards
We read educational articles and learn how American students are:
  • falling behind the rest of the world
  • not competitive on the global stage
  • needing standards (that are untested and not supported by real data and real research) that are internationally benchmarked
  • needing a nationalized curriculum because all students should learn the same material at the same age regardless of geographical location
ONLY WHEN we achieve a national curriculum, standards and assessments will this alleged downward trend in education be reversed and we will once again be a nation consisting of smart students who can compete on the global level. According to Arne Duncan:

In an event yesterday sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) State and Local Officials Initiative, U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan emphasized the importance of a global approach to education. Noting that the United States is experiencing both increased competition from and collaboration with other countries, Duncan described education as the great equalizer and connector, not just for students in American schools, but also around the world.

The push for this "global education" is starting to become a little less "global" in the world. Not all the countries in the world have rose colored glasses on when it comes to global curriculum; they don't even approve of a nationalized curriculum.

Kudos to educators and parents in Australia and New Zealand for questioning the wisdom of a "one size fits all" approach to education and grading students on the same standardized measure for all students.

From Australia:

National curriculum threatens Australia’s innovation

Leading British educator Stephen Hepplen is cautioning Australia against its federal education reforms, which include a national curriculum, arguing they’ll stifle creativity at the state level.

“One of the huge advantages in Australia is the states have taken it in turns to lead,” He told The Age. “With standardization you lose the ability for one state to innovate and pass the baton on to another.”

Australia’s first national curriculum was endorsed by all the country’s education ministers last December, covering English, Math, Science and History through tenth grade. The ultimate goal, according to the government, is a curriculum that goes through twelfth grade and also includes Languages, Geography, Art, Health, Physical education, Information and Communications Technology, Design and Technology, Economics, Business and Civics and Citizenship.

From New Zealand:

Parents speak out against New Zealand’s national standards

Over 150 families in Wellington, New Zealand are asking the federal government to not hold their children accountable to the recently adopted - and heavily debated - national standards, according to Television New Zealand.

The standards cover what children should be doing from the moment they walk in school doors in “year one” through eighth grade. So far, more than 50 schools across New Zealand still don’t include the national standards as targets in their charters - something they are now required by law to do.

The parents of children at Raphael House Rudolf Steiner School in Lower Hutt are upset their school has to implement national standards when the holistic philosophy of Steiner education means children do not start learning to read until they are seven.

The focus in New Zealands eight Steiner schools is on growing the child’s mind, soul and body. Judged against state education standards, pupils would fail until they are about 11, when their reading and writing levels will typically match and average child’s.

“It’s completely against the philosophy of our curriculum,” [mother Monica] Brice said. “We would have to tell our children that they’re not doing well, which would be terrible for their self esteem.”

The Department of Education and Arne Duncan should follow the discontent of Australian and New Zealand citizens. Perhaps being "global" isn't such a bad idea after all if those "global" ideas are akin to our constitution and protect individual rights. These citizens recognize the centralization of curriculum negates states' rights for educational directives and the death of innovation.

As they would say in New Zealand, this plan for nationalized curriculum is down the gurgler.

(And here's the definition of "as cross as a frog in a sock" in Australia: Frog in a sock, as cross as a : sounding angry - a person or your hard drive!)

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