"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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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Look Into The Crystal Ball for Education Reform

Have you made your new year's resolutions?  How about your new year's predictions?  Ann Kane of the Potter Williams Report has made her predictions for this year for education reform.  She sees many players but "One Big Government Monopoly"

The more things change, the more they seem to remain the same.

1.  Michelle Rhee will be appointed Secretary of the Department of Education after Obama wins re-election. However, if the unimaginable happens, and a Republican gets into office, Rhee will be appointed Secretary of the Department of Education. She will make Kyle Olson of Education Action Group her second in command.
2.  The DoEd will not be abolished. However, Secretary Rhee will appease the right who got her where she is and downsize the DoEd by firing most of the staff. All systems will be streamlined. All states will tap into the new and improved education pipeline with Rhee at the helm.
3.  Wendy Kopp, CEO and founder of Teach for America will become director of the newly created Commission on Teacher Quality (fictitious—remember I’m predicting).
4.  Mayors across the country will be jumping on board to take over their local school districts, causing school boards to become irrelevant. If the school boards don’t set policy and curriculum, who will? The mayors? The Department of Education?
5.  The beginning of nationalization of public schools. No Child Left Behind with its one size fits all approach and its directives for teachers to ‘teach to the test’ is on its way out. Race to the Top has used Obama’s latest tactic in dangling money in front of starving school systems to “improve” academics and close the achievement gap. Problem is those who follow the piper must pay for the tune. The DoEd has strings attached to accepting the money, but that hasn’t kept 40 states from signing onto national Core Curriculum Standards.
6.  Teachers unions aren’t about to give up their power despite Michelle Rhee and Republicans who have been battling them for several years. The unions will remain in position to affect policy and curriculum especially in districts with progressive agendas like the green movement, social justice, and Marxist interpretations of core subjects.
7.  States may have their own superintendents, but they will be like low level managers simply facilitating directives coming out of the DoEd.
8.  The slogan “School Choice” will be relegated to the ash heap because charter schools as an alternative to traditional public schools will become the norm. Conservatives who have clamored for years for charters will get what they wanted; already many states are lifting caps on the number of charters. Public charter schools are still government schools. The DoEd still oversees them.
9.  There will now be three types of schools:  union schools (these will be the old traditional public schools), charter schools and private schools.
10. While the digital revolution inside the classroom has already begun, this next year will see the number of investors in digital education increase rapidly.
11. As the new learning environment with students interacting with the internet replaces traditional teacher lectures, more and more seasoned teachers will leave the profession. The number of college students majoring in education will decrease.
12. With the hard sell of the STEM initiative across the country in the name of global competition,  less and less students will learn to think broadly and critically (these assets result from a liberal arts education). It’s fine to have specialties in the sciences, but not at the expense and elimination of the arts and humanities.
13. By year’s end, Republicans will have egg all over their face. They’ll naively ask how it happened that their darling reformer Rhee could have refashioned the government schools into one big government monopoly—right under their anti-union noses.
Gretchen's comment at the end points out, quite correctly, that both parties share the blame for the current state of things. "This marriage of government and private companies (Gates Foundation, NGA, CCSSO, Pearson, etc) taking over education is truly bipartisan and should be noted as such. Both parties have sold out taxpayers, parents and students. It's been a concerted effort and terribly effective."

Anyone care to offer a prediction about the success of the counter movement to change the course  this education oceanliner is headed on?

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