"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, June 13, 2012

What you will NEVER Read in an Arne Duncan Department of Education Press Release.

Should THESE be the buzzwords of education reform?

Andreas Schleicher, the developer of the PISA test surmises why Chinese students outperform other students:

"In China, more than nine out of 10 children tell you: 'It depends on the effort I invest and I can succeed if I study hard.'

I would wager you will never hear Arne Duncan state the preceding quote about American students or use the following (Schleicher speaking about the Chinese students) as a talking point and goal for American education:

"They (students) take on responsibility. They can overcome obstacles and say 'I'm the owner of my own success', rather than blaming it on the system."

I haven't see the mainstream educational media publish this self-sufficient and individual responsibility belief either.  Rather we are inundated (even in high income suburban districts) that "educational inequity" is the reason American students can't/won't learn.  Common core standards, charter schools, open enrollment, and the redistribution of teachers/finances are all contained in Race to the Top to "fix" these educational inequities.

What are Schleicher's findings about educational inequity in China?

"Even in rural areas and in disadvantaged environments, you see a remarkable performance."

In particular, he said the test results showed the "resilience" of pupils to succeed despite tough backgrounds - and the "high levels of equity" between rich and poor pupils.

"Shanghai is an exceptional case - and the results there are close to what I expected. But what surprised me more were the results from poor provinces that came out really well. The levels of resilience are just incredible.

"In China, the idea is so deeply rooted that education is the key to mobility and success."

Are you surprised these findings were published in a non-American publication and not on the Department of Education website?  Here's a sample of what Duncan's messaging is for American education in a Department of Education press release:

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today announced he would form a bipartisan commission to examine educational equity and promised to pursue federal policies that would advance equity in the nation's K-12 schools.

In a speech at the conference marking the 100th anniversary of the National Urban League, Duncan told civil rights leaders that the Obama administration's school reform agenda is benefiting students of color and those growing up in poverty through the Race to the Top program, the Promise Neighborhoods program, and other competitive programs, as well as maintaining formula programs focused on low-income children.

"In so many ways, our reform agenda is all about equity," he said. "Competition isn't about winners and losers. It's about getting better."

He said he was open to discussing criticisms of the administration's education agenda and promised to remain "deeply engaged" with civil rights leaders to address their concerns about school reform.
"You are partners and allies in the cause of public education," Duncan said. "This is a movement. This is the civil rights issue of our time."

To address fiscal inequities in K-12 schools, Duncan said the Department of Education is establishing the Equity and Excellence Commission. The 15-member panel will obtain broad public input about inequities in K-12 education and examine how those inequities contribute to the achievement gap. The panel will submit recommendations to Duncan on how to address those inequities.

Maybe the educational reformers in America have it wrong.  It's not so much about educational inequity and bad teachers.  Maybe a large part of the solution is teaching resiliency to students, as well as personal responsibility. 

These goals aren't listed anywhere in this federal program.  Is it perhaps because this education reform really isn't about reforming education? 

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