"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

Search This Blog

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Fr. Simeon Daly: A Song of Thanks to Teacher Sister Mary


Blessings to everyone this Thanksgiving.  Below is a beautiful song of thanks to a special teacher/friend sung by a monk from St. Meinrad Archabbey....a song never to be sung to a computer or data system by a grateful student.   This song represents everything teaching is all about.  It's not about data driven results as much as it is as the giving of knowledge to another person and igniting the light of understanding.  

The song is for all the mentors we've had during our lives.  It's one of the sweetest and kindest tributes you may ever hear.

From youtube:  and "Someone was There"  by Fr. Simeon Daly, OSB:

Though not a musician, Fr. Simeon Daly, a Benedictine monk of Saint Meinrad Archabbey in Indiana, plays a song that pays special tribute to a music teacher. Dale Gonyea composed and performed the song for his school music teacher, Sr. Mary, on the 50th anniversary of her being a religious sister in 1984. To read the story of Fr. Simeon and Sr. Mary's friendship, visit http://www.fathersimeon.com/stories.asp?sid=86.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

ALEC Bails on Opposing Common Core

Ed Week reported that ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) has voted not to adopt the resolution opposing the Common Core State Standards.
The latest news is that on Nov. 19, after several discussions over the past year and at least one postponed vote, ALEC's legislative board of directors has voted  not to adopt the resolution opposing the Common Core, the group announced in an email. ALEC stated that it will remain "neutral" on the common core, "but will continue to oppose any efforts by the federal government to mandate curriculum."
Given that each state is in a slightly different position with Common Core, (what role they play in the consortia, by what mechanism they agreed to adopt Common Core Standards, how much superintendents bought in to implementation etc.) it is not completely surprising that ALEC could not find common ground among legislators as to what position to take.

They do seem to have brushed aside the  biggest point for opposition,
On one side of the debate that went back and forth at ALEC were officials like Indiana Superintendent of Schools Tony Bennett and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Republicans who said the standards are not a federal K-12 takeover but an important way for schools to raise the bar for students. On the other side were policy mavens at places like the Pioneer Institute, the Boston-based think tank, who said that in addition to the political problems the common core posed, the standards themselves did not deliver as advertised in areas like college readiness. As you might expect, the Pioneer Institute was very keen on emphasizing the idea that Bennett's support for the common core was a big contributor to his defeat in the Nov. 6 election, when he lost to Democrat Glenda Ritz.
Stating that the standards are merely a tool for schools to raise the bar contains many underlying assumptions that most opponents of Common Core would not agree with.

The first is that there is a widespread educational crisis in all 50 states that requires immediate remediation. The truth is the majority of schools still turn out high functioning graduates. One need merely look at the increasing enrollment at our top colleges for proof. Unless the likes of Harvard, MIT and Princeton have dropped their standards, we are not doing a horrible job with k-12. We have pockets of underperformance who aren't cutting it with the current standards. Turning those schools on their heads with a completely new set of standards for the teachers to master while requiring these poorer districts to find the funding for the hardware necessary to administer the assessments hardly seems like a recipe for success.

The second is that outside intervention is the only way states would raise the academic bar. The picture it paints is a bunch of State Education Boards wringing their hands and saying, "We give up. If only someone would just tell us what a good set of standards looks like because we have no idea how to find or develop one ourselves." Does anyone remember a line of state superintendents lined up outside the DoEd demanding help with their standards?

The third assumption is that the standards are the only thing objectionable about Common Core. A key component of the standards is the State Longitudinal Data System (SLDS) which will collect data on every student enrolled in a public school. It has been said by some that the CCSS were merely a mechanism to get the SLDS instituted and standardized in each state. Again, I don't recall congressional hearings wherein the states demanded that the federal government find some way to track several hundred data points on their citizens.

ALEC stated that their failure to pass a resolution against Common Core is by no means a statement in support of them. This decision merely highlights the limitations of ALEC. It's voting members are state legislators, who "of course have to think about polls as well as white papers." Work will need to be done individually in the states to address Common Core. And so it is.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Now Common Core is not only "State Led" it's Also "Teacher Designed"

Common Core explained:  Common Sense not allowed.

Comments today are reprinted with permission from Barry Garelick.  

Garelick has written extensively about math education in various publications including Education Next, Educational Leadership, and Education News. He is currently doing student teaching at a junior high school in the central coast area of California, and plans to teach math as his second career. He recently retired from the federal government.

He writes:

Stockton CA school district talks about Common Core. 

Here are some gems:

"Most significantly, Stockton Unified Assistant Superintendent Kirk Nicholas said, under the new approach student success will be measured less by their ability to recite facts than by how effective they are at demonstrating their understanding of what they have learned. Nicholas gave the example of a rubber band resting on a table. Whereas now a student would be asked to identify the object as a rubber band, a student in 2014-15 would be asked to shoot it into the wind, shoot it with the wind to his back, and analyze the results."

So it's all about "understanding". The problem is, what level of understanding is required for what grade levels? And does a student need to be able to explain why the invert and multiply rule for dividing fractions works, and show why? And if a student can't explain, but knows he must use fractional division (and can do so) to figure out how many 2/3 oz servings of yogurt are in a 2 oz container of yogurt, is that student deemed to "not understand" fractional division?

Oh, and there's this also:

"The Leadership and Learning Center will serve as a consultant in a process Nicholas and Superintendent Steve Lowder say will be driven by teachers. Lowder said Stockton Unified is 'changing from a top-down model to a directive, and the teachers designing the plan.'

" 'It's about honoring teachers making decisions in the classroom about student achievement,' Lowder added. 'We believe in teachers.' "

Great. So does this mean if a teacher wants to use direct instruction rather than inquiry-based, and whole class instruction rather than groups, they will be allowed to do so?
Garelick raises good points:
  • Common Core deals with "understanding" rather than facts
  • Common Core is being touted as being "teacher led" (does this remind you of CCSS originally being sold as "state led")
  • Student achievement on standardized testing is the ultimate goal, rather than student learning
  • Assessments/standards are designed for "collaborative" learning, meaning direct instruction will be largely non-existent
How much will these privately crafted common core standards cost for local district implementation?  
The school board unanimously approved a contract, not to exceed $280,000, with the Colorado-based Leadership and Learning Center to help the district get ready. 

It's just one of many education reform companies cashing in on Common Core contracts from local districts forced to comply with these top down mandates taxpayers are now to believe are "teacher designed".   

Monday, November 19, 2012

YOLO Applied in Standardized Testing. The TOWANDA Moment in Education?

Protesting against standardized tests that have nothing to do with individual student progress is a start.   Don't be a widget in the managed workforce plan.

A student filled out a bubble sheet to standardized answers so the blocks read YOLO:  "You Only Live Once".  The student apparently was maxed out with the incessant testing mandated in common core and other governmental directives designed to track students.

The Washington Post's Adam Heenan reports in Time on testing: 738 minutes in 3 weeks:

I laughed at what the student had created, mostly because the “YOLO” script was evenly distributed across the length of the bubble sheet, demonstrating the student’s skill in measurement and design. But of course it isn’t funny. In my school, in just three weeks’ time, I have calculated that we spent 738 minutes (12 hours and 18 minutes) on preparing for and administering standardized tests. Our students are experiencing testing fatigue, which makes the results from each successive exam they take more invalid and the data about student learning more inaccurate. I can’t blame this student for speaking out against the excessive use of testing throughout our schools.
But the one-day, once-every-few-years standardized testing experience they remember is a far cry from the pervasive, high-stakes phenomenon testing has become. In order to make better policy choices about how we spend our precious education resources, the public needs to know just how much time and money has been spent on high-stakes testing in the No Child Left Behind era. This is why I and others have pushed for a full audit of the time and money that has been spent on all of this testing and test-prep, a call now supported by both the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers.
 This year alone, my colleagues and I have devoted a significant chunk of the additional time we were supposed to have for teaching and collaborating to testing. By mid-October, our school had already sacrificed a week’s worth of teaching and learning time for Chicago’s standardized beginning-of-the-year exams for students in their regular classes, to be repeated for the middle-of-the-year and end-of-the-year exams as well. There have been two days of “testing schedules,” where teachers and students in grades 9, 10 and 11 have had to sacrifice instructional time for EPAS exams (the system of grade-aligned tests from ACT). We have devoted our own time to looking at the data, and common planning time to talking about looking at the data and learning the tests’ gibberish language of “RIT Bands,” “cut scores,” “BOYs, MOYs, and EOYs,” none of which translate to classroom practice. It seems like every single professional conversation we have is not talking about students, but rather about the tests others create.
 And because the stakes of these tests are so high, even the allegedly “optional” tests and interventions become—culturally, if not officially— mandatory. Officials higher up on the school district chain of command constantly warn those of us down below that “we must get our test scores up,” that “our school has been on probation way too long,” and that test-driven sanctions like closure or turnaround are constant threats. Because test scores are being misused as evidence that schools and the people in them—including administrators, teachers, students and even the lunch lady—are failures in teaching and learning, administrators and teachers succumb to the pressure to focus ever more closely on testing.

Read more here.  

Parents, here's an idea.  If your student is to take a test that only measures subgroup scoring such as Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) reports and not an end of a course test that measures and scores individual knowledge and achievement levels, have him/her be a bit creative and use his/her skills in "measurement and design".  Ask your teachers why certain tests are being administered to your child.  Opt out of those assessments not directly assessing your child's knowledge and progress.

Fight back against this incessant testing imposed by private corporations (held unaccountable to taxpayers) on your public school.

Read more about standardized testing from fairtest.org. 

The new cry for education should be "YOLO".  Remember "TOWANDA" in Fried Green Tomatoes?  Students and parents, regain your power in your educational opportunities.  Whether you ascribe to YOLO or TOWANDA, don't be a pawn in this educational reform that is nothing else but a plan for a managed workforce.  These tests/assessments have nothing to do with education.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

College Graduates Find Jobs!

A representative list of jobs college graduates are landing in New Orleans.  Wonder if these jobs require college degrees in New Jersey?

What types of jobs are college graduates finding these days in New Orleans? Peter Schiff interviews recent graduates about their jobs and college debt.

Is a college degree worth the cost?  Those pedicab drivers on Bourbon Street sure have a great education.  A great job?  Not so much.

From the Schiff Report:

President Obama promotes the myth that everyone must go to college. That if you don't go, your life will be ruined -- that you will end up waiting tables, or trapped in some other mundane occupation. The truth is, even with a college degree, you may still end up waiting tables, you'll just begin your "career" four or five years later, tens of thousands of dollars in debt.

Here is an example of some of the plumb jobs college grads were able to land during the Obama administration. Not just liberal arts majors mind you, but graduates with degrees in mathematics, robotics, neuroscience, engineering, accounting, business administration, economics, biology, communications, graphic design, marketing, and linguistics.

Read more here.

Site Meter