Monday, June 1, 2009

Arne Duncan and the great Standards Hoax

[What a hoax! The federal government is going to create national standards that lead to national tests that lead to national indoctrination of our children, and Arne Duncan is trying to make it look as if this whole idea has "bubbled up from the states." Nonsense. He has put out the word to the states that if their states do not sign onto the national standards, bad consequences will follow; and the idea that the states pushed this idea is bogus. It has been the Washington bureaucrats, Obama, and Arne who have pushed this entire scheme to gain control of every public school child in this country.

What is amazing is the breath-taking speed at which this is moving in hopes that the American people will not notice until it is too late.

I am so proud of the Commissioners of Education in Texas, Alaska, Missouri, and South Carolina who are smart enough to recognize "a red herring" when they see one. These people need to be congratulated for their wisdom and for their courage.

To show what a "red herring" this idea of national standards/national tests really is, please notice that the issue of whole language vs. phonics is not even going to be addressed in them. To ignore the empirical reading research that has been done by the National Institutes of Health that proves that phonemic awareness and decoding skills are the key to becoming a successful reader is a crime in itself! This further shows that nothing good will ever come out of the national standards/national tests movement if the one thing upon which we actually have solid scientific and medically based education research is going to be ignored.

"Or whether students should be drilled on math facts" -- In other words, the national standards are not going to require students to learn those "terrible" math facts that produced the greatest mathematicians and scientists in the whole world! What good are national standards if they do not guide the public schools into the teaching of real math and real science?

Every person in America should voice outrage because the largest percentage of students attend the public schools, and whatever those students learn or do not learn impacts the entire future of our nation. -- Donna Garner]
Excerpts from this article:

...leaders in Texas, Alaska, Missouri and South Carolina are the only ones that have not signed on...
There will be no prescription for how teachers get there, avoiding nettlesome discussions about whether phonics or whole language is a better method of teaching reading; whether students should be drilled in math facts; or whether eighth-graders should read "The Great Gatsby" or "To Kill a Mockingbird. "

From Cyber-Space:

They are three different things:

What should happen, what is likely to happen, and what is happening now.

I see this whole movement as a ploy which uses the cache of "national" level standards to get rid of what has been achieved in a few states. The fact that good mathematicians are involved at Achieve is a glimmer of hope, but only a glimmer. And I hope Achieve respects the work in states like CA and MA. I suspect the testing companies only want the contract, whatever that turns out to be, regardless of the content. It's a business, and the customer is always right.

I see the (only) long-shot chance centered around political pressure from the parent lobbies. Parent groups should be noisy, ASAP, about what standards ought to look like, and then even noisier under the strong, though not inevitable, possibility that those which are offered fail to meet those expectations. This represents a big flare-up in the math wars (not to mention English/Reading! )

It's hard to argue states rights when the majority of states have done it wrong, but education really is the business of the states. Folks who live in states with bad standards may see it differently than those of us in states where we have fought and won good ones.


Anonymous said...

I strongly disagree here. National standards are used by almost every western democracy execpt for ours, including excellent systems in Canada, Singapore, Japan, Korea, Finland, etc. No matter what state one lives in, in the 21st century, one requires a nationally, and internationally competitive education. A high school diploma in Mississippi HAS to mean the same thing as one from New York, simply because we live in a very mobile society. It is unacceptable, and unfair to hold students from Baton Rouge to a lower standard than those from Boston. They both need the same strong, rigorous standards, and those can only be imposed at a national level, not by some conglomorate of barely informed non-educators that in many districts passes for a "school board".

The entire archaic system of "school boards" was designed for a time when people were born, lived, and died in the same community...a time long since passed.

Anonymous said...

Get your facts straight. Duncan's Cretan standard (the ne'er do well son of achieve) applies only to high school dropouts.

This is not the same high academic standard being used in those other Democracies where some students are actually prepared for college.

Let's revisit textbooks and see what can be done to improve them. Why not do honest, accurate research; instead of propagandizing colleagues' own textbooks.

Reform-educrats want a blueprint for fascism, where citizens are held prisoner while being preached over by corporate, theosophers. World geography will be replaced by Law and Order; Science with Intelligent Design; English with Phonics; and Math with Discrete Counting (e.g. primal hooting).

Continual change without purpose will lead to the ultimate destruction of public education and democracy.

Simplicio should stop spouting off his pitiful truth.

dan dempsey said...

I look at what happens on the state level and project even worse results for national efforts.

Consider Core-24 and these efforts to require everyone to pass certain classes to graduate.

This high school diploma = college ready is flat out insane.

The law of unintended consequences kicks right in. Unprepared kids show up in Geometry class and the quality or the class goes south big time.

If running a 4x4 block schedule with 32 possible credits the CORE-24 is no big deal. Vashon's 5 period day on trimesters gives 30 credits. A seven period day gives 28 credits. Many schools run a straight 6 periods like Seattle, which means a kid needs to pass every class to graduate on time.

The decision makers have only a faint idea of how their proclamations effect the populace.
National Standards won't mean Singapore quality... it will be more like day time TV quality when the big politically connected publishing houses get involved.

dan dempsey said...

What we need it something like the "O" level exams from England and Singapore. If you are a real student you go for it and if not you still graduate.

How about a National "You know something sticker" for your diploma and transcript for passing the national test.

Contrast that with the current WASL nonsense.

Anonymous said...

Your idea makes far better sense -and its not new, so why do we use standardized tests? Because it costs more and best of all nobody benefits except for the test publishers and their consultants. NCLB and Achieve Standards are a fraud and a massive wasteful process.

Their arguments are no better than a natural slaver's. According to their way of thinking - Americans are enslaved by their own culture. What kind of sense-making can we draw from that comment?

Aside from their Marxist content -artificial feudalism in the classroom - Sage on the Stage - it is the reform-mongers' essential arrogance and inability to analyze itself that casts doubt upon their social way of thinking. Revisionism is out of the question for them and so therefore is honesty and ethics. The heartless lost soul of a Calhoun.