Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Amateurs Amok -- Call in the Pros

Here is a guest commentary from the Orlando Sentinel. Similar to the article discussed in the post below, the author compares amateur knowledge with expert knowledge, but this time about education in general not just about tests.

"...After the publication of A Nation At Risk in 1983, business leaders decided that education was too important to be left to professional educators. So they used their political clout not to help professional educators, but to shove them aside and take over... Many amateurs think this is a wonderful, long-overdue policy. Indeed, it seems to make so much sense that teachers who question it are likely to be viewed with suspicion. Good teachers, many believe (those deserving to be called professionals) constantly "raise the bar." Good teachers welcome being held accountable. Good teachers aren't overly concerned with students' self-concepts. Good teachers raise test scores.

Professionals know it isn't that simple...Take the matter of grade retention. Professionals know that "grade level" is an invented, arbitrary idea left over from the school-as-factory era, know that academic gains from grade retention are almost always temporary, know that kids mature at different rates, know that individual differences are America's greatest intellectual asset, know grade repeaters rarely graduate, know we've created no alternative career paths for "non-standard" kids, know that helping helps a lot more when kids don't think they're stupid. And they know this just begins the list of complex issues being ignored by grade-retention legislation.

If the fog of political rhetoric ever lifts and the true state of education in America becomes clear, don't blame the professionals for the chaos. Their opinions have been ignored for years."

Here's a page of columns from the Center for the Study of Jobs & Education in Wisconsin and United States. by Dennis W. Redovich, retired Director of Research, Planning and Development from the Milwaukee Area Technical College. An educator for more than 28 years. His writings mostly center on Continuing Fallacious Belittling of American Public Schools "...The writer has been reading newspaper articles and commentaries or reports that claim that American K-12 public schools are failing and that public schools of the “past” were superior to current public schools since the1960s. The specific time period when schools were better (the 40s, 50s, 60s 70s etc.) or the valid factual data that proves them better are never stated. The continuing fallacious total belittling of American K-12 public schools in 2005, without any exceptions, is unbelievable...The great numbers of high paying jobs of the future that are claimed to require college graduation and high academic skills for all high school students are a hoax. The majority of the jobs of the future in Wisconsin and the United States are low or average paying jobs that require short term or moderate-term on the job training and do not require high-level academic skills in any academic areas, particularly in higher mathematics...The war against public education in the United States is being callously waged, using useless high stakes standardized tests as weapons, by the Bush Administration. And now the opponents of public education have targeted vocational education and the Perkins Act for vocational education for devastation. It is unbelievable and appalling because there is absolutely no rational reason for national high stakes academic testing for vocational or K-12 public education in the United States... " and lot's more about the current attacks on public education in the U.S.


EdWonk said...

Teachers in my district are no longer called "professional educators."

Our Superintendent refers to principals and above as professional educators.

Classroom teachers are now referred to as "Service Providers."

On another note:

NCLB, as it is currently constituted and funded, simply will not work.

Down here in California, along the Mexican border, kids in K-6 are only rarely being taught Social Studies or Science.

It is a tragedy....

NO NCLB.org said...

Service providers! I'm speechless. And you are absolutely right about NCLB. It is a tragedy in the making. But, from another perspective maybe it is working, if the goal is to destroy public education and privatize it as much as possible, one step at a time. Maybe it is working.

Anonymous said...

I have read the columns by Dennis and I do not disagree that many of the future jobs will not require a college degree. I know college is not for everyone either. It may not be what my sons need but they will need s pecialized training to hone there chosen skills and better prepare them for their career. However, IMHO, our schools still do not prepare our children for the world. We need better vocational tech offerings. We need students to come out of school willing to take risks and become entrepreneurs. It is small businesses in ths country that provide the majority of jobs for our citizens. I do not believe our students are being prepared to think on their own, to be self reliant, to take risks and see what they can do. (Yes, I know a lot of this is the parent's responsibility and I do my part and then some. I need education to match my expectations of my children -- to my son's public academic magnet middle school fall woefully short. My other son's zoned middle school sure did and he is in private school.)

Just the view from a parent who is very involved in education. I think education and educators can step it up several notches. Yes, I do believe the education world can learn from the business world. Education, to me, seems to jump from one fad to another. (Businesses would never survive if they did that.) This does harm to our children and must drive the really good teachers batty. Why does education not work more from research based, fact driven, proven results programs? I have never understood this.

I will be quiet now.

Oh, yes, education is a service industry. It services the minds of our children. It had better be good as this is a huge responsibility.


NO NCLB.org said...

Let's begin with where we agree, I agree with both you and Dennis, we need more voc. tech. and I disagree with Bill Gates and his ilk, not everyone must go to college. I will also agree with you that in many schools children are not "being prepared to think on their own, to be self reliant, to take risks and see what they can do." Absolutely! But this is not going to happen by a narrow focus on teaching for a single high stakes test and this is exactly what is happening in many schools right now! I also agree that education seems to jump from one fad to another, especially in states where curriculum is mandated statewide. As I see it the politicians are as much to blame here as anyone. My answer to your question, "Why does education not work more from research based, fact driven, proven results programs?" is, many of us do just this. Many of us are constantly reading, constantly taking courses, constantly trying to find ways to reach and educate all kids. Perhaps teaching is a service industry in that it services minds, but it is also an art that takes many years of study and work and training to develop. Good teaching is hard. Right now it seems fashionable to blame teachers for what is being sold to us as a collapse of our education system. I know too many teachers that are dedicated, hard working ethical people to buy this B.S. even for a second. We have problems in this country with educating all of our children, but the road the the Business Roundtable is leading us down is the wrong one.

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