Saturday, June 14, 2008

Teacher Granted Interview with President Bush


Hot on the heels of the Scott McLellan book and Susan Neuman's shocking admission that NCLB was actually a privatization scheme, I traveled to Washington and was granted an exclusive interview with the President. The interview is causing quite a stir. I called my mom and told her about it. My girls read it. I called four of my naive teacher friends with whom I've argued over the years about Bush's suitability for the presidency and shared the interview with them. "I told you so!" I said. That sent them reeling. Now I'm sharing the interview with you.

INTERVIEWER: Mr. Bush, I understand the press corps gave you a good-natured ribbing at a recent correspondents' dinner, including some jabs about the No Child Left Behind Act.

THE PRESIDENT: Yeah, right. That roast, heh, it was quite a performance, lots of self-defecating humor. In West Texas, probably your state too, we've got an idea, a saying, an idea - whatever - that you can't take yourself too seriously. I got schooled up East but I was raised in Texas so I'm a down-home kind of guy. I'm...what was that? I'm self- defecating when the occasion calls for it. I'm humble and I don't take my mind too seriously but make no mistake, when I'm Decider I do...take my laws seriously. As the Decider I have to do some tough deciding about what's right for the country.

INTERVIEWER: I watched footage of the correspondents' dinner. Susan Neuman's admission that NCLB was really a privatization scheme, at least in the minds of some if its engineers, was addressed. Your response at the dinner generated some laughter. You have since denied that the law was intended to discredit public schools.

THE PRESIDENT: Presidenting isn't easy. As I said, you have to do some tough deciding. The No Child Left Behind Law is a good law. It's working. It's meant to rattle some cages and shake the feathers off our public schools, exposing their failures to educate.

INTERVIEWER: Sir, there are many signs the law isn't working. Dropout rates are rising and the achievement gaps the law was meant to address have hardly budged.

THE PRESIDENT: The dropout rates are rising? Yeah, I heard some rumors about that were running across the internets. And we've still got some pockets of persistent literacy across America which is unacceptable but we're making progress. NCLB must be strengthened and reauthorized and continued to allowed to spread its wings of faith and compassion around America's school childrens to capture that illiteracy, hold them captive, and spread their wings of literacy and soar out of poverty. You teach a child to read and they can pass a literacy test and compete for good competitive jobs in the global economy.

The soft bigotries of low expectation has got to stop. Before NCLB, seldom did teachers ask, "Is all my students learning? If so, which is and who isn't?" We've given teachers tools to help all their students soar. You've got data dis aggrandized into those oh what is it -Look it up -those groups of divisions those subgroups, that's it. NCLB is based on sound scientific-based assumptions proven what works and doesn't work to educate all children to grade level.

And parents need to help. When Laura and I were little we loved to read to our girls. Sometimes when I sleep at night I think of Dr. Seuss's Ham and Eggs book...the green ones. And I l like hop on pop-up books.

to be continued...

Friday, June 13, 2008

Reverend Al and Hip Hop Nursery Rhyme

In honor of opportunist civil rights leader Al Sharpton, who joins a distinguished panel of ed reformers whose message is backed by billionaire philanthropists with an agenda. Note the ED in '08 signers.

O hippity hippity hop
bounds Reverend Al to the flock
of wolves who posture as sheep!

Great wealth commandeering

high-stakes engineering
best democracy money can buy
we are positioned as saviors!

Crush them, blame them,
tighten the screws
frame the debate
public education will lose.

High-stakes testing
convenient device
we demand accountability
in a smothering vise!

Predetermined failure
the kids need a savior
we are defenders of the poor!

We're corporate messiahs
offering choice long denied you
privately run "public" schools
and freedom to innovate!

O hippity hippity hop
a culture of fear and control
on we go, imposing our way
controlling the masses
for the children's good we say!

OK, not so good. But it's the message.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Fantastic Value: Made to Order Educational Research!

Reversible Necklines and Educational Research On The Go....

Welcome to my blog! I'm starting my own made-to-order educational research business. Have an ideology? Tell me your agenda and I'll craft a study to advance it. I'm hoping this will eventually evolve into my own Think Tank. Please send $10.00 before you continue reading (just kidding....keep reading free of charge).

Actually, I've already completed my first study in record time. My Growth Model analysis uses rigorous, scientifically-based dieting principles and expertly extrapolates the findings to education.

Not only that, as you will see, my study is reversible, much like a sporty tank top with a V-neck front and a flattering boatneck back for a different look. To keep reading, send another $10.00.

Put simply, the most consistent finding in diet research can be summarized with the following equation:

Excess Calories In + Lack of Physical Exercise = Weight Gain


Overdose of Drill and Skill Test Prepping + Lack of Active, Authentic Learning = Brain Drain

Weight Gain and Brain Drain...note the rhyme, which obviously lends even more credibility to my study. And, as I noted earlier, my study is reversible:

Fewer Calories + Physical Exercise = Weight Loss


Reduced Test Prepping + Active Learning and Projects = Engaged Students/Real Learning

There. I saved our taxpayers millions in needless research. You didn't forget the $20.00 did you?

Two Accounts Concerning International Test Comparisons: Same Lesson

Pick a politician - left, right, or in between. When it comes to public education, you can bet dollars to donuts you'll hear them sounding the alarm that our ability to compete in the 21st Century Global Economy is in peril as evidenced by international test comparisons.

Here educational consultant Keith Baker observes that decades after the first international test was administered in 1964, it is possible to actually test the long held assumption that "our low test scores will adversely affect our ability to compete economically on the world stage."
The fact is that the higher a nation's test scores are, the worse that nation performs in the economic world. The most successful nations are low scorers.

Altogether, I found 61 measures on which to compare the economic performance of the USA in 2003 to the nations that had higher scores in 1964. If the theory that low scores lead to economic failure is correct, all, or at least most, of these comparisons would favor the higher scoring nation. Not so. The USA comes out on top in 74% of the comparisons, beyond question the premier economic competitor in the world.

Since the false assumption that high test scores are good for the economy has been behind educational reform for decades of efforts to raise test scores, we must now worry about having gone in the wrong direction.

It is wise counsel to 'never assume a conspiracy when stupidity will suffice', but I have seen some impressive arguments that conservatives are engaged in vast right wing conspiracy - vouchers, home schooling, restrictive funding, layman control- to destroy the public schools. Note that the raising test score craze, including its main program, NCLB, support that conspiracy theory.

Fellow contrarian Gerald Bracey of EDDRA (Education Disinformation Detection and Reporting Agency) disagrees with Baker, not about the harmful obsession with standardized testing, not about the canard that our economic competitiveness is tightly linked to how well students score on standardized tests, but because Baker "assumes that, in fact, there IS a relationship between test scores and economic security."
I think it's more due to the 12 pillars of competitiveness as listed by the World Economic Forum in its annual Global Economic Competitiveness report 2007-2008 (we're #1, have been for quite a while, and because of the 25 or so personal qualities that tests don't measure that I provide in Reading Educational Research: How to Avoid Getting Statistically Snookered. Especially creativity, which, as Bob Sternberg keeps pointing out, is a victim of our obsession with testing.
Whether one agrees with Baker or Bracey (or some combination of their views), the lesson to be learned is the same. False assumptions have driven educational reform for decades.

I think it's important that a critical distinction be made between the appropriate and limited use of standardizes tests and their overuse and misuse. Place too much credence in them and you lose any benefit that might otherwise have been gained from them. Attach life-altering consequences to them and they're positively destructive. I think schools could live without standardized tests completely and suffer no harm.

Yet it is their misuse that is wreaking havoc and destruction in our public schools. I like to use a medical model to drive the point home. When a doctor prescribes a drug for a patient, it can help if used as the physician directs. But if the drug is abused, it can be destructive, even deadly.