Friday, January 09, 2009

Your Homework Assignment

Imagine you're teaching a graduate-level course in education policy; or even an undergraduate one. You assign as a homework assignment a brief five point plan for federal level education reform.

You open up a paper and two points of the five are "Obama could establish a paradigm-shifting goal -- ensuring that within 10 years every child in America will be on track to earning a college degree or completing a meaningful career training program," and "Obama could sound a clarion call about the crucial role that teachers play in the nation's economic and social well-being; he could raise awareness, alter public perceptions, and motivate countless people to become and remain teachers," what are you thinking about how you're going to grade this assignment?

I'm thinking "Jeez, two of five points are just struggling to take up space." I'm also writing "So the federal government is going to overturn every teacher and principal contract in the country? What's the legal basis for this?" next to "If we are going to hold all public schools accountable for their results -- and we should -- we need to grant (the power to ability to hire, fire and reward principals and teachers based on their students' progress and achievement) to all public schools."

I'm just sayin'.

Then again, this is the Washington Post editorial page, and their standards aren't very high, and they're owned by a company that would make a lot of money off a new national standards and testing regime, so the quality of the argument here isn't that surprising.

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