Thursday, May 26, 2011

Don't Answer This Question Unless You're Canadian Or a Graduate Student

Bud the Teacher:

Specifically, he, after being a little bit mistreated by some folks who don’t understand civil dialogue, asked folks to share what they’re for, education policy-wise, as they were also sharing what they were against. That seemed like a reasonable request. Here’s my list. #

Unless you're Canadian or a grad student, this is a trap (It is not a trap if you're Canadian (or an inhabitant of most of the rest of the non-US world) because whatever problems you might have, your entire system of public education is not under imminent threat, so you can be a little adventurous or moony.).

But here in the US, he's just trying to distract you.

Some variation on this is the only thing you should say (John Merrow):

The essential message (of this report): (high performing countries) aren’t doing any of the stuff we have focused on — charter schools, alternate certification, small classes and pay for performance, to name a few of our ‘magic bullets.’ Instead, they have developed comprehensive systems: their teachers are drawn from the top of the class, are trained carefully and, if hired, are paid like other professionals. They spend more on the children who are the toughest to educate, they diagnose and intervene at the first sign of trouble, they expect their best teachers to work in the toughest schools, and they expect all students to achieve at high levels. They do not rely heavily on machine-scored multiple choice tests but are inclined to trust and respect the judgements of teachers. Their curriculum is coherent across the system, which eliminates problems created by students moving around.

My vague sense of ED Kremlinology is in line with what Merrow says:

I have been told by several people who were on hand that it was a wake-up call for Duncan and his staff to learn that no other country was doing what we are betting on.

There is really no way around it. That's our best line of attack. Message discipline, please!


Dan Meyer said...

"Their curriculum is coherent across the system, which eliminates problems created by students moving around."

Interesting. Does anyone know where I can find one of those?

Tom Hoffman said...


Nancy Flanagan said...

Like you, I initially interpreted this tweet as Justin Hamilton asking--with some logic--for ideas about how ED's policies could be improved, or at least be presented in ways that resonate with the American people (good luck with that). Those who whine are under some obligation to provide alternatives, to be given credibility in the, umm, discourse.

But read the tweet again.

He says "one" is against everything--and "one" must produce evidence of what they're for.

He's referring, I believe to the One who has totally pointed out that the US DOE and its Emperor have no policy clothes: Diane Ravitch, bless her tweeting soul.

I have read long, well-written streams of tweets loaded with coherent policy suggestions, things that would immediately turn American education in the right direction. But EDPressSec isn't playing.

The tweet was a potshot, not an invitation to participate in...democracy.