Tag: Standards-based education

All Year Round

You may be familiar with the restaurant joke that goes like this: two guys are complaining about a bad restaurant. The first says, “The food is just horrible”. And the second says, “Yeah, and the portions are so small!”

Looks like our nation’s educators didn’t get the joke:

Five states were to announce Monday that they will add at least 300 hours of learning time to the calendar in some schools starting in 2013. Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Tennessee will take part in the initiative, which is intended to boost student achievement and make U.S. schools more competitive on a global level.

The three-year pilot program will affect almost 20,000 students in 40 schools, with long-term hopes of expanding the program to include additional schools — especially those that serve low-income communities. Schools, working in concert with districts, parents and teachers, will decide whether to make the school day longer, add more days to the school year or both.

The big force behind this is Arne Duncan. Duncan is a bit mixed. He supports charter schools and enraged the unions by being civil to Michelle Rhee. But his “race to the top” mainly forced national standards on everyone. And his record in Chicago was, at best mixed.

Duncan is really big on expanding school. And by that I mean he thinks we should have school six or seven days a week, 11 or 12 months of the year.


Apart from the destruction of childhood this would entail, I am not convinced it would improve things at all.

Year-round schooling would only sour more children on education. By making it even more demanding than a job, children would feel like they were in prison. By not giving them breaks for vacations and family time and just running around enjoying life, you would squeeze some of the joy out of life. When I was in high school, I knew people were desperate to graduate just because they were so damned sick of school. We put kids in schools that much, they will all feel that way. I realize this trade-off may sound fine to a government hack like Duncan who sees children mainly as assets of the state needed to create wealth and power for him and his Harvard buddies. But most of see children as, you know, people. So even if this did improve education — and I don’t think it will — it may not be worth it.

(Yeah, I know that’s a nasty thing to say about Duncan. Fuck him. He wants to place a nasty burden on children.)

Year-round schooling really crosses me as just another twist of the “spend more money” paradigm that has defined Democratic education ideas for time out of mind. When they figured out that “spend more money” didn’t fly with the public, they rebranded it as “hire more teachers” or “make classes smaller”. But now the public has cottoned on to that, so they need a new euphimism. That fact is that year-round school means hiring more teachers, as came up in the recent Chicago strike. I have to think that’s at least 60% of the motive here.

But even if we ignore the shrinking of childhood issue; even if we ignore the spending issue; I just don’t think it will work. As I’ve noted before, our children actually perform reasonably well the first few years of school. It is only at higher levels that the performance falls. The problem is not that children aren’t manacled to their desks often enough. The problem is that we have a school system that is bloated, administration-heavy, has erased accountability and tried to make up for it by destroying any education freedom for students, parents and especially teachers. In one of his books, Phillip Howard describes DC regulations that micromanage teachers’ classes down to the minute. And, of course, no educational reform can overcome parents and students who just don’t give a shit.

You know what this reminds me of? Homework. For years, we were told that increasing homework loads were good for students. It made them study more! But recent studies are indicating that heavy loads of homework show little educational improvement but impose a huge burden on parents, students and teachers. They make children loathe education rather than embrace it. And many schools, including our local one, are backing down to more reasonable levels of homework.

The solution to bad schooling is not more bad schooling. If children can’t learn in the time they are already allotted, an extra 300 hours isn’t going to help. And it’s only going to make life more difficult for the students who are learning and the teachers who are teaching. I realize that there’s not a teacher out there who hasn’t gotten to the end of school year and felt like they didn’t get through all the material. But, at some point, you have to close the books for a few weeks at least.

I suspect this program may show some results: small carefully managed pilot programs often do but then those reforms fail when applied to a much larger sample. But we should oppose any attempt to expand this. It’s just not the solution.

The Homework Inequality

No matter how bad things get in this country, we’ll always have Paris … to make us fell not so dumb.

How do you think this would go over in the United States? French President François Hollande has said he will end homework as part of a series of reforms to overhaul the country’s education system.

Hmm. Interesting. There’s been some pushback in our education system against homework. A lot of educators think it’s just busy work and should be scaled back, especially for younger children. So perhaps …. oh:

He doesn’t think it is fair that some kids get help from their parents at home while children who come from disadvantaged families don’t. It’s an issue that goes well beyond France, and has been part of the reason that some Americans oppose homework too.

You know, there’s a reason millions of parents are involved in their kids lives: it’s because they want them to have an advantage in life. That’s the whole point of involved parenting. Otherwise, we’d just dump them at the local gulag and forget about it. I use that word precisely — the Soviet Union infamously forced children into full-time daycare at ages of 2-3 months. This was partially for indoctrination and partially so no kid would have an advantage over any other (except the children of the Elite, of course. I’m betting that his kids got plenty of homework and plenty of help with it.

Progressivism 101: get rid of anything that shows how bad your ideology stinks

And that’s exactly what the plan by the Obama administration that will exempt handpicked schools from the No Child Left Behind federal law’s testing mandate is all about:

(AP) – State and local education officials have been begging the federal government for relief from student testing mandates in the federal No Child Left Behind law, but school starts soon and Congress still hasn’t answered the call. Education Secretary Arne Duncan says he will announce a new waiver system Monday to give schools a break. The plan to offer waivers to all 50 states, as long as they meet other school reform requirements, comes at the request of President Barack Obama, Duncan said. More details on the waivers will come in September, he said.

The goal of the No Child Left Behind law is to have every student proficient in math and reading by 2014. States have been required to bring more students up to the math and reading standards each year, based on tests that usually take place each spring. The step-by-step ramping up of the 9-year-old law has caused heartburn in states and most school districts, because more and more schools are labeled as failures as too few of their students meet testing goals.

The liberal controlled education system is failing – because instead of really teaching the three “Rs” we now focus on such idiotic things as self esteem building and education targeted at making one group or another feel included & valuable, at ridiculously high costs mostly to feed the massive bureaucracy around the public school system, while completely ignoring the fact that the indoctrination, while producing many leftard drones also produces the dumbest generation in a while – and the answer is to look away and keep doing more of the same.

Can’t say I am surprised. The liberal nanny state is also failing, and the answer there is to pretend all is well because we haven’t yet – and the operative word is yet – run out of other people’s money to pay for the beast.

Why do you ask are they doing this? Well. What the hell, here is are the critics of No Child Left behind saying it themselves:

Critics say the benchmarks are unrealistic and brands schools as failures even if they make progress. Schools and districts where too few kids pass the tests for several years are subject to sanctions that can include firing teachers or closing the school entirely.

Self esteem. They made progress. So what that they are now still reading at a 4th grade level in 12th grade, if they are even reading, and can’t do math. They where reading at a third grade level and couldn’t do any math before, and that’s an improvement!

We are doomed. But we can not say that the progressive experiment is responsible, because that might hurt progressive people’s self esteem.

The system is broke, but we do not really like the fix, so let’s cheat..

The current abysmal state of education is a particular sore subject of mine. While we as parents made good choices and lucked out as far as school systems go, we remain intricately involved in my son’s education, stressing it’s importance and working hand in hand with his school to make sure he is being educated to the best of both his and the teacher’s ability. However, the more I talk to people or read about the subject, the more I am convinced that education here in the US is going to hell in a hand basket. Cases like this one, where educators simply decided to fudge scores for the kids, not only rob kids of the necessary learning experience of consequences to actions or lack thereof, but drastically undermine the credibility of the teaching profession.

Now let me start off by saying that I admit that I feel the bigger problem here is simply that these kids are already disadvantage, not because of their race or economic status, but because of over 50 years of leftists bullshit that has basically convinced both them and their parents that they will always remain excluded from the American dream, and can only get ahead if democrats hand them things. Going to school thus is simply seen as killing time. When your parents tell you school is a waste of time, you are not going to work at it. And let’s face it, no matter how great the teachers are, someone that doesn’t understand or value the education tax payers are providing them – and the fact is that the kids in this story likely all belong to parents that don’t pay any or minimal taxes – isn’t going to care much about it.

Mandating basic education by law is not enough to educate people. They have to work at it. In fact, I often wonder how much the impact of making education mandated instead of something earned, and thus prized and worked for, has been. We have also seen our school budgets become bloated because of the massive bureaucracy needed to do the paperwork that comes with government regulation. Yes, I know this bloated bureaucratic machine heavily abuses the system. And as hist_ed once pointed out in a comment on a post, whenever we need to reduce spending the powers that be never cut that bloated bureaucratic monster, but always target teachers, out of a callous political calculation that people will feel a lot more inclined to let them increase the pool of educators again when things get out of hand or better.

But all these drawbacks and problems with this system, despite the other players and problems, don’t give educators a pass. Especially when they have if not been the main culprit, actively participated in repeatedly and continuously lowering the bar, focusing on self esteem bullshit instead of rewarding hard work, and more importantly, pulling stunts like this one, likely to cover their asses. And the problem here is simply the following:

Cheating is wrong. Cheating by teachers, who are supposed to be role models, is worse. And cheating by teachers that harms students is worse still.

Weingarten, however, is correct that there is a “bigger issue.” It’s not that tests are terrible but that accountability, the principle behind testing, is under attack, and leading the assault are those educators who fear the consequences of being held accountable. If we allow accountability to be undermined, then school reform –necessary for improving children’s lives and for gaining higher economic growth – will wither and die.

Accountability has been the driving force behind school improvement since the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) in early 2002 on a vote of 87-10 in the Senate and 381-41 in the House. NCLB drew on a broad consensus in America that meeting high standards, verified through testing, was absolutely necessary to the success of every schoolchild.

The parents are uninvolved & kids don’t care about education because the man is holding them down, the bureaucratic machine is consuming the lions share of the education funding and teachers are treated as cannon fodder by the machine. Most of what is called or passes for teaching these days is focused on self esteem and massive feel good liberal indoctrination, instead of teaching kids what we commonly refer to as the “three Rs”. The valuable and traditional classical education that made the western education system amongst the best and helped us create the modern western world is being abandoned and replaced by insane fringe special interest bullshit to make subgroups in society feel relevant and more disconnected from the whole. And as a consequence of all that, the educational system is in shambles. But instead of dealing with the underlying issues, the damage 50 years of pure bullshit and ownership by one political party of the school system has caused, what these teachers did is try to cover their arses from people now demanding results for all the money the system gobbles up, and thus they cheated. That basically removes any sympathy I might have had for their plight. Worse, it arms those that feel and say that the onus is completely with the educator class with powerful ammunition. Of course, the big losers for the last 2 or so decades are the kids pushed through the system. But who gives a crap about them anyway.