AMAIRIKUHN EDGYKAYSHUN: MASSACHUSETTS DROPS OUT OF COMMON COREDecember 10, 2015
Ms. K.M. shared this article, and I have to talk about it, because, well, for one thing, as most regular readers know, I just have to rant occasionally about the sad sickness of Amairikuhn edgykayshun and the progressivist blither that has infected it since it was a twinkle in Dewey's and Thorndike's(...and Chauncey's and Conant's and Counts' and...) eyes. And at the heart of this nonsense has been (1) the shift of teacher education focus from the content of the disciplines they are supposed to teach, to the pedagogical pabulum teachers must endure and "learn" as part of their "credentialization;" and (2) the standardized test. Granted, perhaps I'm being unfair by saying this is a problem just of Amarikuhn Edgykayshun, for I occasionally hear from teachers in the United Kingdom, Australia, or Canada, whence the USA have exported all this claptrap, which has played well to their own homegrown nitwits and doctors of edubabble. Those teachers assure me it's just as bad "over there" as it is "right here." But let's be honest. All this nonsense was an import from Prussia/Germany during the 19th century to the USA, which, after World War Two, exported it to the rest of the English-speaking world where it was aided and abetted by the aforementioned homegrown nitwits.
The latest brick in the edifice of mediocrity is Common Core, and its rotten core: its "individually adaptive computerized assessment process," which I and my co-author of our upcoming book Rotten to the (Common) Core have pinpointed as being the real heart of the matter. It's that individually adaptive computerized assessment that is designed, we believe, to strike at the heart of education itself; its essential human nature, the nature of having human contact to pass down a tradition rather than a computer passing on mere data(and superficial data at that). It's a blow, ultimately, at both teachers and students, while essentially mediocre minds - one need think only of Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush - are pushing it.
Well, believe it or not, liberal Massachusetts has had enough, and called it quits, and believe it or not, the New York TImes is actually reporting on it:
But there's cautionary notes in the rejection. Here's the way THe New York TImes puts it:
But no about-face has resonated more than the one in Massachusetts, for years a leader in education reform. This state embraced uniform standards and tests with consequences more than two decades before the Common Core, and by 2005, its children led all states in the National Assessment of Educational Progress, often called the nation’s report card, and rose above all other countries, save Singapore, in science.
The state’s participation was seen as validation of the Common Core and the multistate test; Dr. Chester became the chairman of the board that oversees the test Massachusetts joined. The state’s rejection of that test sounded the bell on common assessments, signaling that the future will now look much like the past — with more tests, but almost no ability to compare the difference between one state and another.
“It’s hugely symbolic because Massachusetts is widely seen as kind of the gold standard in successful education reform,” said Morgan Polikoff, an assistant professor of education at the University of Southern California, who is leading an evaluation of the national tests. “It opens the door for a lot of other states that are under a lot of pressure to repeal Common Core. Getting rid of these tests is a nice bone to throw.”
The fight in Massachusetts has been dizzying, with a strange alliance between the teachers’ union and a conservative think tank that years before had been a chief proponent of the state’s earlier drive for standards and high-stakes tests. As in other states, conservatives complained of federal overreach into local schooling, while the union objected to tying the tests to teacher evaluations. The debate drew money from national political players like the billionaire David Koch and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Amid the noise, many parents had trouble understanding what the Common Core was, or argued that the nation’s public schoolchildren took too many tests. So while parents and students here did not opt out of testing in the waves they did in places like New York and New Jersey, they also did not express much support.
Massachusetts, in other words, is still sitting on the fence vis-a-vis standardized tests, and until this hydra-like beast, this Medusa of Method, which squats in the middle of the system, is confronted and overturned once and for all, the problem will remain.
Let us be clear what the standardized test is: it is a (1) sorting and slotting mechanism that (2) actually ends up punishing rather than rewarding the more brilliant minded-student, for it does not allow a student to express his or her process of reasoning to an adult, competent in the discipline being handed down, to evaluate and critique, and help the student to adjust(if necessary), or to expand upon. And whether we like it or not, this means that education, in the final analysis, is not about objective science. It is, if I may put it this way, a craft, it is a profession, to be sure, demanding exacting standards, but those exacting standards are not just of a dsicipline, but of humanity, and no computer, no algorithm, no hidden and anonymous panel of "experts" compiling tests for the "testing 'industry'", is ever going to replace this fundamental and essential fact of education, for it is a most human activity, perhaps the most human besides procreation itself, for it is, like procreation, the handing down of life, and of all that humanity has accomplished in it.
Shame on the Conants, the Chaunceys, the billionaire busy-bodies and the bland, mind-numbed political mediocrities, for ever assuming a computerized test, a standardized test, could ever be designed to encapsulate these subtletties.
Put country simple: it's time to rethink everything in Amairkuhn education, from the fifty-minute bells and whistles class session, to the idea of "more time in school", longer terms, longer days, more tests, more doctors of education, more methodology classes, more certification. It's time for all those things to go the way of the dodo bird, along with their failed theories and methods. And it's high time to support those good teachers who have endured this system. It's time to say NO to all the foundations pushing their agendas, no to common core assessment, no to standardized tests and text books that contain no primary texts, no to the whole panoply of gatekeeper organizations.
See you on the flip side...