November 15, 2006

WaPo Picks Fave Edubloggers

WaPo's Jay Matthews wants to know who your favorite edubloggers are. He and prolific letter writer Walt Gardner are going to do the judging:

I hope readers will e-mail me at mathewsj@washpost.com and Gardner at walt.gard@verizon.net the links to their favorite education blogs -- no more than five per reader, please, and I would love you to rank them in your order of preference. Gardner and I will look them over and reveal our favorites in a future column.

Matthews seems genuinely interested in blogs, but Garner seems to think otherwise:

I have an aversion to them because they too often become venues for rants rather than for reason," he said. "It's a question of time management. I do learn valuable things at times from blogs, but they seem to attract a disproportionate number of self-styled experts with dubious credentials who just want to ventilate.

This coming from someone who's ventilated in nearly 200 letters to the editor in the past 14 years. Pot. Kettle. Black.

Here's a list of Mr. Gardner's letters to the NYT. He seems to be on the wrong side of most education issues. And, by wrong side, I mean he touts things that have no proven track record of success. He's a test-hatin', excuse-makin', cliche-spoutin', card-carrying member of the Kozol Kool-Aid drinkers brigade.

Unless the social and economic factors that account for the differences are addressed early in disadvantaged children's lives, the No Child Left Behind law will eventually result in virtually all of this country's schools' being declared failures.
Can anyone still maintain that public schools serving students from the kind of rundown urban neighborhoods that Helen Epstein describes can compete with public schools serving students from affluent suburbs?
Walt Gardner letter says problem with standardized tests is that they measure more what students bring to classroom in way of socioeconomic status and inherited ability than what is learned in school.
What she has accomplished in four years at the school is proof that the most important educational goals are often those that are impossible to assess using existing instruments.
From the 1960's to the present, I've known countless students who did not conform to the model of intelligence in place in school and yet went on to become productive, responsible adults, involved with their work, their families and their communities. That is the ultimate test of what education is all about.
Standardized test scores, therefore, report how knowledgeable one student is compared with another, but not how knowledgeable either one is about the subject matter being tested.
To avoid the intrinsic unfairness of standardized tests that is a direct result of their construction and interpretation, schools need to look seriously at performance-based assessment of learning.

Remind me again how being a classroom teacher for 28 years automatically qualifies you as being a legitimate expert on education policy as opposed to, say, a "self-styled expert[] with dubious credentials." It'd be one thing if we knew he was a successful teacher of low-performers. Then we might give his experience based views some credence. Otherwise, his teaching tenure is an appeal to authority that lacks any real authority.

The one good thing about writing letters to the editor; you don't have the room to provide support for your opinions. And, it's not like anyone is going to take the time to criticize a letter--except maybe some wacky blogger.

BTW, my favorite edubloggers are listed in the sidebar. There are a few more that I haven't yet included and a few that need to be culled (for lack of blogging). Some I agree with, some I don't. But, they all have something interesting to say.

5 comments:

Mr. Person said...

; )

elementaryhistoryteacher said...

Are you sure you not from the south?

I'm wonderin' since you were droppin' all of those "G"s for min"it".

I'm glad I'm one of your favorites, and I too am way behind in getting my links updated....including one to you.

While I'm not familiar with the "letter to the editor" guy I am all for letting people know we are here.

elementaryhistoryteacher said...

Ooops! it should have been for "a" min"it". :)

SteveH said...

"I have an aversion to them because they too often become venues for rants rather than for reason."

Most blogs do not suffer fools. You have to be able to defend your position. There are too many good blogs to spend time on those that are reduced to dueling rants. It is silly to paint all blogs with the same broad brush.

On the other hand, newspaper editorial pages are a joke. Most of the commentaries (not the letters to the editor) would be torn apart on blogs; not by ranting, but by much better arguments. Often, the editorial commentaries are by people pushing their books or their careers.

Catherine Johnson said...

I've just discovered Walt Gardner myself!

I can't understand a word he's saying!

At least, I can't understand a word he's saying in this particular letter to the TIMES....