October 14, 2010

Setting the bar low, really low

Over at Aunt Crazy’s, Nancy Flanagan tells us why public schools don’t need to be reformed.
Here's a radical idea: Public schools in America are not a catastrophic mess.
That sure is a radical idea.

Imagine if you just purchased a high-priced good or service and the best thing you could say about it was that “well, it wasn’t a catastrophic mess.”  You think you’d purchase that good or service again if you had a choice?

Congratulations, Nancy Flanagan, you’ve set the bar as low as it could possibly go.


Dick Schutz said...

You're taking one quote out of context and blowing it up to fit your ideology Ken. But apparently, all is fair in love, war, and blogging.

Congratulations, Nancy Flanagan, you’ve set the bar as low as it could possibly go.

Nope. The Federal/Corporate partnership has set it lower. The methphorical soft bigotry of low expectations has been turned into operational hard bigotry. The Partnership has concluded that teaching all kids to read by 2014 was "unrealistic" A good proportion will not have been taught to read but the Partnership's metaphorical Race to the Top is going to deliver them all as college and career ready by 2020.

Astonishingly, all the states and the media have bought into this bumper-sticker policy--the D-Ed Reckoner and a few other bloggers, the National Academy of Sciences, and a few profs excepted.

KDeRosa said...

You're taking one quote out of context and blowing it up to fit your ideology

Isn't that the very definition of blogging?

All kidding aside, in context, this is pretty much what's she's saying once you disregard the usually qualifiers she puts in to make her position more palatable to a mainstream audience.

Nancy Flanagan said...

Thanks for the gallant defense, Dick.

It's pretty clear from discussions spurred by the piece around the web that most people did not see the piece as a defense of the status quo. The status quo isn't anything to write home about.

The point is--things aren't all bad, everywhere (and proposed policies are making things worse). This is not Katrina Nation, educationally speaking--although you wouldn't know that if your world was limited to Hollywood, NBC, and driving past public schools.

Jerry Bracey's point is the heart of the column: there is no such thing as "American schools." We have fine schools (which could be better), mediocre schools relieved to be resting on their test scores, and some terrible schools that we're not particularly helping.

Chicken Little bloggers whose only perspective is that things are dire, dire indeed, and the only, umm, palatable solutions are market-based aren't helping either.

Dick is right. The feds and the billionaires are calling the shots.

We can do better.

Dick Schutz said...

Well, I'm not willing to put all kidding aside. Life wouldn't be much fun without some of it.

But kidding aside for the moment. Why don't you ask Nancy Flanagan if that is what she intended to communicate. It's not "the meaning I extracted from the text." Bit "comprehension" is a function of the background information the reader brings to the text. The only way to clarify what the author was "trying to say" when there is any ambiguity is to ask the author.

I don't know Nancy, but I've read a few of her posts, and she seems pretty open and straightforward.

Dick Schutz said...

Thanks for the additional clarification, Nancy.

Ironically, Bracey comes off better dead than when he was alive. Jerry did have a few ideological blind spots. And Ken caught most of them.

Jerry would be having a field day with the ideologically blind Federal-Corporate partnership. He must be as sorry he died as many of us are that it happened.

Roger Sweeny said...

Dick Schutz,

Several times you mention a Federal/Corporate partnership. I gather from the context that it is very bad. I'm curious.

What exactly is this Federal/Corporate partnership?

What makes it bad? Is the federal government bad? Or just some parts of it? Or just some things it does?

Are corporations bad? Or just some of them? Or just some things they do?

Dick Schutz said...

The Fed-Corp Partnership?

It's the very visible-hand collusion of the Education Venture Capitalists and the education apparatus of the Federal Government. The individuals involved "share the same 'reform' goals" and they sincerely believe their shared ideological rhetoric.

None of what the Feds are doing is secret. The D-Ed has bent over forward to display all of its initiatives on the .gov website.

And not much of what the Capitalists are doing is secret either. They are all operating as non-profit (read, non- tax-paying) corporations, and they have to file publicly-available annual reports.

The thing is, the "Standards and Standardized Test" belief system that drives the Partnership has failed at every point. The "smart guys" thought in 1989 that "high standards" would do the job. So "Goals 2000" was instigated.

That didn't work, so the "smart failures" concluded that tests and sanctions were needed. Thus, the statistically-impossible apparatus of "adequate yearly progress" was put into place with NCLB.

NCLB isn't working. The "smart failures" figure out the reason: the goal of teaching all kids to read was unrealistic, and the states messed up the standardized tests. Plus, the damn teachers unions "thwart Reform."

So now we have RttT with national (masked as "Common Core") standards and "better tests" (constructed by the same people who constructed the worse tests) with test scores tied to teacher compensation and job tenure.

It's no secret that the Partner principals want to "blow up the public school system" and privatize the el-hi enterprise.

Roger Sweeny said...

Dick Schutz,

From what I have seen and read, the Partnership seems to have some ideas about how school systems should work and wants to impose those ideas on all the schools in America.

That seems to be the opposite of privatizing the system, which would allow individual schools to do whatever they thought was best.

Roger Sweeny said...

Or to put in in other words,

The Partnership says we represent the interests of society and the knowledge of educational experts. Society should run the schools. Therefore, we should run the schools.

A privatized system wouldn't have any group representing society and running the schools. Schools that could attract students at a profit would thrive and those that couldn't would shut down.