WaPo’s Jay Mathews: History of Tests

14 11 2006

Just Whose Idea Was All This Testing?
“. . . [Diane] Ravitch wrote that the advocates of inputs and the champions of outputs “are in constant tension, with first one and then the other gaining brief advantage.”

“How this conflict is resolved,” she wrote, “will determine the future of American education.”

Meanwhile in a parallel (farcical!) universe known as The Sunshine State, very little sun shines to nurture a future for learning that is not circumscribed by standardized testing. Our myopic testing czar refuses to follow convention and resign gracefully for the new governor; instead he continues full-throttle to plot his petty palace intrigues, as if the effect of any education policy on children and their learning (never mind their families and communities) has no value apart from how he can control and manipulate it for personal power and position.

It’s not to make fun of his very real physical vision problems that I make fun of his very real education vision problems. When you can’t even see your own face in the mirror clearly, it would seem, it’s unlikely you can see clearly the millions of little faces on which we write Florida’s future, for good or ill, with our public policy positions today.

If it didn’t matter so much, it wouldn’t matter so much . . . but it does.

School Breakfast Stories

14 11 2006

A new “School is to Food” analogy reminds us that free refills aren’t much of a draw when the first cup is bitter and leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Bleah, quick, where’s that sugary cereal??

“Public education is a set of goals and ideals, not a particular institution.”

In Centralized Cappucino we sip school power of story with a commercialized caffeine kick.

cappucino w clover cinnamon

Coulson tells the story differently than I do as an unschooling parent and public school pro (perhaps because he wants to be the new Starbucks on the block and is looking for his own market advantage) but our school stories ARE connected:

Caffeine in any form should make our creaky old brains see more clearly that no matter where it’s served, how much it costs or whether it’s free, coffee like school:

a) isn’t good for kids, and

b) they detest it anyway (Trix are for kids, not coffee) and

c) it’s for adults, a crutch because we’re too tired and distracted to imagine life without it.

The main difference between our national addiction to caffeine and our national addiction to compulsory schooling, is

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School Failure Across the Pond

14 11 2006

My “well, duh!” moment this morning —

“There is a systemic failure in that schools don’t seem to be catering for individual children anymore.

Maybe Scotland is onto something here. If we thought of kids as bagpipes rather than future consumers and/or certificated workers, would we better appreciate their eccentricities, and our own lack of ability to play them at will?