Will I Lose My Master-gator?

31 05 2007

(Don’t) GO GATORS!

ESPN.com 5:29 pm Thursday May 31

After leading the Gators to the last two national championships, the 42-year-old Donovan has received a six-year contract offer from the Magic worth $6 million annually, a source told ESPN.com’s Pat Forde.

Team officials told the Orlando Sentinel, which first reported the story on its Web site, that Donovan is expected to take the job. But as of 4 p.m. ET, multiple sources close to Billy Donovan confirmed to ESPN.com’s Andy Katz that Donovan has not accepted the job yet. . . .

Sigh. The good old days seem so recent, almost like mere weeks ago . . .

Go Unschooling Sorooshians! (go to hell, Old Lady Wheelwright)

31 05 2007

Teacher Magazine online certainly lives up to its “Teacher” persona with this feature story supposedly about the resurgence of unschooling in popular culture. Guess who is still against it though?

Why, the old schoolmarms of course, you can practically hear the snarl and spittle, see this one bodily squeezing diamonds out of coal “behind” her imposing desk and then leaving them in her seat, when she rises to tower over some note-passer or gum-chewer, the better to brandish her pince-nez in their faces! 🙂

“That is the romantic notion,” said Gretchen Wheelwright, a retired high school teacher, principal and professor at Troy University in Alabama. “It was resurrected in the ’60s for the hippies. Go out and everybody make love and the world is going to be a beautiful place. Our experience is that isn’t what happens.”

Wheelwright said unschooling is a disservice to children.

She remembers public schools trying a similar approach in the 1960s and ’70s, when students could choose their own classes they wanted and work on self-directed projects.

“You saw the results five, 10 years later. They didn’t know anything,” Wheelwright said. “They had vast gaps in areas that they should have known.”

P.S. This is my satirical swipe at unexamined prejudice, which I feel this education expert deserves for what she’s dishing out here. Read at the link for the wonderful part, about Pam’s daughter Roya. Way to go, y’all — and I notice the article doesn’t mention that Pam can match Old Lady Wheelwright’s professorship and even trump her, with that oh-so-uptight schoolish subject MATH . . .

(Now watch, someone will find a lovely color photo of Gretchen Wheelwright, and it’ll turn out she’s younger than I am, at which time I will say it’s who she is on the inside that counts.)

Harry Potter as a religious text?

30 05 2007

Valerie’s on a roll! 🙂
“Harry Potter as a religious text?”

School Choice: A Bumpy Ride or Getting Bumped, Both Wrong Answers

30 05 2007

This morning I see a right answer in the news, real analysis and insight for all those of us who puzzle over public school policy (and party politics, religious wars, et cetera) and just can’t understand why we keep doing all the wrong things wronger, regressing rather than progressing:

Schooling is like flying.

The whole story is about how aggressive and insulated data analysts crunch endless numbers to create operational models that are statistically attractive but unfit for human consumption, thereby infuriating regular, responsible people just trying to participate in the system in good faith.

Necessity being the mother of invention, savvy front line folks experiencing the fallout have to cope somehow. They create practical workarounds at their own lowly level that seem to compensate the consumer reasonably well and thus protect the system from its own longterm self-inflicted wounds. But that in turn makes the analysts redouble insistence on THEIR strategies, further infuriating users and further hurting the systems’s credibility, requiring even more creative counterprogramming and loss of respect from the people caught up in it all. More and more regular people wise up to the system’s escalating adversarial shortcomings, thus making it all even worse. Finally the system becomes neither workable nor fixable at any level . . Dörner’s Logic of Failure.
“Stuck in a quagmire . . .”
“Scant credbility. . .”
“People view [it] as not on the up-and-up” Read the rest of this entry »

Does School Teach Kids to Survive and Thrive?

29 05 2007

Valerie blogs today about schooling and disaster survival, which sent me off to dredge up my Culture Kitchen musings from last year:

“Does School Teach Kids to Survive and Thrive?”
I’m thinking, what’s best for kids if their school can’t be accessed, maybe isn’t there at all? . . .[Hurricane Season starts Friday!!]

. . . bird flu could be a disaster in which, rather than keeping schools open as essential, survival preparedness may depend on CLOSING schools, and keeping them closed long-term.

If schools had to be shut down for our mutual survival, which kinds of “education” would be the best prepared, for the least disruption? We’d soon need to climb back up Maslow’s ladder. Virtual learning from home, maybe small groups of neighbors enjoying home libraries — call it what you will — would suddenly look a lot smarter than what we’ve legislated and labeled as public education policy during my lifetime.

And to carry the thought further, which kinds of education (if any) are best preparing future citizens to survive, and even help prevent, all manner of potential catastrophes to come? I’d put a high premium on self-reliant yet socially responsible technology, schedules, lifestyles, networking, world views and income generation. The kinds of learning based on intrinsic motivation, privacy and sustainability, learning that doesn’t require or prepare people to live and work in assigned dorms and barracks under constant public supervision and scrutiny.

Public school protectionism is sorry public protection. So why would we want that doctrine undergirding the entire third-millennium curriculum, and why would we accept union politicians as best equipped to control how all kids learn to think, plan and problem-solve?

I think our kids need to learn differently and do differently, SO much better than we did and so far past school. Someday soon they’ll replace us as thinkers, caregivers, problem-solvers, diplomats, designers, and story-tellers. (If they survive!)

I believe preparing ourselves to prepare them, will require new learning and creative cultural-political change on our part first, changes for which the lessons of our grandparents (as interpreted through our own schooling) didn’t prepare us that well, either. . .


29 05 2007

The next step in the ongoing struggle with our state’s standardized test —

Florida Coalition for Assessment Reform, Inc.

for further information:
Gloria Pipkin 850 265-6438
cell: 850 866-9537
or Bob Schaeffer 239 395-6773

for immediate release, Tuesday, May 28, 2007

The Florida Coalition for Assessment Reform (FCAR) today delivered to Florida Governor Charlie Crist and Education Commissioner Jeanine Blomberg a set of recommendations to implement “the administration’s pledge of openness and transparency in reviewing the FCAT in the wake of the recent disclosure of the 2006 Grade Three scoring error.”

Commissioner Blomberg has indicated that a review will take place but has not provided details about who will conduct the investigation, what topics it will cover, when it will be completed, or whether the results will be made public.

In an open letter, FCAR said, “The powerful impact of the FCAT on our children, our schools, and our communities demands strict accountability to the public” and listed suggestions including:

– hearings around the state to determine the scope of questions Floridians want addressed;

– inclusion of representatives from groups such as FCAR and the Florida League of Women Voters in the FCAT review process;

– input from independent measurement experts as well as teachers, parents and school counselors;

– investigation of all recent FCAT scores, not just the 2006 exam where the state admits an error was made; and

– publication of relevant documents about how the FCAT is designed, constructed and administered, including the exam’s technical manual

FCAR is a non-profit, non-partisan, statewide organization with members in 50 of Florida’s school districts.

– – 30 –

The text of the FCAR letter to Gov. Crist and Commissioner Blomberg follows

– – – – –


May 28, 2007

Dear Governor Crist and Commissioner Blomberg:

The Florida Coalition for Assessment Reform (FCAR) applauds the administration’s pledge of openness and transparency in reviewing the FCAT in the wake of the recent disclosure of the 2006 Grade Three scoring error. The powerful impact of the FCAT on our children, our schools, and our communities demands strict accountability to the public.

In that spirit, we ask you to consider these comments and suggestions:

– The review process should begin with public hearings around the state, at convenient times and places, to help determine the scope of questions Florida parents, educators, and taxpayers want addressed.

– The audit team should include representatives from FCAR, as well as representatives of the Florida League of Women Voters, which has recently launched a study of the FCAT, and other concerned organizations throughout the state

– The team should seek input from teachers, parents, school counselors, and other child advocates, along with independent psychometricians.

– The investigation should go beyond the 2006 test, thoroughly examining the validity, reliability, and fairness of the FCAT and its uses.

– As part of upholding a pledge of openness and transparency, all critical documents about the FCAT (such as the technical manual) should be made available online and in libraries so that everyone concerned can understand how the test is designed, administered, and graded.

FCAR is a nonprofit organization with members and contacts in more than fifty school districts. We are committed to open, broad-based, constructive assessment that reflects the complexity of learning and respects the diversity of learners.

We look forward to hearing from you as you convene an external advisory group this week, at which time we will be pleased to submit the names of testing experts to review the data from 2006 and recommend a procedure for establishing an annual review of the test.


Gloria Pipkin, President
for the FCAR Board of Directors

850 265-6438
fcar@fcarweb.org — www fcarweb.org

Parenting Beyond Belief Goes to the Movies

29 05 2007

Yes, yes, the book including the essay by Penn Jillette is out, and I have it on my list to read.

But did you know “Parenting Beyond Belief” is a blog for Thinking Parents, too? Both are from a writer dad named Dale McGowan, who apparently heads a (get this) critical thinking consultancy. 🙂

Today’s entry is “The Relaxed Parent Film Festival” and it’s my kind of Power of Story –movies with my family and all of it our free choice, for our own reasons. Although hmmm, I choose much the same movies he does, for similar reasons, so our memes might be kissin’ cousins. . .
Favorite Daughter happened to love the Disney princess movies growing up but not as forcefeeding or any restricted diet. She says Disney movies can shape a child’s self-image and beliefs about the world just like religious stories do–not at all what fundamentalists might BELIEVE they are teaching with the Disney-only movie diet!

Read the rest of this entry »