Tuesday, March 29, 2011
The Illegality of Many Current Educational Practices, Procedures, and Laws
"No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system, or over the selection of library resources, textbooks, or other printed or published instructional materials by any educational institution or school system, or to require the assignment or transportation of students or teachers in order to overcome racial imbalance."
I am trying to find more current legislation that voids this Act. I am not a lawyer but what I gather from this act is that Acts such as NCLB and the proposed Race to the Top are illegal, violating Title 20 1232a. of GEPA. These Acts are in my knowledge and experience, authorized, mandated, and controlled by the US Government, Department of Ed, and State-based governmental Departments of Ed. They control program of instruction/curriculum (well curriculum is a broadly defined term but standardized testing is curriculum and is mandated by NCLB).
Also regarding racial imbalance, many states de-segregate schools (not California, which is harshly criticized for their "segregation") by busing poor and minority students to more affluent districts and schools.
It just seems that everything going on in "educational reform" via the government is violating this act.
If anyone can find proof that this act is now null and void, please please please let me know.
ESEA NCLB RTTT
"According to Joel Spring, the Elementary and Secondary School Act had at least three major consequences for future legislative action. First, it signalled the switch from general federal aid to education towards categorical aid, and the tying of federal aid to national policy concerns such as poverty, defense or economic growth. Second, it addressed the religious conflict by linking federal aid to educational programs directly benefiting poor children in parochial schools, and not the institutions in which they enrolled. Third, the reliance on state departments of education to administer federal funds (promoted to avoid criticisms of federal control) resulted in an expansion of state bureaucracies and larger involvement of state governments in educational decision-making." (http://www.oise.utoronto.ca/legacy/research/edu20/moments/1965elemsec.html)
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Near-1000 API... Learned Thinkers or Learned Conditional Behavior
How do they do it? Bringing to mind psychologist B.F. Skinner's behavioral conditioning (similar to Pavlov's dog), the school teaches only math and English up until the standardized exams. I know teachers who have visited this school and these children have certainly been conditioned..I believe they wear uniforms, and there isn't an ornery student in the bunch. They sit up straight, hands on the desk, eyes on the teacher, quiet as a mouse. The teachers ONLY teach multiple choice...everything. (Okay so 4th grade takes a writing exam so they get the "privilege" of writing).
They have a no-excuses approach. Teachers develop review questions or previiew skills that will be taught. Among the answer choices (see, multiple choice only!) they must select the distractors- the wrong answers, identify key words and numbers in the question/answers, write them on their hand-held white boards, then prove and dissprove each A,B,C,D answer. The teacher moves about the classroom as they do this, providing "instant feedback". Supposedly this school is rewarded for such "high level thinking skills". Once the students solve the problem, a graph of their performance is shown, reteaching is given, and the teacher has32 different data reports. Since they began this "program" scores went from the 10s-30s percentiles to 90s percentiles.
This school uses only direct-teaching, meaning the teacher is the know-it-all who gives information to the students. The school is praised for it's direct teaching and a repetition ritual that is seen as "good", the repetition allows for "skills mastery" because "practice makes perfect". Following the behaviorist model, students are rewarded for their correct response, with incentives as great as free trips to amusement parks.
What causes my blood to boil here is, this school will likely be seen as the model school that all schools will have to follow once the majority of schools do not meet the 2014 goal. I have to wonder what will happen to these children when they grow up because the world is not multiple choice and you won't always have a white board to write down key terms. You will have to think on your own, and think critically. Not the critical skill of "why is A incorrect" but, "what IS the answer?". These children are just conditioned to receive awards for every correct thing they do (entitlement issues, anyone?) and will except a me-me-me world of rewards. They will not be able to compose a letter of intent for a job, or apply a hypothesis to a problem, give their opinion, or connect ideas across disciplines. But then again perhaps this is the point (and research is pointing towards "yes") that we create, through behavioral conditioning, people that think what "they" want them to think, and nothing more...a huddled droned mass that does not know how to question things, think for themselves, they merely know how to find the desired response to please the authority.
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Testing Kills Learning...The SAT and ETS
The creator of the original SAT college entrance exam, Carl Bringham, was a eugenicist, arguing that immigration should be limited especially to non-Nordic Europeans because they were supposedly intellectually inferior. He proved this through tests given to prove intelligence in army men; his tests were biased and included many popular culture referenced question which recent immigrants would likely not know, and thus they were deemed inferior. In fact he had a key role in immigration quotas especially ones against the "Mediterraeans" including the Jews, during the1930s. He then had a change of heart, but it was too late; the quotas were in place for quite some time. Oh, and he was the first President of ETS.
While I don't agree with Brigham's racist ideas, he once said something I must agree with; perhaps he had a moment of lucidity as to what the future cold hold once it embraced his exams; "If the unhappy day ever comes when teachers point their students toward these newer examinations, and the present weak and restricted procedures get a grip on education, then we may look for the inevitable distortion of education in terms of tests. And that means that mathematics will continue to be completely departmentalized and broken into disintegrated bits, that the sciences will become highly verbalized and that computation, manipulation and thinking in terms other than verbal will be minimized, that languages will be taught for linguistic skills only without reference to literary values, that English will be taught for reading alone, and that practice and drill in the writing of English will disappear."
Presidential hopeful Ralph Nader attacked ETS in 1979 saying theo nly thing ETS hadn't tried was to "test for admission into heaven" and that the SAT predicted college performance about as well as a pair of dice.
Friday, March 25, 2011
What I'm Reading Now
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amOQOG3o9DA has a video of Iserbyt that is pretty eye-opening.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
(A little bit about) scoring Standardized Tests
discusses the annals of those who score standardized exams. I had to read the article twice to believe it. It mentions grading on a curve or at least having grades what fit a perfect bell curve- whether they are the "real, deserved" grades or not.
This also got me to think, if all exams are graded to fit the bell curve, then can we ever meet the 2014 goal of everyone at proficienct/advanced? As that does not fit the bell curve the psychometriicians prefer. So either it is a guaranteed fail system, or the bell curve will be tossed aside. Only time will tell.
Standardized Testing = Big $ money $
ETS was funded with an initial endowment of $750,000 from the Carnegie Corporation in 1946 by Harvard grad Henry Chauncey. He had pondered upon the SAT, an "obscure mutation" of the IQ test, and tweaked it to focus on math and English. WWII helped bring the SAT to the forefront; a dire need to identify good officers quickly existed and Chauncey was hired to give the SAT to 300,000 people in just one day to help select the officers. Such a feat meant other insititutions (i.e. schools) could do the same thing. Chauncey left Harvard in 1945 to create ETS. He had a pet project that never was implemented due to a fatalistic perspective; a "censu of abilities" to be given twice yearly to all high-schoolers to identify what their future careers and direction of life should be.
So of course with NCLB and Race To The Top, both very test-friendly authorizations, ETS by default has something to gain. Money drives NCLB and RTTT and while the classroom may not see these funds, ETS sure does to the tune of, well, a lot. Different sources cite different amouns but all are quite exhorbitant, $490 million in 1998 (http://www.capitalcentury.com/1947.html) or, $620 million in 2003 (http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/03_52/b3864044.htm) or $1 billion in 2006 (http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2007/07/03/ets) or $94 million in 2007(http://www.aetr.org/financial/ETS-IRS_Form_990_%282007%29.pdf)
Pretty good for a non-profit, tax-exempt company, right? Their CEO, Kurt Landgraf (google his name + business week for some good info), made just a bit shy of $1 million that year. In 2004, Mr. Landgraf, earned $1.07 million and three vice presidents each earned over half a million. Sixteen ETS Vice Presidents and other corporate officers had total compensation of more than $200,000 with several topping the $300,000/year level. Even Trustees of the ETS Board shared in the largesse: several received more than $30,000 for attending a few meetings.(http://www.urch.com/forums/pharmacy-forum/101229-ets-r-evolution-profit-non-profit.html)
An interesting "google quest" is the lawsuits against ETS. One of interest I found which also shows how much the Dept. of Ed spent for ETS services is at http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:1UxvemjFq8gJ:www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/oig/auditreports/fy2009/a02i0024.pdf+CDE+contract+with+ETS+cost&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESgeTtAOBzm1P7-Go4VY3oRs2UwoqxyPDLoiEKfFWRwQDdnx5tH-gSs_6TSLbVLSngy91Z3shYc3XnkLmdSEu5oIOsYSxEK-0Ec06aX9eVbQg-tu_hlF5VbReVMuNbtzlD7zCrGq&sig=AHIEtbR2YhCL92JiDh7Pdv-98NfxRPVHEg
With such nice profits, ETS will certainly influence the educational "powers that be" to maintain if not increase the amount of standardized testing.
Social Efficiency Part IV
Here are some excerpts and my two cents regarding " Social Efficiency Reexamined: The Dewey-Snedden Controversy" by Walter H. Drost
“W. W. Charters and Franklin Bobbitt both
sought to discover just what those skills [social efficiency] were so that the curriculum
might convey them most efficiently; they too were advocates of social
efficiency. But David Snedden carried the principle further. Snedden,
who spent much of his influential career first as Massachusetts's Commissioner
of Education and then as a professor of educational sociology at
Teachers College, Columbia University, urged that the schools project
the probable social and occupational destination of each student and prescribe a curriculum to fit him efficiently to his place. Among the
various adherents of schooling for social efficiency, Snedden was the most
As we keep encountering, social efficiency sought to prepare students for their place in society- nothing more. What is disconcerting is that Snedden among others, was in an influential place in regards to education’s history and making. He was not just some “nut case” but a bonafide educational leader just like Cubberley, Terman etc. His teaching at Columbia’s Teacher College certainly was tainted by his perspectives, which affected the practices of the best and brightest teachers. His ideas had to affect his policies as the Commisioner of Education…as stated below;
“In an attempt to overcome the rift between the vocational schools and the schools of general education, a new consolidated Board of Education was created. The new
state board brought in a young adjunct professor of educational administration
from Columbia University, David Snedden, as its first Commissioner
of Education .Most of all he was impressed by the new science
of sociology which promised through manipulation and control to improve
human lives, particularly those of the poor.”
Call me crazy, but as an empathetic person, manipulating and controlling the poor is simply wrong and makes we quite livid. End of story.
“It was there, in the classroom of Professor Edward A. Ross, that Snedden first
encountered the doctrines of social control. [Edward Ross was a eugenicist]
At the Stanford graduation of1900-in his first major address, entitled "Education for the Rank and File"-Snedden urged that the common man be educated for a life of
practical efficiency through an entirely different program of courses from
that of the elite. He urged that training in the trades and business was a
legitimate function of public education and necessary for the broad efficiency
of the individual. Social control, he argued, should replace individual
choice and prevent the "immense wastage" resulting from individual
trial and error.
Again, I am rendered nearly speechless…the audacity! Snedden promotes tracking and the Prussian idea of a school for the masses and a separate one for the elite. If these ideas infiltrated his teaching which they may have, then countless students of his, soon to enter the workforce, perpetuated his ideas like little drones, creating a system of haves and have nots, set-up for an achievement gap. And to say social control should replace individual choice, how un-American, an educator should not promote such despotism.
Social Efficiency Part III
Quick re-cap...what is social efficiency and what does it have to do with schools? To quote author Ann Gibson Winfield, "Reflecting the general societal trend, social efficiency educators were "imbued with the power of science" and believe that the application of business and industrial standard would eliminate waste in education." She goes on to say, " The conduits comprising the interface between eugenic ideology and education was formed through a combination of historical, political, socially Progressive and demographic influences in play during the first decades of the 20th century".
Social Efficiency and the New Nationalism by Joel H. Spring (an author I've found to be quite knowledgeable and unbiased) wrote...
"The common ideological bed shared by the New Nationalists and the
social efficiency educators was made up of an acceptance of a collective
society and a belief that an individual should be devoted to a specialized task
in society. The social efficiency stream in early twentieth-century American
education has recently been pointed out by Edward Krug in The Shaping
of the American High School and in Walter Drost's biography of social
efficiency educator David Snedden. Krug's thesis is that social efficiency
was a combination of education for social service and social control. The
social service aspect of social efficiency education involved the same
type of attack upon rugged individualism that Bowers found as one of
the striking characteristics ofthe social reconstructionists. It was an education
directed at training the individual for a life devoted to the good
of the collective whole"
Again the social efficiency notion of training someone for a specific task or career and nothing more. For example, a person trained to be a carpenter would only know history of carpentry (no need to know of world wars, the constitution, etc), carpentry-based math, etc. This in my eyes does not make a whole person and robs man of the freedom of knowledge. Social efficiency gets as creepy as can be here, as it begins to sound like Mao-era China when Spring says, " social efficiency was a combination of education for social service and social control". When I read that education should be about social control, I think some blood shoots from out my eyes. Education should FREE man, knowledge is power, enlightenment, freedom. If education is control then it is indoctrination as well and I stand against that. This idea goes perhaps even beyond the Prussian idea that education should teach us to bow down to the king. And yet it gets worse...a socialist mantra indeed, that education should train us to devote our lives to the collective whole. Last time I checked, America was founded by the founding fathers that promoted individualism and freedom, not kowtowing to the government for the good of the collective whole.
"The social efficiency educator at the University of
Wisconsin, Micheal V. O'Shea, told teachers in a 1909 textbook entitled
Social Development and Education, "Intense individualistic feelings and
actions must be brought under control, and cooperation must largely
take the place of original tendencies to opposition and aggression."
William C. Bagley went further than this in 1904 when he wrote in his
The Educative Process that a socially efficient man was one who was
willing to "sacrifice his own pleasure . .. when its gratification will not
directly or indirectly lead to social advancement." sociologist,
Edward A. Ross. Ross wrote his book Social Control while at Stanford
during the eighteen-nineties. Insisting
that communities held together by close face-to-face relationships were
rapidly becoming things of the past, he advocated new means by which
society could maintain social order. "Success in social organization," Ross
wrote, "implies that each man, whether watched or unwatched, sticks to his
appointed work, and interferes with no one else in his work." Ross hailed
education as a means of achieving successful social organization. Teachers
could become "an economical system of police." Education for social control
meant training student to fit into a particular slot in the social
Here Spring identifies yet again my point of social efficiency being for social control and to teach people just what they need to know, nothing more. The “powers that be” of this era saw, as I’ve mentioned, the family and community unit breaking down and so through social control in the schools, social order could be maintained and everyone would know their proper place in the collective whole.
“ Social specialization was to be achieved through a differentiated curriculum. Courses and course material were to be selected on the basis of the social destination of
the student. Collective harmony was to be achieved through social education.
Within the school the child was to be divested of all selfish individual
interests. Group play and group work were to prepare the individual for
a collective society”
Differentiated curriculum is a buzz word in current education, but if this is its origins, I am weary. This reiterates that schools are to train people for their pre-determined roles, nothing more. And through this brainwashing…I mean “education”, we would reach a utopia of “collective harmony” and we would no longer have individualism or selfish thought. Even our play-time was to be infiltrated and turned into a socialist exercise. Prussia monitored children’s play by creating government run children’s clubs such as judendeutchland (no clue on the spelling) or “Young Germans”.
“Social efficiency education and the New Nationalism were therefore wedded
to the goals of a highly organized society in which efficiency was to be
maintained through social specialization and unselfish devotion to common
social causes. The New Nationalism as a progressive political movement did
not die with Roosevelt's defeat in 1912. As Eric Goldman has pointed out,
New Nationalist thinking became a part of Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal”
Here it is again- our pre-determined roles, promoted/mandated through our education, will make our society more efficient (easier to control). The “devotion to social causes” sounds innocuous but their social causes here are anything but, as they are all about control and a push for a utopian socialistic mantra of collectivism. For those who claim the New Deal was all about socialism, this to me aligns to that claim, as Spring suggests below;
If this is true, then the question that has to be answered is: Were the social
reconstructionists a new breed of progressive educator or were they in
the tradition of social efficiency education? Though it is true that early social
efficiency educators did not demand a completely planned society in the
manner of the social reconstructionists, it is not difficult to imagine that a
plea for social specialization and collective harmony would move in this
direction under the pressure of a depression. T his question must be answered
before we can come to a clear understanding of what progressive education
was all about.”
Social Efficiency Part II
For simplicities sake, instead of a complex multi-source literature review or article on social efficiency, I will just tackle a book/article or two per post. At some point in life I will combine all the ideas into a coherent single unit of writing but for now...some article/book reviews, my editorial opinion on them.
Education and the Cult of Efficiency: A Study of the Social Forces That Have Shaped the Administration of the Public Schools. by Callahan, Raymond ...
"These two developments, and the vulnerability of the school administrator, contributed to the conditions in American society which explain the tremendous impact of Frederick Taylor and his system of scientific management, and the continuing influence of the business-industrial ideology upon American society and education after 1911. "
This kind of "proves" my connection of the efficiency movement to social efficiency in schools as mentioned briefly in my post on Social Efficiency Part 1.
"It was inevitable that these business values would greatly influence the public schools at the turn of the century, but the extent of this influence was furthered by certain aspects of the great reform crusade. This movement was primarily an attempt to cope with the problems which were a product of rapid industrialization: the consolidation of industry and the concentration of wealth; the ruthless exploitation of the country’s natural resources; the corruption and inefficiency in government; the tremendous growth of cities; the flood of immigrants who added to the complexity of the social and political problems in the urban areas; and finally, the fear among the middle class that America would react to these problems in an extreme or radical way (this reaction had of course been predicted by Karl Marx and had been realized, to an extent, in the growth of various forms of socialism in America)."
This again is social efficiency- with a new world of industry and corruption and many social ills the Progressive Era sought to fix, social efficiency was part of "the fix". The irony here is, the evil industrialists (according to some progressives) were the problem, and yet it seems they were also the solution, along with government control (but not supposedly inefficiency...if these progressives have any influence today, I don't see it in government since it is quite inefficient but that's another story...). The flood of immigrants was seen as a problem especially by the eugenicists (who were often proponents of Progressivism and Efficiency) who saw that they would cause racial impurity and social ills because they were inferior peoples intellectually, socially, etc and needed control. Some even proposed not just immigration sanctions but segregation and sterilization. Social efficiency would "fix" the immigrants by putting them in their place...whatever that might mean. Then quoting Marxism, the elite feared a middle class uprising. I then think, of you mold education just so, similar to the Prussian model, you can tweak the system just so, and the middle classes will be dumbed down into subservience.
"The business influence was exerted upon education in several ways: through newspapers, journals, and hooks; through speeches at educational meetings; and, more directly, through actions of school boards. It was exerted by laymen, by professional journalists, by businessmen or industrialists either individually or in groups (e.g., the National Association of Manufacturers), and finally by educators themselves. Whatever its source, the influence was exerted in the form of suggestions or demands that the schools be organized and operated in a more businesslike way and that more emphasis be placed upon a practical and immediately useful education. "
I am not exactly arguing against the influence of business in education. The deep down and dirty truth is, when people leave the safety net of schools, they go into the "real world" and end up working for businesses. Therefore businesses know what they want and we should as educators provide that. (However, I argue we provide more than just laborers, but thinkers, innovators, etc...) When does cause me hesitation as to the influence of business in education is the removal of local control, teacher freedom, bottom-up management that comes about through the implementation of business influences such as textbook and testing companies that now run our schools as if they know better. And when the author said "a practical and immediately useful education" he meant something more than that, as that sounds all fine and dandy. He and others of his movement wanted to train people just for an exact career and nothing outside of that. I argue this robs our people of free thought, will-power, freedom to do and think what they want. Knowledge is power!
"Year by year after 1900, the pressure for a more utilitarian education continued. By 1907, school superintendents were being praised by the President of the Commercial National Bank in Chicago for their contribution to America’s great material progress. As a guest speaker at their annual convention, he told them this progress was “a result of getting away, to an extent, from the mere scholastic education, and developing the practical side, making the school the place to learn how to manufacture."
Schools were not praised or encouraged to teach complex thought- the "scholastic education" as that was left to the elite private schools. Just like Prussia, our schools were to teach "how to manufacture", that is, how to do simple tasks for simple people, the common man's labors and nothing more.
"Along with these demands to make the academic program practical went an intensive campaign to introduce and extend vocational education in the public schools. Although the adoption of the German system with its early differentiation between academic students and vocational students was avoided, the drive for vocational education was quite successful."
See...here's Prussia rearing her evil head. The author claims yes, we adopted the vocational education of Prussia but not her tracking system; however, I disagree as we had and still have GATE, special ed, etc. and encourage our children to take just what they need to graduate, or, extra course work for college prep.
"Some fourteen million immigrants had come to America between 1865 and 1900. After 1900, they came at a rate of about one million a year. The majority of these people remained in the eastern cities, where their children were entered — with increasing frequency because of the improvements in child labor laws and compulsory school attendance legislation — in the public schools. Coming predominantly from the poorest socioeconomic groups in southern and eastern Europe, these uprooted, non–English-speaking children from semiliterate families with diverse cultural backgrounds constituted an educational problem unparalleled in human history...Into this difficult and potentially explosive situation an American educator — not a businessman or muckraking journalist — threw an incendiary bomb in the form of an allegedly scientific study of retardation and elimination, published in 1909, Laggards in Our Schools. The author, Leonard Ayres, said, that “for every child who is making more than normally rapid progress there are from eight to ten children making abnormally slow progress.”he held the schools responsible, charging that their programs were “fitted not to the slow child or to the average child but to the unusually bright one.”
This is the immigration issue again, that these immigrants were "retarding" our schools and social efficiency would cure this, especially since these children had to attend school because of the compulsory school law. Ayres here says something surprising, that the schools were too advanced for these students of retarded status; this makes sense upon reflection because it promotes a common school for the common man, dumbing down education.
Public or Government Schools? You Decide.
Discusses how some Republicans running for office (Presidential) claim our schools are “attempting to ‘socialize your children’” calling them“government-run schools.” And Michelle Rhee (made famous through Waiting for Superman) says schools provide“one fixed set of political beliefs.”
Sadly, as I do research, these folks may be on to something. I'm not promoting a nation of private schools or republican schools or what have you, just more choice as to the schools you can attend, and less government (esp. federal) intrusion.
Well you can decide if they're public or government but I'm casting my vote for government.
The article refutes government control of schools, stating that they are run by local school board. Yes, and no. Who decides the curriculum (i.e. textbooks, standardized tests, programs such as Reading First, standards) classes needed to graduate, teacher qualifications, performance sanctions, and laws and policies (i.e. from ed code, case studies) to name a few? Not the individual school/district's teachers, parents, students, or staff. Not the school board. It is a melange of state education representatives and federal education cronies....I mean representatives who mandate and dictate these laws, policies, and processes down on the teachers, students, etc. It is a prime case of top-down management and teachers and students are just government pawns. If you disagree with me, please tell me how "we" (teachers, students, school boards, etc) then can rid of NCLB, standards, mandated curriculum, etc (that is if we chose to).
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Social Efficiency Part 1
Social Efficiency In Education...
First a related note on the efficiency movement which relates to social efficiency; from wikipedia, "The Efficiency Movement played a central role in the Progressive Era in the United States, where it flourished 1890-1932. Adherents argued that all aspects of the economy, society and government were riddled with waste and inefficiency. Everything would be better if experts identified the problems and fixed them."
As explained and explored by many, I am going to explore it in a few posts.
This first one is the least "shocking".
From "Education for social efficiency: a study in the social relations of education" By Irving King...
"It was devised as a means of insuring that the child should learn certain things which he would not be able to learn satisfactorily if he were left to pick up things for himself by imitation and simple contact with the life that was going on daily about him. As culture increased in complexity, more and more of the burden of education had to be shifted to formal agencies, specifically to the school"
I wonder how much people can learn without "formal agencies". Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin sure were intelligent and successful without a full formal education, as are many home-schooled children.
The last century, however, has immensely increased the reach of human life. Man's vocational activities have broadened in their scope. More and more has he been led out of the narrow, primitive relation of family and neighborhood and drawn into contact with larger and larger groups of people...While, therefore, the old-time society educated its children informally, the new social order presents such difficulties of social adjustment that the present-day child is scarcely able to fit into it, and live a really satisfactory life, unless these new social relations are made a more conscious element in his formal training. He needs, in other words, a distinctively social training. The social relations and opportunities of school and neighborhood must be utilized to prepare him for the complex life he must live
The movement of social efficiency(and often progressives) saw the new industrial, urban world as so far removed from family and community that the institutions had to teach people how to socialize and had to make up ofr lack of family and community. This brings to mind my readings of John Taylor Gatto who I recall mentioning the removal of family and community, replaced with state controlled schools.
Indeed, more and more it becomes apparent that modern society needs to be humanized and moralized, if it is to endure, just as this was needful in the simple primitive community. The moralization of the primitive community was accomplished without any definite reflective purpose. It gradually developed under the influence of natural selection
Call me off but saying society needs to be humanized and moralized is, for lack of better terms, creepy. I just don't feel the state should be moralizing the population.
development of a social morality which is adequate to these new conditions; a social morality which can unify diverse and conflicting interests and conserve human welfare in the midst of the great modern machine of production, distribution, and consumption, which man himself has constructed; a social morality which will, in a word, save man from the monster of his own creation.
Using heavily connotative words (such as "monster", "unify") sways and pulls at the reader's emotions to almost say, yeah, I agree, let's save the world from destruction! However, the evil behind this is social control and management, as if people cannot do it themselves and need the status quo, the elite, those in power, to manage them.
All of this must be accomplished through education, meaning by education the entire process by which human nature is trained and instructed. And this education must be largely wrought out through the school. The ideal of a social life adequate to modern conditions of living must take its place as an object of explicit and conscious training, just because it is too complex and difficult to attain in any other way.
And here, my friends, is social control through indoctrination...oops I mean brainwashing....wait no, I mean education. Family and community can no longer provide what they once did, so let the state decide whay to provide, and do it through the school system.
If it is to be adequately met it must be through a complete reconstruction and utilization of every element and factor in the educational process.
Social efficiency cannot be escaped as it will infiltrate every aspect of education.
. For the lower classes there already exist large numbers of "nature readers", which boys and girls of the country need quite as much as do those of the city, that their eyes may be opened to what is going on about them in forest, field, and stream.For the upper classes there are masterpieces of literature which present the idealistic side of agriculture and interpret nature from the standpoint of country life.*
This is saying that there will be a seperate education for the lower and upper classes, further stratifying our society. Also, the mention here of "country life" and "field and stream" relates to an idea I will discuss more later; that education should be so differentiated and specialized that it only teaches from the narrow view of the child's life knowledge (i.e. a country child would only learn of country topics such as farming and nature) and that view prepares them for a pre-set position and career in life.
This book does not go as deep and dark into social control and efficiency as others but it is a good introduction. It is not full of shock-and-awe and you almost find yourself agreeing with it until you realize it is about control, and not freedom, which is against social justice.
(It just takes time to research all this and then write...and work, and watch my infant son...busy busy!)
Monday, March 21, 2011
My Solution To NCLB/Standardized Testing
Addendum: Include students in on this process as well.
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Little Boxes....made of ticky tacky and they all look just the same.
So in my post http://3rseduc.blogspot.com/2011/03/houghton-mifflin-prescribed-automaton.html I mentioned that my classroom had to have exact certain things in exact certain places and look exactly like the neighboring classroom.
I then was researching my research-of-interest, Prussian education, and came upon a quote by author Thomas Alexander in describing Prussian schools,
"The first row of seats is at least 1.7 meters from the front wall; the last row at least .3 meter from the rear wall; the space between seats and the window wall at least .4 meter; the middle aisles are at least .5 meter in width; the space between the seats and the window wall is at least .6 meter. The teacher's desk is ordinarily placed so as to give a good view of the children and the door. The stove is generally near the wall opposite the windows. The minimum distance between the stove and the nearest seat is .8 meter. By far the larger number of schoolrooms in Germany are 4 meters in height; the minimum is 3.20 meters. The height of the schoolroom must be such that each child shall Height of have at least 2.5 cubic meters of air space. The dis- Room tance from the top of the window to the floor must be at least one half the width of the room. These regulations are observed with very few exceptions."Ok so yes we need some regulations so we don't teach in a closet, but isn't this a bit much?
And this reminded me of my Reading 1st classroom, focus walls, etc and how I got written up for a crooked spelling word and it all made sense...
Reading First Focus Wall Checklist
Focus Wall Titles
Selection Titles and Authors
Reading Comprehension Strategy Posters
Reading Comprehension Skill Posters
Word Pattern Board Labels
High Frequency Word Wall Words (K and 1st)
Spelling Words Focus
Phonemic Awareness Focus
Organizational Hierarchy of Schools
This is a chart from Thomas Alexander's 1919 book on Prussian elementary schools. The bureaucracy and red tape of school leadership and hierarchies is demonstrated in this graphic organizer. I can't help but see parallels in our own education system, with just a few "tweaks" such as replacing "king" with "president", etc.
It's a confusing system where those in power know nothing about schools, and those in schools have no power.
Our own Department of Ed organizational chart can be found at http://www.docstoc.com/docs/4865246/DEPARTMENT-OF-EDUCATION-Organizational-Chart-OFFICE-OF-THE-SECRETARY
Saturday, March 19, 2011
But without unions, we will have child labor, 80 hour weeks, miserly pay..
And I thought to myself, hmm , they have a point as such conditions did exist before unions so perhaps unions serve their purpose.
However, I then thought of something no one seems to have brought up...do these Sinclair-esque conditions exist in private non-unionized industry withing the United States?
No. We have labor laws that protect all workers. Unions did, however, contribute to the bringing about of these laws, and for that, I thank them. I just think unions have overstepped their bounds as of today.
"I am a teacher and gasp, for merit pay. However, I propose merit pay be based on observations, performance matrices, goals met, and a rubric evaluation by fellow co-workers, admin, students, parents, school board, and self, to truly develop a picture of the teacher. Evaluations should not be just a one-day only snapshot or biased "I didn't like you" perspective as exists in unionized schools today.
We need to rid of last out, first in. I have been a victim of this policy three times! After that, I left unionized schools (I paid my dues and was not represented because I was not tenured) and gladly entered a non-union, at will position in a charter school. I finally am recognized for my accomplishments and have worked my way "up the ladder" instead of being penalized for my opinion and need to challenge the education / unionized system.
We cannot and should not base merit pay on standardized testing. You cannot apply just one set of quantitative logic (yearly standardized test) to qualitative data (people) and base everything on that- statistically, such logic is invalid. Also, tests are based on IQ and the eugenic idea that other races and lower classes are dumb and inferior as proven by these exams, so to ensure the average and below people stay where they're at and don't challenge the system.
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/03/17/florida-governor-sign-teacher-merit-pay-legislation/#ixzz1H55Z9ReM
I wonder why so far I seem to be the only one to propose a logical solution. Perhaps everyone is so wound up over "no, that's anti-union" and "don't base it on tests" that no one has thought, well, what should we do?
Friday, March 18, 2011
Psst.. remember, don't teach too well, or else....
"Frederick the great as many of his successors adopted the policy that it was unwise to educate the lower classes too well for he felt that it tended to make them dissatisfied with existing conditions. The king wished for the youth to be regulated according to the needs of their later occupation and position in life. By limiting their education, it was practically certain that the boys and girls of the lower classes would be compelled to follow the same occupations which their parents followed. Prussian kings had always desired that all their subjects belonging to the lower classes be educated to a certain extent and in “such a way” that they be content with their appointed lot"
And what system did we model most of our education after? Ding ding ding, correct, Prussia! And that whole achievement gap thing....this system promotes it. A free education for all, but (on purpose) not a very good one. One that brainwashes them into servitude, under the guide of a world-class education, and the idea that our friendly government is giving us an education, something many countries go without. Be careful what you wish for. And I have a feeling most educators are well-intentioned and don't even realize they're perpetuating the institutionalization of such a classist, racist, eugenic-friendly, maintain the status-quo model.... as discussed in some of my previous and forthcoming posts.
Time for Positive
Two shoddy-quality pics from my poetry slam, mentioned below. Child's face blurred for privacy. And no those are not wine bottles.
I realized many of my posts are educational and informative (that's the purpose) but kind of...a "downer", bitter, cynical, or what have you. So here goes a happy positive post! And then back to the grind....
Last year I was asking my 9th graders who was going to go to college. I realize it is not for everyone so I'm not one of those P-16 type of teachers, but I am still pretty gung-ho about college. Anyways, perhaps 3 or 4 hands rose in a class of 28 students. I then asked why the rest weren't going, letting them know I wouldn't lecture them to persude them to go. That made them open up, and a few were wanting to join the military, one said he wanted to be a drug smuggling coyote (for which I visibly scowled) and the rest said something along the lines of, "I'm too poor" or "I'm Mexican". What what what?
So this inspired me to do some lesson changes and give a lesson on colleges, scholarships, and budgeting.
I went to scholarships.com and showed it to my class and told them, "even if you don't want to go to college, humor me and just research three scholarships and tell me about them. Maybe you don't want to go but in your research you may find the perfect scholarship for your friend!" They all went on and a bunch were pleasantly surprised....they could get free money for being "poor" or "Mexican". One student giggled about a LGBST (is that the proper acronym? The lesbian, gay, etc one...) scholarship and I told the class, if you don't "fit" the scholarship, you can still be persuasive enough to convince them to give it to you, for example if you apply to the LGBST and just show your tolerance and acceptance of all people, perhaps you'll be rewarded. For the rest of the year my students excitedly told me about the scholarship emails they received.
Then we visited some website that I forget, which helped you select your "dream college" by narrowing down your desired region, majors, population, etc. One girl really really wanted to go to a college in Alaska, much to her friends chagrin who picked a college in Washington state. It was kind of fun to listen in on their banter.
Then I decided to make a complex lesson plan (which I can't find anywhere! I lost it!) where they picked from a matrix, a career, college, (had them "pay" the average full price tuition, to promote my scholarship lesson), a job, car, home, insurance, etc etc etc and see if they were in debt at the end. They were excited to use their cell phones (banned at our school) as calculators since for some reason our math room was devoid of any, and to work with friends to problem solve on the activity. I had students "rooming together" to save money, a student "living sustainably" to cut down on costs, and a few students lost in debt and in the math, but still learning as they went. One of my more "at risk" students had the most "fun". When I called the end of class (my school doesn't have bells) she said "aww man, is it really time to go? I was having fun!" That was such a highlight for me to hear that!
Another time we did a huge unit on poetry. The culminating activity was to make a pretty poetry poster of their own compositions, and to present one in a "poetry slam". They were hesitant at first....I have to write something? And present it in front of people? So I decided to be the guinea pig and read a poem I had written in high school myself....a sappy poem I was embarrassed of, and they could see it in my blushing face. That broke the ice. That afternoon a few students, a fellow teacher, and I set up our Poetry Slam cafe. We strung Christmas lights through the wire book racks, laid down a table cloth, told them to bring in a mug if they wanted beverages (we're a "green" school so this would cut down on disposable cups), brought in cookies and tea and hot cocoa, and set a stool on "stage". My students looooved the poetry slam. I even got students, on a rotating schedule, to rate their peers on their presentation, a la American Idol style.
I do not teach this year but my past students still say we need another poetry slam...and to bring more cookies this time around.
What Students Want
I received many of the usual things... "no uniforms", "tastier lunches", "nicer looking facilities", "cleaner bathrooms" as well as things I expected but not in the quantities received.
Students wanted more extra-curricular activities, and more clubs. They actually seemed to want to be part of the school culture! They complain in person about our long hours and "stupid school" but in reality they want our school to offer more, which would mean longer hours as well.
They want small class sizes, Luckily most of our classes are small, 20 and under. Therefore they may hate how our teachers are "strict" and "see everything we do or say" and "bug me too much" but they actually like that when they know their voice won't be heard by their peers.
They want teachers to treat everyone fairly and not put certain students on pedestals. They also don't want teachers who yell, are cruel to students, who pick on students, or who bring a cranky attitude to the workplace.
Last year we had what...80% of our staff not rehired as they were either not fully credentialed or were ineffective in the classroom. Those teachers met secretly with the students to have protests, disrupt class, call people derogatory terms in the board meetings, etc. This made for a hostile, chaotic environment where the students became friends with the soon-to-be-gone teachers and were vengeful towards all others.
And yet...in their essays many said that teachers should not be friends with students because they should be teachers.
I was expecting insight on lesson delivery, difficulty (or lack thereof) of lessons, over-testing, etc and to my surprise and disappointment I did not see that. However, what I did read was interesting and I think all teachers should do it, and allow students to be anonymous (as this essay did) so that their opinions could be heard but they would not be judged.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Socialism in our Classrooms? Yes.
http://www.missourieducationwatchdog.com/2011/03/teaching-socialism-to-grade-school-via.html or in its original version, http://www.theblaze.com/stories/socialist-mantra-hidden-in-grade-school-chants/
Basically tearing the preamble a new one, stating that all those rights are provided to, and the responsibility of, the good old government of the USA.
Bow to your master, the king, the government, my little Prussian-American school children. Believe what the books and teachers tell you, they're the experts...
I am too disgusted and infuriated by this bastardization of a document I hold so dear...I just have to stop blogging about it because I am rendered speechless with anger.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Maybe the exam "meant to do that to see if you're paying attention".
Houghton Mifflin, prescribed automaton education and then some
By now you may notice Houghton Mifflin and I are foes; mention of H.M. leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It's not that other textbooks are necessarily better, just that my experiences with HM have been anything but positive.
Do excuse me for any repetition of previous post content. I have probably 100 post ideas in my mind, a few dozen half-composed on my laptop, and a few dozen already posted and it is hard to keep it all straight. When my mind gets going, it doesn't stop.
RESEARCH BASED- If HM Reading First programs are research based, I live on the moon. (Actually I live in a neighborhood called Valley of the Moon so perhaps my analogy should change.)John Hopkins University did a study of the validity of research (statistical validity of the effectiveness/effectiveness claims) and guess what? HM did not appear in their list. Perhaps their research is invalid (i.e. "a study of three students proves... or, our own independent research done by our own people proves....) HM claims their program is scientifically-based. The progressives, many educational pioneers, and eugenic-supporters wanted to manage the population through science-based methods. Leave it to the experts, who use science (often racially and class biased via test scores and junk science) to tell you what to do. And based can mean, well, based....have you ever watched a movie "based on the true story" where only about 10% is actually based on the true story? So is HM "based on science...well....kind of...."? Well I do know this "science" is based on Prussian reading methods of "whole language" which I will explore momentarily. If only I could recall what I just did with my notes from my HM Reading First training, which stated learning modalities are a bunch of hooey, among other "gems". If I find my notes, there will be a post!
"WHERE DID YOU LEARN TO TEACH?" Yes, I was once asked this. During my first year of full-time teaching, my administrator actually asked me this. I am not self-righteous or vain but really? I was asked this because I would not follow the HM scripted curriculum to a "t". I would occasionally deviate as I saw fit because, well, I did go to school to obtain a credential and I did learn about learning styles, pedagogy, Piaget, etc. In fact, in my program we had to create an entire unit of 10 lessons without using/referencing a textbook. So suddenly here I am in HM hell and have to throw out everything I learned and "trust" what the textbook tells me? I spent $15,000 on a credential, only so I could have a piece of paper that tells me, follow the textbook? Why even teach? I could just have one of my more proficient readers come and teach the class. Heck I could outsource the book to India, have then orally transcribe it, and play the tape in class while I read the newspaper, paint my nails, go out for coffee.... Where did I learn to teach? Somewhere where they TAUGHT ME TO TEACH. Not to become some automaton slave to the textbook company.
PRUSSIAN SYSTEM OF READING: ORWELLIAN NEWSPEAK
The volkshulen(see my Prussia post) initiated a reading program, one that arguably taught not to read, or at least not very well. If you’re an educator, you have certainly heard about the “whole language” verses “phonics” debate to teaching reading, and have probably concluded that neither is effective but a combination of both, with a little more focus on phonics, is best… or so the research says. The whole language method originated in Prussia and was brought to America by none other than Horace Mann. Since Mann began “teaching schools” (such as those at the University of Chicago or Columbia) for teacher training, he ensured “whole language” was the only method used to teach how to teach reading. In addition, the reading programs in both Prussia and America encouraged age/developmental level appropriate sight words and prescribed vocabulary and sentence length. Such practices continue today in America, as can be seen in the Houghton Mifflin reading series and likely other textbooks as well. One can argue (myself included) that this could be part of “dumbing down” education. I might be going out on a limb here, but controlling language is like “newspeak” in Orwell’s 1984, which would be and was exactly the purpose in Prussia doing so.
MY ACTUAL EXPERIENCES: I do recall mentioning these in a previous post but here I go again....word for word from my own prior post, "In the 2004-2005 school year, I taught fifth grade in Montclair, CA at a Title-1, Program Improvement, Reading First school. The student population was low SES (100% free lunch), with over 75% ELL students (in my class of thirty-some, I had one native speaker and two FEP). As many schools have experienced, we were under pressure from NCLB to raise test scores and implement recommended programs in a regimented manner to assure success. I gained many valuable perspectives from this job, as I sometimes felt powerless to teach when I had to be on the same page at the same time as the next door teacher, and had to teach word-for-word from the textbook. Certainly, low SES students whom are more likely kinesthetic learners (not to mention the language barrier interfering in linguistic activities) will benefit from a spelling lesson where they discover the patterns, similarities, and differences and then categorize them accordingly- in place of the rote-learning lesson where I as the teacher dictate the spelling terms and write them on the board in the proper categories! Oh my…I was much too innovative and wanted to change the system to help the students as that’s why I became a teacher! Besides, my brain was chock-full of ideas from my credentialing classes which taught me great differentiation skills and motivational activities "
I recall the spelling-lesson moment. Here I was to write the week's spelling words on the board in columns under the pattern(i.e. ed or ing endings), tell the kids the pattern, hand out a worksheet. I was to point to the A i sfor apple B is for ball posters to help them recognize the beginning sound of the word (I never used those posters but they made a decorative wall border). I recall rather dramatically the hum of the not-so-cool air conditioning, the buzz of a fly, the sleepy mid morning sun seeping through the tiny slit windows, and this sweltering stillness. My class was behaving (and being one often told to better control my classroom, this was a golden moment)...they all stared blankly at the board and no one peeped or shuffled. I knew better- this was not a golden moment where I'd finally managed behavior. This was a crux of scripted (Prussian) curriculum- control. They were like drones, almost hypnotized, they were so disengaged. I HAD to save them. With precious seconds ticking away, I dashed to the printer, printed out a few copies of the words, and like a magical fairy complete with a wand, I pranced around passing out scissors, words, and tape and shuffled my students into groups. They were to, get this, find the pattern. On their own. I felt like a rebel, disregarding the silently screaming words of the teacher's guide and forging my own path of resistance. I felt liberated. The students actually talked about the lesson and worked cooperatively. My goofiest boy (of whom the school had lost hope in) decided to tape the words to his shirt and laugh while shouting out the pattern. It was the most fun I'd had in a most boring curriculum. And I was hardly the rebel I felt I was since I was still using the curriculum, the newspeak vocabulary/spelling words. I got in trouble for this. I was never sent to the Principal's office as a child but I sure made up for it.
I also recall a HM math lesson on averages, mode, etc. My class just wasn't getting it, so I spent an extra day reviewing division concepts. My neighboring 5th grade teacher confronted me and ratted me out for being a page behind her class. I was then reprimanded by the principal for "teaching division, a 4th grade standard, to 5th graders". She was not so keen to my comment that if they didn't know the 4th grade standard, they surely couldn't master the 5th.
Our classrooms were to be prescribed clones....like the song, "little boxes made of ticky-tacky and they all look just the same". One wall for spelling words which remained up all year and had to be a certain size and placement. Another for vocab and pre-assigned pictures to represent them. Another for those ABC posters of which spelling and vocabulary also go under. I spent hours a week "decorating". (A book by Thomas Alexander called The Prussian Elementary School echoed my "all look just the same" classroom. See my Little Boxes post) I even got written up for having a word which was velcro-ed to the wall cut a little crooked- instead of a 90 degree corner it was say 100. I am not kidding about being written up for a crookedly cut word. In my "improvement plan" (HR lingo for "you're fired") it said "sloppy classroom."
Also, I had noticed in our little clone classrooms that they were devoid of student work, which depersonalizes the classroom, as well as making it...not praiseworthy. I always remember the pride I felt when my work was displayed on the wall. It is such trivial nonsense, but I liked it. I was told that there was no room for student work (true) and that it might look sloppy or contain errors, and students without their work up would feel bad. I cheated the system the system yet again, or at least circumvented it by having my students work on making posters for the story themes, or writing the spelling-pattern headings for my stupid (did I say that out loud) spelling wall. And surprise surprise I got written up for that because one student wrote "co-operation" instead of "cooperation". Any word-nerd may know, Co-operation is acceptable especially in British English, but that is besides the point.
And quick mention of Elwood Cubberly who was editor of many HM textbooks of his time, and he directly influenced many educational policies and methods still in operation today.
Although anyone who knows me will say, wait, you work with Data Director (part of HM) and student data and assessments and yet you're claiming all these things are evil? Yes. Keep your friends close and your enemy closer, know your enemy, and take it down from within.
But yes I am my own worst enemy...using HM DD. dialectrobly opposed to ability testing but oh well. know your enemy, keep your enemy closer.