Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Ed. Beat: On-line Hype; Common Corruption; Gahhhd! Texas!

 Techno-Hype!: Richard D. Wolff, the most popular Marxist in the USofA, writing in Truthout, dissects the latest flatulence from the Tom Friedman, The NYTimes' Moustache of Punditical Masterfulness, on the subject of what costs are concealed behind the "Wonders" of the electronic classroom:
Thomas Friedman's latest column touting online education "is another exercise in (1) finding a potential positive dimension of capital's latest profit-driven move, (2) hyping it and (3) ignoring its contradictions, especially those that are negative."  No doubt such exercises comfort and distract many of his readers who might have entertained the suspicion of something important lost in the proliferation of online "education." They can relax in the secure feeling that critics of that proliferation are enemies of progress, while promoters of that proliferation are overcoming poverty. If this sounds more like TV soap opera morality than social analysis, you may be right.

The Common Corpse Curriculum: MUCH needs to be said about the burgeoning efforts to force all USer schools into the same box, the so-called Common Core Curriculum. To say it is controversial, at least among most educators, is a HUGE understatement; a fate shared by how it is speciously misrepresented by its advocates. A case in point, here, a dialogue between an advocate and a detractor, on the blog of that red-haired, educational gad-fly, Susan Ohanian. It's long but needs to be read in whole:
What I am against is Common and Core, that is, the same standards for all students and a few subjects (currently math and English language arts) as the core of all children's education diet. I might even love the Common Core if they were not common or core.

Tucker disagrees. He argues it is both possible and necessary to predetermine and impose upon all students the same knowledge and skills and America is immune to the damages of such efforts that have been experienced in China and other similar East Asian countries."

There is no evidence that standards and tests improve school achievement. The huge sums of money budgeted for standards and for tests to enforce the standards should be used to protect children from the effects of poverty, the real reason so many students struggle in school...It is simply not true that the Common Core will prepare our children for the future. To conclude, I quote a comment left on my Facebook page by one of my personal heros, former president of America Educational Research Association (AERA) and widely respected educational researcher Gene Glass: "Common Core Standards are idiots' solution to a misunderstood problem. The problem is an archaic, useless curriculum that will prepare no child for life in 2040 and beyond."

"Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Texans!": A bunch of ignorant, hyper-biased, white supremacist, cretinous, Christard/dominionist fucknozzles, peckerwoods, asshats and douchewaffles with the average IQ of dust mites, and the social sensitivity of steel-wool, controls the content of school textbooks from a back room in Austin, Tx. That, alone, SHOULD be cause for alarm. But these shitwhistles also dictqte the content of more than HALF of the rest of the nation's school books. A documentary on the subject, the Revisionaries, recently appeared on PBS' program, The Independent Lens.

What are the consequences, you might ask? Well, some Texas schools have revived the biblically-founded canard about the theologically inspired theory about the inferiority of blacks:
A new  report put out by the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund revealed that Texas Public School books are filled with flawed Biblical theories, including the idea that Jews practice a ‘flawed religion’. The classes, which are supposed to be about the impact of the Bible on history, are basically right wing propaganda classes.
The students are being taught that the world is only 6,000 years old and that blacks were descendants of HAM, while students are taught that whites are descendants of Japheth, and Jews are descendants of Shem.
The report found that the textbooks adopt a right wing nationalist ideology, and even pass off lies about the Founding Fathers:
And if that weren't bad enough:( A recent) report by Mark Chancey, a professor of religious studies at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, reveals that at least 57 school districts and three charter schools in the state taught courses about the Bible in 2011-12. That's more than double the 25 school districts teaching such courses in the 2006-06 school year. In 2007 the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 1287, which included guidelines designed to improve the quality of such courses while protecting the religious freedom of students and their families.The new report shows that state agencies and many local school districts have largely ignored those guidelines.



Last week we told you about the brave, Seattle teachers who have organized behind their refusal to administer yet another, meaningless, but required, standardized exam. Apparently, the movement is spreading!
A boycott of Washington state’s mandated standardized test by teachers at a Seattle school is spreading to other schools and winning support across the country, including from the two largest teachers’ unions, parents, students, researchers and educators.

The decision by teachers at Garfield High School to boycott the state’s Measures of Academy Progress because, they say, the exams don’t evaluate learning and are a waste of time is fueling a growing debate about the misuse of standardized tests in public education.

The Garfield teachers have now been joined by some teachers at a few other schools in Seattle, including the alternative Orca K-8 school. Colleagues at other schools have sent letters of support, as have groups including the Garfield PTSA, the Seattle Student Senate and a group of more than 60 researchers, educators and education activists, including Diane Ravitch and Jonathan Kozol. "...
...Almost all of the teachers and staff at Garfield High are boycotting the test because they say it is not aligned with curriculum and is inappropriately being used by administrators to evaluate teachers, a purpose for which it was not designed. District administrators have defended the test.

The presidents of both the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, which collectively have more than 4.5 million members, issued separate statements supporting the Garfield-led boycott."

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