Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Ed Beat: What Knowledge Is Of The Greatest Worth? Zombies, Coming For Your Brains; ALEC in Enchanted-land; For Profit? Fail!

Curriculum Question: The single most essential question educators must try to answer is "What knowledge is of the greatest value?" It is the basic issue in all questions about curriculum. And it is no simple thing to address. The blog at the WaPo takes an informative and interesting poke at the matter.

Christurds: Like Zombies, They Never, EVER Stop: And they want your brains! No, really!

Bill Moyers recently took up the matter of church/state separation in schools, in a "take action" segment recommending "Five Ways to Keep Creationism out of Public Schools." These seem to be possibly practicable alternatives.

Strangely, it seems as though the Adults are far less concerned about this phenomenon than are some kids. The other morn on Alternet there was a great story about five teenage students who, during the last couple of years, have exercised their rights NOT to be afflicted by Christurd orthodoxy in their schools: Zak Coppelin of Louisiana, Jessica Ahlquist, in Connecticut,  Krystal Meyers in Tennessee, and in the very belly of the beast in Texas, Corwyn Shulz and Mark Reyes.


ALEC Does Santa Fe: Tha' wascawwy fascist-front, astroturf "wobby," ALEC, a vile and despicable concatenation of  private/corpoRat "interests" endeavoring to engineer a social climate comfortable for their for their future plans, are dabbling in New Mexico's schools, both through the (gratefully, still-pending) appointment of former Florida ALEC school functionary Hanna Skandera, and legislatively through the huge ALEC constituency in the seats of the House and Senate.  Though not a recent contribution, I think this essay from a New Mexico teacher is germane to many in her profession and situation. Among other things, according to the author:

In 2010, Governor Martinez picked Hanna Skandera to lead our Public Education Department. Skandera arrived from Florida with no knowledge of New Mexico and no classroom experience whatsoever. Instead, she came with reams of ALEC legislation dripping from her pockets.

After two years of failing to convince our legislators to pass a version of the ALEC “teacher and leader quality act,” which advocates firing teachers whose students don’t make enough “growth” on standardized tests, Skandera and the governor have turned to executive rulemaking to enact it, and embarked on this plan last week. I'm no fan of No-Suzanna Martinez, the oil-soaked Tejana carpetbagger who rode BIG Houston money into the mansion in Santa Fe, and dragged the dregs of the Roverian swamp along with her. (Sorry if this seems too local a peg, but the issues are universal.)

Profit Source?: Has AERA "sold out" to the CorpoRats?
It surely has begun to look like it, if one peruses the pages of the most prominent education research journals, according to Morna McDermott McNulty, an Associate Professor in the College of Education at Towson University. In former days, the pages were filled with research notes, reports and comments from academics at Universities. Nowadays, the authors are more likely to come from privately funded, NOT disinterested "fundations."
One would like to believe that a journal of such “prestige” in education or at least a large readership (as the Ed. Researcher) would recognize the scholarship of education researchers, teacher educators, and teachers…but not in this current issue. Today, while perusing the articles in this issue something about the authors just “struck” me as a curious thing, something worth investigating. Something caught my eye- the number of authors that work for non-profits and/or corporations associated with education, and how few were actually sole educators/professors of institutions of higher education or public education.


Higher Ed. Fail: : Dr. Woody doezn't know in what year the dread deed actually occurred, but whenever it was, in my humble opinion the idea of a "college education" meaning anything more than a credential-granting, exotic, expensive trade school died with the creation if the first "college" of business.  

At that moment, the idea of the "liberal education" perished.

A business "degree" does nothing but confer a patina of academic 'respectability' on base, corrupt, banal mercantilism, about which there is nothing "theoretical," or philosophical, or fit to subject to a 'discipline,' other than, as JK Galbraith noted, to discover the ultimate justification for selfishness.

I have frequently averred that imho it is functionally impossible to conduct a democratic polity in the sway, in the life-and-death grasp, of a totalitarian economy, and such knowledge led me to believe that 'capitalism' was/is fundamentally incompatible with political democracy. 

That, I believe, is because capital operates on the premise that everything/everyone is for sale at some price, and that is or should be anathema to the idea of honest, popular governance. "Business degrees" made capitalism 'respectable."

There's a poli-sci term which crystalizes the not infrequent event of a regulatory agency having been colonized by the industr(y/ies) over which it is the designated "authority." It is a common, probably inevitable, concomitant of the "revolving door"--so called--between industries and regulatory agencies. It's a kind of symiosis which teeters precariously close, and too often topples headlong into parasitism.

It's called "capture." The regulatory authority of bureaucratic Govt was "captured" long since by corpoRat wealth. The "capture" was accomplished BEFORE the onset of the latest, 30-year binge, which has only obscenely exacerbated the differences and inequalities.

It's not difficult and it's not terribly expensive, as those oil companies learned which conducted drug, sex, and booze-soaked bacchanals with and for the Interior Dept office factota in Denver office charged with regulating them...

Oh, and I can provide you with the entire curriculum you'd get in 5 semesters at Wharton in five sentences:
5) Never give a sucker an even break.
4) A fool and his money are soon parted, and there's another fool born every minute.
3) There are three important factors in business success: Location, location, and location.
2) Buy low and sell high.
And finally, the mainspring of all the rest:
1) You CAN cheat an honest man!
Here's what disaster capitalism looks like in Chicago's public schools.


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