IS STUMBLING AND BUMBLING A GOOD THING?
Let's take a look at the big picture to see how our disasterous policies may be stumbling and bumbling into something interesting. Of course NCLB was a disaster. But consider this, it is the first time in the history of the United States that we even glanced at serving all students.
NCLB was an obvious failure so we move to RTTT. Many disagree but look at the big picture. Since it requires all students to be the same, there are strong grounds to oppose this. However, it does move us to a proficiency style of education which is a positive thing. Important to moving to the next step is that those who understand education must keep up the fight, for the kids.
And now Common Core is upon us. Another concept that, as it is implemented it survives under the false assumption that all kids are the same, progress at the same rate and learn best only with paper, pencil, or computer in hand. But look at the big picture. Pete Seeger talked about the folk "process". Education real reform is also a process. When Common Core is implemented several dominoes will fall. First will be the realization that letter grades mean nothing and student advancement using the proficiencies will be the direction taken. Dr Thornton, superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools has already made this step. With proficiencies a student gets an A or will get an A. No other options. THIS IS A GOOD THING BUT NOT WITH A TEST! Not all kids learn the same artificial way. How about assessment that is real. We assess science fairs, orchestra performances, singers on "The Voice", debate and forensics meets and many more. Get a grip guys, the test is the worst form of assessment and uses a completely different mind set to determine success. Although on line tests give students a chance to do manipulatives, this still falls short of reality. Assessments must blend into the daily lessons, confirmed by teachers on the ground who see kids every day of the school year, not just one day
However, failure is still at hand. What happens when they discover students are all over the board with their "scores". How valid are grade levels and how damaging is our system of failure. Soon they will discover that grade levels can not be the indicator of advancement through the system of education. THIS IS ANOTHER GOOD THING. Of course we must keep students with their age peers, but through "centers", projects, learning in the community, differentiated learning, cross curriculum and many other strategies, good teachers know how to reach their students. Real teachers do not teach to the test very well, they teach to the child.
So the bottom line is keep up the fight against standardized strategies that do damage to kids. Keep up the fight against a competition system of education that bleeds the soul out of the losers. Keep up the fight againts those who have no concept of human growth and development. Keep up the fight against a slavery based system of education referred to by Thomas Jefferson as "raking a few geniuses from the rubbish", designed to keep a people down. This isn't only unethical and racist, it is immoral.
But keep an eye out for the time when, purely by accident, trial and error and more error, they stumble upon the way schools should be. Be prepared with your own assessment that truly measures the needs of kids. Be prepared to provide their own MAP guiding them through their educational lives, not in lock step but as individuals.
Stay strong but observant. Children are depending on you..