Monday, January 18, 2010

60 More Years of Flapdoodle

"In the 11/25/09 issue of the Wall Street Journal three eminences of public education--Harold Ford Jr., Louis Gerstner Jr., and Eli Broad--reflect on the ways to improve public education in 'Race to the Top in Education.' ... Now, however,' they note, 'President Obama has launched Race to the Top--a competition that is parcelling out $4.35 billion in new education funding to states that are committed to real reform.' This package, the author notes, should augur well for meaningful change. ... Despite the emphasis on so-called 'performance standards and competition,' clearly goals that are needed, my guess is this initiative will fail as all of its predecessors have. ... Like those in Lake Wobegone, everyone must be above average. It's good for politicians and a conclusion that satisfies parents. Unfortunately Johnny doesn't read, write, and compute as well as mom and dad think. ... As Al Shanker [AS] of the American Federation of Teachers once noted, 'When students start paying dues, I'll be as interested in them as my teachers.' ... As Thorstein Veblen noted, 'students are being trained in incapacity.' Until the real issues are addressed--if they can be addressed--don't count on any more success in education than we've encountered before", Herbert London (HL) at Newsmax, 15 December 2009, link:

I remember AS as a no nonsense union leader who would have said something like this. HL is a New York University professor. I read the article he refers to. For my money it's just 60 more years of Flapdoodle, my 17 September 2009 post:

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

'Race to the Top in Education.'

Well... a new marketing package and a few more billions of dollars...

Will this really boast America's childrens ability to read and write? Or is it just "talking point" for reform?

Here are the particulars of the funding...

With $297 million in the Teacher Incentive Fund, states and districts will create or expand effective performance pay and teacher advancement models to reward teachers and principals for increases in student achievement and boost the number of effective educators working with poor, minority, and disadvantaged students and teaching hard-to-staff subjects.

With $315 million from the Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems program, states will expand their data systems to track students' achievement from preschool through college and link their achievement to teachers and principals. Applications for these funds are being posted today.

With $3.5 billion in Title I School Improvement Grants, the Department will support states in efforts to reform struggling schools, and focus on implementing turnaround models in the lowest-performing schools. Secretary Duncan has set a goal of turning around the bottom 5 percent of schools in the next five years. In addition, $919 million in State Educational Technology Grants to help bring technology into the classroom will be made available. These funds are distributed to states by formula but states must deliver at least half of the money to districts on a competitive basis. States can make all of the money competitive.

Within Race to the Top, $350 million has also been set aside to help fund common assessments for states that adopt common international standards. Draft guidelines and criteria for the Race to the Top competition as well as the second round of grants from the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund are being published today.

Ubu said...

The best critic of the collapse of the American educational system was the late Richard Mitchell (The Underground Grammarian). I recall reading his bracing and devastating comments on why all the money and good intentions and progressive ideas weren't going to work; that we were simply throwing money in a hole and blathering on about education as if we has some idea what it meant. This was decades ago, and he's as sharp and spot on now as he was then, maybe more so.

Where is this new effort headed? More money, more stupid ideas, more lying and fudging the stats, more illiterate children, more teachers acting as surrogate parents/martyrs, more dumbed down tests, more jobs for educrats, more bullshit about money = education from the MSM idiots, more grandstanding from politicians, more administrators making 100k for doing nothing (or worse), more useless degrees, higher taxes, less choice, and more thoughtful people pulling their kids out of public schools. Epic fail.

Independent Accountant said...

Ubu:
I am not familar with Mitchell. I will have to read some of his stuff. Could he be a more severe critic of American Education than Charles Murray?

IA

Ubu said...

Richard Mitchell is probably closer to HL Mencken in style and spirit, but he and Murray would certainly share many ideas about the faulty assumptions of modern education. Mitchell began his career as an essayist by dissecting the writings of his fellow teachers, pointing out that most of them could neither write nor think clearly about much of anything. He extrapolated these observations into a withering and highly entertaining series of essays that were eventually collected into several books; they are each worth reading. Mitchell is a delightfully acerbic writer with a set of clearly expressed ideas about both the integrity of knowledge and language--and the indispensability of both to a functioning republic. When I read his essays, I am always left with the thought: "God, I wish I could write like that." You will not be disappointed.

Independent Accountant said...

Ubu:
Thanks. If you are not familiar with him, you should acquaint yourself with Thomas Bertonneau who blogs at Brussels Journal. I have linked to a few of his posts.

IA

Ubu said...

Wow, do I owe you one, Thomas Bertonneau is fantastic! He reminds me of Chesterton or Jacques Barzun; I've only read what i could this morning, but he obviously possesses a broad and comprehensive knowledge of western civilization. I'm looking forward to reading more of his essays and reviews.

Independent Accountant said...

Ubu:
You're welcome. I've never been a GK Chesterton fan, but heartily endorse Jacques Barzun's writings. Columbia is lucky to have had Barzun. My favorite book of his is, "The House of Intellect", 1959.

IA