If You Could Make ONE change….

“If YOU had the power to make ONE major change in American public education immediately, what would you choose to do?”

I posed the question to my dinner companions, three authors and one editor.  But before I tell you how they answered the question, please take a minute to decide what you would do.  (and I urge you to post your answer below.)

OK, time’s up.

Let me set the scene: five adults, three white men and two African-American women, all of us left-leaning. Four writers and one editor.  Late in the evening, after good food and several bottles of wine, I posed the question.

The man I would describe as the group’s traditional liberal was the first to respond: ‘I would double our spending on education.”  Pressed to explain, he pointed out that most states had either cut spending or had failed to bring it back to pre-‘Great Recession’ levels, which has led to huge class sizes and cuts in programs that used to be considered essential, such as art and music, as well as the elimination of field trips and other opportunities.

One of the women ran with that idea, saying that she would increase spending selectively to achieve equity. “Not equal spending,” she said, “but equitable spending, so that we spend what’s necessary for each child to have a fair chance at succeeding.”  (The public–and some reporters–often equate the two terms, equity and equality, but they mean very different things.  An equitable system levels the playing field, which by definition will require spending more on some children.

Here’s a quick explanation from the Education Trust: “Yes, making sure all students have equal access to resources is an important goal. All students should have the resources necessary for a high-quality education. But the truth remains that some students need more to get there.Here’s where equity comes in. The students who are furthest behind — most often low-income students and students of color — require more of those resources to catch up…”

equity

With that explanation is this helpful graphic: three boys of differing heights are trying to peer over a fence that’s too tall for any of them to see over.  Treat them equally, and all get the same size box to stand on, even though that doesn’t guarantee that all three can see over the fence.  An equitable solution gives each kid whatever size box is necessary to allow him to see over the fence.  With equity, all kids  are standing on different size boxes but have the same view.

The other woman in the group then spoke up.  “High quality free universal pre-school for all three- and four-year-olds.  That’s what I would do if I had the power to make one change,” she said.  “Early education sets the stage,” she added, “but not lots of instruction, because that would kill it.”

The writer I would describe as the most radical in the group then chimed in.  “More money is a great idea, and so are equity and universal pre-school,” he said, “But I would want to do something that would make society commit to quality education.”  He paused. “If I had the power, I would require every state to pledge to support the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, because it states that education is a fundamental human right.  That would move the needle.”

Later that evening I looked up the 1948 document, which has been translated into more than 500 languages.  Sure enough, Article 26 states:

(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
At that point everyone turned to me, and, even though I am much more comfortable asking questions than answering them, I plunged ahead. “I would eliminate standardized testing.”

Everyone seemed shocked.  Including me.  Never before had I expressed that thought. To the contrary, like most critics of testing, I have always argued for ‘multiple measures’ that included–but minimized the importance of–standardized, machine-scored ‘bubble’ tests.

“Get rid of them completely,” one asked?  “Yes,” I said, “because about 75% of what they do is destructive: dumbing down the curriculum, making school a pressure-cooker, equating a person’s worth with his or her scores, falsely evaluating teacher quality based on a single number, and so on.”

I continued.  “Maybe about 25% of what they do is worth-while, but, if we got rid of them completely, we would be forced to develop alternative ways of assessing learning, and we could come up with approaches that weren’t inherently destructive.”

Some of you reading this are thinking that I am throwing the baby out with the bath water, as the cliché goes.  I disagree.  I am throwing out the dirty bath water and the bar of soap, and we can always buy some more soap to clean the baby with. I am actually saving the baby!!

For the rest of the evening we went back and forth. Yes, it was an exercise in fantasy, because none of our five proposals has a chance of being adopted tomorrow.

But at least two of these bold ideas–more money and ending standardized testing–are actually alive and well. Because of the ‘wildfire’ teacher walkouts in at least five states, public spending at the state level is increasing in Arizona, West Virginia, Colorado, and elsewhere.  And the push to limit standardized testing continues, as the continuing success of the Opt-Out movement testifies. Ironically, as I was writing this, Diane Ravitch’s wonderful blog came across my screen. In today’s edition she posts a powerful column by Chris Churchill of the Albany Times Union, in which he argues for eliminating standardized testing.  Here’s part of what he has to say:

As far as I can tell, the only beneficiaries are the big bureaucracies that want more control over classrooms and the big corporations that provide the tests.

The tests certainly haven’t benefited our kids, who, in many districts, are getting shorter recesses so teachers can spend more time in service to the looming tests. Or who, as many parents can attest, view testing days with anxiety and dread.

If the tests were just tests, they might be relatively harmless. But they epitomize something bigger: The madness that applies a production mentality to education. Everything can be neatly quantified, yes siree, not to mention automated, regulated and homogenized!

But children aren’t widgets and schools aren’t factories. You can’t measure the success of a classroom with data points. Standardized testing tells us nothing important about how children experience school.

You may read the rest of his piece here.

So, what is your dream?  If you were granted the power, what big change would you make?

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59 thoughts on “If You Could Make ONE change….

  1. “Maybe about 25% of what they do is worth-while….

    Could you explain what it is about standardized testing you find worthwhile?

    (BTW, your answer was the only correct one. The other answers are band-aids at best, more likely veneers. But even you don’t go far enough. Standardized testing is 100% harmful.)

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  2. Great post. Totally agree!

    Frank Hall Green Catch & Release and Greenmachine . “Real strength has to do with helping others.” — Fred Rogers

    >

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  3. Good answer John. Because the test is the basis of today’s politically driven education system. When driven by the needs of students through demonstrated learning everything changes and the dominoes that are currently the outdated system of education begin to fall

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  4. +1 in agreement about removing standardized testing. It is painful to see how much time is wasted and how little of use is actually being measured.

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    • “. . . is actually being measured.”

      Actually, nothing is being measured by these tests. The TESTS MEASURE NOTHING, quite literally when you realize what is actually happening with them. Richard Phelps, a staunch standardized test proponent (he has written at least two books defending the standardized testing malpractices) in the introduction to “Correcting Fallacies About Educational and Psychological Testing” unwittingly lets the cat out of the bag with this statement:

      “Physical tests, such as those conducted by engineers, can be standardized, of course [why of course of course], but in this volume , we focus on the measurement of latent (i.e., nonobservable) mental, and not physical, traits.” [my addition]

      Notice how he is trying to assert by proximity that educational standardized testing and the testing done by engineers are basically the same, in other words a “truly scientific endeavor”. The same by proximity is not a good rhetorical/debating technique.

      Since there is no agreement on a standard unit of learning, there is no exemplar of that standard unit and there is no measuring device calibrated against said non-existent standard unit, how is it possible to “measure the nonobservable”?

      THE TESTS MEASURE NOTHING for how is it possible to “measure” the nonobservable with a non-existing measuring device that is not calibrated against a non-existing standard unit of learning?????

      PURE LOGICAL INSANITY!

      The basic fallacy of this is the confusing and conflating metrological (metrology is the scientific study of measurement) measuring and measuring that connotes assessing, evaluating and judging. The two meanings are not the same and confusing and conflating them is a very easy way to make it appear that standards and standardized testing are “scientific endeavors”-objective and not subjective like assessing, evaluating and judging.

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      • I suggest that we are not saying we ought not measure…it’s just that standardized tests are not the way. Is my understanding correct? I find it amazing that in all the reading testing going on…not one “test” has students engaged in oral reading with a teacher! Yet the number of words read correctly per minute in a connected text from grade level material is one of the most valid measures of literacy.

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      • I am suggesting we ought not “measure”. However, I am not suggesting that we ought not assess, analyze, evaluate, etc. . ., student learning. While it may seem to be a mere “semantical distinction” as some have suggested to use those terms and not measure, it most certainly isn’t because to measure something indicates a degree of certainty not only in capability in measurement (which is not warranted) but also a degree of surety in knowledge, i.e., that the assessment has a “factual” basis that it, in reality lacks. Even your example of “grade level material” is fraught with subjective, non-objective onto-epistemological assumptions that are based solely on someone’s opinion of what constitutes what grade level reading is. Is there an agreed upon professional standard that has been vetted for those grade level standards?

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      • Even with grade level norms, an assessment of the number of words per minute that a student can read correctly only provides information about decoding. It’s not “one of the most valid measures of literacy” because it focuses on just one skill. Granted it’s a very important skill, but that assessment gives no insight on the student’s reading comprehension and literacy means the student understands what s/he reads. If you’ve ever worked with kids who can decode but don’t know what they just read was about, I think you’d be less likely to think of them as literate.

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  5. John, I would invest more resources in helping educators and everyone concerned with young people learn to develop relationships with them, to see them as people regardless of race, class, gender or any other differentiating characteristic.

    And if I had a second choice I would find 130,000 great men and women to lead our nation’s schools. Finding millions and millions of the best people to teach is daunting. But strong leaders who can motivate and mobilize teachers, parents students and community to work together. That is doable,

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    • I agree that finding “millions of the best people to teach is daunting” but if we aim for full professional status for teachers, we’ll have a better chance of attracting and retaining excellent teachers. Leaders are important but the vital work of the school is conducted by the classroom teacher.

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  6. If I could make one change it would be to make teachers fully empowered professionals. By that I mean they would share in the governance of the schools in which they teach. Tenured faculty would make most decisions regarding curriculum, instruction, hiring, promotions and dismissals. They would vote for a head teacher who would do mainly administrative tasks and would serve at the pleasure of the faculty. A teacher would be to the school what a professor is to a college, or a doctor is to a hospital. The time of the teacher as glorified high school girl needs to end.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi John,

    As a new reader of your fine blog I am pleased to stir in you bubbling pot my “dream” for our profession:

    Currently, research suggests that about 80% of the time the prevailing pedagogy in K-12 (and university) classrooms is small and large group didactic instruction. “Sit ‘n git.” And retention is perhaps 5% in 5 weeks. 20% something else. A very weak treatment.

    If I had my druthers I would reverse the ratio: 20% didactic instruction; 80% something else. “Oh my god, what do I do with a class of students for so much time if I can’t lecture?” says a teacher. It is only then, that the teacher becomes an educator who must ask, “How do I create a learning environment hospitable to human learning?”

    There are ways. Many of them.

    A dream that can be realized.

    Cheers, Roland

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Most discussions, like the one you record here, are about the ‘what’ of a better system. The arguments about the best/right ‘what’ go on forever.

    The strategy has to be for the states to turn K-12 into a self-improving system.

    I’ve put my idea on the table, as you know, John. How can we get some discussion of that?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Roland has the right idea. The answers you and your colleagues gave are completely steeped in the 20th century. Not to mention the looming, existential threat of pensions that may soon bring us to a time when more money is needed to fund them than is actually going into the classroom!

    The fundamental change I would make would be to replace Carnegie Units, seat time and the pacing guide with competency-based education. Accountability is built into that model so no more summative tests, no more homework, no more holding teachers accountable for things over which they have no control. By giving students agency and teachers time to develop relationships with them, the learning experience becomes intrinsically relevant to all concerned.

    That is the only 21st century solution that will equip our kids to meet its challenges.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. We spend the same amount on each student everywhere. I know this requires a “Ministry of Education” but it works in Europe.

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  11. We spend the same amount on each student everywhere. I know this requires a “Ministry of Education” but it works in Europe.

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  12. I would start at the beginning of the learning process with the pregnant mother to be and continue until the child enters school, so that socioeconomic status is less a factor. The Nurse Family Partnership is a good example. (See my letter to the editor in the 5/1 NY Times)

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    • Yes, this would make a significant and positive difference for children. When I became an adult what surprised me most about education was discovering how much of it takes place in the home. When we talk about “education” we tend to mean “schooling” even though the most critical part is often “informal education,” which takes place outside the school. Perhaps the most important change we can make is recognizing this (well supported by decades of research) and addressing it.

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  13. The first recommendation of the 40+ Mathematicians public letter to then U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan: “RACE TO THE TOP AND K-12 MATHEMATICS EDUCATION”. The letter is on my website at
    http://www.math.umd.edu/~jnd/RTTTPublicLetter.html
    Recommendation 1. The United States Department of Education should fund only those states that present a plan to implement the recommendations of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel in mathematics courses or programs for prospective or current teachers of mathematics and science in K-8 and on their licensing (certification) tests. The rigorously researched Panel’s 2008 report advises that teacher preparation programs and licensing tests for all K-8 mathematics teachers should fully address the foundational topics in arithmetic (including fractions, decimals, and percents), geometry, measurement, and algebra that are spelled out in the Panel’s report. Middle school teachers should know more than teachers in early grades. Other professions have state licensing requirements, whose purpose is to protect the public from practitioners without entry-level knowledge and skills. Good grades from law school do not exempt aspiring lawyers from having to pass state bar exams. Clearly the education of K-12 students should be considered as important to safeguard as the interests of a lawyer’s clients.

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  14. Most definitely it’s to get rid of standardized tests. The amount of money spent on these tests could be used for teacher salaries and other support staff and services to children. If the tests were gone, the data mining would also be gone.

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  15. The one change I would make is to leave the door open to every classroom. The students would have the right to leave any time they wanted. They would not be captives. This would be the same kind of right that any adult would have in attending any event they chose. For example, a library assumes that you are a natural learner. You go in when you want. You exit when you want. Furthermore nobody requires that you take a test on your way out to see what you have learned, nor would they have the right to do that!

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    • This is a refreshing response. Isn’t it dismal to dream up more tired and historically unresponsive solutions when children are born with such natural curiosities? Three year olds are full of what, when, where and how. Sitting them in a classroom seems oppressive for most.
      Lifelong learning and sustaining knowledge should be the focus, not continuing the growth of institutionalized schooling with mandates such as lowering the compulsory attendance age and more money thrown in the non-education piece of the edu-industry. What could be done in a free educational community with the ~$10,000 spent per student now?
      The success of libraries is telling and that learning model should be followed.

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  16. If we are talking about grade school and high school education, I would give teachers a better salary and require schools districts not only to improve the salaries of teachers but provide, at school expense, access to courses during the summer that could enable teachers to learn more information that would help them be better teachers. If we are talking about college education, I would insist that college student who are attending school on grants or scholarships should be given an Incidental sum of money to help pay transportation costs, childcare costs and students fees costs so those hurdles would not stand in the way of people who are struggling to afford their educations.

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  17. I would put public education back into the hands of the public–fully and truly restore democratic local control and make sure the rich and well off know that they are included, but not welcome to take over. With that regained power, we can then decide everything else.

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  18. Shift our education culture to one of blame (not good enough, not enough $, what’s wrong within the bureaucracy and within school walls) to one of ownership, where EVERYONE (individuals and organizations) reflects on how they can contribute to better outcomes for youth and how we each can play a meaningful role in the development of children from pre-natal to adulthood. Essentially ask everyone to “ask not what education can do for you, but what you can do for education.”

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  19. We have been giving more money to schools for 50 years and the results don’t improve. Giving more money to a failed system give you a more expensive failed system.
    Standardized tests, though a lousy idea, are relatively new. We had lousy results long before we started doing all this testing.

    I would change the way we select and train leaders. Unless and until we get transformational leadership. we won’t get transformational change. Until we get transformational change, we won’t get the results we seek.

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    • While I don’t know if you and I would agree on what “transformational” looks like, I have nothing against good leadership, but tell me again about have we have been giving more money to schools. Do you have numbers to support that? We have given lots of money to develop standardized tests. That was not money to schools. Teachers salaries are a major part of a school budget, but teacher salaries in most places have not kept up with the cost of living, so doubtful that “more money” went very far there. Everywhere I look I see schools that have cut cut cut. The system wasn’t given a chance to succeed, so if it failed we have no further to look than at our priorities as a nation.

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  20. Narrowing the choice to one option is difficult but if that is the case I would focus on the education of girls and young women. That is the best prevention strategy I believe. Why? Educated women are less likely to have children early. They use fewer drugs. They marry later. When they do have children they have good pre and post natal care. Their children are less likely to be drop-outs, etc. This stops the cycle which currently keeps replaying itself.
    Of course quality pre-k is important but given one option…put your money on educating girls.
    Bob Wedl
    Minnesota

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  21. It would be hard to choose a single major change because so many changes are necessary.
    What strikes me is that these are not new dilemmas, just worse because of the current political climate.

    While I was teaching in DC many years ago. we went through periods of NO funding increases, do more with less, and yes, there was a major teacher’s strike.
    I tried to stock my classroom with donations of paper from NIH, old cancer protocols of patients. I crossed out patient history and we used the clean side for children to write cook books for their Mother’s Day gifts. I went to the Washington Post and salvaged end rolls of newsprint for children’s paintings. The Home and School Association raised funds for music and art.
    Parents drove us on field trips once a month. Fortunately museum activities are free in DC. At holidays I received gifts of supplies for my class: books, paints, markers and glue. The H&S also donated funds to a low income school in SE DC.
    Standardized tests have been around since I began teaching. That’s one of the reasons I taught early childhood, to avoid those. I felt it was my mission to convince people about the importance of quality preschool.

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    • Only prayer organized by the teacher or school is prohibited in public schools. Students are always free to pray on their own or in student-led prayer groups. Prayer is always in schools where students believe.

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  22. If I were King, I would to all the world happiness bring. And then I would abolish standardized testing especially multiple guess tests. My old teachers used to say “I want to know what you know not what you can guess or copy from a neighbor.” I once had a student, with excellent eyesight, who got, consistently, 87-95% on standardized tests. The problem was he never did any homework, couldn’t speak English and could not even write a coherent sentence. So I re-did the standardized test as an experiment asking the SAME information EXACTLY as the first test but in a short answer and short essay format. I even allowed this student to answer in Spanish. He got a zero out of 50 questions. He followed the shape of the test columns of a near neighbor and filled in the bubble accordingly. I have never, ever, given a major test that is entirely multiple choice. At least 50% is essay, fill in or short answer. MC are only good for a quick review as far as I am concerned. But the major flaw of MC is that -think about it- student get stupider taking them. 75% of what they read is false.

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  23. Of all the “education reform” elements that teachers seem to value most is having TIME during the school day to meaningfully collaborate with other teachers. I’ve gleaned this from observing the original Milken, multiple-element reform projects; from professional reading; and from interviewing and supporting National Board Certified teachers. Supporting effective educator collaboration entails training in process and protocols, “over-staffing” of schools so that professionals are with students at all times and so that all teachers are provided sufficient time to collaborate, and knowledgeably supportive school leaders. Every time I surveyed and interviewed suburban NBC teachers, and moderated focus groups of them re: what incentives would motivate them to transfer to low-performing schools, the #1 response consistently was to provide them time to regularly collaborate as peers with other teachers at the school about student learning and teaching. This was followed by their also wanting knowledgeably supportive school leaders; portability of tenure, accrued leave and seniority; and much further down their list was higher pay. I think that genuine collaboration among educators would generate structural changes and instructional and assessment practices. Good-bye, standardized tests; hello, authentic assessment of learning. Good-bye, age-segregated classrooms; hello, multi-aged, collaborative classrooms. Good-bye, top-down, outside-in decision-making; hello, empowered educators. TIME is needed for these bottom-up changes to emerge and then take root.

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  24. ““Get rid of them completely,” one asked? “Yes,” I said, “because about 75% of what they do is destructive: dumbing down the curriculum, making school a pressure-cooker, equating a person’s worth with his or her scores, falsely evaluating teacher quality based on a single number, and so on.”

    I continued. “Maybe about 25% of what they do is worth-while, but, if we got rid of them completely, we would be forced to develop alternative ways of assessing learning, and we could come up with approaches that weren’t inherently destructive.”

    You’re getting there, John. But any test or assessment should be for the benefit of the student in his/her learning of the subject matter. What can the student learn about his/her own learning? If the teacher doesn’t know pretty much what the student knows/doesn’t know by the time the assessment/test comes around that teacher really hasn’t been paying much attention to the student-or the class size is huge-LOL!

    The concept of teacher as “diagnostician”, as attempting to diagnose whether or not a student has or has not learned something is one of those false concepts that obstruct the purpose of the teaching and learning process wherein the student must be the focus of the process, must control his/her own learning with the teacher being the expert guide to/for the student offering/giving expertise as needed.

    There is an old country saying “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.” Well, in demanding that a teacher diagnose (standardize testing) and force a student to supposedly learn the subject matter at hand one is asking the teacher to force the “horse to drink”. Or as one country-boy biology teacher put it when the administrators where trying to force him to implement various malpractices: “I ain’t sucking on the back end to make ’em drink either”.

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    • “Assess to Improve” is my mantra (and bumper sticker). Time to END “Test and Punish” approach. And I would shun any educator (or wannabe) who talks about the need for ‘rigor.’
      Quick word association test: If I say “rigor,’ what word pops into your mind? I will bet the word is ‘mortis.’ ‘Nuf said….

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      • The question, then John, in my mind is “Assess to improve what?”. My answer: For the student to be able to improve his/her own learning of the subject matter at hand. Tests and any other assessments should be designed with that primary purpose in mind, not with any other purpose in mind as fundamental purpose of any education is to help the student in his/her life journey of personal growth (both mental and physical) as determined by that student, and when younger with the help of his/her parent/guardian.

        Again, the concept of the teacher as the expert pedagogical guide, knowledgeable in all the areas needed to be able to help the student navigate/layout/steer the course of their own being/learning/understanding instead of being a diagnostician diagnosing various educational maladies in “assessing to improve” a student, whatever that may mean, is what we should be trying to accomplish in providing public education for all children.

        As far as rigor? You are 100% correct! Same shunning should be done with anyone who uses “data driven” or “rubric” or “competency based” or “21st century skills” or “coding” or any other number of pat marketing phrases meant to deceive the gullible.

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  25. I want to see only genuine educators, with formal training in education and at least five years of classroom teaching experience in schools, calling the shots in education, not politicians, billionaires, corporations, dillettants, etc. dictating policies, funding and what goes on in classrooms.

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    • Formal training and classroom teaching experience would have to be in legitimate, accredited college Ed Schools and public P-12 schools, not fake schools like charters and their similarly fake Teacher Ed programs that only train teachers to be drill sergeants implementing the one-size-fits-all “no-excuses” model –which means that people who received their training in alternative programs, like TFA, Relay, the unaccredited Broad program etc., would not qualify.

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  26. This is absolutely right… as is Mr. Churchill’s editorial! if testing remains in place as it is now any new resources no matter how they are distributed will be spent preparing kids to pass them. The standardized tests we administer to children today insidiously create the comparison of children within an age cohort. This, in turn, leads to developmentally inappropriate instruction for many children and needless competition among students and schools to “succeed” on test-taking. Worse yet it reinforces the notion that schools are designed to sort and select students.

    And here’s the best thing about this idea: unlike the ideas of his dinner friends it wouldn’t cost taxpayers a dime! Indeed…. it would SAVE millions of dollars!

    So why aren’t we all jumping on board?

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  27. Many, many great, researched-based ideas shared here, that are absolutely necessary to create great public education systems. Here’s two I would add:
    1. All education policy-makers must have public education experience as a teacher, administrator or professor of education, and
    2. All education policy-makers must develop policies based upon current research and theory, including Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs.” (What could be more appropriate than basing education policy, standards, pedagogy, curriculum and assessment on student needs being met physically, for safety, love & belonging, for and self-esteem to achieve self actualization?)

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  28. IMMEDIATELY institute school choice/vouchers/ESAs for all families with children in the K-12 age range. Give parents choice!

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      • Indiana has extended school choice/vouchers to almost every family in the state. Only about 3% have accepted. Public Education is alive and well in the Hoosier state. Vouchers did not destroy government-run publicly-operated education there. Why do you think national vouchers would?

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  29. One more change: Every state in the nation, should have a four-year preparatory school for gifted/talented youth. The Illinois Math and Science academy is a good model for other states to follow. see

    http://www.imsa.edu

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    • State schools will be needed for residential purposes when the best place for a kid is getting him/her out of an awful environment. But for learning purposes, in the world of personalization students should not have to go to a state school to receive what they need.

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  30. If I could make one change, I would fire most of the current crop of full-time education journalists based in DC, and the staffs of the Education Writers Assn, Education Week, and the Hechinger Report. There is a popular quotation on Twitter to the effect that if one is not willing to publish what those in power do not wish to see, one is working in public relations, not journalism. Give your peripatetically solicited donations to either of these three organizations and what you will receive in response is PR, unquestioning portrayals of the “truths” provided by those in power, either in the traditional education establishment or the education reform establishment. Unquestioning, unskeptical, sycophantic to those with power and money.

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  31. “There is a popular quotation on Twitter to the effect that if one is not willing to publish what those in power do not wish to see, one is working in public relations, not journalism. ”

    I didn’t know about this, but great observation and the wording makes it sticky.

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  32. I would change the funding model away from local property taxes. It is unfair to children for their school funding to be dependent upon the tax base of the community in which they live. If we expect all students to meet rigorous standards, then we should start by ensuring equity in school funding.

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  33. My first thought was: sustained tangible support for teachers, especially young teachers, so they continue to grow and develop an understanding of their role with the students they are guiding. Of course that means doing a lot of the things others have mentioned. It means money for adequate salaries and well equipped facilities, it means no standardized tests to distract teachers and students from authentic learning, it means educating teachers well in the first place, valuing them and trusting them.

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    • The other day I met a young endocrinologist at a party. He talked to me about the latest advances in Type I diabetes. He was justifiably proud of bringing these advancements to his patients. I am very interested in this because both my son and my granddaughter have this disease. However, in the last twenty years we have had tremendous advancements and look forward to a total cure in the near future.

      Now contrast this situation with professionals in the field of education. Many (most?) have master’s degrees and spend many years refining their skills, just as doctors and other professionals do. But in teaching, an experienced teacher could have a less knowledgeable administrator who comes into her classroom and tells her to go against her professional judgment: to ignore what she knows. This happened to me and to many other teachers. So if we can just give our teachers the best education possible and then TRUST them to apply what they know, that would be HUGE. Until we shed our low esteem for our k-12 teachers, we’ll never see the improvements that we supposedly seek.

      Liked by 2 people

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