Saturday, April 5, 2014

A Tale of Two School Systems:

The disparity between the amount of testing taking place in the nation's public schools and between the top private schools where most policy makers and business leaders send their children is simply shocking! Not only do none of these elite schools use Common Core, they never rate their teachers on the basis of student test scores, or use the demeaning Danielson and Marzano rubrics to evaluate teachers through observations. Most importantly, the amount of standardized testing in their schools is only a fraction of what currently is administered in public schools, meaning that class time is spent on creative projects and instruction rather than drilling for tests.
If this is what is considered the best education money can buy, and the one that best prepares students for admission to the nation's top colleges and universities, why isn't this model of pedagogy the one that policy makers want public schools to adopt? Why is creativity considered appropriate for their children, but stress filled rote learning appropriate for children of the middle class and the poor.
I have raised this question very sharply to those who see test based school and teacher evaluation and Common Core standards as the only way to insure that low income students and students of color experience equal educational opportunity. If the kind of learning this strategy really prepares one "to compete in the global economy" and " be part of the 21st Century workforce," why don't the most powerful people in the country want this for their own children? Why do they, without exception, choose schools that do the opposite.
As an historian, I am forced to conclude that our elites, looking at the future job market- in which economists estimate that 6 out of 10 new jobs will be minimum wage- want our public schools to train disciplined workers with low expectations who are not exposed to the critical thinking skills which might lead them to question the astronomical levels of inequality in our society or the hardships that exist in their own neighborhoods.
Their children get Leadership Training- our Children get Obedience Training.
To call this "The Civil Rights Movement of the 21st Century" is to defy common sense and turn history on its head.