Responses to Gates and Broad $60M to push "educational reform"

Eli Broad and Bill Gates plan to spend $60 Million to push "educational reform" to the top of the 2008 political agenda. Who thinks this constitutes reform?

Here's the agenda:
  • National standardized curriculum
  • Longer school day
  • Merit pay
There are some great comments about this on the web:
Roger Shank at The Pulse: One More Time; Rich Folks Misunderstand Education Reform
"I am glad that some rich guys have decided it is important to fix American education. Their method – get the candidates to take education reform seriously - sounds good on the surface but it will be another waste of money – the same money that could actually fix the nation’s schools."

Next Things Blog - Self-defeating Standardization
"Lengthening the school day and the school year are entirely unnecessary if teachers could make curriculum choices that fully engaged students in learning. Students pay scant attention to the dreary materials served up to them now. Why prolong the agony?"

And summing it all up: AAAARRRRRGGGGHHHHH! from Will Richardson

Views: 36

Comment by Elizabeth Davis on April 26, 2007 at 9:27pm
What drives me crazy is that the media and people like Gates always focus on the negative, what is wrong with schools today. How about looking at what is right! Operating from goodness, researching and reporting the positives, the success stories, so that others can learn from them.

When the media and people like the Gates put down teachers and blame all of the failures of education on the schools, we lose respect as teachers, we lose people who might want to become teachers, and frankly, it is demoralizing and tiring. It takes a village, teachers are a small part of the equation and most of us are working pretty hard. We need to look at the big picture. Look at the entire community - not just the schools - for the answers.
Comment by Sylvia Martinez on April 26, 2007 at 9:38pm
I think this is one reason why "business" solutions are always a mismatch for education. The focus on optimization, standardization and efficiency is not appropriate. Teachers are not factory workers and students are not products.
Comment by SparklingDrift on April 27, 2007 at 8:00am
Just to play 1/2 of a devil's advocate (that it part of the blog cycle you published earlier, Sylvia). A National Curriculum of some sort may not be the most insane thing in the world. Students move so much--especially in lower socioeconomic districts--that some sort of continuity would decrease the whiplash they feel upon moving. My dad taught in suburban GA and said that he had new kids weekly and less than half of the kids he started with were still there by the end.

The Voltaire's Bastards book sounds very interesting; I want to read it, though I wonder is it supposed to mean that irrational, inexpert systems would have better outcomes?
Comment by Sylvia Martinez on April 27, 2007 at 8:25am
Skip - that sounds like an interesting book. Although I think for some reason educators have allowed a lot more meddling in their profession than other professionals.

SparkD - Here's the other side of the devil's advocacy against a national curriculum. A national curriculum might be a good "idea", similar to "no child left behind" - no one wants kids to suffer. However, in practice, a national curriculum devolves into scripting that takes away teacher and student autonomy and devalues teacher expertise when what we need now is MORE teacher expertise. The idea that every classroom (and by definition then, every child) should be at the same point at the same day is not real.

We are entirely too focused on finding the magic "list-o-stuff" that every child should know, when any list we make is a billionth of human knowledge. Which billionth we teach is pointless. Teaching children to learn how to learn and value themselves as learners is not pointless.

Having students that move is a problem for the current inflexible system. It will not be made better by making the system more rigid.


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