Friday, February 6, 2015

Interview with a Finnish Foreign Exchange Student


After viewing an art exhibition this evening with my son, we ran into one of his high school friends who just happened to have in tow with her a young visitor from Finland. I found out our visitor is attending a popular suburban high school here in the Midwest. During our discussion the Finnish visitor revealed American high schools “treat their students like 10-year olds.” "You have to ask permission to use the bathroom!" "At my old school we just get up and leave." “Here it's like being in juvenile detention.” In Finland we emphasize creativity and thinking outside the box, and we have no testing like you do here!"
There seems to be much ignorance within the body politic responsible for US education policy regarding learning experience and matters of the mind. Then again, perhaps it’s not ignorance at all. Perhaps there is a reason why our schools look like factories, learning is fragmented outside children’s interests and intellectual development is measured like meat on a butcher’s scale.
Of course the American “bewildered herd” doesn’t know anything except testing and rating schools by test scores. Who is responsible for that drum beat? Mass media? Who is selling that message? 
No mention that over 20% of children in the US over the age of 18 suffer from mental illness. No mention that testing drives curriculum into a year-long radical behaviorist drill exercise for high stakes standardized tests with little time for creative or personalized learning experience.
Looking at US juvenile incarceration rates ( http://www.aecf.org/resources/youth-incarceration-in-the-united-states/ ), crime rates, poverty rates, drop out rates…highest in the industrialized world, one can make the inference there is a reasonable causation for these statistics.
US children suffer under structural violence.
Who is responsible for this structure?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Pence and Indiana State Board of Education Power-Grab Seeks To Overturn Authority Voters Entrusted To Glenda Ritz

There is no question. Two bills introduced in committee this week at the Indiana State General Assembly are meant to undo the will of voters.

HB1486 authored by Rep. Jeff Thompson and SB1, authored by Senator Travis Holdman, are all about transferring authority of the Indiana Department of Education to the politically appointed body of the Indiana State Board of Education. These bills are about stripping away an elected officials duties and giving them to political appointees. Remember the Center for Education and Career Innovation?

Governor Pence has pledged 5 million dollars to create a new shadow agency through the State Board of Education to do the work of Superintendent Ritz's agency. We do not need more bureaucracy nor do we need taxpayer dollars spent on school oversight functions the Department of Education is already doing at no cost to Indiana Taxpayers.

Tell your state representatives to oppose HB 1486 and tell your State Senators to oppose SB1.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

On High Stakes Testing The 20% Of Children With Mental Illness....


According to the National Institute of Mental Health, twenty percent of children (actually 21%) have a mental illness of one sort or another. 20% is a big number! Illnesses like post traumatic stress syndrome, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, depression, bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia are serious conditions that cause functional impairments and cognitive deficits.

Question: Is it morally acceptable to push children through curricula and assessments centered around data driven instruction and high stakes standardized tests?

I sat through a discussion yesterday at the Indianapolis Marion County public library on standardized testing.

Derek Redelman, one of the discussion participants and a pusher of high stakes standardized testing for the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce had nothing to say on this issue.

To her credit Dr. Dena Cushenberry Superintendent of Warren Twp. Schools, mentioned we have to be "concerned"and "mindful" but insisted that students would make their parents happy with good test scores.

I had a discussion with Dr. Cushenberry later in the lobby about emergent curriculum as a way of giving children a voice in non-consensual learning experiences that now amount to test prep and she had no idea what I was talking about.

More on this subject soon.


Sunday, November 16, 2014

On Warping of Curricula and Immorality of Testing





Here is the trailer to "Standardized."


A dynamic discussion with members of Parent Power, Black and Latino Policy Institute and Education Community Action Team on high stakes standardized testing.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

"I'll just be the girl who got a three, or the girl who got a one, or the girl who threw up because she was so nervous."

More evidence on negative affects to physiological and psycho-emotional development caused by standardized high stakes testing. In their own words, elementary students Claire and Liam address the Orange County School Board:

"We all have to do the same thing at the same time. The kids all learn like that because of tests." "I wanted you to see that I'm a 3rd grader and me and other kids who are going to take the scary tests for the first time in the Spring, and I won't be Claire to them, I'll just be the girl who got a three, or the girl who got a one, or the girl who threw up because she was so nervous. You guys always teach us about standing up to others. Now it's time for you to stand up to the bullies who are using these tests in the wrong way. Can't you do something?"


Liam addresses his school board on the standard error of measurement: "When I took the 3rd grade FCAT, I was a wreck. The pressure on our teacher and our school's success riding on our backs was crazy. Everybody pressuring us to be great. If we weren't great, everybody knew, we would have to repeat classes and the whole 3rd grade. Ugh! I didn't do well. My parents tried to make me feel better by telling me that tests are what happens when you don't get enough time to get to know somebody. But that didn't make any sense because 'my teacher' already knew me real well." "Why couldn't people just ask her about my poems, my website, my science fair project, my speeches, my videos, the portfolio? Why isn't that my score? I don't understand why you guys even care about a number from a test on one day when my stomach felt like I ate acid." "Right now, everyone is just their FCAT scores."

 Children are not homogeneously constructed. Why do we educate them so?
Claire and Liam bring up some pretty important issues here: Coercion of children. Toxic stress inducing experiences. Forced participation into curricula that ignore children's interests, strengths and unique cognitive capacities based on a pedagogy of radical behaviorism.

The test pushers don't care if children suffer anxiety or toxic stress before, during or after the tests. The test pushers don't care if children's unique cognitive gifts are ignored by their teacher. Test pushers don't care if learning is reduced to banal test training experiences. Make no mistake, the tests are designed to confuse and trick children. Educators are forced to train children to answer ambiguously worded selected response standardized test questions.

Claire who is unaccustomed to bullying asks the question to the Orange County School Board, "Can you do something?"

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Before They Were "Hoosiers for Quality Education" They Went By Another Name.....

H4QE is funded by a lot of deep pockets outside of Indiana.
If this group is advocating for quality education for all Hoosier school children, why have they supported candidates and policies responsible for pressuring teachers and administrators to teach to the test and cut funding to public schools where approximately 90% of children in Indiana are educated and why did they feature the voucherization of public schools under another PAC name? Doug Martin has some insight on this group here. I smell big money funding this PAC from out of state corporate donors in Kansas, Arkansas and Michigan.

Monday, October 6, 2014

A Who's Who Responsible For The Narrowed, Standardization of K-12 Curricula In The U.S.

The Koch's, Bill Gates and Eli Broad are the most powerful funders of  education deform in the World. In the U.S. Arne Duncan is their tool.
There is a fourth wheel of government accountable to no one. It is the big, big monied elites. They control  significant numbers of politicians. They influence legislative initiatives. They control the mass media and public information. The Billionaires Club have succeeded in weaving their influence  (Duncan is a former Broad Foundation board member) into your children's public school experience. Corporate education deformers say they want your child to be college and career ready with a rigorous education loaded with grit. What they really intend to do is standardize children's curriculum and learning experience so countless numbers of lucrative high stakes standardized tests can be administered resulting in the successful preparation of the next generation of compliant worker bees. I have four of the top oligarchs in this image. If you judge teachers and schools based on children's high stakes standardized test scores, curriculum will be narrowed to what's covered on the test and teachers will teach to the test! More to come.