"The economic motive has always figured in the spread of mass education in the United States, but recently it has predominated, edging out all the other reasons we send kids to school: civic, social, ethical, developmental." ~ Mike Rose
There is big money involved in the federal education grant program, Race to the Top (RttT). States across the land, including Maine, are scrambling to pass legislation that will put them in contention for an infusion of funding. The requirements are:
--Turn around the lowest-achieving schools.
--Create competitive academic standards and tests that prepare students for college and the work force.
--Build data systems to track students from grade to grade.
--Connect teacher and principal salaries to student performance.
--Loosen caps on charter schools.
Question: Are we selling our souls for money?
President Dwight Eisenhower had the following to say about local control of education:
"A distinguishing characteristic of our nation — and a great strength — is the development of our institutions within the concept of individual worth and dignity. Our schools are among the guardians of that principle. Consequently . . . and deliberately their control and support throughout our history have been — and are — a state and local responsibility. . . . Thus was established a fundamental element of the American public school system — local direction by boards of education responsible immediately to the parents of children. Diffusion of authority among tens of thousands of school districts is a safeguard against centralized control and abuse of the educational system that must be maintained. We believe that to take away the responsibility of communities and states in educating our children is to undermine not only a basic element of our freedoms but a basic right of our citizens."
In the end, does more data ever improve our lives? See Neil Postman's "Informing Ourselves to Death."
" . . . It is all the same: There is no escaping from ourselves. The human dilemma is as it has always been, and we solve nothing fundamental by cloaking ourselves in technological glory." ~ Postman
Do we want corporations and technocrats to determine how and what our children learn? See the Common Core State Standards Initiative and the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. Check out who is - and who isn't - on the boards.
When it comes to turning around lowest-achieving schools and connecting teacher and principal pay to student performance, have we forgotten about this side of the equation:
What are your thoughts?
How to Create Workers, Not Citizens - the Frustrated Teacher
Bridging Differences: The New Era of Greed
NEA: Race to the Top = The Demise of Teaching
Schools Matter: Calling Out Harvard's Graduate School of Education
Reforms of Least Resistance
All Innovation Short of Charter Schools
Starting to Race to the Top