Thursday, June 28, 2012

Reform misses target . . .

I want to thank Scott for sharing a Tacoma News Tribune article with me by Ronald Byrnes, associate professor in Pacific Lutheran University’s School of Education.  I found it thought provoking and encourage you to read it.  It aligned with my recent post on the Gallop Poll findings highlighting a decline in Americans’ confidence in public schools.

The article focuses on opinion leaders who constantly get their thoughts and ideas in the media using global economic competitiveness and national greatness to promote their school change agendas.  Opinion leaders are people like President Obama, Secretary Duncan, and Bill Gates.  This is so true and the tone of the message is always negative, what we are doing wrong.  The fix also has a similar ring; focus on math and science and tying student achievement to teacher evaluations.  Byrnes contends that this focus will not motivate teachers, students, or their families to embrace the proposed changes and is the reason why most change efforts have limited impact on schooling.

I’m almost of the opinion that I should just copy and paste the entire article, but that isn't good blogging so I'll just whet your appetite for going to the article with these.

If teachers find appeals to economic competitiveness and national greatness uninspiring, it’s doubly true for students. Academic achievement isn’t a question of how much young people love their country; it’s whether they have inspiring teachers, positive peer pressure and, most importantly, caring adults in their lives who combine high expectations with tireless support and encouragement.
Or . . .

As citizens we have a choice. We can passively defer to the combined voices of the opinion leaders who dominate the nation’s newspapers and airwaves or we can resolve to challenge their narrow utilitarian assumptions about the purpose of schooling and instead frame teaching as a profoundly challenging, rewarding and important form of community service.
Read it here.

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