Monday, September 22, 2014

Education in a panic

From a comment of mine, posted to the website and discussing how the Common Core is taking away recess and free play time for kids:

Common Core is being used as a scapegoat for every problem in education today. If anything, the Common Core and the Race to the Top initiative overturned some of the heavy testing requirements of the previous No Child Left Behind Act--which was very heavy on "accountability" and accountability at the classroom and teacher level: which meant testing. This is why states have been reluctant to jettison the CC, even with major backlashes against it: without the Common Core (or a set of standards so similar there's little difference) states have to return to the No Child Left Behind requirements which are much heavier on the testing, and require serious--and probably unreachable--results. (All children must be above average sorts of results.)

I think much of the education world is in a panic and reaching for ideas to improve educational outcomes. Spending on education has skyrocketed in the last few decades, with little or nothing to show for the extra money in terms of results. (Though, a large chunk of that money is being spent on special-needs kids who in the past were either not mainstreamed or were stuck off in a corner and ignored.) Class sizes have been shrunk with little benefits seen. "Technology" and computers have proliferated with little in the way of benefits. "Reform Math" replaced "New Math" replaced "traditional math" with little benefit. "Whole Word" replaced "Phonics" and failed miserably. Everything they've tried has failed.

With little in the way of results, schools are eliminating anything that isn't 3-R related: art, music, even academic subjects like history and science have been put on the back burner. Free play time was often the first to go.

This isn't the result of Common Core, this is the result of decades of failure in our education system. (And even schools which we consider good schools, like the nice suburban ones which we don't consider a problem, often stack up poorly to schools around the world.) They don't know what to do, and don't know how to fix the system.

If they are once again turning to a system which will backfire--less free time for squirming children, it is entirely in line with most of what they've tried over several decades.

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