Time to be spooked. Parents should be spooked. Teachers should be spooked. The national workforce should be spooked. And kids (who are going to be on the wrong end of this stuff) ought to be very, very very spooked.
I mean, is this the wave that is inevitably going to wash over us all?
Really, how long before all of us — and by all of us, I mean ALL of us — are being mandated to teach this type of curriculum?
Essentially, it’s a curse of study — oops, I mean a course of study — explicitly designed to teach to the test. As the news article points out, all 29 elementary schools in one district are now being mandated to use the same literacy materials. (What a sale for the publisher of these materials though, huh? Betchya the commissions on that purchase order set a few heels to clicking!) And what literacy materials, you ask? Well, as the article says — and this is a direct quote — Reading Street (catchy name, I’ll give them that) uses, “workbooks” by means of “prescribing set amounts of time for different activities”.
As if Timmy at one school, Johnny in another, Sara in yet a third, Joe and Jackie in another and Paul in yet another school (I am too lazy to type up the names of 29 different kids) are all going to benefit equally from being fed the same mental nutrients as served up by a corporate behemoth who hasn’t even met Timmy, Johnny, Sara, Joe, Jackie and so on.
In the search for equity, are we not being unfair to almost everyone? If you are going to try and pull this off with every student in all 29 elementary schools in one district, will not the top get slowed down, the bottom get passed up and administrators concentrate most heavily on working towards the great, glorious movement to the middle where everyone understands the same concepts at the same time in an equal and measurable fashion?
And though I have not seen Reading Street in person (their website has lots of good buzzwords though with lots of fancy sounding near guarantees for success) I guess this also means if the test doesn’t test it then the question will inevitably arises as to why a teacher might teach certain content? (Forget the fact that their professional experience tells them it is of value… I mean, this is exactly how the test makers are shaping the direction of America’s schooling. He who makes the tests, makes the rules. (The new Golden Rule of Education.)
Good way to manage the widgets, that’s for sure? The folks in North Carolina are nervous… and in my opinion, rightfully so. Yet like I said, I have not seen Reading Street, haven’t touched it, haven’t used it, hadn’t ever heard of it til this week… thankfully!! But when I read this quote from a parent of a child at the magnet school in the district (and aren’t magnet schools supposed to be our shining lights in this haze of mediocrity we call U.S. public education?) I get spooked.
“I don’t feel that a top-down, corporate, admin-heavy approach is what’s going to improve learning for our children. I feel that our children learn from qualified, inspired teachers,” said Julie Maxwell, a Club Boulevard parent.
Really, who is going to argue with that? Other than the top, down, corporate, admin-heavy supporters of course… of which there are few — but they have power… a frightening amount.
Like I said, He who makes the tests, makes the rules!