1) Main site is Improve-Education.org. Articles there are scholarly in a lively way, and intended to last for years. This blog is for short newsy bits. 2) This site is pro-education, pro-teacher, and anti-Education Establishment.
Arne Duncan and President Obama have announced that they’re looking for states and school districts “willing to challenge the status quo.” This is tremendously exciting news. These schools, presumably, will start teaching children to read, write and do basic arithmetic!!! Not being able to do these things is unfortunately the status quo in many schools....The problem for 100 years is that when our educators start talking about “reforming public education,” assume your taxes will go up and your kids will get dumber. The public should keep the heat on. We certainly do want improved schools. What we don’t want is the usual slippery sophistries that have so far given us 50 million functional illiterates, falling SAT scores, a less competitive country internationally, and just about everything else you don’t want in your public schools. (My funniest column yet gives some insight into why we have these problems: Professors of Education ADORE Bruce Price’s New Book On Education.)
Google “math scores” and you will find a pathetic litany of lies and alibis...Scores are DOWN, but not that much, so don’t worry about it!....Scores are UP, but as Newsday reported June 21, 2009: “Higher passing rates for students on state math tests have triggered debate...over the question of whether Albany has pumped up results by lowering cutoff scores.” Did you get that? They move passing from 75, let’s say, to 70 and then announce to the world: “Kids better in math!” ....It’s hard to think of something more corrupt than math instruction in the USA. New Math didn’t teach math circa 1960. Reform Math, also known as New New Math, doesn’t teach math today. As subversives, our math experts are world-class. Anything with a name like MathLand, Connected Math, Constructivist Math, or Everyday Math seems to be a Three-card Monte. Run the other way if you hear these warning signs: algorithms, spiraling, constructivist, cooperative, critical thinking...From what I hear, homeschoolers use only Saxon Math or Singapore Math. (For more on dumbing down in math, see “36: The Assault On Math.”)
The Week magazine reported on two new books side-by-side: 1) THE TALENT CODE by Daniel Coyle concludes that great talent springs from lots of practice; 2) WHY DON’T STUDENTS LIKE SCHOOL? by Daniel Willingham concludes that content is more important than “learning strategies.”...In education circles these statements of the obvious are shocking news. That’s because our elite educators like to build houses of dust on airy axioms that long experience knows to be untrue....Educators postulate that talented people are born that way, so students should NEVER practice anything or master anything. Just play....Meanwhile, in our ed schools, future teachers are told not to bother learning content. Instead, they must learn strategies, i.e., little gimmicks by which they will educate the next generation. Not! Imagine, strategies to teach, but they don't know anything to teach. Only in Edville.
Newspapers are abuzz about states working together on so-called “national standards.” Here’s my guess: the Educational Establishment loves this idea to the extent that the standards can be kept low, mushy and multicultural. A major theme on this blog is that, for ideological reasons, our elite educators don’t aim high. "National standards” will be harmful because educators will use them to dumb down the overachieving states. Why not let each state be an R&D lab that searches for better ways to do things? SAT scores and other tests can tell us which states and which methods are doing a good job. Then the low-performing states can be encouraged to copy the high-performing states. Sounds like a great system to me! What we have seen for the last 75 years in public schools is that our elite educators can always find many compelling reasons why children needn’t bother to learn X. X being anything! WE ARE MUCH STRONGER WITH DIVERSITY--different states trying different approaches; different students trying different approaches, such as good public schools, vouchers, charter schools, homeschooling, private schools, etc. Excellence, wherever possible, is the best diversity of all. (For notes on how to make education more efficient, see "26: How to Teach History, Etc.)
My local paper reported (late May) that “Second-graders in Virginia study ancient China, Egypt and the American Indians. In third grade, they study Greece, Rome and the west African empire of Mali.” Remember when educators used to talk about “relevance,” and that everything taught in schools must be “relevant” to the child’s life? Let me tell you a little secret. Educators talked about “relevance” only when they wanted to kill off something traditional, such as biology, Latin, history, English literature, etc. Then educators found a better gimmick: multiculturalism. This sophistry cuts from the other direction, and ends up requiring that children be taught the most remote and irrelevant things possible! So you have seven-year-olds who know nothing about their own region and country studying vast empires that are vast distances away and that lasted vast numbers of years. But you see the same goal is reached: children are NOT taught the foundational knowledge they need. And this is in Virginia, once a very sensible state.
When millions of children are discovered to be illiterate and suffering from VA (virtual amnesia), a titanic police drama erupts. Secret FBI unit--The Illuminati--battles with a secret cult--The Ignorati--funded by Rockefeller billions. (Their motto: Semper Fuzzy.) What vicious virus is crippling kids? Cracking the Duh Dewey Code requires Tom Hanks-esque hero to dodge repeated assaults by berserko profs of education, some tricky time travel in an alternative alphabet that nobody can pronounce, and a final dumb-down where the Spirit of Look-say, embodied in the sociopsycho Willy Scott Gray, seeks to subdue the last reader standing, and cleanse the universe of letters-as-sounds. As Willy warbles in the haunting title track, “Letters Are Shapes You Memorize, And So Your Mind Slowly Dies.” Expect John Malkovic as the satanic ghost of John Dewey, a/k/a The Degenerator. (For background, see 6-minute video "Phonics versus Whole Word” on YouTube.)
Fun on YouTube...I have 50+ graphic videos on YouTube. Educational and entertaining, often. Many deal with reading and educational strategies. Many have good music and need some volume. (Channel is: YouTube.com/BruceDeitrickPrice)
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Bruce Deitrick Price
- Remain a novelist, artist, poet, and art director. But main activity is writing about education reform.. The schools, now bad due to ideology and laziness, could be easily improved. That claim is clearly explained in new book "Saving K-12--What happened to our public schools. How do we fix them?"I invite everyone to join my crusade or start your own. The worst thing is letting the Education Establishment continue its reign of incompetence.Visit Improve-Education.org. (Or Google Bruce Deitrick Price and any education topic; you'll find some interesting articles. I have 400 ed articles, videos, and book reviews on web. Please use them in your own battles.)
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