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Education in the Media, Philosophical Meanderings

No does mean “NO”

If it is good enough to combat drug abuse, why not the test? Just say "NO".

I visited a web site about a New York education conference at which individuals joined “a leading author and architect of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), David Coleman, to understand how the Core Standards for College and Career Readiness build on the work New York State has done in developing a standards-based system and their specific implications for teachers and instructional leaders state wide.” I was agog after viewing a video of Mr. Coleman’s presentation on “how to read” Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”. I had thought the letter to have more meaning than what its words, standing alone, suggest.

I was wrong. I guess I sometimes need a whack on the side of the head to learn.

I work with a number of ambulance operations (public and private) and institutions that provide training/education to those seeking to work as EMTs and Paramedics. The path to working in the field haschanged much over the decades, but the field work has not.

In Michigan, passing standardized tests produced by a certain entity is important because they act as the State’s licensing tests. About 50% of first-time test takers fail. This has led to teaching to the test, and an industry has sprung up to assist would-be EMS workers pass the exams.

I recently took a computer assisted test (CAT) developed to prepare candidates to take and pass the exams. It has been decades since I took a standardized test and last worked as a Paramedic. I did not expect to do well but had not expected to abjectly fail. I had especially not expected to fail the section on medical-legal issues. It took a few days for my failure to sink in and then, “Eureka!”

It is a miracle, Mr. Coleman. I have seen the light. I now understand that, if one wants to pass a standardized test, one must read a text in a vacuum for such tests measure one’s ability to entirely ignore reality, disregard all one’s experiences and values, side-step all meaning and focus only on the question and answers written in black and white.

Arne Duncan, deftly avoiding clarity regarding the pros and cons of standardized tests, said “we have to educate our way to a better economy — that’s what this is about.” (Arne Duncan interview with Jon Stewart) Measurements of success apparently include increased graduation rates, decreased dropout rates and more “college ready” students.

The USA has more high school graduates, more college-degreed persons and the highest literacy rate it has ever had.

Recent census data on educational attainment (2012 Statistical Abstract) leaves me uncertain as to how “education” can better the economy. Indeed, excepting for some “gaps” that exist I am uncertain as to how education in the USA can improve very much. Perhaps Mr. Duncan meant that “private education” investment funds would be churned in markets, with each turned-over value added to the GNP/GDP total, thereby making it seem as if the economy is improving.

Don’t we know what happens when ever-increasing debt loads are incurred in exchange for “things” of ever-decreasing value?

I would feel dismayed, but I’m walking out…

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About Brent Snavely

A construct of upbringing and society, holder of a BS and JD and most recently an MA, I have practiced law for about 20 years. It has been said "The Truth shall set you free" -- I believe it will, but only if it is Your Personal Truth. Parrhesia may be humankind's only hope (see, https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=explorer&srcid=0B9yCDQy_KiIGYTNiZTc1NmMtNzQ4ZS00OTM2LWI5ZWItNDI5MjVkMDM5NzZm).

Discussion

2 thoughts on “No does mean “NO”

  1. Amongst the fundamental misunderstandings driving public education and its policy:

    • Graduating from high school makes one college ready.
    • Passing a test makes one career-ready.
    • Graduation and employment should require passing a-contextual tests.
    • School should therefore be a-contextual, or at least insist that all teachers and students should padss tests and graduate regardless of context.
    • Public school educators, policy-makers, students, parents, and college all have the same idea of college-readiness.
    • Higher education wants kids to be college ready more than it wants to remain solvent by admitting kids who are not college-ready by professors’ standards (even though they are college-ready on paper).
    • College professors use tenure and faculty senates to push for meaningful admissions standards.
    • Corporations pressure higher education and public education to graduate creative, problem-identifying and -solving workers.

    But the beat goes on –
    C

    Posted by Chad Sansing | April 22, 2012, 9:45 am
    • The entire circular mess drives me buggy.

      I stand in admiration of you and others who steadfastly remain in the trenches without popping a serious cork.

      Best,
      Brent

      Posted by Brent Snavely | April 22, 2012, 1:13 pm

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