Understanding comes only through self-knowledge

“The ignorant man is not the unlearned, but he who does not know himself,and the learned man is stupid when he relies on books,on knowledge and on authority to give him understanding. Understanding comes only through self-knowledge, which is awareness of one’s total psychological process. Thus education, in the true sense, is the understanding of oneself, for it is within each on of us that the whole of existence is gathered.” – Krishnamurti

I think of this quote on the eve of high-stakes testing. What is being measured/tested? Is this format the right one? The students don’t seem to think so, I found amusement in reading a student satire of the test , this quelled my test anxiety for a fleeting moment. This was shared via a user comment on Ravitch’s blog:

“A middle school student’s creative reaction to the testing madness:http://atthechalkface.com/2013/04/14/a-middle-school-students-version-of-a-new-york-state-assessment/

The source of my anxiety: a 20 page testing schedule and proctor assignment for our 300 students into 20 various proctoring rooms, too bad I can’t “opt out”.  I hope that the scheduling  logistics are behind me , at least for this week.

With opting out a bit more mainstream this year, I am curious to learn the legal ramifications for opting out. According to the blog, a school can lose funding if 5% or more of the student population opt-out.

In the post “A Teacher’s pledge for the ethical use of data” Ravitch agrees with a teacher that proposes that test scores should be treated as privately as a patient’s medical status. This student- teacher confidentiality is a misguided answer to the corporate testing agenda. I think this disagreement is healthy, up until now I have been aligned with many of Ravitch’s views, and as an education policy novice, I  have hung on many of her words. I think such a policy would be a penny wise and a pound foolish. Perhaps it would temporarily mitigate school closures because the “data ” would be missing, but in the long run and equal society should strive for transparency, how else can future generations learn from the mistakes of the past?

Publishing teacher’s ratings, that is a different case with a different goal- one of accountability and gaining control by exposing another stakeholder’s “weakness”. A policy like that should span industries rather than singling out a single arena.

Susan Ohanian’s 10 Commandments of NCLB


I was browsing Susan Ohanian‘s blog annd came across this witty piece:

Ten Commandments of No Child Left Behind

And Congress spake, following the advice of their Business Roundtable handlers:

1. We are the State, which has brought students out of the wilderness of teacher-led classrooms and into the kingdom of test prep. Thou shalt have no other guidance before thee, and then it will follow as night follows day that No Child Is Left Behind.

2. Thou shalt not make unto thyself any graven images, nor any likeness of anything
that contradicts the Standards and their tests. For the State is a jealous god, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth
generation of them who do not obey.

3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Standardistas, thy god, in vain. For the
State, nor the testing company, will not hold him guiltless that takes their
name in vain.

4. Remember the Standards and keep them holy. The State blessed the Tests
and hallowed them. Thy adequate yearly progress scores shall comfort thee.

5. Honor thy Standards, that thy days as teachers may be long upon the land
of direct instruction which the State gives you.

6. Thou shalt not kill Standardistas.

7. I Thou shalt not have intercourse with any other than thy lawful Standards
and test prep materials.

8. Thou shalt not steal time away from the Standards and preparation for the
State�s tests for frivolous matters.

9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against the Standards.

10. Thou shalt not covet lesson plans of bygone times. Nor shalt thou covet
libraries, books, recess, art, music, nor anything that went before.

In these days comes the band of the Reading First 73 to preach to the multitudes, �Verily we say unto you seeking Title 1 funds, among the skills of reading, none is greater than Phonemic Awareness.�

Repent, for the kingdom of kindergarten DIBELS is at hand.

Blessed are those who follow the Standardista drum roll, for theirs is the kingdom of government contracts.

Susan Ohanian

Hess, Rothstein and Ravitch-Oh My

Returning from Spring Break this week, I could not help but feel overwhelmed. I finally completed my first comparative essay for my Educational Policy class. The assignment was to compare “tough-accountability” ideologue Rick Hess who advocates a market-based approach with Richard Rothstein who uses social class to explain the achievement gap.

For Hess’ vision, schools are competing to provide students with the highest quality education. Ultimately, this methodology allows choice to harness competition between schools to attract students. If school enrollment drops the result is loss of funding and eventually school closure thus low-performing schools are effectively phased-out of the market. Rothstein has expounded on his methodology for narrowing the achievement gap in an article entitled, How to Fix Our Schools

While conducting outside research to evidence some assertions, I discovered that Diane Ravitch was speaking last week at Bank Street College as part of the Niemeyer Series. One of the most poignant things Ravitch says is that she would like to share a deep secret with us,that NAEP results show test scores across racial groups are high, drop out rates have decreased, this is not true for geographic areas that share the commonality of concentrated poverty and racial segregation. ( at 48:00- 50:00 minutes in )

As for the next NYC Mayor Ravitch hopes he or she will:

  • value ideas of those who inhabit the school community
  • restore Board of Education that is required to hold public hearings before decisions are made
  • cease the policy of closing neighborhood schools and seek to revive neighborhood
  • stop co-locating charter schools into public school space
  • require charters to reflect the population of the neighborhood to serve the children with the highest needs

See her inspiring speech below, hopefully she will come to NYC for a book signing when she releases “Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools” this fall.