Sunday, April 15, 2018

ICYMI: Finally Spring Edition (4/15)

Your reading for the week. Remember to pass along what you value. And don't forget to peruse the blogroll in the righthand column.

Dear Betsy DeVos

Marie Corfield responds to Betsy DeVos's comments about striking Oklahoma teachers. This is what it means to serve the public.

Mute the Messenger

From the Texas Observer-- here's what happened when a Texas professor spoke out against standardized testing. Pearson came after him.

What Teacher Strikes May Teach Democrats about Education Politics

The Democratic Party abandoned public education and the teachers who work there a while ago-- will the current wave of teacher strikes make them rethink their strategy?

Now Watch Republicans Blame Obama for Failed Education Reform

Ed reform isn't quite as beloved as it once was, and one sign of that is the GOP folks trying to pin it on Obama. Jeff Bryan as always brings the research and the insight.

Put Out To Pasture

Nancy Bailey walks us through all the Secretaries of Education, the policies they pursued, and where they are now. It's a useful, but not encouraging, history lesson.

Time To Ditch the SAT

From US News, another compelling argument against the old SAT warhorse.

Why the School Spending Graph Betsy DeVos Is Sharing Doesn't Mean What She Says It Means

Betsy DeVos has been using an exhibit from the Museum of Bad Graphs to make her point. Matt Barnum explains why it is misleading.

Why American Students Haven't Gotten Better At Reading in 20 Years

A compelling piece from the Atlantic making the not-new point that reading can't be taught as a set of discrete skills free of content or context.

Remembering the Holocaust

If there was ever an education story, this is it. A new study suggests that a whole bunch of Americans simply don't know about the Holocaust. Not deny it-- just don't know about it.

Billionaire Offers To Buy High School

If you missed this story, Valerie Strauss has the details. A Pennsylvania billionaire offered his alma mater $25 million-- if they'd put his name on the school, let him set some curriculum, and keep it all secret. It's a truly bizarre tale.

Wakanda Schools

Jose Luis Vilson finally saw Black Panther, and it gave him some thoughts about education and shared prosperity.


  1. The Texas Observer article about Pearson essentially gunning for a professor is absolutely infuriating. Thank you for pointing it out to us.

  2. Ditching the stupid SAT system would be a way forward. Cheap, inefficient and predictable. And that's its good points.

    But once again a critic suggests no alternatives. Any issues raised are merely swept under the carpet.

    Asking that students give their own opinions -- as he asks -- is pointless, because they never will if they want to pass. Say a Martin Luther King speech is given -- no student will dare lay into it from right or left because they know that to do so would be poisonous to their marks. All you can do is lose marks by irritating the marker by rubbing them up the wrong way. (In my country exams actually do ask student opinions, and what they get are carefully scripted "correct responses in turn.) It would be like expecting a person at a job interview to say what they really felt.

    Asking for a precis of an essay is much more useful. The SATs stuff it up by being multi-choice and short answer, not because the skill of being able to follow someone else's argument is useless. Employers and universities, after all, are just as interested in this as being able to argue your own opinions.

    A proper essay/long answer system marked by trained markers across a broad rang of disciplines -- like every other civilised country -- is required.

    Modern external exams were introduced because they are progressive. The marker does not know your colour, sex, wealth or country of origin. To remove that system would mean replacing it with one of patronage and selection on other criteria, not the end of selection.

    Is it actually better that students get picked based on which school they went to, or if they have someone important to vouch for them?

    How do you propose universities select without the SAT? Yes, I know some do. They tend not to be the ones people most want to get into.

    1. But you don't have to have an alternative to a bad idea. Just not doing the bad thing is enough. Peter has used a similar example before: if you're suffering from some ailment that doctors can't figure out and some outsider comes in and says, "well, then, I guess we'll have to cut off your arm" it's not incumbent on you to find a better alternative. Cutting off your arm would be obviously harmful. Simply not doing that is enough even without a "better idea". It's incumbent upon proponents of cutting off your arm to explain how that's going to help the situation any.