professornana (professornana) wrote,
professornana
professornana

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Pleasant-enough-ville

I took a break yesterday to watch "Pleasantville" for the umpteenth time. But somehow this time, the viewing went a bit differently. As the violence against seeing things differently escalated, I was suddenly struck with a more visceral response than ever before. I know from reading Rosenblatt and others that this does not mean the movie had been revised. Rather, I had changed. The thrust of that change of late has been my dismay about the deliberate shutting down of discussion about CCSS in particular.

Jeb Bush claimed that anyone critical of CCSS (http://www.nationalreview.com/article/359110/jeb-bushs-common-core-snit-fit-michelle-malkin) as being purely political and standing against rigor and achievement among other things. David Coleman stated much the same (http://www.substancenews.net/articles.php?page=2716) though in much coarser terms. Then NYC Commissioner King blasted parent groups (http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/article/20131011/NEWS01/310110053/) calling them pretty much tools of politics. He cancelled the remainder of his scheduled PTA sessions to talk about CCSS with concerned parents. And this is the tip of the iceberg.

Discussion is not permitted. When there is discussion, it is artfully designed as NBC's "Education Nation" so that dissenters do not have a place at the table. Think Tobey Maguire's character being told he did not need a lawyer in "Pleasantville." There is this denial of another point of view, this dismissal of folks like Diane Ravitch (http://voices.washingtonpost.com/answer-sheet/diane-ravitch/the-diane-ravitch-myth.html) as wrong, elite, and just plain wrong.

Here is how Valerie Strauss ended a recent column in The Washington Post: "This all underscores the sad level of debate on education policy in this question. We can’t even agree on the questions, much less the answers. And those that dare deviate from the official line find themselves open to attack, much of it not fair."


I know life is not fair. I turn 61 today. Believe me, I have seen y share of life not being fair. But this total shutdown (or is it slim down?) of conversation, debate, disagreement does not bode well for those who wish to reform (though I am still in love with DEFORM) education. This was true as the standards were being written (lack of education professionals with actual teaching experience involved) and during the roll out of the standards for comments (basically professional organizations were thanked but ignored), and now as the standards and new assessments have been found somehow wanting. So, we move blindly forward but not very far. Like Pleasantville, the standards will take us to the end of Main Street and then we will have to circle back. We cannot proceed beyond the limits of this narrow view of the world of education.

Just as in the movie, those affected include the children, those whose lives are limited further than before, especially those kids from impoverished circumstances because, like some of those in DC politics, they refuse to see poverty as an issue that cannot be fixed with statements of standards and trite phrases such as "college and career ready". I hope that when others are more inclined to talk (when the test scores do not go zooming up ahead of all those other countries we are always likened to), that they will find the rest of us waiting to talk, too. But how many kids will we lose before that happens?
Tags: ccss, discussion, dismissive, idiocy
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