professornana (professornana) wrote,

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I love watching Real Time with Bill Maher. I love the political wrangling and wrassling (how's that for some Texas terms?) among the panel members. But it is the final piece, the New Rules, that generally makes me think about something from a different perspective. This past week Maher talked about "zombie lies," the lies that keep popping up over and over again despite being "killed" time and time again. We are seeing this in education of course. Witness the newest version of the Reading Wars.

Once again, we are having the same argument about achieving a BALANCE. The problem is, there is no balance to be won. Recent pieces in several media outlets have labeled the pushback against CCSS as either right-wing conservatism gone amok or a few lefties unhappy about testing. Editorials in the New York Times have excoriated balanced literacy without once getting to the heart of what balanced literacy is or even should be. Instead, it is portrayed some kind of free-for-all where kids read books that are beneath them intellectually and then write whatever they desire without any instruction, correction, etc.

Blogs extoll the virtues of finally having rigor and standards and a hope that kids will graduate for school and be ready for college and careers. They assert that most teachers support CCSS. If it were not for those pesky tests, more people would be advocates of CCSS they suggest. All of these assertions are based on "data" collected from surveys. Hence, there is evidence of support. I ran across this distinction between data and evidence recently: "Data is factual information such as numbers, percentages, and statistics. Evidence is relevant data and information that furnishes proof and supports a conclusion."

Because I have been in this field for some time, I have seen the zombie lies come and go any number of times. At one point, we talked about the pendulum swing of education. Somehow, it always seemed to swing back and find a middle ground. However, zombie lies prevent that middle ground from being explored, prevent discourse that might reach some agreement. Zombie lies kept educators (those with classroom experience) from the people who crafted the standards by which teachers would teach and, ultimately, be evaluated (VAM). Zombie lies have created an environment where teachers are not only stripped of their autonomy, they are told they may not speak out against standards or even question ow the standards are being implemented.

And now I read in the NCLE Smart Brief (and I will not go there today) about states and districts pushing back against teachers pursuing advanced degrees: Here is the argument being made: "Those championing dropping the extra pay say advanced degrees don't necessarily translate into better student test scores. They say the money is better spent elsewhere, such as on rewarding teachers deemed most effective in the classroom." I may be a tad paranoid, but I see this as another way for the zombie lies to continue. Let's not reward teachers for advancing their knowledge at college where folks like me are permitted academic freedom. Instead, let us base pay on how well kids do on tests. Forget the evidence and the data that shows that this approach is wrong, fallacious, stupid, or contrary to research conclusions. Remember only the zombie lie being put out there by NCTQ who is quoted in this piece (as they are in too many pieces).

Would that we focus on Zombie Truths instead.
Tags: ccss, idiocy, nctq, reading wars

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