Friday, September 18, 2009

National Standards?

Posted in Education Week.

To the Editor:

The national-standards- development timeline of the Council of Chief State School Officers, the National Governors Association, and Achieve Inc., a key player in the endeavor, is a dead giveaway to the closed, predetermined nature of the process ("Openness of Common-Standards Process at Issue," Aug. 12, 2009).

July 2009: Work groups are named.
July 2009: Three weeks later, draft college- and career-readiness standards are complete.
December 2009: The entire draft K-12 standards in language arts and math are complete.
January 2010: The standards are approved, and the effort to blackmail the states into signing on begins.

Anyone who has ever done curriculum- or standards-developme nt work knows immediately that this timetable signals a process in which the end product has already been decided upon at the beginning.
This project is entirely closed off from educator and citizen engagement. And, as usual, there is not a single person on either development team who actually interacts with children or adolescents—just a bunch of directors, managers, and associates.

It is typical of the arrogance and stupidity of American educational policy development in our time that we have the policy developed exclusively by people who have no personal engagement with the institutions of schooling, people who are bureaucrats and paper-pushers and wouldn’t know how to engage a child if their ample salaries depended on it.

Of course, this is the logical conclusion of modernist consciousness, to which living wisdom is irrelevant. And this negation of wisdom is one of the key reasons that all of our modernist institutions are collapsing.

No doubt national standards and national tests will be shoved through, which will lead inevitably to ever-greater efforts to transform our schools from places with real educative purposes into test-prep factories.

David Marshak
Bellingham, Wash.
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