If this goes on–

I am working tonight with Cabaret playing on one monitor with a variety of thoughts running through my head, inter-leaving the work I am trying to do with higher ed data. I had listened to Terry Gross interview Alan Cumming, who is now playing the role of the Emcee on stage for the third time in 20 years. He made some interesting comments about the implicit guilt of the “audience” in watching things unfold without criticism or reaction. Nothing new here, it was just the tie-in to the audience.

This then led me to thinking about Robert Heinlein’s If This Goes  On-, one of my favorite dystopic future histories. It is the implicit permissiveness of the audience that allows the charismatic and/or wealthy to take over. Especially with an overly simplistic message about a subject for which there are really no easy answers.

Some things aren’t easy to understand or explain accurately. Especially if one does not put in the effort.

There are so many things happening in education these days it is hard to keep track of them, let alone understand them all. For example, there is lot happening with the Common Core of State Standards (CCSS). I’ve typically only skimmed the articles and have a bare understanding of CCSS because Virginia is not a CCSS state. The State Board of Education refused to adopt common core, not wishing to adopt standards lower than what were already in place.

I worry though that not being better informed leads to the “implicit permissive of the audience” that allows the bad things to happen. I like to believe that most people have honorable intentions, especially those driving policy from positions of power (even if it is informal power derived from sitting on huge stacks of money). However, their words seem to make the honor of those intentions suspect. Or outright lies.

The Greenstein and Phillips piece in InsideHigherEd continues to bother me.

Specifically, the full and faithful implementation of the Common Core could all but eliminate the need for colleges to provide academic remediation to students enrolling in college immediately after graduating from high school. Also called “developmental education,” this remediation costs taxpayers $7 billion every year. It’s estimated that only 17 percent of students who take a developmental reading course go on to earn a four-year degree.

I suppose this possible. I can’t help thinking though, after looking at lot of data for a lot of years, if the same thing couldn’t be accomplished by improved funding to schools and eliminating poverty. Poverty seems to have huge impact on education success.

Maybe high standards and high stakes testing drive away the pangs of hunger.

Maybe test anxiety solves the issue of single-parenting since children are more worried about the next test than why Daddy is gone, or Mommy is gone.

As I raise my grandsons, I don’t see this being the case.

High standards are great. Consistent application of standards and opportunity is great, too. But they don’t solve all issues.

By engaging actively in the debate around the Common Core, higher education leaders can inform it with their expertise, participate in and ensure the full, faithful and effective implementation of the Common Core, and help supporters of improved education and educational pipelines stay the course.

I agree wholeheartedly that higher education leaders can inform the Common Core with their expertise by actively engaging in the debate. However, the last part of the statement seems to imply nothing is really going to change. Asking higher ed leaders (and I hope to God they are including faculty here) to engage in debate around the Common Core while planning to continue its “full, faithful and effective implementation” seems startlingly clueless. Especially to help supporters “stay the course.”

There is no meaningful debate or reason to attempt such, if nothing is going to change. The Common Core might be the right thing to do. It may be incredibly well-designed and will solve the remedial ed problem. Unfortunately, when I read things like this essay, I put it in the category of “too good to be true” and look for the Ronco logo.

Seriously? The PocketFisherman is still available? Apparently the half-life of crap is a lot longer than I thought. The fact that someone still thinks is a good idea is why I feel that I must engage more about the Common Core and other initiatives outside my normal domain.

There will always be someone selling snake-oil and piss.



One thought on “If this goes on–

  1. Pingback: A Festivus miracle, and associated grievances to be aired | random data from a tumored head

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