Note: Over at a new blog worth watching, Next Things, Len Waks comments on "self-defeating standardization." Thanks to Len for allowing this cross-post. - AGR
By leonard waks
The New York Times today reports that Eli Broad and Bill Gates plan to devote $60 Million to push educational reform to the top of the 2008 political agenda.
The two philanthropists call for “stronger, more consistent curriculum standards nationwide; lengthening the school day and year; and improving teacher quality through merit pay and other measures.”
These ideas are self-defeating. Nationwide curriculum standards stifle teachers and nullify our federal system as a “laboratory of democracy” where many innovations can be tested.
Lengthening the school day and the school year are entirely unnecessary if teachers could make curriculum choices that fully engaged students in learning.
Students pay scant attention to the dreary materials served up to them now. Why prolong the agony? Merit pay might attract brighter people to teaching, but not if we measure teacher quality by student achievement on standardized exams.
No bright person wants a job as an operative. A superior approach is to free teachers from standardized curricula and tests so they can apply their full intelligence to reaching and teaching their students.