[This commentary was published in the print edition of 'YourHub.com' for Arvada, Wheat Ridge and Westminster on Thursday, September 9, 2010.]
When the educrats and politicians fail -- Colorado kids can win!
From yesterday's defeat of Colorado's so-called reformers in their avaricious sprint in the "Race to the Top" contest, should come a realization that improving education is not going to ever happen through a manic obsession with the almighty dollar and always looking for ways to please the federal government.
Instead of whining about not winning millions of dollars, Colorado's alleged education 'leaders' ought to give up trying to align themselves with the effort to nationalize public education and start working on how to empower children, parents, teachers and neighborhood schools right here in our own state.
From failure in "Race to the Top" should come a proclamation of victory for getting back to the basics of teaching kids. That's what should happen.
But, of course, what we are going to get is whining, a lot of scapegoating of the Colorado Education Association and those, like me, who are more interested in actual education and teaching than in more testing, evaluation, data collection and the nationalization of standards and curriculum.
Case in point is today's Denver Post lead editorial: Tripped up by teachers union. The editorial begins with these smarmy words:
To which I respond ... yup, in this case the Colorado Education Association should be tickled for doing the right thing. Way to go, CEA! Mostly the editorial laments the loss of the money, money, money which the Post, like most of the new breed of corporatized 'reformers', directly equates with the thing itself, education.Colorado's largest teachers union stubbornly refused to support Colorado's Race to the Top bid and it ended up being a major factor in the state being shut out of big-money federal education grants announced Tuesday.
The Colorado Education Association must be tickled.
The decision means Colorado schools have lost out on a grant potentially worth $175 million. And, we must point out, the chief reason the union opposed the state's bid, Senate Bill 191, is still state law.
Way to go, CEA.
And, almost laughably, the editorial moans that "... it made us wonder whether the folks in Washington, D.C., were uncomfortable with the notion of local control, a guiding principle in Colorado's K-12 education system."
The whole aim of the 'accountability/standards-based' theory behind "Race to the Top" is uniform curriculum, massive centralized data collection and nationalized standards. "Local control" is on the elimination list if the Obama-Duncan-Bush-Spellings education policies are fully implemented.
So, the Colorado education establishment has failed in its "Race to the Top" quest -- like a 'bad' teacher under the new state tenure reform law, it is time for some educrats to be fired.
And, this loss is a good opportunity for Coloradoans to demand that the state's politicians, elected officials and education bureaucrats stop this involvement with the nationalization and corporatization of education -- and knuckle down to the real work of letting parents decide how their own children are to be educated, of empowering teachers to teach and not be merely test givers and paper shufflers, of letting local school boards be accountable to their local constituents and local circumstances.
Governor Ritter and Lt. Gov. O'Brien and the state board of education and the know-it-all state legislature have not made 'adequate yearly progress' -- they lost the "Race to the Top" and CSAP scores (their own measure) have been stagnant for years.
Time for Colorado to get out of the "Race to the Top" ... and time for a bold change in direction for public education that will make real, "honest to god" reforms.
Now, here is a very good article that explains quite clearly and succinctly what we need to do in public education to provide some measure of success for our children.
Here is a good piece about how the 'reforms' now being advocated by the educrats is only going to make things worse.
Another essay pointing the the right direction.
A video that demonstrates how the so-called 'reforms' as called for by the "Race to the Top" philosophy are cold, dry, bureaucratic, uninspiring and have the effect of further corporatizing schooling in this country. This video is meant to be a positive sales pitch for a data collection tool. But the real, alarming message in the video is how the children and teachers are turned into mice on a wheel going around and around generating reams of 'feedback data'. Time that could be spent actually working with children to help them learn is lost to constant 'evaluation' of the 'process'. By the end of the 'advertisement' one is left with a distinct sense of Orwell's "Big Brother in the classroom.
Educators in Community Consolidated School District 15, located outside Chicago, Ill., use data to drive instruction and decision making.
Finally, a reminder of the Denver Post editorial that supports the scandalous expenditure of $17.4 million ... not on smaller classrooms or hiring more teachers or tutors or buying more books -- but on a giant data collection system.