Monday, April 15, 2013

What 240 Thousand Bucks Buys

We're going to hear an awful lot about how great the Common Core is. That's because some unidentified rich person, maybe Bill Gates, is putting up a bunch of cash to advertise it as though it were Coca Cola or Ex-Lax. And that is, indeed, how to sell stuff to people. That's how they sold New Coke, the Edsel, and that great new Windows phone that everyone is clamoring for.  Bill Gates and Microsoft are clearly as expert on smartphone buyers as they are on what public schoolchildren need.

Is Common Core an Edsel? No one really knows, because it hasn't been tested anywhere at all. Who knows how much it will help kids to teach them to read vital train schedules and menus rather than wasteful literature and drama? In any case, they just got a bunch of very smart fellers to whip up something Bill Gates thought would be a swell idea, like merit pay and VAM, which have never worked anywhere. But, ever optimistic they keep brushing them off and tossing them out anyway, as
we in America all "Race to the Top."

And as America increasingly tries to make education a business, what we get in lieu of science (you know, where they test things and stuff before using them on millions of kids) is an ad campaign, straight out of Darin Stevens and Mad Men

Honestly, are we that stupid? Can an ad on a subway persuade us we need to teach our kids only one thing, a thing that's never been tested anywhere? Just because it makes gazillions for textbook
companies, does that justify using millions of public schoolchildren as guinea pigs? And why doesn't Bill Gates, Barack Obama, Mike Bloomberg, Rahm Emanuel or Joel Klein let their kids go to schools that practice the untested nonsense they deem fit for ours?

Is it a good idea to do this concurrently with the rollout of a completely new, and also untested teacher evaluation system? Is it even worth mentioning this system happens to be based on wishful thinking rather than science, and will likely identify teachers as ineffective based on nothing but random placement rather than quality?

Most importantly, are we really going to let faux-expert, faux-philanthropists who know nothing about education except how much they can profit from it toss their cash around and force untested nonsense on our children? What on earth is more precious than our children?

Ask Bill Gates.

Because you'd better believe they aren't his children.
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