Duncan's Cognitive Dissonance

From Open Left:
At the same time Duncan was lamenting the effects of teacher lay-offs on children, his staff was busy on Capitol Hill pushing a "blueprint" for education reform. A key element in the blueprint is that at least 5% of the nation's schools - potentially 10% - that are deemed "lowest performing in state" will be forced to adopt a federally mandated "intervention model." Of the four models prescribed in the blueprint, only one does not involve mass firings of teachers.

As Randi Weingarten, the leader of the American Federation of Teachers, pointed out, adopting Duncan's blueprint will quite likely "cost teachers their jobs."

In another fit of cross-purposeful policy making, Duncan's team is also pushing a National Education Technology Plan (NETP) that urges schools to pursue ambitious learning goals such as teaching students twenty-first century skills, critical thinking, complex problem solving, collaboration, and multimedia communication. The plan also "calls for engaging and empowering learning experiences for all students," where teachers conduct "personalized learning instead of a one-size-fits-all" approach to curriculum and instruction.

While most educators would probably regard NEPT's goals as worthy, they can't help but point out how these goals conflict with the Obama administration's overall blueprint for education. How can a school system that emphasizes high-stakes testing in just two subjects - reading and math - fulfill the curriculum goals of teaching "collaboration and multimedia communication?" How can an approach to schooling that values test data more than any other output at the same time assert that it is "personalizing learning? "As one commenter in the previous link states,
"The focus of the federal and state governments on high-stakes testing is in direct contradiction to creating an environment where humans learn best... Stop attaching funding to only standardized test scores. Then, perhaps schools could begin moving towards creating an environment where 21st-century skills can develop."
So here's the deal: At the same time that our federal government is mustering financial resources to save teachers' jobs, it's also pushing measures to eliminate them. [emphasis mine]
Lots more at the link.

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