Educating Potential

Do as We Say, Not as We Do

There is a fascinating trend in policy these days that is related to the “decision-based evidence making” that I wrote about a few months ago.  It appears that Texas, the state where standardized testing beatification began in the late 1980s (thanks to Ross Perot), reversed course.  

For better or worse, however, the “Texas miracle” led many other states, advocacy organizations and the federal government to make standardized tests the lynchpin of education reform efforts, most notable No Child Left Behind and other “accountability” systems at the state level.

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Our biographies as our leadership

In my last post I shared stories of some of the students I interviewed at the MET schools in Providence, RI. What I am finding most interesting about my MET experience is what happens when I tell people about it. It drives home to me the fact that our leadership and our notions of success reflect our biographies. Given who I am, where I work and who my peers are, the people I interact with most are college graduates, most of whom also have one or more graduate degrees. We belong to the economic upper and upper-middle class, and fall into the category of people who were successful in formal school settings and generally tried to keep our professional options open for as long as possible. We took courses in high school that made us competitive applicants to four-year universities; attended colleges that had general education requirements that allowed us to decide as late in the game as possible what our majors would be and whether we wanted to go to medical, business, law or graduate school. We then spent anywhere from 2-7 years after college doing more academic work. And finally we got jobs. However, we are the demographic most likely to move for a job, which reflects a bit of an obsession with always seeking different, better, more meaningful or more lucrative professional opportunities. Unsurprisingly, our idea of success is the path we took; this type of success is our expectation and hope for our own children. It is not surprising then that, almost without exception, everyone in this category of friends who I tell about MET immediately expresses grave concerns about a high school experience that would not ensure that all students to get the “well-rounded” education needed to allow them to do whatever they want after high school. When I ask them to clarify what this well-rounded curriculum would be it turns out people mean the algebra, geometry, calculus, US History, European history, world history, biology, chemistry, physics, foreign language, English, general literature, physical education, art and technology classes that most of us took in high[…]

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