Sunday, November 29, 2015

A Teacher's View of the Week That Was - 11-22-15

Thanksgivng of 2015 came on the heels of the Paris terrorist attacks, and was, disturbingly, bookended by an act of domestic terrorism in Colorado when right-wing nut job Robert Dear opened fire at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs, CO. In the news that followed, the officials and media referred to the "gunman" and the "attack" without using the appropriate term - terrorist attack. Commenters on social media immediately took the media to task for this intentional downplaying of the issue, for the target of a facilility that provides women's health treatment, including pregnancy termination, clearly makes the attack politically motivated. Keep in mind, the media and officials immediately used the term terrorist attack in Paris, despite no immediate motive or agenda. Both attacks are terrorist in nature, and both should be referred to as such.

It's tough to think about other events during the week when violence dominates the discussion. But the week of Thanksgiving also gave us Black Friday, which continues to mar the spirit of the holiday and expose the true nature of American consumerism, as brawls and stupidity make the news on the annual day of wasteful spending. Of course, it should be noted that as much as we like to condemn the mindless shopping and craziness, consumer culture is synonymous with the American identity. As a Gen X-er, I am a textbook example of a person who laments the sterile mindless nature of consumer culture at the same time that I embrace the very culture I criticize. Such is our lives.

And, the issue of education reform and standardized testing caught my attention this week, as Congress debates the re-write of No Child Left Behind. As we hope for some reprieve from the naive test-and-punish approach of past edu-reformers, we still face the intransigence of writers and critics who naively promote the Common Core standards and associated testing as the answer to struggling schools. The latest entry that frustrated me a bit was a bit of commentary from Fordham leaders Michael Petrilli and Robert Pondiscio who asked CCSS/PARCC critics in Colorado to not "shoot the test-score messenger."  The Fordham boys are basically rubber-stamping the CCSS and PARCC results as valid measures that expose "failing schools," but they are ignoring the legitimate criticisms of CO parents who challenge results and "refuse testing."

It was an interesting week, though a rather unproductive one for me. I've been fighting a tough respiratory virus for two weeks. Here's hoping for a better December.

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