- The Experiential Illiterates - February 13, 2014
- Fordham and Hess Temporarily Acknowledge that Reformers Can't Have it Both Ways - January 23, 2014
- Disproportionate Evaluative Rigor and The Three Laws of Data - January 14, 2014
- Teaching: The Card Game - January 10, 2014
- The Tyranny of the Datum - January 6, 2014
- Ed Reform's Atari Problem - January 4, 2014
- Five New Years Resolutions for Public Education Supporters - December 31, 2013
- The Wizards of Ed- The Conundrum of Education - December 30, 2013
- The Exhaustion of the American Teacher - December 26, 2013
- Education, Circa 2038 - December 12, 2013
3. Data is useful for correcting course, but it is also useful for charting a course straight for the iceberg. Data, like fire and shotguns, is neither intrinsically good nor bad. In fact, like fire and shotguns, it can be a life-saver when used properly in the right circumstances, and it can be deadly when used improperly in the wrong circumstances. Teachers and parents who get labeled “anti-testing” (because, again, nuance is hard) are often not at all against testing. The vast majority of the so-called “anti-testing” teachers give tests in their classrooms. So it isn’t the test that motivates much of the opposition to reform. And it isn’t the data, either. It’s the fact that many, many stakeholders don’t trust the people hoovering up the data to use–they presume, because of their experience with the school reform movement as it has unfolded–against students, teachers, and schools. The vocal opposition we see to data collection efforts like inBloom, to curriculum standards (which define the data to be collected) like the Common Core, and to tests (the data source) like the MAP can all be traced back, largely, to two things: (1) dismay over how much class time is sacrificed for the all-encompassing data hunt, and (2) a foundational mistrust regarding the aims of those who gather and control the data. If your dad brings home a new baseball bat, it’s a pretty happy time in the family–unless your dad has been in the habit of beating the family with blunt objects. Data is that baseball bat. A better analogy might be a doctor who causes his patients pain unnecessarily with his medical equipment. Patients are naturally going to resist going in for procedures that the doctor says are “good for them” if they know it will come with excessive pain. There is a vigorous campaign online and in the papers and political buildings to discredit opponents of school reform as just so many Chicken Littles “defending the status quo” and sticking their heads in the sand. A salient question, though, is this: has the sector-controlling school reform movement, going back to the dawn of No Child Left Behind, wielded data honestly, ethically, and constructively? If not, then yeah, there will be resistance. These people aren’t Chicken Littles. They’re Chickens Who Won’t Get in the Pot. The deeper the mistrust, the more vocal the resistance.
Click here for danger number four.