Tuesday, July 8, 2014

My Letter To The Indiana State Board of Education

Control and perpetuation of punitive high stakes standardized testing policies and chair of the ISBOE at stake. 

Dear Indiana State Board of Education,

The roots of cognitive science, the science of mind, brain and learning, have been in existence since Socrates, Plato and Aristotle spoke and wrote on such matters over 2500 years ago. 

Research in cognitive science and cognitive neuro-science conducted over the past 60 years, reveal Socrates, Plato and Aristotle had it wrong when they described the mind as a blank slate and disconnected from the body. 

We know today, mind, body and spirit are all connected. 

It is ironic, 2500 years later, the ISBOE continues to adopt positions and mandate policies that perpetuate a conception of the mind that is as antiquated as those of the ancient Greek philosophers.

The human mind, particularly children's minds are complex organic entities, uniquely constructed with innate capacities and competencies. 

Policies that force educators to center curriculum around high stakes standardized assessments, whereby tying teachers hands to provide curriculum centered around children, is what the ISBOE has done. 

The only learning theory from this governance body that I do see supported through your policies, are the work of B.F. Skinner and Ivan Pavlov. I am talking about radical behaviorism. 

Over the past 8 years, Indiana citizens have observed the intensification of high stakes standardized tests put upon unsuspecting elementary aged children throughout Indiana public schools: http://indianapublicmedia.org/stateimpact/tag/iread-3/

Data driven, selected response assessments are based on behavioral analysis. How many selected response questions can a child correctly answer? The outcome of this number has immense consequences. Thus, the ISBOE has ensured that schools, administrators and teachers will structure curriculum and learning experience around tests. Children are operantly conditioned to answer selected response tests utilizing rewards and punishments. If children do not answer enough questions correctly, schools, principals and teachers will be punished. These are behaviorist learning principals. This is operant conditioning.

High stakes standardized tests come at a steep cost. 

I quote Jane Healy, Ph.D: "Driving the cold spikes of inappropriate pressure into the malleable heart of a child's learning may seriously distort the unfolding of both intellect and motivation. This self-serving intellectual assault, increasingly condemned by teachers who see it's warped product,...In a society that reveres the speed with which a product can be extruded from the system, that has become impatient with the essential process of childhood, that measures children's mental growth like steak on a butchers scales, and that deifies test scores instead of taking the time to respect developmental needs, EVERY CHILD IS POTENTIALLY IN JEOPARDY." 

The beneficiaries of high stakes standardized testing? 26 million for McGraw Hill, millions to corporate supported charter schools, Pearson and other ancillary ed tech companies selling high stakes standardized scripted curricula and test prep materials.

Children are outside the decision making process central to the learning experiences they are forced to participate in. 

Looking at the big picture, mandated high stakes standardized testing has been a disaster for Indiana children and society. 

There are two kinds of learning in this world. The first is to educate children so their intellectual gifts, innate capacities and instinctual learning curiosities endowed to them by the Forces of the Universe will unfold naturally.

The second form of learning experience can be seen in authoritarian nations where the state imprints upon the minds of children, via operant conditioning, what the state values.

What kind of state are we?

I can tell you with all honesty, a significant number of the 1.3 million Hoosiers who voted for Glenda Ritz, voted for her so the policy morass she inherited from Tony Bennett would be corrected. We witnessed during the Bennett-Daniels era, the narrowing of children's learning experiences, defunding of public schools, humiliation of children and communities, and degradation of educators based on their policies.

What Indiana citizens have observed during Supt. Ritz's time as Chair of the ISBOE is a pattern of unwillingness by it's members to work with her and unnecessary initiatives and shadow agencies created by Governor Pence at tax payer expense that I can only describe as suspect. 

Indiana Citizens will be watching to see what maneuverings take place at tomorrow's July 9th ISBOE meeting. 

My hope is that Superintendent Ritz will be allowed to do the job of restoring stability in our schools that voters elected her to do.

Clyde Gaw
Network for Public Education

Write or contact your ISBOE members, Governor and legislators here:

Contact Governor Pence:  http://in.gov/gov/2333.htm

Contact the SBOE members: http://www.in.gov/sboe/2527.htm and http://www.in.gov/sboe/2423.htm 

Contact your state legislators: https://capwiz.com/nea/in/home/

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Children's Cognitive Development Impaired By Corporate Oligarchs!

Molding Minds For Tomorrow!
If we could paint a picture of the travesty taking place in American Public Education today, it might look like the above picture. It is Spring Time in America and high stakes standardized tests are on the school menu for millions of American children. There are many reasons to revolt against these tests. The most heinous fact is these tests dictate learning experience.  In the long term, children learn nothing more than to be compliant, worker bees.

Think of it. Children are biologically hard wired to be active, playful, imaginative, inquisitive learners.
However due to high stakes testing in thousands of schools across the U.S., children are forced to sit at their seats for 6 hours a day and mimic the work of desk clerks. Children have no voice in the learning experiences they engage in and are forced to participate in data-driven radical behaviorist learning activities, which they are told, will prepare them for careers and college. This factory model of education has nothing to do with learning. It has everything to do with controlling the minds of future citizens.

If an omnipotent force were to engineer a future society that would be smart enough to do the grunt work of a national economy but incapable of figuring out why their interests, innate gifts and talents were not optimally developed during the formative stages of their education, then mandating high stakes testing and narrowing of children's educational experiences would be the way to do just such a social engineering job.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

On the Rigor of the Common Core and Fidelity of High Stakes Testing

"What the wisest parents want for their children, that must we want for all children."
J. Dewey

Touting the CCSS version of standardized education with lots of rigor and fidelity as a cure-all for what ails American public education is a charade!  More and better standardized educational experience (rigor) that will be controlled and measured with high stakes standardized test scores (fidelity)? Really? Standardized educational experience and in particular, CCSS will do nothing to improve children's learning experiences in American classrooms. The elements for improving educational experience for all American children are still not in place: Personal time and attention from teachers through smaller class sizes, stable home lives, reduction of food insecurity, regular experiences in fine arts education and opportunities for student's self determination of educational experience. These factors are critical for improving American education, but alas...what children got instead after the Wall Street Crash of 2007-2008? More standardized testing. The idea that you can improve children's educational experiences by ignoring their physiological and psycho-emotional needs and imposing authoritarian, no excuses, get tough policies on them and their teachers is anathema to improving the human condition and human potential. What you will end up with is a mono-culture that perpetuates the standardization of the human mind. What children will learn is that the CCSS are nothing more than more of the same old, same old non-consensual learning experience driven by radical behaviorism. Children will remain outside the decision making processes central to the learning experiences they must participate in, and teachers will be forced to teach to the test. 

The end game is to de-professionalize teaching, hire pseudo-teachers who don't need living wages, pensions or other benefits and educate children through cheaper, technology driven screen-based interface whose assessments mimic standardized test questions.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Mike Pence Has No Problem Slashing Indiana Public Education Funding Again

How much state funding will Indiana public schools and other public entities lose if Mike Pence's corporate property tax cut initiative is ok'd by the Republican dominated Indiana General Assembly? Plenty! Who does Mike Pence represent? It certainly isn't the Indiana middle class whose 1.1 million children attend Indiana public schools. Only an agent of the opulent minority would consider a funding cut of this magnitude to cash strapped Indiana pubic schools, libraries and municipal government services.

The promise of jobs in exchange for tax cuts has done irreparable harm to the middle class and to municipal institutions like public schools and libraries. Time for the Indiana General Assembly to reconsider this governor's plans to further decimate the middle class? Call or write your state legislator here: Indiana General Assembly

Monday, December 30, 2013

What Does It Mean To Be Educated?

I posit that compelling children to sit in crowded classrooms and prepare them to take high stakes standardized tests utilizing Skinnerian based behaviour modification methodology is not an education. It is instruction and training to prepare for standardized tests.

From James McKernan: "In the view of R.S. Peters, education involves the development of a cognitive perspective, or mind, whilst instruction hints at information and training lends itself to the development of competence in a limited mode of skills; whilst ‘education’ aims at a wider view of knowledge and system of beliefs."

Saturday, December 21, 2013

What Will Pence's Corporate Tax Cuts Cost Indiana Public Schools?

About 400 billion. What does that mean for Indiana public schools and the Indiana middle class? It means program cuts and tax hikes. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

What Does Social Engineering Look Like?

Social engineering occurs when children have limited educational opportunities, are homogenized through a narrow curriculum and motivated by fear, rewards and punishments.