Tuesday, August 2, 2011


A web site that will seek to illuminate some of the issues that surround K-12 reform efforts, and that have created rifts between those seeking reform and our public education establishment.

The advocacy of more standardized testing – tied to a rewrite of NCLB and the provisions of RttT – colliding with the concerns from both teachers and most legitimate educational professionals, has begun to appear almost as contentious as the recent debt limit brouhaha.  Adding to the debate have been the elections by some states to directly tie teacher assessment, rewards, and even employment to the results of that testing. 

Legitimate students of K-12 learning have been both vocal and persuasive in arguing that the kind of learning enforced by reliance on high stakes testing contributes minimally to the development of critical thought, problem solving and creativity.

On the side of those unilaterally pushing such testing, the arguments are less intellectual than pragmatic, driven by realities:  How U.S. public education has slipped in world positioning over the last decades; the sheer magnitude of the challenge to upgrade thousands of systems while lacking the power to override local control of education; and by frequent failure of public education bureaucracies to adjust standards and police their own profession.

Some of the issues to be addressed include but aren’t limited to:     
  • Synthesis of arguments about K-12 reform.
  • Opposing views on standardized testing dominance.
  • New neural findings on learning and their application.
  • Questions parents and taxpayers should be asking their systems and boards.
  • Opportunity for teachers and parents to express their experiences and views about any contemporary aspect of learning improvement.
  • A platform for reporting examples of systems that have created successful learning change, and that have been able to straddle substantive education change and still meet standardized testing challenges.
  • A platform for teachers or parents to anonymously report systems cheating or teaching to the test and covering up those performances.
  • Lastly, but it might lead the list, what do today’s students as early as sixth grade think of, and want that primary and secondary education to be?  They are surprisingly vocal and perceptive even if their values are seldom reflected in the debates.
The site will be structured to invite crowdsourcing of experiences in K-12, critique of present models, ideas for change, and examples of both great schools and ones not so great. 

A mission component is to invite conversations among parents, teachers, administrators, and including present students and those recently thrust into the real world by graduation and job seeking.  That eclectic exchange seems missing in many blogs that are excellent but attract only a few segments of the total audiences for education action.

Please keep checking on the site – launch should occur before our schools reconvene for the 2011-2012 school year.  In the interim, this is an invitation to any viewer to input ideas on how the site might make the most useful contribution to current reform deliberations – direct ideas and comments to Ron.

Ron Willett

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