Sunday, November 24, 2013

Santa's Holiday Gift List for Public K-12

Over three years and 92 Edunation posts, there have been episodes of pessimism as too many of our public K-12 schools have been observed simply plodding down a century-old education version of "The Calf Path."  

But most discouraging, endemic among our public schools' leadership and classrooms, has been seeing a major venue, charged with providing our nation's learning, be virtually impervious to and in denial of its own needed learning and reinvention.

These are not normally welcome thoughts, with the Holidays and a spirit of renewal timely. 

Counterpoint, following are some tongue-in-cheek proposed Holiday gifts for our K-12 public education establishment.  On reflection, however, they are perhaps not so off-the-wall in terms of relevance as one might initially conclude.  But simultaneously, they may represent as challenged potential for delivery as the imaginary contents of Santa's bag?  Invoking James Kelly's Scottish Proverbs (circa 1721), "If wishes were horses, beggars would ride."  

Santa’s Public K-12 Gift Bag

Hot, and needed: A super-sized magnifying glass for Arne Duncan; and jewelers' loupes for our public K-12 administrators who fed from the trough, required to see the recently Federally-reported learning gains from 5.1 billion taxpayer dollars of alleged reform and bureaucratic trivia sent our public schools.

Another hot item, the I2S2C decoder cellphone game/app, offering a chance of identifying some of the anonymous people who created the math/language arts so-called common core, or the equally anonymous splinter group of NGA governors appointing them.  

A package deal, featured with the above by some upscale resellers, the amazing new miniature proximity fMRI and app, that can discern neural intentions. Featured, sensing, that when close up registering statements by, for example, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, can discriminate whether the diatribe is dissembling, ignorance, or just the Duncan gaffe-of-the-week.

Several tankers of Lysol to flush out the U.S. Department of Education, plus a budget, to reestablish prior thinking human resources and K-12 education research, and to fund, at least once, intelligent baseline “big data” for all of America’s K-12 schools so there is at last some intelligent understanding of what private K-12 and 100,000 public K-12 schools are actually doing. 

A summit meeting of America’s major universities, pledging a decade’s project to disassemble present collegiate schools of education, reassembling them based on contemporary principles of learning (see brain research below) and some subject matter expertise, while changing collegiate recruiting of future teachers and administrators to feature our best and brightest rather than the traditional south end of the talent barrel.

A public education subscription to the newsletter of the European Community’s massive, well-organized and funded next decade brain research program; and if it is ever made coherent and funded, to comparable reports from Mr. Obama’s U.S. BRAIN initiative.

A new product, the K-12 version of Coursera and edX and other MOOC originators, designed specifically to supply nationally, and with legitimate expertise, the at-home component of K-12 instruction in the flipped-classroom model (parenthetically, also usefully killing the so-called common core pseudo-knowledge model, while in process replacing it with legitimate universal critical knowledge).

An epiphany, that decades of taxing and spending to build facility monuments to public K-12 education were never about learning at all, but to feed the egos of communities suffering public school delusions and diverting parental awareness of K-12 learning failures with sports, entertainment, and how fine its retro buildings show.

Eric Schmidt’s gift to public K-12; a version of educational Google designed to allow public K-12 to escape technological obsolescence by enabling the universal software to allow “bring your own device” to be public K-12’s technology.

Gift certificates for existing public K-12 administrators and teachers to take at least two Coursera or edX courses a year, to achieve some intellectual currency.

An education GE (genetically engineered) creation, that dissolves and erases from memory NCLB, RTTT, Arne Duncan, to the extent possible The Business Roundtable, and a cabal of corporate testing companies; plus a fund for severance, counseling, and retirement payments for a small army of pyschometricians, who may have little chance of alternative employment in ethical organizations (perhaps alternate employment with HHS/ACA, or the RNC, or the NGA, or ALEC, or CCSSI, or the NSA?).

The following link to Digital Spark Marketing, because it was perceptive enough to recognize and quote material on K-12 from nationally known educator/writer Marion Brady.

A Break for Clearing the Wrapping Detritus

A short break, another dozen gifts to go, to try to avoid whiplash from flying ribbons, but with an input for reflection.  Sunday's New York Times featured a column by Frank Bruni on whether our kids have been too coddled.  The column managed to repeat the propaganda (and display Mr. Bruni's lack of homework) extolling the virtue of the alleged "common core" (versus a legitimate national knowledge set that should drive public K-12 learning). The most revealing part of the piece, however, was the outpouring of readers' articulate comments before the sun was fully up, worth reading.

Back to opening the public K-12 gifts:

A magic key (perhaps expressed as a wearable charm noting the willingness to vote yes on the next school levy) that unlocks the doors, and erects bridges over the moats around our public school buildings, making them after hours open and hospitable for community use and adult education.

The superintendent's gift set -- the 25 best management books of all time -- for the vast majority of public K-12 superintendents, who perceiving entitlement, believe their management chores are conceptually different than any other human resource leadership role (they are not) and who have yet to open any texts in the set.

A year’s supply of Guy Fawkes masks, for some exceptional K-12 public school administrators, allowing that cognoscenti with integrity to publicly speak out while protecting their identity when they perceive the ludicrous properties of present public K-12 corporate reform.

Gift to every public school of a giant LED display, that informs the public when and where BOE meetings are being held; in parallel, a sensor applied to BOE members that wirelessly lights up and flashes every LED on that board when a BOE sneaks into illegal and secret sessions.

Amazon gift certificates:  For thousands of school boards, including the site of this blog; one certificate for Diane Ravitch’s, The Death and Birth of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education; one for Daniel Koretz's, Measuring Up: What Educational Testing Really Tells Us; one for John Taylor Gatto's, The Underground History of American Education; one for a how-to-find-educational-intelligence manual for Google; one for Chris Argyris', Organizational Traps:  Leadership, Culture, Organizational Design; one for Peter M. Senge's, The Fifth Discipline:  The Art & Practice of the Learning Organization; one for Pasi Sahlberg's, Finnish Lessons:  What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland?; one for Charles Murray's, Real Education:  Four simple Truths for Bringing America's Schools Back to Reality; and one for Dan Gookin’s, PCs for Dummies.

A national application of fairy dust, deploying a benign fungus dissolving every mediocre, copycat, mile wide-inch deep K-12 textbook in our K-12 public systems, and in the inventories of the oligopoly of publishers lobbying every aspect of public K-12 learning materials to their detriment, along with all contracts that embed those publishers.  As a bonus, the magic dust also dissolves Texas' ideologically and politically driven state K-12 textbook selection board, and in early testing bleached out instances of both creationism and climate change denial.

One of those magic Holiday moments of clarity, provoking a crisis of conscience in Ohio's Department of Education, causing it to recall its own research, quickly suppressed, indicating that its standardized test score-based public school grades were essentially crap, showing little correlation with better nationally recognized measures of overall school performance. The instance of "conscience" was itself a wondrous and rare thing.

Free download of the "2014 Public K-12 Organizational and Operating Manual" for public K-12 school administrators, to replace last century's version in use.

A smoke and mirrors sensor, freely available to all American voters, that registers the sincerity and knowledge base of all candidates for public school board election, and signals when they are phonies.  As BOE candidates rarely are challenged to display their credentials, or defend their views prior to elections, a needed aid for BOE voting.  Early adoption risks are that the U.S. BOE supply falls drastically below statutory need pending states creating rational requirements for public schools' oversight.

Some design help for Bill Gates, who having spent hundreds of millions of dollars superimposing his views on public K-12 schools, has been confronted with the assertion that "Bill Gates Can't Build a Toilet."  That does seem counterintuitive, his largesse having created the metaphorical K-12 equivalent, with superimposed standardized testing and VAM?

A five-years’ supply of genetically engineered “creativity pills,” prescribed once a day for every human resource tethered to public K-12.  A parallel "knowledge prescription" is appended for that large component of public K-12 education to dispel chronic Dunning-Kruger effect.

Lastly, a Holiday Eve and Dickensian epiphany for thousands of public K-12 superintendents, principals, and sundry bureaucrats, prompted by some ghosts of education past, magically creating self-awareness that it has been largely their own ignorance, self-centricity, dogmatism, and inattention to a school's primary mission -- versus housekeeping, bureaucracy tending, and levy peddling -- over decades, that spawned NCLB and the corporate reform movement.  That reform mantra's contribution to compromised genuine learning, and states' politically inspired prosecution of testing qua ersatz school grading, allowed spread to their own public schools. Unfortunately, unlike Scrooge, the genre has consistently been too unobservant to even recognize that traditional rattle of chains.

After-Holiday Bills?

Whew, would this gift bag bankrupt America after the first of the New Year when the bills come in?  The doubters, like the climate change venue, would of course claim that result.  Another perspective, the real currency for our public schools' change isn't another RTTT, or more school property or income tax, or more bricks and mortar, but primarily public K-12 vaccine injections of critical thought, creativity and courage, properties dollars won't buy. 

In the end, both Santa's bag and the latter virtues likely remain, wistfully and respectively, mythical and Scottish Proverbs' "wishes."  But, maybe, some New Year's resolutions...

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