Tag Archives: nclb

Remembering George W. Bush: Greatest Education President Ever

[Note: I used to ape the standard liberal line that George W. Bush was a horrible education president. Then I met Mr. Wilber D. Snipes III of Crawford, Texas, and he showed me the error of  my ways.  So compelling were Mr. Snipes' arguments, I invited him to write the following open farewell to President Bush as a guest-post for Change.org on Bush's last day in office. Read and be enlightened.]

Dear President Bush,

Don’t let that liberal media get you down with their polls. As one of the 17% of Americans who knows you were a great president – history (and your heavenly reward!) will prove the “Negative Nellies” wrong – I just want to say “Thank you!” for all the great work.

Because of your support for abstinence-only sex education, my teenage daughter and son are still virgins. As for the mean-spirited gossip around town that they’ve been playing games with their non-virginal zones in ways that make Sodom seem like Sunday School, well, let me tell you that they’re just not true – my daughter’s walk is that way from too much horseback-riding. She swore to that while we slow-danced at our Purity Ball last week. (And I double-darn guarantee you that Ball was a heck of a lot more fun than Barack Hussein Obama’s inaugural ball will be. You should come next year, and bring your own lovely daughters!)  Likewise, those little blemishes on their mouths and other parts of their pure bodies are just cold sores and pimples. That school nurse who said otherwise, and who showed me that study about how abstinence-only education is causing kids to increase in both sin and sickness? She can stick her liberal science where the sun don’t shine.

Speaking of “science,” I also want to thank you for putting those pesky, elitist, know-it-all “scientists” in their place over the last eight years. You and me both know that evolution is just a “theory,” and that no matter how much some of us may look like monkeys, the Good Book says otherwise right there on page 2 of “Genesis” in God’s own red, white, and blue English. Same with that so-called “global warming.” You were right to silence those government scientists who drank the Al Gore kool-aid. Heck, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that it’s hotter these days because of the population boom down in Hell. (More sinners, more fires. Heat rises. Boom: global warming. It’s basic physics.)  Anyway, thanks to you, my children know better than to believe all this “scientific research.”

(You should see my kids, whenever “global warming” comes up, imitate your “Goodbye from the world’s biggest polluter!” joke at your last G8 Summit. They do the fist-jab as they say it as perfectly as you did in front of all those world leaders. Thank you for setting that example for the young, Sir!)

Finally, I want to thank you for improving my children’s reading and math skills. I can’t believe how good they have become at choosing the right bubbles on all those state tests they’ve been taking. Those Nellies who say that those reading tests don’t measure literacy should come to my house and watch my son and daughter read classics like Answers in Genesis, The Bell Curve, and Mein Kampf. I grill them after every chapter with comprehension questions, and they’re 100% right every time. They understand the genius of these great works and argue their points against liberals who try to debate them with a force that makes this father proud.  (As for math, they’re better at calculating how much my savings have shrunk than I am!)

Mr. President, I could say much more, but I think I’ll stop here. God bless you, Sir, for all you’ve done in your service to America – and God save us from the years of liberal tyranny we face when you’re gone.bush finger postage stamp

Sincerely,

Wilber D. Snipes III
Crawford, Texas

P.S. Congratulations on the postage stamp! I was in a fraternity too, and let me tell you, I surely appreciate your whacky way of telling the liberals where to get off!!!

An Approach to Teacher Merit Pay I Could Live With

Who is Arne Duncan and how will his choice as Secretary of Education affect education in the US (and, for better or worse in this hegemonic age, much of the rest of the world)? I’ve spent so many hours since the announcement reading reactions online that both my eyes and my brain cells are fried. (Enjoy the Diigo bookmarks if you’re masochistic.) All that reading will have to steep for a while before I can serve it as tea.

Until that happens, I’m going to focus on one controversy surrounding Duncan, and toss out some thoughts on it. That controversy is performance pay for teachers.

Bill Ferriter’s excellent recent post on this issue at the Tempered Radical got me thinking. I replied there,

Bill, Great arguments all the way through – and greater for the admission there are no easy answers.

I had a conversation last week about merit pay, and why I didn’t believe in it. I said it pissed me off to no end that I _knew_ from all sorts of objective observations that I worked harder and more successfully than many of my colleagues, yet earned nothing more for it – BUT, until a system was implemented that could determine what we mean by ‘merit,’ and avoid causing all of us to teach to tests and thus damage student learning, I was still against it.

What’s the best solution to this dilemma that you’ve thought or read?

Thinking about it a little more, this is what I can come up with so far:

We’d have to define “merit” to include the higher-order thinking skills – analysis, synthesis, evalutation/critical thinking, creativity – that the best learning projects require. This is not the opposite of the “fact-based, right/wrong, multiple choice” testing that NCLB and the College Board/AP/SAT pushes, but what you might call the upward extension of it. Mastery of facts is the beginning, not the end, of the assessment for meritorious teaching and learning.

If we start there, that means teacher merit is measured by the types of projects that are assigned in the classroom – not by the standardized testing industry – and by the performance of students who complete these projects. This further means that said teacher measurement is performed not centrally, but locally – or perhaps by boards consisting of local and central judges. (I know that “central” is vague.)

My thinking is that if teachers were rewarded for designing learning activities that measured positively against a checklist of such higher-order thinking traits – and crucially, that the measurement was based not on a single unit, but on a portfolio of all units assigned throughout the semester or year (this eliminates the dog-and-pony show liability of single principal evaluations) – then the best teachers would be rewarded with higher pay, while the worst ones would have an incentive to change their practice for the better. Teaching to the test wouldn’t be the goal any more; teaching to higher instructional standards would be.

As for what those higher instructional standards would look like, we need look no further than Linda Darling-Hammond for answers. Her presentation linked in an earlier post lays the groundwork for such guidelines.

As I commented on Will’s post about the Duncan pick,

Since Darling-Hammond led BO’s ed transition team, she may have had his ear long enough to fill it with good sense on how to reform NCLB’s assessments for the better – so that they align with better teaching-and-learning.

And I just discovered Bill Ferriter posted a follow-up to my comment, so off I go to fry a few more cells. Bill’s worth it.