Date: Nov 7, 2012 6:32 AM
Subject: It's The Politics, Stupid
I have never before seen one document, that so thoroughly supports me in all the major points I have been making in this forum for the past ten years, as the document Paul Tanner cites in the thread, "Speachless In New York (or, another OMG moment)"
I do not understand why he did it, but my thanks to Paul for citing,
"Test-Based Grade Retention"
Of all my major points, the one that stands, head and shoulders, above the rest is the question of politics. For more than ten years, I have argued that issues like textbooks, pedagogy, and curriculum are symptoms, not causes. The overarching problem, the one root cause, of the ills that afflict American public education is politics. Well, that has been my argument. Now, thanks to Paul, we read seven scholars of education writing
"This policy brief challenges grade-retention policies being enacted or considered by states...
"However, by the late 1990s, there was renewed political interest in grade retention as an academic intervention...
"Since grade retention entered the political scene...
"In this section, we discuss Florida?s test-based retention policy as a case illustrating misguided decisions influenced by political rhetoric.
"In 2002, as part of a revision to the K-20 Education Code, the Florida legislature passed statute 1008.25. The statute introduced a test based retention policy for third-grade students who..."
and so on.
It cannot be clearer, to anyone at an 8th grade reading level or above, that America does not have an education problem, it has a political problem. From the choice of textbooks to the choice of teachers (ie, who gets hired and fired) and almost everything in between, like policies on curriculum and grade retention, education practice does not rise out of scientific investigation or the scientific judgement of professional panels, but from the lobbies, hallways, and back rooms of state legislatures, which are themselves often the response to education practices that rise out of the political ideologies of the ed school professoriate or the labor demands of the teachers unions.
In other words, "move along folks" there is no science to see here. To paraphrase Stephen Hawking
it's politics all the way down.
So, I write this the day after the American people have made a large number of consequential political decisions. It is now perfectly clear that nobody in this forum is going to see any permanent, important, beneficial change in American public education in his lifetime. The Education Mafia have won a generational victory.
I may continue corresponding to Math-Teach. I would do it perhaps out of habit, perhaps because I have some fun with it, perhaps because writing, as writing always does, helps me clarify my own thinking on a subject. But, if I continue writing, I would do so with the clear and present knowledge that, as a practical matter, it is a complete waste of time.