Date: Feb 9, 2014 7:46 PM
Author: Domenico Rosa
Subject: Masters of psycho-babble and edu-speak

The following is the last half of a column published on Page C3 of The Hartford Courant on 9 Feb 2014. Mastery of incomprehensible psycho-babble and edu-speak seems to be one of the key qualifications of the administrators who control the education business in the U.S.

Parsing The Unintelligible Stefan Pryor

Colin McEnroe
To Wit


Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor appeared on the WNPR program "Where We Live" this week. Here are three things he said in the first seven minutes.

1. "So we decoupled the state test data from evaluation for the second year for any district that wished to decouple it. We also made some rules around creating greater assurances around the security and efficiency of data management systems ..."

2. "The model that we established for evaluation with the inclusion of teacher observations of student learning indicators to making sure that we are looking at student outcomes and other features--that was arrived at by consensus through our Performance Evaluation Advisory Council."

3. "We received a waiver to enable us to administer the Smarter Balance Assessment this year on an optional basis, and a lot of other conclusions get drawn from that including the fact that we needed to decouple data, state data, from the evaluation system."

Deep breath. OK, several things.

When a person talks this way there are two possible causes. Either he does not know what he's talking about and wishes to hide that, or he is supremely aware of how empty his words are and wishes to hide that.

The people currently in charge of teaching English do not speak English. This is called "a paradox." Examine quote No. 1 in which the word "around" is used twice as a synonym for "pertaining to." "Around" has two prepositional meanings. "Pertaining to" is not one of them, but people use it that way nowadays to dress up their fatuous remarks.

Elsewhere in those seven minutes, Pryor described a problem and said, "We solved for that by ?" No. You solve for an unknown. You solve a problem. You do not solve for a problem unless you are trying to sound smarter than the people who are listening.

I attempted--several times and in several moods--to parse and punctuate quote No. 2 so that it would be something other than a meaningless foam of words. I could not.

You cannot helpfully guide education and mold young minds if your skull is full of mush and gibberish is dribbling out of your mouth.

The obstacle to using plain English is the truth: that the numbing tide of "education reform" starting in 2000 has accomplished almost nothing. Whether it marches under the banners of Bush, Obama, Duncan, Malloy or the odious Margaret Spellings, it is ever an army of bad ideas.

I would not be able to tell you that if Miss Vick had not incentivized in me a mastery-focused growth mindset.