There are several things one could add about the opinion piece in SF Chronicle. One could comment that the one article Wayne brought to the list was only one of four (student's view, parent's view and teacher's view were not given to us, but can be easily found in the paper or in the SF Chronicle archives). Second, we have to realize that the two people who wrote the piece have no experience writing tests of any kind, yet they contribute and edit questions to the tests for all of California. One could also point out a number of oversights (not to say lies and exaggerations), as Josh Zucker has done. Or one could point back to the New York Times article on a similar subject published earlier in the week. In fact, the latter has inspired some letters to the editor, which appeared today.
>http://www.nytimes.com/2001/05/29/opinion/L29MOFF.html > >May 29, 2001 > >The Education of Donna Moffett > > To the Editor: > > "Teaching by the Book, No Asides Allowed" (front page, May 23), >the latest article in your series about Donna Moffett, a >novice New York City teacher, may be the most chilling example of >how the push for higher test scores leads to low-quality >instruction. > >Highly scripted lessons don't just handcuff teachers; they cheat >students ÃÂ especially poor and minority students ÃÂ by >substituting a diet of isolated skills for the thoughtful >exploration of ideas. > >It was particularly horrifying to read that Ms. Moffett's mentor >views as evidence of success precisely what most thoughtful >educators would regard as serious missteps: posting on the classroom >bulletin boards "only the best work instead of work by every >student" (thereby emphasizing rivalry and exclusion in place of >community), learning "to sprinkle phrases" from a drill-like >program throughout the school day, and becoming "a better >disciplinarian by not frolicking with the students as much as in the >fall." > >If test scores rise in such an environment, that is the best >evidence yet that these tests measure what matters least. > >ALFIE KOHN > >Belmont, Mass., May 24, 2001 > >ÃÂ > >To the Editor: > >You quote a veteran teacher who mentors the novice New York City >teacher you have been following as saying that "the beauty" of >the rigid curriculum used at Public School 92 "is that you don't >have to think about it" (front page, May 23). > >A teacher is nothing without intellect, passion and compassion. >Teachers who are discouraged from thinking cannot hope to inspire >students to think. Those who are discouraged from being passionate >cannot hope to inspire students to learn. > >Do we really believe that academic success can be automatized? Such >schools will continue to fail miserably until they learn the >difference between education and boot camp. > >CHRISTOPHER BLACK > >Greenwich, Conn., May 23, 2001 > >ÃÂ > >To the Editor: > >"Teaching by the Book, No Asides Allowed" (front page, May 23) >describes a disturbing trend toward scripted lessons that is >starting to infect higher education as well as elementary and >secondary schools. > >Many of the new for-profit, online plans for "higher" learning are >built on a one-size-fits-all model, with "expert faculty" creating >courses, complete with lesson plans and scripts. Contract "course >managers" are then enlisted to actually "teach" the students, >scripts in hand. > >This divorce of intellectual capital from the actual context of >teaching and learning threatens everything that is valuable in the >American higher education system. Over time, the separation of >curriculum planning from the actual teaching and learning process >will discourage talented faculty, replicating in the academy the >problems in finding effective teachers that we already confront in >our >schools. > >CAROL GEARY SCHNEIDER > >President, Association of American Colleges and Universities > >Washington, May 23, 2001 > >ÃÂ > >To the Editor: > >Why study for a master's degree in education when much of the school >day is scripted (front page, May 23)? > >Sadly, the creativity of Donna Moffett, the novice teacher you have >been following, is being stifled. Her joy has been tempered, >her energies misdirected. Undoubtedly, this, in turn, carries over >to her first graders. What becomes of their creativity, joy and >energies? > >Beyond impressing city and state officials, this does not sound like >"success for all." > >BOB NATHANSON > >Brooklyn, May 23, 2001 > >The writer is an associate professor of teaching and learning at >Long Island University, Brooklyn campus. > >ÃÂ > >To the Editor: > >As a principal and former kindergarten teacher, I was skeptical of >the Success for All reading program described in "Teaching by >the Book" (front page, May 23). So I visited a classroom using the program. > >I saw a teacher reading mechanically from a script. At one point she >read the question, "If there is ice in the river, it is ___?" One >boy said, "Cold." (The "correct" answer was "winter.") The teacher >responded: "Are you reading or just thinking? No thinking in >here. Go back to your book and give me the right answer." > >PAUL SCHWARZ > >New York, May 23, 2001 > >The writer is the principal of Landmark High School. > Copyright 2001 The New York Times Company