Saturday, April 18, 2009

Jack O'Connell Is An Idiot

Jack O'Connell is a Democrat and California's Superintendent of Public Instruction, a non-partisan statewide office that runs the bureaucracy of the state Department of Education. This position is different from the Secretary of Education, which is an appointed position which serves only as an adviser to the governor.

I voted for Jack O'Connell 2 1/2 years ago. I regret that vote.

He's since stated that California's teachers need to step up and "do their part" for migrant education. He's implied that California's teachers are racists, and his participation at a conference on that topic wasn't helpful. About the only area in which I've agreed with O'Connell, and the reason I voted for him, is his support of standardized testing--specifically, the High School Exit Exam.

But now O'Connell wants to weaken California's academic standards and its testing program:
The Superintendent acknowledged that this is "an area in which California has served as an established leader for some time now":
I am proud, as all of you should be, that California purposely set the bar high for what our children should know and be able to do, and we have never wavered from that commitment. But instead of maintaining these internationally-benchmarked high standards, he wants to "rededicate and reinvigorate" them. "Evolving them is healthy," the Superintendent says. (boldface mine--Darren)

Superintendent O'Connell wants to revamp the California academic standards because, he says, they are “a mile wide, but only an inch deep.” But, with all due respect -- as I have stated in the Los Angeles Times -- I have to disagree. Indeed, the California standards have been judged among the best in the country by the Fordham Foundation and the American Federation of Teachers. California already has official Key Standards in mathematics, for example, to identify teaching priorities and the topics that should be covered in depth.

The Superintendent also wants to revamp the California standards: order to fully engage both students and teachers in the learning process in a way that sees both parties benefit and helps to better prepare students for success in the economy of the 21st century.
Translation from education jargon: He wants to water down California's existing high standards in the name of the wolly concept of "21st-century skills," that is, communicating with each other, working in groups, media literacy, and so forth. He wants to subtract from classroom time spent on solid subject-matter content to teach these supposed stand-alone skills.

Who says so? Bill Evers, a research fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institute.


Ellen K said...

I thought public school teachers and taxpayers were already "doing their part" by educating, feeding, providing after school care, special education, health screenings and many other "free" services to people who are not paying their fair share for these services. We have these kooks too. No matter how much is spent on this demographic, it's never viewed as enough. Yet these same families move at will, don't enforce attendance and the teachers of Texas have to somehow pull these kids through testing successfully. I dare that guy to teach one day in an inner city largely Hispanic school. And I want him to do all the administrative work, paper work and record keeping of the average teacher. And I want him to get yelled at when he doesn't come through. What a maroon.

Stopped Clock said...

Oh yes, we all know what a hotbed of white supremacy our public school system is. Especially in California. Clearly we need to flush outdated racist concepts like "planning ahead" and "treating people of all races equally" out of our school system before the fragile 61% minority population of our schools is held back any further.

mazenko said...

Even though we have Ward Churchill and voted for Obama, I think you need to return to Colorado.

maxutils said...

Why is it again, we have standardized testing? To show growth? Well, not when we change the standards or scoring every couple of years. To encourage schools to hire better qualified teachers? Not when there's a shortage of teachers (especially in math)and we don't provide funding. To make parents aware of a school's performance, so they can make an educated decision about where to send their kids? Not while we don't allow school choice and open competition.

So, here's what you get: no real change in the academic experience, except that first graders get homework, elementary school students get P.E. twice a week, if they are lucky, and if you want to learn an instrument, you have to come early and stay late. Plus, we lose a week's worth of instructional time. I know we lose ground, especially in the early grades by taking a lot of fun out of the school day. At least as long as there are no real consequences for poor performance, I'd rather put the time back into the classroom, and trust that most schools are doing the best they can -- since, if they aren't, nothing will happen anyway.