Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Remarkable Contrast: Sidwell Friends and the "New & Improved" Public Schools

All across NJ, teachers, parents, students, concerned citizens and children gathered in Trenton to testify at the NJDOE against the dangerous road our education policy is taking our families.  All kinds of citizens are asking why?

  • Why must our children be standardized?  
  • Why can't my child opt out of this test?  
  • Why are we teaching to the test? 

Because, those in Trenton believe the PARCC is so great, it is worth teaching to the test.

Yet, look at Sidwell and Friends.  The private school where Arnie Duncan's boss sends his kids.  A presentation was held on November 17, at Sidwell where Tony Wagner "one of the nation's leading voices on innovations in education" was invited to speak.  Tony Wagner is "an expert-in-residence at Harvard University's new Innovation Lab and author of the acclaimed 2012 book, Creating Innovators:  The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World."  

An excerpt from Tony Wagner's presentation below, reveals that it is unlikely that he, nor Sidwell Friends, nor the parents that send their children to this elite, private school lean toward a test-driven curriculum, though that is the favor of the NJDOE and other reformery DOEs:

"Education that creates innovators also avoids falling into the trap of “test prep curriculum,” which is what most of America’s students are taught today, he claims. Schools have only to look to colleges, an impressive 750 of which are making their entrance requirements “test optional,” including the venerable SAT."  (emphasis mine)

Also look to the perspective of Yong Zhao, professor of education at the University of Oregon, an authority on Chinese and American education and the author of “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon: Why China Has the Best (and Worst) Education System in the World:

Duncan stated that matters of standardized testing were "sucking the oxygen out of the room in a lot of schools," yet state DOEs drive full steam ahead!  

How can parents, educators and American students avoid "falling into a trap" when the DOE is mandating a test prep curriculum across the country?  

What about those parents, their children and educators who voice the same concern, but seem to be repeatedly ignored as the testing regime continues?  

Activate thought bubbles:

Kinda' feels like the private schools know something that public schools know, too.   
Kinda' feels like policy-maker-parents and legislator-parents know something that public-school-parents know, as well.  
Kinda' makes one wonder that even though NJ's public is testifying, will policy maker$ and legi$lators continue to turn a deaf ear?
If students in private schools (i.e. children of legislators and education reformers) can be protected from being involved in the Common Core State Standards and the accompanying high-stakes test, why must public school students be mandated to do the opposite?  
Private schools are preparing their students (many of whom are children of policy makers) to be creative for the competitive global economy.  And, while there is nothing against sending ones child to a private school, how can one contend that the reverse is best for public school students?  

Making rules for other people's children, 
while not applying the same rules for ones own children

…for lack of a better term, does this seem a bit icky?  

Or, in other words - as John Dewey stated over a century ago: 
“What the best and wisest parent wants for his child, that must we want for all the children of the community. Anything less is unlovely, and left unchecked, destroys our democracy.”

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