[Numeracy 325] Re: Controversial News Articles

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Chip Burkitt chip.burkitt at orderingchaos.com
Sat Apr 24 16:24:23 EDT 2010


Christine,
There is a strong undercurrent of anti-intellectualism in American
culture that I don't think you will find in most other countries. We
have a strong tradition in our country of the self-made man who drops
out of school or barely graduates but goes on to amass great wealth or
become successful. The way we tell stories about Thomas Edison and
Abraham Lincoln tend to reinforce the stereotype of the lone
entrepreneur who makes his way by grit and determination and hard work
without needing all that fancy schooling. Graduate degrees are for
elites who sit around in their ivory towers and pontificate while the
real work is done by unschooled man and women who just dig in and do it.
Of course there's a counter narrative that describes the worth of
education in almost strictly economic terms: you can't get a good job
without a (used to be high school, now college) degree. Students usually
value education if their parents value it. Where parents denigrate
education, students are generally unmotivated to learn. However, even in
such situations, the fact is that they ARE learning. Children can't help
learning; it's hardwired into their brains. The only question is whether
they learn what we teach. I've had several adults in my GED classes who
have finally concluded that the education they spurned while they were
in school is in fact essential. They are strongly motivated to get their
GED, whatever it takes.

Chip Burkitt

On 4/24/2010 7:06 AM, Christine Miller wrote:

> Michael,

> There is a Chinese woman in one of my classes who immigrated here as

> an adult and now has children in American public schools. She was

> embarrassed by her brother the last time they visited and her looked

> at her teenaged daughter's high school math textbook. In the United

> States, part of what informs our math curricula is the idea of

> cognitive readiness for some math concepts. How do you explain China

> and India where they introduce some concepts much sooner? Perhaps it

> is how we introduce concepts. Another student said that in India,

> students are encouraged to not only count on their fingers, but to use

> the knuckles so they can go to higher numbers. Why not look at other

> cultures and emulate what works well? In our last class, we talked

> about motivation and the discussion turned to urban schools. Numerous

> external reasons were given to explain why many students don't do

> well. The Chinese lady basically thought that was poppycock and said

> that many students are hungry and poor at school in China yet they do

> well because it is expected. Maybe in our culture, we expect too

> little and the students live down to our low expectations.

> As for special needs, I would be completely surprised to find out that

> India and China reach out to the the level that the United States

> does. I think that this is one of our most admirable qualities as

> Americans. You bring up a good point -- our noble intentions versus

> the reality of our limited resources.

> Chris Miller

> ------------------------------------------------------------------------

> *From:* numeracy-bounces at nifl.gov [numeracy-bounces at nifl.gov] on

> behalf of Michael Gyori [tesolmichael at yahoo.com]

> *Sent:* Friday, April 23, 2010 1:10 PM

> *To:* The Math and Numeracy Discussion List

> *Subject:* [Numeracy 322] Re: Controversial News Articles

>

> Christine,

> You are so right, a high school diploma, one would imagine,

> should signify college readiness. The fact is that it doesn't, and

> there are huge differences among colleges, to boot. The three

> children of my gastroenterologist who is also a friend of mine all

> attended Yale. I just spoke with his wife yesterday, who shared that

> the students attending Yale especially from Korea, China, and India

> were considerably better prepared academically than their U.S.-born

> peers (in spite of language barriers).

> I also help non-native English speakers who attend to college. The

> differences between entry college-level English (reading and

> composition) classes across locations and even across instructors at

> the same school can be enormous. Theoretically, students should be at

> 13.0 or higher GLE to attend. Let's get real...

> We must have discussions, but all participants at the table must be

> given equal footing. Let's work on building some manner of consensus

> derived from understanding. National standards today will accomplish

> little more at this time than demoralize learners and educators even more.

> As for the notion of equality in education, that's one enormous beast

> we need to face. It means different things to different people. For

> starters, without taking a position and just as an example: should a

> profoundly deaf child be eligible for a personal deaf educator,

> educational assistant, and also a contracted ASL interpreter who is

> paid $100 per hour (keeping in mind that public education is funded

> with taxpayers' monies)?

> Michael

>

> Michael A. Gyori

>

> Maui International Language School

>

> www.mauilanguage.com <http://www.mauilanguage.com/>

>

>

>

> ------------------------------------------------------------------------

> *From:* Christine Miller <cmiller53 at student.gsu.edu>

> *To:* The Math and Numeracy Discussion List <numeracy at nifl.gov>

> *Sent:* Fri, April 23, 2010 6:32:35 AM

> *Subject:* [Numeracy 321] Re: Controversial News Articles

>

> I don't think that having national standards leads to a pot of money.

> The federal government legally compels equality in education for all

> -- not just minorities but special needs as well. Many states seem to

> try and get away with doing the least amount possible. Setting

> standards is not supposed to be just an exercise in multiplication.

> They should be the result of thoughtful discussions with the

> understanding that standards change as society changes. To say that

> you have a college track high school diploma should mean that you are

> ready for college algebra (or better) and that you are literate.

> ------------------------------------------------------------------------

> *From:* numeracy-bounces at nifl.gov [numeracy-bounces at nifl.gov] on

> behalf of shirley burns [threedog at cyberport.net]

> *Sent:* Tuesday, April 20, 2010 6:52 PM

> *To:* 'The Math and Numeracy Discussion List'

> *Subject:* [Numeracy 318] Re: Controversial News Articles

>

> I’m just getting in this, but are you sure it is the standards that

> make the education. It doesn’t sound to me like the problem in the

> south is standards. I can’t believe that we can honestly believe

> that the FED government would do a better job of the states in setting

> standards. Most standards are copies from one another. It sound

> like you don’t have as much faith in national standards as you think

> that having them will give some pot of money from the Federal gov’t.

> There is no pot of money. It comes with a high price tag.

>

> *From:* numeracy-bounces at nifl.gov [mailto:numeracy-bounces at nifl.gov]

> *On Behalf Of *Christine Miller

> *Sent:* Tuesday, April 20, 2010 2:33 PM

> *To:* The Math and Numeracy Discussion List

> *Subject:* [Numeracy 316] Re: Controversial News Articles

>

> Should't we at least consider having a national discussion about what

> knowledge we value? Coming from the South and knowing about the

> history of public education in the South in comparison to say, the

> Mid-Atlantic states, I am cynical about depending on state politicians

> to improve and/or maintain education. Georgia arm wrestles every year

> with Mississippi, Alabama, and South Carolina for the bottom four

> ranking order. I believe that a lot of our struggles originate from

> our shared history. Southern states were the last to offer public

> education and we have a checkered past when it comes to inclusion and

> realistic funding. The federal government interventions have sometimes

> offered the only relief from injustice. Hopefully, talk about national

> standards will include a broader discussion of how the outdated way we

> pay for education, i.e. through property taxes, means that those who

> need the most will always get the least.

>

> Chris

>

> ------------------------------------------------------------------------

>

> *From:* numeracy-bounces at nifl.gov [numeracy-bounces at nifl.gov] on

> behalf of Michael Gyori [tesolmichael at yahoo.com]

> *Sent:* Tuesday, April 20, 2010 1:37 PM

> *To:* The Math and Numeracy Discussion List

> *Subject:* [Numeracy 314] Re: Controversial News Articles

>

> The problem with national standards is that they become the primary

> means of evaluating performance by means of multiple-choice

> assessments. Linda herself is one of the leading opponents of such

> assessments, as evidenced by her espousal of assessment practices

> elsewhere that shed light on the reasoning processes our students

> undergo. They take a lot more time to "score" and don't lend

> themselves to digitalized scoring.

>

> The federal government already has too huge of an impact on what and

> how teachers should teach. The backlash to that impact is itself,

> IMO, a major cause of educational failures.

>

> Michael

>

> Michael A. Gyori

>

> Maui International Language School

>

> www.mauilanguage.com <http://www.mauilanguage.com/>

>

> ------------------------------------------------------------------------

>

> *From:* Christine Miller <cmiller53 at student.gsu.edu>

> *To:* The Math and Numeracy Discussion List <numeracy at nifl.gov>

> *Sent:* Tue, April 20, 2010 4:37:36 AM

> *Subject:* [Numeracy 312] Re: Controversial News Articles

>

> In reading the article about the closing of the charter school that

> Stanford and Linda Darling-Hammond ran, it seems like a good

> illustration of the challenges facing educators everywhere -- systemic

> poverty, diversity, limited resources, english language learning,

> assessments. The fact that Linda Darling-Hammond has the President's

> ear and hopefully Secretary Duncan's as well could be a really

> positive thing. The article said that the schools had shown

> improvments, just not the dramatic leaps which observers demand. Maybe

> this is a valuable "teachable" moment demonstrating that education is

> a lengthy process of many steps.

>

> I am trying to understand why the idea of national standards or a

> curriculum is objectionable. I am from Georgia and I see how bogged

> down our state and local governments get in the politics of curricula.

> We also linger towards the bottom in national tests like the SAT. What

> would be so bad about having a set standard of math objectives for

> each grade so that to say you graduated from a U.S. high school means

> that your math education included whatever is in the national

> definition? Another bonus would be that if students have to move

> during their k12 career, they are ready for their new school.

>

> Christine Miller

>

> ________________________________________

> From: numeracy-bounces at nifl.gov <mailto:numeracy-bounces at nifl.gov>

> [numeracy-bounces at nifl.gov <mailto:numeracy-bounces at nifl.gov>] on

> behalf of tsticht at znet.com <mailto:tsticht at znet.com> [tsticht at znet.com

> <mailto:tsticht at znet.com>]

> Sent: Saturday, April 17, 2010 3:58 PM

> To: numeracy at nifl.gov <mailto:numeracy at nifl.gov>

> Subject: [Numeracy 311] Controversial News Articles

>

> Colleagues: Here are extracts from two news stories that may be of

> interest.

> They seem to challenge some of the more innovative actions (e.g.,

> authentic

> assessments; professional development in math) that many educational

> researchers recommend to improve the nation's K-12 educational system. No

> doubt these reports will be considered quite controversial! You can find

> full stores on www.educationnews.org <http://www.educationnews.org/>

> Tom Sticht

>

> Posted on 4/17/2010 at www.educationnews.org

>

> #1 Middle School Mathematics Professional Development Impact Study:

> Findings

> After the First Year of Implementation

>

> Results after one year of providing teachers math professional development

> (PD) indicate no improvement on their students' math achievement when

> compared to teachers who did not receive the study-provided PD.

>

>

>

>

> #2 Obama’s Linda Darling-Hammond and Her Failed School”

>

> by Donna Garner

>

>

>

> Early in Obama’s presidency, it looked as if he was going to appoint Linda

> Darling-Hammond as his Secretary of Education. Instead, Obama decided to

> empower Darling-Hammond to complete the federal takeover of the public

> schools by authorizing her to help develop the national tests (i.e.,

> assessments). These assessments are the centerpiece in Obama’s plan

> to put

> the federal government in charge of what gets taught each day to public

> school students.

>

>

>

> By having national standards, national curriculum, national

> assessments, and

> a national database tying students’ scores directly to teachers’ pay and

> longevity, teachers will be forced to teach their students whatever is in

> the national standards and on the national assessments.

>

>

>

> Today we see that Linda Darling-Hammond’s approach to education has

> failed.

> The school she founded in California is to be closed because of low test

> scores and lack of significant improvement.

>

> A similar charter school (Aspire) in the same district focused on

> academics;

> Darling-Hammond’s school focused on project-based learning, subjective

> assessments, portfolios, and “students’ emotional and social lives.”

>

>

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>

>

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