Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Karen Cathers: How Children Learn

Dr. Ken Mitchell, superintendent of schools of South Orangetown School District, Rockland County, gave a clear, well-documented and compelling presentation of his CRREO (Center for Research, Regional Education and Outreach) report to a largely already convinced audience at SUNY New Paltz on Jan. 30.

The crowd was already convinced because it was filled with people who are educators, people in the "business" (pardon the expression) of educating our population -- superintendents, principals, teachers, students, parents, school board members.

The federal initiative, Race to the Top (RTT), a continuation of the No Child Left Behind boondoggle and the latest iteration of RTTT, the Annual Professional Performance Review, was the subject of the presentation.

Mitchell’s concern was the cost to districts, lack of evidence that it will work, and the mandated "rushing" of this legislation. All this is impacting our already over-burdened school budgets, our over-the-top stress level of educators, and of course, the students.
If one looks at the history of Race to the Top, No Child Left Behind, and the APPR, we see that it was conceived by CEOs of our corporate world, governors, and legislators, those who were missing at Mitchell’s talk. Educators were left out of the original discussion and the legislation.
We have learned so much about how children learn, and had been, before this legislation, implementing real sound, Piaget-based learning models, such as hands-on science and math, real literature, real writing, real use of oral language by students. The test-driven model of rank and sort, competition, district vs. district and teacher training, which is only about using test-prep materials and improving scores, has effectively taken the joy, the spirit, the lifelong love of learning and the success out of the American public educational system.
Google CRREO for Mitchell’s report. It gives the cost and impact analysis of why this is a very, very bad idea.

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