Re: Support for scripted curric etc? - was ediron....
- Subject: Re: Support for scripted curric etc? - was ediron....
- From: Humes-Schulz <humes-schulz@ATTBI.COM>
- Date: Tue, 19 Feb 2002 11:50:06 -0800
- In-reply-to: <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Reply-to: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List <ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU>
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Re: Edron, er, Edison in NY TimesMonty:
Thank you for your thoughtful and insightful reply -- much of what I was
trying to convey but seemed to do so very badly.
As for the why.
I think it is cultural in origin. I believe that parents want and seek
schools that match or are consistent with the cultural framework of their
family , community, and own childhood. For instance, authoritarian
families seek authoritarian schools and more democratically run families
seek more "progressive" models.
Cupertino School District in California (www.cupertino.k12.ca.us/ ), home of
the highest rated school in the state, is a case in point. A K-8 district
of 15,000+ students, it is in the heart of Silicon Valley. It offers 3
alternative schools. One is Faria A+ school -- a school that makes Edison
look warm, nurturing, and flexible. Dress code, punitive consequences,
little other than the basics, whole class instruction, work sheets. Kill
and drill. Their curricular goal for the year is vocabulary development.
Parents line up for miles to choose this school. The waiting list is huge.
A look at the demographics indicate that the vast majority (~85%) are of
foreign born parents who are seeking, I believe, a school with values
similar to that with which they grew up. Last year this school had the
highest rating of any school in the state.
Less than a mile away is McAuliffe School. A child centered school with
experiential learning, inquiry driven instruction. A school where the
classday can be (and has been) consumed by class meetings resolving the
conflicts on the playground. Children have a curriculum rich in literature,
art, music and even cooking. California history is not a work sheet but a
camping trip to the Gold Country (preceded by days of cooking hard tack).
Parents are required to work in the classroom and attend monthly class
meetings. Parents, too line up around the block to sign up for this school.
Demographically, this school is about 75% middle class white families. Last
year this school was not rated because the families boycotted the tests.
Same school district, same community but two very different cultural
attitudes toward education. But I think public school institutions need to
acknowledge these divisions and respond to the differing wishes and goals of
Again, I appreciate your comments.
From: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List [mailto:ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU]On
Behalf Of Monty Neill
Sent: Tuesday, February 19, 2002 11:28 AM
Subject: Support for scripted curric etc? - was ediron....
I think in the thread about "ediron" was an important point that has been
raised but not sufficiently: why is it that many people, esp. but by no
means only, support scripted and rigid curriculum, militaristic discipline,
etc -- the appalling things in the Edison school that were described in the
Times article. I agree with the critiques of this sort of education that
have been made on the list, and with the point that the choice need not be
between two forms of bad schooling. I agree that where these appear to be
the only actually existing choices at the moment, Edison may be the desired
choice -- but certainly need not be, as the refusal of Edison by organized
parents in NY show, and the partial halting of Edison in Philadelphia.
Indeed, we must be part of ensuring that there are real alternatives, which
is thus all about how to ensure real high quality education for people who
have often been denied it.
All that said, I am reminded that in NY City in the aftermath of the
community control of schools battle, in the few schools created with some
real community control, a "back to basics" curriculum was often implemented.
More widely, in Chicago in the first (genuine) stage of school reform, many
of the parent councils wanted a "back to basics" and possibly would have
warmed to the Edison approach. Interestingly, in many councils, as time went
on, the parents became aware of the dangerous limitations of this approach.
They had to confront questions such as, what will my child have to learn to
get into college or succeed in other important areas of life? Back to basics
could not provide a satisfactory answer, so in many schools, the shift
toward expecting something much richer began to develop. Or so my
understanding of one aspect of the Chicago story. (It may well be, of
course, that a lot of selling to parents of the direct instruction/mastery
learning approaches was being done -- but selling does not always explain
The more general point here is that there exists real support for the
kinds of school pretty much everyone on this list agrees is bad news. It is
mind and spirit crushing, guarantees the reproduction of race and class
structures, and still gets some (and I think significant) support from those
who we would say are its victims.
A discussion of why this is the case - or illumination on why this is not
the case if you think my claim is wrong -- could help us understand better
how to combat the problem. In the face of the massive barrage of direct
instruction phonics programs, I think we should try to figure it out.
Bemoaning it won't help, but understanding its appeal might.
I have some ideas, but will close this post for now.
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