Re: Interesting Panel You're on George C.
- To: <email@example.com>, <Victor.Steinbok@verizon.net>
- Subject: Re: Interesting Panel You're on George C.
- From: "George K Cunningham" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Thu, 15 May 2003 13:22:52 -0400
Well here it is. I guess I would have been disappointed if Victor had
not responded to my message in high dudgeon. What really gets me, and I
know I should ignore it, is his charge that I am a behaviorist. I am
about as far from being a behaviorist as he is from being a young
republican, but he seldom fails to throw it in. I think of myself as a
psychometrist and an evolutionary psychologist. Evolutionary psychology
and behaviorism are like oil and water. Behaviorist favor old style
criterion-referenced tests like those promoted by James Popham. I think
there is value in standardized tests, which behaviorists hate.
See other comments below.
>>>> Victor Steinbok <Victor.Steinbok@verizon.net> 05/15/03 12:01AM
>At 10:00 PM -0400 14.05.03, George K Cunningham wrote:
>>As I see it, there are two main possible purposes for public
>>(1) increasing student achievement (operationalized by academic
>>standards and achievement tests), and (2) enhancing student
>What the hell does that mean? "Increased achievement" compared to
>what? "Enhancing learning" from what reference point? Homeschool?
>There is a constitutional role for public schools--the government at
>all levels is responsible to offer schooling to anyone who demands it
>for their kids or for themselves. And if I am reading your "purposes"
>too narrowly, then you must mean that the public schools are there to
>make students learn--but aren't all schools like that? Or do you know
>of any that are NOT supposed to offer an opportunity to learn? (We
>are not talking here about the School for the Americas.)
>>Education schools need to decide how they will deal with these
>>sometimes conflicting purposes.
>There is only one reason for education schools to exist--they are
>mandated by the corresponding states to produce certified (note, I
>said "certified", not "qualified") teachers. Many happen to BE
>qualified. Some are not. But the responsibility does not rest with
>the ed schools--it is the state in its infinite wisdom that mandates
>the specific courseload that so many conservatives turn into an
Depends on the state. In Kentucky, the education schools determine who
gets certified. In this state a school must be accredited by NCATE
before they can do this. The state standards board also must accredit
the school. strangely, they apply the NCATE standards even more
stringently than NCATE accreditation team. After our site visit two
years ago, we did better with NCATE than the state board. NCATE makes
it clear that academic achievement is not important. In our last review
they were primarily concerned about dispositions. They are pretty vague
about what they mean by this, but it seems to be close to attitudes.
They assert that it is important not only to have prospective teacher
exhibit the proper dispositions, but be able to recognize inappropriate
dispositions. There model seems to be the reeducation camps implemented
by the North Vietnam government after the war.
>Along the way, ed schools have picked up an additional function
>(simply training teachers was academically stifling to those who
>ended up teaching there). They took a role in researching effective
>instructional and learning practices (note that these two are not the
>same). Even if the states, under the libertarian cabal that's taken
>over the Republican party leadership, revert to alternative standards
>for teacher certification, someone will have to pick up the slack for
>education research. That means that even though the ed-school might
>end up shrinking somewhat if the teacher certification process is
>taken away from them or drastically modified, they will still be
>around to experiment, to observe and to study the learning
>environments. We simply cannot afford shifting all that research to
>biology and psychology departments--it's like letting the security
>agencies divvy up the pieces of national security. We all know what
>happens once they stop communicating and cooperating.
To get an idea of the effectiveness of educations schools in carrying
out this function see any issue of a recent AERA journal or even worse
go to the annual AERA convention.
>>Education schools are part of an educational establishment
>Is "education establishment" the third link next to the "Hollywood"
>or "cultural elite" and the "media elite" in the usual chain of
>anti-Semitic propaganda? Or does it simply sound the same because it
>is fabricated by the same people? What about the "corporate
>establishment", the "financial elite", the "inheritance barons" and
>other conservative blow-hards? What are they a part of?
>Businesscrats? Capitalist pig-dogs?
>>includes the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future
>>(NCTAF), the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher
>>(NCATE), the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support
>>(INTASC), and the National Board of Professional Teacher Standards
>>(NBPTS). These organizations have overlapping boards of directors
>>their standards are interrelated. You will see nothing in the
>>for these organizations that would suggest that increasing student
>>achievement would be a worthy goal for a teacher to achieve.
>What does this have to do with ed schools? You are arguing against a
>federal bureaucracy. They have very little influence over how ed
>schools conduct their business.
What are you talking about? The organization listed above have nothing
directly to do with any federal bureaucracy. They are private
non-profit organizations set up to influence and control teacher
education. What do they have to do with how educations schools conduct
their business? In short, everything. NCATE is the accreditation board
for education schools. Thirty-seven states require NCATE accreditation
for their education schools. The main function of INTASC is to
establish a set of standards for teacher to achieve in education
schools. NCATE references and encourages the use of these standards.
NBPTS certifies practicing teachers. They define the initial teacher
credential as a license and their more advanced credential as
"certification." They use the INTASC standards but expect practicing
teachers to achieve theses at a higher level. NCTAF is Linda
Darling-Hammond's organization. It operates as a cheerleader for the
other three. It wants every teacher to be licensed through an NCATE
accredited education school, for all education schools to use INTASC
standards, and for practicing teachers to work towards NBPTS
>>Instead they promote the value and importance of "learning."
Learning is not
>>operationalized as is academic achievement, but seems to focus on
>>school activities as teaching students to work together, the
>>of self esteem, providing practical skills that students can apply
>>the real world, multiculturalism, and so forth. The standards of
>>organizations also emphasize the importance of dispositions and
>An interesting choice of language, "learning is not operationalized
>as is academic achievement". I wonder what that really means--and
>what language you speak.
I am speaking the language of NCATE, INTASC, NCTAF, and NBPTS. They
make it crystal clear in their shared standards that learning does not
mean academic achievement. Certainly not as measured by achievement
>There are many non-academic goals that
>schools are mandated to achieve. There is increasing pressure from
>the same lunatic conservative groups to increase the schools' in loco
>parentis function. And please cite the "standards of these
>organizations" that promote "self-esteem". It's a wonderful habit to
>speak in generalities until someone asks you for specifics--so, I'll
>be that someone. Please offer specific examples of what you mean by
>these standards that you seem to despise. What do you think the
>chances are that I will drive to DC to be at the AEI to ask you this
The chances that you will drive to Washington to attend this meeting
might be pretty good. The chances of you getting into the meeting are
not. The meeting is by invitation only. The security, due to Mrs.
Cheney's presence is incredible. Good luck. Otherwise, I would love to
have you in the audience. If you are not there, I hope there will be
someone else who will ask the hard questions. If you think that would
bother me, you don't know me very well. Do you think I would be sending
messages to this list if I was afraid someone might disagree with me. I
appreciate your response and any others. It is useful to have someone
point out any obvious errors before I display my ignorance to an even
wider audience. I am on other listserves who are likely to agree with
everything I say. I prefer to have someone challenge me.
Apparently, you are not familiar with the INTASC standards. Do a
google search, they are easy to find. There is no reference to academic
achievement. Plenty of vague talk about "learning." While they do not
use the term "self esteem," the document is full of the language of
self-esteem. For example: "The teacher respects students as
individuals with differing personal and family backgrounds and various
skills, talents, and interests." and "The teacher makes students feel
valued for their potential as people, and helps them learn to value each
other." This is the language of the whole document. This my whole
point. These might be fine goals for perspective teachers. My point is
that this is not all they should be doing. I would like to see schools
of education go back to preparing teachers to teach reading, math,
science, etc. The documents from these organizations that control or
are controlled by education schools are all about everything, but
academic achievement. I don't think that the public, legislators, and
governors believe that the sort of goals articulated by INTASC represent
everything education schools should be doing.
>there? Or that no one else will ask you for details?
>>On which of these two broad purposes should public schools focus?
>>public, state legislatures, governors and the present administration
>>assert that academic achievement should be of primary importance.
>>would seem that these groups would have the political clout to
>>get their way, but those who train teachers, state departments of
>>education, and those in charge of local school districts carry a lot
>>weight. In my opinion this is where the allure of standards and
>>comes from. They are a way to force educators into focusing on
>>I believe that schools should focus on academic achievement and I
>>suppose its supporters believe that standards and assessments are
>>most effective or only way to achieve these goals. Unfortunately,
>>is a lot of collateral damage and this strategy has had mixed
>There used to be a pervasive belief that zero-tolerance rules for
>various infractions were the only meaningful way to combat crime and
>discipline problems in schools. Now that the number of innocent
>victims of these idiotic policies is ludicrously large and the ABA
>has repeatedly come out against them, parents are beginning to
>realize that the only "improvement" that these rules have offered is
>the removal of any accountability from the school administrators.
>Whereas previously they had to live with their decisions, now they
>need not make ANY decisions--it's all in print, in black and white,
>with no variations allowed. Now come state rules and federal mandates
>with the same bonehead drive--to remove the responsibility from the
>powers and control groups that have the opportunity to do something
>about the schools and blame teachers and the students themselves (if
>not the parents) for all the problems. Special Ed parents were the
>first to have been disenfranchised by the accountability movement.
>The minorities are soon to follow. The irony, of course, is that the
>bogus claims offered by the "accountability" proponents are that
>these measures would HELP the minority populations because they will
>identify the problem areas. Well, the tests have been around for a
>while now, but nothing is being done to address the "problem areas".
>>I would much rather see education schools change their focus away
>>the amorphous "learning" towards academic achievement. I doubt that
>>this will happen, but education schools risk losing their control
>>teacher certification if they don't. I don't expect any immediate
>This is just more of the usual behaviorist drivel that you are prone
>to produce every once in a while. What you mean by "academic
>achievement" is just another term for "measurable outcome", because,
>by your own argument, how students get there is not important
>("learning", in your world, is not an issue)
>>I will be interested to hear how people on this list view this
>>dichotomy because I suspect most favor a school emphasis on
>>I have shared this view with more conservative advocates of academic
>>standards and in at least one case was met with considerable
>>This person could not grasp the idea that everyone did not already
>>academic achievement as a school's most important goal. He also did
>>believe that schools of education were not interested in student
>He's right. You are not creating a bogus dichotomy, but what you
>claim is missing actually is not. And the part you are dismissing
>(once you've removed the disparaging remarks concerning
>"self-esteem", "multiculturalism" and other nonsense) is both
>essential to what public schools are about and is only a small factor
>in educating teachers.
If you read the documents from these four organizations you would see
that this is about all education schools are supposed to be doing. I
work in an education school and I can assure you that we adhere to that
>But it behooves you to amplify the issue out
>of proportion or you would have nothing to talk about. I suppose it
>is too much to expect a psychometric, behaviorist hack desk-jockey to
>understand the issues in philosophy of education.
George K. Cunningham
University of Louisville
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