Blue Print for Education Sent to Congress

The U.S. Department of Education has released and sent to Congress the document entitled A Blueprint for Reform: The Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.  You can read the Education Week article that focuses on key points in the Reauthorization.

The 45 page Blueprint is organized into the following sections:
  • Priorities in a Blueprint for reform
  • College- and Career-Ready Students
  • Great Teachers and Great Leaders
  • Meeting the Needs of English Learners and Other Diverse Learners
  • A Complete Education
  • Successful, Safe, and Healthy Students
  • Fostering Innovation and Excellence
  • Additional Cross-Cutting Priorities

According to the report, the goal of American education is make sure that every student should graduate from high school ready for college and a career, regardless of income, race, ethnic or language background, or disability status.  The report also suggests that the government will develop a new generation of assessments aligned with standards, and these standards will be the “common core standards” developed by the National Governors Association and the Association of Chief State School Officers.  Teachers and administrators will be evaluated based on student growth (they mean academic achievement test results).

The model that is advocated in the Blueprint is what we might call the “corporate or tecnocratic” model of education.  The Blueprint is weak in areas of content and curriculum, and instead centers it actions on measuring and evaluating success (effective teachers, successful students), and assumes that by using the data driven model will improve teaching and learning.  In the corporate model, teachers are seen as “outside” the system in the sense that they should be evaluated as a means to reward or punish—a 19th Century behavioral psychology model.  And in this corporate model, 2 hour test scores of students academic achievement will be used as the “measure” of growth.

The report also excludes teachers as major decision makers in the education process in American schools.  Although the report supports the “elevation of the teaching profession,” upon a closer look, it will use measurement devices (such as student achievement test scores) to define what they believe is effective teaching.  Here is a paragraph from the report dealing with the teaching profession (I’ve highlighted key words for comparison).

We will elevate the teaching profession to focus on recognizing, encouraging, and rewarding excellence. We are calling on states and districts to develop and implement systems of teacher and principal evaluation and support, and to identify effective and highly effective teachers and principals on the basis of student growth and other factors. These systems will inform professional development and help teachers and principals improve student learning. In addition, a new program will support ambitious efforts to recruit, place, reward, retain, and promote effective teachers and principals and enhance the profession of teaching.

Here is a rewritten version of the above paragraph that in my opinion values teachers as professionals, and as in charge of the learning and teaching environment and quite capable of making decisions about curriculum and learning (key words in bold face).
We will elevate the teaching profession to focus on having educators at the local and regional level make the decisions about curriculum and standards based on their knowledge of their students and schools.  We are calling on the states and districts to develop and implement teacher enhancement and development centers that provide a continuous professional learning climate enabling teachers to be the decision makers, and final arbiter of effective teaching and learning.  By having these centers, teachers will work with other professionals, especially at the the college and university level on collaborative curriculum development and evaluation projects aimed at improving learning, especially in schools.  This approach should provide an a professional environment for future educators, and be at the core of teacher recruitment and retention.

Although this is only one paragraph from the report, it reflects the corporate-behavior model that underscores the Federal approach to education reform.