Ready for today’s “Week in Blog Question?” Here goes: “How are those weird Easter Island statues like the Obama administration’s Race to the Top competition?”
Sorry, time’s up. But because this is our inaugural, occasional, semi-monthly-on-average Week in Blog Question, the Judges have graciously offered to give you another try. “Now take the eraser end of your pencil and open the test booklet ” No, actually, just think real hard.
Question #2: “So. About those statues: How is the fact that their construction is said to have totally devastated Easter Island civilization as we know it (or think we know it it was, after all, hundreds of years ago) analogous to what RTTT will do to the public schools?”
Yes, it’s a toughie, and, yes, I’m poking fun at Yong Zhao’s blog on these two seemingly disparate topics (“I can’t help but make the connection between Easter Islanders’ race to erect the statues and the Obama’s Race to the Top program ” he writes) because it’s a little, well, out there; but the fact is, the University of Oregon professor writes some of the most original and provocative analyses of K12 education on the web today.
Here, to be as brief as possible, is his point: According to Jared Diamond’s thesis in Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, just as the Easter Islanders exhausted their human and natural resources in a misguided competition to build ever-grander icons, so is RTTT exhausting our schools’ resources in a misguided competition for the best test scores.
“Test scores have no doubt become American’s stone statue in education ” Zhao writes. “Just like the Easter Islanders’ obsession with building statues damaged their ecosystem, America’s obsession with test scores have already begun and will continue to damage its education ecosystem.”
Of course, others have completely different views. I’m just waiting for Arne Duncan to conjure the Italian Renaissance.
Other blogs? Well, closer to home (and the 21st century) Alexander Russo writes about the rising reputation of former Gov. Jeb Bush, in some education circles. A story on Bush appeared last week in the Washington Post.
In another post, Russo talks about the latest education controversy in Rhode Island, where, according to a published report, the Providence Journal failed to disclose that education columnist Julia Steiny is a paid consultant for the state’s Department of Education on the district in Central Falls. Yes, Russo deadpans, “that Central Falls.” Is that why she wrote so glowingly of state Education Commissioner Deborah Gist, who’s strongly supported district administrators in their long running fight with the teacher union? Steiny says there’s no connection.
Finally, read this moving op-ed from the New York Times about a teacher who made a difference in the life of author Marie Myung-Ok Lee.