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Posted at 6:30 AM ET, 08/12/2010

Dogs: An unusual guide to school reform

By Valerie Strauss

My guest today is Marion Brady, veteran teacher, administrator, curriculum designer and author.

By Marion Brady
Driving the country roads of Scotland, Ireland and Wales, I have sometimes been lucky enough to be blocked by sheep being moved from one pasture to another.

I say ‘lucky’ because it allows me to watch an impressive performance by a dog – usually a Border Collie.

What a show! A single, mid-sized dog herding two or three hundred sheep, keeping them moving in the right direction, rounding up strays, knowing how to intimidate but not cause panic, funneling them all through a gate, and obviously enjoying the challenge.

Why a Border Collie? Why not an Akita or Xoloitzcuintli or another of about 400 breeds listed on the Internet?

Because, among the people for whom herding sheep is serious business, there is general agreement that Border Collies are better at doing what needs to be done than any other dog. They have ‘the knack.’

That knack is so important that those who care most about Border Collies even oppose their being entered in dog shows. That, they say, would lead to the Border Collie being bred to look good, and looking good isn’t the point. Brains, innate ability, performance – that’s the point.

Other breeds are no less impressive in other ways. If you’re lost in a snowstorm in the Alps, you don’t need a Border Collie. You need a big, strong dog with a really good nose, lots of fur, wide feet that don’t sink too deeply into snow, and an unerring sense of direction for returning with help. You need a Saint Bernard.

If varmints are sneaking into your hen house, killing your chickens, and escaping down holes in a nearby field, you don’t need a Border Collie or a Saint Bernard, you need a Fox Terrier.

It isn’t that many different breeds can’t be taught to herd, lead high-altitude rescue efforts, or kill foxes. They can. It’s just that teaching all dogs to do things which one particular breed can do better than any other doesn’t make much sense.

We accept the reasonableness of that argument for dogs. We reject it for kids.

The non-educators now running the education show say American kids are lagging ever-farther behind in science and math, and that the consequences of that for America’s economic well-being could be catastrophic.

So, what is this rich, advantaged country of ours doing to try to beat out the competition?

Mainly, we put in place the No Child Left Behind program, now replaced by Race to the Top and the Common Core State Standards Initiative. If that fact makes you optimistic about the future of education in America, think again about dogs.

There are all kinds of things they can do besides herd, rescue, and engage foxes. They can sniff luggage for bombs. Chase felons. Stand guard duty. Retrieve downed game birds. Guide the blind. Detect certain diseases. Locate earthquake survivors. Entertain audiences. Play nice with little kids. Go for help if Little Nell falls down a well.

So, with No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top as models, let’s set performance standards for these and all other canine capabilities and train all dogs to meet them. All 400 breeds. All skills. Leave No Dog Behind!

Two-hundred-pound Mastiffs may have a little trouble with the chase-the-fox-down-the-hole standard, and Chihuahuas will probably have difficulty with the tackle-the-felon-and-pin-him-to-the-ground standard. But, hey, no excuses! Standards are standards! Leave No Dog Behind.

Think there’s something wrong with a same-standards-and-tests-for-everybody approach to educating? Think a math whiz shouldn’t be held back just because he can’t write a good five-paragraph essay? Think a gifted writer shouldn’t be refused a diploma because she can’t solve a quadratic equation? Think a promising trumpet player shouldn’t be kept out of the school orchestra or pushed out on the street because he can’t remember the date of the Boxer Rebellion?

If you think there’s something fundamentally, dangerously wrong with an educational reform effort that’s actually designed to standardize, designed to ignore human variation, designed to penalize individual differences, designed to produce a generation of clones, photocopy this column.

If you think it’s stupid to require every kid to read the same books, think the same thoughts, parrot the same answers, make several photocopies. And in the margin at the top of each, write, in longhand, something like, “Please explain why the standards and accountability fad isn’t a criminal waste of brains,” or, “Why are you trashing America’s hope for the future?” or just, “Does this make sense?”

Send the copies to your senators and representatives before they sell their vote to the publishing and testing corporations intent on getting an ever-bigger slice of that half-trillion dollars a year America spends on educating.

-0-

Follow my blog all day, every day by bookmarking washingtonpost.com/answersheet. And for admissions advice, college news and links to campus papers, please check out our Higher Education page at washingtonpost.com/higher-ed Bookmark it!

By Valerie Strauss  | August 12, 2010; 6:30 AM ET
Categories:  Guest Bloggers, Marion Brady, No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top  | Tags:  marion brady, no child left behind, race to the top, school reform  
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Comments

Why? Why??? WHY????

Why are we putting up with people running education in our country who don't have a clue about educating kids (like Arne Duncan) when our nation has great, experienced educational leaders such as Marion Brady?

Posted by: MisterRog | August 12, 2010 7:29 AM | Report abuse

Great analogy. MisterRog, why did Obama select Arne Duncan, a person totally unqualified for the position? My guess is that he has little respect for schools of education.

The appointment of Duncan leads me to question the President's other appointments that have outraged other groups.

Posted by: lacy41 | August 12, 2010 7:59 AM | Report abuse

I normally am in agreement with the writers Valerie brings in, and I understand the point the writer is trying to make.

However, I do think that a gifted math student should learn how to write a 5 paragraph essay, I do think a skilled writer should be able to use the quadratic equation, and I lean towards thinking that a trumpet player should know the date of the Boxer Rebellion.

I agree that we should allow students to grow and experience, and I think it's great if a student excels more in one area then another. However, there are basics that every student needs to understand, despite their preferences. If your high school experience is focused so tightly that you don't learn to write an essay or do math, you limit your options severely, and I think that we should be discouraging that of 16-17 year olds.

Posted by: Wyrm1 | August 12, 2010 8:32 AM | Report abuse

I don't think Obama was politically experienced enough when he was elected president. Perhaps if he had completed a senate term or two he would have had a broader view of the world.

Although I think Obama is presidential material, he jumped into the presidency sooner than he was ready.

I think that's why he put a disorganized guy like Blarney Duncan - who had a reputation for not listening to parents or the community in Chicago as the secretary of education.

Posted by: educationlover54 | August 12, 2010 9:14 AM | Report abuse

By the way, everyone - check out Mr. Brady's website (link in the top of the article) it has very good information.

Posted by: educationlover54 | August 12, 2010 9:22 AM | Report abuse

Ms. Brady and others who criticize efforts at reform should offer better solutions. What is Ms. Brady suggesting in place of standards? If Johnny can't read, that's OK? If Sally can't write, that's OK? Sounds like "Race to the Bottom." I thought the schools have always had standards. And I thought that every independent assessment of our public school system has concluded it is badly broken, leaving our kids farther behind, and desparately in need of reform. And, no, Ms. Brady, it's not just about giving them more money, as comparisons with other countries can attest.

Posted by: moore2003 | August 12, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

Wonderfully written analogy Mr. Brady!

Additionally, there are lessons on behavior to be learned from dogs. When I was a younger teacher, I had difficulty coming to terms with some of the "herding" and "disciplinary" tasks that are part of a teacher's job.

THEN, I acquired a 'baby' mastiff (25 lbs. at 10 weeks), and found myself pretty fearful as this 'baby' was already throwing her weight around and I didn't know what to do about setting limits. A very wise behavioral scientist said to me, you have to let her know you are the pack leader - one day she will be 150 lbs, and you really don't want a 150 lb dog out of control. So, the mastiff, my husband and I went off to obedience school, learned some basic dog-parenting techniques, and we had the pleasure of raising a wonderful companion.

The above experience made me realize how important it is for teachers, administrators AND parents to understand how students need basic limits set in order to develop their social and intellectual skills - otherwise they resort to their most primitive behaviors.

Now, being a grandmother, and watching my daughter and her husband wrangle with 2 little boys, I am increasingly mindful of how important it is for parents to have adequate parenting skills.....if parents did not come from a healthy family structure themselves, they are unlikely to have learned those basic skills. So, without making parents feel ashamed, it would be a terrific step for schools to offer basic classes and/or support groups
(Special Ed often does this) for parents, floundering or otherwise.

Posted by: PLMichaelsArtist-at-Large | August 12, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Note to moore2003:

Ms. Brady is actually MR. Brady.

Obviously you're not familiar with HIM so you're not aware of his numerous writings that describe his solutions.

I highly suggest you take the time to check out his website. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Posted by: MisterRog | August 12, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

The non-educators now running the education show say American kids are lagging ever-farther behind in science and math, and that the consequences of that for America’s economic well-being could be catastrophic.
....................................
The usual problem in logic.

Accept a premise that is false and then anything that follows from that false premise can be claimed to be logical.

Our economic problem is not based upon "American kids are lagging ever-farther behind in science and math".

In 2000 Americans led the world in the computer sciences.

Today few Americans are enrolled in the computer sciences at American colleges.

Is this because Americans have become stupider since 2000?

No. It is simply the result that Americans know that there are no jobs for Americans in the computer sciences, since all American jobs involving computer technology are being sent off shore to cheap foreign labor.

Now the same companies that have sent these jobs to cheap labor claim that there are no Americans enrolled in this field in colleges and there is a problem in public education.

The policy of allowing American companies to send American jobs to cheap foreign labor is causing a drop in enrollments in engineering and the sciences since so many of the entry level jobs employ computer technology.

The cheap foreign labor are not smarter than Americans or have better schools. They are simply cheaper and our government allows American companies to send American jobs to this cheap foreign labor.

No other country in the world that competes in the global marketplace allows this except the United States.

Enrollments in the computer sciences, engineering, science, and mathematics are high in Canada since sending jobs in these fields to cheap labor is not allowed.

Enrollment in the computer sciences, engineering, science, and mathematics will continue to decease while the government allows American companies to simply send the jobs in these fields to cheap foreign labor.

Classes in logic have to be brought back into public education.

But politicians like the President will fight this since these politicians will no longer be able to use obvious falsehoods and lies.

The ________ race are the most superior race in the world. The leaders of the nation of the ______ race must be the most superior leaders of the world and all of their policies most be superior.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 12, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

The non-educators now running the education show say American kids are lagging ever-farther behind in science and math, and that the consequences of that for America’s economic well-being could be catastrophic.
................
On election day the President at a school in Wisconsin “lectured teachers, students and parents on the need to “step up their games” if the United States wants to compete with India and China in the global economy.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/04/AR2009110403864_2.html
.............................
The children of America caused the financial crisis of 2008.

Their lagging behind is responsible for the massive unemployment of America.

Vote for President Obama in 2012 since he is dealing with the problem of lagging behind American children.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 12, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

On election day the President at a school in Wisconsin “lectured teachers, students and parents on the need to “step up their games” if the United States wants to compete with India and China in the global economy.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/04/AR2009110403864_2.html
..............................
Children in American schools must be taught to speak English in a heavy Indian accents.

In this way these Americans will be able later to compete with Indians to obtain jobs in customer services to deal with American customers.

Get your child to step up their game.

Reelect the President in 2012.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 12, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

I don't think Obama was politically experienced enough when he was elected president. Perhaps if he had completed a senate term or two he would have had a broader view of the world.
Posted by: educationlover54
............................
This really does not hold with a President that knows how to campaign and made sure campaign workers stuck to the message.

Review the last year and a half and you will see the nth degree of politicians where the President is simply going to use the Presidential office as part of his campaign for reelection.

Look at the decision in regard to Afghanistan and a President that used as a photo op the arrival of the dead at Dover Air Force base.

Look at idea of the "trial of the century" in NYC that backfired.

Think in terms of government policies not for governing but for reelection and you have described this administration for the last year and a half.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 12, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

The government allows American companies to simply ship American jobs to cheap labor in the computer sciences, engineering, the sciences, and mathematics.

The reality is that the government is accepting that Americans are not required in these fields.

Enrollments in all these field are dropping and even offering the full payment of the government of courses in these fields will not increase enrollments since Americans will not enter any field where American jobs can disappear overnight.

The President spoke last year of non exportable jobs for Americans.

It is obvious that the jobs in the computer sciences, engineering, the sciences, and mathematics are not these non exportable jobs, and the President has accepted that these jobs as the jobs of cheap foreign labor.

Given a President that accepts that these jobs are not for Americans it is only hypocrisy to pretend that American children are responsible for Americans not enrolled in these fields.

Impose strict penalties on American companies to prevent the shipping of American jobs to cheap foreign labors and there would be large numbers of Americans willing to enter these fields.

Time to recognize that the policies in public education of this President are no different from the failed attempt of this President to hold "the trial of the century" in NYC where the President was telling Americans of the advantages of a court where the death penalty was an option.

This President is not concerned with the interests of this nation. This President is simply an opportunist ready to use any situation to assist him in his reelection in 2012.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 12, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Ms. Brady and others who criticize efforts at reform should offer better solutions. What is Ms. Brady suggesting in place of standards?
Posted by: moore2003
.................................
Severe penalties for American companies that send American jobs to cheap foreign labor.

This will allow Americans to again enroll in colleges and universities for careers in the computer sciences, engineering, the sciences, and mathematics. No American will enroll in fields where American jobs have disappeared and where any future American jobs can disappear overnight.

Massachusetts, and some other states, have already higher standards than the Common Core State Standards. Forcing states to adopt inferior standards will not aid public education.

And stop drinking the kool aid of "every independent assessment of our public school system has concluded it is badly broken". The only valid tests indicate that the problem is with the Title 1 poverty public schools.

The problem in this country is not public education but a government that allows American companies to destroy key fields of study in this nation.

The colleges and universities were filled with Americans that wanted to invest in a career in the computer sciences when Americans led the world in this field in 2000. That was before the government allowed the shipping of American jobs in this field to cheap foreign labor. Now very few Americans will enter this field and the Department of Defense has difficulty in finding Americans on projects that require an American because of national security.

The same problem is occurring in engineering, the sciences, and mathematics where Americans are shunning careers where cheap foreign labor is allowed for American jobs.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 12, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Time for Valerie Strauss to do an article on the necessary changes to public education to convince American children in the computer sciences, engineering, the sciences, and mathematics.

Perhaps there should be a film of the President dribbling a basketball while telling American children to study hard and go into fields without jobs for Americans.

I would not look though at the public educational policies of Canada since this country does not allow Canadian companies to ship out Canadian jobs to cheap labor.

One two buckle my shoes,
Two Four be a scientist,
Five Six be an engineer,
Seven Eight have no job.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 12, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

American should go into a career in mathematics.

American job as statistician.
Job can be shipped overseas to cheap labor.

American job as mathematician working on mathematical model.
Job can be shipped overseas to cheap labor.

American jobs for mathematicians that involve working with computers.
Jobs can be shipped overseas to cheap labor because of telecommunication which allows work involving computers to be done anywhere.

American job as teacher in college.
Few jobs since enrollments of student for mathematics decrease as no American jobs.

No need for public schools in America to prepare children for careers in mathematics. Policy actually should be to discourage any American child from a career in mathematics.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 12, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

Think a math whiz shouldn’t be held back just because he can’t write a good five-paragraph essay?
.......................
Yes.

And the math whiz should be discouraged from a field without jobs.

Encourage that child to go into nursing or be an auto mechanic.

That child should have been given a bedpan as a birthday present and not a computer.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 12, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

But the schools aren't satisfied with just teaching a gifted math student to write a 5-paragraph essay or a sklled writer to solve a quadratic equation. There is an assumption that every student should try to be a top student in every subject and that the country can produce more scientists and mathematics by making the gifted writers take more math and science. It won't work--any more than Pavarotti could have been forced to become a tap dancer!

This is a legacy of the Cold War--when Sputnik was launched, American schools immediately began stressing science and math at the expense of other subjects. During my high school years, science teachers were heard to sneer at students who said they intended to major in college in a non-science field, our guidance counsellor told a classmate that she shouldn't take bookkeeping and shorthand because "you're in college prep and you'll never have to work at a menial job like that," and any student who got good grades in English and languages was urged to take advanced science classes instead of a social science elective. As a result, the advanced science students poked along waiting for the future writers to catch up, and no one enjoyed the classes. In college, on the other hand, there were science and math classes specifically designed for those who had no intention of going into either field, classes that concentrated on what the layman needed to know about the subject to make sense of everyday life. (I can't recall ever using the geology class, but I suppose some people have.)

(By the way, as a professional writer, I have never needed to write an essay of exactly 5 paragraphs, with a first paragraph ending with a topic sentence, three paragraphs each beginning with a subordinate point supported by at least two arguments each, and a final paragraph summing up the preceding three. I also took a speech course in college that taught me to make a 5-minute speech from notes on an index card--and the few times I have needed to speak to a group were either job interviews or I was able to read a text. It seems if you don't want to go into science or math, you don't learn anything useful in school.

Posted by: sideswiththekids | August 12, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Some comic relief for educationlover54

It is not the President, it is the evil Arne who is controlling the strings of the President.

Oops it looks like after being told about the high intellect of the President, this was not correct. Now we have simply a Democratic case of where in the past a Republican President was being manipulated by an evil Vice President.

But no this can not be true since the White House press secretary tells us that any comparison of this President to the previous President are insane and from the professional left that need to be drug tested.

Arne: Great shot Mr. President.
President: Thanks.
Arne: Glad you accepted my idea of nation building in Afghanistan.
President: Just glad you did not suggest that trial in NYC.
Arne: Yeah that guy can not even dribble.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 12, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

But the schools aren't satisfied with just teaching a gifted math student to write a 5-paragraph essay or a sklled writer to solve a quadratic equation. There is an assumption that every student should try to be a top student in every subject and that the country can produce more scientists and mathematics by making the gifted writers take more math and science. It won't work--any more than Pavarotti could have been forced to become a tap dancer!

(By the way, as a professional writer,
Posted by: sideswiththekids
..................................
You really need to get out into the world.

All of this is simply nonsense and as a professional writer you should know better. Any good writer can creates phrases to twist reality, and this President is a good writer and has a staff of good writers.

Is the economic meltdown of 2008 the fault of school children and public education in this nation?

Yes the enrollments of Americans in the computer sciences, engineering, the sciences, and mathematics in American colleges and universities are down.

Is this because of public education or the fact that Americans know that these fields do not offer career for Americans since American companies use cheap foreign workers in these fields instead of Americans?

The entire premise of the President is a falsehood that is not based upon reality but simply carefully constructed phrases.

The reality of our current economy is that public education has largely become irrelevant to the economy of this nation. Private education in this country is sufficient to provide the managers that will be needed to effectively manage the resources of cheap foreign labor. When higher skills are required than the skills that India can provide, the skills of more nations such as Canada, England, and other other English speaking nations can be utilized.

As a professional writer you really should be fully aware of the falsehoods that good writing can easily hide.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 12, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

A communitive colleget instructor must have at least a master degree in PURE math. A professor at a four year University has a PHD. Majority of public high school math teachers are not majoring in their field (99%, 98% ???). This explains why our students doing so well at college level against the top countries in the world while being placed at the bottom at high school level. Pay high school math teachers who majoring in math twice as much so we can attract the brighter ones to teach our children (we don't need to use the standardized test or some complicated formulas to decide who is a good math teacher)

Posted by: hercm | August 12, 2010 6:50 PM | Report abuse

A communitive college math instructor must have at least a master degree or a PHD in Pure Math. A professor at a four year university has a dotoral degree. Majority of public high school math teachers do not have a degree in math -even an AA degree!! This explain why our college students doing well against the top countries in the world while high school students being placed at the bottom. Pay math teacher with MATH degree twice as much. By doing this we can attract the brightest ones to teach our children. We also do not have to rely on standardized test or some complicated "formulas" to identify who should get higher pay.

Posted by: hercm | August 12, 2010 7:05 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: educationlover54
................................
Perhaps I have been wrong about President Obama.

In many cases my assumption is that individuals are intelligent and I see that in the case of President Obama I have assumed that he was intelligent.

There really is the possibility that President Obama is simply a more polished version of President Bush.

The talents for being a successful politician or top sales person, but no real intelligence.

This would explain his policies just as well as a highly intelligent person with the sole aim of reelection in 2012.

Such a person could be easily manipulated to accept policies by advisers that would simply press the button of this President by suggesting that this is the best policy for the success of reelection in 2012.

There were mentions of this President in the past being a person of consensus. This perhaps explains the lack of ideas of the President to deal with problems out of the ordinary such as the financial crisis or the tail spin of the economy.

This would also explain the "I do not care" attitude of the President in regard to the form of national health insurance which I found really strange.

Also there is the aggressiveness of intellectual thought that is clearly missing in this President.

I am not speaking about anger or being never phased but rather a sing song recital of his speeches where there is no real emphasis on certain ideas.

The picture drawn by General McChrystal of his first meeting with President Obama does not show a man of great intellect but simply an individual totally out of his depth.

It would also explain the banalities when this President is caught off guard such as "jobs lag growth", and stating the idea of a death penalty in a Federal court in NYC.

Perhaps instead of a highly intelligent politician the reality is that this President is simply a more polished version of President Bush surrounded by staff that are more knowledgeable in politics than in governing.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 12, 2010 7:06 PM | Report abuse

Pay math teacher with MATH degree twice as much.
Posted by: hercm
..........................
Why does every one assume that paying more money is the answer?

Does someone who wants to study mathematics really want to take numerous educational course that have nothing to do with mathematics?

The answer is to allow college adjunct instructors to teach in the high schools on a part time basis without all of the educational classes required for public school teachers.

There is a shortage of math and science teachers in high schools.

It is not the money. It is the educational courses that those in mathematics and the sciences do not want to spend time and effort in taking.

An individual can have a PHD in mathematics or the sciences but that individual would be unable to teach in public schools.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 12, 2010 7:17 PM | Report abuse

An individual can have a PHD in mathematics or the sciences but that individual would be unable to teach in public schools.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 12, 2010 7:17 PM |
________________________
Some of the worst teachers I ever had were some of those professors with PhD's. One can have all the knowledge in the world, but if they don't know how to impart it to their students in a meaningful way, what good is it?

Posted by: musiclady | August 12, 2010 8:16 PM | Report abuse

Some of the worst teachers I ever had were some of those professors with PhD's. One can have all the knowledge in the world, but if they don't know how to impart it to their students in a meaningful way, what good is it?

Posted by: musiclady
........................
I agree with you but if there is a shortage accommodations have to be made.

I am sure there are also cases of teachers that have been through the normal courses and are found unsuitable for teaching, or those that simply do not like teaching after a year.

Teaching used to be an art. I am using the past tense since it is now being turned into work at a factory.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 12, 2010 9:02 PM | Report abuse

ballsamack: what did my comment have to do with yours? I didn't say anything about the president's writers or the economy. My point was that educators think they can create scientists and mathematicians by requiring students to study a lot of science or by teaching algebra in the elementary schools, and there is no way on earth you could have made a good mathematician or scientist out of me or a professional writer out of my scientific-minded friend. By insisting that the schools try, we are just creating a lot of people who hate math and science, don't learn what they need to understand current issues, and are sitting ducks for all sorts of quack claims. And too many of the smaller schools combine the science majors with the non-scientific kids so the former can't go all out as they would like (and as the country needs). And the kids who are just trying to get through in science and concentrating on their writing, or languages, or whatever, are being told by science teachers that they are lazy.

Posted by: sideswiththekids | August 13, 2010 10:06 AM | Report abuse

ballsamack: what did my comment have to do with yours? I didn't say anything about the president's writers or the economy. My point was that educators think they can create scientists and mathematicians by requiring students to study a lot of science or by teaching algebra in the elementary schools, and there is no way on earth you could have made a good mathematician or scientist out of me or a professional writer out of my scientific-minded friend. By insisting that the schools try, we are just creating a lot of people who hate math and science, don't learn what they need to understand current issues, and are sitting ducks for all sorts of quack claims. And too many of the smaller schools combine the science majors with the non-scientific kids so the former can't go all out as they would like (and as the country needs). And the kids who are not talented in a subject are being told by their teachers that they are just not working hard enough and if they can get an A in English they should be making As in science and math too.

Posted by: sideswiththekids | August 13, 2010 10:08 AM | Report abuse

ballsamack: what did my comment have to do with yours? I didn't say anything about the president's writers or the economy.
.................................
Just tired of the discussion which ignore totally false premises of Race To The Top. We discuss parts of Race To The Top when the premises are false from the start.

Race To The Top is not intended to produce scientists or anything else.

It is an illusion.

We discuss the part. Are standards for __________ effective? Is it right to teach children to be ___________?

The whole structure is a falsehood so is there any point in discussing the parts?

Look at the speeches of the President for the justification for Race To The Top and these are simply lies and distortions.

Children are not responsible for our economic well being and this is just as twisted as stating that the children of the nation are responsible for our ability to win on the future battlefields for military world dominance.

Of course the parts of Race To The Top are wrong, but they are wrong because they are based upon lies.

It is common for many writers to start with a false premise and simply develop a structure based upon this false premise.

It is arguing in vain to to argue that the parts are false when the entire structure is built on a lie.

I was not arguing with what you specifically wrote but that you are picking away at the parts when all of the parts are based upon false premises.

Day after day we all seem to argue at the parts when the reality is that the premises for Race To The Top are all lies of this President.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 13, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

ballsamack: what did my comment have to do with yours? I didn't say anything about the president's writers or the economy.
.................................

Not much I am afraid.

Really just frustration with Race To The Top and this President who is a fraud in public education and so many other areas of government.

Really need to see that frustration at this incompetent President is futile. Need to start seeing this President as simply a repeat of Bush.

Might as well as be frustrated at squirrels that chew up a bird feeder.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 13, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

School kids get lesson on education reform

He lectured teachers, students and parents on the need to "step up their games" if the United States wants to compete with India and China in the global economy. It was Obama as scold in chief. page 2.

Obama also brought Education Secretary Arne Duncan to discuss the administration's "Race to the Top" grants, billions of dollars designed to encourage states to adopt reforms such as measuring teacher performance by student achievement. page 1.

The whole article is still available:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/04/AR2009110403864.html

Posted by: bsallamack | August 13, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

1. The reason we have a common standards movement is because our poor and/or racial/ethnic minority kids typically have been shunted off into less academic courses/tracks. Creating paths of specialization will cause many to worry that these kids will be steered toward cosmetology, plumbing, factory worker, and other similar tracks that represent good, honest labor but deny those same kids chances at gaining the skills needed for higher education and/or closing existing economic disparities.

2. The hyperconnected, hypercompetitive global economy is pretty merciless. Won't handicapping American-based (but really multinational) companies by forcing them to employ higher-paid American workers reduce their competitiveness compared to other non-American companies? I think the historic evidence is fairly clear that government trade restrictions, embargoes, tariff increases, industry protections, etc. have worked against us more than they've worked for us.

Posted by: scottmcleod | August 13, 2010 8:10 PM | Report abuse

Well done, Marion.

Our local unschooling list took notice of this essay, too.

Nance

Posted by: marbleface | August 14, 2010 9:02 AM | Report abuse

1. The reason we have a common standards movement is because our poor and/or racial/ethnic minority kids typically have been shunted off into less academic courses/tracks.

2. The hyperconnected, hypercompetitive global economy is pretty merciless.

Posted by: scottmcleod
....................................
Pure nonsense.

The consistently high performing states on national tests have had higher standards for years than the new inferior common standards that they are being forced to accept if they want money from Race To The Top.

Our economy is in a such a wreck because this President allows the continued practice of American countries to ship American jobs involving computer technology to cheap foreign labor.

The jobs involving computer technology are the jobs of the 21st century and no nation can simply turn their back on the future.

All other English speaking nations do NOT allow companies to ship these jobs to cheap labor.

Canada is doing well and competes in the global economy and does NOT allow Canadian companies to ship Canadian jobs to cheap foreign labor.

The United States is unique in allowing jobs of its citizens simply to disappear.

American can pretend as much as they want, but the American economy will never recover if Americans are only allowed the non exportable jobs, and not the jobs of the 21st century involving computer technology.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 14, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

2. Won't handicapping American-based (but really multinational) companies by forcing them to employ higher-paid American workers reduce their competitiveness compared to other non-American companies?
Posted by: scottmcleod
.......................................

Here are the despicable Americans that will destroy this nation.

The reality is that American companies, since 2002, have simply replaced Americans with cheap foreign labor.

Those Indians answering your questions regarding your American bank, or the computer you purchased from an American company, have replaced the Americans that previously answered your questions.

The foreign programmers that are working on the computer system of American banks, or other American companies, have replaced the Americans that previously worked on these computer systems.

Foreign workers today are even replacing American lawyers in work involving legal cases in Americans courts.

Apparently to Americans like scottmcleod, Americans should risk dying in foreign fields fighting our enemies, and then come home to a nation where their jobs working for American companies will simply disappear overnight as they are replaced by cheap foreign labor.

No other nation in the world allows this form of economic suicide.

It is time for Americans to recognize that the enemies of the United States are not only foreign, but also those like scottmcleod, that will lie and attempt to distort reality to destroy this country.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 14, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

What a bizarre column. Dogs vary in their abilities/talents because they have been bred to emphasize and increase these variabilities. Their ancestors, the wolves and coyotes, don't vary nearly as much. Children vary too, of course, and it certainly makes sense to be aware of their strengths and weaknesses. It even makes sense to realize that they aren't all going to end up with the same knowledge bases and skill sets. But spare me the Border Collie/Fox Terrier analogy.
This Marion Brady person is quite baffling to me. His web site doesn't indicate that any schools have implemented his curriculum ideas in any organized way; but even so, the ideas seem somewhat at cross purposes to the "kids need to learn different things based on their talents and abilities" theme that he expresses in the column above.

Posted by: jane100000 | August 16, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

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