Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Devil's Dictionary of Education Reform

As a teenager one of my favorite books was The Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce. His satirical definitions of words struck at the heart of hypocrisy in the early 20th century. For example Bierce defined absurdity as a "statement or belief manifestly inconsistent with one's own opinion." The humor struck a chord in my snarky teenage brain. Now as a snarky senior citizen,  I borrow from Bierce to present The Devil's Dictionary of Education Reform. 

A month ago I set out to write 30 twitter size sound bites capturing the hypocrisy of the corporate education reform movement. Here is a compilation. 
If you have some defintions to add to the collection please send them along to me.

21st Century Skills - a broad range of abilities, enumerated in the Common Core , that 21st century children need to thrive in the 20th century.


accountability - holding the 99%, especially teachers, students and administrators, responsible for the damage done by the 1%.


achievement gap - symptom of income inequality and segregation treated by education reformers by testing children and punishing teachers and public schools.


blended learning - a unique blend of educational experiences that combines inferior online learning with inadequate classroom instruction. 


Broad Superintendent's Academy - a place where people who are totally ignorant about education go to have their ignorance reinforced.


choice - allows parents to choose a school by "voting with their feet" as long as their children's feet are not attached to a child with special needs.


Common Core - what a group of private school graduates think public school kids need to learn to be ready for a college they can't afford.


competition -applying market forces to education to insure that private companies can feed at the public trough.


cut score -manipulating the proficiency level of standardized tests in order to punish children, teachers and schools.


cyber charter - an innovative school design that turns public funds into private profits and low student achievement.


education philanthropy - tax dodge for the very wealthy that allows them to advance a personal agenda over the dead body of public education.


education reformer - a curious breed of American entrepreneur who tired of abusing employees and moved on to abusing teachers and children.


grit - the kind of dogged determination required to sit through a David Coleman explanation of close reading.


market forces - applying the same principles that destroyed the American economy to schools in an attempt to destroy public education and turn a profit.


MET Study - rigorous, wide ranging study of teacher effectiveness designed, funded and promoted by Bill Gates that proves that Bill Gates can buy what he wants.


No Child Left Behind - the soft bigotry of stupid federal education policy (see also Race to the Top).


no excuses - a type of child abuse reserved for inner city minority children attending charter schools (see also on the bench).


on the bench - solitary confinement for inner city minority children in no excuses charter schools.


parent trigger - a law designed by education reform carpetbaggers to dupe well-meaning public school parents into shooting themselves in the foot.


poverty - the elephant in every urban classroom that education reformers want teachers to ignore.


Race to the Top - federal bribery scheme designed to get state departments of education to race across the Bridge to Nowhere and into the the clutches of standardized test companies.


rigor - a Common Core instructional practice designed to make students think deeply and critically about everything except the Common Core.


school choice - right of parents to make a choice of the school for their children, unless their choice is an adequately staffed, well-financed neighborhood public school.


seniority - a roadblock for education reformers on their way to providing an inferior education on the cheap.


standardized test (1) - ever growing practice of interrupting student learning in order to collect unreliable data for bubble-headed policy makers.

standardized test (2) - multiple choice test given to public school children to determine how much money their parents make.


Teach for America - way station for the young and privileged on the road from the Ivy League to Wall Street.


tenure - due process for teachers that stands in the way of replacing highly qualified professionals with cheap labor.


turnaround - what reformers want parents teachers and children to do while they shut down their neighborhood schools.


value added measures - sophisticated statistical measures that prove with 100% confidence that statistics can't be used to measure teacher quality.


vouchers - a bit of modern day alchemy that turns public education tax dollars into private corporation gold.