Over-Testing and Under-Learning

November 28, 2010 at 9:08 pm Leave a comment

posted by Joan Goldstein ’67, sociologist and educator

On my November TV30 show, “Back Story with Joan Goldstein,” I looked at the state of American Public Education with guests, Louise Wilson, former Mayor of Montgomery Township, and a college student, Phoebe Brown. Phoebe, one of my sociology students and a third generation of educators shared her concerns about over-testing and under-learning. She is not alone; other students have expressed similar views. One young man, David, told me, “I figured out how to ace those tests in high school, but I didn’t learn anything.”

Louise Wilson, as a local official talked about the newest, heavier tax burden placed upon local residents to support the public schools; and, as a lifelong educator, I shared my experiences working with children of all ages and young adults, and the amazing joy of accomplishment while participating in a sometimes physically and mentally exhausting profession.

From a short distance away, across the river from New Jersey, the New York Times reported on a publishing executive named Catherine P. Black who was recently named by Mayor Bloomberg for the position of Chancellor of Education.  I began to wonder how an executive with no experience whatsoever in the field of public education could become the  New York City Mayor’s candidate for Chancellor of Education. “No Education Experience to Run Schools? An Idea is Taken to a New Level” (NYT. Thursday, 11/11/10) was the headline in The New York Times. What was I missing? And more troubling yet, how does public education become the latest “cash cow” of our economic system.

My answer came a few days later when in a follow-up story, the Times (on Saturday 1/13/10) reported that the Chancellor would have to “leave boards to avoid conflict of interest.”  One of the boards on which Black served (and was paid handsomely) was “I.B.M. with contracts totaling more than $300 million, (and) is one of the city’s largest vendors.” It called to mind Diane Ravitch’s “The Death and Life of the Great American School System,” a book I had chosen to discuss in my TALKING POLITICS series at the Princeton Public Library. In it, Ravitch comments on the emerging business model applied to public education, now a source of funding to support the emergence of charter schools, a process which appears to sprout without the burden (or benefit) of unions or prior professional experience.

While teachers and librarians are down-sized (and down-graded) in the local schools, we need to question how leadership in education has strayed so far from the stated purpose of public education – that is, to develop educated citizens to participate in a democratic society.

This piece is re-posted from Joan’s blog on All Princeton. Joan Goldstein, Ph.D., is a professor at Mercer County Community College in New Jersey. She hosts Back Story, a monthly forum that explores current issues of the day, both national and local, with guests invited for their expertise or particular viewpoints. The show is broadcast on public access television in Princeton, NJ and also online. All of the episodes can be viewed here: Back Story with Joan Goldstein.

Entry filed under: dialogue, policy, politics.

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Some of Our Past Bloggers

Alisa Algava ‘08, leader of a small Hudson Valley progressive school
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Bill Ayers ‘84, UIC professor, Chicago
Fred Baumgarten ‘84, writer/musician/naturalist/father
Keith Berman '03, founder/president of Options for College and Bank Street’s LinkedIn moderator
David Bowles ’08 (SFC ’93), museum educator at the Rubin Museum of Art
Elena Canaras ‘07, Special Education teacher, Hawaii
Virginia Casper, Bank Street faculty member
Jim Clay ‘88, director of a Washington DC Quaker preschool
Mary DeCamp Cotterall ‘87, Reading Specialist, Michigan
Judy Coven ’77, retired public school teacher and former Antioch University faculty member
Leslie Day '93, adjunct instructor at Bank Street and author of Field Guide to the Natural World of New York City
Mary Louise (Molly) Day ‘76, Lab School teacher, Chicago
Liezel de La Isla ‘99, Prague International School teacher
Diane Trister Dodge '70, founder and president of Teaching Strategies, Inc.
Meghan Dunn ’08, 3rd grade teacher, Brooklyn
Steven Evangelista ’01, co-director Harlem Link Charter School, NYC
Janine Fetters ‘02, Senior Associate of Parent Engagement at NACCRRA
Dena Florczyk '88, middle school teacher and founder/director of The Nigerian School Project
Hollee Freeman '94, writes about parenting issues for the alumni blog and was featured on BSCAA's April 2012 Career Panel
Ellen Galinsky '70, is President and Co-Founder of Families and Work Institute and author of Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs
Joanne Ruvolo Gannett ‘84, Columbia College art history professor, Chicago
Joan Goldstein ‘67, sociologist and educator
Margot Hammond, Director of the Center for Early Childhood Professionals
Carol Hillman ‘67, early childhood educator, author, and Long Trip co-leader
Pam Jones ‘05, Bank Street advisor and instructor
Lee Klinger Lesser ‘87, trainer for the Parent Services Project
Preminda Langer ‘97, teacher trainer
Claire Milam ’97, life coach, Austin, Texas
Rabin Nickens ‘03, Speaker, Trainer and Educational Consultant
Beth Norford ‘89, consultant and former School for Children teacher
Susy Ogden ‘97
Marion Palm ‘95, Leadership in the Arts alum, writing tutor, poet and singer
Jessica Poser, assistant professor of art education at UIC, Chicago
Jesse Pugh '76, BSCAA President
Meg Rauen ‘06, former Chicago elementary school teacher, NY
Linda Reing, Bank Street Director of Alumni Relations
Rosalind Rothman '62, retired NYC teacher and guidance counselor
Kyla Ryman '92/'97, educational coach and consultant
Ariel Sacks ‘06, middle school teacher, Brooklyn, NY
Linda Appleman (Guidall) Shapiro ‘81, psychotherapist and author
Barbara Silver ‘80, literacy consultant and former NYC first grade teacher
Andrea Penny Spencer, former Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at Bank Street
Debbie Stone ‘84, former teacher/co-director of High Valley School
Rachel Theilheimer ‘74, chair of teacher education at BMCC/CUNY
Theodore Timpson ’05, founder/president of Young Spirit Foundation
Eleanor Traubman '95, is Editor in Chief of Creative Times, a blog which promotes NYC's performing, visual and literary arts
Allison Warren '08, new mom, recent grad, and early childhood teacher
Max Weinberg ‘03, Francis Parker School teacher, Chicago
Ted Wells ‘07, 4th grade teacher at The Park School, Brookline, MA
Tracy Wiessbrod ’03, kindergarten teacher and stay-at-home mom

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