Is the education reform tide turning?

I find that many of my posts at American Times are pretty cynical – what with the apparently coordinated assault on teachers form one state to the next – but there has been one piece of good news lately: president Obama has come out agains the current standardized-testing regime. This is good news for public education in America. It’s also good news for teachers – standardized tests have become the first weapon of faux-accountability wielded against our nation’s educators. And as this recent report from USA Today shows, far from holding teachers accountable, the current testing craze simply incentivizes cheating, while making education and learning boring.

I’ve been pretty critical of this administration’s education reforms – Race to the Top has been little more than No Child Left Behind Part Deux. But if Obama means what he says about testing – and I have no reason to suspect otherwise – then perhaps we’re witnessing a real sea-change. I certainly hope so.

Defending teachers from the noise machine

So I’ve been blogging at Forbes and spending a lot of my time talking about teachers and how teachers are under a sustained ideological assault. However, one thing I will never blog about is how teachers should be teaching. My philosophy is pretty simple: nobody knows how to teach better than a teacher does. They are trained to teach by people who are often either teachers themselves or experts in the subject of teaching. And they learn from years of teaching in the trenches what outside observers could never learn reading education papers and analyzing test scores.

Education pundits, school reformers, and politicians all think they know what’s best for students and by extension what sort of pedagogy a teacher should adopt. Often, top-down reformers try to use ‘teacher-proof’ curriculums which enforce lockstep thinking and automated-teaching. I find this appalling. And even though I occasionally have an idea about how I’d like to see teaching done, or imagine how I would teach if I were a teacher, this sort of thing won’t show up at the blog. Let teachers teach, and let bloggers (and bureaucrats) talk about policies that allow teachers, parents, administrators, and students to weave together the best education experience possible.

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My new education-policy blog

Shameless self-promotion alert:

I have a new blog at Forbes on education policy and education reform. My long introduction post is up this morning. In it, I offer a critique of the top-down reforms of Michelle Rhee and others, as well as a more broad swipe at the choice and accountability movement. Lots more to come.