After Anthony Cody* posted “Obama Blasts His Own Education Policies” on his “Living in Dialog” blog, Justin Hamilton, press secretary to Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, asked Anthony if he would correct certain statements he made in his post. Anthony asked Justin if he would answer some questions for him, to which Mr. Hamilton responded in “Obama’s Policies Under Fire: Department of Ed Responds.” My comments to Anthony’s post follow.
I believe the entire debate today about ESEA / NCLB / The Blueprint / Ed Reform misses the larger picture. No amount of legislating, procedure writing, or even teaching by dedicated, persistent, highly qualified, highly effective teachers will make students succeed if they are not committed to putting forth their best effort every day, just as any teacher or administrator must do.
Most of today’s discourse concerning educational reform addresses the elements necessary for a student to succeed. However, it ignores the most critical elements such as a student’s commitment to learning, support from his/her parent(s)/guardian(s), and local societal / communal expectations to succeed.
Mr. Hamilton’s response, Secretary Duncan’s speeches, and even President Obama’s statements ignore these elements / factors. Until we address these, their grand ideas will fall flat, as most others have to date. This is not a partisan shot, either. No one has effectively managed education policy from Washington, D.C., which says something all by itself.
BTW, Mr. Hamilton’s use of “formative assessment” is incorrect. A formative assessment informs instruction, in what is known as “assessment for learning.” His references to measuring growth, whether year over year, or month over month, are assessments OF learning, also known as “summative assessments.” They are NOT formative assessments, however much Mr. Hamilton or the department of ed might wish.
The defensive posture of Mr. Hamilton’s response, with one too many “Secretary Duncan desires / believes” statements, reads like cult propaganda.
We all agree that our education system needs to change to keep pace with our rapidly changing world, however, heavy-handed mandates from a central planning committee are not the way to go. Ensure equitable access exists for all, but let local communities carry out what they deem necessary, not what Washington, D.C. educrats dictate.* Anthony’s blog, Living in Dialog, is hosted by Education Week.