Who Controls Curriculum?

I’m having a discussion on Twitter with an acquaintance. We have drastically different views on a lot of things, but my favorite discussion topic is education.

This started with a video about the failure of No Child Left Behind.

I agree that NCLB failed. Standardized testing does not work.

The conversation is as follows:
Me: As of tomorrow, I’ll be going offline til Thursday. Text me.
MJ: Peep this quick video regarding all the “success” of NCLB before you go: tinyurl.com/7wfqltm
Me: I agree that NCLB is a massive failure. I dislike state tests. It’s important for students to know certain things, but learning for a TEST is stupid. My best teacher didn’t teach for the Advanced Placement tests in CT, but he made me learn.
MJ: The test needs to be good, if you will teach towards it. Federal meddling makes it all worse.
Me: Agreed. I’ve defended the core curriculum before BUT states need final say on what gets taught in their state, & what is tested
MJ: Easiest way to guarantee that is to shut down the Federal meddling.
Me: Or have a really minimal core, but that will never happen. State control is probably best.
MJ: Past State has been net negative, and I’m not sure how much value States add. INS citizenship mastery as core?
Me: Well, then who should decide curriculum?
MJ: Parents? Teachers? Principals? The mayor? Competing tests that the parents pay for, ACT/SAT, compare the counties’ fruits.
Me: Parents are useless, really. Many don’t even help with homework. Teachers, maybe, but at least on a county level. Principals have skewed views. The elementary school near me barely has a library because of the principal.
MJ: What about the local land owners? They are the ones footing the bill.
Me: Some people who pay taxes don’t want education funded anyway. That’s why when taxes get cut, education gets cut.
MJ: There is also the small bit about education soaking up more money for the same results. Makes you wonder what can go. Maybe parents shouldn’t be sending their kids to school with no $ in. Make ’em care.
Me: How so? Teachers need to get paid, supplies need to be purchased. Putting big costs on parents for education will only hurt it.
MJ: Bottom line up front: The current system is, by design, drek. 5 counties should be trying 7 methods. One size fits few.
Me: I think the difference county by county is small. State by state can vary with ease.
MJ: Putting skin the game will hurt? Doesn’t have to be a lot, just enough to make them know it is their problem.
Me: I don’t think parents can often afford to send their kids to a decent school. Have you seen “Waiting for Superman”?
MJ: Read of, haven’t watched. The skin in should be relative. These folks are willing to pay. If you won’t chip in for your kids, why the hell should you or I do all/any of the paying?
Me: I plan to be a school librarian, I don’t mind that my taxes go to education. I don’t want children, but I want my country to have smart children. Urban schools suffer, and it sucks.

Fascinating.

By the way, “Waiting for Superman” is a documentary about the lottery for charter schools. It’s rather sad.

I like the idea of a basic core curriculum, but not as detailed as it is currently.

I see the need for state curriculum. I have the MA Frameworks. They’re hard to read, but I see the need to have all schools in one state teach the same thing.

I think that standardized tests are a problem. I remember taking the Mastery Tests in school. I remember being “at risk” in my writing category when I took them in junior high (7th or 8th grade). “At risk” meant that my writing wasn’t up to par with what it should have been at that level. I took the SAT II in Writing in high school and scored rather high. Goes to show that the Mastery Test wasn’t exactly predictive of my skill potential.

I don’t know what the solution is.

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