Sunday, August 03, 2008

It's not just economics that Huggy is weak on!

The full text of St. John's recent talk before The Urban Institute may be found via Huggy Bear's own site. I saw this "live" and was immediately put off by "if there's one thing he always delivers it's a great speech" reference to Senator Obama's future appearance. He adds, "his ideas are not always as impressive as his rhetoric."

How Huggy's handlers try to co-opt poor parents with kids in bad schools into supporting "reforms" is frustrating. The right wingers have gotten Reverend Al and ... at least partially on their side and it looks like the battle is being joined between those allegedly on the left portion of the spectrum. It's rather like counter-insurgency strategy (sort of like that which was finally given a chance by Bu$hCo in Iraq) where you co-opt the locals.

The Maverick mentions educational reforms from Louisiana's Bobby Jindal (he scored big didn't he Heritage Foundation) yet leaves off the "let's also teach creationism" effort from that same state. Huggy gets in obligatory licks against teachers unions and education's allegedly "entrenched bureaucracy".

I nearly threw something at the TV (and I was in the chow hall) when I saw the following:

We should also offer more choices to those who wish to become teachers. Many thousands of highly qualified men and women have great knowledge, wisdom, and experience to offer public school students. But a monopoly on teacher certification prevents them from getting that chance. You can be a Nobel Laureate and not qualify to teach in most public schools today because they don't have all the proper credits in educational "theory" or "methodology." All they have is learning and the desire and ability to share it. If we're putting the interests of students first, then those qualifications should be enough.

That he used the little finger parenthetical trick on "theory" and "methodology" was frankly insulting. Surely fast track options can work yet I'd bet on the average Nobel Laureate being eaten alive if St. John had his druthers. Knowledge of a subject is fine yet the pesky pedagogy and some basic classroom management is surely part of the equation. Once again, a pandering politician is perfectly prepared to tell professionals how to do their job.

St. John also says:

And no longer will we measure teacher achievement by conformity to process. We will measure it by the success of their students.

Once again, can you measure if a child was taught to think? We'll measure if Sally and Sam learned one damn fact after another when the jobs of the future requiring thinkers rather than the tested. Some great "reforms" there Huggy. I've frequently posted on the many flaws behind school "reforms" studies.

"Conformity to process" might mean merely following generally accepted best practices I'd think. I know Huggy and his right wingers think the markets and all that will solve pretty much every problem yet professional educators know better. The right wingers sniping or even throwing bombs at educators should be ashamed.

St. John also shares:

Moreover, the funds for these bonuses will not be controlled by faraway officials -- in Washington, in a state capital, or even in a district office. Under my reforms, we will put the money and the responsibilities where they belong -- in the office of the school principal. One reason charter schools are so successful, and so sought after by parents, is that principals have spending discretion. And I intend to give that same discretion to public school principals. No longer will money be spent on rigid and often meaningless formulas. Relying on the good judgment and first-hand knowledge of school principals, education money will be spent in service to public school students.

That's great Senator. Reckon some teacher would be as willing to pose tough questions to their principal when they also control their bonus? It can currently be a long, hard slog when teaching under a "rigid" soul but when they control your reward money that's simply draconian. And would removing those "rigid and often meaningless formulas" hinder the objectivity of the person handling out the dough? And wasn't part of the problem the "entrenched bureaucracy" and surely the principal counts there don't they?

John McCain's approach to education appears on his campaign website. It's Excellence, Choice, and Competition in American Education. That's it? Surely you've got more? Is Jim "The Tool" Wooten his education advisor? Contrast Huggy's "tired rhetoric" with Senator Obama's comprehensive approach to education. I'm hardly certain that Obama will do all that ought to be done yet compared to Huggy's simplistic solutions he's a gem. John Gunn

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