FunnyMonkey Blog

Bill Fitzgerald | November 3, 2013

"Rigor" is a buzzword lurking in the periphery of some education reform conversations. As it is commonly used, "rigor" implies that the work in a learning environment is consistently challenging to students - the work is either at or just-above-yet-in-reach of a student's ability. However, most conversations about rigor carry an additional overtone: that schools currently do not contain adequate rigor, and are therefore failing to challenge students.

To be clear, the problems with the concept of rigor have nothing to do with the idea of challenging students. The problems with rigor stem from the disingenuous and flawed arguments that are built upon the foundation of, "We need more rigor."

I heart rigor

The Atlantic recently...

Bill Fitzgerald | October 15, 2013

For the OpenEdK12 conference, I put together a presentation describing how to take an idea for a class, and move from the idea into a full set of openly licensed resources. It builds on some work we have done over the last few years in our open content authoring sessions, supporting communities that are authoring and distributing openly licensed content, and our in-progress work on our open content authoring platform (top secret code name: Sally).

The idea for material we build in the lesson came from my daughter - a while back, she came to me and wanted to make butter, and my immediate reaction was, "No. We need a churn, and we don't have one." Then, of course, my daughter showed me how you can make butter by shaking cream in a jar....

Bill Fitzgerald | October 10, 2013

Anya Kamenetz has a pair of reactions to Diane Ravitch's new book Reign of Error. In these reactions, Kamenetz attempts to draw a distinction between privatizers, corporate reformers, and the rest of the motley crew that populate the reform universe:

To summarize, I believe “privatization” and “corporate” are too simplistic a brand with which to lash the education-reform complex.
I believe a more subtle characterization with more explanatory power is that this is a technocratic and technophilic coalition, uniting conservatives, liberals, bureaucrats, politicians, entrepreneurs, executives, school leaders, and philanthropists–hey, even some teachers, parents and students!–in the...

Bill Fitzgerald | October 5, 2013

I ran across this article summarizing an event put on by the New York Times called Schools For Tomorrow. The article focused in on the use of data in education, and it exhibits some of the trademarks of bad education reporting.

The article states by attempting to define what is being billed as the problem:

Right now, schools teach and test every student the same way, even though children have different ways of learning not used in the classroom. But educators are starting to use data analytics to make in-depth assessments of each student and how he or she learns.

Moar Analytics!

No...

Bill Fitzgerald | September 29, 2013

Michael Petrilli, on poverty, single mothers, and parenting:

Second, the reason the overwhelming majority of children are born poor is that they are born to young single mothers without much education or many job prospects. These mothers will struggle mightily to provide the kind of home environment that is necessary to help children get off to a good start in life and in school. To put it bluntly, they tend to be bad parents. (Not "bad" in a moral sense but "bad" as in "ineffective"; with their brains literally maxed out with basic survival, it's easy to understand why.)

I give Michael Petrilli credit for giving voice to what many people within the corporate education reform camp think, but would never say in public.

Petrilli continues:

Let me float a third option: A renewed effort to encourage young,...

Bill Fitzgerald | September 27, 2013

While browsing the Common Core State Standards website (something I do for fun and personal growth several times a day - I know, admit it: you're jealous), I noticed that the site only works if you add "www" to the beginning of your url path.

In other words, http://www.corestandards.org works, where http://corestandards.org doesn't.

To see the difference, compare what you get when visiting The Standards page at http://www.corestandards.org/the-standards

Way to go!



Compare that to what you get at http://corestandards.org/the-standards

...
Bill Fitzgerald | September 22, 2013

In a fourth grade classroom in Vermillion Parish Schools in Louisiana, students were given a worksheet that included the words "pimp" (as part of a song name) and "mobstaz" (as part of a band name).

Thankfully, Fox News is on it:

“I try to instill values in my son,” parent Brittney Badeaux told Fox News. “My goal is for him to ultimately to become a great man, a family man, a well-rounded man. And now my son wants to know what a pimp is.”
Badeaux was helping her 9-year-old son with his homework when she heard him say the words “Po Pimp” and “mobstaz.”
“I couldn’t believe it at first – hearing him read it to me,” she told Fox News. “So I looked at the paper and read the entire article. It was filled with Ebonics.”

The breathless "filled with Ebonics" piece stuck with me...

Bill Fitzgerald | September 19, 2013

A North Carolina school board bans The Invisible Man for having no literary merit.

Melinda Anderson has a great piece on charters - she reports the story of a 7 year old girl expelled for her hairstyle, which apparently violated the dress code. However, she then situates the story in the larger context of school closings - which disproportionately affect people of color - and how some charters quickly open in these neighborhoods.

Meanwhile, in Louisiana, private schools receiving public subsidies in the form of tapayer funder vouchers are performing 30% below average. John White,...

Bill Fitzgerald | September 16, 2013

Ken Libby does yeoman's work tracking crazy articles about Common Core under the #corespiracy hashtag. These are just two posts of many that he flagged this morning, but they are useful to demonstrate why having a substantive discussion about Common Core State Standards (CCSS), and the associated policy changes being implemented in parallel to the CCSS rollout, is difficult to achieve.

Crazy

On a related note, posts comparable to the examples highlighted below make it easy to relegate objection to any element of CCSS as part of the lunatic fringe.

From Historian...

Bill Fitzgerald | September 15, 2013

On January 31, 2012, Pearson announced a contract from Smarter Balanced and PARCC to develop a "Technology Readiness Tool":

The SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) today announced they have awarded a contract to Pearson to develop a new Technology Readiness Tool to support states as they transition to next-generation assessments.

Money

According to Pearson's press release, this tool is open source:

This new open source tool, with the assistance of the State Educational Technology...

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