With all of the talk of education reform that has been swirling around over the last few years, we wanted to put together a glossary to help the uninitiated through the coded language of education reform. Our hope is that this handy guide will help laypeople and expert alike become more proficient in reform-speak.
- educational expert - any person used as a source in any mainstream media story. One can tell true experts because the names of the experts are always followed by the words, "Educational Expert." This helps distinguish them from the pandering, amateur class, also known as "educational bloggers."
- disruptive innovation - fire teachers, replace them with technology
- bold reformer - any administrator at the district level or higher who advocates any combination of weakening collective bargaining, closing schools, turning schools over to for-profit charters, increased use of standardized assessments to measure academic progress, and firing anyone who disagrees. Bold reformers usually require a good PR team to publicize their boldness, and to blunt the inevitable charges of testing scandals that follow these bold reformers like flies on carrion
- visionary leader - see bold reformer.
- group of thought leaders - millionaires/billionaires with no educational experience, but lots of ideas on how to fix the broken educational system. See also: the educational system is broken
- the educational system is broken - I have a product to sell that will make a lot of money, and if I can convince enough people that the educational system is broken, people will buy it
- robo graders are just as accurate as human graders - if we reduce all writing down to the scripted essays required on standardized assessments, then mechanical graders can be used to grade mechanical writing. See also: disruptive innovation; and the educational system is broken
- all students deserve access to the same educational opportunities - if we narrow the curriculum down to the common core standards (thank you, textbook companies!), and use prefabricated standardized assessments (thank you, textbook companies!) to evaluate students, and we get policymakers to agree that this is what public education reform looks like (thank you, lobbyists for textbook companies!) then all public schools will no longer have the time or resources to teach arts, health, music, physical fitness, or any other enrichment programs, and all students will have the same access to the same insufficiently narrow set of educational resources. Except, of course, for the rich kids.
- all high school students must take at least one online course in order to graduate - a new form of corporate welfare where legislators require that students take some of their classes online. This creates millions of new potential customers for existing online schools, and drains money from districts.
- teachers must be held accountable - teachers need to be fired if standardized test scores don't increase.
- policymakers, pundits, and think tanks must be held accountable for ludicrous policies and ideas - just kidding! I threw that in to see if you were paying attention.
This short glossary is far from comprehensive. If there are additional terms that should be added, please leave them in the comments.