Monday, September 10, 2007

Comments on Al Shanker

A friend with some comments on Al Shanker's book:

I don't know if you have read Tough Liberal yet, but I wanted to highlight
two things that I find in common with Al Shanker's thinking as outlined in
the book.

Maybe you  will find these interesting to include in posts to your list.

1.   National Standards

Shanker declared national standards to be a critical  part of assessing
student and teacher performance.  He compared the current system to the
Soviet economy, and demanded national standards in order to introduce choice
and accountability.  He was disappointed when the first Bush backed down due
to opposition from conservatives worried about political correctness, and unions
worried about  accountability.  If he were still alive, he presumably would be  
disappointed that the second
Bush's NCLB watered down standards to be state-based.

2.  Student accountability

He was in favor of  teacher accountability so long as it was accompanied by
student  accountability.  No social promotions for Shanker, and penalties for
parents who did not support their kids' learning.  He objected to the idea
of blaming teachers for all problems, as he felt that this let parents and
students off the hook.

Amazingly, putting #1 and #2  together made Shanker probably the most
forceful proponent of high stakes testing out there.

I think some of his ideas were crazy (like peer  review), and his love of
power drove him to do bad things, but he is an interesting precedent to
think about.

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