Saturday, January 02, 2016
Anson Burlingame: Why I won't subscribe to the Turner Report
Now is as good a time as any to make another comment on the Turner Report. In doing so I offer a reason not to follow the suggestions contained herein (buy a subscription to the Turner Report) and thus will again draw extreme views from anonymous commentators.
Let me also state, again, that I have the utmost respect for good teachers. Their worth to society is almost unmeasurable, at least in terms of money. Good teachers transmit knowledge that is critical for every student to learn to become a productive member of society. In doing so they develop within each student the ability to develop, over a lifetime, his or her own character. If anyone does not understand what that means, to me at least, I suggest you read David Brooks’s new book, The Path To Character.
Let me be very clear on what I mean by the essential level of knowledge for each and every high school student. Every (that is not a special needs child) graduating student from JHS should be able to read, write and do math, proficiently, at the 12th grade level before graduation. As well every student that advances to a higher grade level each year in K12 public education should be at the proficient, grade level of knowledge (and behavior) from the previous year. That should be the goal and it will take at least 10 years for R-8 to even begin to approach that goal from where it is right now.
I also agree that any K12 system of public education must “Let teachers teach”. It is teach and then test and grade to what level of performance by each student that becomes the disagreement between Turner (or at least the vast majority of his commentators, all anonymous) and me. But if a 1st grade teacher (or any other teacher) “passes” a child that has not yet reached proficient, grade level mastery of a given basic skill, then such teachers (and students and parents) are failing the system of public education and something must be done at the individual level to reverse that substandard level of performance. I am open to any reasonable approach to correct such a problem other than just passing such students on to others in hope that “they” will correct such errors in student performance (and behavior if applicable). The buck must stop somewhere other than “someone else” that might be at fault (but will never accept the responsibility of doing so).
Here is one obvious example, an approach that was suggested to me by ……., who should know better. Do away with all homework for any student, period, was the suggested approach. Why, I asked. The reply was in essence that “poor students” do not have the home environment that stimulates the need (demand?) that homework be completed, all the time. Thus such students fall farther and farther behind and that is not fair.
If that is not dumbing down the level of education to the lowest common denominator, I don’t know what it might be. Homework, meaning outside of class hours reading, writing and doing math each and every day to increase performance through repetition, is a critical part of public education. The challenge of every school must be to RAISE student efforts to such a level, not lower students to that level of no academic efforts, anytime, out of school.
I am sending this to Randy as an email due to its length. I leave it up to him how to publish, or not, such views on his blog. If he does publish it, you may “Fire when ready, Gridley”, an old Navy saying I learned long ago.