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NCLB Outrages

Will You Let Congress Decide How You Will Teach?

By Susan Ohanian

Stephen Krashen makes his usual incisive rebuttalsto NCTE former President Kylene Beers' arguments for why the world needs the LEARN (sic) legislation (S2740), which NCTE leadership say they are proud to have had a part in writing.

Other NCTE members applaud them. And that's fine. Certainly people have a right to their opinion. But surely they are more dissenters out there.

Here's Krashen:

I cannot imagine that anyone will interpret "systematic, direct and explicit instruction" as student-centered, needs-driven and responsive.
And Krashen again:
I still maintain that we must work MUCH harder to fight for libraries. All language teaching organizations have underplayed the importance of libraries. The powerful research supporting libraries is rarely mentioned, research that strongly points to the conclusion that much of the "literacy problem" in the US is because of lack of access to books in high poverty areas. The LEARN Act is a great opportunity to make this known, a fantastic opportunity to improve life for children of poverty for a fraction of what we cheerfully spend on unnecessary testing.
And again:
LEARN has opened to door to more commercial tests at a time when testing is destroying education. In fact, LEARN is making it worse. NCTE representatives have been pleased with the fact that LEARN includes a requirement for formative testing. Are you aware that the term "formative testing" has been hijacked by testing companies who are vigorously marketing commercial formative tests, which many of us regard as a contradiction?

Ed Week had a good discussion of this recently: http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2008/09/17/04formative_ep.h28.html. And see also J. Popham's 2006 paper.
Did anyone rebut this? No, people responding just thank the NCTE Executive Committee for their hard work and for getting NCTE a seat at the table. Of course this provoked me to post this again:
"I'm not going to sit at your table and watch you eat, with nothing on my plate, and call myself a diner. Sitting at the table doesn't make you a diner, unless you eat some of what's on that plate.

--Malcolm X
Speech at Cory Methodist Church, Cleveland, Ohio, April 3, 1964

The silence of the great body of teachers is troubling.

1. Do teachers agree with the NCTE Executive Director, Executive Committee, and their camp followers that instruction should be systematic, direct and explicit?

2. Do teachers agree that if assessment is called "formative," then it's fine to pile more of it on, replacing curriculum?

3. Do teachers agree that libraries should just be an afterthought, to be considered only when all the important stuff is taken care of?

4. Have teachers given up on have any voice on what and how they teach?

If you're willing to break your silence, go to the hotlink below and speak up.

— Susan Ohanian
NCTE ning


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