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Monday, March 22, 2010

Are We Paying Attention?

Three items in the Sunday New York Times' "Week in Review" got my attention.

First, the front page's "Identity Politics Leans Right" by Sam Tanenhaus discusses the impact of the Texas Board of Education on textbooks, a national curriculum, and the thinking in the rest of America is finally getting some national attention. I have written about this dilemma a couple of times in the past on Feb 15 and Mar 5. The constant battle is local and about private interests when it comes to recording history. I've always been of the mind that history is told by the victors. The crux of the matter comes when Tanenhaus says in his conclusion, "Today it is not regional or ethnic identity, but ideological commitment that threatens to submerge larger “national myths.” But one thing remains unchanged from 50 or 60 years ago. As Americans struggle to see where they are going, they continue to gaze fondly at the past — and to see in it what they like." History is viewed romantically and with one eye closed. I can only think of how the indigenous peoples of America are dealt with in our history books. The history of the history text is a painful one. The local battles in Texas are taking on a more national scope than should be allowed and no one seems to be paying attention.

The second important article is on the editorial page, "Who Grades the Graders." I don't think they took it far enough. It isn't enough to question the ability of the principals and superintendents and the method by which they evaluate teachers. What we need to do is evaluate the tests that are made by the testing companies and check their validity and worthiness. If the tests are going to have such an importance and impact on people's lives, then we need to have a better method in their evaluation.

The third noteworthy submission were the letters about "One Country, One School Yardstick?" So many realities being revealed. One that not all students will go to college, that the top and bottom scoring nations have national standards. Voices from all parts of the educational spectrum reveal our conundrum. Education is far more complex then we hear from educational leadership.

The point is that education will soon dominate our attention now that the health care bill is passed. Now is the time to pay attention to education.

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