Friday, April 22, 2011

ESEA (nee NCLB) is in play again, the Fordham Institute has published a ESEA Briefing Book, and they highlight "Issue #1 College and career readiness - Should states be required to adopt academic standards tied to college and career readiness (such as the Common Core)?"

They say yes, we say "uhhhh..."

What if we could over-power national common-core standards the way AT&T's national monopoly on bland nationwide (but universally connecting--POTS) telephone was overcome? What if we could create many sets of transparent standards which compete and, in between, leave room for innovation.

What if we could unload teachers of the burden of being curriculum deliverers, and instead elevate them to being powerful learning coaches for the better part of their teaching day?

What if we let students move more often at their own pace, and not at the pace of the classroom of 25 they may be far ahead of, or far behind? What if they could do more of their most powerful learning when their brains are awake (8pm) and be less dependent on the curriculum flying by when they are asleep (8AM)?

Modern web technologies (especially advances made just the past two years), will allow this. Yet such tech can be expensive, and leaving it to a few wealthy companies will leave us with much of the baggage of the past.

We could instead combine the new tech with an empowered Open Source movement. If we used cloud computing and open resources to let teachers, ed schools, and others to steadily raise the quality--and individuality!--of the educational experience.

Such an open source paradigm--done right--could get us 50% of the way in a very short time indeed.

Even those not concerned about the downside of school-as-it-was in the 70's-90's, where 3 in 5 African American boys did not graduate from high school, or with our problems with engineering decline or pathetically poor journalism graduates--even they still have a vested interest diversity of education, in avoiding all the ill that comes with a national common core.

If you want to avoid a national regime when the freight train is in full momentum, the way is to make it irrelevant. When it's too late to fight, just make it look obviously silly to all.

Common core will look obviously silly when
- any teacher can go online for free or near free,
- assemble a validated curriculum from diverse sources and methods,
- provide that curriculum to their students at minimal costs, and then
- provide proof to parents that students have completed the bulk of that curriculum in a satisfactory manor.

Everyone now knows that state tests are a poor way to provide that proof. Isn't the asnwer to give students and teachers a set of tools for transparency?

A set of tools worthy of a grand leading nation in the fourth decade of thee Internet revolution?