Thursday, May 15, 2014

Krashen on Bad Solutions, Wrong Problems

Just thought I'd steal from Stephen Krashen tonight.

 I agree that the debate about the common core must be rooted in the facts, and that the "propoganda machine on the right" has "polluted the debate" with outrageous accusations. There are, however, serious and legitimate arguments against the common core.

The stated reason for the common core is the supposedly poor performance of American students. But  when researchers control for the effect of poverty, American students' international test scores are at the top of the world.  Our  overall scores are unspectacular (but not terrible) because we have so much child poverty, 24%, the second highest among all economically advanced countries. 

Poverty means poor diet, inadequate health care, and little or no access to books. All of these have devastating effects on school performance.  The best teaching has little effect when children are hungry, ill and have nothing to read.

The common core not only ignores the real problem; it does nothing to protect children from the effects of poverty. It only offers us a an extremely expensive plan with no basis in the research: There is no research supporting "tough" standards or nonstop testing. Also, studies show that increasing testing does not improve school achievement.

The common core is a bad solution that is aimed at the wrong problem. 

Stephen Krashen

Please, read the whole thing, with sources.

This national standards thing (and the whole RTTT) is the exact same magic wand that NCLB was; it's being waved by a new magician.

I wrote about Mr. Krashen over at my previous blog, but let me just travel down memory lane again. I'm not sure people outside education understand the magnitude of this guy's scholarship; he's pretty much the Godfather of Soul Second Language Acquisition.  Anyone who's ever taken any training in ELL has had to study his work in the field. It's tough for me to think of another activist-scholar whose professional research has formed the underpinnings of an entire field, like Krashen's has. Oddly, the only other example I can think of is another linguist.

I taught school in Arizona, and every once in a while, we had to take another ELL course to satisfy some requirement. I can't tell you how many classes I sat through where Krashen's language work was referenced. Mind you, it was all really, really dumbed down and isolated into the most recall-the-acronym bullshit, but I feel like during the course of my teaching years, Stephen Krashen was always hovering somewhere over my shoulder.

By the way, there's a little unwritten rule I've developed that whenever you blog about the CCSS,  nobody will read your post. And I don't blame them; the standards themselves are stultifying. How can a discussion about them not be? As a corollary to that rule, it also stands that if you are in a conversation about the CCSS, your interlocutor will not be able to cite a single one of the actual standards nor will she/he be able to explain how any new standard is better than the standard it replaced.

But  the word rigorous  will be used.

No comments:

Post a Comment