Compounded Stupidity

So I found this via lblanken on twitter that Obama is disappointing me further.

I read these articles and they really beg for satire. So, I am forced to oblige.

(italics and footnotes are mine, I removed some portions for brevity, everything else is from the original at this link)
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Original By LIBBY QUAID, AP Education Writer Libby Quaid, Ap Education Writer – Sun Sep 27, 3:29 pm ET

WASHINGTON – Students beware: The summer vacation you just enjoyed could be sharply curtailed if President Barack Obama, KIPP, and standardized test makers get their way.

Obama says American kids spend too little time in school, putting them at a disadvantage with other students around the globe.

“Now, I know longer school days and school years are not wildly popular ideas,” the president said earlier this year. “Not with Malia and Sasha, not in my family, and probably not in yours. But the challenges of a new century demand more time in the classroom. After all what will better prepare you for a future we can’t predict than sitting silently in a room doing worksheets in preparation for multiple choice tests?

The president, who has a sixth-grader and a third-grader, wants schools to add time to classes, to stay open late and to let kids in on weekends so they have a safe place to go.

“Addressing the causes of dysfunctional families, dangerous communities, and crime would be too difficult,” the President said. “I’d rather ineffectively treat the surface symptoms.”

“Our school calendar is based upon the agrarian economy and not too many of our kids are working the fields today,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a recent interview with The Associated Press. “We’re ready to prepare these kids for the industrial revolution!”

Fifth-grader Nakany Camara is of two minds. She likes the four-week summer program at her school, Brookhaven Elementary School in Rockville, Md. Nakany enjoys seeing her friends there and thinks summer school helped boost her grades from two Cs to the honor roll. No doubt this is an important measurement. Our educational institutions long ago mastered assessment and are good at predicting future success1 based on grades.

But she doesn’t want a longer school day. “I would walk straight out the door,” she said.

Unfortunately, Nakany has forgotten that this action would lead to her arrest and detention and quite probably the arrest and detention of her parents as well.

Does Obama want every kid to do these things? School until dinnertime? Summer school? And what about the idea that kids today are overscheduled and need more time to play?

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Obama and Duncan say kids in the United States need more school because kids in other nations have more school.

“Young people in other countries are going to school 25, 30 percent longer than our students here,” Duncan told the AP. “I want to just level the playing field. We’ve long ago proven that it’s all about quantity. I’m also concerned that kids in other countries may have more toys.

While it is true that kids in many other countries have more school days, it’s not true they all spend more time in school2.

Kids in the U.S. spend more hours in school (1,146 instructional hours per year) than do kids in the Asian countries that persistently outscore the U.S. on math and science tests — Singapore (903), Taiwan (1,050), Japan (1,005) and Hong Kong (1,013). That is despite the fact that Taiwan, Japan and Hong Kong have longer school years (190 to 201 days) than does the U.S. (180 days). We would cite the abundant research supporting the idea that any of these tests matter in any way but, umm, we forgot where we put it.

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Regardless, there is a strong case for adding time to the school day. A strong case, that is, if you believe these tests matter and that doing well on them somehow means something.

Researcher Tom Loveless of the Brookings Institution looked at math scores in countries that added math instruction time. Scores rose significantly, especially in countries that added minutes to the day, rather than days to the year.

“Ten minutes sounds trivial to a school day, but don’t forget, these math periods in the U.S. average 45 minutes,” Loveless said. “Percentage-wise, that’s a pretty healthy increase. And don’t forget, we’re going to find that research we’ve temporarily misplaced that any of these tests matter at all.

In the U.S., there are many examples of gains when time is added to the school day.

Charter schools are known for having longer school days or weeks or years. For example, kids in the KIPP network of 82 charter schools across the country go to school from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., more than three hours longer than the typical day. They go to school every other Saturday and for three weeks in the summer. KIPP eighth-grade classes exceed their school district averages on state tests.

KIPP students will now excel in their future careers as bubble-filler-inners or, the more lucrative fact-memorizer. Additional benefits include forcing students into the traditional work schedule as early as possible and preventing any unsupervised, unstructured socializing.

“Just because we isolate your children, manipulate them (and you) with fear, and force them to memorize and repeat rather than think for themselves does not mean we are a cult,” explained KIPP principal, Jim Jones.

Summer is a crucial time for kids, especially poorer kids, because poverty is linked to problems that interfere with learning, such as hunger and less involvement by their parents. The key is to remove children from these unhealthy and ignorance creating environments similar to what was done to aboriginal children in a variety of countries.

That makes poor children almost totally dependent on their learning experience at school, said Karl Alexander, a sociology professor at Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins University, home of the National Center for Summer Learning.

Disadvantaged kids, on the whole, make no progress in the summer, Alexander said. Some studies suggest they actually fall back. Wealthier kids have parents who read to them, have strong language skills and go to great lengths to give them learning opportunities such as computers, summer camp, vacations, music lessons, or playing on sports teams.

“If your parents are high school dropouts with low literacy levels and reading for pleasure is not hard-wired, it’s hard to be a good role model for your children, even if you really want to be,” Alexander said. “Clearly, they aren’t raising their children the way I would and that’s wrong. We need to take their children away.”

Aside from improving academic performance, Education Secretary Duncan has a vision of schools as the heart of the community3. Duncan, who was Chicago’s schools chief, grew up studying alongside poor kids on the city’s South Side as part of the tutoring program his mother still runs

“Those hours from 3 o’clock to 7 o’clock are times of high anxiety for parents,” Duncan said. “They want their children safe. Families are working one and two and three jobs now to make ends meet and to keep food on the table. Soon we’ll need to give children 24 hour care as parents are forced to work continuously. I look forward to that day of safety and control.

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Associated Press writer Russell Contreras in Boston contributed to this report.


1 We’ve also rigidly defined success as fitting in and making money.

2 Which really makes you wonder what is going on with our DOE.

3 Albeit a community where parents don’t see or interact with their children and children are brainwashed automatons.

Comments on this post

  1. W. Anderson said on October 4, 2009 at 4:01 am

    I really like your blog…it helps to keep me thinking.

    I live in one of the countries with more school days (Thailand). What the more school advocates don’t know, or don’t pay attention to is the fact that many of the days in school are non-learning days (at least here). We have class level sport days, intra-school sport days, inter-school sport days…prepping for shows for various holidays, doing the shows…non-study test prep days…test days…and on and on…

    So the fact is that though Thailand has (I think) 250 school days…the actual number of “learning days” is probably less than the USA.

    I can’t speak for other countries (nor this one as a matter of fact) but, I think you would find similar results.

    Best always, keep up the good work

    Andy
    Northern Thailand

  2. rebecca said on November 9, 2009 at 11:44 pm

    fuk u all

    • Tom said on November 14, 2009 at 6:10 am

      All of us? Rebecca, I thought we were friends. Please tell me what has created these unhappy feelings and I’ll try to make it right.

      Apologetically,

      Tom

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