Monthly Archives: February 2013

You must.

I struggle not to write an apology as an introduction to each of my posts. Even that sentence, I struggle not to write an apology as an introduction to each of my posts, is a kind of veiled apology. An ironic and intentional one, but an apology nonetheless. And before I get into the meat of this post, pointing out the purposeless manner in which professional educators present to each other, I want to remind myself more than anyone else why apologizing is not appropriate in the work of making change.

Public education is broken because, in a large part, the Prussian paradigm is now status quo, but is no longer serving the purpose that public education should be serving in 2013. I get it; I’m in this system too. I get 25 arbitrarily grouped kids scheduled with me for an arbitrarily determined allotment of time (4 hours week for 40 weeks) and our success is determined by a very particularly structured exam at the end of that time. But the purpose of this blog is not to bemoan the system in which we operate. The purpose of this blog is to actively and deliberately change this system by becoming completely transparent in my own pedagogical decisions and by encouraging discourse about these pedagogical decisions. This blog is called “fearless flip” to remind me that I need to be fearless in purposefully challenging a broken paradigm, not to assert that I already am fearless. It’s a challenge to my future self to continue to flip the paradigm, and to do it fearlessly and unapologetically because I know that it is important, even righteous, work.

Public education is broken, in an equally large part, because of the purposeless day to day actions of the individuals involved in this broken system. If you are not pushing against the edges, you’re perpetuating the problem. And while it makes me uncomfortable to publicly say to a friend and/or colleague This is Bad Practice, I can’t not and consider myself fearless. We’re not building widgets, or airplanes in the air, for that matter in public education: we’re trying to sculpt the future of our communities, of our nation, and, yes, even of our world. My assumption is that people simply must not be aware of the ways in which their actions are not purposeful. I hope that by calling attention to a lack of purpose, I am in a sense asking you to first recognize that you’re simply casting more shadows on the wall. If you’re fearless, you’ll want to step from Plato’s cave into the sunlight. If you choose to run back into the cave, squinting and screaming as so many do, then you’ve chosen to be part of the problem – even worse than simply unintentionally contributing to it. Either way, no apology is needed for calling attention to poor practice.

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The lack of purpose, impossibility, and expense of the PARCC

Having an authentic audience that includes my friends, students, and colleagues while blogging about educational reform is more difficult than I expected. Not wanting to bore my readers, nor preach to them, I’ve been waiting to write until I had the “uncommon, insightful essay” that I am always bugging my AP students about. Well, EdWeek wrote an article sharing PARCC’s very vague guidelines about technology required to test students in compliance with Common Core in 2014-2015. Here’s my favorite part, the part that I’d like to discuss in more detail.

One of the requirements focuses on test security. All devices used during the tests—whether laptops, netbooks, or tablets—and operating systems must have the capability to “lock down” and temporarily disable features that present a security risk while exams are being given. Certain features would also need to be controlled during test administration, including unlimited Internet access, certain types of cameras, screen captures, email, and instant-messaging, the requirements say.

I don’t know a lot about computer security systems, but I know enough to understand that the concept of “lock down” is simply not possible in our modern world. Anonymous hacked the Fed this week and MIT last month: I bet their computers were more “locked down” than public schools’. The fact that lock down can’t exist, that privacy – much like Nietzsche’s God – is dead, won’t stop school districts across the nation from pursuing hardware and software that will fulfill this unfulfillable requirement; and this will surely be at a huge cost to taxpayers everywhere at a time when public education is already financially insolvent. PARCC tests will be the nail in the coffin of public education as we know it.
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