Why Michelle Rhee gets its wrong

I’ve been opposed to the use of standardized testing as accountability tools for a long time. Not as passionately and strongly as some but in principle, the use of one time testing to determine the fate of schools and students, isn’t the model of education to which I’d ever subscribe. Fortunately for me, I’ve lived in a province that has resisted them and even today would never acknowledge the use of them the way my southern neighbours and even western neighbours have. But that’s starting to change and I don’t like it.

Without going into the specifics and details of our provincial situation, I’m writing out of passion against articles like this that seem to validate an “improve your test score or perish” mentality. The article features Washington’s chancellor of education, Michelle Rhee and her relentless efforts to improve schools. I admire her passion. I’m not all that impressed with her perspectives.

“The thing that kills me about education is that it’s so touchy-feely,” she tells me one afternoon in her office. Then she raises her chin and does what I come to recognize as her standard imitation of people she doesn’t respect. Sometimes she uses this voice to imitate

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One year later, nothing has changed

Did you ever start telling a story and part way through you are trying to remember if you've told the story before?  I feel that way a lot when I blog and wonder if maybe it's a sign to shut up but I'll likely just repeat the story. But I digress…

Yesterday's blog post was eerily similar to the one I wrote about the same conference a year earlier. Even the title was the same. I'm starting to steal from myself.  After a conversation with a disgruntled principal I realized I had had the same thought a year earlier. I still basically feel the same way.
 

If they’re just achieving better grades, better study habits and better test taking skills, it doesn’t seem all that important to me.  Now I realize that none of these speakers would say that’s what this does and they even reference rigorous standards and I think I heard the term 21st century learning (whatever that really is), I’m still fearful that the zeal to improve scores and test results leads to the perpetuation of school as we knew it and still know it.  The strategies of PLC’s and assessment, if not combined with

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