Sunday, October 12, 2008

Zombies Sighting at The Department of Education

At our last Board of Education meeting one of the handouts and discussions involved the evaluation of teachers. The form the Board received is full of the cover-your-ass rhetoric that the State requires. But my question was whether or not what we were evaluating made any sense today. In 2008, the technical expertise of teachers is far more sophisticated than we might expect in 2000. Yet nobody rewards this stuff and where would qualified evaluation personnel come from?

As I write this I cringe. I can well imagine the education machine ready and eager to create another self-serving, perpetual bureaucracy machine of certifications, laws, amendments and holding the taxpayer hostage to their new demands.

But the question is legitimate. So I looked around for an answer on the Connecticut State Department of Education's website. What I found could pass for a Halloween Haunted House prank.

On the page called Promising Practices in Connecticut Schools a few links are offered. Clicking on any of them is like entering a time warp. I could not find anything more recent than 2001 and many of the "promising programs" had come and gone without a whimper.

The splash page asks, "Why reinvent the wheel?" when what it really should ask is what the Department of Education gets paid for when it can go into an eight year coma without any accountability for their failure to do their jobs.

Oh, wait, they're touring the state selling bad ideas - my apologies. After all, they are doing something. Something stupid but something nonetheless.

I have advocated the wholesale dismissal of this Department for years and no one takes me seriously. I can only imagine they think that funding a brain-dead and flat-lining organization with millions of wasted dollars is appropriate. They must imagine the contribution a civic exercise like giving blood.

It's time to pull the plug. These fools pontificate about education yet are as out of touch with reality so as to be character actors in "Life on Mars".

But their web page is also indicative of the intellectual collapse that has swallowed Wall St. and threatens to swallow us all. By looking for technology best practices you will be directed to an empty page. The Department of Education is clueless as the bankers, financial services sectors, and spreadsheet gurus who precipitated the meltdown.

CT must choose to teach and know, listen and learn. This crisis is not about facts but about the absence of regulation and critical tolerance in CT. By homogenizing education practice into sing-song testing we are creating an environment of cognitive regulatory captivity in which no thinking or questioning is allowed.

When we finally evaluate teachers, school boards need the autonomy to insist their districts schools are judged on a local demand for quality instead of a federal demand for the conformity of lemmings.

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