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Joelgingery
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Doing with greater diligence what we’ve done for the past 100 years simply accelerates our progress toward catastrophe. Deming and Juran, the two management experts given most of the credit for making the quality of Japanese manufactured goods world class, argued that poor performance indicated an unaddressed system problem. Rejecting their contention, Goals 2000 and No Child Left Behind assume instead that “the system” is basically sound. They blame poor performance on the people in the system and use the news media to subject educators and students to annual barrages of counterproductive public shaming. Defenders of the current thrust of reform say those who oppose it should stop making excuses, stop whimpering about standards and accountability and get to work to close the achievement gap. Yet doing with greater diligence what we’ve done for the past 100 years simply accelerates our progress toward catastrophe. If, as I’m arguing, our schools aren’t quality operations and if, as Deming and Juran argued, poor quality means there’s an unaddressed system problem, what is that problem? What part of the massive, complex institution of public education are we failing to examine because its ubiquitousness has made it part of the woodwork? What system component needs to be hauled up into consciousness and inspected with fresh eyes? The curriculum. The curriculum that’s been in place since 1892. The curriculum that unexamined personal experience has convinced us is “how it’s supposed to be.” The curriculum whose validity every current major reform effort fails to question, choosing instead to pursue it with greater rigor or to play with class size, school size, length of day, length of year, variable staffing, shared decision making, looping, grouping, flexible scheduling, technology, merit pay, vouchers, charters, choice, business partnerships, parent partnerships, privatization and testing. The curriculum, what’s taught and what’s learned, is what the whole institution is supposed to be all about and it’s largely ignored, treated as if it made no difference. Doing with greater diligence what we’ve done for the past 100 years simply accelerates our progress toward catastrophe.
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Jan 28, 2012