You, too, can talk like an "educator." The Washington Post explains.

At many schools, 6-year-olds don't compare books anymore -- they make "text-to-text connections." Misbehaving students face not detention but the "alternative instruction room," or "reinforcement room," or "reflection room." Children who once read now practice "SSR," or "sustained silent reading."

And in Maryland, high schoolers write "extended constructed responses" -- the essay, in a simpler time.

"Multiple choice" is now "selected response." ESL (English as a second language) became LEP (limited English-proficient) students and then ELL (English language learners) and now just EL (English learners). "In some schools, homeroom has become advisory or Achievement Time or even Time to Care."

I remember when our high school library was renamed the Instructional Materials Center, soon known redundantly as the IMC Center. Guidance became the Pupil Personnel Services Center. Students rarely are fooled, as the Post writes:

Robert Maeder, 17, a senior at Springbrook High School in Silver Spring, finds the terms demeaning -- especially "learning cottage," instead of "classroom trailer," and "assessment" for test.

"It's like renaming a prison 'The Happy Fun Place,' " Maeder said. "Tests should be called tests. 'Brief constructed response' -- you just wonder why they don't say 'paragraph.' It doesn't really serve any purpose renaming them."

Educators complain that parents aren't involved in their children's education, but how can parents be involved if they can't tell an outcome-based authentic assessment from a criterion-referenced assessment?

In Defense of Dr. Laura

Dr. Laura may be shrill, arrogant and wrong on many issues but she's right about the duty parents owe their children, writes Caitlin Flanagan in The Atlantic.

In a nutshell, Dr. Laura believes that many of the aspects of adult life that I had always considered complicated and messy and finely nuanced are in fact simple and clear-cut; that life ought to be neatly fitted around duty and responsibility rather than around the pursuit of that elusive old dog, happiness. This is what makes her the most compelling advocate for children I have thus far encountered, because the well-being of children often depends upon the commitment and obligation of the adults who created them.

. . . There are many of us who understand that once you have children, certain doors ought to be closed to you forever. That to do right by a child means more than buying him the latest bicycle helmet and getting him on the best soccer team. It means investing oneself completely in the marriage that wrought him, for there isn't a person in the world who won't date his moments of greatest happiness to the time his family was the most intact, whole, unshakable.

Flanagan is reviewing Dr. Laura's new book, The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands. Flanagan calls it "a bit of a turkey," combining the "surrendered wife" idea with "men are from Mars, women are from Venus."

Moral relativism at home and multiculturalism in school are catastrophic for children, writes Elizabeth Nickson in Canada's National Post. She says left-wing boomers are turning right to save their children. She praises The Epidemic: The Rot of American Culture, Absentee and Permissive Parenting, and the Resultant Plague of Joyless, Selfish Children by Robert Shaw, a Berkeley psychiatrist. (Once you’ve read the subtitle, you’ve read the book.)

Dr. Shaw lays out what he has seen in his long and (trust me) glittering career, and the only way out, he says, is essentially to sheer off from contemporary culture, somewhat like religious conservatives, and make your family an island.

He warns about “ideal” homes ”where the child's every need is filled.”

The parents are too busy making money to supervise anyone. Caregivers change repeatedly, leaving the kids in charge of their own psychological and moral development. . . . "The human soul," says Dr. Shaw, "prospers by sharing, caring, relating, understanding, fulfilling. ... many children today are inadvertently being raised to take and never give back, to accumulate but never share, to own but never value."

While Nickson puts much of the blame on schools, I think this is a parenting issue.

My goal was to raise the sort of person that I’d want to live with for 18 years. I figured I was stuck with her one way or the other. It worked pretty well.

Cheaters as Heroes

As a testing expert, Kimberly Swygert rips a new movie that makes heroes out of students who try to steal their upcoming SAT exam so they can cheat their way to The Perfect Score.

In the movie's version of morality, the would-be cheaters are preventing the SAT from "unfairly deciding who they'll become." Like who you'll become is decided by where you go to college, not by who you already are. A cheater. "The only way to truly decide one's fate is to beat the system." Yeah, split those infinitives! That'll show 'em.

Letters

Bill Spurlock of Manchester, Iowa, writes: 

As a just-retired teacher with 35 years of experience, I have seen the evolution (or is it "de-evolution"?) of behavior in boys.

After spending the last 24 years teaching at the middle school level, I think -- and one of the articles seems to strongly imply -- a case can be made that things start to fall apart academically at the middle school level. Here is where the accomplishments of elementary school start to unravel as the curriculum begins to instill the "feel good" attitude in students by telling students that there is no real right or wrong, just the problem of making poor choices.

And more and more we see the dividing of boys into Barbarians and Wimps starting at this level, with the Barbarians going out for sports and the Wimps going out for music. And the Barbarians are constantly rewarded from that point on for their loutish behavior by images on television, in the movies, and by lax discipline in the schools when they break rules.

Billy Bevard writes: 

After 21 years in the Air Force, over 20 years in aviation tech training and having earned a master's degree, I retired and started substitute teaching to stay busy. I thought that working with students in tech training would help prepare me for substitute teaching. I don't recall ever being so wrong.

 About 60 percent of the students made an effort to learn, but the remainder did nothing but create havoc in the classroom. From my discussions with the students, I feel the parents must share a great deal of the blame. Many of them simply don't care, and this attitude is transferred to the student.

 I had one set of parents tell me it was "the school's problem." Anyway, I could only stand a year and a half of the mess, then I moved on to adult education at a local community college.

The ex-Marine school principal writing in the Claremont Review is not overwrought.  He is on the money.

Randy Brunson writes:

I have been married 28 years to the same woman, and have a 22- year-old son and 20-year-old daughter. In my business life, I identify and develop young men in their twenties for leadership positions. There is very little in our culture, and almost nothing in our public schools, that gives these young men the examples they need to be leaders. 

There are some outstanding young men in the marketplace, and they became that way in large part because their father focused first on being their father instead of their buddy. Usually, this also involved staying married to and loving the boys’ mother. Unfortunately, too many of my peers have spent their lives chasing sex, drugs, and rock & roll. The good news is that we are changing that.

James J. Jochen, College Station, Texas:

I am age 78 and a very successful product of an education system where a bad grade on a test drew paddlings by the teacher, and then further punishment at home. Positive discipline is the hallmark of a good education system. A curriculum overloaded with cutesy electives spells disaster for the student in later life.

Tony Zito of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., writes:

On "foreign math," the phrase that jumped out at me in the linked article was the one about hiring experts in each field so that we can teach seriously about physics, chemistry and biology in all four years of high school. There's an idea about as foreign to U.S. high school education as any I can think of. When I was in school we were taught physics by a converted English teacher who had one year of undergraduate physics. Same thing goes on today: My daughter is learning (maybe!) biology from a guy who last taught it 17 years ago an has served as a gym teacher in the meantime.

Where will the money ever come from to lure specialists away from industry and research, when in some cities people spend more on garbage collection than on the public schools?

 Joanne Jacobs writes about education and other issues at JoanneJacobs.com. She’s writing a book, Ride the Carrot Salad, about a start-up charter high school in San Jose.

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