Friday, October 27, 2017

In Education, What's Wrong with the "It's-the-Best-We've Got Rationale?"

Over the years, as the waves of new reform efforts, federal policy initiatives, and latest educational fads have ebbed and flowed, all of them have been met by critics who questioned their efficacy and their logic. I've been one of those critics myself. What has always fascinated me was the defense of these sometimes reform measures. Take value-added measures for example.

When the statistical wizardry of value-added measures emerged, I distinctly remember their being justified as "the best measurement we've got"when their efficacy was questioned. Does anyone else see the error in that justification? Being the "best we've got" doesn't necessary make it the most effective and best means to measure learning and teaching. Rubbing two sticks together to make fire was the "best we had" until someone figured out flint rocks work better. The "best we've got" rationale doesn't necessarily equate with being effective or even right.

The next time someone uses the "best-we've-got" rationale to justify an educational practice of any kind, we should immediately call them out.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Where Have I Been and Why I've Not Been Blogging

I realize my blogposts have dropped off precipitously lately, but there is a simple explanation: I've been working on my doctoral dissertation. The simple truth is that all the writing energy I could muster has been directed toward the creation of that document. Now, I am drawing closer to finishing it. My hope is to defend in November, and then graduate in December. It has been one of the most difficult things I have ever done.

I won't bore you with the details of my dissertation, after all, I am not entirely sure anyone would wish to read it anyway. But, I will say that it has been one of the most challenging things I've ever undertaken. With the end drawing near, I certainly hope to once again take up this blog again after this process is done. If anything, I might just have more to contribute to the conversation about public education more now than I ever have.