The correct and inevitable guilty verdict in the sad case of the “Atlanta Cheating Scandal” is a reminder that the current system of high-stakes testing drives all participants in schooling to their wits’ ends—and beyond. Surely parents want the best for their children, teachers want the best for their students, administrators want the best for their schools, superintendents want the best for their districts. But when it all boils down to a few numbers, and the numbers can, carefully, surreptitiously, and illegally, be changed, it should not surprise us that the temptation to do so becomes irresistible, in some cases.
[image source: http://www.featurepics.com/FI/Thumb300/20110801/Cheating-Test-1956141.jpg]
The Proceedings of a conference, Learning In and Out of School: Education Across the Globe, held at the University of Notre Dame's Kellogg Institute for International Studies on May 22-23, 2012, are now available!
This is envisioned as a contribution to broadening the scholarly but also the public conversation about the nature of learning and its relationship to the formal institutions we know as schools. In that sense, posting proceedings is a necessary offering.
We—anthropologists, psychologists, human development and education scholars from as far as Korea and Alaska—met for two full days during a gorgeous spring week just following graduation, with flowers and warmth and the peace of an academic year just completed. We ate wonderful food throughout the day and night, and had many informal conversations along with the formal proceedings. As convener, I aimed to implement my best understanding of how people learn and how they interact by structuring the conference with no papers delivered. This is somewhat like “flipping the classroom”: the independent preliminary work that could be done in advance was done in advance—writing and reading papers and preparing comments on others’ work—and the precious face-to-face time was used for what could only be done that way: discussing, asking, brainstorming, and laughing together.
Just after the 2013 gaokao, Chinese parents in one small city complained, rioted, saying, "We want fairness. There is no fairness if you do not let us cheat."
There is a drama unfolding even as I write: thirty-five suspects have been indicted in a criminal conspiracy, and only a few of them have surrendered to authorities. They face decades in prison and millions of dollars in fines. The deadline for all to give themselves up is today.
Is this about drugs? Kidnapping? Treason? Securities fraud?
Nothing so alien as that; it is an everyday criminal context: It’s about administrators and teachers changing answers on standardized tests in order to boost their schools’ and districts’ scores
President Barack Hussein Obama was re-elected in a landslide.
We progressives who donated time and money to ensure that this happened have a right to be pleased.
But now it is time for loyal critics to speak up. And one area that must be attended to is education—at all levels. That unmentionable education radical Bill Ayers—someone Obama once knew but had to repudiate—wrote a letter to Arne Duncan explaining clearly what is wrong with the current system, but it does not quite go far enough.