Laura H. Chapman: Drowning in Standards


Passing this on!

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Laura H. Chapman, a retired teacher and curriculum advisor in the arts, posted this comment:

People who work in the “orphaned subjects” have a long history of playing tag-a-long to subjects deemed to be “core.” There is a persistent hope that writing standards in great detail will some how get you a bit more curriculum time.
Just published standards in Music, Dance, Theater, Visual Art, and Media Studies (new discipline) seem to have been written in the wild hope that all of the standards will be tested with “authentic” assessments.

These standards are grade-specific, starting in Pre-K. The standards come to a screeching halt in high school, with three levels defining studies: Proficient, Accomplished, and Advanced. The writers of the standards wanted a parallel structure for each art form.

I have seen the standards for the visual arts and media arts, Each of these art forms has acquired 234 standards…

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Learning Modalities


My son NIck’s Latest blog

Originally posted on Nicholas Meier:

There is a common belief in education that knowing one’s, or one’s students’, preferred learning modality is important or at least helpful in designing learning strategies for ourselves or them. When I do a search of learning modalities I find dozens of articles in educational journals about how to use this information and why it is important. The interesting thing is that the empirical evidence does not support the claim, despite its popularity. And this lack of support is not for lack of investigation.


First I want to be clear on what learning modalities are and are not. They are basically the receptive modes of taking in the world, of learning—most commonly aural (hearing,), visual (seeing), and kinesthetic (feeling, touching). These are not to be confused with learning styles (of which there are many versions) such as field dependent or independent, liking to work alone or with others, risk-avoidant or…

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Subverting Big Money’s Attack on Public Education

See my article in the most recent issue of Democratic Left.

The Better Way to Improve Education: Invest and Trust

(this is a reblog)

Slaves to Robots

Reposted from

“The danger of the past was that men became slaves. The danger of the future is that man may become robots.” –Erich Fromm

Peru and NDSG

Dear friends and readers all,

I came back recently from a trip—to Peru and Texas.  I am feeling elated even though it is partially probably an illusion of hope that springs eternal.  Of course, a week with my granddaughter is enough to make anyone feel good about life and the future. She made me do more walking than I have grown accustomed to, and to try my hand (?) at hang-gliding over the city and ocean. And the sunsets we watched together gave me the feeling I have about rainbows, with a bucket of good news at their ends.  In short it was glorious.

Deb hanggliding

Then came 3 days in southeast Texas with my annual North Dakota Study Group of friends and newcomers. There were a great many newcomers this year—mostly from the region itself.  They bring a fresh perspective on the way I see the world—for many reasons.  Many are young, many are Latino—mostly with Mexican roots—and involved in many different ways in organizing communities and unions in Texas. They required me to rethink what it meant to be an immigrant on land that was once part of your “homeland” roots, while also seeing yourself as a citizen of the future of the United States. I have not quite the words to explain this as yet. But their collective determination to remake the future gave me courage to look ahead with rosier glasses.

Then I came home determined to keep the glow alive. I even avoided going back to my serious reading and am two thirds the way through rereading Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.  But, the world intrudes—like daily newspaper and magazine stories about the situation in Rikers Island and Attica prisons, as well as official US policy regarding the use of torture. I want to shut them out, for the sake of peace of mind, but I dare not. It is perhaps a healthy sign, I say to myself, that we are reading so much more these days about torture and abuse, and our own role as citizens in perpetuating it in our own backyard.

It is time to feel both optimistic about “what could be”—imagining otherwise, as Maxine Greene used to put it, while also being angry, and letting the anger motivate us to react to what is.

My reaction to the 3-hour interview on C-Span with Lani Guanier—another day.

Rank Order

Dear readers,

Alan Singer sent out an e-mail entitled “Let’s Rank Everybody.” The scary thing is when satire seems like reality. With doctors being ranked by mortality rate of patients, police on recidivism of arrestees (or maybe that should rank prisons?), sanitation workers on how clean the streets are an hour after, and on and on. Actually we know what happens when “merit” pay goes to cops who arrest more people. It is interesting to think of who would rank where on other such metrics.


Lani Guinier once presented data that demonstrated that lawyers with lower LSATs do MORE pro bono work than lawyers with high LSATs. So maybe that’s a rank order we should turn on its head—if we’re thinking about the common good.

Once one is “required” to differentiate people in a way that can produce a rank order—or in the old days, a normal curve—the deck is stacked. Anything will do, or… How can one prove that any of these are valid?

In another article describing the problems with choice, a researcher notes with surprise that parent don’t always choose higher achieving schools. Why?? But in most cases that “higher achieving” simply means schools with more White and rich people taking the test. It is not the school that has a higher score, but it is students. And we know what that higher test scores correlates with directly—income and above all total wealth.

It might be interesting to rank order the percentage of their income that people give to charity. Gates and company might not look quite as generous as the nice little old poor black lady who gives regularly at her church. We also know that old lady may well be paying a higher portion of her income to keep the nation floating, that is paying her taxes (both income and sales).