"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common." - Albert Einstein

Monday, October 14, 2013

Why Evidence Behind Education Reforms Is Necessary

We have heard of the "snake oil salesman". Wikipedia describes a snake oil salesman is someone who knowingly sells fraudulent goods or who is himself or herself a fraud, quack, charlatan, and the like. Schools do not need snake oil. Philippine basic education can not afford to waste both time and its limited resources on something that is unproven. Unfortunately, in desperate times, snake oil seems very attractive.

Above cartoon copied from
So much trouble in the world
In the United States, there are various reforms that are not backed by solid evidence. Some of these reforms do look promising. Some may even sound logical. One thing I learned in doing science is that most of the times, ideas really sound good. Still, most do not work. For this reason, a hypothesis must be tested. Evidence is always required.

The following is a comment I read from Gary Rubinsteins's blog. It was a comment from Dan M. And it was illustrating how some of the fancy, seemingly logical, and eye-catching ideas regarding education reform are wrong. Here are parts of that comment:
Rhee, Perry, and Parker said the cure to solving education is: 1) crush unions; 2) institute merit pay based on test scores; 3) fire teachers based on test scores; 4) let the private sector… in the form of charter schools… take over and privatize most, or all of the public schools. 
Well, as I tried to point out, the states—the Carolinas and the Deep South—they have been able to do all these things for decades… and have been intensively engaging in them during the last decade, so SHOULDN’T THEY BE AT THE TOP IN TERMS OF ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT? 
No, they’re at the bottom! Conversely, shouldn’t the states with
strong unions, and that cannot engage in these dubious, unproven, so-called “reforms” be AT THE BOTTOM? 
No, they’re at the top! Furthermore, is there a country on earth
with a successful education system that has ever operated the way Rhee insists this country’s education system should be run? 
Does Finland, the model for the world, have any of the following: 
Teach for Finland?
KIPP Finland?
the Finnish Parent Trigger?
the Finnish merit pay system based on student test scores?
union-busting organizations like Students First / Finland? 
No, it has none of this. 
No. The country that has a system closest to the one pushed by Rhee, Broad, Gates, Walton and others… is Chile… which has, thanks to a CIA coup and decades of ZERO democracy, instituted all of Rhee’s beloved practices. 
The result? 
The education system there is an unmitigated, free market disaster… with stratification, low academic achievement, zero democratic oversight of the privatized system… with the only folks benefiting being the “bosses” of these Walmart-ized chains of schools. Every other subgroup—students, parents, teachers, citizens—are worse off, and thus, the protests in that country are ramping up every year.
There is plenty of evidence out there....

1 comment:

  1. And the catholic institutions are benefiting from this. Tsk. tsk.