Saturday, May 12, 2012

Jeb Bush and Global Education Reform Movement (GERM)

Will Richardson shared this video and called it required viewing for every parent and educator who wants a better picture of the global education reform movement (GERM), and I agree.

If I can find the time, effort and patience, I really want to go through this video and offer some line by line critique.

Mike Thayer left this comment on Will Richardson's post. I think it speaks volumes:
The bottom line to me is, this is a talk about tactics; the fundamental strategy of the new educational reform movement is left unsaid.
According to Gov. Bush, the tactics for the new reformers are pretty simple. Tactically, the strategic goals will be achieved if the "reformers" are able to: 
1) Create the perception that "higher, better" standards will help solve the problems of education.
2) Create the perception that (public, only public) schools are failing.
3) Create the perception that there just need to be great teachers in every classroom, and all will be well.
4) Create the perception that technology will be the panacea. 
Here's the great part: For no particularly good reason, I actually believe that Gov. Bush believes each of these (that is, remove the words "create the perception" from each of the items above). And he has the conviction of the true believer. Anyway... 
The strategic goals are, as far as I can tell: 
1) To privatize education completely, or at least to corporatize it to the point that the contrast between public vs. private/charter/whatever schools would be a distinction without a difference.
2) To treat education as a field that could become a source of major profits for large corporations.
3) To make students who view knowledge as purely pragmatic, rather than providing them with means to be more critical or holistic thinkers. Having future consumers with a very simplified view of the world is good for business.
4) Etc. 
I think if we care about the ideal of truly public education, we need to develop strategies and tactics of our own. We are way behind the other side on this one, in my view.
I would also add Alfie Kohn's article Beware of School "Reformers" as required reading. With chilling accuracy, Kohn identifies the ingredients to be a school "reformer":
* a heavy reliance on fill-in-the-bubble standardized tests to evaluate students and schools, generally in place of more authentic forms of assessment; 
* the imposition of prescriptive, top-down teaching standards and curriculum mandates; 
* a disproportionate emphasis on rote learning—memorizing facts and practicing skills—particularly for poor kids; 
* a behaviorist model of motivation in which rewards (notably money) and punishments are used on teachers and students to compel compliance or raise test scores; 
* a corporate sensibility and an economic rationale for schooling, the point being to prepare children to “compete” as future employees; and 
* charter schools, many of which are run by for-profit companies.


  1. Regarding Mr. Bush really believing all this....True Belief is a much ignored feature of Evil. Hitler Pot, Stalin, Cheney...all of them really believed in what they were doing...they really believed that what they were trying to do was the Answer. We forget this, at our peril.

  2. Hand-over-my-mouth shock at most of the things coming out of this man's mouth! Please do not go down this path, Alberta...

  3. TOO late!! NZ government has fallen prey to this man's garbage. As a result we have hundreds of schools closing down, good teachers efforts are belittled, their livelihood at stake, indigenous children marginalized - because they are forced to adhere to standardization!
    NZ is not AMERICA... so why are we allowing American GERM infect our Education system...I just don't understand!!

  4. We have our own unique way of doing things, its called 'kiwi ingenuity' ... so why are we borrowing somebody else's ideas? Seriously, setting them up to fail, and then pigeon-holing them is NOT giving them the RIGHT to rise..Ok in all fairness, it might suit some children that bode well too standardization..however a majority of our learners are holistic thinkers..creative thinkers...etc...its through holistic thinkers that we derive 'kiwi ingenuity & innovation from'. We cannot limit our children's mind now by dictating to them how they should think according to someone's 'standard'. Seriously where is the FREEDOM in that!!


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