Quiz-bits of information, regurgitated at regular intervals and stored in vast computers

The laws that are in fashion demand tightly constrained curricula and reams of accountability data. All the better if it requires quiz-bits of information, regurgitated at regular intervals and stored in vast computers. Performance metrics, of course, are invoked like talismans. Distant authorities crack the whip, demanding quantitative measures and a stark, single number to encapsulate the precise achievement level of every child.

We seem to think that education is a thing – like a vaccine – that can be designed from afar and simply injected into our children. But as the Irish poet, William Butler Yeats said, “Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.”

This year, as you consider new education laws, I ask you to consider the principle of Subsidiarity. Subsidiarity is the idea that a central authority should only perform those tasks which cannot be performed at a more immediate or local level. In other words, higher or more remote levels of government, like the state, should render assistance to local school districts, but always respect their primary jurisdiction and the dignity and freedom of teachers and students.

Subsidiarity is offended when distant authorities prescribe in minute detail what is taught, how it is taught and how it is to be measured. I would prefer to trust our teachers who are in the classroom each day, doing the real work – lighting fires in young minds.

California Governor Jerry Brown via http://gov.ca.gov/news.php?id=17906

One Response to “Quiz-bits of information, regurgitated at regular intervals and stored in vast computers”

  1. Most countries have had national tests for years now. I don’t know if they micromanage things. We may be doing it because Common Core is new and the perception is training wheels are needed by the teachers? Or maybe there is money to be made by myriad contractors and vendors?

    Other developed and non-developed countries give you a text book, put some sort of teacher at the front of the class and then boom you take the national exam. And you know what? if you got bad grades: everybody knows its partly your school and partly you.

    The system we have is unmanageable.

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