Krashen on Standards

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5 thoughts on “Krashen on Standards”

  1. I was just discussing this on Friday with a good friend and very smart woman who teaches high-school English in a poverty-plagued school here in the Bay Area. In another of the endless meetings with her department “about the standards”, the only two people who object to the discussions about rigor, which to most in the department means “assigning more books to be read (that, of course, are above the students’ reading levels”, etc., are one other guy and her–both 50+ in age and considered dinosaurs instead of experienced and competent professionals. I digress.
    When I ask her if anyone in the department ever questions “the standards”, their origin, how they will be assessed, who paid for them, who has a stake in them, why children of poverty, who didn’t do well with the last set of standards, will do any better with this next set, she says, “No.”. The standards have been swallowed hook, line, and sinker by younger staff.
    Anyone who dares to bring up how the effects of poverty affect the education levels of kids, is given the same party line I have heard for over 35 years: “There is nothing we can do about those issues as teachers. We need to concentrate on what we can do here at school to mitigate their problems and their low scores.” (Discussion over)
    I want to know a few specific things about those schools and teachers in Seattle who said NO to more testing. How did they get young teachers on board? How did they get parents on board? They couldn’t have done what they did without those two groups.

    1. I think young teachers are impressionable, and if there is positive, courageous, and intrepid leadership from the veteran teachers, they will follow suit. I would imagine you find those qualities in many school teachers in Seattle… they just think about and challenge stuff more.
      Re that article from Krashen, I’m glad someone got the thread up again. As I re-read it, I couldn’t stop thinking about Chomsky’s words about the acceptable scope of debate in this country. Of course it leads my mind quickly to prez debates where only two parties can share the stage. But then it got me thinking about the politics within our own schools, and particularly the student body representation. I don’t work with the student council, so I may be wrong, but they are given just a few things to debate and decide on. Nothing big really. More like, “Which movie would you like to watch for your free day in May?” or “What are the homecoming week dress-up themes?”. Nothing of any consequence, unfortunately. If we were to encourage more input and decision-making from the student body in our schools, I imagine we’d see more intrepid young teachers once they got out. Oh boy, somebody (not here) is going to accuse me of being an idealist pretty soon… I better hush up.

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