Schools Matter

Six Degrees of Insanity: "Reforming" Education

Popular culture's six degrees of separation (a claim that each person is separated from any other person by six connections) spawned a film of that name and a trivia game, six degrees of Kevin Bacon.

The current education reform movement, hell-bent on accountability, has recently moved into a phase that has not been recognized nearly as well as its pop-culture cousins: Six Degrees of Insanity.

Starting in the early 1980s, this accountability movement began by focusing accountability mandates (built on standards and standardized tests) on schools and students. Over the next thirty years (despite abundant evidence that the accountability-standards-testing paradigm does not work), that momentum has more recently turned the same accountability mantra on teachers and then teacher educators.

The consequences of that insanity was highlighted for me recently when I received an email from a new teacher who certified in the program where I am a teacher educator (I taught high school English in rural SC for 18 years before entering teacher certification, where I have been for a decade). That email told me that she was being trained to implement the Common Core State Standards, adopted by SC.

Let me pause briefly to note that this new teacher holds a content degree from our university as well as certification, was highly regarded by her content professors, was overwhelmingly identified as an outstanding new teacher by our education department as well as her co-teacher during her field placement, and was a prized candidate for a position among several schools after graduating.

This new teacher came across the following guideline while being trained:

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