Governor Strickland's office recently shared his "Roadmap for Academic Reforms," which appears to be the forerunner or prelude to the governor's long-awaited plan for renewing and strengthening K-12 education in Ohio. The present document, regrettably, is not only devoid of specifics but also brimming with catchy buzz phrases and trendy eduspeak nostrums. As a public service to readers, Gadfly has provided the following translation:
Exciting 21st Century Learning Environments:
Governor's proposal: Our schools must become collaborative continuous learning organizations that build a culture of strong relationships, professionalism, collaboration, and common purpose for all students.
Gadfly translates: Our schools will be leaderless, directionless centers of feel-goodism.
Governor's proposal: Our schools must become a place where everyone feels safe, not just through metal detectors, but through high expectations, strong discipline, positive behavior interventions, a nurturing attention to the needs of each person, and a collective sense of responsibility by parents, educators, and community for our students to be competitive in the 21st century.
Gadfly translates: Our schools will not have the intestinal fortitude to rid themselves of misbehaving students or ineffectual teachers.
Governor's proposal: Strategies to enhance creativity and innovation in the classroom must be encouraged and developed as an integral part of Ohio's educational system to prepare our students for the 21st century.
Gadfly translates: Students may not learn proper grammar, spelling, or arithmetic but they'll be rewarded for doing things their own way.
Governor's proposal: Schools must become a place that acknowledges and recognizes the importance of global awareness and cultural competence. Our diversity in Ohio is an important asset in a global and interdependent world.
Gadfly translates: Let's focus on the pluribus and forget the unum, along with history, civics, and patriotism.
Governor's proposal: Schools must create a stronger connection to our families and the larger community to provide the necessary supports and additional opportunities to ensure academic success for our students.
Gadfly translates: If the teachers fail to teach students in school, parents (and "society") are to blame.
Governor's proposal: Standards and curriculum must continue to focus rigor and core knowledge but also establish expectations for our students to learn the 21st century skills that will empower them to be successful in an ever changing global marketplace.
Gadfly translates: When their jobs are outsourced to China because they lack sufficient knowledge of science and math themselves, Ohio's graduates will feel really good about communicating thoughtfully in Mandarin.
Governor's proposal: Academic performance measures must continue to support accountability, but must also utilize multiple measures to provide educators with diagnostic information about the day to day learning of our students and to demonstrate a wide range of competencies and skills.
Gadfly translates: Instead of those nasty standardized tests on which the performance of students and schools can actually be tracked and compared in ways that parents, policymakers, and educators can understand, we'll use individualized portfolios, performances, and demonstrations which cannot be reliably scored or compared by anybody..
Governor's proposal: Additional time during the learning day is needed for educators to collaborate and share best practices.
Gadfly translates: The less time teachers spend in actual classrooms with actual pupils, the better. We'll make sure that gets into the next contract.
Governor's proposal: Increasing the number of learning days during the year is essential and will provide opportunities for all students to achieve higher levels of success.
Gadfly translates: So long as the grownups' pay rises commensurately-or maybe more than that.
Governor's proposal: How teachers teach is critical to the learning process. Students should be able to answer: Why an issue matters? What are the facts of a particular issue? How does the knowledge apply to real life? And, how academic content can be understood, enriched, and applied using creative thinking?
Gadfly translates: We don't much care if they end up knowing when or why the Civil War was fought, where Singapore is in relation to Tokyo, or how to factor equations with two unknowns.
Governor's proposal: Effective support strategies must be in place to provide all students with an opportunity for academic success, regardless of their personal situation, and to once and for all eliminate the achievement gap.
Gadfly translates: Schools need more social workers, counselors, and other paid adults.
Governor's proposal: Educating the whole child, which includes wellness, physical education, emotional development, behavioral development, academic development, arts, music, will enhance the opportunities for student success.
Gadfly translates: We can ease off that annoying focus on reading and math and those nasty tests by which achievement is measured.
Governor's proposal: There must be seamless alignment between our institutions of higher education and our K-12 classrooms to provide educators with the training and professional development to ensure the success for our students.
Gadfly translates: Teachers need more ed school courses-and let's crack down on anything that resembles expedited "alternative paths" into the classroom or principal's office.
Governor's proposal: The preparation for becoming a teacher must involve a residency experience in which an aspiring educator receives an opportunity to obtain technical knowledge and real world experience in our classrooms.
Gadfly translates: The longer and more complex a teacher's pre-service preparation, the better for ed schools-and the harder it gets for anyone unconventional to try teaching. Let's make sure Teach for America and such never want to come to Ohio.
Governor's proposal: There must be opportunities for our best teachers to remain in the classroom to serve as mentors and coaches for each other by providing opportunities for professional growth and advancement in the profession.
Gadfly translates: But no performance-based pay under any circumstances, the heck with Obama.
Governor's proposal: Through tracking the annual achievement of students we can improve the whole system by acknowledging successful teachers while encouraging ineffective teachers to leave the profession.
Gadfly translates: We'll "acknowledge" successful teachers rather than reward them-but even identifying them will be impossible once we get rid of those irksome standardized tests.
Governor's proposal: We must create a pipeline for talented individuals to enter the profession.
Gadfly translates: And we'll make sure that pipeline runs through ed schools, "independent" professional standards boards dominated by union members and ed-school faculty, and complex certification procedures managed by state bureaucrats.
Efficient Accountability and Resource Management Systems:
Governor's proposal: There must be performance benchmarks and high quality operational standards in place to create an equal environment for all K-12 educational institutions that receive public dollars for the state.
Gadfly translates: We'll regulate the charter schools (and why not private schools and home schoolers, while we're at it) till they can't breathe.
Governor's proposal: Improving the operational and fiscal accountability of all schools throughout Ohio's educational system is critically important, and must become a hallmark of our approach to organizing and funding the services and programs that meet the needs of our students.
Gadfly translates: We'll make sure that all non-traditional Ohio schools-charter schools, private schools, STEM schools, home schoolers-toil under the same regulatory constraints and costs that burden conventional district-run schools.
Governor's proposal: Leveraging the resources and services of our ESCs will improve the day to day operations of local school districts.
Gadfly translates: An expansion of middle management in the public-education system will create yet more jobs for adults and additional intrusions into the operation of schools-while relaxing the pressure on the Ohio Department of Education to do much at all.
Governor's proposal: Incentivising our schools in need of improvement to pursue aggressive strategies to improve teaching and learning for our students that require the most attention.
Gadfly translates: Devising new means of persuading bad schools to do what they should have been doing all along-but not making any grownups uncomfortable, jeopardizing anybody's job, or giving the kids any opportunity to flee to greener education pastures.
Governor's proposal: Create effective communication tools to inform the public about the fiscal and operational condition of the schools that receive public dollars from the state.
Gadfly translates: Like Joel Klein in New York City, we'll hire lots more public relations flacks to tout the "successes" of our schools and school systems.
Governor's proposal: Improving our technology system to meet the needs of our students in the 21st Century.
Gadfly translates: We still don't know how to use the computers that we have but we'll get some more.