Saturday, June 3, 2017

CURMUDGUCATION: Paperwork

CURMUDGUCATION: Paperwork:

Paperwork

Rick Hess had a good piece this week that called back to one of my favorite films--





Hess noticed that much of the ESSA planning rolling in looks suspiciously like TPS report work.

But you rarely see the paper-shufflers get as much ink or as many pats on the back as you do in schooling. One of the more striking examples of this is the recent fascination with state plans for the Every Student Succeeds Act (especially where they build on decades of paper-driven plans to improve "teacher quality"). For reasons that escape me, ESSA's required federal filings, which have been assembled by hordes of well-meaning state officials and consultants, have been treated not as largely meaningless paper exercises but as something deserving of breathless notice from education advocates and press (including American Idol-style contests and foundation-funded independent review boards).

There is something childishly naive about the bureaucratic belief in the power of paperwork to bend reality. This is not a new feature in education. You may recall that Race To The Top and RttT Lite (More waivers, less money) both featured a required plan for moving high-quality teachers around to districts in need. Nobody ever figured out how such a thing could possibly be achieved-- but everybody had a plan about how to achieve it.



The grandaddy of modern useless paperwork would have to be all the district plans for "aligning" curriculum, the process by which we were all supposed to adapt our curricula to the Common Core State [sic] Standards. In many districts, the process was pretty simple.

1) Wipe dust off old curriculum.
2) Write down standards numbers beside old curriculum items
3) Add new items to curriculum to "bridge gaps."
4) Put curriculum binder back on shelf to gather more dust.
5) Go back to teaching your class as you had intended to in the first place.

Meanwhile, folks on the state level threw giant parties to celebrate how they'd reshaped the face of 
CURMUDGUCATION: Paperwork:

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