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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Maybe Obama's kids' school should be model for reform



Sidwell friends Before he died unexpectedly on Oct. 20, nationally known education researcher Gerald Bracey (bestower of the Rotten Apple awards) took fresh aim at President Obama's education agenda. In his 18th and final Bracey Report, he followed up on another researcher who suggested Obama should make the model of education he chose for his daughters -- at the Sidwell Friends private school -- a model for national reform.

In my opinion, the Obama/Duncan approach would only exacerbate the problems created by our industrial model -- national academic standards and a national test, merit pay for higher test scores, a longer school day, a longer school week, a longer school year and charter schools handed off to entrepreneurs. More math, more science. This is an industrial command-and-control model on steroids.

Sidwell, by contrast, encourages a rich interdisciplinary curriculum designed to stimulate inquiry; the expression of artistic abilities; reflection; "stewardship of the natural world"; service to others; scientific investigation; creative expression; group as well as individual learning; personalization of learning and education of the whole person ...

Bracey offered similar insights two weeks before he died, in an interview with the St. Petersburg Times.

The Times called to ask him about Jeb Bush's road tour, and -- surprise -- he wasn't impressed. But he went on to agree with other observers who said Jeb may be more influential in a political climate where Bracey didn't see much daylight between presidents Bush and Obama on education.

"In my paranoid moments, I see a bigger group behind this," Bracey also said. "I see a corporate agenda behind all this rather than a political agenda. I think there is an agenda to ultimately privatize virtually every aspect of public schools. ... We're up now to what? $600 billion a year in K-12 alone? That's an existing market. You don't have to invent an iPod or an iPhone. It's there."

And now, he said, it looks like Republicans and Democrats are backing the same agenda. "That's my fear," he said.

(Photo from


[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:41am]


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