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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Are There Better Uses for the Red Pen?

Protesters take shelter under umbrellas from heavy rain in Hong Kong on 30 September

Shanghai, China, aced last year's PISA tests, hitting scores to catapult it into first place.  Yet, the disconnect between high test scores and democratic rights remains startling.  Despite a system supposedly championing workers, factory conditions smack of nineteenth-century America.  With school expenses too high for some families to afford, many of the people of the People's Republic seem to have their chances of getting ahead severely curtailed.  The recent demands of the people of Hong Kong for more political voice only emphasize the need for change that goes far beyond the school system.

Maybe besides focusing on test scores, "reformers" should take a look at the wider society--not just in China, but in the U.S.A., too.  Poverty is on the rise.  Workers find it increasingly difficult to make ends meet.  In the world of education, profiteers swarm overhead like vultures.  The Common Core is a supreme distraction from the more compelling, yet harder to solve, ills facing society.  As Shanghai considers bowing out of participation in PISA's's rote learning for standardized tests, we might consider doing the same.  For the same reasons, we might better bow out of the "Common" Core.  

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