Do you ever have trouble following the thread of the conversation when you talk to these ed-reformer types? Once they learn the patois of that industry, it's hard to understand what they're really saying. It's all "data-driven", "no excuses", "you're supporting the status quo", "we have to break up the government monopoloy". It goes on and on. What are They Saying?
Thankfully, Chicago blogger Karen Fraid is not afraid to try to sort it all out for us. My perception is that the reform agenda in Chicago is comparable to the reform agenda in Memphis and Tennessee.
Take a look at "Volume I" and "Volume II" of her Reform-to-English dictionary. The Washington Post picked up the posts, and published the first volume. UPDATE: Volume III is out!
Here are some of my favorites:
Accountability (noun): The act of holding children responsible for choosing to be born into the wrong families or in the wrong geographic locations. Alternately, the act of penalizing teachers who do not advise at-risk students to quit school quickly and avoid wasting everyone’s time and money.
High-Stakes Test (noun): An assessment in which the margin of error is often greater than the desired gains; nevertheless, such assessments have the power to close schools, fire teachers, cause children to repeat a grade, defund districts or schools, cause states and municipalities to lose funding, fire administrators, shame communities, stifle economic growth, increase dropout rates, disenfranchise parents and children, increase race-based segregation, increase crime rates, raise taxes, burden local governments, increase poverty, pit neighbors against each other, determine which students can attend well-funded schools or institutes of higher learning…[Editor’s note: Actually, this term is pretty much right-on. -K.F.]
Incentivize (verb): To make people offers they literally can’t refuse.
21st Century Skills (plural noun): These are what students gain when an educator is replaced with an iPad. How else will kids ever get enough screen time if we don’t provide it in schools?
School Choice (noun): This is when politicians choose to close a public school and instead choose to pay their campaign donors to operate a charter school. School choice also refers to subsidizing upper-income families and religious institutions with tax dollars, often redirected from “failing schools.” School choice also refers to the choice made by charter and private schools to discriminate against students with disabilities, students in extreme poverty and high-risk students by choosing policies guaranteed to skim only the students that they choose. School choice is also used as a tool to stem the tide of white flight, without having to convince white folks to spend time with those unlike themselves.
Boy, she's good.