Iron Chef Education

I guess we have our official new education buzz phrase to replace “no child left behind”.

Race to the Top

Does anyone else think that sounds like the title of a game show?

Reading news reports from last week’s reveal of Obama’s new education reform proposal reminded me of one of those television cooking contests.

As near as I can tell, the federal government is going to divvy up a huge pot of money among contestants states who take the same secret ingredients and mix them together into an educational stew, one that will like be only slightly different from one plate to the next.

But the pieces of this new educational recipe really aren’t all that new.

On Friday, Obama will officially announce the “Race to the Top,” a competition for $4.35 billion in grants. He wants states to use funds to ease limits on charter schools, tie teacher pay to student achievement and move for the first time toward common academic standards.

Of course the primary method currently used to assess student learning will continue to be the corporate produced and scored multiple choice test, a vehicle which is cheap and easy but offers little or no real information.

Only now we’re going to have a national version of these “assessments”, with student scores linked to the pay of their teachers.

The Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan calls this plan Education reform’s moon shot.

It sounds more like a low-rent cooking show in which the cooks use third-rate ingredients to make the same minimally-acceptable meal.