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  Education Research - A Parent's OpEd  

Old Research – I

Posted: 19 Oct 2012 11:09 AM PDT

I prefer calling education reform “parental choice” instead of “school choice” because it’s the schools that have been making all the decisions for many decades now while shunting aside the concerns of parents, often ruthlessly.  Parents receive very little respect, even while the schools insist that they welcome parental involvement.  One of the most ridiculous contradictions of OBE/ Blueprint 2000 was the Educators’ moaning and groaning over the lack of parental involvement and how dysfunctional so many of the parents were – when there we were, hundreds strong, screaming bloody murder against all these horrible “reforms” being shoved down our children’s throats.  The E’s didn’t want our involvement in the form of opinions; they wanted us involved in taking all the blame for our children’s failures. 

If there had been universal parental choice during those dark days of the 90’s when that latest onslaught of “dumbnation” started coming down, we would have been able to nip it in the bud.  When the schools didn’t respond to our concerns, we could’ve taken our kids elsewhere.  (Many of us did, but the alternatives back then were extremely expensive).  And, in fact, if earlier generations of parents hadn’t gradually lost their voices and their choices, they would have been able to prevent the wholesale decline of the American public school system by refusing to have children used as guinea pigs for decades worth of often pointless, repetitive education research.

Research such as the following on student motivation:

“Specified Comment students, regardless of teacher or student differences, all received comments designated in advance for each letter grade, as follows:
A. Excellent!  Keep it up.
B. Good work.  Keep it up.
C. Perhaps try to do still better?
D. Let’s bring this up.
F.  Let’s raise this grade!


So an A student who suddenly gets an F gets a robotic response from a teacher who is ignoring who the student is, or no comment at all, in two-thirds of the classes.  How many of these students’ parents were informed that this was going to be happening to their children?  I’m guessing none of them.

Educational researchers will often have an idea (hypothesis) of the results of various experiments to the point of knowing which methods will probably have a positive, neutral or a negative effect on achievement.  They will go ahead and implement the negatively effective method anyway.  In fact, the bigger the difference in the quality of teaching methods the better, because that way they get more significant “experimental variances” – which is how these folks get their jollies. 

“Suppose an investigator tests the relative efficacies of three different methods of teaching a physical education skill.  After teaching three groups of children, each group being taught by a different method, he compares the means of the groups. ….. (bunch of math) … In the methods experiment just described, presumably the methods tend to ‘bias’ the achievement scores one way or another.  This is, of course, the experimenter’s purpose: he wants Method A, say, to increase all the achievement scores of an experimental group.  He may believe that Method B will have no effect of achievement, and that Method C will have a depressing effect.”  (Kerlinger, FBR, 1964, pg. 98)

Mom and Dad tell the gym teacher he/she is teaching the skill incorrectly.  And nothing changes.

Quote from R. Koenker, “Arithmetic Readiness at the Kindergarten Level,” Journal of Educational Psychology, XLII (1948)

“….in an interesting little experiment on arithmetic readiness in the kindergarten child, Koenker manipulated experimental groups by giving them an enriched-numbers and arithmetic-concepts program.  He held his control groups constant or at the same level by not giving them a readiness program, by letting them have the regular kindergarten program ‘without enrichment’.  Statistically speaking, he was trying to increase the between-groups variance.  (He succeeded.)” (FBR, pg 99)

Were parents given the option of having their children participate in the arithmetic readiness program?  Since the readiness program was obviously successful, why don’t all kindergartens have it available?  Even almost ten years after the results of this experiment were published, when I was in kindergarten, we played and learned rules and how to button our coats.  My parents would’ve definitely opted for arithmetic readiness.

There’s a lot more evidence of our school system having lost its bearings because of the influence of research dollars that have been pouring into our schools for many decades now.  They don’t seem to realize that what they’ve been doing is wrong, so their work is in full view in publications and papers and books – work paid for by the American taxpayers.  It’s ours, and we need to start using it to make our own choices for our children.


Copyright 1999-2009, Independent Voices for Better Education, Inc.