With Iowa rankings on national NAEP assessments dropping; with Iowa’s best educators unable to write competent concept-based curriculum; with Iowa using low standards to artificially appear better (such as increased graduation rates); with Iowa educators unable to write concept-based assessments (thus having to purchase them from states doing better); and Iowa educators manipulating data to try to get some positive media coverage, here are three steps educators must take.
Understand, and admit to the public (as a form of confession) what went wrong with education. Concept-based education, in place for thousands of years (Plato even wrote about it), was intentionally dropped by the U.S. after 1900 because of a false belief eugenics was a valid science, and all the immigrants flocking to the country (as well as other demographic groups) lacked abilities, so education focus became teaching “proper American thinking.”
This not only embedded discrimination in teacher training programs, but it led directly to the complete adoption of the system of memorization after the 1954 Brown vs Board of Education Supreme Court decision to integrate schools. States controlled from the state level down changed immediately, but Iowa’s system of local control allowed schools to change over time. Anyone attending public school from about 1960 on had a system of memorization. Teacher training programs only taught methods for memorization, no concepts, and no adjustments for the various learning styles. Demographic groups that could see no reason to memorize data (because much of it had no bearing on their lives) did not do well, but the embedded discrimination did not expect them to, so no assessment was made for the processes of this system.
As students with learning styles incompatible with memorization also fell behind, new rationalizations for this arose (calling these victims “disabled”), thus avoiding responsibility for the results of a dysfunctional system, so proper assessments of the process were never done, and standards were lowered every few years. Calls for change were ignored, so over fifty years later the government intervened. Acknowledge to the public (and to themselves) they are victims of this dysfunctional system (if they attended public school), and they are also victims of the dysfunctional teacher training programs that continue to use the wrong materials and theories. Teachers are in need of remediation before they can effectively teach. Agree to help remediate those adults who want to improve their skills now for today’s world.