Home
In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Jan. 27, 2010 / 12 Shevat 5770

Educanto and the English Language

By Paul Greenberg




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The plague is everywhere in American education, but particularly verbose examples of it are still worth noting. I'm talking about educanto, every professional educator's second language.

An elephantine example of that inflated dialect has just popped up right here in little ol' Little Rock, Ark., where the school district has announced a 52-page study that goes under the quasi-military title, "A Strategic Plan for the Little Rock School District."

This draft report comes enveloped in a layer of verbal slime perfectly suited to disguise its meaning, if it has any. Indeed, isn't that the whole purpose of educanto — to give the appearance of meaning to empty air?

Somebody needs to translate this document into plain English, the way George Orwell once translated the political idioms and idiocies of his time in a brief but incisive essay that has become a classic, "Politics and the English Language."

Now the same service should be performed for education in ours. And in much the same way — first by repeating its pretentious newspeak, then saying what it all really means. Like so:

This Strategic Plan for Little Rock Public Schools outlines an aggressive strategy to move our school district forward to embrace eye-popping goals for student achievement and eliminate the achievement gap between minority and majority students in our schools.

Eye-popping? Eye-rolling would be a more natural reaction to this high-flown piffle. Do not be misled by the terms "minority" and "majority" for black and white students even if black students may now be in the majority in Little Rock's public schools. These euphemisms are used in place of black and white, which are considered dirty words in educanto and so must be censored. In a pinch, to avoid complete confusion, multisyllabic terms like African American and Caucasian may be used instead.

Figures 1 and 2 show the current 2009 student performance situation on the Arkansas Benchmark Exams as well as the achievement gap in Little Rock for literacy and mathematics in Grades 3 and 8.


Letter from JWR publisher


Never refer to how well or how poorly students perform on tests but the "student performance situation." Much as one would refer to war as the "human conflict situation." Speak of "achievement gap" rather than of how we have failed to educate our children, especially our black children. That way, somebody might have to take responsibility.

This vision sees teachers working in collaborative groups, which some call Professional Learning Communities.

In educanto, as distinguished from Scripture, it is not people who see visions but visions that see people.

This will serve to help teachers whose students did not learn sufficiently become better teachers. The result will be teams of teachers working collectively toward continuous instructional improvement.

In this vision of a better future, teachers will be spending more time with each other instead of in the classroom. Responsibility for the students' education will be collective rather than individual, so no one in particular can be held responsible. For if all are responsible, then no one is. Bad teachers who should be fired will instead be taking up the time of the good ones assigned to coach them. That way, the good teachers will be spending less time actually teaching. Chalk up one more big gain for ignorance.

Doing this will require our district to launch a strategic recruitment strategy focused on getting the teacher, principal, HR and central office talent needed to implement these core strategies and practices.

Translation: More bureaucrats will be hired.

. . . the district will also hire reform- and performance-oriented central office leaders.

As it happens, the last school superintendent who tried to reform Little Rock's public schools was forced out of office at great expense when he deeply offended the time-servers in the bureaucracy and the dead wood in general throughout the system. So why would the school district suddenly develop an interest in reformers? Answer: It hasn't. It's just indulging in some lip service to real quality while expanding the bureaucracy at its central office and creating more patronage jobs.

Little Rock will have intensive, ongoing professional development programs for teachers. This will include several days for training each year, funds to hire trainers (whether central office professional development or external consultants) and site based instructional coaches totaling one FTE position for every 200 students. ... The resulting school improvement process will provide career ladders for teachers and help the district create a pathway of instructional leaders: PLC coordinators, mentors, school wide instructional coaches, etc.

In short, more mickeymouse courses will be required. The important thing is to provide more pretentious titles, higher salaries and general advancement in the table of organization ("career ladder") for educantists rather than actually educate our children.

The district will recognize and reward high performers and remove consistently low performers, following efforts to help them improve and a fair review process.

After everything else fails, bad teachers may someday be let go, or maybe not. It all depends on what the lawyers say. At great expense.

Under this new base pay schedule, major pay increases will be provided when teachers or principals meet a set of performance standards as measured through a system for measuring practice.

I'm not sure what that means, either, particularly since such standards aren't specified. Gentle Reader may be forgiven for suspecting that all such "standards" boil down to Who You Know. Which is what happens in the absence of objective measurements, like test scores.

Over time, more and more of our schools, particularly our high-need schools, will be staffed with effective teachers and successful principals.

Over time? If not now, when? And if this really is the object, why no mention of just about the best way to improve public education — through charter schools that empower the best teachers and principals, rather than expose them to every whim of the bureaucrats at central headquarters?

Students will be smarter and graduate on time ready for college or work in the emerging high technology economy.

We're going to turn out more upwardly mobile technicians and worker bees rather than classically educated, thinking citizens who understand that education requires dedication, discipline and the practice of virtue as well as intelligence. Not to mention clear language.

But to speak like that is to violate all the rules of educanto, a language designed not to transmit meaning but obscure it. Anyone can go through this jargon-filled report and pick out his own unfavorite part to translate into English, or attempt to. For it's a public document. And it cost Little Rock's taxpayers only $200,760.

I know ours is a corrupt society (sorry to let that mangy cat out of the bag, kids) but there is no form of corruption — moral, ethical, monetary, political, academic or any other kind — so dangerous and devastating as the corruption of language, for it leads to all the others.

Paul Greenberg Archives

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Send your comments by clicking here.

© 2006 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles