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'
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
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
Figures 1 and 2 show the current 2009 student performance situation on the Arkansas Benchmark Exams as well as the achievement gap in
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
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
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.
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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.
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