The No-Nonsense Doug Reeves

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Every time I hear Doug Reeves speak it’s a bit like a whirlwind of research data, passion, and challenge in brief package. In fact, one Reeves workshop could fill ten blog posts and 50 tweets. Among many other topics at a recent workshop in Nashua, NH, he spoke of the Common Core standards which have just been released. Education Week has just asked Reeves to review the standards and offer his opinion. His positive points:

  • K-5 grade level articulation. Reeves appreciates the work done at the elementary level. There is solid integration between grade levels unlike most standards documents which are so subject matter specific.
  • Clear endorsement of performance assessments. Perhaps we may finally move away from the predominance of multiple choice exams as a way of proving student, school, and district achievement.
  • Solid emphasis of nonfiction reading and writing. Through the years, elementary teachers have had a bias toward particular curriculum areas, such as environmental science and  fiction reading and writing.

Of course, in New Hampshire we have a hard time accepting anyone’s edict,  (Live Free or Die after all). Gary Stager quotes Alfie Kohn (who’s really a Bean Town Boy) as saying,

“There’s a strong political interest in representing national standards as being merely “core” standards and to emphasize that the feds aren’t driving it (just funding it!)…I’m troubled by the P.R. campaign I see: We’ll satisfy the politicians and corporations that want “rigorous, specific, enforceable, clear, defined standards” — but we’ll also reassure teachers that we won’t tell you how to teach. This doesn’t add up.”

I remember when Ronald Reagan wanted the Federal Department of Education to go away in a victory of states’ rights. It appears that Presidents G.W. Bush and Obama have at least one view in common: they want increased educational power in the hands of the feds.

4 comments Add yours
  1. Just being one of those troglodytes in the teaching trenches-been there over 20 years- I haven’t heard Reeves speak. But what I have experienced in those years is the increasing intrusiveness of the Ivory Tower Educators into the classroom-dictating methods and practices. It would be interesting to see what might have been if President Reagan had won the victory for states’ rights Bill alludes to. The trends that were noted in the “Nation at Risk” have continued pretty much unabated. Recently (2008) community colleges in Colorado reported that 53% of there first year students needed to take some kind of remedial classes before they could start their programs.

  2. It’s interesting – when I started teaching in NH, before Claremont, the state supplied less than 5% of the education funding. School districts could do what they wanted, the state had virtually no clout. There were some truly innovative things being done. I was able to make learning in my classroom the focus, not teaching. My students loved it and learned. Today, the state supplies more funding, not enough, but enough to make the DOE feel they have the cachet to require state standards, state testing, and other requirements. Is local control better, not always, but the current direction toward tighter state and federal controls takes the classroom out of the hands of the teacher – both the good and the bad teacher. It builds a tighter stall within which the student has to learn to exist by absorbing grain from the feed bag.

    1. I couldn’t agree with you more. My contacts with the DOE tell me that most of the time, they’re just responding to the big brother Feds. It’s ironic that in the Live Free or Die State that there’s not much strong opposition to the strong government influence on education.

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