Monday, June 9, 2014

"Sometimes the light's all shining on me......"

“Sometimes the light’s all shining on me, other times I can barely see….”
P. Schultz
June 9, 2014

            When the light is shining on me, this is what I can see, barely: There isn’t but there should be a battle going on between the proponents of “community” and the proponents of “organizations” or “administration.” But the light is not often shining on me – or others – because both of the major parties, factions, sects, or “ideologies” embrace “organizations” or administration at the expense of community.

            The “liberals” or “progressives” embrace government, seeing it as the engine of progress and seeing progress as the way to go to arrive at our destination, which is somewhere off in the distant future. The “conservatives” embrace what are called “corporations,” seeing these organizations as the engines of progress and seeing progress as the way to go to reach our destination, which is off in the distant future.

            Those who reject the embrace of organizations or administration – and all that these phenomenon imply – are seen as reactionaries, as those who oppose progress out of fear or a lack of faith [“Men of Little Faith,” title of one the earliest assessments of the Anti-Federalists] and who want to standstill in isolation from the world and in denial of the force of “history.” “Ahistorical isolationists,” as it were.

            Illustration: The “fight” over tenure [at least there is something of a fight in North Carolina]. Tenure is a way of creating community, both among the teachers and between the teachers and the local community. Tenure ensures stability or fights turnover “in the ranks,” while bringing teachers together as a community of scholars. It arose in part as a way for small colleges to keep their faculty from being taken away by larger, more prestigious colleges and universities with more money to offer. Those who oppose tenure want to replace it with organizational or administrative requirements or methods of evaluation, even or especially at the expense of community.

            [NB: Tenure often empowered teachers, as they were the ones passing on tenure, whereas a non-tenure regime empowers and is intended to empower administrators.]

            What is today labeled “the reform movement” in education – e.g., both “No Child Left Behind” and the “Race to the Top” – is called “standards based” or “assessment based.” And these standards are not – and definitely should not be – local or community standards. To wit: What is called “the common core.” [NB: The apparent “confusion” among Republicans in North Carolina, who fight tenure and fight the common core. But perhaps their fight against the common core is not undertaken in the name of community.]

            Note that Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” and Obama’s “Race to the Top” see education as a race of some kind or as a competition by which some, but necessarily only some, will “win,” i.e., become members of an elite that is constantly changing and in need of “restocking.” Hence, the need for standards, that is, administrative standards, quantifiable standards, because the alternative is social standards, which lead to what are called “social promotions,” which are of course promotions that take into account communal imperatives.

            And increasingly “impersonal assessments” – which means supplementing the traditional system of awarding grades – are required by the reform movement in order to ensure that other, extraneous concerns [ often concerns reflecting communal concerns] do not taint the “process.” And who else should make these impersonal assessments than administrators, than bureaucrats, as they are required to be and even strive to be – if only to be considered properly “professional”  and therefore “promotable” – impersonal. In fact, many or most administrators see impersonal as a virtue, as the way they and the world should be!


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