The year 2011 was monumental in education — monumentally good or monumentally bad, depending on your view.
School reformers who believe in using business principles to run public schools had a banner year. More states expanded the number of charter schools, promoted vouchers and moved toward using student test scores to evaluate teachers.
It was a tough year for those who believe that school reform cannot happen without taking into account the social context in which students live. Yet, toward the end of 2011 there were real signs that educators, parents and even students were pushing back.
Test yourself on 2011 issues that will continue to play out in 2012.
1) “Corporate education reform” refers to a set of proposals currently driving education policy at the state and federal level. What is not one of those proposals:
a) increased test-based evaluation of students, teachers, and schools of education
b) eliminating or weakening teacher tenure
c) paying teachers for experience and advanced degrees
d) replacing governance by local school boards with various forms of mayoral and state takeover or private management
2) Teach for America recruits top college graduates, trains them and then places them in high-poverty schools. How much training do the recruits get before they start teaching on their own?
a) one year as a student teacher while earning a masters
b) six months as a student teacher
c) three months in a summer institute
d) five weeks in a summer institute
3) Because Congress failed to rewrite No Child Left Behind, what did the Obama administration say it would do to help schoolsdealing with the law’s onerous requirements?
a) issue waivers that would release all public schools from the onerous requirements
b) issue waivers to states that promised to institute approved school reforms
c) put pressure on congressional Republicans to reach an NCLB deal in 2012
4) Why did the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District field-test on students 52 different standardized tests?
a) to detect patterns of cheating
b) to find the single best test for the district’s new accountability program
c) to pick standardized tests in every subject so teachers can be evaluated by the scores
d) it didn’t field-test that many exams because that would be preposterous
5) What percentage of American children live in poverty, according to new Census Bureau data?
a) 22 percent
b) 18 percent
c) 13 percent
d) 9 percent
6) Who said this: “We’ve lost our competitive spirit. We’ve become so obsessed with making kids feel good about themselves that we’ve lost sight of building the skills they need to actually be good at things.”
a) Bill Gates
b) Steve Jobs
c) Michelle Rhee, former D.C. schools chancellor
d) Amy Chua, author of “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother”
7) What did President Obama do on Friday, March 4?
a) went to Wisconsin to support teachers protesting efforts to restrict collective-bargaining rights
b) went to Ohio to support teachers protesting efforts to restrict bargaining rights
c) started a three-day weekend
d) appeared in Miami with Jeb Bush, a leader of corporate education reform
8) President Obama disagrees with Republicans on:
a) the importance of increasing charter schools
b) whether students should get taxpayer-funded vouchers to pay for private school
c) evaluating educators by student test scores
d) encouraging private sector help for public schools
9) Who said, “I’m beginning to think we are living in a moment of national insanity?”
a) Rep. Ron Paul
b) New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie
c) education historian Diane Ravitch
d) Bill Gates
10) What is the Opt-Out Movement?
a) opting out of high-stakes standardized tests
b) opting out of sex education classes
c) opting out of physical education classes
d) opting out of school-required vaccines
11) True or false: In July actor and social activist Matt Damon addressed a rally in Washington D.C. to oppose the Obama administration education policies. Education Secretary Arne Duncan wanted to meet with Damon before the rally so much that he offered to pick him up at the airport and speak with him en route to the protest.
12) The Obama administration’s key education initiative, Race to the Top, had a competition for states to compete for federal dollars for early learning initiatives. What was not included as a top priority listed in the Education Department’s criteria for applicants?
a) making sure kids have ample opportunity to learn through play
b) encouraging private sector support
c) using kindergarten entry assessments to promote school readiness