PEER REVIEW POLITICIZES ACCOUNTABILITY PROGRAMS

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AAF has been encouraging legislators to return traditional American values, fact-based curriculum, critical thinking skills, and accountability to the educational system. To be successful, our legislators need to know that you support quality educational opportunities for every student in every educational setting.

Peer review and teacher mentoring are no better cures for the problems facing education today than they were when William Buckley, Jr. wrote God and Man at Yale. Peer review did not work when thousands of highly respected scientists were prevented from addressing global warming issues, or when respected historians falsely accused George Washington of being a Deist,* or when citizen groups unsuccessfully tried to reinstate critical thinking skills as an educational goal.* Peer review and mentoring too often allow a single-minded philosophy to be protected while truth, scientific principles, ethics, and traditional American values are replaced with political, social, and financial goals.

During the 1960s and the 1970s, students accepted into colleges of education had to hold at least a “B” average in high school, our smartest and finest students. That group of teachers was prepared to implement traditional teaching methods as well as a variety of modern methods including cooperative grouping of students, increased calculator use, and a move from paper and pencil assignments to more group projects. The teachers educated during the 70s were encouraged to use journals, student opinion, and projects as an integral part of the grading process.

When these teachers realized that many of the recommended teaching methods were replacing academic achievement with indoctrination into collectivistic ideologies, many teachers melded the best aspects of these methods with traditional teaching methods. When their students were academically successful, they found that younger teachers and administrators became angry and focused on those teachers’ hesitation to implement fully those modern teaching methods rather than discuss the reasons for their students’ academic success. Younger teachers were being taught to reject all traditional teaching methods as inferior, and administrators were directed to focus on equal outcomes rather than equal opportunities. The younger teachers and administrators turned against the more senior teachers calling them antiquated, inept, or dead wood. The academic success of the student seemed irrelevant.

At that time, the only standardized testing tool was the Iowa Test of Basic Skills. Teachers who wanted to know the progress of these students would have to look up each child’s academic file. This was impossible for teachers of students in the sixth grade because those student files were transferred to the middle school during the summer months.

Teachers who researched student testing scores to determine whether high academic and behavioral standards were being met and who continued to teach traditional American values became as vulnerable to criticisms and public humiliation as Ivy League Professors faced in God and Man at Yale, and as professors and citizen groups faced in “More Adam Smith, Please…and less Barbara Ehrenreich” printed in the November 29, 2010 issue of The Weekly Standard, and as teachers experienced in No! Why Kids of All Ages Need to Hear It and Ways Parents Can Say It by David Walsh, PhD and many other sources.

Because Peer review systems quickly become political processes which typically prevent any consideration of opposing viewpoints, teachers have little confidence that an objective accountability program can be implemented in education. If the goal of accountability programs is to assure that schools embrace high academic standards, effective accountability programs must hold responsible all who impact the learning experience. Standards must be fact based and well defined in advance. The evaluation process must be removed from the politics of a typical school environment and must be performed by well-informed, impartial third parties.

THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE CLASSROOM OF ONE GENERATION BECOMES THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE GOVERNMENT OF THE NEXT GENERATION. Abe Lincoln

*Sacred Fire by Peter A. Lillback

* “More Adam Smith, Please…and less Barbara Ehrenreich”, Weekly Standard, November 29, 2010.

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One thought on “PEER REVIEW POLITICIZES ACCOUNTABILITY PROGRAMS

  1. Interesting article. I well remember being one of those dinosaur teachers who had to surreptitiously teach spelling, cursive handwriting, phonics, and memorization of math facts, etc. as I blended in the useful elements of the new methods with the effectiveness of the traditional. Actually, I wasn’t surreptitious at all. I always kept my door open and did what I knew was most effective. The last six years I taught I could pretty well guarantee that my principal’s criticism during my yearly “evaluation” was, and this is a direct quote: “Too often when I walk by your room, your students are at their desks, working.” !!! Any wonder why I retired early?! Her use of the phrase “walk by your room” is more indicative than she intended, as that’s all she ever did regarding my room, walk by instead of actually entering and staying a while to actually experience what was going on while those kids were at their desks, working, and how I interacted with them and the scaffolding I provided for them with materials and techniques. I often had parents tell me that their fourth graders in my class knew more about note-taking (and not plagiarizing) than their high school siblings.

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