Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Needing To Quantify Everything

Diane Ravitch:

The other day, I was involved in an extended online discussion about proficiency and accountability with about 50 people, mostly inside the Beltway. These are big names, people who make decisions that control your child’s life in school. I got more and more exasperated as the various think tank experts waxed on about how and why parents NEED to know how their child compares to children of the same age in other states and other nations. I couldn’t restrain myself. I let fly that I never wanted to know this as a mother and I don’t want to know it about my grandchildren now. What I want to know is whether they are growing up to be healthy, to be thoughtful, to care about others, to shoulder responsibility, to think for themselves, to be good people. The last thing that interests me is whether their test scores are better or worse than children elsewhere.

The elites have this obsession to quantify and track everything.

So many of the important things in life cannot, and should not, be quantified and tracked.

At the end of our lives, how many of us will say "Gee, I wish I had quantified and tracked more of my life so I would know whether I was successful or not?"

I bet not too many of us will say that.

And yet, for the powers that be, they only seem to believe in what can be quantified, collected, collated and tracked.

It's purely for commercial reasons and for control purposes, of course.

This has nothing whatsoever to do with truly improving lives or schools or education.

It was good of Diane Ravitch to call these people on this stuff on their extended online discussion about proficiency and accountability.

Not that they'll actually have any epiphanies - there's too much money to be made and too much power to be had from all this proficiency tracking and accountability.

But the more that people call them on this stuff to their faces, the better.

Enough quantification.

Enough tracking.



  1. As management consultant and guru Peter Drucker famously said, "That which can be measured, can be managed."

    As you correctly state, fetishizing the measurement of everything is a method of control. It gives immense power to those who determine what is worthy of measurement, and how subordinates are to attain those measures. It also provides a gold mine of opportunity for those developing them.

  2. Michael, as always, so well expressed, strwight cut to the chase. Can you be our next president?

    Thank you both of you, and Diane.

    1. I agree - I don't know how many times I have started a post off with "Michael Fiorillo said..."