Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Education Reformer Hypocrisy: If It Can't Be Measured, It Can't Be Good

In this NY Times piece touting social and emotional learning comes this from ed deformer Robert Pondiscio:

Despite the growing demand for S.E.L., some worry that asking teachers to address feelings takes valuable time from academics. Vital subjects like science, history, art and music “are already starved for oxygen,” Robert Pondiscio, a senior fellow at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a right-leaning education policy group in Washington, wrote in an email. “It’s easy to recognize the importance of S.E.L. skills. It’s much harder to identify and implement curricular interventions that have a measurable effect on them. Thus ‘what works’ tends to be defined as ‘what I like’ or ‘what I believe works.’”

Right - because so many other reformer pipe dreams, from the small schools initiative to Common Core, have been proven interventions with a measurable effect.

These are the goals of social and emotional learning:

To advance the science and practice of S.E.L., researchers at Yale established the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning in 1994; under the leadership of Roger P. Weissberg, it moved to the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1996.

Drawing on decades of research, the group set forth what it described as the five goals of S.E.L. for students:

•Self-awareness: The ability to reflect on one’s own feelings and thoughts.

•Self-management (or self-control): The ability to control one’s own thoughts and behavior.

•Social awareness: The ability to empathize with others, recognize social cues and adapt to various situations.

•Relationship skills: The ability to communicate, make friends, manage disagreements, recognize peer pressure and cooperate.

•Responsible decision making: The ability to make healthy choices about one’s own behavior while weighing consequences for others.

You can see why so many corporate deformers wouldn't much like this kind of thing.

How many deformers are able "to make healthy choices about one’s own behavior while weighing consequences for others?"

From Bill Gates to Michael Bloomberg to Andrew Cuomo to Joel Klein to Arne Duncan to John King to Michelle Rhee to David Coleman, I see a group of people who like imposing their own agendas and ideologies on others without a care about "weighing the consequences for others."

Look at the above group and ask yourself how many are able "to empathize with others, recognize social cues and adapt to various situations?"

As for "the ability to reflect on one’s own feelings and thoughts," we all know what David Coleman so famously said: No one gives a shit what anybody else thinks or feels, they only care if they can get the market analysis done by Monday.

No wonder deformer shills like Pondiscio see social and emotional learning as a threat.

It goes at the very core of the flawed corporate deformer model - emotionally and spiritually-stunted people imposing their own ideologies and agendas on the country without any accountability for results.


  1. Wow! One of your best posts ever. Gee, I wonder why those vital subjects are"starved for oxygen ?" Could it be the deformers emphasis on BS testing that creates soulless schools test prep factories. Pondiscio must love Eva's academies - no SEL happening there!

  2. RBE, the hypocrisy here runs so deep that, despite your intelligence and perspicacity, you've managed only to identify the very, very "tip" of the proverbial "iceberg" of it on display by the reformistas.

    The "social and emotional learning" described in the Times article, which Mr. Pondiscio dismisses with contempt, includes these attributes: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision-making.

    It occurred to me that I'd seen a very similar list of personal attributes somewhere recently, ones that education reformistas revere. They sprawl across the "Character" tab that one gets to directly from the KIPP homepage: "the seven highly predictive character strengths that are correlated to leading engaged, happy and successful lives--zest, grit, optimism, self-control, gratitude, social intelligence, and curiosity."

    To the best of my knowledge, not a single one of these Kippian character attributes can be "measured," and, as Dr. Pondiscio says, "it’s much harder to identify and implement curricular interventions that have a measurable effect on them. Thus ‘what works’ tends to be defined as ‘what I like’ or ‘what I believe works.’”

    Oh well, we all know that "reformista words" are sacred. The very same "public school words" are profane. The oracles who run KIPP schools and who utter the sacred words are prophets. The knaves who run public schools and who utter the profane words are fiends.

    Finally, this may be the first time that I've heard a reformista complain that things like science, art and music are "vital" subjects that need to be protected in public schools from encroachments by useless things like "social and emotional learning." But, of course, science, art and history are wastelands that should be incinerated in charter schools so that time spent on them can be better used to teach indispensable things like "grit, self-control and social intelligence."

    This is hypocrisy at the very highest levels of presumption and stupidity.

    I suggest that Dr. Pondiscio go to a Kipp school near him and spend a little time acquiring "self-knowledge."

  3. I taught SEL for six months last year at a renew school in Newark. It was challenging to disabuse children of the notion that physical assaults were the most promising paths to conflict resolution. Some children engaged in violent behavior in my classroom. The concept of talking through problems did not receive widespread acceptance. No excuses charter schools have a different approach entirely. Children may be suspended for infractions such as rolling one's eyes at an authority figure.

    Abigail Shure

  4. Great way to catch a false dilemma at work. Truth is that SEL is in a classroom. It happens in accordance with, and right alongside an academic curriculum (and works best when is also exclusively taught but it's not necessary). The principles of students as creators, students communicating with an depending upon students and accountability generated by a teacher go right alongside with SEL. Always have. Part of our NYS code of ethics (back of the license).

    But that when the teacher creates the accountability measures in class, it suddenly becomes suspect and worthy of fighting a scarecrow with things like this ridiculous false dilemma.

    Because if we're not creating automatrons with our academic time then we're just not teachers.

    If we're not boring our students with constant writing and only writing during all of our class time, then we're just not doing our iob.

    Total crap and I'm glad you caught it and called it out.

  5. Still there is a need to occupying such kind of the evident principles and as we have seen in the past these are proving to be much better.