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Sensible out of one eye, Surreal out of the other

Posted By: Dick Schutz on February 22, 2005
In reading the Symposium papers squinting through my academic eye, I thought, “What these folks say makes good sense. But they’re fighting a sure-loss fight. By making the choice appear to be between “Quantitative” and “Qualitative” Research, they’re spitting at the rain." “Quantitative” is associated with “strong science.” “Qualitative” is associated with weak science, non-science or anti-science. Who dya is going to win the day? Unfortunate, but inevitable.

But, I thought, a larger and more unfortunate consideration is that these folks totally dismiss the "D" in Educational R&D. In every area of life other than education, Research is considered a cost rather than a benefit. People in every other sector recognize that verified information is important, but Research is the beginning, rather than the end of the road, in generating “what works.” Try doing anything with a research report other than read it and you’re in big trouble. Think education “reform” “intervention” or the other vacuous constructs that are expected to yield education “improvement.” That’s where Development methodology should kick in; but But Development methodology was “vanished” in education decades ago.

Oh well, I thought as I clicked out; another Symposium, another day. This one was more thoughtful and more thought-provoking than most. But looking at the Symposium out of both eyes tather than squinting academically, the view was strikingly different. Wow, I thought. These folks are living in a surreal world that is largely disconnected with reality.

The IES legislation does not adhere to NRC report. I

ES policies and regulations move further toward driving all educational inquiry through the narrowest possible interpretation of Fisherian methodology.

The cumulative results of all these actions are on the shelves of the “What Works” Clearinghouse. Take a peek at http://www.whatworks.ed.gov The cupboard is virtually bare and what is purported to “work” would be a laugher were it not sad.

Meanwhile with NCLB, the leading edge of the country’s schooling improvement initiative, the “New Science of Reading” is yielding an increased number of “failing schools” and “failing districts.” But the “failure rate” is too low to satisfy the US Department of Education. They are pressuring states like California either to declare more districts “failures” or risk losing Red funds. Hard to believe that the national intention is that “More failures are needed,” but read the newspaper.

All of this would appear totally irrational were it not for the Administration’s overriding mission to “privatize”. Given this publicly stated mission, it’s easy to understand.

The Blue Meanies have indeed taken over the Yellow Submarine. And, yes, these are indeed dangerous times. Ideology is trumping research. Scientism has all but driven out scientific inquiry in education. And the D in Educational R&D has been “vanished.” Scary, huh.

Dick Schutz
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 Sensible out of one eye, Surreal out of the other by Dick Schutz on February 22, 2005
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