Road to reform littered with acronyms

Published 10:39 am Friday, September 16, 2016

• To articulate a programmable skill, despite a basically multi-dimensional response environment

• To actuate pro-forma interdictions, despite a polyglot preview protocol

• To spearhead a cogent incentive, notwithstanding a primarily intercultural communication hypothesis

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• To finalize dynamic leaderships, following a categorical retrenchment prognostication

• And, to interact with unquantified guidance adjustments

In an effort to improve education in Mississippi, a number of outstanding educators will assemble in Jackson to make plans. A set of guidelines to shape thinking at this conference is listed above.

This conference is sponsored by the same folks who want to make class periods longer — although kids’ attention spans are already no longer than a Nintendo flash; the same folks who want to have online courses and fewer hours at the actual school; the same folks who protect the profit from caffeine machines in schools; the same folks who want high school graduates to be career ready; the same folks who …

Stop right there!

Such a catalogue has no end. No one doubts that if these protocols are implemented children will learn more and learn faster.

Thus far the master plan has no name, but will in time be called by some clever acronym, as have past bungled efforts to “reform” education. I suggest Planned Adjustment of Neo-Instructional Correlates: PANIC. It will no doubt include purchasing more new textbooks, even when old ones already contain more information than students can grasp.

It will likely handcuff teachers even more with this or that task that takes away from actual teaching. It almost certainly will continue to treat teachers and students as commodities on an assembly line regularly subjected to a mass quality check — standardized tests. And when a school district is low on the “polyglot preview protocol,” someone will point out that “I don’t think the test was harder. There were other variables affecting the situation.”

Perhaps the humidity was too high the day the standardized game was played. Or maybe the Aardvarks lost the night before to the neighboring Coyotes by a huge score. Possibly the students spent so much time drilling for the tests that their brains rebelled and wouldn’t go into that groove that somebody at Educational Testing Service in Princeton or the Department of Education in Jackson considered so absolutely vital to the future well being of those children.

The state needs to take drastic steps to improve public education. Some suggestions: more computers to become obsolete and dust covered; “alternate” paths to become teachers as opposed to solid training; more soft drink machines; perhaps courses in casino management skills; and, need it be said, creation of a multi-dimensional response environment.

The conference/seminar/guessing game that is to be held will have a very straightforward and sensible result: An Experimental Research Proposal to Study Pedagogical/Instructional Outcomes/Behaviors as Related to the Unconscious Symbolism of Traditional and Non-Traditional Spatial Placement of Individualized Learning Stations within the Primary Learning-Facility Location.

TJ Ray, a retired professor of English at Ole Miss.