Since the beginning of this academic year, we have been translating our posts at perdaily into Spanish, because we think it is appropriate to do so in a school district like LAUSD where 73% of the students are hispano hablante (Spanish speakers) to one degree or another. It is our belief that comprehension in either English or Spanish - and preferably both in the not too distant future - should be the goal of a California culture with a majority Latin American population - It will not hurt any of us.
However, the thought also occurred to me that there is another language that people outside of LAUSD don't understand and that is Edspeak, the platitude filled and politically correct language that is spoken by all those who run LAUSD or are subjected to it. Before getting into an actual translation, which we recently did at perdaily when we went through LAUSD's Latest Strategic Roadmap one should be aware of a core principle of Edspeak that has been developed over generations to communicate superficially with people who themselves are a products of LAUSD: Good Edspeak must be wholly devoid of Cognitive Academic English Proficiency principles or any higher intellectual function as described by Blooms Taxonomy, while also being able to communicate with people having limited mastery of English or any other language - no, I am not just referring to students and parents with limited education, but also many administrators and teachers who still don't know how to tie their linguistic shoe laces.
In fixing public education in LAUSD and elsewhere I must confess that I am more concerned with what people actually do than who is doing it. In the first round of deciding who was going to get a chance to run certain failed LAUSD schools that were up for grabs there was a tremendous amount of media coverage about the battle between charter operators and groups headed by teachers and administrators, but little or no discussion of what they would actually do to accomplish this herculean task of trying to turn around long failed LAUSD schools.
Did you ever have the experience of thinking you heard something before, but you just couldn't quite place where and when you heard it? That's the way I have been feeling about the nondescript orwellian edspeak that all of us in public education continue to be tormented with. And then, it finally occurred to me where the logic defying statements like "No Child Left Behind" and "all [illiterate] students are going to college" really come from. In 1979, Peter Sellars played an idiot savant -- emphasis on the idiot -- in the movie Being There. Chance the Gardner has people ascribe to him great insight, when the simpler and more reasonable interpretation is that Chance the Gardner is just a moron.
Reforming public education at LAUSD or throughout the United States is really not that difficult. While there are heated arguments for and against charter schools, small learning communities, magnet schools, teacher competency, student deficits, and parent involvement, the clear answer without minimizing the difficulty of the task involved is that its not rocket science to give students an excellent public education. As Charles Kerchner points out in his book Learning From L.A. - Institutional Change in American Public Education, there was a clear path to academic excellence pointed out on many occasions during the long history of LAUSD that he discusses. So why didn't it work?
With all the concern over the failure of public education, those of us within the Tower of Babel called public education forget that the orwellian language spoken here in our hollowed (sic) halls is not intelligible to those on the outside. LAUSD and other big city school districts have created a linguistic reality that is really most akin to the facades of a Hollywood back lot that gives the appearance of substance while being devoid of it, while allowing ease of dismantling for the next reform remake that will be constructed in its place. Districts like LAUSD have become more emboldened in their dysfunction, because they clearly know that nobody -- or mere minorities -- are left minding the store.
As sort of a nostalgic bon voyage to the ethereal reality of the almost empty 2 floors of rented space that is Local District 6, I thought you might enjoy my translation of the Orwellian edspeak that was posted on the wall for the Leadership Labs that were taking place that day.
In Los Angeles Unified School District, meaningful and independently verifiable change has been shunned by a highly ritualized kabuki District administrators practice, where their primary concern is to defend their privileges as refugees from the intolerable classroom reality from which...