As a teacher and father of four oft times my perception lens is filtered through views and experiences of my children and students.
With all due respect to the obvious effort and commitment of the originators of the Mind Trust / IPS reform plan , I cannot evade my inclination to compare the plan to the childhood favorite “ Mr. Potato Head “ toy.
Since I was a child over 30 years ago, Mr. Potato Head has maintained its core tenet …the potato. with the awesome perk of being able to rearrange the face and appendages to create various , creative figures. I have observed younger children creating abstract figures without cause and older children create more intentional characters with cause i.e ….a team of creatures that have hands for feet and and feet for mouth. Mr Potato Head has evolved from its the basic theme to more creative versions like Hawaiian Mr. Potato Head and Cowboy Mr. Potato Head. Purposely, evolved this way to create a highly profitable multi – million dollar empire based on the core of a potato.
At the core of the public school model are standardized curriculums, assessments and outcomes based on the preferences, culture and goals of the dominant culture in America.;( Potato ) with its primary focus on economic profit, territory control and western value indoctrination. All of which have remained unchanged since the beginning of public school. By the way, public schools have also become multi million dollar revenue generators.
Standardized education has been fundamental of education since the industrial revolution, and endured its first major reform on the heels of the Sputnik launching in 1957 , when the ego of America felt compelled to keep up with Russians. The increased rigidity of that reform paradigm evolved into an all out one sided competition to compete in test scores with the worlds super powers. Reform has primarily been about the shifting of dollars from ineffective programs to programs that are proposed to be effective in their inception , and judging from the amount of reform movements, have not been. So from “Nation at Risk “ to “ All Children Can Learn “ to “ No Child Left Behind “ to Indiana’s version the “ Mind Trust “ the potato remains unchanged..
In its essence , Mind Trust is the same : a highly polarizing, comprehensive plan to overhaul the Indianapolis Public School system , in which the methodologies will change, the people will change the outcomes will change, the modalities will change and the goals will change ( appendages and face ) yet, at its core is the standardized representation of America’s intention of preparing “ America’s children “ to take a test in order to “ easily “ compare its scores to those of other countries. Contrarians would say , “ Well.. the preparation and actual testing incorporates the necessary skills for students to be successful in and post high school “ And I would argue that the last time I checked , children are not being high stakes tested over their gardening, entrepreneurship, carpentry., financial literacy, etc… or any other modality that perpetuates the ideas of self sufficiency and reliance. So as Mind Trust purports its relative “ newness “ and “ innovation “ it is still another rendition of the same and the potato remains unchanged.
….to be continued