Saturday, August 17, 2013

Leo Tolstoy writes to LA School ®eport: AN OPEN LETTER TO JAIME AQUINO (Broad Academy Class of ‘08)

LA School Report |

smf: LA Schools ®eport has been going through some changes of late, tossing their founding editor under the bus and changing their layout. Now their comments section is channeling  the nineteenth century Russian novelist replying to a puff-piece profile of the visionary and future-predicting Deputy Superintendent of Instruction for LAUSD

4LAKids doesn’t usually republish comments on online articles (preferring to occupy the peanut gallery all by myself) …but for the author of War and Peace and Anna Karenina we a make exception.

4LAKids tweeted the original screed here: AQUINO SEES DEEPER THINKING BUT FALLING SCORES WITH COMMON CORE: Brenda Iasevoli – LA School ®eport |

Leo Tolstoy on August 14, 2013 at 11:40 am said:

Dear Jaime Aquino—

Relax. You are definitely not a gambler. Your pension is quite safe.

A gambler “takes a chance” when they bet.

There is no chance taking when it is a sure thing. Yes, the Common Core scores will go down. The game is rigged and you know it. There are no “what if’s?” because YOU set the bar. Since the outcome is predetermined just like it was in New York, I want in on that bet too.

I’ll wager the last time you bet was the 1919 World Series.

You said you were lying in Hartford. But not now?

<<Count Lev Nikolayevich (Leo) Tolstoy (1828 – 1910)

Why is it that EVERY SINGLE ONE of you Broad people (Class of 2008 right?) are on the exact same page with the same unoriginal talking points. The speaker may be different but what is between the quotation marks is identical. Is this the sort of “critical thinking” you expect of our students? How is it possible that Broad Academy produces such GROUP THINK SOLDIERS in the war on public education?

You say these things as if they were facts based on sound educational research…show it to us.

My favorite passage from this completely uncritical analysis of your prepared text: “In fact, according to Common Core standards, by the time they reach high school, students should be reading 70 percent informational texts and only 30 percent literature. The emphasis is more on supporting answers by providing evidence from the text, and less on sharing opinions.”

You can imagine the euphoria that is gonna spread like wildfire in the classrooms of the country when this edict comes to pass. Students finally get to SHARE LESS! “Critical thinking” in your mind is searching a text to get “the answer” that is out there if only the kids would stop guessing. The utter degradation of literature as such a trivial component of Common Core speaks volumes to the intellectual heft of those pushing this reform. The contempt for students “sharing opinions” is an educational war crime.

I am constantly blown away by the lack of depth and insight by people who have control of education and always so pleasantly surprised and grateful when I find administrators and people in power who have true vision and creative (and yes, true critical) thinking. Reading your list of platitudes is a depressing experience to see how far Broad trained deputies have risen with this sort of dull mind.

Oh yes…I really loved the irony of this passage too: “Aquino calls the U.S. an ‘answer-getting culture.’ We provide students with ‘quick tricks’ for finding correct answers, rather than tools for critical thinking to help them understand the concepts.” EGAD! The corporate push for Common Core is exactly that. The bulldozing of teacher opinion, strategy and creative pedagogy to plow into this completely UNTESTED and UNPROVEN money making scheme for the test makers and lesson planners is the “answer getting culture” pushed to galling heights.

Lastly, as to your championing the standards of Massachusetts—FYI, they are a state that actually spends money and resources on public education. They back it up with bucks to provide quality, meaningful education to their kids instead of packing fifty kids into a class, cutting the interesting electives and arts programs that spark students’ interests and telling teachers how (and what) they are to now teach.

Although you would never admit it, you really want top-down factories. Your prescription is so lopsided it reflects a business rather than a school; you have had to change the definition of what a school (and education for that matter) is to make your vision (I mean Eli Broad’s vision) THE vision.

The scariest line of the entire piece is: “’We need to change the way we train teachers in this country,’ Aquino says, and for now, he is attempting to do just that in Los Angeles: He’s changing the way teachers teach to change the way students learn. In time, he says, the efforts will boost test scores, too.”

Creative, original, thoughtful, dynamic, exciting teaching is meaningful is the church I attend, and the type of citizen and individual the student becomes after being in a class—his or her change of thinking, creativity and ability.

Jaime Aquino, you look at test scores to prove salvation.

Amen, brother.

Amen, Broad.


P.S. Have fun at your exclusive, invitation-only Orlando holiday with an All-Star list of Public Education Destroyers in November: Don’t know if LA taxpayers are picking up this tab or Eli.

In the end, as demonstrated by this LA SCHOOL REPORT puff piece, we all will end up picking up Eli Broad’s tab.

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