Terry Bergeson’s State of Education Address
In a rare example of the OSPI website actually being both timely and useful, they posted the full transcript of Dr. Bergeson’s State of Education speech that she gave to the State School Directors’ Association in Spokane last month. It has a certain irony to it, given the events that have transpired since:
(Regarding the standards) The difference this year is that one obstacle—getting all students to standard in math—has assumed crisis proportions for the class of 2008.
Well, we know how that turned out: near complete retreat.
Later, she talks about what the world was like in 1993 when the standards movement took hold in Washington:
We are not talking about going from education reform version 1.0 to 2.0. We are talking about a new operating system for education. Before 1993 – before we had clear standards and assessments – you could think of our operating system as being DOS.
Not everyone does, because it was so clunky and difficult to use. It make a lot of people like me avoid computers and then miss the potential power technology could give us.
It’s time to move into Vista – Microsoft’s newest operating system. In fact, like Microsoft, we are late getting to Vista.
Vista links the tools and applications we use in a much more powerful way – a way that is seamless, transparent, user-friendly, and interoperable. It lets us focus more effectively on our core work instead of the stuff that gets in the way.
Later in the speech Dr. B compared education reform to the cool, refreshing taste of Coke with Lime, said that we needed to work every bit as hard as the good men and women of Costco, and announced her intent to streamline operations at OSPI so that it worked, “as efficiently as the 2007 Honda Prius, available from Dave Smith Motors, the #1 Honda dealer in the Pacific Northwest!” She also sold her naming rights to Safeco and became the official Superintendent of the Seattle Sonics.
(Just kidding, Terry! I kid because I love!)
And hey, what was wrong with DOS anyways? My first computer was a Tandy 1000-HX, and DOS was my first love. My first angry, codependent love. Kids today with their GUIs and fancy operating systems have no appreciation for the past!
At OSPI, we are reviewing our math standards, comparing them to the “Focal Points” document of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, and to those of key international performers.
Computational fluency taught with understanding clearly needs to be a higher priority in the elementary grades, and we must simplify and prioritize our standards where appropriate.
To this I say, Bravo! The biggest complaint I hear from teachers in the upper grades is that their kids still haven’t mastered the most basic facts with fluency, which kills them when they have to move into more difficult operations like 2-digit multiplication and the like.
I really like the Focal Points. It’s a good guideline, and I commend the NCTM for putting it out.
There’s a lot more in the full document. It’s a good sneak peek at where the school funding debate might go in the next legislature, beginning this week!