If you watched the CBS Evening News tonight in New York City, you witnessed the debut of a new ad campaign from the United Federation of Teachers. The New York Sun and the Daily News took note of the campaign this morning, with the News characterizing the ad as UFT head Randi Weingarten’s payback for the NYC Department of Ed’s plan to evaluate teachers based on standardized test scores.
There’s no fiery rhetoric in the ad itself, however. It’s all warm fuzzy images of a child tending and drawing a small green plant under teacher’s watchful eye. “A child’s mind is a precious thing that’s growing every day,”says a voiceover. “Standardized school tests can measure her progress in certain subjects… but New York City teachers believe it takes a well-rounded curriculum — including science, civics, language, arts and sports — to help young imaginations thrive.”
No complaints about the message. Indeed, the UFT sought and received an endorsement of its message from Core Knowledge founder E.D. Hirsch for the press release announcing the campaign. I just wish it didn’t remind me so much of the UNorth ad in Michael Clayton.
Ed in ’08 chairman Roy Romer weighs in helpfully (mostly) on the issue of curriculum narrowing and NCLB.
A report from the Center on Educational Policy last year showed 44% of school districts had increased instructional time spent on ELA and/or Math in elementary schools since the passage of No Child Left Behind, cutting time from science, social studies, art and music, physical education, recess, or lunch. According to a followup report this week, districts increasing time for ELA and Math had done so by an average of three hours each week. To make room for the added time, they’ve cut of about two and a half hours each week from one or more other subjects.
“I don’t believe that time should come at the expense of other academic areas like science, history, or the arts,” blogs Romer. “We at ED in ’08 have long advocated for more time for learning in America’s schools. States like Massachusetts have already followed the lead of many other developed nations and put in place a longer school day, and their students are proving all the more successful from it. That extra time is helping to balance out the school agenda so that students all receive the diverse range of subjects – and support – they deserve.”
All well and good, but it would be even more helpful in Governor Romer and others concerned about the narrowing of curriculum would look more closely at the link between content knowledge and reading comprehension, rather than continuing to treat reading as an independent academic subject.