Friday, February 26, 2016

There Is No Dana, Only Zuul - #GoOpen Open Source Initiative Will Make Every Kid The Same - Again

By Jenni White, Education Director, ROPE2.0

Wow. I honestly know why so many of my Common Core counterparts in so many states - awesome women who put their housekeeping/childcare hats on first thing in the morning and after putting the kids to bed in the evening, donned their 'outstanding researcher' hat - have quit fighting for public education. There is no winning the battle.

No, Charlie Sheen, there is no 'WINNING' in the fight to return public education to the states and districts under the watchful eye of parents. Nope. Oh, you may think you have one thing (Common Core maybe?) stopped, but then another one of the hydra heads pops back up in its place. It's a never ending, non-winnable cycle. Same stuff different day.

The new issue rearing its ugly head is embraced by Oklahoma's State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister and it is oh-so-perfectly-named to sound as helpful and happy as possible. It even has its own hashtag to make it super, super relevant in today's social media-frenzied world. This initiative is called, 
Yay #GoOpen! It just makes you want to cheer. We're so excited! We're going to continue our slide from individuals (Dana) to the collective (Zuul), we're just going to do it with snappier names with hashtags that make them cooler.

Here's what the OSDE says about this initiative via their press release:
     Oklahoma City (Feb. 26) – The Oklahoma State Department of Education today announced the launch of a new statewide #GoOpen initiative, joining the inaugural cohort of states across the country committing to support school districts and educators transitioning to the use of high-quality, openly licensed educational resources in their schools.
     Oklahoma was recognized for its leadership by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) at the #GoOpen Exchange, a gathering of state and district leaders, education technology platform providers and non-profit organizations working together to help educators transition to using openly licensed educational resources, which can reduce costs for items like textbooks.
     Under the commitment, Oklahoma will develop a statewide technology strategy that includes the use of openly licensed resources as a central component, create and maintain a statewide repository of openly licensed resources and collaborate with other #GoOpen states to share learning and professional development resources.
     “In order to ensure Oklahoma is offering an education that fully prepares students for college and career, we need to keep up with technology,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister said. “Openly licensed resources can be updated regularly, and they reduce overhead for districts, freeing up funds that can directly benefit schoolchildren. The #GoOpen initiative offers districts the chance to collaborate on high-quality resources they might not otherwise have considered.”
WHAT?? Does anyone - I'm serious here - ANYONE at the state level think at all before they do stuff. We're supposed to be impressed that the OSDE was recognized for its leadership in #GoOpen by the FEDS? I thought that's what most of HB3399 was about - preventing the state from working with the feds on initiatives coming from OUTSIDE the state!?

Here's the link to the page about the #GoOpen initiative from the Federal office of Educational Technology so you can read about it yourself, but suffice it to say, we're told this is all to be done to maintain...wait for it...EQUITY among the nation's student bodies.

Now confirmed Secretary of Education John King has this to say about the initiative:
Openly licensed educational resources can increase equity by providing all students, regardless of zip code, access to high quality learning materials that have the most up-to-date and relevant content.
Awesome! If I were a librarian, I'd be pretty mad I think, after all, the government has basically accused you of restricting the access of students to expensive materials in certain zip codes. 

Though everything's looking rosey according to the state and the feds, there are only a few problems here, number one being what is - hilariously - the headline of a story for the Open Gov website, "#GoOpen initiative to draw teachers away from Traditional Learning Resources in US".

Dang, I'm so backward. I thought recent evidence suggests that all this new education reform from the 2010 Race To The Top experiment - especially Common Core - has shown to be a big flop. Lower NAEP scores for math and every other subject (there was a very modest increase in reading scores but Sandra Stotsky shows this is simply because the reading levels of assigned literature have dropped SUBSTANTIALLY) across the board in just about every state doesn't signal trouble in River City that starts with a capitol 'T'? 

So now we want to remove ourselves even further from the tried and true classical method of education to just pull whatever teacher X uses in their class off the internet?

Of course, I will be told I'm nuts - this will open the access to more classic literature not stifle its use. 

Wrong. What's important - and something no one in education administration ever seems to take into consideration - is that history shows COMMON sources of anything tend to cause descent to the COMMON, not elevation to the outstanding. Very few teachers are going to go out scouring across the internet for open sourced documents on the Constitution or sentence structure guidance - most teachers are going to find what's easy - what's COMMON.

Interestingly, when searching the term 'common', I found this quote from a fascinating source. Salman Rushdie is credited with the following quote from one of his books:
Names, once they are in common use, quickly become mere sounds, their etymology being buried, like so many of the earth's marvels, beneath the dust of habit.

And that brings me to wonder how much of these 'open source' documents aren't in fact Common Core? 

According to our Superintendent's own words;
In order to ensure Oklahoma is offering an education that fully prepares students for college and career, we need to keep up with technology
Yes, because everything is about 'college and career' which is shorthand for what? Common Core.

I could go on and on here (because they've opened data access in the same way), but really, what's the point? How many parents out there are going to stand up and demand something more than COMMON anything anymore? How many parents that do are going to be heard? 

I guess it's time to face it, there is no Dana, only Zuul.

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