Fifteen education documentaries that need to be made

4. The effects of federal involvement in education

“How about a study on the federal involvement in education and schooling? Has this added more bureaucracy and increased the amount of assessment, yielded little results, yet cost billions? Where in the Constitution is education/schooling mentioned? Isn’t it a state function? How has the Department of Education actually improved anything in regard to education?” —Dr. Tom King, professor of secondary education, Doane College, Crete, Neb.

“My film would be about the study I did nine years ago about the incredible sums of money wasted in ‘overhead’—the infrastructure that supports state and federal departments of education. Using real numbers from the CBO, Census Bureau, the IRS, and other agencies, I was able to determine that if the federal and state departments of education were completely done away with (no hyperventilating, please, we can have all current programs—just no diversion of money through the ‘filters’ of bureaucracy), an additional, certificated teacher could be placed in every K-12 classroom in America. That would, effectively, cut class size in half across the board. Imagine what that would do to education in America!” —Randy Wormdahl, chair, Career/Technology Education Department, Colony High School

3. The effects of test-driven reforms on teaching and learning

“I would choose to document the fallacy of the test-driven educational system. Students are not learning how to learn or developing excellent learning habits that will be their foundation through life and work. They are not able to function effectively/efficiently in an overloaded, information-rich environment where few distinctions are made as to quality, relevance, depth of understanding, bias, etc. There is a huge focus on product production, not process—whether that process is reading in the content area, writing in the content area, [or] critical or creative thinking.” —Nina B. Levine, MLS, library media specialist, Hendrick Hudson High School, Montrose, N.Y.

“An issue that needs to be addressed in American education is sound assessment practice. Three well-known experts in this area are Rick Stiggins, Doug Reeves, and Ken O’Connor (Canadian). Rick Stiggins points out very well: (1) the purpose of assessment is to improve learning, not sort and select (and rank order) students; (2) Reeves, Stiggins, and O’Connor have outlined sound assessment practices that do not demotivate students in learning. O’Connor tackles the grading issue. Perhaps the Common Core State Standards and an [overhauled] assessment system will help, but it will still likely be used as high stakes to try to coerce teacher and principals into good educational practices.” —Judy Bean, Ph.D.

“I think it would be a great idea to talk about how education is no longer preparing children to be functional in the real world. Our schools have become so focused on teaching to a test that … we have bound their critical thinking skills.” —Opal Mobbs

I’d love to see some in-depth movie on the effects of high-stakes testing on teaching and learning. What’s the evidence that high-stakes testing is good or bad for actual learning? How does testing square with what is known about the quality of learning, or the quality of outcomes both in school, college, and the marketplace? This is so important because testing is driving everything right now, including school, local, and international policy, funding, evaluation, supervision, pedagogy, curriculum design, family decisions, research, college preparation and choice, [and] international comparisons. Testing is also big business, which may be an interesting issue to examine.” —Chris Toy, educator, facilitator, consultant, senior partner, Learning Capacity Unlimited, Bath, Maine

Meris Stansbury

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