Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Bad Teaching Leads to Death Row Says James Liebman in NY Times

Shaping the System That Grades City Schools - New York Times

Guest article submitted by Alice to ICE-mail
Nov. 19, 2007

The November 18, 2007 issue of Ed Notes Online's article, "Hunting Down Bad Teachers" observes that "The nation wide focus on quality teaching is curious when compared to lack of focus on quality of physicians where mistakes lead to people dying."

Apparently, the DOE is attempting to make just that connection by hiring James Liebman, a death row litigation expert,to be the chief accountability officer in rating schools.

The Times writes that Mr. Liebman "...would like to think fewer people might end up on death row had they received a basic education tailored to encouraging their strengths."

Thus, the connection between poor education and death has been made.

This article is filled with propaganda techniques from the folksy, plain folks tone, to the reframing techniques deployed in such statements as these: "We're not measuring kids, we're measuring schools."

I really suggest that everyone read this article several times looking for examples such as these.

If looked at closely, the reasoning is obviously ludicrous.

If read quickly, the subliminal message is "Bad Teaching Leads To Death".

As I've said in a number of posts, it would be suicidal to mount any public campaign without studying propaganda techniques.

George Lakoff, an expert in linguistics, writes in his article "What Orwell Didn't Know About The Brain, The Mind and Language,"

"Probably 98% of your reasoning is unconscious...Thought is structured, in large measure, in terms of 'frames' - brain structures that control mental stimulation and hence reasoning."

Lakoff contends that we think in terms of frames. Such a frame is "Failing schools." The catch is that once the frame is wired into the circuitry of the brain. Lakoff writes, "...the new neural structure cannot just be erased. In other words, if teachers try to negate the concept of "bad teachers, failing schools, etc" using those words, they just reinforce the frame.

Lakoff writes that repeating those words just ..."activates the metaphor and strengthens what you're against." (pgs. 70 -71,) Saying that the schools aren't failing, in other words, reinforces the concept that the schools ARE failing. An example of reframing this concept would be, "The schools aren't failing to provide for students, The DOE is failing to provide for schools."

The DOE has their PR experts and the media. In the above article, they're created an insidious frame equating poor teaching with death row.

Any truths told will be spun. If we don't know what we're doing linguistically, we will just provide ammunition to be used against us.

If we do know what we're doing, we can reframe their propaganda and use it against them.
Above Submitted by Alice

Ed Note:
In an interesting anomaly, John Lawhead, one of the ICE founders and one of the most astute analysts and critics of high stakes testing and just about everything James Liebman has advocated since he's been at the DOE, spent many years as Liebman's administrative Assistant at Columbia before John began his teaching career. John should have spiked the coffee machine with truth serum. Currently an ESL teacher at soon-to-be closed Tilden HS after being being forced out of the closed Bushwick HS, we have to wonder if Liebman is closing every school John teaches at because he's short of help.

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