Last night I saw two very unique opinions about proficiency. The first came from the blog Minding My Matters and the other came from a commenter named Publius on Kilroy’s Delaware. Both offered very strong reasons why the obsession with proficiency in Delaware has it’s pros and cons.
From Minding My Matters, this was written here: https://mindingjax2816.wordpress.com/2015/02/12/a-free-bird/
We will never achieve 100% of anything. NEVER. The very concept of perfection is patently ridiculous. There are exceptions to every rule, right? It is ludicrous to expect that 100% of students will graduate from high school with passing scores on any given standardized assessment and go on to college where they will successfully complete a full degree in the expected time frame and find a job and live the American dream with little pink houses for you and me. And in any case, whose dream is that? Even parents get the dreams of their children wrong. What makes any individual competent to say every child should go from Point A to Point B, and should any given child deviate from that course (say, to take the road less traveled), well, that child is failing? And not only is that child failing, but that child should be told he is failing, and that his school is failing and his beloved teacher is failing as a result of his failure.
And from Kilroy’s Delaware, on this comment thread, https://kilroysdelaware.wordpress.com/2015/02/10/christina-school-district-should-give-de-doe-the-three-priority-school-let-markell-choke-on-them/#comment-62772 Publius wrote this:
“proficiency” is what society is built on. And has been, for a millenium. Imagine a society where everyone is incompetent, do you really want that? I don’t.
The DOE is striving to drive change. State-promoted bootstrapping. The Opt-Outers are resisitng this (and all) change with blind bare-knucke balderdash. Kowalko kwackery.
You are a good front man for the deniers. Your defense of the indefensible is noted. But the inexorable march toward improvement, proficiency, and high performance is a steam roller you should not stand in front of, Stanley.
Both of these made me really think last night. What is this march to proficiency and where does it end? Does it ever end? I responded to both, late in the evening after a very long day. I tailored my comments to both with very strong emotions. One was with compassion and caring, the other with a no holds barred defense of my position. The latter is not safe for work! You can read both in the links above. Both were talking about the same concept but from different walks of life. One is an educator and union rep, the other a very strong charter school supporter with influence on the conversation. While blog honor demands I don’t reveal who Publius is, I will say I do know, which lends a unique slant on my comments to him.