21st-century educationese in translation

The mean girl in me enjoys Ohio Education Gadfly’s snarky response to Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland’s education reform blueprint. Under Exciting 21st Century Learning Environments:

Governor’s proposal: Our schools must become collaborative continuous learning organizations that build a culture of strong relationships, professionalism, collaboration, and common purpose for all students.

Gadfly translates: Our schools will be leaderless, directionless centers of feel-goodism.

Under Efficient Accountability and Resource Management Systems: 

Governor’s proposal: Improving our technology system to meet the needs of our students in the 21st Century.

Gadfly translates: We still don’t know how to use the computers that we have but we’ll get some more.

I’m getting sick of the 21st century and we still have more than nine decades to go.

Update: Jay Mathews’ column on a report calling for “21st century skills” is on point.

It listed the “21st century skills” that our children need for the rapidly evolving labor market. These included thinking critically and making judgments, solving complex, multidisciplinary, open-ended problems, developing creative and entrepreneurial thinking, communicating and collaborating, making innovative use of knowledge, information and opportunities and taking charge of financial, health and civic responsibilities.

. . . How in the name of every teacher who has ever contemplated suicide during the unit on fractions are we supposed to make those things happen?

By creating collaborative continuous learning organizations!

About Joanne


  1. Oh, our dear Gov. Stickland-it was not one week after the election that the headlines read “Message to schools: Go ahead and put your tax levies on the ballots for spring because we aren’t going to be able to solve the inequities in Ohio’s school funding for years.” This after he RAN on the promise of finally fixing the system that has been declared unconstitutional in lawsuit after lawsuit in Ohio.

  2. Andromeda says:

    That first proposal line…I’ve seen that before somewhere…oh yeah, here!

  3. This kind of blather seems most prevalant in the education industry, but is increasingly prevalent throughout our society, even in business. I think it does real harm to the quality of thought and the effectiveness of action.

  4. Richard Nieporent says:

    I sure hope that the Education Gadfly does not have any problems with child support payments or anything else in Ohio. Governor Strickland does not see any problem with state agencies running background checks on people who have the audacity to question Democrat politicians.

  5. “Governor Strickland does not see any problem with state agencies running background checks on people who have the audacity to question Democrat politicians.”

    This is an example of what governemnts do–everywhere and always. Even so-called “good” governments eventually go bad.

  6. Ponderosa says:

    Our new superintendent has swallowed the “Professional Learning Communities” fad hook, line and sinker. Richard DuFour is his guru. Putting a bunch of well-meaning and bright but not-incredibly-learned teachers in groups is not going to yield the Platonic ideal of a school, or anything close. You’re right, Joanne. This is the abdication of leadership. The problem, it seems to me, is that the “leaders” have no clear idea of what a good school looks like. So they “punt” and hope the teachers can figure it out. But they, too, are devoid of a clear ideal. So these poor teachers labor away in committees (when they could be lesson planning or grading or reading something illuminating) producing half-baked and very flawed schemes that will wither and vanish within a couple years. A good education leader needs a lucid vision of the Good and Beautiful School. Very few seem to have this.

  7. The Gadfly translations are hilariously snarky and often insightful, but we all know not to take the original statement or the translation at face value, right?

    For example, the next to last translation. Because traditional news outlets just can’t seem to understand how the demand for news is changing, they’re making massive cutbacks, and one area hit hard is education reporting, especially good news. That leaves non-parents with no way to hear about the good things local schools do. Then, those non-parents vote “no” on bond elections, since all they hear is the bad news. If you’d ever like your school district to pass a bond election, this is a big deal. So external communications from school districts is actually one of the only ways that schools can impact their funding, and there is a problem that will cost more initial investment of staff in order to get returns.

    That said, we don’t need communicators to work on getting Podunk into the New York Times, and we don’t need them to spin stories. We just need them to efficiently let local voters know about the true success stories that really are happening all the time.

    So…the post is an eye-opener but not a decision-maker. 🙂

  8. L. C. Burgundy says:

    From Bob Taft to Ted Strickland, I tell you, Ohio has a knack for picking the losers.

  9. In my daughters tech homework they asked her to identify a floppy disk – I told he to write obsolete