Thursday, March 10, 2016

Politics As I See It

Having just voted in Michigan's "Super Tuesday" primary, I got to thinking about the voting process.  Candidates tour around giving speeches, shaking hands and arguing with one another.  I voted for my preferred candidate by taking a black pen and filling in an arrow pointing to the candidate's name.  I then fed my ballot into a machine where it tabulated my mark.  In November I will repeat the process with few changes other than an increased feeling of futility and even less faith that we have collectively chosen the right leader for our country. 

But what really got me thinking this morning is how interesting this process is compared to the process by which our schools are evaluated and how student achievement is determined.  Students are no longer able to fill in a "simple" multiple choice response on assessments.  Students must not only possess problem solving skills but also the ability to articulate in writing the thinking behind their choice, the process by which they solved it and an evaluation of other strategies. Paper and pencil tests are out the window and online testing is the new norm.  Students, teachers and schools are evaluated based on these results.  Maybe the politicians who implement such requirements should be elected by the same process. 

Perhaps candidates should have to rely on their constituents to not only select them as "most right answer" but to defend why in written form.  Voters should be required to explain their thinking and to evaluate why Johnny in the next voting booth might choose a different candidate. Voters should be required to complete the process online, using unfamiliar systems and technological aptitude that exceeds their training or experience.  Maybe candidates should have to suffer the results of tech glitches and system errors.

I just think it would be apropos for these candidates to endure the same process that I do based on rules they established.  If it is reasonable to expect my students to reflect effective teaching through online assessments based on Common Core standards then I think it is reasonable for candidates to be elected using the same standards of practice.  If they think it is unreasonable for Voters to use an online system or for the system to provide accurate and meaningful data; if they think it is unreasonable for voters to have to provide deep analytical responses and discerning evaluations along with each response; if they think it is unreasonable to depend on a mastery of all these elements by 85% of voters in order to get elected, I will remind them that my students are expected to do all these things. 

And my "constituents" are only seven years old.