‘What we’ve got here is failure to communicate’

Sep 24, 2013 by

By Carol Burris –

What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.”  In the 1967 Paul Newman movie classic, that memorable line is used by Captain to justify beating Cool Hand Luke.  Captain of  Road Prison 36 has just told Luke that he is wearing chains for his own good—to which the prisoner cleverly responds,  “Wish you’d stop bein’ so good to me, Cap’n.

Reformers believe that “failure to communicate” is the reason for parent and teacher discontent.   When teachers complain about test scores in their evaluations, they are told that in time they will come to appreciate the system.  When parents object to multiple days of standardized testing, they are told that the tests will make their children college and career ready. The old scores were lies; the new ones are truth. If parents and teachers still do not understand why the tests are in their best interest, the defenders believe communication must improve.

Here is a case in point. Last week, the New York State Senate Education Committee, led by Long Island Senator John Flanagan, began its hearings on the Regents Reform Agenda.  Parents came out to speak out against the pace and direction of reform. Ken Wagner, the state’s associate commissioner of education, became defensive. He did not recognize the problems of excessive testing used for high stakes purposes. Instead, according to news reports, Wagner believed that the state has to better “explain its goals to teachers and parents”.

Wagner was echoing his boss, Chancellor Merryl Tisch. Last month she remarked:

‘What we’ve got here is failure to communicate’.

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