Mandates or Project-Based Learning?

White House festivalSome time ago the White House asked schools to create a film and submit it. The film was supposed to show how the technology can help form the future and how the technology is used in schools. There were 2500 films submitted. 16 films were posted on the White House site on February 28th.

With the film festival, the national educational leader is sending contradicting messages. His Race to The Top (RtTT) program is promoting rigorous education via learning standards, student assessments, and teacher evaluations. Our district, MUFSD, received a total of $43,000, split in 3 annual payments while it was spending hundreds of thousands of dollars implementing the RtTT program.

The White House call to submit a film could be characterized as promoting a “project-based learning” (PBL). Yet, the project-based learning education paradigm is in stark contrast to the RtTT. Very few public schools can afford to maintain both, the RtTT and PBL. It’s mostly the private-public schools with corporate seed money, charter and voucher schools, and, private schools that will benefit. The Malverne district, in order to comply with NYS mandates and 2% tax cap, has to cancel programs, projects, and clubs. The media club, which could, eventually, participate in similar activities, has been eliminated from the next year budget.

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