By Anthony Cody, Special to CNN
Editor’s note:Anthony Cody worked in schools in Oakland, California, for 24 years. He taught middle school science 18 of those years. He lives in Mendocino County, California, and leads workshops for teachers. He writes the Living in Dialogue blog, and you can follow him on Twitter, @AnthonyCody.
(CNN) - Dear Mr. Lucas,
I have recently read of the $4 billion that you will receive for selling your movie empire to Disney, and your plans to give most of this money to support education. This is wonderful news. I deeply appreciate this generosity. I am writing a letter to encourage you to think outside the box as you decide how to spend these funds. It is critical to consider where educators find ourselves in 2012.
The George Lucas Education Foundation already has made a substantial impact on our schools. Edutopia has been an amazing resource for years, sharing news and examples of project-based learning, authentic inquiry and other innovations. The emphasis is almost always on giving students rich challenges, with opportunities for creative expression.
This emphasis is decidedly at odds with the direction of the other giants of “education reform” such as the Gates Foundation. It also runs counter to the mainstream of No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top and other government-led reforms, which place their faith in standardized test data and curriculum aligned to standards and tests.
Students have suffered through an entire generation of test-centered reforms. The results are very poor. The National Academy of Sciences released a report last year that concluded a decade of ever-higher stakes attached to tests has yielded no growth.