Here’s hoping… educators stop dishing out their alphabet soup of acronyms

Here's hoping...

Hang out with a bevy of educators these holidays and it’s not long before you’re served up alphabet soup — not an aromatic bowl of tomatoes, broth and pasta, but a dish of educational abbreviations.

I’m not saying there isn’t a time-saving reason for DOE or ESEA (see below) or AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) or even, WADM, which rhymes with bottom. I’m just saying there’s a communications problem between them and us. Have you heard about the Minnesota school board somewhere, sometime that charged its members a quarter every time they used an acronym or an abbreviation at a public meeting? They made a fortune.

An apocryphal tale, maybe, but last year Anoka-Hennepin Schools pulled together a vocabulary list for volunteers.

In 2008, I hope for a magic software program that translates DOE into Department of Education and IDEA into Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Or, how about an Educational Trivial Pursuit game I could load into a Blackberry? Then I could type in BST because it can’t have to do with body fat) and learn it stands for Basic Skills Test.

Oh, what’s “wad-em,” you ask?

It’s a “weighted average daily member,” such as the number of enrolled students adjusted for revenue purposes, with high school students “carrying more weight” than lower grades because it costs more to educate them.

Q. What’s NCLB?

A. Easy: No Child Left Behind, the politically charged name for the federal law that funds basic public school programs.

Yet, that may change. The American Association of School Administrators wants to switch the name back to ESEA, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

If you learn the acronym or abbreviation, you can be sure it’s gonna change, knowingly joked Sue Butler, longtime director of special education for Anoka-Hennepin Schools.

Still, the practice may be hard to stop. Most industries have their language shortcuts, said Charlie Kyte of the Minnesota Association of School Administrators. “They become the lexicon.”

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Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Pat Backen on 12/23/2007 - 12:52 pm.

    Cynthia –

    Perhaps I making too much of this, but of all the education issues you can focus on the best you can hope for in 2008 is for educators to reduce their use of shorthand?

    Many districts are facing major funding issues. How about hoping that the federal government starts to fund their many education mandates? A great place to start would be with special education.

    How about hoping that communities rally around their schools by passing referendums? Or if they fail, how about hoping they can work together to find budget cuts that don’t pit school against school and one side of districts against the other?

    Here’s what I’m hoping: The citizens of Minnesota make their voice heard on education issues and demand that we restore our state’s leadership position in education!

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