On Wednesday, a large group of high school students staged a zombie protest in front of he Rhode Island Department of Education. They said that the state’s high-stakes testing would turn them into the undead.
New York has zombies too. They are running the State Education Department and they fervently believe that testing is the very essence of education. They think that testing will help poor kids. The zombies think that testing will close the achievement gap. No one ever explained to them that standardized tests are based on a bell curve and the achievement gap is designed into the curve: IT NEVER CLOSES.
There are some brave humans on the New York Board of Regents who are among the living. They are Dr. Kathleen Cashin, an experienced educator who represents Brooklyn; Dr. Betty Rosa, an experienced educator who represents the Bronx; Roger Tilles, a lawyer and businessman who represents Long Island; and Harry Phillips, a business executive who represents The suburban counties north of New York City.
Phillips belatedly realized that New York State made a terrible mistake in accepting Race to the Top funding and accepting its mandate to tie teacher evaluation to test scores. It’s hard to admit that you made an error. He had the courage and wisdom to do so.
Now that there is a solid bloc of four Regents who understand the damage that Race to the Top is inflicting on the schools of the state, perhaps other Regents will shed their zombie status and return to the land of the living, where people and children matter more than data and formulae.