Professor Jack Hassard of Georgia State University concludes, after reviewing Tom Loveless’s report for Brookings, that the Common Core Standards have had little or no effect on NAEP math scores, as Loveles predicted a few years ago.

 

The states most aligned with CCSS had the smallest gains.

 

Overall, eighth grade math scores show very little improvement since the Common Core was rolled out in 2010.

 

He writes:

 

Between 1990 – 2013 there was a 22 point increase in 8th grade math. Over the 23 years this amounts to about a 1 point increase per year. However, the average score increase from 2009 – 2013, the years the Common Core has been used, has only increased 0.30 points per year, much less than before the roll out of the Common Core.

 

Well, four years is too soon to see the radical improvements that Bill Gates and others have promised. Maybe we will have to wait a full decade to know whether the billions spent on CCSS were well spent.

 

 

Peter Greene nails it with this post.

 

Students are not assets. Students are not
global competitors. Students are… well, children? People? On a
Gates Foundation website, seeking to persuade bussinesses how much
America needs the Common Core–even though it has never been
field-tested to gauge its real-world consequences–Alan Golston
wrote this execrable sentence: “Businesses are the primary
consumers of the output of our schools, so it’s a natural
alliance.”

 

Greene almost jumps through the page–or, the
Internet–shouting NO!

 

He writes: “Output of our schools. Students
are not output. They are not throughput. They are not toasters on
an assembly line. They are not a manufactured product, and a school
is not a factory. In fact, a school does not create “output” at
all. Talking about the “output” of a school is like talking about
the “output” of a hospital or a counseling center or a summer camp
or a marriage. When talking about interactions between live
carbon-based life forms (as in “That girl you’ve been dating is
cute, but how’s the output of the relationship?”), talking about
output is generally not a good thing. Primary consumers. Here’s
another thing that students are not– students are not consumer
goods. Businesses do not purchase them and then use them until they
are discarded or replaced. Students are not a good whose value is
measured strictly in its utility to the business that purchased
it.”

 

How to say it nicely: the utilitarian view of education is
getting out of control, warping the ability of intelligent people
to see students as humans like themselves, not as economic goods
for the marketplace. Corporations are not people, but students are.
Each one is unique.

Sol Stern of the rightwing Manhattan Institute is a fierce advocate for the Common Core Standards. He is a journalist of great rhetorical skill, not a classroom teacher or a scholar or researcher. Stern is a devotee of E.D. Hirsh Jr.’s Core Knowledge curriculum, and he thinks that Common Core will install CK in every school in the nation. He cant accept the reality that CCSS is not the vehicle to impose CK. It must be puzzling to him, if not infuriating, that his arch-enemy Lucy Calkins and her colleagues have written the best-selling book about the Common Core, called “Pathways to the Common Core.” That sort of thing can make a person cranky.

In his piqué, Stern wrote an article excoriating me for abandoning this great national experiment. He didn’t seem to notice that my major objection to the CC was not substantive but procedural–that is, the absence of participation of knowledgable parties in the drafting process, the lack of any effort to include early childhood educators or experts in educating students with disabilities or any classroom teachers, the absence of any means of appealing or revising the standards, the failure to try them out before imposing them nationwide–all of which made their implementation speedy but built distrust. Process matters. Democracy matters. I have consistently maintained that it is better to go slowly and get it right than to move fast and sow dissension and suspicion. Back when I was on the dark side, Sol was a friend, so I decided not to be offended by his unprovoked attack on me.

However Mercedes Schneider, who probably knows more about the Common Core than anyone else, decided to respond to Stern and set him straight. He responded to Schneider, dismissing her, a mere classroom teacher in Louisiana, with disdain. And here, in this new post, Mercedes Schneider–who is not only an experienced classroom teacher but holds a Ph.D. In research methods, again corrects Stern’s fundamental misunderstanding of the Common Core.

This alert comes from Bill Phillis of the Ohio Equity and Adequacy Coalition.

“Thorough and Efficient System of Common Schools”: A right given Ohio schoolchildren that must be protected by all citizens

One hundred sixty-years ago, Ohioans voted to give schoolchildren the right to a thorough and efficient system of common schools. Ohio citizens must be alerted to the potential that this right embedded in the Ohio Constitution (Article VI, section 2), is under assault. This right is to Ohio schoolchildren what the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution is to the citizens of the United States. This right is as precious as freedom of religion, right to assemble, etc. There are those in our midst that wish to take this right away. Particularly, there are those on the Ohio Constitutional Modernization Commission that would do so. Perhaps they are just not aware of the damage that would accrue from such action.

Charter school advocates are most certainly behind the removal of this right. Shameful! Persons serving on the Commission should be debating how to strengthen the right of children to high quality educational opportunities. They should be elevating the “T & E” standard by adding language that guarantees schoolchildren the fundamental right to a high quality public education.

While the language of what became Article VI, section 2 of the Ohio Constitution was debated during the 1850-1851 Constitutional Convention, Delegate Archbold said he wanted a system “as perfect as could be devised.” (2 Debates at 698)

“Thorough” was defined by the 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language as: “literally, passing through or to the end: hence, complete; perfect.”

“Efficient” was defined by the same dictionary as: “causing effects; producing; that causes anything to be what it is. The efficient cause is that which produces; the final cause is that which is produced.”

Those words defined, and still define the system as one of perfection to which children should have a fundamental right. The Commission should just do it-add fundamental right to make Article VI, section 2 even more explicit.

Please advise all of your contacts that they must get involved in this debate with the vision that the constitutional provisions for public education will be strengthened to include the fundamentality of public education.

Sincerely,

William Phillis

Ohio E & A | 100 S. 3rd Street | Columbus | OH | 43215

Read this disturbing article by Maggie Terry, who teaches at Locke High School in the Watts section of Los Angeles, and stop and think.

She describes the day that the tenth grade students were scheduled to take the math portion of the state’s exit exams.

The morning was disrupted by gunfire outside, and the school went into lockdown. The teachers immediately sheltered their students:

“When my colleagues and I began ushering kids into our school’s main hall, away from the outdoor lunch tables where they’d been chatting and eating their breakfasts, we held our arms wide like wings, like we knew exactly what was going on and that there was nothing to be scared or worried about.”

As if their arms were shields that were bullet-proof.

One commenter wrote that teachers like to whine about testing, but he missed the point.

I saw a different point altogether.

I see a snapshot of a society where the powers that be ignore the poverty and violence in children’s lives and think they are helping students if they take away any job protections for their teachers. The Vergara trial is about the claim that any due process rights for children violates the civil rights of their students. Garden-variety millionaires and billionaires agree with this assertion.

Maggie Terry, sheltering her children with her outstretched arms, understands the challenges these children face. Suppose they get a low score on their math test because of what they experienced that morning. Should Maggie Terry be fired? Is she a bad teacher?

Or should those millionaires and billionaires address the poverty, segregation, and violence that mar the lobes of the students?

I think they should. But it is easier to fire teachers. And cheaper.

The states are roiled with pushback and rebellion against the Common Core, and wise heads say the problem is the implementation.

If only the implementation had been slower; if only it had left out the testing until much, much later; if only, if only.

But Peter Greene says the problem goes beyond implementation.

He gives a multiple-choice question to explain why CCSS is in big trouble.

It has nothing to do with the Tea Party or people in tin-foil hats.

He offers three possible reasons.

I choose Answer C.

What do you choose?

 

Colorado has one of the most punitive teacher evaluation systems in the nation, passed in 2010. It was written by State Senator Michael Johnston, ex-TFA. Contrary to the conclusions of the American Statistical Association, the American Educational Research Association, and eminent researchers such as Linda Darling-Hammond and Edward Haertel of Stanford, Colorado’s SB 191 bases 50% of teachers’ evaluation on student test scores. This creates tremendous pressure to narrow the curriculum only to what is tested and to teach to the test. Senator Johnston vainly insisted that his legislation would produce “great teachers” and “great schools.”

Pauline Hawkins, a teacher in Colorado, explains here why she is resigning as a teacher in Colorado. The environment she leaves with regret was created by George W. Bush, Arne Duncan, and Michael Johnston.

Hawkins writes:

Dear Administrators, Superintendent, et al.:

This is my official resignation letter from my English teaching position.

I’m sad to be leaving a place that has meant so much to me. This was my first teaching job. For eleven years I taught in these classrooms, I walked these halls, and I befriended colleagues, students, and parents alike. This school became part of my family, and I will be forever connected to this community for that reason.

I am grateful for having had the opportunity to serve my community as a teacher. I met the most incredible people here. I am forever changed by my brilliant and compassionate colleagues and the incredible students I’ve had the pleasure of teaching.

I know I have made a difference in the lives of my students, just as they have irrevocably changed mine. Teaching is the most rewarding job I have ever had. That is why I am sad to leave the profession I love.

Even though I am primarily leaving to be closer to my family, if my family were in Colorado, I would not be able to continue teaching here. As a newly single mom, I cannot live in this community on the salary I make as a teacher. With the effects of the pay freeze still lingering and Colorado having one of the lowest yearly teaching salaries in the nation, it has become financially impossible for me to teach in this state.

Along with the salary issue, ethically, I can no longer work in an educational system that is spiraling downwards while it purports to improve the education of our children.

I began my career just as No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was gaining momentum. The difference between my students then and now is unmistakable. Regardless of grades or test scores, my students from five to eleven years ago still had a sense of pride in whom they were and a self-confidence in whom they would become someday. Sadly, that type of student is rare now. Every year I have seen a decline in student morale; every year I have more and more wounded students sitting in my classroom, more and more students participating in self-harm and bullying. These children are lost and in pain.

It is no coincidence that the students I have now coincide with the NCLB movement twelve years ago–and it’s only getting worse with the new legislation around Race to the Top.

I have sweet, incredible, intelligent children sitting in my classroom who are giving up on their lives already. They feel that they only have failure in their futures because they’ve been told they aren’t good enough by a standardized test; they’ve been told that they can’t be successful because they aren’t jumping through the right hoops on their educational paths. I have spent so much time trying to reverse those thoughts, trying to help them see that education is not punitive; education is the only way they can improve their lives. But the truth is, the current educational system is punishing them for their inadequacies, rather than helping them discover their unique talents; our educational system is failing our children because it is not meeting their needs.

I can no longer be a part of a system that continues to do the exact opposite of what I am supposed to do as a teacher–I am supposed to help them think for themselves, help them find solutions to problems, help them become productive members of society. Instead, the emphasis on Common Core Standards and high-stakes testing is creating a teach-to-the-test mentality for our teachers and stress and anxiety for our students. Students have increasingly become hesitant to think for themselves because they have been programmed to believe that there is one right answer that they may or may not have been given yet. That is what school has become: A place where teachers must give students “right” answers, so students can prove (on tests riddled with problems, by the way) that teachers have taught students what the standards have deemed are a proper education.

As unique as my personal situation might be, I know I am not the only teacher feeling this way. Instead of weeding out the “bad” teachers, this evaluation system will continue to frustrate the teachers who are doing everything they can to ensure their students are graduating with the skills necessary to become civic minded individuals. We feel defeated and helpless: If we speak out, we are reprimanded for not being team players; if we do as we are told, we are supporting a broken system.

Since I’ve worked here, we have always asked the question of every situation: “Is this good for kids?” My answer to this new legislation is, “No. This is absolutely not good for kids.” I cannot stand by and watch this happen to our precious children–our future. The irony is I cannot fight for their rights while I am working in the system. Therefore, I will not apply for another teaching job anywhere in this country while our government continues to ruin public education. Instead, I will do my best to be an advocate for change. I will continue to fight for our children’s rights for a free and proper education because their very lives depend upon it.

My final plea as a district employee is that the principals and superintendent ask themselves the same questions I have asked myself: “Is this good for kids? Is the state money being spent wisely to keep and attract good teachers? Can the district do a better job of advocating for our children and become leaders in this educational system rather than followers?” With my resignation, I hope to inspire change in the district I have come to love. As Benjamin Franklin once said: “All mankind is divided into three classes: Those that are immovable, those that are movable, and those that move.” I want to be someone who moves and makes things happen. Which one do you want to be?

Sincerely,

Pauline Hawkins

This article was written by an independent education researcher who requests anonymity. It is unfortunate that the politics of education have become so intermingled with powerful forces that researchers remain silent or hide their identities to escape retribution. In this case, everything in this article is carefully documented.

Lessons Learned:

How the Nation’s Most Powerful Mayor Lost His First Battle Against Corporate Interests and How He Can Win the War

Mayor Bill de Blasio has lost his first battle against the status quo corporate education reform policy machine. In attempting to lessen the influence of charter schools, which often comes at the expense of public schools, he made a number of key tactical errors. This led to the passage of a new law in New York State that now forces New York City to either co-locate every new charter school or pay for its rent in private space. De Blasio was also forced to overturn his decision not to co-locate three Success Academy schools. A review of the tactical errors made can serve as a roadmap for future policy changes that will benefit all of New York City’s children.

Be transparent, and engage communities. Prior to leaving office Mayor Bloomberg had the Panel for Educational Policy vote and approve of over 40 co-locations including 17 charter co-locations. Historically these votes were held in March, but they were moved up to October in order to force de Blasio’s hand. Upon entering office de Blasio should have immediately begun a transparent process of re-evaluating these decisions. Instead he delayed addressing the situation and when he did a single employee at the NYC Department of Education (and former de Blasio deputy at the public advocate’s office) seems to have been primarily responsible for the reviews. Future policy changes should follow a clear process with open avenues of community and stakeholder input.

Be bold. Universal Pre-K is a bold move. But policy changes must not stop there. Instead of deciding to overturn only three co-locations, which left him vulnerable to accusations of a personal vendetta, de Blasio should have stopped every single one that did not meet community needs. Instead of stacking a new space-sharing committee with charter supporters de Blasio should assign them seats based on number of students served (6%) rather than number of dollars in the bank accounts of their backers. A lack of boldness and a reluctance to make waves has also interfered with attempts to re-organize Tweed (the NYC DOE’s headquarters). Besides the departure of a sole deputy Chancellor all the officials in Bloomberg’s DOE are holding onto their positions. This may explain why, as of yet, there have been no changes to the test-centered promotion policy, no changes to test-centered school accountability metrics, and no changes to the test-centered teacher evaluation system. Without significant changes to the ranks of central office managers, progressive educational reforms will have no chance of success.

Communicate the values, figures, and facts used in making policy decisions. Bloomberg was a master at this. He used numbers to bludgeon opponents into submission. Although careful analysis and review of the data showed that many of the numbers were false, the charts in the powerpoints at every press conference lulled the media. In the empty space created by the lack of communication on the part of de Blasio’s City Hall, others stepped in to address some of the falsehoods that de Blasio’s political adversaries were spreading. Eva Moskowitz, the $475,000 CEO of Success Academy, was the loudest and boldest of the de Blasio attackers. Her claims, made on national television, were debunked, but not by City Hall.

We know that countering lies with the truth works because Success Academy has recently changed its multi-million dollar political advertising campaign. They no longer claim to have the highest 5th grade math test scores in New York State. They now claim to have a school with the highest 5th grade math test scores in Harlem. Even this claim does not pass the smell test. There are 32 school districts in New York City. Out of those 32 districts Harlem is but one neighborhood (not even a full district). There are four Success Academy schools in Harlem. Out of those four schools we are asked to focus on a single one. There are three elementary grade levels where students are tested. Of those three grade levels we are asked to pay attention to only one. There are two main subjects in which students are tested, English and Math. Again we are asked to consider only one. The data in fact show that even on this narrow view there are four schools in Queens and four schools in Manhattan that have higher average 5th grade math state test scores than this Success Academy school. And they got these scores without kicking out 50% of their students as Success Academy does.

As de Blasio comes to terms with the constraints that the New York State Legislature recently imposed on his decision-making around charters, he must not accept defeat. He must initiate a conversation about the practices of the charter sector in New York City. He must use his bully pulpit and ask the legislature to address the questions that charter school advocates refuse to confront.

*How will charter schools be held accountable for suspending large numbers of students leading to those students leaving the school?
* How will charter schools be mandated to stop their selective attrition approach whereby they keep the high-performing students and kick out the low-performing students (making comparisons to schools with natural patterns of attrition unfair)?
*How will charter schools be forced to address their unwillingness to accept the neediest students?
*How will charter schools be subject to basic oversight regulations going forward (such as the grading of their state exams by a 3rd party)?

Now is not the time to run and hide. Let’s take advantage of this opportunity to have an honest discussion about the charter sector.

The research cited below can get us started.

http://www.edwize.org/middle-school-charters-suspending-their-way-to-the-top charter schools have high suspension rates and shrinking cohorts of students suggesting that charters suspend and expel challenging students and as a result their test scores increase.

http://www.edwize.org/new-charter-report-improves-transparency-but-leaves-many-questions-unanswered reviews data from “state of the sector” report on NYC charter schools. Charter schools in NYC serve a less needy student population (fewer ELL students, fewer students with disabilities, fewer students in poverty), have higher teacher and principal turnover, and have declining middle school enrollments.

http://www.edwize.org/asking-hard-questions-about-what-works Harlem Success and Harlem Village charter schools serve more privileged student body than the district in which they are located and have very high (up to 68%) attrition rates

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15582159.2011.548242?journalCode=wjsc20 “Using 3 recent years of data from the New York State School Report Cards and analyzing the charter population at the school level, the authors found that English language learners are consistently underrepresented in charter school populations across 3 academic years.”

http://www.edwize.org/new-study-confirms-uft-report%E2%80%99s-findings-on-ells-in-charters reviews above study. Points to some issues (such as including less than reliable high school data) with their finding that charters serve a proportionate number of free-lunch students

http://schoolfinance101.wordpress.com/2012/08/15/still-searching-for-miracle-schools-and-superguy-updates-on-houston-and-new-york-city/ finds that charter schools in NYC serve a more privileged student population, spend more money per student, and have smaller class sizes.

http://www.uft.org/files/attachments/uft-report-2010-01-separate-and-unequal.pdf UFT study finding that NYC Charters ”serve significantly fewer than the average of the City’s poorest children, and 10 to 25 percent fewer of such children in the charters’ own neighborhoods. Charters serve on average less than four percent of English Language Learners (“ELL”), rather than 14 percent of such children in the City’s district public schools (the “district schools”). Less than 10 percent of charter pupils are categorized as special education students versus a citywide average of more than 16 percent in the district public schools. In addition, despite their concentrations in highly diverse neighborhoods, charters as a group admit substantially fewer Hispanic and/or immigrant students. As a result, charters contain a heavier concentration of African-American students than is true in the City as a whole or even in the neighborhoods charters are supposed to serve.” Also raises questions about the financial practices and “outsize “management fees”” and the transparency of charter schools.

http://www.uft.org/files/attachments/uft-report-2010-04-special-ed-in-charters.pdf UFT study finding that NYC charter schools do not serve the same percent of students with disabilities as non-charter schools and serve significantly fewer of the higher need students with disabilities.

https://dianeravitch.net/2012/12/03/reader-calls-out-ny-daily-news-for-charter-spin-2/ Daily News story claiming that charter schools serve same students as public schools in districts 7 and 23 is false. There are in fact 500% fewer high needs special education students, 50% fewer ELLs in charter schools.

https://dianeravitch.net/2012/12/20/inflated-claims-of-charter-success-in-nyc/ KIPP has fewer of the highest need special education students although the media claims otherwise

http://www.edwize.org/rhode-island-charter-board-to-seth-andrew-you%e2%80%99re-fired compares Democracy Prep Charter School to co-located district schools and finds that the charter schools serves over 30% fewer students with disabilities with self-contained special education students and fewer students eligible for free lunch.

http://www.edwize.org/at-charters-struggling-students-vanish-as-scores-rise#more-7161 it seems likely based on the data that charter schools are removing students from testing cohorts and that might account for some of their test outcomes

http://www.edwize.org/the-anatomy-of-a-cover-up-the-nyc-department-of-education-and-special-education-in-charter-schools#more-6932 claims that the New York City Department of Education attempted to conceal information that should be available to the public regarding the numbers of students with disabilities served by charter schools. And “is failing to provide the most minimal oversight of the education of students with special needs in NYC charter schools.”

http://www.edwize.org/charter-schools-and-special-ed-eva-moskowitz-gets-defensive#more-6890 links to data on characteristics of students served by NYC charter schools. Notes that “virtually none of the information available for district schools is also available for charter schools” on schools’ public web pages.”

http://garyrubinstein.teachforus.org/2012/06/12/it-takes-a-village/ looks at the performance of the Harlem Village Academy Charter School. Finds that “In 2010-2011, HVA had 55% free lunch and 13% reduced lunch. The district, that year, had 74% free with 5% reduced. In 2010-2011, HVA had 3% LEP vs. 11% for the whole district. In 2010-2011 38% of the students at HVA were suspended for at least one day while 7% were suspended for the whole district. Student attrition at HVA is huge. For example, the 66 5th graders in 2007-2008 have shrunk to just 16 9th graders in the 2010-2011 school year. This is a 75% attrition. In that same time, the district that the school is in went from 904 5th graders in 2007-2008 to 1313 9th graders in 2010-2011. That is a 45% growth.” Also notes “staff turnover was 2007-2008 53%, for 2008-2009, 38%, and for 2009-2010, a whopping 61%. By comparison, the teacher attrition for the entire district in 2009-2010 was just 19%.” Not a single student took the New York Sate Trigonometry exam.

http://miracleschools.wikispaces.com/Harlem+Village+Academy%2C+NY%2C+NY more on Harlem Village Academy Charter School.
http://www.edwize.org/charter-vs-district-student-demographics-beyond-the-lotteries cites research showing that charter schools do not educate the same type of students as district schools. For example, KIPP charter schools in NYC serve fewer poor students than the district middle schools.

http://miracleschools.wikispaces.com/KIPP+Academy+New+York tracks high attrition rate in NYC KIPP school.
http://www.edwize.org/joel-klein-turns-a-blind-eye-to-his-own-data-on-charters-and-test-scores “58% of district schools got an A or a B in 2010, compared to only 34% of charters. In Districts 4 and 5 in Harlem, more than half of district schools got either an A or B (27 out of 53), compared to only 8 out of the 21 charters in those neighborhoods.” “Based on the data charters reported to the state last year, the city-wide difference in poverty between charters and district schools almost doubled — from 2.5 percentage points in 2008-09 to 4.3 percentage points in 2009-10. In addition, poverty at public schools rose 2 percentage points from 2008-09 to 2009-10, while at charters the increase was only a tenth of one percent. Across the city, 15 percent of district students were English Language Learners, while in charters, English Language Learners made up only 5 percent of students.”

http://gothamschools.org/2009/02/17/toward-a-new-definition-of-creaming/#more-9646 discusses evidence of creaming at Democracy Prep charter school at both the initial application stage and later on as students are dropped from the school’s roster.
http://school-stories.org/2012/05/pushed-out-charter-schools-contribute-to-the-citys-growing-suspension-rates/ “no excuses” charter schools have very high suspension rates which, in some cases, violates legal regulations.

http://www.edwize.org/democracy-prep-and-the-same-kids-myth the populations of Democracy Prep Charter School and its co-located public show that their populations are dramatically different with the charter school having fewer poor, limited English proficient and special education students

http://www.edwize.org/middle-school-charters-show-alarming-student-attrition average attrition rate for charter middle schools examined is 23% between 5th and 8th grades. Students appear to be removed from the school rather than being left back a grade. As students are removed from cohort proficiency on state exams goes up.

http://schoolfinance101.wordpress.com/2012/08/28/what-do-the-available-data-tell-us-about-nyc-charter-school-teachers-their-jobs/ an examination of charter school data shows that they “have smaller classes… spend much more than surrounding district schools … serve much less needy student populations than surrounding district schools… have 4th grade students with relatively “average” to below average scale score outcomes compared to schools serving similar population… in some cases, have 8th grade students with high average scale score outcomes compared to schools serving similar populations… where data were available, have value-added scores which vary from the citywide average in both directions, with KIPP being the lowest and Uncommon schools the highest (in the aggregate). Notably, Uncommon Schools also have consistently smaller class sizes and the fewest low income students.”

http://nepc.colorado.edu/newsletter/2010/06/new-kipp-study-underestimates-attrition-effects-0 study of KIPP doesn’t fully account for high attrition rates at KIPP middle schools and other external factors that influence student outcomes.

http://schoolfinance101.wordpress.com/2011/07/06/zip-it-charters-and-economic-status-by-zip-code-in-ny-and-nj/ demographic comparison showing that KIPP middle schools in NYC have fewer poor students than other district middle schools.

http://schoolfinance101.wordpress.com/2010/08/05/upperhalf/ charters in NYC have fewer poor students and fewer English Language Learners than district schools.

Our friend Edward Berger returned from a long period of rest, reading, and reflection, and he is back in fine form.

He wrote a letter to President Obama and the First Lady to warn of the damage their education policies are inflicting on the nation’s children, teachers, and schools.

He writes:

“Prior to your administration, with few exceptions, public schools were not created as sources of investment income or profit. Schools were run by democratically elected boards under state supervision. Schools were accountable for financial management and academic achievement. A proven (if not100%s effective) means of teacher accountability and school effectiveness was in place and functioning well in areas where great poverty and futility were not generated by our failed economic system.

“Prior to your administration, the tax dollars Americans pay for public education could not be accessed by profiteers or religious groups and cults. No taxpayer was forced to support a religion, ideology, or partial school with their education tax dollars.

“Sadly, strengthened by your administration, an unproven and false use of testing replaced the tests used by educators to understand student needs and to teach effectively. Data generated by wrong and unproven means is causing great harm to students and teachers throughout America. The only known beneficiaries of this drive for data are the corporations creating the tests, and the egos of billionaires who use their wealth to force their “hunches” on our schools.

“Your administration supports those who can buy access to schools and thus children’s minds. Your administration accepts the whims of billionaires who have no certification, little or no contact with professional educators, no concept of the history of American education and how education is delivered, and most devastating, they have very little concern for our children. Almost all send their children to separate schools that do not follow the rules your administration is instigating.”

And much more.

Jason Stanford attended a conference in Austin to mark the 50th anniversary of passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. And don’t you know, the people who were responsible for No Child Left Behind think they acted in the tradition of civil rights leaders.

He writes:

“At the Civil Rights Summit celebrating the Civil Rights Act’s 50th birthday, everyone agreed that equal opportunity to education was a civil right. If that’s true, then who are today’s Freedom Riders and who is standing in the schoolhouse door? Education reformers see themselves as modern-day civil rights heroes, but the real continuation of non-violent protest can be found in the parents and students in the grassroots opt out movement that is refusing to take standardized tests.

“In this fight, the power is almost all on the side of those who assume you can make a pig heavier by weighing it a lot, to put it in terms LBJ would have liked. And without any sense of shame or embarrassment, those who created this testing culture see themselves as his descendents.

“On the issue of education, we’re dealing with the meaning of America, and the extent of its promise, and in this cause the passion and energy of Lyndon Baines Johnson still guides us forward,” said George W. Bush in his speech at the LBJ Presidential Library.

“Bush started it with No Child Left Behind, but Barack Obama’s Race to the Top is no better. Education Sec. Arne Duncan called Common Core “the single greatest thing to happen to public education in America since Brown v. Board of Education.”

“One of the problems with this policy discussion is that the pro-testing crowd can’t understand how anyone could be against using tests to measure learning.”

Stanford writes that Bush, Margaret Spellings, and Sandy Kress can’t see any problems with the current round of high-stakes testing that can’t be fixed by more and better tests. One longs to see he three of them take the eighth grade math tests and publish their scores. I am willing to bet they might be less enthusiastic if they did.

Jason Stanford thinks that the true heirs of the cilvil rights protests are not the testers but the parents and students who opt out. They do not face the physical peril of the original civil rights movement, but they have demonstrated they are willing to stand on principle for what is right, without money or power to support them, just the conviction that the standardized testing industry does not hold the key to civil rights or equity or justice or better education.

Frankly, the people who brought us NCLB should stay quiet until it disappears into the mists of history, unlamented.

Follow

Thank you for following “Diane Ravitch's blog”

We sent you a confirmation email.

The authors can also be followed on: