Sunday, August 14, 2016

Tim Farley: The Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations? — Medium

The Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations? — Medium:

The Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations?

The Wall Street Journal just published an article titled, “Clinton Abandons the Middle on Education.” The author, Mr. Peterson, is a senior editor at Education Next and he is a professor at Harvard University. Peterson makes the case that Hillary Clinton’s education policy plan is more in alignment with teacher union leaders as opposed to rank and file teachers and to Democrats themselves. He writes that “the party also promises that it will end the ‘test and punish version of accountability,’ and that the platform “includes a full paragraph of ideas” to regulate charter schools. Somehow, Mr. Peterson took the phrase, “recognize and honor all the professionals who work in public schools…” from the Democratic platform and parlayed that into: “suggesting that every teacher does a terrific job.” It’s odd, because I took the time to read the Democratic platform on education and nowhere does it state or imply “every teacher does a terrific job.”

Education Next conducted a survey of 700 teachers and 3,500 “other Americans,” with the results to be published next week. Using the results of this survey, Mr. Peterson seems intent on driving a wedge between “platform-committee Democrats” and “rank-and-file adherents,” citing that 80% of the R & F supported “all students be tested in math and reading each year.” Apparently Republicans had similar results in this survey. As an educational leader, I like surveys to help inform my decision-making to foster a better learning environment for my students. However, I do not like surveys that seem to have a political agenda. Just think if you were one of the survey participants (one of the 3,500 Americans). When asked if students should be tested in math and reading each year, would you answer no? Of course not. What if the survey question read as follows: “Do you think that ALL students (without regard for disability) should take high stakes tests in math and reading each year and any student who does not meet academic benchmarks will be retained for that academic year?” For some Florida third graders, this was a reality. Several students were going to be retained (not promoted to 4th grade) because their parents chose to “opt them out” of the state tests. Thanks to some parents who sued the school district, the school district administration changed their minds and are now allowing the third graders to move on to fourth grade.
The hit job from Mr. Peterson continues by stating that “57% of Democrats nationwide said they supported ‘basing part of the salaries of teachers on how much their students learn.’” One would think that the percentage seems a The Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations? — Medium:


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