Thursday, September 10, 2015

CURMUDGUCATION: Strikes and Democracy

CURMUDGUCATION: Strikes and Democracy:

Strikes and Democracy

Last night I was asked on twitter if I'm embarrassed by the striking Seattle teachers.

Shouldn't I be? My position on charters has been pretty clear, and recently I've been talking about my support for the Washington court ruling that charters are unconstitutional. I've been exceptionally clear that I believe charters, as currently practiced, are undemocratic in part because they are not run by an elected board and are therefor unaccountable to the voters and taxpayers.

I believe the implication (twitter's 140 characters depend a lot on implication) was that if I believe in the swellness of an elected school board, should I not also believe that teachers are obliged to let that elected school board be their guide and not get all unruly with strikes and stuff?

The answer is no, I don't, but the challenge is to articulate why, because my critic is correct in suggesting there might be an inconsistency there. I don't think so. Let's see if I can explain.

How is a government supposed to work?

We regularly conflate the ideas of how a government is put in place, and how it functions once there.

A monarch could inherit the throne, but once on it, be scrupulous about listening to all voices and supporting the rights of all people. A leader could be put in place by a legitimate election and begin behaving like a tyrant once in office. An elected group could meet in secret and never reveal their processes to the public.

We like democracy because as processes to put officials in place go, it seems the most naturally inclined to be open and inclusive. But the fact that it's democratically put in place doesn't guarantee that a group functions in an open and inclusive way.

Democracy is messy

The openness and inclusiveness are just as important as the electing, because that's part of where 
CURMUDGUCATION: Strikes and Democracy:

PARCC's Cut Scores and Need To Know

The folks at PARCC have set cut scores. You just don't need to know what they are.

The one published cut score is the one that draws the line between levels 3 and 4 ("not quite good enough" and "okee dokee"). That's set at 750 on a scale of 650 to 850. The other levels of cut scores, the projected percentages of students falling within the various troughs-- that's all secret for the time being.

There are three takeaways here for the general public.

There are no standards here

When you set an actual standard, an actual line that marks the difference between, say, ready for college and not ready for college, you set it before you do the measuring.

In my classroom, the grading scale is set before the students even take the test. In fact, before I even design the test. 70% is our lowest passing grade, and so I design a test on which someone would have to display the bare minimum of skill and comprehension to get a 70%.

The PARCC folk are saying that they will draw a line between college ready and not college ready-- but not before the test has been taken. How does that even make sense. How do you give a test 

PARCC's Cut Scores and Need To Know