Thursday, December 31, 2015

Testing, The NYT and Corporate “Reform,” Gaslighting| Live Long and Prosper

2015 Medley #38 | Live Long and Prosper:

 Testing, The NYT and Corporate “Reform,” Gaslighting, Education is not Business

My last post of 2015.
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The New York Times printed this editorial today. It’s all the teachers unions’ fault.
Teachers unions and other critics of federally required standardized tests have behaved in recent years as though killing the testing mandate would magically remedy everything that ails education in the United States. In reality, getting rid of the testing requirement in the early grades would make it impossible for the country to know what if anything children were learning from year to year.
This makes sense only if you believe, as the NYT editorial board apparently does, that yearly standardized testing is the only way to know if our students are learning.
“Teachers unions and other critics” don’t claim that reduced testing would magically remedy everything that ails education. I’m a member of a teachers union as well as a critic of yearly standardized testing and I, for one, have never claimed that no-testing would solve everything. Neither have I heard anyone else suggest that, from the bloggers who write against so-called “education reform” to the leaders of America’s largest teachers unions. Most, like me, blame a great deal of our education struggles on the high levels of child poverty in the U.S. Testing isn’t the enemy, but it’s being misused and overused. Most standardized testing tells us what we already know…that students who live in poverty achieve at lower levels than students who don’t.
“Getting rid of the testing requirement in the early grades” isn’t necessary because, federally required testing doesn’t begin until third grade, the oldest of the grades traditionally considered “the early grades.” Should we get rid of testing in third grade? The Finns don’t test third graders and their students seem to do ok. However, simply getting rid of testing is not going to solve all the education problems in America.
Maybe, instead, we ought to fully fund our public schools, provide wraparound services for children who need them, and work to alleviate the effects of childhood poverty. The Chicago Teachers Union, a real union of professionals, not the imaginary “Teachers unions” that the NYT refers to, published ways to actually improve the lives of children. You can learn about the ways to help children by reading a summary of The Schools Chicago’s Children Deserve. If you wish, you can read the entire document, HERE. The suggestions work for all children…not just those in my home town of Chicago.
Peter Greene has done his usual masterful job in his own response to the NYT editorial. He lets us know that the editorial tells us just what the Gates Foundation and Achieve (with a Board of Directors filled with a Who’s Who of Corporate and Political America) want us to hear.
He writes…
…There are other big chunks of wrong, well-worn and repeatedly gnawed on by commenters, like the old baloney that the teacher unions Common Core (they didn’t– they supported it and continue to do so) and the connected testing because they “did not want to be evaluated based on how much students learned,” a statement which ignores the question of whether the Big Standardized Tests actually measure any such thing, and which also ignores the rich and detailed arguments about these points that are all over the interwebs.
So here’s the big question? How did the New York Times editorial board get so very much wrong? Does the NYT not have Google? I mean– here’s my New York Times story. One of my oldest friends from here in our small NW PA town now lives in Manhattan, and when he got married years ago, his wedding announcement ran in the NYT. A fact-checker called to verify the name of the business that his mother runs here in our population 7000 town hundreds of miles away. That’s the level of commitment to accuracy that I associate with the the NYT.
What’s the problem? I think we can find it in these two sentences:
A recent study from Achieve, a nonpartisan organization that works with the states to raise academic standards….
An alarming study by the Education Trust, a nonpartisan foundation…
These are the sources that the NYT relied on? Seriously?
I suppose they are “bi-partisan” in the same way that The Tobacco Institute and most lobbying groups are “bi-partisan.” In that sense, the NYT board just stopped short of flat out lying by saying that these two groups are impartial or unbiased. But the Education Trust is a Gates-funded advocacy group from the earliest days of the Core. And Achieve is the organization that “helped” the CCSSO and NGA write the Common Core to begin with– no organization is more highly invested in the continued support and push of the Core Standards and the tests that are welded to them. And they earlier this month released a report that says– well, it says pretty much exactly what this editorial says…
Here, NPR, like the NYT, gets it wrong.
In the following text from a story about the new education law, the Every Student 2015 Medley #38 | Live Long and Prosper: