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The National Education Association's Lily Eskelsen Garcia
Both major teachers unions, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, have been moving toward a more confrontational response to the push, from Democrats as well as Republicans, for public education to be more and more dominated by standardized testing. That testing is taking over the time students spend in the classroom, as well as being used as a weapon against their teachers—and it's all a distraction from real problem of inequality, in the schools and in the American economy more generally. "Reform" has come to mean attacking teachers and enriching testing companies, not seeking structural change; it means narrowing what children learn to what's on math and reading tests, not developing a broader vision for education. In this context, I interviewed Lily Eskelsen Garcia, the president-elect of the NEA, while at Netroots Nation.

Eskelsen Garcia, a former cafeteria worker, kindergarten aide, and then elementary school teacher, is upbeat and intense and outspoken against testing—but, as you'll see late in her comments, is carefully politic when it comes to figures like Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who her union's representative assembly called on to resign, and who she characterizes as "a good person" but one who's "just dead wrong on this obsession with test scores."

On testing and where she wants to take the NEA:

It is to me the epitome of wrongheaded corporate solutions to things like boys and girls and it is a factory model of quality control that is all wrapped around hitting a cut score on a commercial standardized test and what's being lost is the whole happy child. [...]

I got involved in my union because I had 39 kids in my classroom in Utah, where we stack 'em deep and teach 'em cheap. ... I said I want somebody who's going to fight for what I need to do my job as a good, creative, caring, competent teacher, and I got more and more involved as I saw the forces from outside education coming in and telling us that teaching and learning was reduced to multiple choice tests, because that what not what made me the teacher of the year ...

As much as I want to move a very positive agenda, if we can't move this incredible boulder out of the road and that boulder is you hit your cut score or you fail, we're never going to be able to move toward whole child reform. Whole child means the arts. It means kids who don't speak English or special ed kids or gifted and talented or gifted and talented special ed kids who don't speak English, you know, in all of their wonderful variety. I never met a kid that came in a standardized box. Not one! So what we want to do is to say how do you open that public school to all of the opportunities that that kid should have, and while we obsess over hitting a cut score on a standardized test, that's never going to happen.

We've got to approach it on two fronts. First of all, legislatively, we have to change No Child Left Untested, we've got to stop racing to chasing our tails around a cut score on a test. We have to get rid of those policies, change them dramatically, but I am not one who would tell my teachers "and we can't do anything until that happens." I have no faith in Congress all of a sudden getting smart, all of a sudden learning to look at the evidence and go "oh, this is actually hurting kids." So you have to proceed until apprehended. You have to say there's a whole lot of things you, your building principal, your school board, your superintendent—we're all sick of it. We're not always on the same side of issues, a union and the administration, but we're on the same side of this. What we have to do is to say there is no federal law that says we have to obsess over this test score. You give it as little credence as possible, you stop worrying about the punishments that come with that, you let the chips fall where they may, and you let nothing get in the way of giving these kids everything they need to make their lives what they want them to be.

There's more below the fold.

How you fight on the state level when teachers even, and maybe especially, in the states with the best education records, are under attack:

No one can convince me it's not a well-funded and well-organized campaign to discredit public schools. Of course the testing insanity gets to be a part of that, because No Child Left has a statistically impossible standard: 100 percent of human-type children will meet or beat a cut score on a standardized test. That's impossible. There is no statistician in the world, no mathematician that will tell you 100 percent of kids are going to be able to do that. So if one kid misses the cut score by one point, your school is labeled a failure. One hundred percent of schools, no matter how good, will have one kid that doesn't hit the cut score, and they will be labeled—publicly—failures. So that's what we're up against. It's absurd, and it makes great press. [...]

They need to attack unions because we tend to tell the truth. We're the people that actually know the names of those kids in the schools, this isn't an academic exercise for us. I had 39 fifth-graders one year! And now we have teachers, very talented, competent, caring teachers that are being handed a script that some administrator bought because it was guaranteed to get the scores up or your money back, and test prep materials and the professional development is all about teaching teachers to teach their kids to be better test-guessers and so everything is being wasted. A lot of money being spent, and wasted because it's not being put in the arts, it's not being put in the debate team, it's not being put in preschool. It's being put in test prep, and when you have a union that is saying enough is enough, a whole lot of people could lose money if the public starts to listen to us.

We however agree that we do need to start focusing on the best schools. We will usually and have traditionally ... have gone in to point out the inequity, the incredible inequity in our schools, where you go into some neighborhoods and the roof is leaking and they've done away with recess, let alone the arts, because these kids are only going to get test prep for a math and a reading test and that's all they're going to get. You go into other schools—most of my teachers know which schools have everything. ... If I wanted my kid to have everything, the Olympic swimming pool, the theater department, the chemistry lab, the auto mechanics class, I can tell you exactly where they would get everything in that public school, and I can tell you where they would get none of those things, in the same state. So I think we do need to go into the best schools in our state, highlight what the best schools have, and I think the high-stakes test for a governor, for a state legislature, for President Obama, is we need to then say why doesn't every school in the state look like this, and when we go into the poorest schools and we say "why don't you have the chemistry lab, why don't you have the preschool why don't you have the afterschool program," it's "well, the economy, and times are tough, and we don't have the money and we need to do more with less, and we can't," I want to be able to say "the hell you can't. I just walked through what you can't. Why can't you for these kids? Why can't you for every kid?"

On testing vs. inequality:

It's a total bait-and-switch. We're going to focus on, what? The reason these kids don't have what they need is they have bad teachers? All of them are bad teachers! And if we could just fire all of the bad teachers, then the roof wouldn't leak anymore! If we could just fire all of the bad teachers, it wouldn't matter that you had 39 kids, because good teachers can handle 39 kids! It has become an excuse, and their narrative is you don't have to worry about equity, we just need to fire bad teachers—and then of course it's "the unions are protecting bad teachers." So let's just take that to its logical conclusion. The states that have the highest union members are Mississippi? Louisiana and Arkansas? I don't think so. No, no, if it was all about a union then you would take a look at your lowest union states and those states should be fabulous and they're not, and guess why? Because they don't have the resources. [...]

We keep giving emergency credentials to unprepared people, and we don't put them in the best schools. We put them in the worst, most challenged neighborhoods with the highest poverty, with kids who don't speak English, with kids whose parents can't find a living wage so they're working three or four jobs, and we go "here, let's give you to these kids." It is a bait and switch, to just say "let's talk about bad teachers." I can be on the defensive about why we don't have many unprepared people, but it's a wasted conversation. How do we get the best, most highly qualified, most experienced people to want to teach in these high-challenged areas?

How do teachers unions fight back?

We have to organize, and we have to organize outside our own ranks. I'm very excited about the Democrats for Public Education that Donna Brazile just announced. ... It is an alternative to the Democrats for Education Reform, to that corporate reform, running a school like a factory, because we know that's the wrong answer. I'm glad that there's at least some Democrats that are saying "how about if we're actually for building better public schools." [...]

I was talking to MomsRising this morning, and they are all over what we're going to do to end this school to prison pipeline. [...] There are people now who've made a beeline to the National Education Association, and we've reached back, to other organizations that wouldn't think of themselves as education organizations, but they are. A lot of the civil rights community now, that really believed that No Child Left was going to be how our kids get what they want ... but then it went "and then we're going to use it to say you can't go to fourth grade." Wait wait wait! [...] We're building now bubbles of communities. That's why we're at Netroots—these are progressives who understand civil rights, and they understand what's happening to our most vulnerable children in this corporate model. [...]

It can't just be us.

On Harris v. Quinn and the Supreme Court's potential threat to public employee unions:

We've got a strong membership in Utah. So I know that the forces of darkness and evil will try to pick off: how do we undercut the structure of the union, things like how they collect dues, release time so that volunteer leaders can go to a meeting or can represent their members, how do I pick off how they're structured? Yes, we know exactly what's going on here. I'm not downplaying the importance of the Harris decision, but what I'm telling you is in right to work for less states that have survived and thrived, we did it by being relevant to our members. [...]

It's not going to stop us. States like Michigan, states like Wisconsin, that overnight became right to work for less states, came to states like Utah and said "all right, how do you do it?"

On the NEA representative assembly's call for Education Secretary Arne Duncan to resign:

The call for the secretary's resignation came from a place of very deep disappointment. And by the way, it was hotly debated, and it was not overwhelming, but it won the day. It was more than Race to the Top. It was a feeling that the secretary just doesn't get it. I know Arne Duncan. He's a good person. He's not a bad person, he's not part of a deep dark conspiracy, but he's wrong. He is just dead wrong on this obsession with test scores, and with offering states grant money if they will link things like a teacher's evaluation to test scores, when by the way it's a reading and a math score. What if you teach science? What if you teach social studies? What if you teach the band? We've already seen the absurdities in Florida where they start testing in third grade, but every teacher has to be judged by a test score, so what do you do with the second-grade teacher? ... It's absurd beyond belief, no one can defend it, I don't think the secretary can defend it ... That was what the debate was all about, it was if you can't see that, then why are you here? That's the most important thing that we need from the top education official in the country.

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Comment Preferences

  •  testing v. inequality-It's a total bait-and-switch (34+ / 0-)

    you go, Lily!

    As much as I want to move a very positive agenda, if we can't move this incredible boulder out of the road and that boulder is you hit your cut score or you fail, we're never going to be able to move toward whole child reform. Whole child means the arts. It means kids who don't speak English or special ed kids or gifted and talented or gifted and talented special ed kids who don't speak English, you know, in all of their wonderful variety.

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "If we appear to seek the unattainable, then let it be known that we do so to avoid the unimaginable." (@eState4Column5)

    by annieli on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 02:53:56 PM PDT

  •  Testing is not the only way (12+ / 0-)

    We tend to treat "tests" in education as though they are some special, unique, amazing kind of technique.

    The fact is that "assessment" has been part of every significant human activity since the dawn of time ... and multiple-choice tests are just one small, specific fragment of a much larger suite of methods.

    The approach that is most widely used in industry to assess human performance is  ... expert observation ... someone who knows ... watches a learner's performance and arrives at an opinion based on experience and judgment.

    Damn, that sounds like the approach that teachers used to use.

    Tests at the end of the year were basically ways to confirm and document what the teacher already knew.

    I listened to Emily's sessions at Netroots and watched her keynote.

    She understands. She has it right.

    Maturity: Doing what you know is right - even though you were told to do it

    by grapes on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 03:16:18 PM PDT

    •  If They Were Chicken Carcasses, Trust Me, (8+ / 0-)

      they wouldn't have their valuable meat packing time wasted in testing.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 03:50:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You sure wouldn't use a destructive test (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Schneewolfe, Odysseus, qofdisks, Mostel26

        The big advantage of observational tests is that they don't affect the item that is tested.

        When a test alters or changes the test subject, we refer to that as a "destructive test" and generally discard the test subject. That is why industry uses random sampling.

        It is hard to argue that pervasive, high-stakes standardized testing doesn't change the test subject. Hence it is hard to argue that it isn't, in a real and technical sense, "destructive".

        So, you are absolutely right. We would never subject every chicken to a test that altered it. There would be no chickens left to eat.

        Maturity: Doing what you know is right - even though you were told to do it

        by grapes on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 04:11:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  take a look at corporate (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mostel26, elfling

      About a year ago Microsoft began to change it review process, one of the major changes was evidently is the ranking of employees. On some level, where one has the money and inclination to hire a uniform workforce, such ranking is justified.  From other points of view, it just means that a lot of good people with diverse talents are going to get fired.

      For the basis of tests, such rankings are at best destructive, and at worst imply that statistical relevance exists with no real justification. People tend to believe that if a number can be generated, then that number has meaning. For instance the Advance Placement test only groups people into 5 categories.  Many students and teachers want a sixth catagory for those who do perfect on the test, believing that such a number, since it can be generated, has meaning.  In fact the statistics of the test are not set up that way, so the number may or may not have any meaning.

      Unfortunately most state test, which should only have three or four categories, often publish scores that separate students in hundreds of groups.  The only reason this is done is because administrators at local levels, all the way up to federal, want to maximize the ability to rank students as teachers, rather that just determine if the student is learning.    For instance, if we only had four categories, which makes statistical sense, then there would be no way to punish teachers based on student growth.  A student that was proficient year after year is a good student.  however, by making up numbers, administrators can now punish teachers if the student does not show a 200 point growth, even if that number is fiction.

      So really, there is nothing wrong with a student taking a a multiple guess test.  We do need some way to provide a equal measure given that districts are under pressure to graduate every student, even the career ag students. It is that the focus of the test is to rank students and teachers, rather than just indicate learning, has priority.

      She was a fool, and so am I, and so is anyone who thinks he sees what God is doing. -Kurt Vonnegut Life is serious but we don't have to be - me

      by lowt on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 11:27:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I went to the University of Texas at Austin. (17+ / 0-)

    I had a super science education instructor.  He taught me all about hands on instruction.  In my education studies, I learned about cooperative learning. The "guide on the side not the sage on the stage"was my type of teaching.

    Had great success with my students and loads of fun.  I worked also at writing NYS Regents Exam questions in science.  I had to use Bloome Taxonomy to write the questions. Then soon I learned about Howard Gardener's Multiple intelligences.   Every where I went I worked to establish and promote science camps especially for girls.
    That was a long time ago.  I left teaching and moved to Alberta and taught a university course in assessments.

    Now horror of horrors everything is about a paper and pencil bubble in test. What a long nightmare this is for all our kids.

    The assaults on public education were my first blog posts as me.

    When did our kids become "not" our kids?
    or
    When will "our" kids become "our kids"?

    •  Best practices in science education (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JanL, cocinero, Mostel26, qofdisks, TexMex

      have not changed.  I just got back from an AP summer institute.  Last year I went to a P.O.G.I.L. workshop. It's only been five years since I participated in a three year geoscience education project that was the best professional development of my lifetime.

      What's changed is that some evil profiteers have snuck in in sheep's clothing, appropriated the language of reform and twisted it into something that is the exact opposite.

      It's diabolical. And I blame Arne Duncan. Every time I see a picture of his smug, stupid face I just want to slap it.

      Light is seen through a small hole.

      by houyhnhnm on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 04:07:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Hi TexMex, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cocinero, Mostel26, RiveroftheWest

      I graduated from A&M class of '60. I have long lamented the loss of the type of education I was provided in Texas in the 40's to the '60's. It simply went extinct starting when the corporatists used Sputnik to convince us we were "falling behind". They seized upon the fears they promoted to sell their for-profit wet dreams, performance testing and charter schools. Insuring we were gonna "fall behind". About now thanks to the Arne Duncans of this place and time The one thing that seems to be missing now is any assistance in developing critical thinking skills.
      Us old guys always complain things are going straight to hell, so I won't bore you by whining. I do believe those foot steps you'll be hearing soon are Brazil, China, Europe, and other countries where teachers do what they do best; here's a hint: it isn't testing. Good luck with that, Y'all...  

      "the northern lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see. Was that night on the marge of Lake Labarge, I cremated Sam McGee". - Robert Service, Bard of the Yukon

      by Joe Jackson on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 04:42:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  you mean there are elevant education courses? (5+ / 0-)

      You'd never have guessed it even from reading some of the comments on DKOS; in addition to the threats from the right, there's a segment of the smug left with their "superior" MBA's, tech degrees and so on who look down on us lowly public school teachers, who just didn't have the high SAT scores that they had. And without a high SAT and a degree in medicine from Harvard or engineering from MIT, ya know you just can't cut it with them intellectually and had to choose teaching because you were too much a dumbass to get a real degree. So move over and let the real intellectuals from Teach For America, with a summer of prep ( it's all they need because after all, they had high SATs and went to elite schools, so they already know better, thanks ) do the teaching. While we're at it, let's fire your old ass, cut your pensions, take your health benefits, and kick you to the curbs ( see Walker, Scott and Christie, Chris, and so on ) cause after all you are violating the kids' rights to an education by having the nerve to demand a living wage and a voice in the workplace. The kids will be better served by a bunch of temps with elite degrees who will move on in a year or two to go to med or law school. Yeah, that'll do it. Isn't that what all successful countries are doing in their schools? No? They can all go take a big shit and fall back in it, as my hoosier mom used to say.

  •  Factories Create A Stream of Rejects (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    annieli, FrY10cK, Mostel26, houyhnhnm, qofdisks
    The stone that the builders refused has become the cornerstone.
    Psalm 118:22

    Men are so necessarily mad, that not to be mad would amount to another form of madness. -Pascal

    by bernardpliers on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 03:19:36 PM PDT

    •  Production vs Co-Production (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mostel26, Schneewolfe, elfling

      Forgive the ASCII Art:

      The industrial model of quality control is fundamentally a "production" model:

      input ----> Transformation ----> Output ---> Customer

      The transformation could be taking materials and building a microwave, or buying ingredients and cooking to a recipe.
      The key point of the production model is that the customer really does not care about anything except the Output. Do you care about the factory process for the microwave you buy? Probably not.

      Standardized tests treat education as an industrial "production" model. The schools are supposed to transform untutored students into knowledgeable graduates. The students are merely raw materials. Clay to be molded.

      The better model is the service "co-production" model:

      Resource Inputs ------>   Interaction between   ----> Student with
      Student                ---->   Student and Teacher          Knowledge

      Here, the student and teacher are partners in the learning process. The student can't do it alone. The teacher can't do it if the student isn't motivated. In a co-production process, it is the process that determines the quality of the outcome.

      Standardized tests make sense for production processes. They make no sense at all for co-production processes.

      What are you testing? The student? The teacher? The system that supports their interaction?

      Maturity: Doing what you know is right - even though you were told to do it

      by grapes on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 03:34:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Standardized Tests are testaments to laziness (10+ / 0-)

    Why are standardized multiple-choice tests so widely used? Its not because they are accurate or reliable. Any industrial quality engineer could give you 20 reasons why they could not be reliable ... by definition and first principles.

    They are used because:

    1. They can be automated
    2. This makes them easy to administer
    3. This makes them cheap

    4. They can produce a single number
    5. This makes it easy to compare students
    6. This makes it easy to make decisions about students

    7. They are "standard" - i.e. the same for everyone
    8. You don't have to adjust them for individual needs
    9. You can pretend individual differences don't exist
    10. You don't have to deal with individual differences.

    Anyone see a pattern here?

    I do.

    People who love standardized tests are too damn lazy to even try to understand the children (and adults) that are trying to learn.

    Maturity: Doing what you know is right - even though you were told to do it

    by grapes on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 03:22:18 PM PDT

    •  Thank you. (5+ / 0-)

      multiple choice questions are nasty things because to write a good one you have to provide plausable but false choices, so a person who thinks is at a disavantage.  The proverbial "trick question".

      •  Questions that too many kids get correct (8+ / 0-)

        are deemed to be unuseful and they're dropped from subsequent editions of the exams.

        So, if our teachers and students actually ARE successful at them in mass-quantities, the test will be changed to create lower scores for future editions of the test.

        Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

        by elfling on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 03:44:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  And the lower scores for future editions will be (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mostel26, TexMex

          blamed on the teachers, and used as an excuse to attack the union.

          Don't you love it when a plan comes together?

          In about 10-20 years, when all these kids not getting an education now move into the work force, and are not able to perform complex jobs, the U.S. will become an educational ghetto. Just what the oligarchy wants.

          The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits.

          by Turn Left on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 06:36:06 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  10 years? Are you kidding me? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            RiveroftheWest

            These kids have been surfacing in higher education for the past 7 to 10 years. Totally focused on the test. Oblivious to learning for learning's sake. Curious only about whether it will be on the test.

            I taught at a major land grant business school for 20+ years. I saw the subtle change in student attitudes. I retired (early) 2 years ago to try to make a difference some other way.

            That future nightmare is already here.

            Maturity: Doing what you know is right - even though you were told to do it

            by grapes on Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 05:32:41 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Years ago, Read magazine published some (5+ / 0-)

        trick questions that they claimed the lower performing kids tended to get right while the higher achievers tended to get wrong. I tried it out in the classroom and sure as shit, my better students picked the wrong answers while my lower performers got them right. I should have saved them. The gist seemed to be that higher achievers tended to get distracted by the minutiae. The lower performers tended to think if it looked like a duck and quacked like a duck, It must be a duck, not some exotic chicken that sounds like one. Of course in the real world sometimes a duck is not a duck, but a decoy.

  •  I've had a chance to talk with Lily Eskelsen (16+ / 0-)

    in person, one-on-one, on several occasions at Netroots Nation, in addition to hearing her speak several times. She impresses me every time - not just as an education leader but as someone I'd love to sit and talk with for hours and hours just to absorb some of her intelligence and mojo. She's the real deal.

    I wish Obama had tapped her to be Secretary of Education.

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 03:36:59 PM PDT

  •  What an impressive and accurate speech (4+ / 0-)

    representing how many of us teachers feel about the impact of "testing, testing, testing" has on students and teachers. It kills that sense of wonder, curiosity, discovery and creativity that every child has until we crush it with too much testing.

    Gravitation cannot be held responsible for people falling in love. - Einstein

    by moose67 on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 03:44:33 PM PDT

  •  Standardized testing is worse than you thought (13+ / 0-)

    I worked for a season as a scorer in one of those places where they hire a couple of hundred people at a whack.  I left really feeling that this was a train wreck.  

    For a while I was with a group scoring how kids answered a question having to do with "Command" economics.  The idea behind the question was evidently about the difference between capitalism and socialism.  But it was worded so that none of us adults could really achieve a clear response.

    This would have led to a total melt down if it had not bee for the fact that the supervisor who was in charge of the section, probably about fifty scorers was an attorney who seemed to be on a mission from the home office to make sure the scores performed within an expected range.  

    He went through an exercise on the white boards in formulating key words equals score points, which he had come up with in his hotel room.  He had to work through the test responses in order to find these key words and then in his own mind, extrapolate how to essentially grade on a curve so that the results would appear normal.  I thought, as I watched him present all this that it was pyrotechnic.  A truly wonderful exercise in some kind of academic legerdemain.  But I was convinced at that point that there was no science to this, and that they one and only concern that testing companies have is to make sure the contract was renewed.  

    From the standpoint of learning, this is a bureaucratic dodge, an over complexification that is designed to be a smokescreen behind which legislators can avoid taking the risks associated with making decisions and entertaining honest debate about the issues involved in funding.  

    It is a huge, mountainous pile of chickenshit.

    Education is about learning to use the mind to analyze critically, think clearly and find innovative solutions to questions that are arrived at honestly.  

    That is not at all a description of standardized testing.  It would seem to be teaching that corruption is the key to success in life as contracts worth tens of millions and billions are a better source of wealth than real work.

    hope that the idiots who have no constructive and creative solutions but only look to tear down will not win the day.

    by Stuart Heady on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 03:56:14 PM PDT

    •  People assume the questions are written by (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elfling, Mostel26, RiveroftheWest

      experts of some sort. They are not. In the Book None of the Above, the author pointed out how at ETS just about anyone could write questions, including the director's daughter during summer break. And don't have you r essay read early on, you hope your essay is graded later on, after the scorer has suffered through dozens of equally boring responses. My favorite anecdote was about the scorer who, bored, simply filled in an essay for a kid who left it blank. Jeez.

      •  Another great book to read (4+ / 0-)

        Making the Grades, by Todd Farley, pub in 2009.

        Farley was a freelance writer who got a gig doing standardized testing and then found himself getting pulled further into the world of the corporation that produces the tests.

        He reveals a series of excellent adventures as he gets one job after another that gets him further up the corporate ladder over fifteen years.

        Basically, he "turns state's evidence," and blows the whistly on the industry.  It will entertain you and it will scare the fuck out of you.  A must read.  

        hope that the idiots who have no constructive and creative solutions but only look to tear down will not win the day.

        by Stuart Heady on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 08:30:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The Faith that a Number tagged on to a Person (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    houyhnhnm, Mostel26, RiveroftheWest

    has "meaning" is a logical absurdity, and it has its start at the beginning of the Industrial Age, then the Technocratic Age and now the PostModern Chaos Age.

    It is a Faith, It is a religion, because no one has ever demonstrated that a test, even the SAT, predicts anything whatsoever about a student, EXCEPT this.. Did the student's parents go to college? That is all.

    The Misuse of Mismeasurement has a long and storied history in America, and this is just another iteration of the Control Freak's Faith Healing Bible.

    A Pox on the US Department of Educaton, Arne Duncan, Bill Gates, the Koch Bros, and everyone else who has been dipped in the Faith. They are wrong, but since they are members of a specific American Religion, they will never see how. You just have to beat them and move them out of positions of influence. That is the only way to make sure a Religion does no harm.

    Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

    by OregonOak on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 04:08:42 PM PDT

    •  I tend to agree, with some caveats (5+ / 0-)

      A kid with an IQ of 70, assuming the test is given in good faith and under professional conditions, is going to struggle in school. A kid with an 80 is not going to college, and a kid with a 100 is not doing well on the SAT. And the kid with a 70, even though not technically impaired, is not going to do well in life without some help. For his whole life. The other kids though, will mostly be ok if given the right opportunity. And yes, I have seen kids with high IQ's ( anything over 110 is high enough ) do shitty on the SAT, I have never seen a kid with a low IQ do well. Ever. Not in 25 years.While I am against all this testing and how it is used, we need to confront the fact that vast numbers of students, for a wide variety of reasons, do not do well on standardized tests. If we think these tests tell us something important, than we need to find ways to help them, within reason. BUt beating up on those willing to take up the challenge to teach them is hardly the answer. It is a huge distraction, it will not change things ( because the offered solution, privatized charter schools and vouchers, will end up serving only the kids who are likely to benefit, and even that is open to question ) because there are always going to be kids who can't meet the standards. For a lot of reasons, some of which we can correct, and many of which we cannot. What we can do, if we really wanted to, is offer every kid a top notch opportunity regardless of the circumstances; that is where the other countries are eating our lunches. And when kids don't meet those standards, we determine why, and we don't " shut the school down" or fire the teachers. And we develop other metrics. So the kid with a 70 IQ isn't going to pass the state test. What else can we do to help this kid aim toward a successful life? Isn't that what we are supposed to be doing? if not, what's the fuckin point, right?

      •  Test Validity must be done over decades.. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mostel26, leftangler, RiveroftheWest

        and even then, corrections have to be made for linguistic ability, cultural experience, levels of testing experience, and test givers expertise. The IQ may be valid within certain limited applications and predictive abilities, but it is not a comprehensive descriptor of a person's abilities. Courts use it as ONE measure, and in many cases, very sparingly, and in sentencing only. It has great limitations.

        And, that is not the sort of rigorous, validated and reliable test we are talking about under the Core Curricula and National Testing. Those are the farthest thing FROM reliable and valid, and I dare the US DOE and others to try to uses them to enforce decisions after a court challenge. They are so full of holes, they mean nothing.

        And this is the state of Mismeasure in America. Tests with very little validity or reliabilty are invariably used to make huge consequential decisions about a person's future, AFTER resources have been made so scarce that people believe that it is necessary. It is not right, it is not necessary, and it does not embody justice and equality in any way. This whole construct will fall like a house of cards under the first serious court challenge, as it should. Best to avoid the trauma all together, if the DOE and the President were wise about education policy.

        Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

        by OregonOak on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 07:21:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  These kinds of debates frustrate me (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sparhawk, Pi Li, RiveroftheWest, mattc129

    While I agree that it's important to have good teachers and small class sizes, these debates frustrate me, because they do not get to the heart of the problem with our failure to provide an educational system that helps lift people out of a cycle of poverty.  

    The problem is that we've known since the Coleman Report in 1966 that the biggest predictor of academic success is the socioeconomic background of the parents.  And we're not talking about the uber rich -- we're talking about parents say, in the upper 75% - 90% (today that's household income --  often 2 incomes -- of maybe $75,000 - $120,000.)  

    And recent studies show that the gap based on socio-economic status of parents has only increased, not decreased.  

    The bottom line is that most other things are only tinkering around the margins.  The bottom line is that kids who come from a home where the parents value education as a way to get ahead (often because they've generally benefited from education themselves), have emphasized academic achievement, and are involved in their child's education produce children far more likely to succeed academically.  A kid from a home with two parents  who have post-high school education/training, who see education as a way to get ahead, who stress education, and who are involved in their child's education, is going to have a much better chance of overall academic success regardless of whether you increase or decrease class size by several students, regardless of whether he has some teachers who are very good, and some who are just average.  A child from a single parent family where the mother (and it's often the mother) did not graduate from high school, does not value education, does not stay involved in her child's education, and does not stress education as a way to financial independence, has a much, much, much lower chance of academic success, regardless of those same variances in class size or teacher ability.  

    I'm not trying to say that we should treat teachers badly -- I have teachers in my family, and I value teachers.  

    My only point is that the areas of the educational debate where I hear the most emphasis often have little to do with the major problem I think facing us in education:  how do we close that gap that's been widening, and make sure that children from homes where parents don't necessarily value education, don't necessarily support education, and aren't involved in the child's education, have the kind of academic success they will need to lift themselves out of poverty.  How do we "make up" for what the children lack at home?  I haven't seen any evidence that we've found the answer.  

    I wish state governments, school boards, and -- yes -- teacher's unions -- would talk more about that.  

    •  You are right ... that is the real problem ... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JanL, houyhnhnm, kkkkate, Mostel26

      The Coleman Report described a reality that was real before it was written ... and persists to this day. As you point out, it has probably gotten worse.

      However, I don't view Lily's address as a denial of the the importance of underlying socioeconomic issues. Instead, I view it as a lament that we have done something stupid to make things even worse and even harder.

      The mania for standardized testing wasn't a problem when the Coleman Report was written. It has evolved since then.

      If I were to rephrase her remarks in response to your point, it might go something like this:

      "We had enough problems on our plate with the underlying socioeconomic issues in education. We certainly didn't need to make things worse by adopting standardized multiple-choice tests as our sole management tool. That just obscures the underlying problems that we should really be addressing."

      Maturity: Doing what you know is right - even though you were told to do it

      by grapes on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 04:53:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I guess my frustration is that debates (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pi Li

        are typically about the "other stuff" that's only tinkering around the margins.  When ARE we going to see some real proposals to address the underlying problem?  

        And if it's not going to come from educators -- those who spend their lives studying how children learn (I'm around enough teachers to know that many classroom teachers are always furthering their education, and that many have advanced degrees) - who is it going to come from?  

        •  How are teachers supposed to fix (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mostel26, grapes

          the underlying problem of socio-economic inequality? Really, there's got to be a limit to how many bucks you can pass? I suppose you want to hold teachers responsible for finding a solution to global warming and world conflict while you're at it.

          Light is seen through a small hole.

          by houyhnhnm on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 07:45:16 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Most people do value education (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Elizabeth 44, Mostel26

      Most people know that education is important. They want their children to succeed, but many don't know how to help their kids. Unless you can provide these parents some guidance, don't expect them to magically figure out how to do it. That is assuming that they have enough energy to do so, after working 3 jobs to put food on the table.

    •  Even just good attendance (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mostel26

      significantly increases the odds students will be successful in school. Families who make getting to school a priority matter.

      Schools can affect that some. They can make school a safe, comfortable, exciting place to be. They can provide free, convenient transportation. They can have teachers who care about students and they can set up incentives and classes to get the kids interested in getting to school every day.

      But, the kids whose parents keep them home to babysit a younger sibling or who can't be bothered to get them to the bus stop or who haul them away for 6 week family vacations or who migrate across the state looking for work... those kids don't control their own lives, and it hardly matters how great the school is: the kids can't get there.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 10:35:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The teacher union is part of the problem period. (0+ / 0-)

    And you wonder why increasingly parents and government officials have become more antagonistic towards the NEA and their supporters. I mean, when they describe our opposition - yes, I'm one of those many parents who are tired of excuses from all sides - as "forces of darkness and evil", then you know the lines of common ground have been lost.

    No one on our side is arguing that all teachers are bad. Or that bad teachers are the sole problem. That's all strawmen and blathering from the teachers union. However, the tenuring of bad teachers are part of the problem that needs to be addressed. Tenure is a part of that problem that even folks in California like to see changed. If the end goal is true equity for all students, then why should any part of the apparatus be immune to scrutiny.

    The reason poor and minority schools need "emergency credentials to unprepared people" is because many people in her union don't want to teach our children. Many of those people rather teach in the "safety" of the suburbs while her ilk has no problem sending incompetent tenured teachers and "unprepared people" to my child's school. To this union head, the status quo is just fine as it is. We don't need to change laws and requirements that are out of date and hurtful to children. To her, and many people who support teachers unions, the problems of poor and minority children is simply poverty. Theirs is a weak case that continues to lose support and gain opposition.

    From this interview, it seems that this lady wants to fight parents, citizens, and government forces to preserve the broken status quo of our education system. It's starting to become the teachers union versus everyone. Accountability and innovation be damed. If that's the plan, if their side refuses to come to the table to find common ground on the long overdue changes our education system needs, then her side will lose in the end.

    People are fed up with the passing the buck excuses from all sides. People are tired the current system and it's protection of bad actors on all sides - school districts that are too big and wasteful, teachers who fight any means to measure success of our kids, and government officials who are too stingy and incompetent to solve problems. All of these things are the problem and need solutions.

    Are the kids and parents to blame? Yes, in part. However, in a time when parents have to commute long distances and work longer hours, we do what we can. Speaking for myself, I'm very involved in my child's education. I work with them daily - in spite of my work schedule - to prepare to be better students. I'm simply asking the school and the people in it to commit to the same.

    The opposition to teachers unions isn't just corporate but common everyday people as well. Their would have been no lawsuit if there was no grievances from parents and students. To arrogantly dismiss their dissatisfaction due to idiocy and laziness would be grave mistake to teachers unions and their supporters.

    •  Understandable, but not pragmatic (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      houyhnhnm, kkkkate, Elizabeth 44, Mostel26

      You are dissatisfied with the education system. Fine. I get it. I agree.

      What do you change? Who do you blame?

      It is easy to blame the teachers. They are the contact points between the students and the system. Obvious targets.

      The problem is that approach cannot work. Why? Because the teachers are the contact points between the students and the system. Beat them down and your anger becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

      Industry has faced this dilemma for ages. If work isn't getting done right, surely the workers are to blame. But if you blame the workers and demoralize them, how will that ensure that work will be done better? For unskilled labor, maybe you just get replacements. For knowledge work, not so easy.

      Lily's comments offer a reasonable alternative. Remove the unfair, inaccurate measurement system. Frankly, if someone offered that to the unions now, I think they could use it as a bargaining chip to get a lot of other stuff fixed.

      Maturity: Doing what you know is right - even though you were told to do it

      by grapes on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 05:33:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Tenure for one should be modified (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        grapes

        Plus, Lily offers nothing but the same blame society and don't hold us accountable for anything rhetoric. She doesn't want to consider that accountability should be welcomed in a fair way. She just wants the same status quo that is no longer working.

        No thanks to her offer. We need full scale reform.

        In addition, I don't buy that private and public educational alternatives are such the horrible thing that's being propagandized by the teachers union and their supporters. If good teachers choose to stay away from poor and minority schools - for whatever reason - then the citizens of those communities get to choose better ones from whatever sources. The teachers union can't get to pick their spots and tell people how to fulfill the shortages in their absence.

        Then again, it always should be the communities decision. Not the teachers union.

        •  Again--should be modified HOW? (5+ / 0-)

          And WHY WHY WHY do you persist in the false belief that ALL teachers in inner city schools are "bad" teachers?

          You take ANY of those teachers you think are "bad" and put them in the rich suburban schools, they all of a sudden aren't so bad.

          And vice versa.

          It's the POVERTY.

          Root causes. Read Ruby Payne. Read Jonathan Kozol.

          "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

          by zenbassoon on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 08:32:03 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Teacher's unions and tenure vary (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          grapes

          I have worked in only two states so I don't have a full knowledge.  California's tenure law is not the norm; bad teachers can be fired in many states.  I have never worked in a district where the union chooses which teaching positions are filled and which are not.  As for the teachers union refusing to work certain schools, what state is that?  The majority of the schools (elementary) I served have been Title One schools (high levels of free and reduced lunch).  The teachers were no worse than anywhere else.  I hear your frustration, and maybe my experience is limited, but I don't think you can judge all teacher's union locals by your experience.

          •  Bad teachers can be removed in California (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            RiveroftheWest, grapes, Mostel26

            and are.

            There is a misleading statistic used, which only counts teachers who are fired through the full due process mechanism.

            It doesn't count teachers who are persuaded to resign or retire early, nor does it count teachers who are non-relect (meaning, the district declines to hire them back in the early years).

            I think the system could be more straightforward and streamlined but the fact is that when administrators make it a priority, they can and do remove teachers they don't want from staff.

            Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

            by elfling on Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 01:42:10 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  I am ambivalent about tenure (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RiveroftheWest

          I had tenure (for 15 years ... then I voluntarily gave it up to scratch and claw in the real world).

          It is a curse and a blessing.

          Yes, you have some freedom to experiment and take risks. Hallelujah!

          Yes, you can sandbag and loaf and cruise and ...

          Nothing is perfect.

          On balance, however, I would rather have colleagues that felt free to experiment and improve ... rather than were terrified if they didn't follow the orthodoxy.

          Because ultimately that is what learning is about.

          Maturity: Doing what you know is right - even though you were told to do it

          by grapes on Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 05:39:10 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Hey, you think the corporates (5+ / 0-)

      the profit makers and the charters are the answer.  Have at it.

      I think your teacher union blame is typical right wing bulls$#!
      I taught for four decades and like many of my peers, I did choose schools that challenged me.  In my forty years, I worked at five different schools.....from the higher end (upper socioeconomic and parental education levels)  to the school in our city with the highest percentage of free and reduced lunch.

      Teacher unions are NOT the issue.  If you bought in to that then you are misinformed, looking for a scapegoat or both.

      It was our teacher union that fought for smaller class sizes, emphasizing the need to make sure it was implemented at the schools with the most issues, getting more teacher support at those schools. It was our teacher union that lobbied the school board to get our school more money than the schools where parents raised huge amounts of money.  But in the end, the tax payers as represented by the school board had the say so about money.  And yes, teachers in the unions did want to go to the inner city schools but it is hard to want to stay in them when we have corporate America convincing parents that it is those teachers causing those schools to fail.  I have been there when an angry parent comes in screaming at me because their child was in trouble.  I was there when we had to call police because the child was there until after 5 pm and we still could not get a hold of a parent...or when an angry parent threatened to punch a principal.    Without a union for protection from angry parents, unsupportive central administration, and school boards unwilling to do the right thing, teachers are at risk for losing jobs, for all kinds of problems.

      Blame unions if you wish but any progressive stupid enough to buy that meme from the right, deserves fly by night charters and for profit corporate schools.

      “We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both.” Louis D. Brandeis

      by Jjc2006 on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 05:50:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think you unions are the answer is b.s (0+ / 0-)

        So we disagree.

        Teachers unions are part of the problem. That's just not my opinion but many more.

        So who is on the wrong side?

        •  You are. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Elizabeth 44, Mostel26

          "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

          by zenbassoon on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 08:33:09 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  You are.... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RiveroftheWest

          absolutely.  You are scapegoating teachers. You may as well go to red state and post because your closed minded, corporate stance speaks volumes.

          “We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both.” Louis D. Brandeis

          by Jjc2006 on Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 03:52:09 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  You is losing period (0+ / 0-)

            My side is going to win this debate. The momentum is on my side. Look at the polls, court cases, and initiatives.

            I guess I'm not that wrong after all.

            •  Seriously??? (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Mostel26, RiveroftheWest

              You believe your opinion, your stating something makes it true??   Give me some facts with sources.  

              Even if you could prove your opinion to be based on facts, being in the majority does not make it right.  Look at history.  Many things the majority accepted, believed, legislated, turned out to be unacceptable later on.  

              You can believe in the privatization of education all you want.  You have the right to do so.  But your choice is not necessarily the best, smartest and it is certainly not for the greater good.

              Again any one claiming to be progressive and still rooting for turning the public sector into for profit/private endeavors needs to do a lot a research.  The "common good" is for, of and by the people.  Privatization, investment companies and chartering are using public funds for private profit.   In the end, dollar signs on the heads of poor children is bad for us all.  

              “We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both.” Louis D. Brandeis

              by Jjc2006 on Tue Jul 29, 2014 at 08:39:47 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  Oh hell. You again? How many times can we (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kkkkate, Mostel26, RiveroftheWest

      show you how wrong your arguments are?

      1. "Bad" teachers--even "tenured" ones get fired ALL. THE. TIME.

      2. If you actually READ the evidence in Vergara, you will see that NONE of the teachers was actually "bad". And NONE of the students even had a STAKE. Most of them were WHITE and went to NON UNION CHARTER SCHOOLS.

      3. Children are NOT test scores and if you want YOUR child to be NOTHING but a "cut score" on a test, you are one sorry parent.

      4. Being involved in your child's education does NOT make you an expert in pedagogy. Leave education to the educators who actually are TRAINED in pedagogy.

      5. If you think busting a union is going to get "better teachers" you are smoking some seriously powerful shit and I want to know where to get some.

      6. If you kick out all the master teachers--the ones who have taught for over 20 years and actually are a PART OF THE COMMUNITY--and replace them with untrained Teach For America SCABS, which is what is going to happen, do you REALLY think education is going to get better? Or, do you just want them to pass a test like in point 3.

      "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

      by zenbassoon on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 08:28:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Lily has answered this question many times (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mostel26, RiveroftheWest

      as you might imagine. I couldn't find a good link, but perhaps someone else will.

      I believe it goes something like, "Absolutely, there's nothing teachers love more than being handed a class that was previously taught by someone incompetent."

      Teachers don't want to work in inner city schools for the same reason you probably don't live there - because the conditions are unpleasant. The schools tend to have less money, larger classes, worse facilities, bigger problems, often security issues, and, bonus, "reformers" want to solve the problem by firing all the teachers when the students don't magically get better.

      Student learning conditions are teacher working conditions. When teachers don't want to staff a school, when there's a lot of turnover, the problem is probably larger than any one or even group of teachers.

      I encourage you to listen to what she says and take the time to read her writings: her public record long predates her union presidency. Teachers know a terrific teacher and a great leader when they see one. She's a very worthy person to have a seat at any table talking about education.

      As for that lawsuit (Vergara), you know that half the kids named as plaintiffs had teachers that weren't subject to tenure protection, right? And that no evidence at all was ever presented that any administrator had made any attempt or demonstrated any desire to remove any of the teachers discussed.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 10:50:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Another reason experienced teachers might (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mostel26, elfling, RiveroftheWest

        avoid inner city: you want to judge their performance by the children's test scores. They'll use their seniority to get in the upper middle class school where the students do well even if they do nothing. In the poorer schools, there are too many variables the teacher has no control over, so the teacher has, in some cases, little effect on the test scores.  I'll use the example of one school: over half the students were learning their second or third language, English, when they entered.  The school had a 60% turn-over in students during the year.  Many of the students were migrant worker children who left from Dec. to Mar. and most did not attend school during that time.  Funny thing, it was called a "failing school" even though it had a hard working, dedicated staff.

    •  Whenever I see education reformers mention the ... (0+ / 0-)

      Whenever I see education reformers mention the "status quo," they have lost me. I hate to break it to you, but after twelve years of NCLB, Race to the Top, corporate education reform, and charlatans like Michelle Rhee and Democrats for Education Reform shaping educational policy and discourse in this country, YOU are the status quo.

  •  With all due respects to all those who have (8+ / 0-)

    legitimate gripes about education, the one overriding influence has been unions.  Republicans are determined to destroy unions, and teachers are their first money rich target.  

    They don't give a hoot about the education that the children in this country receive, they are hell-bent on destroying unions, tenure, and every possible accreditation of teachers until they are reduced to being baby sitters.

    If we let them do this, this country will be reduced to third world uneducated status.  We can't let this happen.

    •  That is their reason ... what's our excuse? (6+ / 0-)

      I get it that the Republicans and moneyed elite want to turn back the clock on unions and public education. They are that stupid.

      What I don't understand are progressives and democrats and others (are you listening Arne?) that are dumb enough to think that standardized testing is a way to rebuild support for education.

      Maturity: Doing what you know is right - even though you were told to do it

      by grapes on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 04:58:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  the reformers have multiple goals (4+ / 0-)

      It's not quite correct to say that it's all about union busting.

      It's important to point out that the "reformers" are actually a coalition of parties with converging interests. There are the movement conservatives who want to eliminate public education entirely and destroy a powerful union block, the Fundies who want to be free to create their Christian madrassas, multiple business sectors that want to turn American education into a for-profit enterprise, billionaires treating education reform as a pet project, and so on.

      I think that is why this fake reform movement has gained so much momentum, and it is also why it can be confusing to understand what's going on given the various motivations of all of the different actors.

      "Tell the truth and run." -- Yugoslav proverb

      by quill on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 05:27:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Agree completely. There is a confluence of (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        quill, houyhnhnm, Elizabeth 44, Mostel26

        motives, none of which serve society well.

        And it is very, very difficult to fight back effectively, due to the multiple fronts. What one minion promotes can be defended on other grounds (however falsely), and the footing is never secure enough for a definitive confrontation.

        It's extremely difficult to know what an individual's motives are, when there are so many possibilities available. But it is certain that the attacks, from whatever motive, are damaging the fabric of our societal compact of providing a quality education for all, funded by all.

        •  And when progressives like (5+ / 0-)

          way too many here are ready to jump on the teacher bashing, union bashing bandwagon, it is very discouraging.

          Reformers have it easy in turning more than a few against public education because I have noticed here, on dkos, how very willing  (some) parents are willing to judge all teachers, all teachers unions, all public education on any bad experience they have had.  

          It is a sad thing to see any progressives play the false generalization game.

          “We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both.” Louis D. Brandeis

          by Jjc2006 on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 06:12:58 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Uniting (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    houyhnhnm, Elizabeth 44, Mostel26

    Standardize testing issue is uniting teachers, parents, administrators, and students. They all get it. We have a data-driven culture driving education instead of having valuable, engaging curriculum.  Teachers are frustrated and quitting or retiring. Students are bored and dropping out figuratively and literally. Things can change but it must be done in a concerted effort.

  •  My son teaches 6th grade history and science. H... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RiveroftheWest

    My son teaches 6th grade history and science. He was proud to tell me that 100% if his three groups of students passed the test in history. Guess why? Not because he taught "to the test" but because he made history come alive for those kids. The school provides no text books. My son had to research what to teach, how to teach it, what to lecture on, how to illustrate the topics, and what to do for projects. He had to raise money to pay for projects. This is in a low, very very low, income school, almost all non-white, about a third immigrant kids with poor English skills, with parents who want their kids to do well, he says, but little academic support at home. Ten months of the year he teaches, works on lessons nights and evenings and weekends, and the two months he's off in summer, well he spends half of each day in the library doing research. Well paid? Not in my humble opinion. Is this worth more than $33,000/year? (And pay for most of your own benefits out of that, as well.)

  •  I am just plain old tired of having my almost 1... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mostel26, RiveroftheWest

    I am just plain old tired of having my almost 14 yr old daughter be a guinea pig!!! But never too tired to fight!!! For her and for the teachers that are made to run on the new reform hamster wheel that changes every 5 years no matter which political party is in office!!!

  •  She was MUCH less "PC" about Duncan in the (3+ / 0-)

    Education Caucus at Netroots Nation.

    She told us about the meeting she and Arne had shortly after the call for him to resign was passed.

    She said that he was not happy, and ALL of us in that room were like "Good. Maybe he'll wake up".

    But Lily's doubtful. She made her arguments, and she's convinced he really doesn't get it.

    "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Sun Jul 27, 2014 at 08:18:08 PM PDT

  •  The U.S. Still expects to get good teachers cheap (3+ / 0-)

    Prior to 1970, we had phenomenal teachers at bargain basement prices, because nursing and teaching were the only acceptable careers for women. When exceptional women began to pursue other careers, thanks to feminism, government entities refused to grasp how this would affect the pool of available teachers. If we want great teachers in our schools, it is time to pay them what they are worth (perhaps like Germany does?), and quit treating them like indentured servants.

    I am not denigrating present teachers- I know how exhausting it is to deal with children in a classroom. But to move forward, this country had better figure out that teachers are not interchangeable cogs in a wheel, and quit blaming teachers for problems that teachers did not create.

  •  Standardized testing is not bad (0+ / 0-)

    Maybe the way it is now is bad.  And it should not be such a overridding criteria to judge teachers and students. I will agree to that extent. But you still need some kind of testing. How thehell is a college going to have the time to go over every student's individualized assessments to such an extent that they can replace standardized testing.

    And what is wrong with testing concepts like
    1) Can a student grow into an adult who can figure out his interest rates when purchasing a home, car, or anything else.
    2) Literacy: how to understand basic contracts.

    What galls me is how teachers unions are so arrogant that they have to demonize people like Gates who are well meaning. Maybe they are wrong. Maybe they are right in some areas. What I see from teachers unions is consistent resistance to any outside the box thinking for decades.

    Don't get me wrong. the most important thing I believe is the need for our government to put major money into child services so the kids can concentrate on studying once they come to school and not worry too much about family dysfunction, lack of enough food, proper shelter.

  •  Wow, only 3 troll-ish comments....... (0+ / 0-)

    I'm happy to see that there were only 3 of the typical edu-trolls and/or dupes that like to inject garbage into good policy articles. I miss having Teacher Ken on here as much to really whack-a-mole their nonsense with the highest level of expertise.

    •  No need to name call (0+ / 0-)

      People tend to overuse words like troll over difference of opinions.  I see enough of this intolerance on the right. I don't need this kind of crap from so called progressives.

      •  Funny (0+ / 0-)

        I could say the same thing about your intolerant attitude towards professional educators and their representation.

        •  Did we call them trolls? (0+ / 0-)

          Or dumbasses? No we didn't.

          Who has criticized their right to unionize? Just because we feel the unions sometimes get way too defensive about many things, it doesn't mean we think they are useless.

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