Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Is It the New York Times, or Is It the Onion?

I don't know what to say anymore when I read the news. Does anyone remember the deal the UFT made with the Gates Foundation? They were going to do some sort of research on value-added, and they would score the teachers, and it would be a big secret. The secret part made sense, since there was no validity whatsoever to the methodology. Why we agreed to it in the first place I can't say. In any case, when the papers demanded the results, Tweed said, oh my gosh, it's the law, so we must release it. Papers printed scores, teachers were publicly humiliated, and one poor woman was called the worst teacher in New York on the front page of the execrable New York Post.

Yet Bloomberg swears he'll go to the Supreme Court before anyone sees the emails between him and brilliant educator Cathie Black. Because junk science that makes working teachers look bad must be made public ASAP, but whatever passed between Bloomberg and the Most Unqualified Educator of All Time must be kept secret at any cost. Doubtless financial expert Bloomberg will fight this case to the city's last nickel.

Next on our absurd news is an op-ed in Schoolbook by Merryl Tisch and John King, doubtless trying to give Cathie Black a run for her money on precisely how unqualified one must be to run public education. Tisch and Black put forth the idiotic argument that we can't wait another moment to unleash untested and failed programs on our young people. It's of the utmost importance that we get started right away with Common Core, even though it's never been tested anywhere and no one knows how, or even if it works. Let's quickly dump all that literature nonsense and get kids reading important stuff, like train schedules, menus and articles by people who have not the remotest notion what they are talking about. That would be Tisch and King, in case I'm being too subtle.

Also, of course, we need to embark on a new teacher evaluation system. This is because neither Tisch nor King can be bothered to do the most cursory research on value-added, which is junk science pure and simple. And yet we live in a state, in a country in which research, science and statistics are held meaningless by those who run education.

As for the cherry on top of today's cake, visionary NY Times columnist Tom Friedman, cheerleader for such brilliant undertakings as GW Bush's Iraq War, tosses his hat into the education arena. suggesting that Arne Duncan ought to be Secretary of State. This makes sense to Friedman because Duncan was able to negotiate with tough-as-nails Randi Weingarten. Weingarten is responsible for the wonderful 2005 NYC contract, for the merit-pay VAM Newark contract, and for VAM nonsense in other parts of the country. Recent admirers of Ms. Weingarten include Governor Chris Christie and Eli Broad.  Friedman wants to expand Race to the Top, because he has no idea what it is or what it does and that's just fine with him. Apparently he's also unaware that Duncan's Renaissance 2010 in Chicago was an utter failure, and can't be bothered to find out.

So there you have it. People who don't do research, people who ignore existing research, people who can't be bothered to test theories before trying them en masse on hapless American schoolchildren--those are the people we have running our education systems and writing for our newspapers.
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