Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sorry the Drug Doesn't Work. Let's Double the Prescription

I'd have some trouble returning to a doctor who offered that advice.  Yet it's status quo in the USA.  We've just found out that Bloomberg's much-vaunted test gains are smoke and mirrors, which many of us have been saying for years. 

Still, if you look at the Daily News,  Bloomberg's illusory gains don't even merit a mention.  The important thing, according to their omniscient editorial writers, is we've raised the charter cap.  Who cares if charters don't represent any improvement over charter schools in our idiotic quest to make test scores the sole factor in whether or not schools succeed?  Who cares if their rates dropped even more than those of public schools?

What's crucial now, according to the News, is that we keep moving in the same direction that's gotten us nowhere.  In fact, we need to follow in the footsteps of Michelle Rhee, who's also produced no improvements, and start firing more teachers.  Yeah, that's the ticket.  Let's continue moving forward with this Race to the Top.  Even the UFT President supports it, so what's to question?

There are a few things, actually.  As Reality-Based Educator pointed out in chapter and verse yesterday, the same geniuses at the Daily News couldn't get enough of Bloomberg's phony test scores, and ridiculed those who questioned them.  These same folks now are not humbled in the least by their utter failure to see the obvious.

And they're just as wrong now as they were then, says Aaron Pallas.

...Washington, D.C. and New York City have failed to disclose the technical materials that describe the strengths and weaknesses of their chosen value-added technology. 

So teachers can be fired, but letting them know exactly why is top secret.  But that's not all.  The infallible Michelle Rhee has based her firings on a system that has some serious drawbacks:

There’s no polite way to say this: The procedures described in the DCPS IMPACT Guidebook for producing a value-added score are idiotic. These procedures warrant this harsh characterization because they make a preposterous assumption based on a misunderstanding of the properties of the DC Comprehensive Assessment System (DC CAS). 

Stupid in, stupid out is one thing.  But stupid administrators whose policies result in hundreds of fired teachers is another thing entirely. That's where we're headed in NY too, with the recent deal between UFT President Michael Mulgrew and the state to bring value-added here.  This will be piloted in 11 "turnaround schools" in NYC, then brought everywhere.  Teachers branded ineffective two years in a row, based on student test scores, will be fired within 60 days.

Once that happens, the Daily News will praise the process.  When kids inevitably fail to benefit from it, they'll cry we didn't fire enough unionized teachers.  Will union presidents be rushing to Washington to hasten the process?

One would hope not.  The role of union leaders is to help working teachers.  Helping teachers, in fact, would help kids, parents and communities as well. 

Maybe it's time union leaders, like all Americans, began looking to sources other than Daily News editorials for information.
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