Friday, December 07, 2012

All Aboard the Junk Science Express

It's mind boggling. Everywhere you read, oh no, it's an emergency! NYC can lose 300 million bucks if we don't agree on an evaluation system! The astroturf shills at E4E are rallying! How will the educators for excellent know whether or not they really are excellent if they haven't got a value-added system on which to base their self-styled opinions? Fellow astroturfers Students First NY are putting up wads of corporate cash to push it through. Bloomberg, predictably, blames the union (though it's likely his monumental ego and intransigence preventing the deal).

Here’s the thing, though—if you read, say, Gary Rubinstein, Aaron Pallas, Tim Clifford, Carol Burris, Diane Ravitch, or the hundreds of NY principals who oppose it, you begin to suspect that there may be some fundamental flaws to this “value-added” system. With further examination, you see it has no validity whatsoever. You begin to notice that, despite eloquent pleas for it by very powerful people, it is nothing but junk science.

Now my union is contemplating an agreement with the city, so that we can get 300 million dollars. That’s a lot of money. But what will it be used for? Smaller class sizes? Better facilities? Blowing up the trailers? Even more miraculous, giving city teachers the contract we’ve been denied for four years?
Or, as history suggests, will it be used for more reformy stuff that has never worked and never will? Another ARIS? Will it be used to pay for the junk science evaluations? To enrich those who write the pointless tests on which the junk science is based? Will it be used to fund merit pay, which has also never worked?
Basically, the state is telling school systems, “Listen, you can have this money, but only if you agree to use a cripplingly expensive system that has never worked, does not work now, and is a long, long time away from ever working at all. You will have to fire teachers based on sheer chance and luck, but hey, those are the breaks.”
This is okay, apparently, with not only Obama, Duncan, Cuomo, Tisch, and Bloomberg, but also the leaders of my union. I’m not at all sure why.
But I’m an educator, and it goes against every fiber of my being to use disproven nonsense to judge my brother and sister teachers.
Not for love, not for money, not for anything.
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