Sunday, August 24, 2014

New York's Passion for Crap in Education Means No Flexibility in APPR

Over at Perdido Street School he's pierced the bazillion-dollar Capital NY paywall and discovered that Arne Duncan's flexibility with APPR does not extend to states that have already begun Common Core testing. For those of you who are dancing in the streets because it will be two years before you can be rated ineffective based on these particular tests, be advised that there are multiple other ways junk science can take you down. Apparently, since we were brilliant enough to start testing early, junk science rules in NY.

If you want to sent a thank you card, you can start with our union leaders, all of whom adore Common Core. AFT President Randi Weingarten says it's the implementation and high-stakes that are the problems. NYSUT's Karen Magee, who specifically ran against Common Core, now claims we need Common Core or we'll be reduced to utter anarchy. And UFT Prez Mike Mulgrew will punch you in the face and push you in the dirt if you lay your stinking hands on his Common Core.

And of course, we helped every step of the way to fail 70%, and, in a great victory for Reformy John King, now only 65% of our children. How many "attaboys" would your principal be sending your way if you failed 65% of your kids? And make no mistake, UFT President Mulgrew was proud as Moses bearing the Ten Commandments when he came down to us with New York's junk science law. Oddly, he supported Karen Magee and Revive NYSUT as they blamed Dick Iannuzzi for it all over New York State.

And now, despite Revive NYSUT's bold opposition, thus far followed up with a whole lot of nothing except covering their own pensions, we seem to be stuck with this. I traveled all over the state last year and met many local presidents who'd negotiated reasonable APPR plans, but the one in NY is so complicated that the people I know who best understand it barely understand it at all. I hear that upstate cities also have awful systems, as evidenced by large numbers of teachers receiving poor ratings. It will be tough for us to improve these systems, with editorial writers in every major newspaper having conniptions over anything that might improve teaching and learning that isn't pre-blessed by Emperor Bill Gates.

The enthusiasm of our leaders for reforminess has proven helpful neither to us nor the children we serve. In fact, even our leaders agree that Common Core has been a statewide and national disaster. The only problem is, having taken millions from Gates to support it, it's hard for them to say, "Gee, we screwed up." Instead, they press on with bold calls for moderation. Those of us on the ground see clearly that Common Core is doing precisely what it's designed to do--fail a large number of students.

The problem with Common Core is not the massive failure rate, but rather New York's unwillingness to conclude either our children are stupid or our teachers are incompetent. Despite Governor Cuomo's best efforts, the public is simply not clamoring to burn down the public schools and rebuild them as Moskowitz Academies.

That's why there was a huge public outcry against this nonsense. When thin-skinned John King was faced with angry teachers and parents, his first response was to label them "special interests," take his ball and go home. Only later was he pretty much forced to listen. Yet while he sends his kids to a Montessori school, Common Core is good enough for us commoners.

And because we were so eager to judge our kids by junk science, our teachers are stuck with it too.

It's time to reject Race to the Top, dump Common Core, and give Arne Duncan back his blood money. And that's what's gonna happen, eventually, no matter how many people Mulgrew punches in the face. Because all his tough talk won't mean much to you after you watch this.

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