Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Perdido--Fariña Unwittingly Admits VAM Is Invalid for All

Perdido Street School nails Carmen Fariña to her own words. Fariña thinks there should be an asterisk to so called highly effective teachers who move into renewal schools. After all, if they're highly effective at one place, how can they be developing or ineffective at another? If they do the same things, they should receive the same rating, Shouldn't they? Don't we have a rubric, and don't rubrics make everything equal all the time? Haven't we eliminated human error?

Well, of course we haven't, but that's the theory. The other part of the rating, of course, is test scores. Since students bear no responsibility for their test scores, since environment is not a factor at all, since home life has nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not kids pass tests, and since parents play no role whatsoever in the behavior of their children, it's important that teachers be responsible for the test scores of their students.

And to take it a step further, since teacher assessments are meaningless, even though teachers are rated for assessments, we can only rely on standardized assessments. The only true way to determine how kids are doing is to use tests written by people who've never met the kids in question, and do not differentiate from kids in Scarsdale or Roosevelt. Because while teachers are regularly told to differentiate instruction, the assessments are all the same and may not be differentiated at all. That makes sense, doesn't it?

The main point Reality Based Educator at Perdido makes is this--if the "highly effective" teacher moves to a troubled school and has a rating drop because of the school population, isn't it just as possible that the "ineffective" teacher from a troubled school might move to a better performing one and be "highly effective?" That's a great point. I know a social studies teacher who told me his passing rate on one of the Regents exams tripled when he moved to my school. He said he used the same techniques, and even suggested he might have been slowing down due to his advancing age.

The problem, of course, is public perception. In the Times today there's a piece about how Bloomberg's reformy initiatives are thriving in Albany, where Andrew Cuomo is on sale to the highest bidder.  Students First NY, Families for Excellent Schools, and E4E are the multi-headed dragon funded by those who wish to eradicate union, degrade teachers and teaching, and privatize education so as to enrich their shadowy funders.

Once again, I'm struck by the ignorance of the Times reporter who says teacher unions oppose this stuff. In fact, we're in bed with the reformies. Randi Weingarten helped negotiate a whole lot of VAM-heavy contracts around the country. The UFT has its own charter schools, and has colocated buildings. The UFT, in fact, partnered with Gates and the MET program that was the predecessor to the junk science nonsense we're living through nationwide.

Union has potential. Fast food workers have finally achieved something in NY State by edging a little closer to a working wage. This is because they stood together even without union and made a national noise. If we teachers are going to make progress, we have to start moving forward rather than backward. We have to get out a message like that at Perdido rather than inviting Bill Gates to keynote our convention. We have to tell Hillary Clinton that we want her to support science rather than voodoo before we endorse her.

It's common sense. But as they say in Spanish, common sense is the least common of all the senses.
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