Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Hoisted On Their Own Petard

If you've read here for any time, you'll know that I put little stock in academic testing, and least of all the sort of high stakes standardized data collection tests so beloved by the corporate-style public education "reformers." Still, it's impossible, when presented with the opportunity to hoist these charlatans and dilettantes on their own petard, for me to refrain from doing so. From the Washington Post's Answer Sheet:

The 2015 scores for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) are out, and the new isn't good for those who think standardized test scores tell us something significant about student achievement . . . (M)ath scores for fourth-graders and eighth-graders across the United States dropped this year, the first time since the federal government began administering the exams . . . Reading scores weren't much better.

Please don't think I'm gloating, because the damage these "reformers" have done to our schools, and through them our children, is real, but I'd always assumed that their focus on testing, testing, and more testing would, at least, produce a generation of kids who are better at taking tests. Clearly, I was wrong.

For the past 15 years, lead by education dilettante-in-chief and world's wealthiest man, Bill Gates, the children in our public schools have been guinea pigs in a cruel experiment, one that the experts (and by that I mean actual classroom teachers) warned would end like this. Through two Presidential administrations, we have watched, many of us horrified, as first No Child Left Behind, then Race to the Top, and now the Common Core national curriculum (and it is a curriculum despite what its advocates claim), have methodically sucked the joy out of learning for a generation of young Americans. In an ominous moment from a decade ago, one that should have set off alarm bells, Gates himself said, "They have to give us the opportunity for this experiment," one that he predicted would take a decade to show results, more or less admitting that the corporate education reformers have no idea what they are doing other than, I suppose, getting paid. And that, as always with these guys is the bottom line: from their perspective their experiments are working out just dandy because they are making billions.

And in case you still hold out some vestige of an idea that their "hearts were in the right place," please know that they didn't even take the time for a single field test of their ideas. Not one. Nor did they consult with teachers. They didn't need to because they were mostly businessmen and they knew that (quoting Gates again) "unleashing powerful market forces" on our children would reap profits. Education, learning, and what is best for children has always been, at best, a secondary motivation.

The Obama administration has recently called for a reduction in standardized testing and even the Gates Foundation itself has called for a moratorium on some aspects of testing, so our push back is working. Parents continue to opt their children out of these tests and states are dropping out of the the Common Core in ever increasing numbers. The media is finally starting to stick their noses under the tent. We have unwillingly given Bill Gates his ten years, and more, to experiment on our children and, as we predicted, it has been a failure even if measured by their own measuring stick.

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1 comment:

Carol said...

Well said. I think we need to begin requiring EVERYONE to ask, "Is it good for the children?" before moving forward with anything. If we can't answer a resounding yes, then we need to move on.