Testing To The Top. When's It Gonna Stop!

Are you not up to speed on what I’m talking about? Well then, I wasn’t either before a little while ago, but before you go further, if you haven’t read this article in today’s New York Times, you probably should. This is the background on the pros and cons affecting our schooling this upcoming decade…..

The second paragraph is where the hook punctured my lip…. .

“He has written two books on classroom practice and at one point helped train new corps members for Teach for America. For years, he was a proponent of the program, albeit one with the occasional quibble.”

“Then, in 2010, Mr. Rubinstein underwent a sea change. As he grew suspicious of some of the data used to promote charter schools, be became critical of Teach for America and the broader reform movement. (The education scholar Diane Ravitch famously made a similar shift around this time.)”

“Mr. Rubinstein, who knows how to crunch numbers, noticed that, at many charter schools student test scores and graduation rates didn’t always add up to what the schools claimed. He was also alarmed by what he viewed as misguided reforms like an overreliance on crude standardized tests that measure students’ yearly academic “growth” and teacher performance.”

Sound familiar?

The article then goes forward to explain that just as we divided politics into two camps who now don’t talk to each other…. we are doing the exact same to education.

I’m incline to believe it.

So did this researcher…

“Michael Petrilli, a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and a pro-charter education analyst with the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, worries about this lack of exchange. He recently conducted an analysis of Twitter and the tens of thousands of followers of Ms. Rhee, who is pro-charter, and Ms. Ravitch, who is anti-charter, and discovered that only 10 percent overlapped. Just as conservatives gravitate to Fox News and liberals to MSNBC to hear their preconceived notions and biases confirmed, Mr. Petrilli speculates that those in education are now preaching solely to the converted, a phenomenon known in the media world as “narrowcasting.”

“Worse, in Mr. Petrilli’s view, those who follow Ms. Rhee tend to describe themselves in their Twitter profiles as policy makers or otherwise removed from the immediate realities of the classroom, while Ms. Ravitch’s devotees are typically self-identified practitioners: principals and teachers on education’s front lines. Surely these folks should be talking to one another, but in Mr. Petrilli’s experience, they often aren’t.”

And therein we have the core of our problem. Just as we currently have division within our Federal Government where both sides talk only to their own camps, then yell across a chasm at the opposition, we are getting to that same atmosphere in the field of education….

Rhea versus Savitch. Just like a presidential race. In politics the immense amount of loose money keeping the Republican Party alive comes from a very few people. The Democratic Party can only effectively compete because of its massive large numbers of human beings who work the front line. It is very similar now between corporations versus teachers/principals. It was only a matter of time before the contamination of money permeating inside the House and Senate, would spill over into the field of education.

It obviously has… Teachers are being tagged as liberals and being attacked with bad ratings if they work in conservative states, and Charter Schools as well as teacher evaluations, are being killed before birth in states that are far more progressive and unionized…

What if, both had strong possible options that they could bring to the table? What if, the combination of the best of both camps was the one way to lead us to a very good educational system?

It is not that hard to envision. If we developed a common curriculum, let teachers teach those items using their personalities, used corporate investment money to fund the constant upgrading of computer power and access points, and then tracked the results in a fair way free from subjective interpretation, Delaware definitely would improve upon the path we’ve taken.

We need to use the talent of teachers in our race to the top. The obvious thing that is holding us back, is that piece of the arbitrary rating system which appears not to accept that in the field of education, things often happen that are beyond a teacher’s control, like not enough computers to take ones tests at the proper time…

Education is too important to have it go the way of politics… Education IS our national future.

Which is why I still think that over these next two weeks, every teacher needs to fill out the survey being asked by the DOE. This appears their critical moment to make a difference in the outcome. But for it to be believable, it needs to be filled out by every teacher, and then a copy needs to get surreptitiously sent to the DSEA for verification purposes…

After all, when it comes to children, teachers are the experts. They know their kids. And monetary investment is sorely needed. Very much so. The Republican decade of starving our schools to keep taxes low, has left no meat on the bones at all….

We need both. We need input from both… And the next step to progress is very simple…. Fill out the survey, take a screen shot of it, then email that attachment to the DSEA… We need every teacher in every Delaware classroom to follow suit.

If Delaware can show the rest of America that teachers and corporations can work together, that it can be done, then despite the bickering going on elsewhere, here there will be one example or proof positive of how it can be done. There is hope for the entire country.

But right now, just think of your classrooms. Make that step to reach out in a positive way and fill out the DOE survey…… It will only matter if every teacher does it…

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