Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Quick! Cut the Bloomberg Privatization Branches!
Loretta Prisco- Staten Island Education Activist
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results… or anyone who doesn't take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either. 
(Albert Einstein)

Several weeks ago we woke to the sound of loud banging at our vacation home.  Heating system?  New refrigerator?  A fox or coyote trying to get in?  No, a robin who seated himself on a branch near the bay window and continually, methodically, fiercely and unsuccessfully flew into the same window pane and then flew back to the same branch.  For several weekends, we woke to the same sound. Concerned for the bird, we’d walk over to the window, he’d fly away but return.  We knocked on the window, determined, he’d return.  We put my granddaughter’s doll in the window, fearlessly he seemed to stare her down, and come back.  Could we teach this robin with a bird brain, that this was dangerous? No.  So we cut the branch down as we left this morning. Will he come back? Made me think about education policy.
The DOE beats its head against the research that says low class size has a positive impact on learning and continues to raise class size.
The NYS legislature ignores the fact that there is not a city that has improved learning under Mayoral Control and yet approved its continuance.
Flying into the face of the window – oops, research - that clearly shows that holding over a child does nothing to help a child, and as a matter of fact, it is detrimental, the DOE instituted a mandatory holdover policy.
Charlotte Danielson, the reigning icon of teacher development and author of the Danielson rubric, stated the rubric is not to be used to evaluate and punish teachers, but rather used to develop teachers.  Yet, NYC schools use it to evaluate, punish, humiliate and reward teachers.
And the loudest bang of all…although we thought that the bird would never crack the window…the one that is successful at breaking the window…“High Stakes Testing: the Poster Child of Failure” (Peter Henry) and its facilitators: Arnie Duncan, Secretary of Education; John King, NYS Commissioner; and Walcott/Bloomberg, Chancellor/Mayor.
Diane Ravitch writes to Deborah Meirer,  
“Harvard's Eleanor Duckworth and I were invited to China to discuss promising educational reforms by officials who think that the Chinese exam-based tradition is stifling the kind of creativity and ingenuity that they believe has made America technologically and scientifically so outstanding. They are looking for ways to produce well-educated youth whose ambitions are focused on more than getting the right answers on exams.”
Donald Campbell, from Dartmouth, warns  

"The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor. Campbell’s Law has proven true for centuries, starting with ancient Chinese civil service exams based on Confucianism.”

David Berliner, Regents' Professor Emeritus in the College of Education at ASU is clear on high stakes testing. 

“far from producing “certainty” of educational excellence—(tests) are a set-up for schools to forego real learning in favor of the only thing the system truly values: producing an acceptable numerical appearance of learning. The higher the stakes are in testing, the less reliable they are.  Yet, we have moved them to a level never before realized.” 

The National Academy of Sciences asserts that  

“There are no large-scale, peer-reviewed academic studies that prove, or even suggest, that a high-stakes, standardized testing educational program improves learning, skill-development or achievement for students."

Peter Henry in the Minnesota Journal of English asks us to look at what we all know, “let’s return to the central premise: student effort will increase when there is  

“more” riding on a test’s outcome. Astoundingly, there is no research data showing that such “high-stakes” environments actually work to improve effort, achievement or scholarship. None.  Nor have long-standing college-entrance exams, like the SAT and ACT, shown any significant change in student achievement over the last decade.”  

The authors of standardized tests state that their tests are only one measure of a child’s learning and should not be the sole criteria for judging a child’s achievement, yet they are used in this way. 

The magnificent three (Duncan, King, and Walcott/Bloomberg) ignore the research, wisdom and warnings. They gave $32 million to Pearson for faulty tests, doubled the number of tests that children take,  use scores to rate and reward teachers; rate and holdover children; and use them as a criteria for admission to programs and placement in middle school.

Bird brains?  I think not. A move to destroy public schools and push the real agenda…the privatization of schools?  How long before the public cuts the branch of all that is really wrong with public education?

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