Friday, January 25, 2013

Ed Beat: A Personal Note; Resistance!, Gran Snark!

Rant: The CorpoRatistas, the Standardistas, the Charteristas are making tortured noises about the condition of Amrica's public schools, bemoaning the recently released test results which place the US 18th overall, among the 34 industrialized nations.

 Just as COMPARISONS between Iceland's treatment of its bankers, and ours, are difficult at besT, to sustain with any relevance, SO comparisons on such global, and ephemeral measures ad test scores among countries are virtually meaningless. Their significance is merely political. 
The scores of Finnish kids, nor Korean kids, nor English kids in school are not comparable to those recorded by USer kids, in general.

Why? Lots of reasons, many abstruse and statistical. 

But the BIGGEST one is the economic. 
In discussions of these sorts of reports, NEVER do you hear mentioned anything about consistent finding that middle-class American students attending WELL-FUNDED schools outscore students in nearly all other countries on these tests

Our overall scores are unspectacular because 23.1% of our children live in poverty, the second-highest percentage among 34 economically advanced countries. High-scoring Finland has less than 5.3% child poverty. Poverty means poor diet, poor health care, and little access to books; all have a devastating effect on school performance. 

It's a typical right-wing dodge to blame the schools for the conditions of their students over which they have little or no influence, and this includes teachers in those schools. 

You wanna raise the US standing in the Academic world, reduce the number of kids in poverty to 5%..


Alert, Will Robinson: If anyone cherished any illusions that the enterprise of 'schooling' had become anything more than just another business, here's a useful, apposite reminder: Educational technology companies and entrepreneurs may face the risk of a "tech bubble," similar to the massive boom-and-bust that rocked the technology market in the late 1990s, according to market analysts and a recently released paper. The triumph of the corpoRistas has costs, though they are seldom borne by those who incur them.

Vive l'Resistance!:  On January 9, teachers at Garfield High School in Seattle announced their pledge to refuse to administer a standardized test that has faced widespread and persistent opposition throughout the Seattle Public Schools (SPS). The Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) test is supposed to chart student academic growth in math and language arts, but teachers--members of the Seattle Education Association (SEA)--are frustrated by the failure of the test to align with state standards they are supposed to teach to. And because MAP test results don't affect student grades or graduation, many students don't take the test seriously.
The latest news indicates that the teachers at Garfield ar standing firm, and have earned support from local groups, including parents. The struggle goes on.

World-Class Snark: The Ode to the Unknown Teacher
She was found by the U. S. Department of Education to be
One against whom there was no official debit side,
And all the reports on her conduct agree
That, in the modern sense of an old-fashioned word, she was highly qualified,
For in everything she did she obeyed Standardisto decrees.
Except for maternity leave, till the day she retired
She worked in a classroom and in dissent never was mired;
She satisfied the State and the literacy coach
In following script she was above reproach.
She wasn’t a complainer, not odd in her views,
And her Union reports that she paid her dues,
(Our report on her Union shows it was sound
Advocating NCLB, RTTT, CCSS reform, and did not revolt expound.)
She cared for children and offered no danger to the power elite.

The State is pleased she offered phonemic segmentation fluency each day
And kept the Bill Gates-funded Common Core on display
And that her responses to directives were obedient in every way.
Both Republicans and Democrats assert it:
She was fully sensible to the advantages of the Standardisto gas
She had everything necessary for a Global Economy class,
A script, a timer, and a bag for collecting vomit.
Bill Gates and Eli Broad are content
That she held the proper opinions for the corporate-politico crowd
When there were DIBELS, she DIBLED; she offered no dissent.
Her students scored a proficiency
Which our experts say was a sufficiency.
Was she free? Was she happy? Don’t cause a fuss.
Had anything been wrong, her union certainly would’ve told us.

Susan Ohanian, with apologies/gratitude to W.H. Auden:, in honor of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation...

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