Saturday, January 28, 2012
The national conspiracy to break teachers’ unions reaches Hawaii
“Secretary Duncan leads the chorus of "teachers are the most important factor in student achievement" despite ample evidence that teacher influence on measurable student outcomes, tests, is only about 10-20%. This refrain serves two purposes for the "No Excuses" Reformers: (1) Deflect attention from the 60-80% influence that out-of-school factors play in student achievement, and (2) insure that teachers are de-professionalized, thus creating a cheap labor force for a privatized education system.”—PLThomas, ED
“You can't fatten up cows by weighing them.”—Dr. Larry Lieberman
by Larry Geller
Hawaii teachers broke with their union leaders and rejected the state’s contract proposal by a two-to-one margin earlier this month. Was it just a case of bad communication or incompetence on the part of Hawaii State Teachers Association (HSTA) leaders, as the media represented, or are the teachers on to what’s going on?
I spoke to only a couple of teachers, but they were, indeed, very aware of the implications of passively agreeing to “education reform” Hawaii style. Which is to say, the same “education reform” that aims to decimate teachers’ unions across the country if unchallenged.
Educator Dr. Larry Lieberman adopted what is apparently a common New England saying (“You can't fatten up cows by weighing them”) for a radio program I arranged many years ago on Cox Radio. Just testing kids doesn’t improve their education, yet advocates of high-stakes testing and No Child Left Behind have implemented a testing regime that decimates school curricula and bribes states to comply in exchange for federal money.
As Dr. Thomas points out (and as others have before him), teachers are responsible for only a fraction of measurable student achievement.
Secretary Duncan leads the chorus of "teachers are the most important factor in student achievement" despite ample evidence that teacher influence on measurable student outcomes, tests, is only about 10-20%. This refrain serves two purposes for the "No Excuses" Reformers: (1) Deflect attention from the 60-80% influence that out-of-school factors play in student achievement, and (2) insure that teachers are de-professionalized, thus creating a cheap labor force for a privatized education system.
While 50 states have implemented accountability, standards, and testing without satisfactory results, "No Excuses" Reformers are committed to national standards, and the expected national tests to follow. While there is no national or international evidence that standards and testing improve education, this call for federalizing standards and testing proves to be an important lever for removing completely teacher autonomy and creating the platform upon which teachers are easily fired.
[DailyKos, 21st Century Teachers: Easy to Hire, Easy to Fire, 1/28/2012]
The market-based reforms are clearly aimed at destruction of public education as it is today. However, where reformers have been able to charge ahead, their results are no better than anywhere else.
But wait, some of the districts tested by the federal government have been actually implementing the market-based reforms advocated by the corporate reformers: New York City, which has had mayoral control since 2002; Washington, D.C., which has had mayoral control since 2007; Chicago, where Arne Duncan launched market-based reforms in 2001; and Milwaukee, which has had vouchers since 1990.
Since the mayor took charge in 2002, New York City has enthusiastically imposed market-style reforms. It has more choice than any other major city — parents and students get to choose among 400 high schools, as well as more than 100 charter schools. All schools are given letter grades based on test scores. New York City spent $56 million on merit pay, then abandoned the program when it showed zero results. After nine years of market-based reforms, however, the achievement gap between black and white students is unchanged. On the federal tests, math scores are up but no more than in districts without market reforms. Eighth grade reading scores have been flat since 2003.
[Washington Post, Whose children have been left behind? Framing the 2012 ed debate, 1/3/2012]
The article also describes the failure of the Washington DC school district. In fact, minority students are far worse off. Check it out.
As long as the local media avoid this discussion, parents and the general public may remain unaware of the real game that’s playing out in the state. Since the real motivation is not improvement of their children’s education, they could find themselves becoming pawns in a game where big money calls the shots. The antidote is public education. If the newspaper won’t do it, then perhaps the HSTA might start to get the word out.
See also: Reframe: Obama’s “Race to the Top” itself dealt a blow by Hawaii teachers (1/23/2012).
But, but, but......teaching our children to become productive adults is really not the point. Are you a socialist or something? It's about corporate profits, it's about being an American. After all without the job creators what would ten year old children in China do?