"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Monday, July 31, 2006

Linda Chavez on Education? Never Mind

Linda Chavez has a history of getting surprised by the facts. After years of service to the AFT, she quit and became an anti-union activist when she finally figured out that unions were for workers’ rights. Not only did she leave AFT in a huff, but she switched parties and went to work for the conservatives.

By 2001, her new loyalty to conservative labor principles earned her a nod from Bush for Secretary of Labor, but her nomination was pulled when it was discovered that she had hired illegals to run her household. Something wrong with that?

Now I am afraid Chavez is in for another mild shock: NCLB is focused on testing students, not teacher testing. Not only that, Linda, but Spellings' latest round of nasty threats focuses on the failure of states to abide by ED’s requirements for student testing, not teacher testing. Her recent anti-teacher op-ed titled "Testing Teachers," the one that is being plastered around the country in various newspapers, would seem, then, to be in need of some revision—since it is obvious that Chavez thinks that Maggie is upset because of weak teacher testing.

Here is Linda's opening salvo, in which she manages to even get the date wrong for the teacher quality deadline (which was June 30, by the way). Her commentary offers strong clues that she did not even read the New York Times piece that she quotes:
If you were ever one of those students who wished you could grade your teacher instead of the other way around, the federal government may be about to grant your wish, vicariously anyway. This week, Education Secretary Margaret Spellings has threatened to give failing grades to some states for not testing teachers adequately.

Under the No Child Left Behind Act (2002), which was passed with bipartisan support, all states were given until August [sic] to show teachers in their school systems were "highly qualified" in core teaching areas. But several states are so far behind in meeting these standards they could lose federal funding.

"I want states to know that Congress and the president mean business on the law," Mrs. Spellings told the New York Times in a recent interview. She was criticized by some education reformers last year for taking a go-slow approach in forcing school systems to meet the NCLB requirements, but the only complaints now are from states that don't measure up -- and the teachers unions. "Last year it was, 'We're marching together toward the deadline,' " Mrs. Spellings said, "but now it's time for, 'Your homework is due.' "
Could it be that Chavez might have just put herself in the running for a job as White House speechwriter? This next paragraph demonstrates that she is a worthy candidate:
Both Maine and Nebraska have received letters from the Education Department warning they may lose federal funds because their teacher testing flunked the federal standards. The feds allowed Nebraska to administer teacher-devised tests in its 250 school districts instead of statewide, but the state failed to demonstrate that teachers in all districts were held to a high standard, the Times reported. In all, the education department has notified 34 states that their teacher testing had major problems and would be subject to mandatory oversight.
Could there ever be a better example of conflated ignorance put forward as dependable propaganda?

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