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

Sunday, August 08, 2010

What is going on?

Colleagues, I am reposting Cindy Lutenbacher's letter to the NCTE from March. It applies not only to NCTE, but to IRA, and to all 21 of the organizations that are demanding that they too be required to submit standards, and be tested.
What is going on?
It could be that people have no idea what is really happening. In a recent article posted on yahoo, it was pointed out that some members of congress are supporting Race to the Top but don't really understand it. Is this true of education professionals also? Do they know what the Duncan plan entails? Not just magnet schools, not just teacher evaluation connected to standardized tests, but also a skill-building based approach, and massive testing such as we have never seen before. I have posted the evidence. The tests will be followed by texts, you can be sure.
Or could it be that people think that if they have a "seat at the table" they can soften the blow? Or take advantage of the situation and receive lots of stimulus money? I have several responses to this: You won't soften the blow to any significant extent. Duncan et al have made it clear that it is their way or the highway.
And if you think you can personally profit from all this while students suffer, you have no honor.
Stephen Krashen

Cindy Lutenbacher letter:
March 12, 2010

Dear NCTE,

For many years, you were my professional organization, and I was proud to participate in the annual conventions.

But you betrayed me.

You sold your soul for a "seat at the table." You sold us out because "withholding expertise and comment from this effort would be inconsistent with NCTE's mission and could further isolate teachers from a process which might profoundly influence the conditions of teaching and learning" (Open Letter to NCTE Members). You pretend that you don't know what follows this "standards" or goal setting. Such pretense is specious at best, for this Duncan DOE is already accepting bids for the standardized tests.

Did you imagine that all of a sudden, Arne Duncan would throw out the absurd, research-denying multiple-choice "measures" and turn over the assessment to the teachers?

Did you imagine that Mr. Duncan would suddenly reverse his position that teacher jobs be tied to student scores, that he would suddenly trust us?

Did you imagine that what just happened in Central Falls was/is an aberration? In Central Falls, demographics make the story more complex and real: "According to the NECAP results (New England Common Assessment Program), of the Central Falls High School students who participated in the assessments, 22% were identified with Limited English proficiency with English as their second language compared to 3% for the state. Twenty-three percent had an IEP (individualized education plan designed for students with special needs) compared to the state average of 17% and 85% were classified as economically disadvantaged compared to the state average of 35%."

Did you imagine that we would forget the research that conclusively shows that poverty is the central problem with our schools? Did you think we wouldn't know that the United States has the highest rate of children in poverty of all industrialized nations in the world?

By sitting at this table, you have colluded with the very people whose motives are diametrically opposed to what education in a democracy must be. You have joined forces with the likes of the Business Roundtable and its cadre of corporations ready to steal fortunes from the pockets of taxpayers.

I said that you have sold us out, but the truth is far worse. For your precious seat at this poisoned table, you have traded the lives of our children, as if they were commodities on a stock exchange.

Shame.

Sincerely,

Cindy Lutenbacher
A former member of NCTE

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