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

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Ask Haslam and Tennessee's Corporate Reform Schoolers about ACT Scores

Tennessee has been a leader in corporate education reform schooling since Gov. Lamar Alexander first pushed through the Tennessee Career Ladder program in 1984.  Then Gov. Ned McWherter made history in 1992 by putting the Sanders Model for value-added testing into state law. 

And by the time "Fund-It-With-A-Grant" Phil Bredesen left the Governor's Office in 2010, the Gates and Broad Foundations had turned the concept of leveraging into the practice of elbowing, as they were essentially running education in Tennessee.  Now with billionaire oilman, Bill Haslam, as governor, and a corporate-owned Legislature in place, the Business Roundtable and the corporate foundations own education policy in the state from kindergarten through college. 

On the same day in June of this year, Haslam proudly signed both of these bills into law:
SB No. 113 (Johnson) This Bill, formally titled the “Professional Educators Collaborative Conferencing Act of 2011”, abolishes collective bargaining conducted by teachers pursuant to the Education Professional Negotiations Act. Amended Bill Passed Senate 18-14; Amended Bill Passed House 59-39; Senate refused to concur on House amendments; Senate refused to recede from its non-concurrence; conference committee appointed; committee report adopted House 55-40, present not voting-1; Senate 19-12, present not voting-1)
Senate Bill No. 1915 (Woodson) This Bill provides a mechanism for corporations to make political contributions and deletes existing prohibitions against corporate contributions. (Passed House 65-20; Passed Senate as Amended 19-11, present not voting-1)
Meanwhile, morale among students and educators in Tennessee's schools continues to crater as resources shrink, class sizes balloon, staffs are downsized, support services are outsourced, and tolerance disappears entirely for any educational activity not aimed to raise test scores.

Another legacy that Bredesen left Tennesseans was a new scheme to evaluate teachers based on student test scores. It will go into effect this school year, even though no one in Tennessee, including Bill Sanders, can tell how it is going to work.

And speaking of Bill Sanders, next year will mark the beginning of the third decade since value-added testing became Tennessee's preferred educational solution.   How time flies when we are having fun! 

And how are Tennessee students doing in relation to other measures of student achievement such as ACT scores? Below is a slide that shows Tennessee student achievement on all four benchmarks used by ACT is headed in the opposite direction from national trends.

So by all means, let Tennessee parent ask the corporationists running the schools whether or not we need another decade or two of the same "reforms" that stem from the same miserable corporate reform accountability model. 

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