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

Saturday, May 12, 2012

How Will NEA Support Corporate Education Reform This Year?

 Last updated 12:30 PM

In defiance of the core principles of the NEA's Code of Ethics and basic common sense, last year the non-leadership of NEA arm-twisted the member reps into supporting the latest weapon in the corporate ed reform arsenal, which will make teacher pay and job security dependent upon students' value-added test scores. This embrace of testing includes the stipulation that teachers may be terminated after one year of bad scores, which defies human reason--since test scores may swing wildly from year to year, as this piece indicates.

In stipulating that the tests used must be valid and reliable, defenders of the NEA giveaway crowed that NEA had truly outsmarted the corporations that control ED--for the cheap off-the-corporate-shelf tests do not carry that warrant.  What the NEA lawyers did last year, in fact, was set the agenda for this year's meeting in July, where I predict that NEA will either, 1) endorse the Common Core national curriculum and national tests, or 2) remain unopposed to the Common Core, which will have the same effect of ushering them in.

The Common Core represents the future of high stakes testing.  No other effort has the hundreds of millions in federal dollars dedicated to doing the validity/reliability studies needed to meet the stipulations that the NEA set forth last year in its embrace of the demise of the teaching profession and academic freedom.

 Without the Common Core and its Corporate Core testing, the future of the abusive and counterproductive testing empire is jeopardized by corporate ineptitude and corner-cutting (see Pearson).  Pearson needs the Feds to do the research and the vetting in order for Pearson to conduct the work of testing, scoring, security, etc., and, thus, continue to build their predatory empire of miseducation.  As the largest corporation whose business is to feed off money intended for education, Pearson is the Blackwater of ed privateers.  Catapult Learning and the rest of ed industry bottom feeders are just two-bit imitators.

So when the good man, Anthony Cody, asks in his recent blog post,  Is it time for SOS March to take a sharp stand on the Common Core? Or is it more important to build the broadest anti-testing coalition possible?, there can be no distinction to be made here--no either-or.  

For there is no way to build an anti-testing coalition without opposition to the vehicle that will deliver the next generation of weapons of educational destruction--which is the Common Corporate Core.  

And as for NEA's support for SOS last year and moving forward?  The NEA leadership has turned its back on teachers, parents, and children, just as the AFT leadership has.  The leadership of both unions is in bed with the corporate foundations and the ed industry, and having earned their place at the feeding trough, they must now pretend to be for those they have sold down the river.  The value of this, or any organization, must be measured by the sum of its values.

If teacher unionism for social justice, child advocacy, and for teaching has a chance to be reawakened, it will most likely be played out in Chicago in the months to come. And there are no other reasons to have teacher unions than the unflinching support for social justice, child advocacy, and teaching.

Here is a clip from the NYTimes piece last July announcing Dennis's sellout:

. . . .The debate over the new teacher evaluation policy largely focused on the concern that by even mentioning test scores, the union would further open the door to their use. Some teachers also balked at another section of the policy — the proposal that failing teachers be given only one year to improve, instead of the standard two. But in the end a clear majority voted yes.
Segun Eubanks, the director of teacher quality for the union, said the new policy was intended to guide, not bind, state and local union chapters. It tries to close the disconnect between the many local union chapters that have already assented to using student test scores in teacher evaluations, and the union’s national policy that explicitly opposed their use. Now the union can offer those chapters support, and conduct research on the impact of standardized tests.
“What it says is, now we are willing to get into that arena,” Mr. Van Roekel said. “Before, we weren’t.”
The policy calls for teacher practice, teacher collaboration within schools and student learning to be used in teacher evaluations. But for tests, only those shown to be “developmentally appropriate, scientifically valid and reliable for the purpose of measuring both student learning and a teacher’s performance” should be used, the policy states, a bar that essentially excludes all existing tests, said Douglas N. Harris of the University of Wisconsin, a testing expert.
Mr. Eubanks said, “We believe that there are no tests ready to do that,” though he added that with the new national Common Core curriculum standards being rolled out, new tests might be created that could meet the bar.
The American Federation of Teachers, the nation’s second-largest teachers’ union, with 1.5 million members, has already stated that student test scores “based on valid assessments” should be a part of improved teacher evaluations. . . .


  1. Anonymous3:17 PM

    I agree with you, Jim, but how many members of NEA will ever see this post?
    Karen V. Packard

    ps I don't understand why the select profile leaves me with no choice but anonymous. I'm not ashamed of my question nor am I afraid to be identified with it, so anonymous doesn't seem right. I don't have any identification with anything else except name, but I have no url. Technology is getting the best of me.

    1. Who will see the post? Depends on people like you who will share it on social media.

      Try getting a gmail account, and then you can be have a real identity :-).

  2. Thanks for posting Jim. Here in Massachusetts the MTA has agreed to let the union 'leaders' 'negotiate' with Stand for Children to take the ballot question down and instead legislate away protections based upon seniority. Look as well at the signatures on the newest manifestation of privatization, teacher bashing and child abuse called Time to Succeed (http://www.timetosucceed.com/about-the-coalition/). A virtual whose who of sellouts and collaborators.
    We all need to watch, learn and imitate the Chicago Teachers Union.


  3. Anonymous4:22 AM

    Local NEA members need to clearly let those who will be their reps to the NEA Convention their opposition to high stakes testing. Instruct them to voice their opposition and work to defeat high stakes testing and the Common Core Standards.

    Teachers at the grassroots are the agents of change... public education and democracy are on the chopping block, and the leadership appears to be in bed with those who would destroy public education, democracy, and the American dream for future generations. Act...let your voices be heard!