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

Thursday, February 07, 2013

When Will Justice Go After the Education Frauds?

The U.S. Justice Department has filed charges against Standard & Poors to recover billions of dollars that were lost and destroyed along with jobs, homes, families, and much needed tax dollars.  S&P AAA ratings on "junk" otherwise known as Collaterialized Debt Obligations or Collateralized Mortgage Obligations, Credit Default SWAPS, whatever, led to the Great Recession, Depression, financial fiasco, whatever.

Ok, it's a start. The $5 billion in penalties S&P will have to pay in fines will come in handy to invest in the desperately starving public schools that S&P's parents, McGraw Hill and their competitors have helped  destroy over the past ten years. No Child Left Behind has made people like Jeb Bush and other for profit, privately managed, owned education companies selling a bunch of garbage very, very rich. 

These companies and their partners in Congress have paved the way for what is happening today as teachers, students and parents rise up and say enough is enough and are opting out of high stakes testing. What is happening in Seattle will soon be happening all across the country and people finally talk to each other and find out that this entire high stakes testing madness is nothing but one big fat bubble. 

When will Eric Holder and the Justice Department go after the testing companies and the bubbles they have created that have led to teachers and students in Seattle and elsewhere refusing to take another junk test? When will the Justice Department take a good hard look at how for profit charters operators and testing companies  with ties to politicians in practically every state and in the governor's offices are doing to public school funding as teachers continue to be used as pawns in this great Great Charade.

It is no longer impossible for the media and the politicians to ignore what is happening on the ground. The voices of protest are getting louder and louder as people feel there is nothing left to lose. The teachers in Seattle and Washington and wherever they opt out of meaningless, wasteful, "junk test" are heroes, or whistleblowers or truth sayers. They are putting their livelihoods,  careers and their own personal lives on the line to stand up for what is right for their students and the students have responded by also refusing to take the test. Now, even the students see through the scam.

The Seattle teachers finally pulled the fire alarm and instead of being thanked, they are being punished. Public education will burn right down to the ground while charters, testing companies, and all the other Common Core Curriculum enthusiasts, or junkies,  climb aboard the bandwagon, or the money train.

Since McGraw Hill has been sold to Apollo Group, a financial company, something tells me there will be a stock market lesson in the curriculum. Oh, wait, there is. Here in New Jersey Achieve 3000 social studies lesson that can be found in their computer program and is mandated for a certain number of hours per week, has a place for students to look at their stock portfolios! There's no context, curriculum, thought or history here, just pick a bunch of stocks and watch your money grow. If I were a betting person, I would bet the stock market goes up just because all public school students are being taught to buy stock. Buying stock is not a bad thing, but being taught to just buy stocks with no understanding of how to analyze a company and whether a stock might be an "appropriate" investment, etc. is a very bad thing indeed.

If you don't believe me, just ask a social studies teacher who is mandated to use the Achieve 3000 programs for everything from monitoring student data, teaching canned, shallow lesson plans with questions and answers. The best perk of all is this program actually evaluates the teacher too and ties the lessons to common core standards, no thinking required.

It's quite horrifying but most teachers are either too afraid to speak up or are glad not to have to think too hard about lesson plans -- a real bargain, just like the CMO's.

Like the other "alleged" victims in the S&P's case such as investors, homeowners and American taxpayers  left holding the bag for a billion dollar boondoggle,  public school students and teachers are now left holding the bag for high stakes standardized testing mania or Charter Management Organizations (CMO's).

Just another bubble that is about to burst. Eventually, the frauds always get caught, in the end. Just ask Bernie Madoff. 

Too bad so much money, lives, minds, educations and careers have been wasted on so much junk.

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