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

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Ravitch Announces Randi's "Decoupling" of Common Core from VAM

With light diminishing between Diane Ravitch and Randi Weingarten's positions, Dr. Ravitch posted this this morning.  My comment at her blog follows.

A reader who calls himself or herself “Democracy” left comments criticizing me for defending Randi Weingarten–or perhaps for not attacking her.
Here is my response to Democracy:
Democracy, you ask a good question, and I will answer as best I can..
As you know, I have criticized the Common Core in many posts. I have criticized the lack of transparency and the lack of educator participation in its development. I have criticized the fact that the Gates Foundation paid out nearly $200 million to develop and promote the CCSS, which really means they are the Gates Standards. I have said that rigorous standards will not solve–let alone address–the economic dysfunction at the root of educational inequality–and is likely to exacerbate it.
Randi Weingarten is certainly more positive about Common Core than I am. She is the president of the AFT and has been willing to engage on the issues, while the NEA has remained supportive of Common Core and silent.
I have long believed that Randi would ultimately change course, and she has done so recently. First, she called for a moratorium on testing. only days ago, she came out in opposition to VAM, saying that VAM is a sham. She has followed her reasoning to its logical conclusion, which is that Common Core should be decoupled from testing. If Common Core is in fact decoupled from testing, it loses its power as a means of rating and ranking students and teachers and principals. It becomes a set of standards that may or may not prove useful but has no power to ruin lives and careers
The next, inevitable step is to recognize that Common Core must be amended by teachers and scholars. As it currently exists, it is an infallible edict encased in concrete. No standards are so perfect that they need never be updated.

I will not attack Randi, not only because she is a personal friend, not only because she is showing the capacity to evolve and change her mind, but because we who object to the current demolition derby can’t prevail without the support of at least one of the major unions. In short, we need her leadership. To turn against her is to wound our cause irreparably, our cause being the survival of public education and the teaching profession. To attack one of our few national leaders in the middle of a crucial war will aid those who are attacking public education and teachers. If we who are allies fight one another, we lose. I prefer success to defeat. Too much is riding on the outcome of these questions to indulge in ideological purity and cast out those who are not in complete agreement.
My response to Ravitch post:
You may find some solace in Weingarten’s “engaging” about Common Core, but in terms of policy, her position is not visibly different from the more silently-supportive sellout by NEA. With regards to her new hook line, “VAM is a sham,” she was saying “VAM is junk science” over a year ago (as you noted in December 2012), just days after she helped Newark craft a contract that approved school level growth scores to evaluate teachers.
Randi has been bobbing and weaving as criticism grows and demands for her resignation escalate, and her gold-plated bullhorn and velvet handcuffs do not conceal her CorpEd support that got her the AFT presidency to begin with.
I think you have made news here, Diane, with the “decoupling” announcement from Randi. [News to me, anyway.] Of course, the decoupling of VAM from Common Core is not her idea, but one that started quite recently inside the Business Roundtable, and it was triggered by the impending avalanches of lawsuits against the high stakes use of VAM and all the charlatans who support it. The BRT and Gates plans to buy full union and teacher support for Common Core by trading the removal of VAM based teacher evaluation and student retention. And, of course, they will offer, too, teacher a “voice” in making the Corporate Core something we will all come to love.
That just leaves the good old fashioned high stakes testing and continuing corporate control of schools to contend with. Thank you again, Randi.
You may attack those who disagree with Weingarten as ideological purists, or you may welcome the opportunity to call for new union leadership that supports teachers and children, rather than policy elites and corporate foundations that use children and teachers to advance their own imposed positions from 20,000 feet.

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