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

Thursday, August 27, 2015

New Test to Solve Tennessee's "true ethical and moral dilemma"?

Candice McQueen has replaced Tennessee's toxic former Commissioner of Education, Kevin (Rhee) Huffman.  In doing so, McQueen has inherited one of the most aggressive corporate education agendas in the nation. 

At the same time, she has taken the reins of a state system that has been underfunded for at least the past 35 years, as governors and legislators have jumped from reform one bandwagon to another to collect any free federal cash being handed out, even as the percentage of the state's budget committed to education has continued to dry up (see Part II of The Mismeasure of Education).

If these challenges were not enough, Dr. McQueen faces a literacy meltdown as measured by state test scores, even with the infusion of $501,000,000 from Race to the Top federal funds--most of which never reached the classrooms or the severely underfunded school library programs that remain on life support. 

At the same time, poverty continues to grow across the state, with more than one in four children now living in poverty, and one in three black or brown children.  The state ranks 43rd in the nation in child poverty and 48th in Hunger and Food Insecurity.  As poverty and hunger spread, literacy scores continue to tank, especially since math prep has been the major focus of year-round test prep.

For Dr. McQueen, however, it is not the hunger, poverty, and oppression that represent the "true ethical and moral dilemma; it is, rather, the low reading test scores.

As these developments unfold, the billionaire governor, Bill Haslam, continues to hand out to his cronies as much of the public resources as he can, including the shuttering of public schools in favor of the corporate welfare charter reform schools.  And the chief federal architect of the racist new states rights education policy based on the proliferation of charter schools, Lamar Alexander, is at Haslam's side, ready to berate any school board that has the audacity to support its public schools as its first priority.  See story here.

The corporate foundation solution that has been prepared for Dr. McQueen's "true ethical and moral dilemma," however, is as old as the corporate efficiency movement that began over a hundred years ago: it is another standardized testing scheme that promises to produce even more failures, more inequality, more racist and classist results, and more inequity than the TCAP that is now headed for the dustbin of failed fixes.

The "new" antiquarian reform is called TNReady, and it is another test based on the infamous Common Core standards.  Like the old test, the new test will be used to label, sort, and further segregate the poorest and neediest children of the state in test prep hell schools, where they will be dehumanized and roboticized and made ready for a Walmart or Amazon future, or one without any job at all. 

Tennessee ranks 41st among states in the number of 18 to 24 year olds unemployed or not enrolled in higher education.

McQueen and Haslam's morally-bankrupt dehumanization school plan has the support of the corporate union affiliate in the state, the TEA, even though the majority of teachers in the state must surely know that this effort will end as poorly as the last one.  TEA President, Barbara Gray, is bullish on TNReady, ready or not:
The new test will also be given online, which officials believe will further help prepare students for life in the real world [irony alert].

However, Barbara Gray, president of the Tennessee Education Association, the state's largest teachers' union, told The Associated Press in an email later Thursday that teachers are concerned about a "lack of appropriate technology for students to complete the assessment online."

"Many school districts across the state, especially in our rural areas, have poor Internet connections and too few computers to efficiently administer the assessment," she said.

Aside from that, Gray said the new assessment overall should be beneficial.

1 comment:

  1. Don't worry, Donald Trump will fix everything and make America great again,even in TN