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

Friday, December 04, 2015

The NPE/Fairtest Machine: Culpability High, Credibility Low, Part 2

The Flip-Flop
In Part 1, I pointed out that Ravitch and NPE have been pushing for passage of the updated NCLB.  It wasn't until last week, however, when Congressional action to pass this awful bill was imminent, that NPE took to Hillary's tactic to produce a statement of opposition to two elements of the new bill that Ravitch been supporting since April.  

Both of the concerns with the updated NCLB, which were expressed in an NPE fund-raising ad, were with specific elements, one having to do with siphoning Title II money for "social impact bonds" to benefit corporations, and the other concerned with federal proficiency and growth demands based on test scores.

NPE expressed no concern about any of the other bill's multitude of shortcomings, profiteering opportunities, segregative influences, damaging directives, privatizing incentives, or corporate welfare initiatives.

As of today, Ravitch's specific reservations regarding the ESSA passed by the House  have been reduced to the one having to do with social impact bonds.  Gone is her earlier concern over test based proficiency and growth demands, even though that problem remains in the House passed version of HR 5 (pp. 26-27):
‘‘(A) IN GENERAL.—Each State plan shall demonstrate that the State educational agency, in consultation with local educational agencies, has implemented a set of high-quality student academic assessments in mathematics, reading or language arts, and science. The State retains the right to implement such assessments in any other subject chosen by the State.
‘‘(B) REQUIREMENTS.—Such assessments shall—
‘‘(i) in the case of mathematics and reading or language arts, be used in determining the performance of each local educational agency and public school in the State in accordance with the State’s accountability system under paragraph (3);
‘‘(ii) be the same academic assessments used to measure the academic achievement of all public school students in the State;
‘‘(iii) be aligned with the State’s academic standards and provide coherent and timely information about student attainment of such standards;
‘‘(iv) be used for purposes for which such assessments are valid and reliable, be of adequate technical quality for each purpose required under this Act, and be consistent with relevant, nationally recognized professional and technical standards;
‘‘(v)(I) in the case of mathematics and reading or language arts, be administered in each of grades 3 through 8 and at least once in grades 9 through 12;
‘‘(II) in the case of science, be administered not less than one time during—
‘‘(aa) grades 3 through 5;
‘‘(bb) grades 6 through 9; and ‘‘(cc) grades 10 through 12; and

‘‘(III) in the case of any other subject chosen by the State, be administered at the discretion of the State;
‘‘(vi) measure individual student academic proficiency and, at the State’s discretion, growth; 
Oh well. 

Does Ending the Disease Require Killing the Patient?

The toxicity of NCLB has led NPE and Fairtest to conclude that anything that may bring an end to some of the suffering caused by the NCLB poison must be a good thing.  Regardless.  No matter that the remedy that promises temporary relief is going to kill us in the near term.  

It seems to have never occurred to those embracing this kind of dispirited masochism that there may be a cure to the disease that does not kill the patients. Ravitch posted today a commentary by Jeff Bryant, whose work I normally respect but in this case argues unconvincingly that getting rid of AYP, dumping Arne Duncan, and damping the malicious incompetence at ED are enough to call the new version of NCLB a "modest step forward."  

Bryant cites Monty Neill at Fairtest as his inspiration in believing that this bill, the same one that sets education back to an era of states right segregation, can be a positive move.  How can it be?  

Another thing that bothers me about Bryant's analysis is that he points to criticism of the new ESEA by the NAACP and the Southern Poverty Law Center as coming from "outliers" on the leftist fringe.   Just how far has the Right pushed our consciousness when these mainstream organizations like NAACP and SPLC can be labeled as outliers?  

Does that really preserve the rational mainstream only for those who will accept this corporate states rights version of ESEA, which is the Orwellian antithesis of the ESEA conceived fifty years ago as a tool for achieving educational justice and social equality?  How haywire has the moral and political compasses become?

Why is it that we cannot take the time, and it will not take years, to develop legislation that will cure this problem, rather than pretending that doubling down on corporate education control and failed accountability systems provides the only option we have? 

There is a major social thought disorder at work here, mixed with a lethal form of corruption.

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