Sunday, October 20, 2013

Tests and transparency issues

*Education Commercialization Complex parallel to permanent war economy
*UFT failure to broadly attack, on principle, the test-regime
We see that this permanent war against teachers economy, just as the military has had "black budget items," items that were kept secret, "for the good of the people," we have Common Core questions that are kept secret-- NY's State Education Department is only selectively disclosing some questions. Since the government cannot use the national security excuse, what excuse could they use? -Corporate private security or copyright. Baloney.

The real reason is that publicization of the tricky questions, hello, will expose what illogical, inappropriate questions the Common Cores brings into English and math, as At the Chalk Face reports in "New York ELA day 2 disaster #FAIL #Pearson #NYSED." The blog site reports several substantive issues with the Common Core questions. This is the negative consequence of privatization of test publishing functions by the international corporate giant, Pearson PLC, away from what historically had been a public function under the aegis of the New York State Education Department.

However, from the organization that we would expect to hear much criticism, the United Federation of Teachers, whose members were in touch with the tests, we have heard limited anecdotes of trouble, mixed with praise for the Common Core, as indicated in this April op-ed column in the Daily News by the UFT president, Michael Mulgrew. The leader mentioned the lack of a curriculum, the fact that test prep is not teaching and that teachers are over-burdened with paperwork. The union should issue a broad, comprehensive critique of the way that tests are hijacking the purpose of education, are vulgarizing the learning experience and are degrading teachers. Contrast this limited critique with the multiple details from the Chalk Face blog a week earlier.

This is reflection, once again, of the detachment of the union leadership from rank and file (regular non-officials) teachers on the ground. Contrast the union's alternating complicity or silence with this regime with the on-going critique launched by the union's MORE caucus, on their website and in person, for example at the union's delegate assembly. (The union's pretenses at critiquing the evaluation system are ephemeral window dressings.) Otherwise, we would have heard fire and this depth of detail from Mulgrew, and probably less enthusiasm for the Common Core.

Diane Ravitch mentions in "What is the Goal of Common Core testing?" that Rick Hess predicts that Common Core anxiety, prompting some parents "to demand “reforms” and an escape from their neighborhood schools." As she says, reformers will gloat over failing scores (no doubt to continue the failing schools line).