Wednesday, May 27, 2015
Arnie And Andrew Catch A Tiger By Its Tail.
It certainly appears that Secretary of Education, Arnie Duncan, and New York State Governor, Andrew Cuomo, have overreached and are experiencing real pushback on their destructive education deform policies. Before Arnie Duncan, the basketball playing buddy of President Obama, took over as Secretary of Education, he almost single handedly destroyed the Chicago Public Schools and bullied the teacher union to allow excessed teachers from the many closing schools to find a new position within nine months or be taken off the payroll. The result was many senior teachers found themselves without a position and were forced to leave the profession. Chancellor Joel Klein was so impressed with what Arnie Duncan did that he tried to emulate his actions by creating the ATR pool, with our union's approval. However, he wasn't able to pass the time limit provision past our union and was forced to swallow the $160 million in salaries in the DOE budget that exists to this very day.
When Arnie Duncan took over as Secretary of Education, the high-stakes tests were used to evaluate student academic performance and were considered age appropriate. However, as the federal government pushed for a nationwide standard for all states. He convinced the Obama Administration to dangle money to bribe the states in adopting the Common Core based tests. This was known as "Race to the Top" (RttT).
The RttT changed the education game completely, instead of testing student academic ability, using age appropriate measures, the RttT required that teachers be evaluated on test scores of their school, even when the students are not even theirs! To make matters worse, the Common Core based tests had no curriculum and were not age appropriate. In New York State the passing rate dropped from 72% to 31% and NYSED Commissioner John King called it a success. The RttT required that the more difficult and questionable Common Core based tests be used as part of the teacher evaluation system. Not unexpectantly, teachers that worked in high needs classroom fared poorly on the tests but were saved by the observations that were 60% of the teacher evaluation, compared to the 20% accounted for by the tests. However, Governor Andrew Cuomo reacted unfavorably to the low rate of "ineffective ratings" and wants at least a 10% "ineffective rate". The result is to increase the weight of the difficult Common Core tests from 20% to 50% to achieve his desired result.
The Governor and Secretary of Education changed the educational landscape of NCLB by using the high-stakes Common Core tests as an instrument to rate teachers rather than to properly evaluate student academic achievement. In fact, Governor Cuomo put a five year moratorium in using the test scores against children until the Common Core based tests are deemed appropriate to adequately evaluate student performance. To this the Secretary of Education agreed to. However, when it comes to teachers, the Governor and Secretary of Education saw no problem in using the "junk science" to evaluate teachers. What hypocrites they are.
For many teachers, rather than educating their students, they will spend the entire second semester doing unrelenting test prep. Parents are now realizing that their children are being forced to suffer through countless test prep and this will only get worse with the new teacher evaluation system. The result is a growing "opt out" movement that has exploded in the middle class communities throughout New York State, especially in Long Island. The latest "opt out" rates show over 200,000 students "opting out" for both the ELA and Math Common Core tests statewide. Moreover, in some communities there was an over 80% "opt out" rate.
While NCLB held students accountable, the RttT hold teachers accountable. However, with the federal money attached to the RttT no longer available, many states are reconsidering the use of the Common Core based tests and reassessing the wisdom of evaluating teachers based upon the "junk science" of the Value Added Method.
As the pressure from parents, teachers, and administrators mount against the use of the Common Core high-stakes tests look for a real backlash nationwide against the federal and State governments as "opt out" rates skyrocket in the years to come unless the education departments come up with more age-appropriate and less complex tests to properly evaluate both students and teachers.