The newly named 2013 National Teacher of the Year, who is visiting with President Obama at the White House on Tuesday with other award-winning teachers, is not a big fan of all of Obama’s education policy initiatives and believes that some reformers are mischaracterizing America’s public schools.
Jeff Charbonneau, a high school science teacher from Zillah, Washington, was tapped as the 63rd National Teacher of the Year in a contest sponsored by the Council of Chief State School Officers. He and the other State Teachers of the Year visited Monday with Jill Biden, a veteran educator, at the official residence of the Vice President, and will all go to the White House on Tuesday to see Obama.
Charbonneau teaches chemistry, physics and engineering at Zillah High School.
Charbonneau also said that he disagrees with school reformers and others who say that American public education is in a crisis.
“The concept that we are a nation of failing schools I believe is false,” he said. “We are a nation of succeeding schools. I think our schools are succeeding far more and at higher levels than given credit for…. I agree that there are areas that need improvement, but at the same time, there are many things we are doing right that are not celebrated.”
It’s great that he’s meeting with Jill Biden and President Obama, but Arne Duncan needs to meet him. Here’s Duncan telling Congress how America’s inventory of 4 year olds will produce an ROI, or “return on investment”:
And I will talk about the ROI—the return on investment in education spending—with special emphasis on the President’s landmark preschool plan.
I’ve relied on a couple of preschools in my time and I have to say if I met any one of these transformational market-based reform leaders at the meet ‘n greet I would grab my kid and we’d beat it out of there. They’d have a very small truant, and there’s no return on investment there. Zero value-added, as reformers might say. We once enrolled two in a preschool based partly on the “data point” that the elderly custodian played the piano while the kids had snack time, just because she felt like it.
This is a wonderful piece from Somerby on the Failed and Failing Schools Full Of Failures mantra:
How are things going in our public schools? That is a complex question. But here’s the good news, the news Mehta chose to withhold from the Times’ misused readers:
In reading and in math, black students have shown large score gains on the NAEP over the forty-year life of the program. So have Hispanic students. White students have shown strong score gains too. In all three groups, the gains have continued to be strong in the past two decades.
Mehta should have told Times readers about those impressive score gains. If you want to discuss NAEP test scores at all, those large, continuing test score gains are an obvious part of the story. What does it mean to cherry-pick facts? Mehta presented the gloomy news, citing data which show that achievement gaps still exist on the NAEP. But he withheld the dramatically upbeat news:
He hid the fact that those gaps persist because all three major student groups are recording much higher scores. As he cherry-picked his facts, Mehta grossly misled Times readers. Today, we petition the Times:
Mehta should have told Times readers about those large score gains. At long last, so should the New York Times, in a series of front-page reports.
In the past decade, our big newspapers have constantly discussed the test scores attained by American kids on international and domestic tests. But during that period, these newspapers have persistently fed the American public a diet of cherry-picked facts.
They discuss the gaps, but they hide the gains! The public is never told the good news. We’re never told about the large score gains exhibited by all three groups.
This represents an act of fraud against the American public. Why do our major news orgs keep behaving this way?
We can’t answer that question. But when newspapers behave this way, they baldly deceive the American people. In the process, they further the interests of powerful advocates of certain types of “education reform.” Alas! For whatever reason, advocates of certain types of reform want the public to think that our public schools are an ungodly mess. This has enabled waves of attacks on American teachers and their infernal unions. This claim has served the interests of those who want to privatize public schools. Those advocates are entitled to their own views about public schools. But they shouldn’t be entitled to their own set of facts.
And here’s credit to Kevin Drum for looking at the numbers himself and applying some thought before swallowing this mantra whole.