Inside the Sausage Factory Where Failed Schools are Made

Maria Baldassarre-Hopkins, a local education professor who was part of making the “cuts” in New York State proficiency exams which led to headlines earlier this week, has a blow-by-blow about how, exactly, the books were cooked. Her conclusion:

While I am required here to be vague about specific data, details and conversations, I trust that the discerning eye of the critical practitioner might read between these lines.  But I will be frank when I say that it has never been so clear to me that the dataphilia that is now the culture of our profession is not non-ideological.

My geek-life hero, Marilyn Cochran-Smith (among others), has written that teaching is never neutral. Every single thing we teach and how we choose to teach it is political, including how and what we assess and how we evaluate those assessments.

That admonition has never felt so real to me.  I am heartened by the vehemence with which the professionals in that room pushed back, working within the system in order to simultaneously work against it.

The reason she had to be vague about specifics is that she had to sign a non-disclosure agreement to be part of the process, but the key fact was the test scoring criteria were determined after the test had been taken and they were scored to meet the expectations of the Commissioner of Education, John King.  Some background and more commentary from Diane Ravitch:

As many teachers have pointed out, in blogs and comments, no responsible teacher would create a test with the expectation that 70% of students are sure to fail. It would not be hard to do. You might, for example, give students in fifth grade a test designed for eighth graders. Repeat in every grade and the failure rate will be high. Or you might test students on materials they never studied. Some will get it, because of their background knowledge, but most will fail.

Why would you want most students to fail?

Commissioner King has repeatedly warned superintendents, principals, and everyone else that they should expect the proficiency rates to drop by 30-35-37% and they did.

This is a manufactured crisis. We know who should be held accountable.

The new test scoring “cut” does two things for politicians: it moves the goalposts so we have no idea whether schools actually improved in comparison to the last testing cycle, and it manufactured a 26% (English) and 30% (Math) pass rate so they can bemoan how much more our schools are failing. For teachers and students, in the words of one of the teachers involved, it makes it look like they’ve “accomplished nothing this year and we’ve been pedaling backward”.

An old friend used to describe this as pulling the plant out of the pot to see if the roots are growing–killing what is measured in the zeal to take a measurement.

(via the Rochesterian)






47 replies
  1. 1
    Betty Cracker says:

    The GOP needs to break the teacher’s union. Doing so improves their electoral fortunes and opens up new revenue streams in shady online ed programs such as that peddled by one of the lesser Bushes. Hence moving the goalposts, etc., with dubious testing initiatives. They don’t give a rat’s ass about education. It’s all about money and power.

  2. 2
    Kay says:

    This is a fundamental issue for me. I accept the fragmented, private health care system and the PPACA because it’s too disruptive to change it all at once.
    But I am not going to let them take an existing universal public system and privatize it. We will regret that.
    Also. Arne Duncan needs to stop saying that public school leaders were “lying” to parents. The people that actually run public schools on the ground have absolutely no control over this idiotic, decade-long standardized test based “reform” that Duncan has swallowed whole from the Bush Brothers.
    It would be so fucking wonderful to have a DOE that advocated for and supported public schools, which doesn’t seem like a lot to ask. I resent paying him.
    Instead of running off to defend Mayor Bloomberg, perhaps he could direct some attention to Philadelphia public schools, which are struggling TO OPEN and, you know, it’s August.

  3. 3
    Kay says:

    Jeb Bush was the speaker at an ALEC event yesterday. He gave a shout-out to the Mayor of Chicago and Arne Duncan, and why wouldn’t he? There is absolutely no difference in policy between Jeb “government schools” Bush and his “reform” buddies. How great it is that “we” now support stand your ground, voter suppression, union-busting and slave wages. So glad we could come together on “education”.

  4. 4
    c u n d gulag says:

    “Ma’am, we regretfully have to make you aware that your son failed his Calculus class, and we’ll have to punish the entire school for his failure.”

    ‘Yes, well, since he’s only 5, and you didn’t teach any Calc in his Kindergarten class, I think the only point you have, is on your f*cking head!’

  5. 5
    RepubAnon says:

    In light of the scandal regarding Ohio school testing, where the grading system was changed several times to change a favored charter school’s grade from a “C” to an “A”, it seems obvious that the goal is to privatize the school system. The purpose: give tax credits to the rich parents sending their children to exclusive private schools, while ensuring that children of the 99% do not receive an education sufficient to adequately compete with the children of the new aristocracy.

    We have seen the future, and it is Pakistan – where life is very good for the very rich, miserable for everyone else, and the religious fanatics keep the 99% distracted with culture war issues.

  6. 6
    fka AWS says:

    @RepubAnon:

    We have seen the future, and it is Pakistan – where life is very good for the very rich, miserable for everyone else, and the religious fanatics keep the 99% distracted with culture war issues.

    I don’t think that’s necessarily true. The fanatics will keep their base (~45 – ~27 percent) fired up about culture war issues. The rest of the 99 percent will be fighting a rear-guard battle to keep the gains they’ve made. So, it’s a distraction, but not because all of us want to be so distracted.

  7. 7
    AdamK says:

    Wordsworth: We murder to dissect.

  8. 8
    Kay says:

    I know I am ranting but I would also like to say that I think there are huge ethical problems with subjecting these kids to this test (where the material was not covered adequately, because they rushed it out) to get a baseline score. The reports from teachers and parents were appalling. The kids were stressed to the max.
    There is something very wrong with using them like that. They’re not adults. They’re not even high schoolers taking a (voluntary) college entrance exam. These are kids.

  9. 9
    Phylllis says:

    @Kay: Duncan and President Obama have done more to dismantle the Department of Education in the past six years than any Republican who promised to do it in the last thirty years.

  10. 10
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    OK, now what is the ultimate objective of all these shenanigans?

    For one thing, the proles are getting a little too clever. If this keeps up, they’ll realize they don’t need their overlords. AND WE CAN’T HAVE THAT!

  11. 11
    Mino says:

    Teacherken at GOS posted a diary yesterday on a widely linked article of his addressed to colleges, preparing them for what they will be receiving–children raised entirely in the “high stakes testing system”. No Child Left Behind is old enough that those first kids are hitting college.

  12. 12
    JKC says:

    This crap is like teaching kids French for four years then giving them a test in Spanish.

  13. 13
    JCT says:

    @Kay:

    There is something very wrong with using them like that. They’re not adults. They’re not even high schoolers taking a (voluntary) college entrance exam. These are kids.

    And this is the time when they are still enthusiastic about school – talk about having it knocked out of you . Nothing like being set up for failure at 7 years old. It’s reprehensible and will be hard to recover from if these assholes get too much momentum . The ultimate FYIGM from the 1%.

  14. 14
    Kay says:

    @Phylllis:

    dismantle

    I wish they were dismantling, at this point. Dismantling would be passive, rather than actively harmful. I cannot imagine what they were thinking, rolling out the tests prior to the material. I’d like to sit Duncan down and give him a 3 day test he hasn’t prepared for. Let’s “rip off the bandaid!”, Mr. Duncan, which is what some completely insane reformer told NY kids.

  15. 15
    Chris says:

    @RepubAnon:

    We have seen the future, and it is Pakistan – where life is very good for the very rich, miserable for everyone else, and the religious fanatics keep the 99% distracted with culture war issues.

    You forgot to mention the weapons (everything from guns to nukes) littered all over the country. The small arms go to supply massive civil wars in weaker neighboring countries, while the WMDs keep the rest of the world watching apprehensively, crossing its fingers and going “Christ, we’re so fucked if the whole thing comes crashing down.”

  16. 16
    Mike R. says:

    I went to school in the 50’s and 60’s and while I was far from the smartest kid in class I did enjoy going to school and learning not only my “times tables” and diagramming sentences but also how to use what I was taught to expand my world beyond the classroom. Tests were based on material actually covered in class and were current with that material.
    I’m pretty sure that I would despise going to school today. Actually I’m dead certain of it. As Kay has said, school isn’t for kids anymore; it’s for consultants, bureaucrats, testing services and ultimately a competition for the massive taxpayer dollars available to be scooped up by corporate school chains.
    Kids and their parents are being brutally victimized and a generation is at risk of being a part of a failed experiment. The ideologues don’t give a rat’s ass about the kids, it’s the money that they crave, about controlling critical thinking skills and about controlling the curriculum to make sure that no hippie type topics are covered.

  17. 17
    Kay says:

    @Mino:

    You know what they’re doing? They’re taking the “no excuses” charter model that the dopes in media and politicians love and applying that to every public school. Every public school will look like Michelle Rhee’s model school. The insane part is, the charter school scores (mostly) collapsed in the NY testing. They’re taking a model that works for 5% of kids and applying it to 100% of public schools. You know what? I didn’t choose the Michelle Rhee model. Michelle Rhee didn’t even choose the Michelle Rhee model! She went to a tony private school.

  18. 18
    RSA says:

    Fascinating. A couple of things in the NYTimes article caught my eye:

    [Bloomberg] said black and Hispanic students, who make up two-thirds of the student population, had made progress that was not reflected in the scores.

    So they’ve developed an instrument that fails (in part or in full?) for two-thirds of the sample they’re measuring. That’s a serious problem. And

    At some schools, teachers said they had not received adequate training to prepare students for the test.

    This is nuts. For decades people have worried about teaching to the test, where kids may learn how to take tests but not necessarily the content that the tests are supposed to get at. It seems to be worse than I’d thought–teachers are expected to receive special training in order to teach to those tests.

    And then in Maria Baldassarre-Hopkins’s post, we read that her facilitator for setting the thresholds was from Pearson, and that she had to sign a non-disclosure agreement about her participation. Pearson isn’t even mentioned in the NYTimes article. The process of making policy about public schools should be much, much more transparent.

  19. 19
    Josie says:

    @Kay: Stress in children is a big problem with all this testing. I work in a bird sanctuary that has a contract with a local school district to host field trips for all children in a certain grade level. Essentially last year I saw every teacher and student in that grade level. The teachers were uniformly disgusted with the time spent on prep and testing in place of actual creative thinking and learning. They and the parents complained also about the stress level of the children as a result of the testing regime and consequences. In the years since I retired, the fun and excitement of teaching and learning has gone out of many Texas public school classrooms – a direct result of the the testing.

  20. 20
    Kay says:

    @Josie:

    The teachers were uniformly disgusted with the time spent on prep and testing i

    That’s true here, too. It’s not a real big dilemma for me, who I should listen to. The teachers I know who have taught all four of my kids or Campbell Brown, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, the guy who did or did not invent Facebook, and the rest of the millionaire media stars pushing this specific ideological version of “reform”?

    I’ll go with the famous people and the billionaires! I think not.

    Reformers did something really politically savvy. Incredibly, they discredited teachers on education, and teachers were the only people pushing back. Great political tactic.

    OTOH, in my (could be wrong!) political judgment, reformers are about to meet real resistance, from parents. The public school advocacy movement gets bigger every day. Yesterday, one of the columnists in the Toledo Blade picked it up.

    If it reaches Toledo, it is officially “mainstream” in my personal political calculus :)

  21. 21
    rikyrah says:

    @Kay:

    This is a fundamental issue for me. I accept the fragmented, private health care system and the PPACA because it’s too disruptive to change it all at once.
    But I am not going to let them take an existing universal public system and privatize it. We will regret that.

    keep on telling it, Kay

  22. 22
    Cermet says:

    Sick – this plan by the thugs – to rob every possible child of an education is the ultimate low. While the schools in my State (MD) are extremely good, I know it is just time before the thugs living here hiding under rocks re-emerge in order to start the same stealth program to destroy a great system of public schools. The entire bush family are one sick nest of ugly money hungry low-lifes sinking scrum (where are the drones when you need them.)

  23. 23
    Kay says:

    @RSA:

    Kevin Drum does really good work on test scores because he makes an effort to understand them. At this point, he is invaluable, because no one else is doing it. Here he is on Bloomberg:

    New York City’s test scores have increased over the past decade, but they’ve increased less than in most other big cities (2 points vs. 6 in reading, 6 points vs. 12 in math). On the 4th grade test, New York City has done about the same as other big cities. This isn’t a massive failure, but it doesn’t look like any kind of outsized success either.

    The New York Times is the absolute worst. They climbed on board the reform bandwagon early and at this point they’re actively misleading people. I know everyone compares everything to Iraq run up (I hate that!) but this is like the Iraq run up. The bipartisan nature, the media lockstep, all of it. They’re vested in this, and a lot of people are making a lot of money. It is going to be tough to turn it around.

  24. 24
    Phylllis says:

    @RSA:

    Pearson isn’t even mentioned in the NYTimes article.

    Pearson has taken over so many aspects of school ‘resources’. They have bought out numerous instructional supply providers (but kept the original imprints, so you think you’re still dealing with the original vendor); and they also developed PowerSchool, a student information tracking system that a lot of schools, districts, and states are using. That’s a damn lot of individual information available to a corporation that we don’t really know how they’re using it.

    And the whole point of PowerSchool was to give us a mechanism to be able to track students moving from one district to another–which it can’t do.

  25. 25
    Mino says:

    @Kay: The scary thing–he teaches Advanced Placement classes. The “cream” is being crippled, also.

  26. 26
    Ruckus says:

    @Betty Cracker:
    It’s all about money and power.

    Conservatives are always about money and power. Always. There are also a number of liberals who are about money and power first and little after that. They might go after it in a slightly different way but the goal is the same.
    I take the view that all liberal politicians are all about money and power until proven otherwise. It’s a far less risky bet.
    I take the same view about business owners as I do about liberal politicians.
    So who does that leave who aren’t all about money and power? The majority of people actually.

  27. 27
    Kay says:

    This is from Jeb Bush’s privatization lobbying group:

    Claim: “It’s not only public schools that must obey the fed’s dictates. Common Core will control the curriculum of charter schools, private schools, religious schools, Catholic schools and homeschooling.”
    Fact: While the Common Core Standards are internationally benchmarked, rigorous, clear and straightforward enough to lend themselves easily to voluntary adoption by charter schools, private and faith-based schools and home schools, these entities will continue to have maximum flexibility on how and what they teach their kids.

    Only public schools will be subject to this totally awesome new testing regime, which was developed by reformers.

    According to Bush, reformers exempted the private and charter schools they own, run and prefer, although of course private and charter schools are publicly-funded under “reform”.

  28. 28
    Ruckus says:

    @fka AWS:

    RebupAnnon didn’t say they wanted to be distracted but the 80% have a lot of irons in the fire just trying to make it through the day to be as effective as necessary to fight off the bullshit and stay alive what with stagnate wages, more hours and always rising prices and now their kids getting educated by hamstrung teachers.

  29. 29
    Baud says:

    @Kay:

    Everything I know about this issue I know from you. So I’m not exactly well rounded, but I trust your judgment so it’s all good.

    Seems like the “reformers” have about a 20 year head start. Glad to see some push back, but also glad I don’t have any kids in school.

  30. 30
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Josie:

    Stress in children is a big problem with all this testing

    Not with high school and middle school kids, not when there’s no sanction on the individual student, just the school or teacher, for ‘poor performance.’ School spirit isn’t enough of a reason not to make smiley-faces on the bubble sheet.

  31. 31
    RSA says:

    @Kay:

    Kevin Drum does really good work on test scores because he makes an effort to understand them. At this point, he is invaluable, because no one else is doing it.

    Yes, I like Kevin’s writing on this topic. He also pushes back against doom-and-gloom articles about U.S. student performance, in terms of change over time and international comparisons. It’s a complex picture, and I agree that too many writers just go with their gut, uninformed and often wrong.

  32. 32
    Suffern ACE says:

    So how can we ensure that candidate Clinton wouldn’t offer the same policies? It’s great that there is resistance fomenting, but how are high end Dems going to feel that?

  33. 33
    Kay says:

    @RSA:

    One of the things that bothers me the most is this whole argument is based on a “skills gap”. The “skills gap” was promoted by Scott Walker and all the dopes started repeating it as gospel, because it’s great for the 1%, right? Wages haven’t risen not because CEO’s are taking a bigger and bigger slice of the pie, or because unions have been decimated so workers have no leverage, but because workers are too stupid and lazy.

    Duncan repeats this at every appearance. It was never “true”. It was ONE conservative theory. It has been soundly and smartly rebutted numerous times. Yet, Arne Duncan repeats it. Remember, this is the education director. He’s basically spouting Fox News talking points to justify his “reforms”.

  34. 34
    gelfling545 says:

    @Davis X. Machina: No, they really are stressed by all this. They are completely aware that they can’t do a task that’s being demanded of them without having the sophistication to realize that the task itself may be ridiculous. They deal with the stress (many of them) by acting out, refusing to participate and, sadly for some, by becoming depressed. One student in an 8th grade special ed. class said “Why don’t they just come out & say they think we’re stupid & leave us alone.” (Bear in mind that here a student must show a 3 year deficit – minimum to be eligible for reduced size classes but must be tested at age-grade levela grade level we already know they have not achieved. )Others sat & cried quietly. The effect is even worse on students who are the better students and are accustomed to being able to accomplish what is asked of them and do it well. Even after you explain to them that the problem is largely the test and that, no, their work is excellent and there’s no reason for them to worry they can’t get around the fact that here was something with NY State Dept. of Education on it and they couldn’t handle it. It can take weeks for them to recover and perform normally again.

  35. 35
    Kay says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    I think she will. Bill Clinton repeats the same mantra, word for word.

    It’s a good question. What I’ve done so far is ask the D candidate for governor in Ohio for some assurances on education, because he asked for support. He hasn’t responded yet, but we’re meeting with him on the 28th, so if he doesn’t respond in writing I’ll confront him there.

    I actually got a response from Duncan’s DOE. Horrible. It was from the charter schools director (title like that) and it was an incredibly patronizing “explanation” of charter schools, on about a 6th grade level. Ohio has had charter schools for 15 years and I’ve been writing about them for 3. I’m fully aware of the talking points.

  36. 36
    Emma says:

    @Betty Cracker: That’s it, exactly. They need to kill the unions, and with them, the ability of any teacher to teach properly. They hate and fear education because an educated electorate means an electorate that won’t buy their cons.

  37. 37
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @gelfling545: I’ve watched high school kids do the state-mandated science testing take 6-7 minutes for a 45 minute section.

    That’s not stress. That’s making smiley-faces on the Scantron form.

  38. 38
    Kay says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    It’s amazing how stubborn this bullshit is. Your state (well, one reporter) had this huge expose of Jeb Bush’s cybercharter scam, and it simply doesn’t matter.

    He was selling the same scam in Chicago yesterday. Fully a quarter of his speech was a sales pitch on cybercharters. This is America’s Leading Expert On Education. I would chase him off my porch if he were selling this door to door. Anyone would.

  39. 39
    Ruckus says:

    @Kay:
    It’s amazing how stubborn this bullshit is.

    I would chase him off my porch if he were selling this door to door. Anyone would.

    Is that because they are not trying to sell it to parents, students or teachers? The people it directly effects/screws don’t get a say. Only the people signing the checks get a say.
    Like all bullshit you have to say it often and loud to change the perception that it is or might be bullshit. You have to sell bullshit, and conservatives have been doing it for so long and so loud that any opposition has almost lost any possible voice.

  40. 40
    Kay says:

    @Ruckus:

    It’s tough, as an issue, because it’s state-specific.

    So even if Ohio has a decade-long rip-off history with cybercharters, Bush can parachute into Chicago and sell them as “new!”

    It’s frustrating as hell if you’re watching from the sidelines, because you can’t believe they’re going to get away with this again.

    John Merrow is an education reporter for PBS and he wrote this long, researched piece on Rhee’s actual record. No one would print it. He had to put it up on his blog. You can feel his frustration in the intro to the piece. On the other hand, I’m not that sympathetic, because he’s a former cheerleader, so this is partly his fault.

  41. 41
    rikyrah says:

    thank you for this post and these links to expose the SCAM/FRAUD

  42. 42
    gene108 says:

    @RepubAnon:

    We have seen the future, and it is Pakistan – where life is very good for the very rich, miserable for everyone else, and the religious fanatics keep the 99% distracted with culture war issues.

    I AM SICK OF LIBERALS THINKING AMERICA SUCKS AS BAD AS COUNTRY ‘X’

    It’s not a fucking culture war in Pakistan: IT IS A AN ACTUAL FUCKING GUERRILLA WAR TO WREST CONTROL OF TERRITORY FROM INDIA.

    Forty-two terror training camps are operating in Pakistan and Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir and nearly 270 terrorists have entered into Jammu and Kashmir from across the border through LoC in the last three years, government today said.

    Minister of State for Home RPN Singh said there were 1,000 attempts of infiltration by terrorists from Pakistan and (PoK) through the LoC between 2010-12.

    Singh informed Lok Sabha that 160 terrorists were killed by security forces while trying to infiltrate while 570 others went back to the other side of the border due to strict vigil by security forces.

    However, he said, 95 terrorists could infiltrate into Jammu and Kashmir in 2010, 52 could infiltrate in 2011 and 121 could infiltrate in 2012.

    The Minister said Jammu and Kashmir has been facing Pakistan-sponsored terrorism, spearheaded by Pakistani intelligence agency ISI for more than 20 years.

    LINK

    THE ONLY WAY WE’D BE PAKISTAN IS IF THE U.S. WAS OPENLY OPERATING TERRORIST CAMPS TO WREST CONTROL OF PART OF CANADA OR MEXICO BECAUSE WE WERE NOT HAPPY WITH WHATEVER TREATIES WERE SIGNED TO ESTABLISH BORDERS.

    The U.S. is not the totalitarian fascist state Snowden-lovers want it to be or the “best greatest country God ever created” that Sean Haninity believes it is. We’re not perfect, but we are far fucking better than fucking Pakistan in every damn way conceivable.

    I used caps a lot. Deal with it.

  43. 43
    gene108 says:

    What’s amusing, in an evil genius kind of way, is sometime back in the 1970′ and 1980’s liberals started making a point that inner-city schools were poorly funded (and rural schools maybe, but I remember the focus being inner-city schools in Time and Newsweek) and this is one reason there was an education crisis in poor school districts and as the richest country in the world we should better fund these school districts that do not have the tax base to compete with richer school districts.

    Sometime by the late-1980’s, this focused critique of poor school districts got turned into America’s education sucks and the kids these days aren’t learning as much as we did and thus, on the back of liberal concern for the poor and downtrodden, was spawned voucher programs and charter schools.

    @gene108:

    More on the point of Pakistan:

    The Sri Lankan cricket team attack occurred on 3 March 2009, when a bus carrying Sri Lankan cricketers, part of a larger convoy, was fired upon by 12 gunmen, near the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore, Pakistan.[1] The cricketers were on their way to play the third day of the second Test against the Pakistani cricket team. Six members of the Sri Lanka national cricket team were injured. Six Pakistani policemen and two civilians were killed

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2.....icket_team

    Cricket is the most popular sport in the subcontinent. Pakistani “culture warriors” decide to shoot up a visiting teams bus, in one of the largest, most prosperous cities in the country.

    Also, too per this Link 17,264 Pakistani civilians were killed be their “culture warriors” over the last 10 years inside Pakistan.

    As much as you may think America sucks, our “culture warriors” aren’t killing an average of 1,700 civilians a year over the last 10 years.

    We are so much fucking better than Pakistan, so please stop with the bullshit comparison.

  44. 44
    Kay says:

    @gene108:

    Sometime by the late-1980′s, this focused critique of poor school districts got turned into America’s education sucks and the kids these days aren’t learning as much as we did and thus, on the back of liberal concern for the poor and downtrodden, was spawned voucher programs and charter schools.

    Which is generous. Because the other way to look at it is, liberals were incredibly egotistical and believed they could adopt the good! parts of Milton Friedman with none of the bad. Like that was happening. Conservatives rolled right over them. The newest thing is churches starting charter schools. The church sets up a legal entity, the “school” and then “rents” its own facility back to the school, which is publicly funded. We don’t even bother with vouchers anymore.

    Liberals “drew the line!” at vouchers, meanwhile, conservatives were closing their private religious schools and converting them to charters.

  45. 45
    gene108 says:

    @Kay:

    Conservatives rolled right over them.

    The problem with liberals and Democrats was (is?) the assumption the other side was actually talking about the same issues and concerns they were, but just had a different, but probably valid, approach at a solution.

    To some extent, in the 1980’s and early 1990’s this was true. You have the Heritage Foundation 1993 response to Clinton’s health care initiative that has ideas adopted in Obamacare. You have cap-and-trade as a market based solution to the acid rain problem in the Midwest.

    But you also had a whole class of people, who cared about nothing but money and they had cover of the “adults” in the Republican Party to start working whatever scams they could come up with to make money.

    Unfortunately for the rest of us most of the folks in really big important positions in government – President, Dept. of Education, etc. – were not educated in the public school system like the rest of us. Bill Clinton was the last President, who went K-12 in public schools.

    I do not know why so many Democratic officials are hostile towards public education. Part of me thinks these guys have an alpha-male complex, where coming in second just means you are the first loser. For elective office this is the case.

    They may not understand why most of us are satisfied with K-12 public school and state run university for higher education. To them being a part of something that doesn’t get you into Harvard and then to a job at Goldman Sachs or a top law firm or set you up with contacts to run for President or whatever just isn’t worth much, which is what public education does for most people. Sure your kid can read and do basic arithmetic and maybe some higher math, but what’s the point of supporting that system if product of the system are not going to be elite? Better to burn it down and create charter schools than let a system that produces mediocrity – which most people are happy with BTW – survive.

  46. 46
    James E. Powell says:

    Things we don’t have but could really use:

    1) A short, coherent, unapologetic defense of public education. Including a statement of the public benefits of education that are not limited to jobs or imagined competition with other nations.

    2) At least five federal elected officials who would be consistent defenders of public education. I can’t think of one person who is known to the public for this issue, or who is a valuable go-to person in the way that Elizabeth Warren is for financial matters.

    3) A heated and prolonged national discussion on what exactly we mean when we say ‘educated’ and whether we really intend, as a nation, that every person must become so educated.

  47. 47
    JustRuss says:

    Why the frickin’ secrecy? Why are people working on educational assessment forced to sign NDAs in order to participate? It’s insane.

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