Cheating is not the problem that must be addressed. It is the most visible and disturbing symptom of the disease, but the disease itself is our excessive reliance on high stakes testing... John Merrow
Dana Goldstein has done a lot of credulous and awful reporting on so-called ed reform, accepting many of its premises and lies. She's also a fellow at the neoliberal New America Foundation. I gave up my subscription to The Nation after many years because she and Noguera were the main voices on the topic... Michael FiorilloUPDATE1: MAKE SURE TO READ SUSAN OHANIAN ON THE MERROW PIECE
Merrow was a winner of the 2012 Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education. Learning Matters reveals its funders. I would add that these funders have clear goals.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
PLUS QUITE A LISTUPDATE2 from Sharron Higgins:
Steve Zeltzer, a labor activist in the Bay Area, filmed the anti-Duncan protest on 4/30 outside the Hilton in SF where the AERA convention was taking place. He's the one doing the interviewing in the video.
Dana Goldstein on L.A. Teacher Alex Caputo-Pearl and the Real Deal Behind Closing Schools). Alex Caputo-Pearl, a 22-year TFA vet still teaching, has been a major freedom fighter opposing ed deform.
I woke up this morning to find this excellent post from John Merrow:
Arne Duncan’s Moment of TruthMerrow had a mid-course correction of his own after helping push Michelle Rhee to star status. Maybe remembering the massive egg on face outcome the media faced after the Bush Weapons of mass destruction/Iraq War cheerleading, it looks like people like Goldstein and Merrow are: choose one a) finally getting it or b) covering their asses. They really should watch our film which was the first in depth exposure of the entire package of ed deform. I know Goldstein aired it at The Nation but I guess she just thought our pointing out the truth was just propaganda.
As two powerful forces collide at this moment in educational history, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has an opportunity to make a mid-course correction that could save public education.
Merrow has been doing a mea culpa of sorts with his relentless coverage of the Rhee Cheating scandals which he continues in this post.
Duncan has been a creation of the ed deformers since he started running the Chicago schools over a decade ago and if he did a mid-course correction he would be sent into oblivion. That is like calling for Obama to fire Duncan which other than the publicity value is a useless exercise.The first powerful force is the Common Core and the accompanying tests that are being ‘rolled out’ in classrooms around the country. The epidemic of cheating on standardized tests is the other threat that must be understood and addressed. Think of these two forces as mighty rivers, separate until now–but converging.Dealing with the Common Core is going to require restraint on the Secretary’s part, it seems to me. Adopted by all but five states, the Common Core raises standards and expectations, surely a good thing. However, it is also scaring a lot of politicians and educators. Some are upset at the idea of change because fear of the unknown is par for the course, others suspect a federal takeover of education, and some think it’s a good idea being done badly.
But there is hope for Merrow who every day shows he's getting what ed deform is all about.
Mr. Duncan’s official position is that the Common Core is not Washington’s doing, but everyone knows that federal dollars have supported its development and growth–it wouldn’t have happened without Washington. As protests grow, Mr. Duncan might be wise to keep relatively quiet and let others defend it, lest his support be taken as evidence that the Common Core really is that ‘federal takeover’ the critics fear.And don't think our own little opt-out movement here in NYC with Change the Stakes taking the lead is not having an impact. I knew when 30 people showed up to the last CTS meeting (next one is May 10) on a rainy, nasty Friday late afternoon, that we were on to something. The 500 people at Tweed last Friday was further proof.
Merrow should go through the list of all the supporters of common core and he will see that reluctance on the part of so many starts with the people who are pushing it.
But the arrival of the Common Core has created an opportunity for Mr. Duncan to speak out about the epidemic of cheating. FairTest, an organization that is strongly opposed to over-reliance on standardized testing, has compiled a list of states and districts where cheating (most often by adults) has come to light.
It identifies 37 states and the District of Columbia (I have written about the latter.)
Secretary Duncan has previously said that the solution to this problem is tighter security, a position he took with me in a conversation after the Atlanta scandal became public. That might have been an appropriate response back then, but it is woefully inadequate today. Calling for increased security to solve today’s situation reminds me of that old fable, ‘The Boy at the Dike.’ You may remember the boy trying vain to plug holes and running out of fingers. Something more is going on here, and I think we should expect our Secretary of Education to help us grapple with this.
The challenge for the Secretary is that his own federal policy is at least partially responsible for what’s going on now. By insisting that student performance on standardized tests be an important part of teacher evaluation, Mr. Duncan and his “Race to the Top” have helped change the game. But it’s a game without clear rules besides “Produce or Else.” Surely he, as an athlete, must know that competition without rules leads to chaos.Secretary Duncan has, wittingly and unwittingly, allied himself with the “Produce or Else” approach favored by Michelle Rhee , Beverly Hall  and other school leaders, apparently without clearly thinking through what “Produce” means. As a consequence, standardized tests have become a wedge (or a weapon) for administrators in their relations with teachers, a ‘them against us’ approach that is souring public education.
The ball, Mr. Secretary, is in your court.
I will follow up with Randi Weingarten's own mid-course correction the other day on common core. Not really a mid-course correction, but political positioning. And boy do I have lots of comments on that to report.
This is an exciting time. Today, we, a group of scholars, parents, and teachers came together to protest US Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan’s speech at AERA’s annual conference in San Francisco. We picketed, distributed flyers, held up signs, and questioned him. Our representative, Arnold Dodge of Long Island University-Post, criticized Mr. Duncan’s policies such as Race to the Top and his stance to try to improve assessment by more testing. Instead, Arnold Dodge called for a moratorium of high stakes testing and was received with big applause by other scholars who filled the room.
Our story was also covered by Education Week. For more detailed story, visit Rethinking Schools blog for Ann Berlak’s article. Also, you can find more pictures and stories on reclaim AERA Facebook page.
But, tomorrow (Wed, May 1), we must begin again.
If you are in the Bay Area, please visit Edu4’s symposium as we dedicate it to the cause of reclaimAERA to address the ideological cleansing by the corporate forces in educational research. Please see below details, and we sincerely hope that you will join us!
Edu4 Project Team