Saturday, April 26, 2014

Ravitch and Weingarten Misdiagnose Pearson Issue --- by A Newark Teacher

Note - This article is written by a teacher in Newark who often writes for Ed Notes, not by me. I take a more nuanced view of where Ravitch stands on Randi and the teacher unions but I won't get into that here.

By shrouding the test in secrecy, Pearson denies information to teachers to help diagnose student needs. The tests become useless by having no diagnostic value. ...teachers will be fired and students will be failed and schools will be closed without seeing the validity of the instruments of punishment.  This is wrong.

Diane Ravitch

These gag orders and the lack of transparency are fueling the growing distrust and backlash among parents, students and educators in the United States about whether the current testing protocols and testing fixation is in the best interests of children.

Randi Weingarten

Diane and Randi have the Pearson issue ass backwards.  High stakes tests were never intended to assist in the diagnosis of student academic needs.  In my district in Newark, scores are not reported to teachers until the following school year when most teachers are no longer responsible for instructing those particular students.  The purpose of the tests is to impose the consequences of closing "failing" schools and firing the teachers employed in those schools.  Gag orders on exposing test questions are not fueling backlash against standardized testing.  Common Core tied to high stakes testing tied to punitive consequences are the bedrocks of the marriage of the federal government to the school privatization industry.

Alan Singer reported in the Huffington Post that Pearson may be in serious financial trouble. According to Investopedia.com, Pearson underperformed the SandP Index by 23%. Singer suggested that Pearson may be over-extended in its ambitious push to expand its education, digital services and testing programs. The company is concerned that the United States market might shrink due to resistance to Common Core and testing. Will Pearson losing market share bring good tidings to Randi? Randi would be dismayed to discover any chinks in the armor of the federal privatization movement. Henry Mance of Media reported a 6 percent decline in Pearson sales in the first quarter of 2014. Randi shrewdly calculated that she might bolster Pearson sales in the United States by pressuring them to be more transparent in releasing test questions to the public. Randi miscalculated the depth and the breadth of the anger amongst students, parents, teachers and administrators over Common Core inextricably linked to endless testing. As a teacher, I am  fully competent to assess and plan appropriate instruction for my students. I could not care less about ludicrous test questions devised by Pearson and others.

Here is the problem folks. Randi is beholden to Bill Gates for his financial contributions to the AFT. Randi loves Bill's Common Core experiment. She enjoys hobnobbing with the financial elites of our society. Diane seeks to portray BFF Randi in the best possible light. Randi was "deeply disturbed" to read in The New York Times about issues teachers, principals, parents and students were raising about Pearson tests. Randi is handsomely compensated to represent the interests of teachers in this country. She has to read The New York Times to familiarize herself with teacher opposition to Pearson testing? 

She could talk to any teacher in my school for five minutes to get a run down on the quagmire of standardized testing. Those teachers would patiently explain the correlation between low standardized test scores and high poverty neighborhoods. Unlike the teachers in schools in more prosperous neighborhoods across town, who are for the most part rated effective or better, the hard working, highly qualified teachers in schools in our neighborhoods are more likely to be caught in the partially effective and ineffective traps. Randi's strategy is to minimize the onslaught on public education by pinpointing gag orders one time and VAM on another occasion thereby avoiding both a big picture analysis and an action plan.

In Newark, State Superintendent Cami Anderson's One Newark Plan has encountered some glitches in the past week.  The administration was unable to meet its self-imposed deadline for informing families which schools their children will attend in September. They are having difficulties working out the transportation details.  If the goal is to move children all over the city to purportedly advance equity, transportation would appear to be a key component of the plan.  So Randi when you get done writing BS letters to Pearson about marginal issues, you could hop on Amtrak from DC to Newark and help Cami and her pals figure out transportation routes.  If you have any spare time, there is a long line of teachers who would benefit from real union leadership.

A Newark Teacher

8 comments:

  1. Amen to tweaking Ravitch for her protection of Weingarten and her pussyfooting around becuase Randi is her pal. Bullshit. She's no pal of teachers. And as long as I am on it when is Diane going to open her eyes to the clowncar that BATS has devolved into under Great dear Leader and his cadre of admiring acolytes? Until Ravitch gets her head outta he sand she accomplished nothing and she is no ally of thousands of teachers who need an ally with the juice everyone claims she has.

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  2. Norm, what's up? Do you really think attacking Diane Ravitch is smart?

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    1. First - it should be clear I did not write this piece but ed notes' Newark Teacher correspondent did. While I do disagree with Diane on some stuff, especially on the union, I get that she has to play somewhat of a political game. Privately I have heard her say some things that shows she gets it. However, I am willing to publish people may not be where I am at and also given that this cuts to some of Randi's machinations it works just fine. There is no danger in crit Diane from the left -- but right wing attacks that she shills for the union have some credence and in fact I believe she helps give them some cover -- though I believe when she was at the UFT recently speaking she did lay some stuff on that made Mulgrew uncomfortable.

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    2. Hello Earthy Girl,

      I am working in the trenches in a renew school in Newark. I am facing a layoff of 1,000 teachers in the next three years. State District Superintendent Anderson has applied to the State of New Jersey for an equivalency; a waiver from tenure and seniority protections. Diane has repeatedly recommended lawsuits for those in situations like mine who may lose their jobs. I am not in a financial position to file law suits. Randi is busy writing letters to Pearson and traveling around. She screwed Newark teachers with our "historic contract." If you have been following the blog, you will note that I have previously contributed my opinions. What course of action would you recommend to me Earthy Girl? Would it be better if I just shut up?

      A Newark Teacher

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    3. What good has kissing Diane's butt done us? We hear every day how she's the big player, she has major pull, she is a heavy hitter etc. Yet she is totally tone deaf and blind to the damage her dear friend Randi does the rank and filers every day in her filthy collusion with the likes of Gates et al. Last I heard Diane was enjoining us all the become BATS too. Has she paid one minute's worth of attention to what's going on in that looney bin of a group? If you dissent from anything Naison or his trolls declare you are banned. When I read a site like Atthechalkface that's packed with credible ed folk and I realize nearly all of them who ever had anything to do with BATS have distanced themselves from it I realize this is a group headed in the wrong direction kind of like AFT. NYSUT and NEA and for the same damned reasons -- the politic motives of the frontmen. Teachers don't need to be fronted by self serving power and prestige kleptomaniacs. We need leaders who can take as well as throw a punch. Not seeing this in any of the above mentioned groups. Earthy Girl, get real and stop dreaming.

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    4. Sean,

      I am happy at least one other human is willing to look reality straight in the face. From reading your blog, I have gathered that the circumstances in Buffalo are about on a par with Newark. How do we organize in an effective manner?

      A Newark Teacher

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    5. I do not condemn Diane Ravitch for her stance on Randi and the teacher unions because Diane plays a political role in moving the unions - or nudging them in what she sees as a better direction. Though many of us know some of these "moves" is bullshit it is also not the worst thing to see Randi taking better positions - though always watch what she really does, not what she says. Leonie also often takes this same tack -- when Randi was on the board of inBloom it was Leonie who convinced her to leave and not give cover tho them.

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    6. What is Randi doing to advance public school children, public school teachers and public education in the United States? Could you explain to me Norm why Randi was sitting on the board of InBloom? I am mystified.

      A Newark Teacher

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