Saturday, October 27, 2007

Data Driven Destruction

by Paul A. Moore

Teacher, Miami Carol City Senior High School

One of the corporate wrecking balls brought down recently on America’s public schools is “data driven” education. The charade is a creation of the Business Roundtable and other forces that dream of a privatized school system that serves only their global profit making schemes.

Because their sinister intentions must be kept on the down low, data driven education is packaged and sold as economical but revolutionary pedagogy come to the classroom. Absurdity is the inevitable result. And so it is that our system of universal public education is now trapped in a scene from Woody Allen’s farce Bananas. The new leader has decreed that, “From this day on the official language of San Marcos will be Swedish. In addition to that, all citizens will be required to change their underwear every half hour. Underwear will be worn on the outside so we can check. Furthermore, all children under 16-years-old are now…16-years-old!”

Promoting insanity in the classroom has proven to be quite an effective weapon of public school destruction. Teachers are being broken down and driven away at an unprecedented rate. One in five new teachers will not make it through their first year. Half of them will be gone inside of five years.

In still sane sectors of our society data is collected on a rational basis. The U.S. Census Bureau gathers data on population, infant mortality, life expectancy, health insurance and the distribution of wealth for the sake of a more effective government. In a sector of our society targeted for demoralization and destruction, data is collected for data’s sake. There is no earthly reason for most of the information teachers are now being ordered to collect and analyze through incessant testing of students. If the Census Bureau was put on the same footing they would be checking people’s underwear every half hour.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush is a high ranking leader of the corporate assault on public schools, right up there with Michael R. Bloomberg, Eli Broad, and the Walton (Wal-Mart) Family. Jeb Bush is not just a friend of big business; he is a big business! One of his wholly-owned subsidiaries is his brother Neil Bush and Ignite! Learning. Ignite is a software company that “helps” students prepare for the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) with “portable learning centers” at $3,000 per kid. The business has contracts in 13 Florida school districts and rakes in millions.

During Jeb Bush’s final year in office there is strong evidence to suggest that FCAT scores were manipulated and artificially inflated. The “education governor” was apparently going to barnstorm with the “education mayor” Mr. Bloomberg as a prelude to a run for the White House. Big brother has poisoned that well for the time being but in those days there was speculation over another possible career path for Jeb.

Imagine if Jeb Bush had been tapped by National Football League owners rather than Roger Goodell as the league’s commissioner. The new commissioner could have applied his education philosophy to the NFL. Certainly the players would be more effective if they spent less time on the practice field and in the weight room and more time being tested daily in the 40-yard dash, shuttle run, vertical leap and bench press. Less time practicing football plays and more time being tested on the playbook. Or imagine the new policy if President Bush had named his brother to the Cabinet? As U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Jeb Bush would surely have ordered the nation’s livestock weighed every few hours because even if it did cut into their feeding time it would certainly result in fatter cows.

1 comment:

17 (really 15) more years said...

The only thing that all of this gathering of data is accomplishing is exhausting teachers to the point where we can barely function. It has created mounds of paperwork that is practically impossible to complete. I see excellent teachers who consistently get good scores abandoning their traditional techniques (translation: techniques that always resulted in excellent test scores) because they are being forced to embrace nonsensical strategies that the KIDS will willingly tell you they don't like.