Monday, August 11, 2008

John Merrow, NCLB - and Randi Too

Last week we posted on the clear bias of John Merrow who chaired a loaded on line conference on NCLB which included few if any people who taught for more than 10 minutes.

But AFT/UFT President Randi Weingarten was on the panel to defend teacher interests - ha, ha, ha - see one of her quotes below.

Susan Ohanian in her daily Outrages put up quotes from some of the participants.

Ohanian Comment
I post a few snippets from this discussion on NCLB, narrated by PBS's John Merrow, Education Correspondent for The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer and President of Learning Matters Incorporated, as a warning. Should you wish to inflict more damage on your psyche, the url for the complete discussion is below.

Note how Merrow sets the tone: Any talk of abandoning No Child Left Behind is foolish. . . . So nobody who advocates ending NCLB is invited to the table. No grassroots activist was invited. "Activists" by definition in this atmosphere have ties to places like the Manhattan Institute, Hoover Institution, and the American Enterprise Institute. As I’ve been pointing out incessantly, those who come close to saying "dump NCLB" do so only as part of their strident calls for national standards and a national test.

But don't miss these [Merrow] gems:

NCLB as the vehicle for "beaming sunshine" down on public schools.

We as a nation have no aversion to national standards; we set them for everything from food to cars to toys. Why not national standards for all students in reading and math?

[L]et me throw into the mix Education Sector's finding–that we spend 15 cents of every $100 education dollars on NCLB testing. I know from conversations with the folks who make kitty litter, flea powder and other Hartz pet products that it spends at least 10 times that much testing its products.

I am struck by the wisdom of Achieve, Eli Broad [who funds Merrow] and others who talk about 'Common Standards,’ perhaps recognizing that 'national' and 'federal' are widely confused concepts and red flags to many Americans.

Count how many times panelists proclaim, "I agree with Checker/Chester [Finn].

Here is Randi's namby pamby quote:

Randi Weingarten, newly elected President American Federation of Teachers (AFT); a lawyer and active member of the Democratic National Committee

"John Merrow is right: Helping all kids achieve, particularly kids at risk, was always the main goal of federal education law. NCLB correctly set high standards, but it over-emphasized testing and sanctions at the expense of helping all kids achieve. . . . It's great that Achieve has been able to find a way to move toward national standards by working with the states and moving the consensus outwards, rather than starting at the top and moving down. Their work shows it's doable and I'd like to see more of it, more states, more subjects."

Does Weingarten want NCLB eliminated or modified? Where exactly does she stand? Which direction is the wind blowing? And there's too much testing? Randi made sure to jump into the photo when Bloomberg/Klein got the Broad prize, bragged about high test scores in the NYC test all the time system and agreed to a merit pay scheme based on test scores.

If anyone finds more fun Randi quotes at the site, send them along. I've had enough.

Susan O has a selection of comments from classroom teachers.

Lynn: I got through about 15 responses in this discussion before I got bored. Mainly because these folks keep saying the same thing in different ways. I have two questions for these participants: Have you ever taught in a K-12 public school classroom? If so, how long has it been since you were there? If any of these people have never had K-12 experience, I'm not particularly interested in what they have to say. The only real experts in a discussion like this are current and recently former teachers.

John Thompson: John [Merrow], I'm frustrated by your opening questions. I've always admired your work, but they sound like a "bait and switch." You started with an endorsement of NCLB, but shouldn't the question be about NCLB-type accountability. If I heard correctly, most panelists challenged national test-driven accountability. You said that we spend 15 cents of every $100 on testing, but isn't that the problem with NCLB I? Its another example of "Fire! Ready. Aim." Then when you started off today with the issue of National Standards, you started us off on the path that gave us NCLB. The next step is "better tools, curricula, and instruction stategies." No! That's not the only way!

Read Susan's full treatment

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