Monday, July 27, 2009

Race to the Bottom

Diane Ravitch (Obama's Heavy-handed Education Plan) at Politico nails the Obama/Duncan plan to use stimulus money to extort states into pushing the ed deform program down our throats. You know the drill: mayoral control, teacher bashing, merit pay, charters galore.

Diane's summary of ed deform is more elegant than mine:
...lots more charter schools; lots more privatization; evaluate teachers based on the test scores of their students; open more alternate routes into teaching to break the grip of professionalism.

It's worked so well in Duncan's Chicago, which has ruined a generation over the last 14 years of mayoral control. Diane's point here is one that should be blasted all over the nation to counter the deformers.

If Duncan knows so much about how to reform American education, why didn't he reform Chicago 's schools? A report came out a couple of weeks ago from the Civic Committee of Chicago ("Still Left Behind") saying that Chicago's much-touted score gains in the past several years were phony, that they were generated after the state lowered the passing mark on the state tests, that the purported gains did not show up on the federal tests, and that Chicago 's high schools are still failing. On the respected federal tests (NAEP), Chicago is one of the lowest performing cities in the nation.

Mike Petrilli of the Fordham Foundation (not a foe of ed deform, by the way) calls it "Washington Knows Best at its worst." Diane asks,

"What if Washington doesn't know best?" What if the "reform" ideas are wrong? Just a few weeks ago, a respected Stanford University study reported that 80% or more of charter schools are no better than or worse than their neighborhood public school. Why replace struggling public schools with worse charter schools? There is a ton of evidence that evaluating teachers based on student test scores is a lousy idea (see the work of Jesse Rothstein at Princeton , for example).
Why is Washington pushing "reform" ideas that have so little evidence behind them, as well as ideas that will positively harm public education in America ?

Robert Pondiscio at Core Knowledge:

See a compilation of raw posts from the NYC Ed News listserve, including Diane's full piece, posted at our storage facility Norms Notes: Several Posts re: Obama/Duncan's Race to the Top

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