Monday, April 15, 2013

E4E, John King, the State Ed Department Undermine Parents, Teachers and Students

MORE handed out this  leaflet at the E4E/John King event a few weeks ago. I never published it but did get a chance to make the point to Evan Stone about just how aligned E4E and the UFT leadership were on so many issues: common core, teacher evaluation, trusting John King, just to name a few. No wonder they didn't run in the elections. They already have a caucus representing their views: Unity.


E4E, John King, the State Ed Department Undermine Parents, Teachers and Students

If children keep arriving in school with these deficits, no amount of money or teacher evaluations may be enough to improve their lot later in life…. NY Times, April 3, 2013

With a growing parent revolt and teachers in Seattle refusing to give meaningless tests we wonder why E4E continues to support an insane testing and evaluation policy that harms children down to pre-k and beyond by calling for enormous funds to be spent on a wasteful testing and teacher evaluation process that shifts funding that could be used to close the gap before the child even reaches school.

It’s “poverty, stupid” and E4E and John King want to waste public money on playing “gotcha” with teachers when in reality the “teacher is most important factor” argument is disproven time and again. Why do King and E4E shun the “class size is the most important factor” argument? Or shifting the enormous sums wasted into true support for children? Because that would mean shifting real resources into the classroom and the political, not educational goals of enriching the educational-industrial complex which is funding groups like E4E takes priority.  The elites pushing these deforms send their kids to schools with low class sizes, little testing and no measures of teacher effectiveness.

An April 3 NY Times article in the business section affirms the errors and dishonesty of King and the people running and backing E4E. Excepts below.

Investments in Education May Be Misdirected

James Heckman is one of the nation’s top economists studying human development. Thirteen years ago, he shared the Nobel for economics. In February, he stood before the annual meeting of the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry, showed the assembled business executives a chart, and demolished the United States’ entire approach to education. The chart showed the results of cognitive tests that were first performed in the 1980s on several hundred low-birthweight 3-year-olds, who were then retested at ages 5, 8 and 18. Children of mothers who had graduated from college scored much higher at age 3 than those whose mothers had dropped out of high school, proof of the advantage for young children of living in rich, stimulating environments.

More surprising is that the difference in cognitive performance was just as big at age 18 as it had been at age 3. “The gap is there before kids walk into kindergarten,” Mr. Heckman told me. “School neither increases nor reduces it.” If education is supposed to help redress inequities at birth and improve the lot of disadvantaged children as they grow up, it is not doing its job. It is not an isolated finding. Another study by Mr. Heckman and Flavio Cunha of the University of Pennsylvania found that the gap in math abilities between rich and poor children was not much different at age 12 than it was at age 6. The gap is enormous, one of the widest among the 65 countries taking part in the Program for International Student Achievement run by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. American students from prosperous backgrounds scored on average 110 points higher on reading tests than disadvantaged students, about the same disparity that exists between the average scores in the United States and Tunisia. It is perhaps the main reason income inequality in the United States is passed down the generations at a much higher rate than in most advanced nations.

And it suggests that the angry, worried debate over how to improve the nation’s mediocre education — pitting the teachers’ unions and the advocates of more money for public schools against the champions of school vouchers and standardized tests — is missing the most important part: infants and toddlers. Research by Mr. Heckman and others confirms that investment in the early education of disadvantaged children pays extremely high returns down the road. It improves not only their cognitive abilities but also crucial behavioral traits like sociability, motivation and self-esteem. Studies that have followed children through their adult lives confirm enormous payoffs for these investments, whether measured in improved success in college, higher income or even lower incarceration rates.
The costs of not making these investments are also clear. Julia Isaacs, an expert in child policy at the Urban Institute in Washington, finds that more than half of poor 5-year-olds don’t have the math, reading or behavioral skills needed to profitably start kindergarten. If children keep arriving in school with these deficits, no amount of money or teacher evaluations may be enough to improve their lot later in life.

But the fresh attention has not translated into money or a shift in priorities. Public spending on higher education is more than three times as large as spending on preschool, according to O.E.C.D. data from 2009. A study by Ms. Isaacs found that in 2008 federal and state governments spent somewhat more than $10,000 per child in kindergarten through 12th grade. By contrast, 3- to 5-year-olds got less than $5,000 for their education and care. Children under 3 got $300.
A Parent Writes the New York State Education Department
Dear Department of Education, You should be proud of your Administrators and your principals. They are acting in full support of your harmful programs. They are choking out the words "these tests are very useful to your children", and they "will not be able to determine the academic needs of your child" without them, while giving up countless hours of sleep for acting against their conscience. They sign their names to memos that state little white lies, perversions of the truth, and sometimes flat out falsities, while their stomachs turn and their palms sweat. They are even changing entire school policies that have worked well for years, just so that you can believe they are in full compliance. You should be proud of them. They are acting like good little soldiers and going against their own best interests and the best interests of the students. They are willing to turn on the very parents that are trying to save them and their schools. You should be very, very proud. --- Jeanette Brunelle Deutermann

Why is the Commissioner of Education for the entire state of  New York meeting with a group that has no credibility among teachers, numbers not even 1% of its  profession and exists solely on the largesse of  hedge fund managers and billionaires whose goal is to privatize the public school system?   

The UFT’s ruling party, Unity Caucus, and E4E are in alignment on many issues, from calling for teachers to be evaluated based on test scores to supporting the Common Core which will bring down a greater avalanche of high stakes testing which will constrict the classroom teacher enormously.

Join with the Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE) in its fight to defend public education while also transforming the UFT into a truly democratic, member-driven force for change by supporting Julie Cavanagh for UFT president in the UFT elections.

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