...when I see these civil rights groups come out in favor of testingThe UFT leadership has used the so-called civil rights leaders support for high stakes testing and their opposition to opt out as an excuse for their own inaction. WAPO's Valerie Strauss published Wayne Au's exposure of these groups, groups that are funded by ed deform champions Bill Gates and the Walton Foundation.
Not this point by Au:
Knowing that along with the Gates Foundation, both the Broad Foundation and the Walton Foundation constitute the “big three” in major philanthropic funding for the corporate education reform effort, I decided to dig just a little more. While I couldn’t find any connection between the Broad Foundation and the 12 civil rights organizations opposing the opt-out movement, I did find two that are also funded by the Walton Foundation:
There is a deep irony here, considering the Walton Family’s track record with regards to civil rights. For instance, in 2012 civil rights leaders called on Walmart and the Walton Family to withdraw from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC is famous for promoting hyper-conservative policies and laws, including the “stand your ground” gun laws associated with the murder of Trayvon Martin. Walmart and the Walton family have spent millions fighting against universal preschool in California, supporting public school voucher programs in various cities, and other conservative initiatives.
And there’s this: According to Making Change At Walmart, Walmart is the largest single employer of African Americans in the country (20 percent of the 1.3 million total employees), pays employees an average of $8.81 an hour, and under Walmart’s definition of full-time work, an employee would only earn 65 percent of the 2014 federal poverty rate for a family of four.Interesting that the UFT is lining up with the anti-labor Walton Foundation, one step removed. Strauss introduces the Au piece:
A dozen civil rights groups this week issued a statement contending that parents opting their children out of high-stakes standardized tests are harming at-risk students. That sparked a response from the Network for Public Education, saying that high-stakes standardized tests are hurting these young people, not the opt-out movement. You can read both statements here.
Here’s a different look at all of this, by Wayne Au, an associate professor in the School of Educational Studies at the University of Washington Bothell, and an editor for the social justice teaching magazine Rethinking Schools. Most recently, with Joseph J. Ferarre, he co-edited the book, Mapping Corporate Education Reform: Power and Policy Networks in the Neoliberal State. His research interests include critical analyses of high-stakes testing, critical educational theory and practice, curriculum studies, and multicultural education.
Just whose rights do these civil rights groups think they are protecting?
The civil rights organizations who made their statement against opting out see high-stakes, standardized testing as a solution to educational inequality, while others, like myself, see ample evidence that high-stakes, standardized testing is exasperating educational inequality and therefore needs to be rejected as an inherently damaging measure.And Au certainly does follow the money:
There is a very strong critique of the civil rights organizations’ anti-opt-out statement, written mainly by my good friend, colleague, and noted test-resister, Jesse Hagopian, with the endorsement of the Network for Public Education, so I’m not going to take up a close reading and critique of the civil rights organizations’ anti-opt-out statement. However, anytime I see “grassroots” groups promoting the agenda of the corporate education reformers, like what happened here in Washington State with charter school reform in 2012, I’m always compelled to follow the money.