Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Naming Names

Create any old value-added assessment you want.

Use tests that were never meant to be used for value-added assessment.

Run the scores through a computer and come up with a list of "good teachers" and "bad teachers."

Publish those names in the LA Times on Sunday.

Have the Obama administration publicly endorse the publication through a statement by the Secretary of Education.

Never mind that the tests were not meant to judge teachers.

Never mind that they way the analysis was conducted leaves the end product open to a margin of error the size of Obama's ego.

They're going to go with this Naming Names strategy as a way to publicly shame "bad teachers" out of their jobs.

I think they hope parents will see the names in the paper and demand that the teachers be fired.

Or perhaps they hope parents will take justice into their own hands vigilante-style.

Because that's kind of what this is.

Okay, forget the "kind of" part.

That's what this is.

They publish the names of tax cheats in the papers.

They publish the names of deadbeat dads and parents not paying alimony and child support.

They publish the names of johns arrested for soliciting prostitutes.

They publish the names of people arrested for DWI.

They publish the names of sex offenders.

And now they publish the names of "bad teachers."

Who cares if the analysis used to come to those conclusions is flawed?

The point is to get "bad teachers" out of the system.

And now that the Obama administration has publicly endorsed this action, you can be sure we will see similar articles all around the country.

I bet the Wall Street Journal - exceedingly pro-charter and pro-"reform" since Rupert Murdoch took it over - is working on such an article about NYC right now.

Perhaps Zuckerman has his minions at either the Daily News or US News working on one (US News loves to publish lists - Best Colleges, Best Medical Schools, Best Graduation Schools...Worst Secondary School Teachers fits right in with the rest of the reductionism that passes for analysis at that rag.)

Whenever I have juniors or seniors talk about wanting to go into teaching these days, I always say you might want to rethink that career choice.

Teachers are under attack from all sides - from Bloomberg and Klein here at the city level to Paterson (and soon Cuomo) at the state level to Obama and Duncan at the federal level (and Bush and Spellings before them.)

Billionaire slave labor employers like Steve Jobs want to see us fired and the unions busted.

Predator philanthropists like Bill Gates and Eli Broad put up millions to bring that dream to fruition.

Hedge fund criminals like Whitney Tilson start "education reform" non-profits that work toward the hedge fundie wet dream of a completely privatized public school system open to billions of EMO profits.

And our unions, rather than fight these attacks with all they've got, either stick their heads in the sand and make believe they're not happening or actually collaborate and invite the enemy into the city (as Weingarten did by having Bill Gates speak at the AFT convention.)

These are bad times for the country at large.

The economy has been terrible and it's getting worse even as I write this post.

The unemployment rate is 9.5% and going higher by the end of the year.

The underemployment rate is 19% and going higher by the end of the year.

GDP is expected to slip to 1.2% or lower for Q2 and hover near 0% for the second half of the year.

Foreclosures have increased every month for the last thirteen months and with over a year's worth of housing inventory on the market and prices still needing to fall to get back to a historical home price/income ratio, the housing crisis is going to get worse before it gets better too.

What is being done about any of this?

Not much - other than to blame the public school system and public school teachers for not teaching the skills needed to survive this uber-corporate 21st century economy.

It's not our fault, of course.

The predator billionaires and hedge fund criminals run things on Wall Street and in Washington.

They steal as much as they can from the economy without putting anything back in the form of either investment or hiring.

They nearly brought about economic collapse in 2008 and rather than be punished for their crimes and hubris, they are bailed out by both Bush and Obama and allowed to continue to run the economy like a rigged casino.

And now, rather than just blame teachers for this mess they did NOT create, the powers that be have decided to name names and get some vigilante justice going.

Don't be surprised if that isn't the plan.

Do you think Michelle Rhee or Joel Klein would be sorry to see outraged parents take to a classroom to themselves "fire" a teacher rated "bad" by some newspaper through some jive value-added analysis story?

How about Duncan and Obama?

I don't know about you, but I could absolutely see Rhee shrugging if some crazy parent or parents, angry that their kid has been left back or is struggling below grade level, took to a classroom and punched some teacher exposed as "bad" by the local newspaper.

I could absolutely hear Rhee say "If bad teachers refuse to step down themselves and teachers unions try and protect bad teachers from firing, then maybe parents have to take action themselves."

The point, apparently, is just to get rid of "bad teachers."

Doesn't matter how you do it. Doesn't matter how you measure it.

Just that it happens.

These are bad times indeed.


  1. Those despicable LA Times articles identifying (and sowing a photograph!) of a "failed" teacher are on par with the public shaming and humiliation rituals that went on during the Cultural Revolution in China. It's a sad but common occurrence in a stressed, repressed society.

    Incredible: not a single banker has been indicted as a result of the looting of the country, but teachers are now the target of witch hunts disguised with pseudo-scientific "data."

    Almost 50 years ago, in his masterpiece "The Pentagon of Power," Lewis Mumford wrote of the all-encompassing Megamachine, which was based on centralized power (the Sun God/King), remote control and resistance to feedback. He traced its origins back to ancient Egypt, but wrote in his book about how it was reassembled in the modern era.

    And he spoke of how it would lead to "The Electronic Dark Ages."

  2. Michael, that is amazing, isn't it? The men (and they were mostly men) who nearly brought about economic collapse (and may still - look at how well the austerity measures on Greece are going...) have gotten off free and clear. In fact, Obama made sure the punch bowl returned when he re-nominated Ben Bernanke and created TALF and a HAMP program that bails out banks and not homeowners...

    But teachers are being tarred as failures in a, as you wrote, "witch hunts disguised with pseudo-scientific 'data.'"

  3. An interesting idea of Value Subtracted was written about by a teacher in the responses to the LA times slandering article.

    The concept is as follows:

    Conditions exist that should be credited to the teachers "Value Added" Score.

    Examples are:



    Drug Addiction


    Poor Students

    Poor Working Conditions

    Poor and Evil Administrators

    Condemmnation by Society

    No Textbooks

    You get the idea. Each factor should be added to the raw score so as to compensate for the insult of these conditions.

    In fact, why not take the entire set of "Data" and ram it up Klein's miserable rectum.


    Angry Nog

  4. Wow, these surely are dark times. LA Times is pathetic. Sooner or later, protests and boycotts will ensue. The abuse cannot be taken for much longer.

  5. Ms. Chalk and TalkAugust 18, 2010 at 4:12 PM

    Is the U.S. Constitution still in effect? Isn't this some form of cruel and unusual punishment? Isn't this interfering with our pursuit of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? We are fast becoming a fascist/oligarchic dictatorship; both our government and our press is run by hedge funders and powerful billionaires. The latter DOES NOT want effective education, since that causes people to read, think, and perhaps even draw their own conclusions. It feels like the beginning of the Dark Ages of America.

  6. Great piece RBE...

    I teach in California (Bay Area) and am utterly demoralized by this disingenuous LA Times shit disturbance.

    I'm beginning to think that America is in line to become the next third world nation. The attack on teachers is nothing but union-busting, and if the oligarchs succeed, soon police, fireman, nurses, etc. will follow. If they can't ship us off shore, they will defile us until the masses are convinced of our worthlessness, and willing to give up our services. The economy is so bad, teacher compensation will surely be lowered soon, and done so based on these bogus value-added numbers.

    Corporations move their labor off shore to Asia, etc., and with the billions of souls in China and India, can continue growing fat from the purchase power of those countries, without selling another thing here in the states. So, what do they care?

    I am so sick of listening to the eduspeak on improving educational outcomes to make our students "globally competitive". The truth is, if you want to compete with workers in China, move there and take a $5 per day job.

  7. Read below for what the likes of Gates,Jobs, etc, and any other honcho that has product made in China have in store for us. Low wages and slave camp "factory campuses" so THEY can get richer, and we can get poorer.

    "Foxconn, part of Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., has built itself into the world's largest contract maker of electronics by delivering quality products on thin profit margins for customers including Apple Inc., Sony Corp., Dell Inc., Nokia Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co.

    Labor activists, however, say that success has come in part from driving workers hard by enforcing a rigid management style, operating a too-fast assembly line and requiring excessive overtime. The company denies that it treats employees inhumanely.

    The troubles at Foxconn came to light amid broader labor unrest in China and highlighted Chinese workers' growing dissatisfaction with the low wages and pressure-cooker working conditions that helped turn the country into an international manufacturing powerhouse.

    One activist said the rally Wednesday was unlikely to boost morale and does not replace the need for more thoroughgoing reforms.

    "I don't think today's event is going to achieve anything except provide a bit of theater," said Geoffrey Crothall, spokesman for the China Labor Bulletin, a labor rights group based in Hong Kong. "Basically what Foxconn needs to do is treat its workers like decent human beings and pay them a decent wage. It's not rocket science."

  8. There has been a wave of worker suicides in these factory "campuses" forcing these slave drivers to pay it some lip service.

    Does the word "campus" ring any teacher's bells here? These devils call just about anything a "campus", don't they?

    So basically, we have one of the biggest slave driver in history, Gates, completely "reorganizing" our public education system . . . is it difficult to predict the future of this country in the next few decades?

    A slave factory "campus" to work in . . . if you're lucky.

  9. Angry Nog,

    I like your proposal. I wonder if his ass isn't too tight to ram all the data up there, however?


    You are SO right about this: "I am so sick of listening to the eduspeak on improving educational outcomes to make our students "globally competitive". The truth is, if you want to compete with workers in China, move there and take a $5 per day job. "

    Blaming the economic mess and unemployment on teachers and schools - which is what Obama does ALL THE TIME - is such jive. Even when workers go back to be retrained and get the "21st century skills" they supposedly need to compete in the global economy they don't get hired. And that is because, as you say, they're asking for more pay than people overseas because the cost of living is higher here.

    Or is it? In India, some call centers are being closed down because the employees there make too much and the call centers are being reopened here in the U.S. - because workers are willing to take a LOT less money than they used to. On the face it, it's good that jobs are returning from overseas. But not because the pay is LESS here than in India.

    As for China, they are seeing some business moving from China to places like Sri Lanka because they're labor costs are higher than they used to be. The problem is the corporate fucks who run things, own the governments and make sure that we are all serfs in the system.

    Anon, yes, you hit EXACTLY on the problem at hand. Corporations have all the power and can shift labor overseas whenever it gets too costly. We are heading back to serfdom and Obama and the Demsare bringing us there ALMOST as fast as the GOPers were.