Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Teacher Accounability Movement

Michael Goodwin has written three columns in a row exposing the sham of social promotion in the NYC public school system (see here, here, and here.)

He uses teacher emails to do it.

He points out over and over that in this Era of Teacher/School Accountability, the one group of people NOT being held accountable at all is students and their parents:

First, a professional in a Manhattan high school wrote to say that teachers in her school are "encouraged" to pass 80 percent of students, no matter their grades or attendance. She offered student writing samples filled with glaring errors of spelling and grammar to prove that "social promotion is alive and well."


"Our mandated passing rate is 60 percent," one wrote. "We need to explain in detail why this student failed, what methods were used to get him to pass, how much home contact was made.

"The one group that is not called in for interrogation is the students themselves. No blame falls on them . . . The students know what is going on. It has empowered them to feel that they can work less or not at all and still pass the class."

Another, from a Brooklyn high school, says the principal fudges attendance and grades with a warning that unless the school improves, the Department of Education will close it and teachers will lose their jobs.

"The administration allows students to run around, go to class for 5 minutes, and we must mark them present," he wrote. "We are also encouraged to change attendance of students marked absent up to 2 weeks earlier, looking for 'proof' they are absent. So teachers just give up and mark them present."

He added, "Teachers are scared into passing students that do not deserve it."

This is a direct consequence of the "No Excuses" education reform dogma so many people in power and the media promote.

Students know that that they will not be punished for their own failure or lack of effort - teachers will.

And once the new teacher evaluation system is in place completely and students take a dozen tests that have no meaning for them but will only be used to track teacher performance, you can bet the dire circumstances will get even worse.

Obama to Cuomo to Bloomberg - they all talk about the scourge of "bad teachers" and the pervasiveness of "drop-out factories" and how the problem lies with teachers who don't work hard enough to educate their students.

The solution promoted by these guys is always to punish teachers and find ways to hold them "more accountable."

So now they have added a teacher evaluation system based upon test scores that do not count for students, only for their teachers.

I'm sure students will work really hard to do well on these tests.

Especially when the only consequences for not doing well on these tests is that the teachers get fired.

Uh, huh - that will work wonders for the school system.

Meanwhile the accountability for students and parents remains the third rail of politics - it's rarely mentioned by politicians, even when it is it's usually just in passing, and the policies that have all been put in place undermine accountability for students and parents even as they place all the responsibility for student failure on teachers and schools.

I wish I could say that the politicians have put these policies in place in a misguided attempt to improve education.

But I do not believe that.

I believe these policies have been put into place to destabilize the public school system, allow politicians to point to the "failure" of the school system, and begin the process of replacing a public school system with a privatized charter school system that sees education management organizations and corporations running schools (and making profits) on the taxpayers dime.

So far, the Obama/Cuomo/Bloomberg policies have been successful at starting that process.

And just wait until the value-added testing evaluations go into effect in a year and the names of all the "bad teachers" are published in the Daily News, the Times and the Post.

The media will have a field day calling for mass firings and mass schools closings.

There will be even more teacher demonization and public school system destabilization as these policies go into place.

And at the end of all of this, we will have a generation of students who have learned little other than how to manipulate people and displace blame and responsibility from themselves onto others


  1. If 100% of all students are to be rated "proficient" by 2014, as called for by NCLB, then either or both of two possibilities can occur:

    - virtually every public school will be labeled failing, leaving it open to increasingly punitive and authoritarian interventions, reorganization or closing.

    - the desperate effort to remain open and free of the stranglehold of
    intervention will lead to rampant cheating, which the law creates
    incentives for.

  2. I suspect possibility # 1 is where we're heading.

    That was always the rationale behind NCLB.

    When I said that back in 2002 and 2003, people thought I was crazy.

    After hundreds of school closings, not anymore.

  3. The new tests next year don't count for anything in the student's grades? They are completely meaningless for students? Is this how it is? Why would they bother studying for them at all? That can't be...

  4. That can be and is. See here:

    Here's the start:

    New York City education officials are developing more than a dozen new standardized tests, but in a sign of the times, their main purpose will be to grade teachers, not the students who take them.

    Elementary school students would most likely take at least one or two additional tests every year, beginning in the third grade. High school students could take up to eight additional tests a year, and middle school students would also have extra tests. These would be in addition to the state English, math and Regents exams that students already take.

    The exams, which would begin rolling out as early as next academic year, are being created as part of a statewide overhaul of how teachers are evaluated. Under a law passed last year that helped the state win $700 million in a federal grant competition, known as Race to the Top, each school district must find a way to evaluate teachers on a scale from “ineffective” to “highly effective,” with teachers facing potential firing if they are rated ineffective for two years in a row.

    Under the law, 40 percent of a teacher’s grade will be based on standardized tests or other “rigorous, comparable” measures of student performance. Half of that should be based on state tests, and half on measures selected by local districts. The remaining 60 percent is to be based on more subjective measures, including principal observations.

  5. Pick on Someone ElseJune 6, 2011 at 6:23 AM

    This generation will have a segment of lazy people who never learned that you actually have to put effort into arriving at goals in life. A number of them will end up being burdens on society. In spite of having high school diplomas, they will be prepared for nothing in the workforce. Luckily, some kids have parents who still see the reality of life, and who have worked hard to maintain a somewhat comfortable lifestyle. Public education has become a sham thanks to the manipulations of NCLB and its proponents of the present federal administration. Democrats aren't democrats any more.