Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Good Luck Getting Rid Of Race To The Top

I see a lot on the Internets post-election about putting pressure on President Obama to change course from his Race to the Top education policy that requires endless standardized testing in every grade in every subject, teacher evaluations tied to those tests and teachers fired and schools closed when the test scores do not show "added value."

Good luck getting Obama to change course on that policy.

First off, the time to get concessions out of Obama was before the election, not after. He's never running for anything again, so he doesn't need unions or teachers for anything anymore. He did need unions and teachers pre-election, but the teachers unions decided to endorse him long before the election despite his damaging policies and apparent disdain for them while many teachers decided that they had to vote for him because the alternative in Romney was "unthinkable."

By working to re-elect a politician who despises them and pursues policies that harms them, teachers and teachers unions engage in this co-dependent relationship with Obama and other corporate reform Dems that maybe if we just support them a little more, they'll stop bashing us.

Nothing relegates a constituency more to irrelevancy than giving pols what they want  - support, money and votes - even as they pursue policies that harm that constituency.

As I have said before, if teachers and teachers unions wanted RttT gone, they needed to make clear a year before the election that there would be no support, no votes and no GOTV effort from teachers or the teachers unions unless they got their demands.

I guarantee you Axelrod's mustache would have more than twitched had teachers and teachers union held fast to those demands.

But instead teachers and teachers unions said "We'll support you no matter what, Mr. President," and therefore got nothing from the Obama administration policy before the election and will get less than nothing now that he's been re-elected.

The second reason why RttT isn't going anyplace is because this is Obama's signature education policy.  Just as George W. Bush, Rod Paige, and Margaret Spellings are still invested in the wonder that was NCLB (indeed, Spellings still takes on anybody who says NCLB is a failed policy), Barack Obama and Arne Duncan are invested in the wonder that is Race to the Top.

Obama already claims it's successful, even though there is little to no quantitative or qualitative evidence to show that, and Arne Duncan is regularly feted on shows like Morning Joe and in the mainstream political press for the fantastic job he's done "reforming" education.

They hear this stuff from the Wall Street guys and the corporate criminal class and the hedge fundies too.

There is no way Obama is going to change course now and say, "You know, some evidence I have seen recently makes me rethink the efficacy of tying teacher evaluations to test scores and requiring national standardized tests every other week in every subject so that we can hold teachers and schools accountable for the value-added results."

Sorry - not going to happen.

Politicians don't change "signature policies" like that unless they absolutely have to.

It's great to put pressure on Obama to change course, to continually point out all that is wrong with top-down, test-drive reform, to show the damage that is being done to students by this narrowing of the curriculum, to ask the reason why the boys and girls in charge think running a FEAR-based education system is the best way to go.

But the time to put pressure on Obama to change course was before the election when he was still vulnerable, not afterward when he's swaggering from victory and already thinking about all those yummy yummy speeches he's going to give post-presidency that will increase his personal wealth a thousand-fold.

No wonder the people running education policy and funding reform around this country can get away with saying we have a nation full of "ineffective" teachers.

Look at the utterly "ineffective" political strategies they pursue that relegate them to irrelevancy. 

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