In other words, there's a political agenda at play here, and it's the same one the education reformers/hedge fund managers have brought to urban school districts for years - only now they're aiming it at wealthier suburban school districts too.
And so, with this is mind, take a look at what NYSED Commissioner John King was doing this week as the state rolled out the vaunted new Common Core 3rd-8th grade ELA tests:
WHITE PLAINS — State Commissioner John B. King Jr. said Thursday that even the high-achieving school districts of the Lower Hudson Valley have much to gain from the new Common Core learning standards and the tougher, revamped state tests that began debuting this week.“I wish it were true that our suburban communities were doing just fine,” he told the Editorial Board of The Journal News.
King said that it’s not enough that suburban districts send most graduates to four-year .“How do they do when they get there?” he asked. “Do they stay? Do they graduate? Do they graduate with the skills they need to succeed in the 21st century?”
King has been on a statewide campaign in recent weeks to explain that large percentages of students are likely to see their performance drop on the new state tests. A three-day English and Language Arts test concluded Thursday for students in grades three to eight. New math tests will be given April 24 to 26.
In New York, students are graded on a 1-4 scale for each test, with grades of 3 and 4 representing “proficiency.” Many more students are likely to get 1s and 2s on the new tests, meaning they won’t be reaching state standards.
King noted that in Kentucky, the first state to use tests based on the Common Core, the percentage of students hitting state targets fell 35 percent.
The education reformy, Common Core agenda is all there in King's little propaganda tour:
1. Tell suburban communities their schools aren't as good as they think they are
2. Instill fear that students are not receiving the "21st centuries skills" they will need to be successful in a globalized neo-liberal economy
3. Note that many more students are going to get 1's and 2's this year than in previous years
4. Note that Kentucky's scores fell dramatically when they instituted their Common Core "assessments" and New York's are expected to as well
Let's call this the John King "Tour of Fear," in which he goes around the state trying to sow as much doubt about schools and teachers as he can while playing on the fears and concerns parents have about how their children will fare in an increasingly technologized, financialized economy in which the only jobs created are at the top of the economic ladder or at the bottom.
Never mind that some of the "21st century skills" children will need to learn to thrive in this increasingly difficult time of transition in society - socio-emotional skills like balance, perspective, mindfulness and self-reflection - have been disdained by the Common Core architects and replaced with "rigor" and "argumentative writing" and mindless test drilling.
Never mind that the Common Core architects and reformers are waging war against the arts and creativity, pushing out drawing and painting, music and dance, and replacing it with "informational text reading," "argumentative essays" and "formative and summative assessments" to gauge "progress" on these fronts.
Never mind that Common Core architects and reformers are doing their best to instill FEAR and anxiety into every child in the state while forcing schools to have to de-fund many of the programs that nurture the heart and the soul of these children and replace them with technology for testing, test preparation materials and test prep classes.
Given that we live in an increasingly overpopulated, underresourced world, a world where the top 1% are stealing more and more of the wealth and resources and leaving the rest of us to fight it out over the crumbs, I think the education system ought to be teaching a different set of "21st century skills" than John King, Merryl Tisch and the rest of the edu-entrepreneurs and education corporatists want taught.
In fact, this so-called "education reform" education corporatists like John King and Merryl Tisch are pushing is another example of how that 1% steal wealth and resources from the rest of us as they gobble up more and more of the education dollars for their corporate products (the tests are even using corporate trademarks and advertising slogans!), data tracking and the like.
And they do all of this while also working to create a generation of children who will grow up to be compliant consumers and obedient workers fearful of not hitting their benchmarks.
Michael Fiorillo crystallized this in a comment recently:
As management guru Peter Drucker famously said, "That which can be measured, can be managed."
As you say, it's about measurement of monetized data (formerly known as students) and control of the workforce.
The primary tool they use to drive their reforms is FEAR and the primary weapons they're using are tests and test score data.
They thought they were winning the battle quite handily, as they have driven their reforms through quite easily with little pushback , but as they're learning this week, parents around the state are not so easily cowed and are beginning to fight back.
With some conservatives and Republicans also waking up to the corporate education reform agenda, the education reformers and Common Core proponents are going to have to wage a war on two fronts.
That's why King and Tisch and the rest of the reformers are using so much FEAR this week to try and win the public over to their agenda.
That's why they've taken to the air waves, courtesy of corporate dollars from General Electric and Exxon Mobil, with a pro-Common Core propaganda campaign.
They're worried that a tipping point may soon be reached on education reform, high stakes testing, Common Core and other reformy positions that will not be going their way.