Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Sunday, April 21, 2013

When Editorial Boards Attack

The NY Post has an attack piece on teachers out today over the 3rd-8th grade Common Core tests.

They say that teachers are afraid to be held accountable for student outcomes (like college remedial rates in CUNY schools) and they say those student outcomes are pitifully poor in 2013.

They say the more students that fail the new Common Core tests the better, because this will show us how badly children are failing and how badly their schools and teachers have failed them and will spur us all on to improve schools and education.

That's the cover story they tell, but it's not the real story behind Common Core or the Common Core test drop.

To tell the real story behind the Common Core, I have two responses here:

First, before those purveyors of fine, quality journalism at the NY Post get their socks in an uproar over the dropping test scores, let us note that the vaunted new Common Core tests have been implemented before the curriculum for those tests was fully developed and given to teachers.

In other words, the Regents and the NYSED decided that they would put the tests in place first, the curriculum and lessons those tests are based on later.

What does it matter if scores drop 20%, 30%, or 40%, as the Post editorial writers drool they will, if those scores drop because the students were not prepared for those tests because the teachers could not prepare them because the NYSED, the Regents and the NYCDOE failed to prepare the teachers with a fully developed Common Core curriculum?

The Posties see the falling scores as indicative of a failing school system, failing schools and bad teachers.

The reality is, the falling scores simply mean the NYSED and the Regents decided to ratchet up the grade level on the test material by three or four grades, putting material on the tests that children had never seen before because the teachers had never taught it because it had never been part of the standards before.

That's all the falling test scores are indicative of, quite frankly.

My second response to the Post attack editorial I am going to take from NYC Educator's fine post in response to a Daily News piece on the Common Core last week.

He wrote:

Apparently, to the minds of the Daily News editorial board, test scores represent how smart kids are. It does not represent how many answers they have memorized, or how well they can guess. I'm just a lowly teacher, but I'd argue it is not our job to make kids smarter. I'd argue it's our job to inform and prepare them. I'd argue it's our job to awaken or inspire their passions. I'd argue it's our job to make them love this great gift that is our lives.

This is apparently true of the editorial board at the Post too.

Nothing matters more than test scores.  

Good teaching is about raising test scores.  

All learning can be measured by tests and test scores.

The reductive reasoning of both the Daily News and the Post, vanquishing the very complex matter of teaching and learning to test score percentages and value-added measurements based upon those test score percentages, has a purpose however.

The purpose - the political agenda, if you will - behind the Common Core movement, the Common Core tests and the APPR teacher evaluation system is to have test scores plummet 20%, 30% or 40%, tie those plummeting test scores to teachers, evaluate those teachers on the plummeting test scores, declare those teachers "ineffective" via the value-added measurements developed using those test scores, and fire those teachers after two years of "ineffective" ratings.

As Diane Ravtich posted here, the plan has been in place since 2009 when the Eli Broad Foundation put the blueprint for it together with the help of some very famous (or infamous) education "leaders" and edu-entrepeneurs.

These Common Core test scores do not indicate what the editorial boards or the education leaders like NYSED Commissioner John King or Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch or the governor say they do.

They simply indicate the latest move to privatize one of the last bastions of the public sphere and the commons - public schools and public education.

That is the goal here, that is why NY Post owner Rupert Murdoch has hired former NYCDOE chancellor Joel Klein to run his for-profit education division.

There is money to be made in them there education reformy/Common Core hills - hundreds of millions of dollars for News Corporation/Amply in fact, as Murdoch himself told us.

Rupert Murdoch and News Corporation are far from the only corporations looking to make money off Common Core and education reform. 

As David Sirota wrote at Salon:

Citing a fact sheet from the for-profit education industry itself, the Washington Post recently reported that “the education sector now represents nearly 9 percent of the country’s gross domestic product” while the “for-profit education is valued at $1.3 trillion, and is one of the largest U.S. investment markets.” Likewise, NPR reports that as he’s launched an education technology division, Rupert Murdoch “has described education as a market worth hundreds of billions of dollars.” This is why the tech site Geekwire predicts another full-scale tech industry bubble, thanks to “K-12 and other education segments now being chased by a mob of investment capitalists.”

Though it is rarely mentioned, the truth is that the largest funders of the “reform” movement are the opposite of disinterested altruists. They are cutthroat businesspeople making shrewd financial investments in a movement that is less about educating children than about helping “reform” funders hit paydirt. In that sense, they are the equivalent of any industry leaders funding a front group in hopes of achieving profitable political ends (think: defense contractors funding a front group that advocates for a bigger defense budget). The only difference is that when it comes to education “reform,” most of the political press doesn’t mention the potential financial motives of the funders in question.

The political press doesn't mention the potential financial motives of the education reformers and their funders because they are often working for outlets those very education reformers and/or interested parties own.

For example, here is a preliminary list of news outlets owned by either self-styled education reformers or those looking to profit from education:

1. Bloomberg (Bloomberg News, Bloomberg Views, Bloomberg Businessweek)

2. Murdoch (NY Post, Wall Street Journal, FOX News and FOX affiliates)

3. Kaplan Test Prep (Washington Post)

4. Pearson (Financial Times, Economist)

No wonder the education reform mythology gets passed on to the public via the news media so often - in many cases, the news media IS the education reform movement as well.

I want to make one last point here - the irony of education reformers calling the corporate attack upon one of the last remnants of the commons the "Common Core" should not be lost on us.

This is the 21st Century equivalent of the enclosure movement, with the oligarchs stealing the hearts and souls of children via an education reform movement that quite literally privileges nothing over data, numbers and test scores.

But the numbers this education reform movement privileges and values the most is money.

The move to implement the Common Core tests before the Common Core Federal Standards were fully implemented and then to use those test scores as a bludgeon against teachers and schools is the latest indication of just that.

Of course the Postie editorial board can't tell us this truth because they work for one of the men who stands to make hundreds of millions of dollars or more from education reform and Common Core.


  1. And, for this supposed failure, Bloomberg is blameless. Post credits him with "modest improvements," which I suppose are good enough, since he's only been in charge for eleven years.

    Thanks for the kind words.

    1. The accountability mayor skirts accountability on so many issues - from CityTime to the 911 system boondoggle to the education system.

      It truly always is somebody else's fault.

  2. The NY Post is a dying and non-profitable newspaper. Rupert Murdoch is planning his financial future as a profiteer in educational technology/data systems for school districts (Wireless Technology) He is fighting a dirty fraudulent fight and he is softening the ground by attacking teachers and public schools. His master plan is to create a need for his technology where there no real need for it exists. He is a fraud and he is the champion of fraud slander and corruption.

  3. Rupert Murdoch is unfit to run a major corporation. He is a disgrace, (as stated Levinson Commission on behalf of the British Parliament)

    1. Very true - and yet, they didn't take away BSkyB from him. Here in the U.S., he is rumored to be looking to add to his properties (the LA Times) and of course there is InBloom(berg?), the data collation venture News Corp. and Gates are running together.