Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Why Does Testing = Civil Rights?

Stephanie Simon at Politico reported Republicans in the House and the Senate, along with some some Dems, may force a roll-back of the NCLB testing mandates.

But guess who's criticizing talk of the roll-back?

Some "progressive Dems" and some in the "civil rights community," who see testing as a "civil rights issue":

Part of the difficulty in rewriting the law is that the most hated parts of the bill are deeply intertwined with its heralded civil rights provisions: The testing requirements, for example, allowed the government for the first time to spotlight the achievement gaps between white students from higher-income families and their peers when those test results were broken down by race and socioeconomic status. NCLB put a public spotlight on schools and districts that were falling flat when it comes to helping disadvantaged students — and pressed them to improve when no one else would.

Civil rights groups say they were caught a little off guard by the sudden resurgence of debate over this aspect of NCLB. They fear Congress will strip core provisions of the law but hope that the national conversation about race sparked by recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City will help keep a spotlight on civil rights.

Rep. George Miller, the outgoing ranking member of the House education committee and an original author of NCLB, said he anticipates the business and civil rights communities will rein in lawmakers when it comes to keeping the law’s testing and accountability requirements.

“There’s no future for the NEA in being anti-civil rights for poor and minority children. Historically, that’s never been their position,” Miller said.

Have you got that, folks?

George Miller, who has taken gobs of money from for-profit education companies, wraps himself in the veneer of "civil rights champion" as talk of rolling back the federal mandates on testing circles Washington D.C.

 Miller's got a financial stake in keeping the status quo going (especially now as he exits Congress and gets ready to rake in even bigger bucks lobbying - reportedly for Pearson), but he's not the only one rapping the anti-testing movement as essentially racist:

For the civil rights community, collecting annual data allows parents to know how their children are doing, and to an extent, just having the data public can shame schools into doing better.

“We see this as a civil rights bill,” said Nancy Zirkin, executive vice president for the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

“I am hard-pressed to understand how you give states federal money with no strings attached,” Zirkin said.

Right - because the only way to ensure a quality education for all is to test children every year in every subject and punish districts, schools and educators whose students don't "measure up."

You know, I went back to that iconic speech Martin Luther King Jr. gave at the March on Washington in 1963 I noticed that there's this little repeated passage:

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed - that every child shall be tested in every subject in every grade and their schools and teachers held accountable for those scores.

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood and compare Common Core test benchmarks.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom, justice and charters schools that do more to bring about segregation in public education than anything else.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where their teachers will not be judged by the colors of their skin but by their students' scores on their yearly Common Core exams and fired if those scores do not show improvement two years running.

I have a dream today!


Testing and judging schools and teachers by the test scores is a civil rights issue, one that MLK Jr. and some the other great Civil Rights leaders of yore gave their lives to champion.

No wonder Miller, Zirkin and the other "Civil Rights" champions of today continue to promote testing and Common Core as a "civil rights issue."

I'm sure it has nothing to do with the Gates Foundation money that ends up funding Zirkin's Leadership Conference (see here) or the for-profit education company money that funded Miller for so long and the Pearson money that may fund him in the future.

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