Yesterday Mike Bloomberg called the new test score basement that all NY schools have rushed into “very good news,” and he blamed the media for noticing that it was happening. With State and City schools–at least the ones with poor kids–once more crushed under the boot (Rochester had 5% of kids passing reading and math) of new tests and new cut scores, the Prince followed up with this: “We have to make sure that we give our kids constantly the opportunity to move towards the major leagues.”
Really? Is that what you are making sure of, Mike? Or are you not really making sure that poor kids and poor schools that have been sawed and savaged for a dozen years at least stay right where they are? That is at the bottom, where the racist and classist standardized tests place them, except that from here forward these poor kids, re-demoralized by yet another round of failure assurance, will be taken housed in the segregated corporate reform schools that the charter traders and hedge fund managers on Wall Street are so heady about. Isn’t that what you know is really going on, Mayor?
Arne Duncan tried yesterday to swoop in to help rescue Bloomberg from those reporters reporting the news and finally asking questions, but all the the lead lummox could manage was to parrot his own voice recording that, in the present context of the new Common Core testing-delivery system, sounded even more hollow from an even hollower man: “Too many school systems lied to children, families and communities. . . .Finally, we are holding ourselves accountable as educators.”
So it is the school systems, made up of teachers, students, principals, and support staff, who are the liars? Is that right?
The lie, of course, goes back at least a half century, when Washington politicians and policymakers sold the testing accountability lie based on the fabricated the fanciful notion that more testing would assure that federal money for schools was getting the results that politicians promised. What it did, of course, was to gradually raise the stakes for passing the tests so that separation of low scorers (the poor) became increasingly acceptable, even as those policymakers and politicians remained quiet about the resulting resegregation of schools that that such policies promoted.
Then we have “The Nation at Risk” lies, all of them packaged in scary rhetoric about national security threats from low test scores, of learning meltdowns, and of “unilateral educational disarmament.” If those policymakers and politicians had noticed who were mouthing those lies, they would have seen NAEP saying something entirely different about student test performance.
In 2000, the real lying got underway. How about no children left behind, or closing the achievement gap? Or 100% proficiency by 2014, which was known to an unachievable lie when think tankers and privatizers made it up and made it law? Or how about Rod Paige, the first Secretary to implement the NCLB Lie, who got his job in Washington by lying in Houston about high achievement and low dropout rates?
Then there was Margaret Spellings who continued the lie after Paige moved on to more lucrative corporate edu-adventures. How about the Spellings claim that the NCLB Lie was 99.99% pure and, thus, required no alterations or changes? Pure bullshit. How about the Spellings lies about the entirely ineffectual reading dynasty that she oversaw, as billions poured into Reading First contracts that left children last? How soon we forget.
And how about the present Secretary of Lies Education, whose lies (a few at least) are documented here and here and here and here and here. Arne Duncan has been lying since he replaced another unqualified superintendent in Chicago, Paul Vallas, and he continued lying before Congress when he got to Washington. What Vallas and Duncan have in common, besides their lack of ed qualifications, is a deep and unwavering devotion to corporate reform schools and corporate welfare schools. And, of course, the lying that is required to advance the corporate agenda.
So the lying, Mr. Secretary, has a long and sordid history, and it has not been “school systems” doing it–even as schools, teachers, and students have been the ones held accountable for your lies, which continue with less and less verisimilitude. The good news is that accountability is about to come home to where it belongs, and this long-standing, unethical, miseducative, and inhumane high stakes testing policy will soon to be as past as you, Mr. Duncan.