Saturday, October 18, 2014

Does Arne Duncan Measure Up?

Arne Duncan, the US Secretary of Education, is changing his tune regarding the importance of standardized testing in American Public Schools. In a piece published in the Washington Post, entitled, “Standardized Tests Must Measure Up,” Secretary Duncan claims that “parents and educators know that tests are not the only indicator “ in student performance. I find this an ironic statement coming from a man, who mere months before, was bemoaning the factthat soccer moms were finding out their children weren’t as smart as they thought they were — based on test scores. These two statements are in direct contrast with each other. What then, led to Secretary Duncan’s abrupt about-face?
Could it be that parents, teachers, and students are speaking up so loudly that Secretary Duncan can no longer ignore the overwhelming backlash from the testing mania? Could it be that he has to backpedal because he knows that groups like the BadAss Teachers AssociationUnited Opt Out,Save our Schools, and Diane Ravitch’s Network for Public Education are watching his every move? Or perhaps, it is the number of students who are speaking up and taking to the streets in support of their teachers and schools and in defiance of the testing regime and other “reforms” that have been handed down by the Obama Administration.
Obviously Secretary Duncan has finally realized that over-testing our students is not working. Finally. Finally. I do hope that Secretary Duncan is not merely attempting to fool the teachers, parents, and students of America’s public schools yet again with his agreement to stop the testing madness. He knows it is only a matter of time before it is stopped, in spite of what he says or does. The real issue, is what Secretary Duncan is not mentioning in his article, and where the new rhetoric about testing is overshadowed by the same old tired mantras — mantras about how American schools need to be “retooled” to match the global competitive economy. So, after all this new talk about less testing, Secretary Duncan finally gets back to the real meat of the matter: money.
Secretary Duncan carefully leaves out any mention of the already controversial Common Core State Standards, while subtly suggesting that the blowback from testing is causing disruption to the implementation of the Common Core. He writes, “ Despite their [educators and students ] hard work, and a growing embrace of many of these changes, one topic– standardized testing– sometimes diverts energy from this ambitious set of changes.” I find it telling that even Secretary Duncan will no longer publicly use the name Common Core to refer to the “set of changes” that Race to the Top has set into motion.
lucianna sansonObviously, Secretary Duncan has seen the writing on the data wall: teachers, parents, students, and concerned citizens are NOT fooled by the corporate ed reform agenda. It is going to go down, we will take OUR public schools back and no amount of spin from the Secretary and the Dept. of Education will be taken with a grain of salt until Secretary Duncan stops listening to the Corporate Ed Deformer, starts listening to teachers, parents, and students, and puts his money where his mouth is: Time to Measure Up, Secretary Duncan.

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