Wed Mar 30, 2011 at 04:18:46 AM MST
| Education 'reformer' and touted darling of Arne Duncan, and unfortunately, our President, Michelle Rhee is now being officially investigated for falsifying her test records of her students to improve her resume.
Rhee responded to the investigation by saying
""It isn't surprising," Rhee said in a statement Monday, "that the enemies of school reform once again are trying to argue that the Earth is flat and that there is no way test scores could have improved ... unless someone cheated."
In its months-long investigation, which included documents obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests, USA TODAY looked at 103 public schools in the nation's capital where tests showed a pattern of unusually high numbers of answers that had been changed from wrong to right. The improvements in test scores earned Rhee and the school system national attention.
But since 2008, more than half of D.C. schools were flagged by a testing company for having unusually high rates of wrong-to-right erasures. At one school, Noyes Education Campus, the number of erasures in one class was so high that the odds of winning the Powerball grand prize were better than the erasures occurring by chance.
| wade norris :: Education 'reformer' caught cheating
|A 'reformer' who was seeking a rising path in political circles in Washington D.C. has near to impossible turnaround scores in schools to bolster her resume.
In the social sciences, there is an oft-repeated maxim called Campbell's Law, named after Donald Campbell, a psychologist who studied human creativity. Campbell's Law states that incentives corrupt. In other words, the more punishments and rewards-such as merit pay-are associated with the results of any given test, the more likely it is that the test's results will be rendered meaningless, either through outright cheating or through teaching to the test in a way that narrows the curriculum and renders real learning obsolete.
In the era of No Child Left Behind, Campbell's Law has proved true again and again. When the federal government began threatening to restructure or shut-down schools that did not achieve across-the-board student "proficiency" on state reading and math exams, states responded by creating standardized tests that were easier and easier to pass. Alabama, for example, reported that 85 percent of its fourth-graders were proficient in reading in 2005, even though only 22 percent of the state's students demonstrated proficiency on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the gold standard, no-stakes exam administered by the federal government.
So human nature dictates that teaching to a test does not create accountability for our teachers or our students,
it only incentivizes cheating.
And, ironically, when Democrats start blaming teachers for poor results - more likely due to poverty than bad teaching - it emboldens guys like Scott Walker:
Walker's argument - that greedy teachers are putting their own interests over the interests of the public - resonates in part because in recent years, many Democrats have made that argument as well.
Exhibit A is former D.C. schools chancellor Michelle Rhee. Under Democratic mayor Adrian Fenty, she repeatedly clashed with the Washington Teachers' Union, which she said put the interests of adults over those of children. "Cooperation, collaboration, and consensus-building are way overrated," Rhee said at the Aspen Institute's education summit in 2008. She told journalist John Merrow it is imperative that teachers-union bargaining rights exclude issues such as devising a fair teacher-evaluation system.
Since resigning as chancellor last year, Rhee has launched a new organization, StudentsFirst, with the express goal of raising $1 billion to counter teachers unions. Her approach remains confrontational. In a profound sense, Democrats like Michelle Rhee have paved the way for Scott Walker.
At the end of the day, movements that are being proposed by Arne Duncan and his kind (even here in Colorado) which include great ideas such as increasing class size to improve education,
are not motivated by real reform, but rather to game the system in order to receive the favor of those paying for it - such as the billions provided by the Gates foundation or Philip Anschutz http://www.substancenews.net/a...
These 'reform' efforts may merely just may be misguided good intentions - but why take the chance when it is more likely exactly what we see in Wisconsin - a Right wing assault on the most leveling aspect of our democracy - a fair and free public education.
Teachers should be allow to teach a child from an entire perspective, are they hungry? cold? emotionally challenged from a family issue? - without being worried about being fired based on a testing system created by some politico in DC.
If getting ahead means cheating to gain access to the the rich which also includes a Right wing Republican agenda, then maybe we should examine whether those who are claiming to be Democratic 'reformers' actually have our children's interest at heart ahead of their own.
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