Posts Tagged ‘standardized testing’

Seeds of Freedom in Fertile Soil

Take heart in knowing that the arc of history is long, as [Martin Luther] King noted, but it bends toward justice.  Take courage in knowing that where a community of hands comes together to work toward justice, a freedom seed will grow.  And take pride in knowing, when the work is challenging and setbacks come—as they must when anything important is happening—that you are building a better future for every child and family and community you touch (emphasis added).

Linda Darling-Hammond (pictured above) spoke these words at a ceremony where she was awarded the Columbia University Teachers College medal for distinguished service.  The Nation introduction to a transcription of her acceptance speech described her as “a nationally renowned leader in education reform.”  She was considered for the post of Secretary of Education in the Obama administration, but lost out to a member of the high-stakes-testing coalition of a different kind of reformers.

Critics of the latter, President Obama-supported reformers, agree that public schools, particularly those in low-income urban areas, need deep-rooted improvement. Continue reading

Education “Reform” that Deforms

Teachers are on the “firing line” for everything from failure with students in impoverished neighborhoods, the decline of schools generally, and even the decline of the United States in the global economy.  A broad coalition of “education reform” actors, spanning the political spectrum and extending to the editorial pages of the mainstream media, has come to believe that ineffective teachers, protected by their unions, are responsible for the decline.  The “reformers” are determined to right the listing educational ship.

Joanne Barkan, in a compelling article, analyzes the powerful campaign that promotes such reform, the billionaires that fund it, and the anti-union bias that fuels it.  The implied logic of the coalition is clear: “If we can just get the right kinds of teachers, with the proper teaching strategy in union-free schools, all will be well with education and the U.S.”  Its reform strategy involves universal standardized testing and using student test results to evaluate teachers.  And, if the reformers have their way, teachers can be fired if their students do not raise their test scores to an acceptable level.

Continue reading