Someone discovered Arne Duncan’s Facebook page today and jumped right into it. I was invited to join in and wrote several posts. This was one of them.
Our students in Seattle get tested four times a year starting in kindergarten, which is completely absurd, and continue through 9th grade. It started this year and teachers as well as students are exhausted by the change in schedule and routine each time this happens. It takes a week for all of the classes to take the test, usually in a library which means other students cannot use the library during that time because that’s where the computers are and there is a disruption in everyone’s daily routine. And most of us as parents know how important routine is to children.
I teach enrichment classes after school in architecture and after a week of testing, the students come to me tired and dispirited.
I don’t know who the genius was who thought this was a good idea but that person was obviously not a teacher or a parent.
In terms of the “Race to the Top” part, it’s a scam. Arne only has $5B to work with which is a drop in the bucket when compared to the total cost of public education in this country. So what does he do? He makes it a competition. This way all of the states feel pressured to try for the money, otherwise they think that their constituents would think that they don’t care about education. The problem is that most folks don’t understand the ramifications of this agenda in terms of their own communities and families and how the changes might affect them.
States have to agree to have charter schools, an unproven model of education, institute merit pay, an idea with no merit, and either close 5% of the “lowest performing schools” or fire half of the teachers or the principal, (what kind of choice is that?). These schools are generally at the bottom due to poverty and changing out teachers or closing the school is certainly not the answer to that socioeconomic problem.
With this agreement in place, the states are already doing what Arne wants them to do. Whether they get the money or not will be the million dollar question. Either way, the states are stuck with the commitment because it has to be enacted into law and each state will have to go through with it whether they are funded or not and some of these changes will be costly. Just think about merit pay, for instance, which means basically bonuses to teachers. How do you hand out bonuses when most states can’t even pay the teachers that they have now and are laying off valuable staff?
The whole thing is a scam to make our public educational system turn itself into a privatized conglomerate.