I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Our Nation's Goofy Education Debate

So here's how it seems to work now:

1) A well-heeled think-tank puts out a report - like, say, the Gates Foundation's Measures of Effective Teaching - that confirms the previously articulated predilections of its funding source.

2) Since the report is published by a think tank funded by a wealthy celebrity, its conclusions are widely disseminated throughout the press.

3) But the report is not subject to peer review, which means it isn't vetted by experts in the field before its conclusions are reported to the public.

4) Several experts quickly review the report and weigh in. Even in their initial and cursory reactions, they find gaping holes in the methods and conclusions of the report. They demonstrate an abuse of mathematics that renders the presentation of results meaningless. They rebuke the circular logic of validating measures by showing a high correlation of those measures with themselves. They expose the flaws in actually implementing the report's conclusions as policies.

Mind you, these are just the preliminary reviews of critics. Given time, there are sure to be more comprehensive critiques of the report. But by then, it won't matter, because...

5) The punditocracy, which does not even begin to understand the issues at hand, happily embraces the conclusions of the report and calls for an immediate upending of the "status quo" without first engaging in any dialogue with the report's critics.

And so it goes. Our nation's conversation about education is dangerously goofy. But, to be fair: we also have ridiculous discussions about economics, climate change, foreign policy, and pretty much everything else.

It's how we roll.
You mean we shouldn't just accept everything that comes from the Gates Foundation?

1 comment:

Walt S. said...

I read the article "Gates Defends Teachers, Denounces Public 'Shaming'" and the comments answering the question - "What do you think of the decision to release and publish the ratings for 12,700 teachers?"
One of the comment read -
"Mike Brocoum • February 24, 2012, 5:13 PM

Thankfully I'm retired. The UFT will never be militant as long as the state and city gov'ts guarantee its survival via the dues check-off. Teachers do not have to join the UFT yet the union dues would still be deducted as an "agency fee" and forwarded to the UFT. The UFT tries to present the appearance of representing teachers but in reality it does the bidding of those that guarantee its income. Even talk of a strike, which I think is long overdue, would result in stoppage of the check-off of union dues thus preventing the UFT from considering job actions and being nothing more than a service organization rather than a union that fights for its members."
It struck me that the same could certainly be said about NJEA the toothless tiger (I'd venture to say even gumless tiger) in NJ!