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, March 22, 2015

Once Again, It's the Poverty, Not the Stupid

Ani McHugh put down the baby for a few minutes and put a couple more corporate education reformers in their place:
I’m not sure whether Dana Egreczky and Melanie Willoughby–co-authors of a pro-PARCC opinion piece published yesterday on nj.com–are parents of children in New Jersey’s public schools, but I do know that they’re not educators: the bio at the end of their piece lists Egreczky as a Senior VP of Workforce Development at the NJ Chamber of Commerce and Willoughby as a Senior VP at the New Jersey Business & Industry Association.
The bio fails to mention, however, that Egreczky is also a member of the Governor’s Study Commission on the Use of Student Assessment in New Jersey.  (How’s that for objectivity? I wonder what Egreczky will contribute to the Commission’s final report–and whether her staunch support of PARCC, including her organization’s membership in We Raise NJ–should preclude her from having input into it. Let’s not forget that David Hespe, Chair of the Study Commission, published a similar defense of PARCC on February 24th. But I digress.)
According to Egreczky and Willoughby, New Jersey employers have been increasingly plagued–specifically in the past decade–by high school and college graduates who are “underprepared for the workplace.” The solution, according to Egreczky and Willoughby, is clear: Common Core and PARCC.
But even a cursory reading of this piece exposes the many problems that arise when people who have no understanding of the intricacies of K-12 education drive reforms that reshape it–particularly when such reforms are met with overwhelming opposition from parents and educators. Some specific issues:
Ani dispatches our PARCC cheerleaders with her usual aplomb, so I'll leave you to read the rest. I did, however, want to make an additional point:

From Egreczky and Willoughby's piece:
We tend to think that millennials, who currently make up the youngest generation in the workforce, are highly advanced because they grew up immersed in transformative technology. However, this is not the case. According to a new report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), millennials in the United States rank near the bottom of all workers around the world in skills employers want most: literacy, practical math and even a category called "problem-solving in technology-rich environments." The report is based on a test designed to measure the job skills of adults, aged 16 to 65, in 23 countries.
Wow -- sounds serious. We can't even compete in "problem solving in technology rich environments"! Never mind that we actually have an overabundance of qualified candidates for many jobs in technology... clearly, Poland is on the march! Bring on the PARCC!


No one has actually shown that the PARCC measures any marketable job skills in students; frankly, we have no idea what predictive validity the PARCC may have.

But we do know that the children in the countries that are "beating" us on tests like the OECD's PIAAC -- the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (as reported here by ETS) -- are far less likely to live in poverty than children in the United States:

Here are the average scores on the PIAAC's PS-TRE -- the "technology rich environment" test -- plotted on the Y-axis against the percentage of relative childhood poverty for each country, which is on the X-axis.

Look at the red line: see the tilt downward? As a county's childhood poverty rate increases, its test scores decrease.

Finland doesn't give its students tons of standardized tests; instead, according to Pasi Salhberg, the country strives for economic justice, a strong program of human services, and equality of access to education. Finland also treats its teachers like professionals, paying them well, holding them accountable, and allowing them the freedom to teach.

If Egreczky and Willoughby really wanted to bring the USA to educational prominence, they wouldn't waste their time cheerleading for a test no one has ever shown to have any positive benefits for students. Instead, they'd be demanding that the United States lower its disgusting childhood poverty rate, which is clearly having a debilitating effect on our ability to provide equitable education opportunities.

Why don't the mouthpieces for America's business community demand an end to child poverty, rather than the expansion a failed regime of standardized testing?

Why don't these people insist that the United States properly fund programs to end childhood hunger and give all children access to great medical and dental care? Why don't they advocate for living wages? Why don't they insist on a surge of investment in our cities' infrastructures, creating both good-paying jobs and sustainable communities?

The evidence from the rest of the world is clear: poverty matters. Why don't these spokespeople for corporate America acknowledge this simple truth?


"Nice work, Egreczky and Willoughby!"


Giuseppe said...

Why don't these phony baloney reformers call for smaller class sizes and more money invested in wrap around services for the kids?
Diane Ravitch and Paul Krugman have both debunked this garbage that we don't have enough qualified graduates and that we don't have enough high school graduates with marketable skills. Highly qualified adjunct professors are being paid Walmart wages with no benefits and no pensions. Some highly skilled pilots are being paid slave wages and with no benefits. Highly qualified tech people are unable to find jobs that will pay them what they are worth.

Giuseppe said...

Paul Krugman via alternet.org: Furthermore, there’s no evidence that a skills gap is holding back employment. After all, if businesses were desperate for workers with certain skills, they would presumably be offering premium wages to attract such workers. So where are these fortunate professions? You can find some examples here and there. Interestingly, some of the biggest recent wage gains are for skilled manual labor — sewing machine operators, boilermakers — as some manufacturing production moves back to America. But the notion that highly skilled workers are generally in demand is just false.

AJC4Others said...

Lets begin with with poverty. There is not a wealthy person on earth who has not reached wealthly status initially by income not derived from the poor. This comment means tracing created wealth to its foundation. Either labor or purchases of the poor are directly responsible for the survival of a business. Now lets look at PARCC

There is nothing hard about adding what you make and subtracting what you pay from that amount. If you want to predict over time then you multiply, which is still just fancy addition. It does not matter what terms you use to label income or debt they are still plus and minus. These things have not changed. Business degrees get more complicated because we accept more terms and more challenging ways to achieve the same simple addition and subtraction.
So now we have PARCC and it is supposed to fix all our problems. The questions certainly don’t make math, reading or writing any easier to perform. In fact just as financial instruments have been allowed to become so complicated, the basic skills are being complicated.

Maybe it is because the people who complicated what happens to your money in the bank are now attempting to control what happens when your kids are in class. Yes your kids, because this is not happening to THEIR KIDS.

The truth is, if you use simple math to follow the money all questions will be answered.