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

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


So NJ got into the next round of Race To The Top. Gee, swell.

Let's think about all the great stuff that's coming so that we "put the kids first":

- Merit pay. Hasn't worked yet, but full speed ahead!

- Charter schools. Weak to no gains so far, but full speed ahead!

- Teacher evaluations and dismissals based on standardized tests. Error rates of 25%-35%, but full speed ahead!

- Institutionalizing the testing culture of schools. Big problems looming with cheating as the stakes in these tests get higher - really big problems - but full speed ahead!

- Rewarding states for their commitment to educational reform. So far, some of the worst states have been rewarded, but full speed ahead!

Some race...

We may be lost, but we're making great time!

UPDATE: In the comments, Dora Taylor from Seattle points to a response from her and other parents who are happy not to be a part of RTTT:
But there are others among us who are glad that our state is not going to be strong-armed into adopting discredited, damaging “solutions” for our schools like privatization via charters and the toxic, innovation-crushing  high-stakes testing and punitive “merit pay” which unfairly and narrowly tie teacher evaluations and bonuses to student test scores.
What’s more, the amount of money that the “Race to the Top” kitty represents when divvied up by “winning” states and then by each public ed student is a mere pittance. Less than $100 per student in some cases, and that is a one-time-only payment.
So clearly “Race to the Top” is not really about the money. The money will not make much difference in each public school child’s life.
No, “Race to the Top” is about forcing states and school districts to change their laws and policies in order to push through an agenda that otherwise would likely not get voter or public approval. And why should it? Charters and merit pay, the two key components of “Race to the Top,” have proven to be seriously flawed concepts.

Thanks also to The Frustrated Teacher for stopping by. Check out his blog - it's got some good stuff.

(Really, he's not the only frustrated teacher - shouldn't it be "A Frustrated Teacher"? But then his logo would say "AFT," and you'd think he was Randi Weingarten...)


Unknown said...

Perfect. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I love your post but I can laugh because we were able to skate through unscathed here in the state of Washington.

Washington State Remains Free from “Race to the Top” Extortion


Duke said...

TFT, thank you. Great logo, and great blog

Duke said...

That's good stuff, Dora. I lived in Seattle before I became a teacher - nice to see cooler heads prevail out there, even under the shadow of the Gates education juggernaut.

suep. said...

Hey Duke,

I wrote that post, and wish Washington State could take credit for having cooler heads and not vying for RTTT. Unfortunately, that's not quite the case.

WA did try for it, over the objections of parents like me and Dora.

A number of local organization reps and WA politicos did indeed offer our collective soul (as another blogger aptly phrased it elsewhere) to Arne and Co. in exchange for a chance at RTTT cash.

Our local PTA heads, the "League of Education Voters" and various elected official all pushed for Senate Bill 6696 (often in a fairly non-transparent, stealthy manner, btw, with little genuine community discussion or input) which has a number of RTTT stipulations in it, over the objections of a number of us.

The bill passed, so we are stuck with that.

WA remains one of the few charter-less states in the nation, though. The public has voted it down three times.

So maybe there is some common sense in the general public that these org. reps and politicos could learn from.

-- S. Peters
Seattle Education 2010

Duke said...

S., thanks for that. I don't really have a problem with charters per se - I started at a charter. It's more the notion that a charter is a magical fix that bugs me - that and the complete lack of attention to research on them.

This stuff is coming down everywhere - it's today's pet rock of education (man, I'm old). Remember how all the standardized testing was going to solve everything? Now value-added assessment will save us.

I'm sure the geniuses in Olympia are just as ill-informed about these issues as the geniuses in Trenton, and your press is probably not far behind. This sudden care about :the kids" is laughable - if you really cared about the kids, you'd have informed yourself about this stuff a long time ago.

All of this is a proxy for the real debate: do we want to pay for quality education for every child in this country or not?

It strikes me that we have got to start bringing folks like you and me together somehow - we need a national movement outside of the unions to counter this nonsense. Need to think about that for a bit...

Anyway, good luck with the fight, and sorry about those Mariners - Ichiro is still one of my all-time favorites.