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

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Go Leonie!

One day, I hope I'm as fearless as Leonie Haimson:
When Duncan showed up, I introduced myself, and told him I was very disappointed in his recent remarks to theAmerican Enterprise Institutethat districts should choose to increase class size if faced with budget cuts.
I pointed out that class size reduction was one of only four education reforms that his own Institute of Education Sciences, the research arm of the US DOE, has identified as proven to work through rigorous evidence; that Alan Krueger of Princeton, former chief economist of the Treasury Department in the Obama administration, has estimated that the economic benefits of smaller classes outweigh the costs two to one, and that class size reduction has shown to be especially effective in narrowing the achievement gap.
He responded, “But you know I said that they should raise class size selectively.”  I replied, “But why raise class sizes at all; while most of the reforms you are pushing instead, like more testing, have no research base at all?”
He asked, “Have you looked at the other countries, like Finland, Korea etc?”  Which gave me the perfect opening: “Actually, Finland turned around its educational system in the 1970’s when it reduced class size, and it has no standardized testing in any grade.”  He seemed rather annoyed, nodded his head, and said “I hear you,” but whether he really did or not, it’s hard to say.
He then went over to have his photo op with the eager contingent of Students for Education Reform.  Afterwards, Justin buttonholed him and asked, “Can I ask you a question?  Do you think you and the President are in agreement over testing?  Because he said we should have less standardized testing, and you are pushing for even more tests, four times a year [through the Common Core].”
Duncan replied that some of these will be “formative” assessments, rather than high-stakes tests. Justin insisted that they are still standardized tests, and the president had said we should have fewer of them, and Duncan got annoyed and replied, “You’re not listening to me.”
Anyway, I think it was good that we were there, because it provided Duncan with yet another small dose of reality that not everyone in the country is on board with his corporate agenda of more testing and larger class sizes.
Can you believe this guy - the friggin' Secretary of friggin' Education - brought up Finland?!? Land of cultural homogeny and no child poverty?

Arne, maybe the next time you and your boss are playing "horse" you can tell him that Finland has real universal health care a a fraction of our costs - not some watered down public-option-less piece of crap. Think that might help kids succeed in school?

These people have made up their minds, and facts will not dissuade them in the slightest. They may as well have (R)'s next to their names.

The way to defeat them is to call them on their nonsense - kudos to Leonie for doing it better than anyone else.

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