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, August 2, 2011

Bruce Baker Gets Angry

Stand back:
I’ve heard it over and over again from reformy pundits. Funding equity? Been there done that. It doesn’t make a damn bit of difference. It’s all about teacher quality! (which of course has little or nothing to do with funding equity?).  The bottom line is that equitable and adequate financing of schools is a NECESSARY UNDERLYING CONDITION FOR EVERYTHING ELSE!
I’m sick of hearing, from pundits who’ve never run a number themselves and have merely passed along copies of the meaningless NCES Table showing national average spending in high poverty districts slightly greater than that for lower poverty ones. 
I’m sick of the various iterations of the “we’ve tripled spending and gotten nothing for it” argument and accompanying bogus graphs.  And further, the implication put forward by pundits that these graphs and table taken together mean that we’ve put our effort into the finance side for kids in low-income schools, but it’s their damn lazy overpaid teachers who just aren’t cutting it.
I’m intrigued by those pundits who would point out that perhaps outcomes of low-income children have improved over the past few decades and that the improvement is entirely attributable to increased accountability measures (when the same pundits have argued previously that the massive increases in funding led to no improvement. Perhaps there has been improvement, and perhaps there has been some increase in funding on average… and perhaps that’s the connection? More insights on achievement gap closure and shifting resources here!).
I’m also sick of those who would so absurdly argue that districts serving low-income and minority children really have more than enough money to deliver good programs, but they’ve squandered it all on useless stuff like cheerleading and ceramics.
Bruce's bias against corporate reform obviously comes from his over-reliance on "facts" and "logic" and "reason" and the other stuff that is an anathema to people who really care about kids. You know, the ones who decry small class sizes, and lots of spending on education, and differentiated objectives and assessments for struggling students - except for their own children. 

If Bruce were a "serious" person, he wouldn't continue to keep producing research that shows how equality of resources matter, or how using standardized tests to evaluate teachers is the functional equivalent of rolling dice, or how charter schools are not nearly as great as their supporters say.

No, Bruce: "serious" people don't work on "research" that's "peer-reviewed" and uses the "scientific method" to get to the "truth." "Serious" people are on the covers of magazines!

They're hanging out with the stars - it shows how "serious" they are!

They're ditching old-fashioned, outdated academia for that sweet, sweet think-tank cash! They're writing op-eds that beat up on the people who actually work to give every kid a chance to go to a well-funded school.

Bruce, take my advice: stop using all this "data" the arrive at conclusions. Chris Cerf told me you don't like data anyway, and he's the (Acting) Commissioner - we know how "serious" he is:

Just go with your gut, OK? Well, sorry, I mean some hedge fund manager's gut. It's so much easier when you stop with the logic and just start believing in the Merit Pay Fairy...
Yo, professor! Hey, get that chart outta da way of my magic wand!

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