Thursday, March 11, 2010

The national standards scam

The National Standards Scam
Panel Proposes Single Standard for All Schools
By SAM DILLON, NY Times. March 10,2010.

“A panel of educators convened by the nation’s governors and state school superintendents proposed a uniform set of academic standards on Wednesday, laying out their vision for what all the nation’s public school children should learn in math and English, year by year, from kindergarten to high school graduation.
The new proposals could transform American education, replacing the patchwork of standards ranging from mediocre to world-class that have been written by local educators in every state.”
 So, the professional edu wonks ( not teachers) have again found the solution.  How nice. The effort will have little effect in California.  California has some of the nation’s highest standards, and lowest test scores in reading and math ( about 47 out of the 50 states depending upon the  year).
This is the politicians ( and their consultants) approach to school improvement and it will not teach a single child in California  to read or do math.

       These are the recommendations for  what Diane Ravitch calls, “The Billionaires Boys Club” in her new book.  It is a series of foundations with wealth, Gates, Walton Family, Broad, all committed to charter schools and measuring teachers by test scores. These foundations employ a number of ‘consultants” and fund endless meetings of important people.  At times, they even drop into a school for a quick look ( usually less than two hours).  This is a scam of the consultants and the NGO such as the Great City Schools and others.  It is a good life. Good hotels, good food, you don’t have to meet with kids and their runny noses or problems of poverty.
            The consultants and ‘experts” of the billionaires clubs provide Governors and politicians with a valuable service, they can appear to be doing something about the education crisis without spending much money.
Instead of providing more aid to the stressed school systems,  Secretary Duncan and the Obama Administration want to change Title I funding ( for low income youth) from a grant to a competition.  Lets see. Some will get it and some will not. As in Race to the Top.  
      Politicians, Secretary Duncan and the eduwonks of the “consultant class”, would continue to ignore  the crumbling and under-resourced urban school buildings and programs where children don't even have textbooks or toilet paper, let alone  science and technology labs.  Instead Duncan and the “professional consultants”  would focus on the same school turnaround policies for low income schools that have been demonstrated as not working in  Chicago.<>
            As a consequence of the national economic crisis, imposed upon the nation by bankers and charlatans, schools are cutting classes, laying off teachers, eliminating arts, sports, technology. The results are clear, falling test scores, an increasing drop out rate.  To repair  the damage, states and localities would have to invest in schools, higher teachers, reduce class size, provide teachers with professional support.
National Standards will not change this reality.  It is a distraction.  A purposeful distraction.
The economic crisis has produced an educational crisis in many of our schools- and it will get worse.  To fix the problem will require money. To get the money will require political reform in Washington and in the States.  To date, their has been no change in the federal laws protecting and bailing out the banking industry.  Where would the money come from?  Well. Since the bankers caused the problem, they should pay for the solution.  We need a 3% transaction tax on securities and derivative trading.  Most of us pay from 3-8% tax on sales. The bankers should have to pay a transaction tax on their sales of securities and derivatives. – at least.

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