7/16/2015 – Why Arne Duncan Is A Flop

THIS WEEK: Corporate School Takeover … What Common Core Textbooks? … State Responses To Overtesting … Stupid Teacher Evaluations … End High Stakes Testing


Why Arne Duncan Has Been A Monumental Flop As Education Secretary

By Jeff Bryant

“U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, was the bipartisan stud when the Obama administration debuted but has now devolved into the bipartisan flop as new bills in Congress seek to do all they can to neuter the secretary and make sure future secretaries never do what he did ever again… What’s particularly unfortunate about that policy direction is that the federal government historically has had a mostly positive influence in public schools … So the biggest tragedy of Arne Duncan is not only the millions of students and families ill-served under his tenure but the millions that will likely be ill-served in the future because it looks like his self-righteous, narrow-minded zeal will leave the federal government’s role in education marginalized for the immediate and foreseeable future.”
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Education: The Next Corporate Frontier


Kristen Steele, Associate Programs Director at Local Futures (International Society for Ecology and Culture) writes, “Over the last 30 years or so, private corporations have been steadily taking over school systems all around the world … In every country, the identical argument is used: public schools are failing, reform is needed and big business will do it best, providing choice and efficiency … Like in all sectors, resistance to these policies takes coordinated effort with a broad base of support. Yet, so far, the fight against privatization in education has been left mostly to teachers, parents, students, and other education activists … Those of us in the new economy and environmental movements need to join our voices to those of the education activists and resist further privatization.”
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The Great Common Core Textbook Swindle

The Daily Beast

“In response to the new standards, textbook publishers touted new editions they said were aligned to the Common Core. But nearly all of them were just repackaged versions of earlier books. And even 5 years later, the vast majority of textbooks say they’re aligned with the Common Core when they actually aren’t, creating a huge burden for teachers whose performance is often tied to their students’ test scores based on those standards … Publishing giant Pearson … had zero textbooks evaluated as being aligned with the Common Core … If a teacher is saddled with a textbook that doesn’t align with the Common Core, they need to spend time patching together materials that will … That is crucial but time-consuming work and … less time he or she has to plan the kind of deep, meaningful lessons.”
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Amid Cries Of Overtesting, A Crazy Quilt Of State Responses

Education Week

“After years of outcry and intensifying public debate about whether students are overtested, many states are attempting to definitively address the issue this year. But there’s no consistent strategy across the country … 39 states are examining how to reduce overtesting or cut redundant tests in some fashion … Although new tests tied to the Common Core State Standards have triggered much of the discussion about overtesting, many state chiefs and elected officials support how those tests will inform their policy decisions, or else can’t dramatically cut back their administration because of federal law … The burden of cutting tests is also falling on many district administrators, who have to tread carefully.”
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Why Are Some Teachers Being Evaluated Using The Test Scores Of Kids They Didn’t Teach?


“Forty-two states across the country have moved in recent years to evaluate all teachers at least in part on student test score growth … But tens of thousands of teachers work with students in grades that aren’t tested … Officials in Nevada are even considering how they might hold support staff – like school nurses and counselors – responsible for student test results … Are educators narrow-subject-area specialists? Or are they generalists who should all be held responsible for teaching foundational skills … As states fumble through policy changes that are very much trial and error, teachers and their students could ultimately pay the price.”
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Fix Public Education, End High Stakes Testing, Pass ESEA

The Hill

Rev. William J. Barber II writes, “Congress is preparing to vote on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) on its 50th anniversary. What they decide now can change the course of federal aid to education for decades to come … When Congress enacted the ESEA in 1965, everyone knew education opportunities for black children were radically unequal to the opportunities for white students. Now, 50 years later, these gaps persist and are widening – despite the law’s promise … The last time Congress reauthorized ESEA, they and President George W. Bush established high-stakes testing, labeling, and policies that punish schools if kids flunked the tests. Tests don’t teach … Congress has a chance to fix the high stakes testing regime that has failed.”
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