Fixing Our National Accountability System

Part 2: Propaganda With a Purpose?

Like all the official Marc Tucker position papers I’ve read, “Fixing Our National Accountability System” begins with testimonials.

This round of accolades begins with former Massachusetts Commissioner of Education, David Driscoll, who is urging us to “stay the course” with Common Core without being clear about any good reason for the yearly testing associated with it. But there is no doubt that his opinion continues to be revered based on his former position even though Massachusetts winning standards were developed before his reign and he left that job before Common Core came into play there.

In endorsing Common Core, Driscoll seems to have changed his tune a bit from the time when he thought testing in 4th, 8th, and 10th grade was enough AND that it was important that everyone be able to see the tests (2001).

“We released the entire test so that everybody can see the test….And we think this is enormously important.

Why?

The Parents know what’s expected of kids. Teachers know. Schools know. There are no secrets. You can look at the questions. You can debate them.”

Driscoll clearly supports test-based accountability and supports Tucker’s positions. Is he unaware that teachers are not allowed to see the Common Core tests? Has he not thought about the “adaptive” nature of the online testing system limiting the ability for any adult to know for sure what the testing companies have decided to ask?

But Driscoll speaks in favor of Tucker’s plan by calling it a “fact-based way forward” on accountability. Jump aboard the bandwagon! Time for action!

The theme of “Fixing” is based on taking teachers from being treated like “blue-collar workers” to a “professional system of accountability.” But neither of Tucker’s analogies resonates with me. Actually, they struck a sour note.

I was raised in blue-collar country and I’m now a professional. Tucker missed the mark on understanding the essence of either of these groups of people but his words do have that certain “plain folks” appeal when read superficially.

For me, his words are condescending and insulting. My “blue-collar” friends are hard-working honest people that know what its like to put in a good days work. I’m glad I was brought up with those values. Tucker seems to think hard workers need to be “held accountable.” He seems to lack any comprehension of how productive American workers are in general. Rarely must they suffer “consequences” for their actions.

And to have Tucker go on to talk about how other countries “manage” their professionals? WOW! He has not deviated from his view that we are all just human capital ready to be molded to suit the needs of “the economy.” Oh Dear Hillary, some things never change!

It is repugnant to think that this country — this government — would follow the idea that “they” –  the government of the People – must “hold professionals accountable.”

Professionals hold themselves to a professional standard of practice. It is an internal human trait that the selection process, education and training, and continuing education of a profession are designed to identify, firmly establish, and foster. Rarely is government needed. The “bad apples” are the exceptions and the professions have their mechanisms in place to address those relatively rare issues.

Missing ?

Missing ?

Mr. Tucker obviously doesn’t understand good old fashion work ethics — blue-collar or “professional.”

And this Tucker paper did not start off looking like a “fact-based” plan. It reads like it was meant to give the impression that Tucker is against test-based accountability. The stage is set by bad-mouthing No Child Left Behind (not that it doesn’t deserve it). Tuckers’ words flow with the prevailing winds and if people don’t know any better, it reads as if Mr. Tucker himself had nothing to do with any of this. It is patronizing.

“It is particularly ironic that we are holding our teachers accountable, considering
 that it was not the teachers, but rather the public, school boards and the Congress that maintained for years a schools policy based on the use of cheap teachers, a policy that placed little value on teachers’ skills or mastery of subject matter, and deprived teachers of any hope of a real professional career in teaching and of any chance of gaining the kind of status enjoyed by high status professionals in the United States.

We got what we deserved.”

No! Children did not get what they deserved. Testing tests and taking tests limits their precious instructional time. Mr. Tucker pushed the outcome-based theory and pushes for “better” testing. So what is truly ironic is to see him now blame everyone else. Ironic, pathetic, or just a ploy?

This reeks of propaganda with a purpose. I hope people will see through the new soft sell PR for Common Core and test-based (outcome-based) accountability.

But to give Driscoll the benefit of the doubt about this being “fact-based,” I’ll dig further into the “facts” behind “Fixing Our National Accountability System”…. another day, soon.

 

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3 thoughts on “Fixing Our National Accountability System

  1. The whole idea of “accountability” for teachers is a red herring intended to justify the testing craze.I was a teacher for over 40 years. Every day that I stepped into that classroom I was held accountable by those who knew whether or not I was performing satisfactorily,the students. The idea that tests can provide any accountability at all is ludicrous. It is stupid on its face.

    In the early 70s Parade Magazine began publishing the results of the norm referenced tests being used in most public schools in America. These were usually either the SRA Achievement Tests or the ITBS. These tests were very useful because they allowed teachers and administrators to compare each student to a national sample. The tests were scored based on standard deviation from the mean score which meant that at least half of those taking it would score below average.

    Readers of Parade, including ever opportunistic politicians, interpreted any below average score as a failure of the schools and the teachers. This provided an easy and inexpensive target for politicians who could rail against bad teachers, ineffective schools and wasted school budgets.

    Throughout this sorry spectacle the false flag of accountability has been waved but the real banner that should have been flying was one depicting, greed, and self aggrandizement of the wealthy and the privileged.

    • If only everyone understood what you do! Thanks for saying.

      I continue to struggle with trying to figure out what the general public knows and does not know about testing. I have to believe there is a huge “gap” in understanding. Maybe THAT’s the gap we need to close first?

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