Part 3: Is the Marc Tucker Plan “a Fact-Based way forward”?
“Fact” according to Tucker: One of the most important conditions necessary to provide for professionals “is the design of the accountability system.” ?????? Who knew?
From my perspective as a professional, I never knew I needed to be concerned about an “accountability system.” And as many know, “In Finland, that word isn’t part of the education lexicon.”
But Mr. Tucker is an acknowledged “systems thinker” and an international expert whose opinion holds weight in D.C.. Surely he knows the truth about the country that has led the world in reforming their education system.
“The two most important factors explaining the success of the Finnish education system are: education has been a national priority for decades, and the system operates on trust.”
Truth is, the public trust in the U.S. public education system has been systematically eroded by political agendas and the propaganda to match it.
But on to another Tucker fact which actually has a broad base of agreement: The test-based accountability system we have in the United States—resulted in “very low teacher morale” and “has narrowed the curriculum for millions of students to a handful of subjects…” Tucker even went on to say:
“If we want broad improvement in student performance and we want to close the gap between disadvantaged students and the majority of our students, then we will abandon test-based accountability and teacher evaluation as key drivers of our education reform program.”
It is great those facts were acknowledged, but the Tucker Plan DOES NOT abandon test-based accountability at all. It promises “tests would be much higher quality tests”… “And these high quality tests would cover the whole core curriculum, so subjects like history, literature, science, social studies, music and the arts would not be slighted.”
…Would not be slighted from being tested???!?!… This is “fixing” the problem?
More “facts” according to Mr. Tucker:
“When the ESEA [Elementary and Secondary Education Act, now called No Child left Behind] was first passed in 1965, the Congress assumed that, if they voted additional money that could only be used to aid in the education of poor and minority students, educators would know how to use that money effectively and the result would be improved student performance. ….In other words, if the students were not learning, the fault lay in the background of the students, not in any lack of competence or commitment in their teachers, and if more funds could be provided to teachers to cope with the students’ cultural disadvantages, then they would learn.”
Having studied the 1965 ESEA in much detail with information from a variety of sources, I can say this with certainty – NOT TRUE!
Tucker misrepresents the original law and then goes on to blame Congress for being mad about a lack of results when he says himself – in this paper – “data showed that the ESEA had indeed led to major gains for disadvantaged students.” (Koretz, Dan. “Educational Achievement: Explanations and Implications of Recent Trends”, Congress of the United States, Congressional Budget Office, August 1987)
Real facts about ESEA: The money did not go directly to teachers for them to spend as they saw fit. And the money was not only for “poor and minority” students. It was to address the needs of low-income students knowing that they tend to be concentrated in poorer communities, poorer states, and tended to be minority students.
There were five interconnected pieces supported through federal funding to the county and involved agencies:
- Title I – financial assistance to local education agencies (schools) in support of children from low-income families,
- Title 2 – money for school library resources, textbooks, and other instructional materials to provide access for all students in the State,
- Title 3 – supplementary educational centers and services to be made available to the entire community to provide services not currently offered in underserved areas but deemed vital to having kids ready to learn,
- Title 4 – The Cooperative Research Act to support educational research and training targeted at improving the quality of teaching, counseling, advising, and parental and community engagement practices to improve student achievement, and dissemination of that information,
- Title 5 – State Departments of Education funding through this title is “to stimulate and assist in strengthening the leadership resources of State educational agencies” to assist states in identifying “educational problems, issues, and needs in the State.”
(More details available here)
If Congress was led to believe that money went to teachers to use as they wished and it didn’t “work,” then the policy advisers in D.C. were ignorant or disingenuous and the history of the law distorted beyond recognition or understanding. I’m truly surprised that Mr. Tucker doesn’t know the history of ESEA any better than what he stated in this newest diatribe of his. His rendition was simplistic and erroneous.
So this topic of “national accountability” comes back to the fact that there is no reason for a test-based national/federal education accountability law. That is not what ESEA was – and in my humble and unheard opinion, nor should it ever be. We need to do away with the very idea that we can hold students and teachers “accountable” through high-stakes standardized testing dictated from above…..but let’s continue considering “facts.”
Another “FACT” as stated by Tucker is that;
“education is a monopoly, so we need other ways of ensuring that the people delivering the service have strong incentives to work hard and deliver high quality at a reasonable cost.”
Monopoly means “the exclusive possession or control of something.” Who has had exclusive control over public education? There has never been a single person or entity possessing “exclusive control.” There are multiple “controllers”; some good, some bad. But public education has never been a true monopoly. The word “monopoly” has been used as a propaganda tool.
Currently, it is the powerful and their lobbyists that are controlling education policy.
And we are coming dangerously close to allowing the public education system to be controlled by a handful of individuals — a private monopoly by way of the international giant in education, Pearson Inc. with their cozy relationship to Mr. Tucker.
At this point, I’d like to know a fact or two myself (but I’m not really expecting answers); who made Marc Tucker King of Education Reform? How many share the throne with him? And why would we allow a non-representative of the People to direct education policy?
That is “Education without Representation.”
In a system that should operate on trust, we should NOT give power to the untrustworthy. All of those who have pushed the test-based accountability scheme should be dethroned.
To move forward based on facts, truth requires that we abandon our test-based federal accountability system, NOT fix it.