Friday, October 30, 2009

Who Will Educate the Educators?

There's a great line from Karl Marx's Theses on Feuerbach III that comments on Plato's concept of the philosopher king: "Who will educate the educator?" And nothing so much underscores this world view than the actions of our educrats over the use of school testing. To paraphrase Marx: "Who will test the testers?"

All that we have said about the faulty test regime of the city's Department of Education is starting to come into a sharper focus-with the NY Post ironically taking an unexpected lead role this morning: "The numbers don't add up. New York and most other states set their benchmarks for student proficiency in math and reading well below those of a gold-standard national test, according to a new analysis. The report by the National Center for Education Statistics, which compared state testing standards between 2005 and 2007, provides additional ammunition to critics who charge that New York has set the passing bar too low on annual math and reading tests -- which students have been acing with increased frequency in recent years."

Now we don't want to appear to be really snide here, but isn't this the same newspaper-along with the Daily News-that played the amen choir to the Bloomberg effort to retain mayoral control of the city schools-with the riding test scores being used as rationale #1? It is, and we have apparently reached the classic Gilda Radner-Emly Latella "Never Mind!" moment.

Is it too early to demand a recount? And where can we go for redress from the mendacity that has been exhibited over the ginned up test results? And, equally as apparent in this dishonest campaign, is the fact that one person's proficiency is another's basic skills: "Overall, the study found that what many states called a "proficient" skill level, the National Assessment of Educational Progress considered one skill level below that, known as "basic."

So, basically we've been had-and it's our own new secretary of education who nails the testing sleight-of-hand for what it is: ""Today's study confirms what we've known for a long time: States are setting the bar too low," said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "We're lying to our children when we tell them they're proficient but they're not achieving at a level that will prepare them for success once they graduate."

And we have a mayor-riding a wave of unprecedented campaign spending-using these lies to justify a third term. We could chalk this up to politics as usual-but it sure isn't progress for our school children, their teachers and administrators, and of course their parents. Bloomberg promised better; but his failure in regards to this issue-one that is shared by his media toadies-is truly monumental.