Monday, October 8, 2012

Game On in Oklahoma

by  Diane Ravitch

The reform/privatization strategy is now in full operation is states across the nation.
This is the way it works:

First, set an impossible goal, say, 100% proficiency for all students.

Second, say that there can be "no excuses," no reference to social conditions in which children live.

Third, insist on accountability for schools, teachers, and principals. If they can't meet the impossible goals, fire the staff and close the school.

Fourth, hand the school over to private management.

Mission accomplished!
Oklahoma is in the midst of this process, as this teacher describes here. The schools will be graded. Many will fail, by design. Does anyone still believe this is about improving education?

You know what comes next. This Oklahoma teacher writes:
Oh, it's much worse than just testing...the use of this data will "fail" schools and then trumpet their failure. In order to earn an "A", a school must score nearly 94%. The easy-to understand resources on the OKSDE website are anything but simple and transparent. The district Superintendents (nearly 200, I believe) who objected to the release of scores have been called names by our State Super and our Governor. Dedicated professional educators have been attacked personally.

The State Superintendent likened them to the kid who runs home to white-out his report card before his parents get home. Remember, she's speaking to career educators...which she is not. She was a speech pathologist for a few years, became a dentist, and helped open a charter school in OKC because her own children were struggling in public schools. She sees herself as the heroine of DON'T BACK DOWN.

The spokesperson for the SDE says they've worked with districts, getting their input. I was at the Public Comments meeting, at the SDE...scheduled by the SDE. NO ONE representative from the SDE attended the meeting except the lawyer who pushed 'play' on the tape recorder. We all spoke to a tape recorder...superintendents, principals, school officials, legislators, PTA state officers, and I was the lone teacher...we were all ignored. Is THIS how our SDE works with us? Unfortunately, the answer is 'yes'.

Our state officials are bullies, and they bully with smiles on their faces, with the knowledge that the media won't pursue the story to the ultimate truth.

Tomorrow the grades come out...the same grades Mitt Romney thinks are such a good idea. My firm belief is the grades will show exactly what high-stakes testing shows: poverty matters. So, once again, schools and teachers and districts will be punished and publicly shamed because we serve poor children.
Pray for us.

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