Archive | June, 2012


How to Argue that Testing & Privatization are Harmful to Public Education

Testing and PrivatizationOriginally published: June 20, 2012

Re-published: June 27, 2012

By: Dov Rosenberg ((Reblogged)

High stakes tests & charter schools make public schools less effective:

   A) High stakes tests do not effectively gauge student ability, are harmful to children, and make public schools less effective.

   B) Less than 20% of privately-managed public schools (charter schools) are successful; they also segregate children and minimize the decision-making power of parents & the community, ultimately making public schools less effective.

High-stakes tests do not effectively gauge student ability:

  • Constrict wide expanses of knowledge into only what can be measured by a multiple choice test.
  • Many tests contain nonsensical questions, have multiple correct answers, or have no right answers at all (look up Pineapplegate).
  • With hundreds of millions of American kids taking the same test, ethnic & regional differences aren’t considered, making them unavoidably culturally biased.
  • Unduly reward the superficial ability to retrieve info from the short-term memory.
  • Pass/Fail status is often determined by politicians while test scores are often manipulated for political purposes.
  • National Academy of Sciences, 2011 report to Congress: “Standardized tests have not increased student achievement.”
  • Measure only low-level thought processes, trivializing true learning.
  • Hide problems created by margin-of-error computations in scoring; scoring errors can have life-changing consequences.
  • Curricula constructed from high-stakes tests are based on what legislators assume children will need to know in the future. Countless previous attempts at predicting the future have ended in failure.
  • Provide minimal feedback that is useful to classroom teachers.
  • Penalize test-takers who think in non-standard ways (common in children).
  • Test results are not able to predict future success.
  • Claimed to be used as a diagnostic tool to maximize student learning, but are actually used to punish students, teachers, & schools.

High-stakes tests are harmful to children:

  • Minimal time for socializing & physical activity b/c recess & PE are cut in favor of test prep, particularly affecting low-scoring students.
  • Testing anxiety has lead to sickness, vomiting, & even incontinence in the classroom.
  • Excessive testing stifles the love of learning.
  • Year-end tests require sitting still & staying focused for 3.5 hours, which leads to behavior problems.
  • Encourage the promise of extrinsic motivators such as rewards for high scores (bribes) & punishments for low scores (threats).
  • Pressure to pass tests has lead to stimulant abuse in teenagers.

High-stakes tests make public schools less effective:

  • The lowest & highest achievers are left out as instructional resources are focused on learners at or near the pass/fail threshold.
  • Fewer opportunities for kids to enjoy creative classes that make them love school.
  • Arts & other electives are cut in favor of test prep & testing, particularly affecting students from low-income families.
  • Children don’t receive adequate instruction in non-tested areas like science, history, geography, government, etc.
  • Divert billions of state taxpayer funds from public schools to pay huge testing firms like Pearson & ETS (Educational Testing Services).
  • Divert precious time resources to test facilitation, preparation (such as begging proctors to volunteer), & administration.
  • More established parents move to private schools to avoid the abundance of testing in public schools.
  • When test scores trigger automatic retentions, much older students in classrooms can cause additional behavior problems
  • On norm-referenced tests, nationally, 50% of students are below average, by definition.  Thus, requiring all students to be at or above “grade level” is statistically impossible.
  • Give testing firms control of the curriculum
  • Test scores are used to evaluate teacher effectiveness in lieu of more effective administrator observations
  • Reduces teacher creativity & autonomy, thereby reducing the appeal of teaching as a profession
  • Minimize teachers’ ability to accomodate multiple learning styles and provide adequate differentiation
  • Create unreasonable pressure on students & teachers to cheat as well as on administrators & school districts to ”game the system”

Less than 20% of charter schools are successful:

  • Even the pro-charter documentary “Waiting for Superman” notes that only 1 in 6 charter schools succeed.
  • Charter schools can artificially inflate their published success rate by deflecting low-scoring kids back to public schools, usually

Charter schools segregate children:

  • Most charter schools are racially homogenous.
  • Without diversity requirements, charter schools can market to specific demographics, ultimately segregating communities.
  • Children from the same neighborhood often go to different schools, don’t know each other, & don’t play outside together. Alienation negatively impacts neighborhood communities.

Charter schools minimize the decision-making power of parents & the community:

  • Private control, as opposed to elected control via school board, leaves curricula to be defined by a corporate agenda.
  • Corporate-controlled charter school home offices are often centralized out of state.
  • One more thing for parents & kids to worry about as they wait for acceptance letters.
  • Undermine a fundamental democratic principle that the people closest to (& therefore most knowledgeable about) problems are the best positioned to deal with them.

Charter schools make public schools less effective:

  • Taxpayer dollars are deflected from public schools into charter schools where they’re utilized w/o transparency or accountability.
  • Charter schools have the freedom to select high-achieving kids w/ few needs so low-achieving kids w/ high needs get deflected & ultimately concentrated into an underfunded local public school.
  • Charter schools aren’t obligated to provide special services for high-needs kids so they often get deflected & ultimately concentrated into an underfunded local public school.
  • Only families who can navigate application processes can apply to a charter. Families w/o the time or know-how to “work the system” (often very poor and/or immigrant families) are ultimately concentrated into an underfunded local public school.
  • Private entities have already tried running school districts according to corporate models & seen disastrous results.

What’s best for kids?

Posted in Education1 Comment


Does Zapata still have Martinez’s nod? Depends who you ask

Juan Zapata with Joe Martinez

Published: june 14, 2012

Republished June 18, 2012


A view of local Miami-Dade County politics from accomplished investigative reporter and Political Cortadito Blog administrator Elaine De Valle:

While Miami-Dade Commission Chairman Joe Martinez, who has left his seat to run for mayor, has publicly supported former State Rep. Juan C. Zapata‘s bid to replace him, his staff and campaign supporters are throwing their weight behind another man in the race.

And political observers have raised their collective eyebrow.

Manny Machado is a police officer at Miami-Dade Police (the Hammocks District detective is on leave from his $55,000-a-year job since April), where Martinez also worked, and will likely have the support of the PBA, which Martinez also counts with. Machado is working with campaign consultant Sasha Tirador, who is working on the Martinez campaign. Machado is also getting help from Al Sotero, a longtime friend and campaign worker for Martinez who is also managing principal at Falcontrust Air, located at the Kendall Tamiami Airport in District 11. Machado is also getting contributions to his campaign from some of the same people who gave to Martinez. That’s how a political neophyte can amass $45,000 (as of the last reporting deadline March 31) in little more than a month.

Zapata said Ladra was not the first one to ask him about the seeming conflict.

“A lot of people ask me that question,” he said when I asked if Martinez had switched horses. “Joe told me he’s supporting me and that’s all I need to know. I take him at his word.”

The former state rep is aware that there are all these signs — and I am not talking about just the Machado yard art popping up all over next to the blue and white Martinez for mayor signs.

“I told him, ‘Machado is putting us signs next to yours and telling people you support him.’ He’s not happy about it,” Zapata told me a couple of days after he had lunch with the chairman.

“It’s a big concern. I’m not happy about it,” Zapata said. “I talked to him about it and he said, ‘Listen, I can’t do anything about these things.’ He can’t tell his people who to support.”

While political observers have said that “his machine is working for Machado,” Martinez told Ladra he was sticking by Zapata, despite any appearances to the contrary — which, at least, he did not deny.

“That’s a coincidence,” Martinez told me in a telephone interview when confronted with the rumors and the connections between his campaign and Machado’s.

“Mr. Machado is a very nice guy, his family is very nice, but I gave my word to Representative Zapata and I am standing by that,” Martinez said.

But the veteran pol also gave himself an easy way out, perhaps: “And until he tells me he doesn’t need my support, I’m supporting him. If he tells me one day, ‘I don’t want your support,’ then we’ll see.”

Then we’ll see? Sounds like cold feet to Ladra.


Posted in Elaine De Valle, Miami-Dade Politics0 Comments

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