One wonders what sort of alternative universe the so-called education leaders live in these days—most whom only taught a year—if they taught at all, and who most likely never bothered to lower themselves to take one of those silly courses about child and adolescent development. Across the country parents and teachers are rallying in their school districts to push back on draconian measures that hurt the students they care for, yet to hear those at the top speak, everything is rosy.
Consider Tennessee’s Teach for America alum, Emily Barton. Achievement is so high! I believe they are referring to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results and she is behind the success, of course! http://www.zoominfo.com/p/Emily-Barton/1717464532. This is from Zoom:
As Assistant Commissioner at the Tennessee Department of Education, Emily Barton is responsible for the dramatic improvement of student achievement through many strategies including the implementation and success of Tennessee’s evaluation system and the adoption of Common Core State Standards. Emily supports school districts in the implementation of the state-wide comprehensive multiple measure educator evaluation system. Over the next several years, Tennessee will adopt the Common Core State Standards, and Emily will support the state’s educators through leveraging the Department’s resources, comprehensive communication, and extensive training. Immediately prior to this position, Emily was Chief of Staff for the Tennessee Department of Education. In her role, Emily managed cross-functional priorities for Commissioner Kevin Huffman, worked with organizations and agencies in Tennessee and across the country to incorporate promising practices to increase student achievement and support department effectiveness….
Previously, Emily managed Teach For America’s D.C. Region and launched the organization’s work in Connecticut. In both regions, Emily more than doubled the size of the teaching corps, staff and funding base and pioneered new initiatives in teacher professional development, community and state engagement and alumni innovation. She started her career in education in a rural community in Louisiana, teaching seventh grade math.
First, do you believe the hype surrounding testing? I, for one, don’t trust anything anybody says about tests because politicians and the media will use results to spin in the direction that makes them look good, or to get what they want. Consider the response relating to Tennessee’s high NAEP results by Tom Loveless from Brookings. Of course, I know Brookings would like to see public schools go the way of the percolating coffee pot, but what Loveless says about the NAEP testing makes a lot of sense.
He states: “Test scores are susceptible to spin by politicians, whether the politicians are Republicans or Democrats, liberals or conservatives, governors or mayors, incumbents or challengers, pro- or anti- practically any policy you can think of. Rankings are particularly vulnerable to spin—or other forms of misinterpretation—because they conceal information that statisticians consider important for proper interpretation. It’s important to look at the data on which rankings are based to see what’s really going on with test scores.” Here is the whole article http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/brown-center-chalkboard/posts/2013/11/13-interpreting-naep-gains-loveless.
Second, let’s put aside testing. People like Emily need to get out and about a little. For starters, in Tennessee, they could pay a visit to Knox County where many are calling for the ousting of Superintendent Jim McIntyre. Or maybe they should connect with those who signed the petition to bounce her boss, Kevin Huffman. The PETITION—you know—a few weeks ago?
They could also include a nice trip over to Memphis to find out what happened to the $48 million worth of supplies which includes missing instruments and six baby grand pianos. I’d say missing instruments might make a dent in the music curriculum there.
And all that overflowing love for Common Core? Maybe Emily and those of her ilk should sit down and spend some time with the frustrated parents of students with disabilities destined for failure under this untested, corporatized, program. But I wonder if they would understand. If you have little experience with children, you usually don’t get what it is they really need.
The reform loving Education Next writes Emily up like a saint. Maybe she is a nice person. But this isn’t about niceness anymore. Emily and those like her, and there are a whole lot more like her, are not nice to those workers who meet and greet children every day and whose lives are on the line due to the harmful, derelict, policies they have put in place. We are talking about real teachers who signed on to teach children as a career, not as a stepping stone to power.
Parents who raise concern are those who should be the focus of accountability measures. We need real understanding of the problems facing children and their families—not manipulation of data points (and warehousing of information while I’m at it). We demand an educational system that values what children can become if given the right kind of curriculum—challenging—but fair. It should be built in with the voices of those who have honest experience, qualifications, and the realistic understanding of the needs of students.