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Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 46,179

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I'd like to see his website

deliver some clear, unambiguous, detailed statements on issues. I can read his speeches there. Right at the top of the page, without even clicking on the whole speech, a line pops out that makes me shudder:

“What if we tackled our biggest problems by using data-driven strategies, instead of conventional wisdom, or the way we’ve always done it?”

While it's a great sound bite, it's also uses a phrase that has been used as a privatization weapon for public education...I know, because I've been dealing with the destructive policies that phrase drives in my profession for more than a decade, and it gets worse every year. "Data-driven strategies" is a phrase used to reduce students to test score data and teachers to numbers crunchers.

When I click on the speech itself, he begins promoting "data-driven government" in his opening lines.

Now don't mistake me. I'm not "anti-data." I'm anti-misuse and abuse of data for political purposes, and after being under attack by exactly that for more than a decade, I don't take the phrase "data-driven" at face value any more. It pushes all of my alarm buttons.

This from "on the issues" also concerns me; the bolding is mine:

O`Malley adopted the manifesto, "A New Agenda for the New Decade": Write New Rules for the Global Economy

The rise of global markets has undermined the ability of national governments to control their own economies. The answer is neither global laissez faire nor protectionism but a Third Way: New international rules and institutions to ensure that globalization goes hand in hand with higher living standards, basic worker rights, and environmental protection. U.S. leadership is crucial in building a rules-based global trading system as well as international structures that enhance worker rights and the environment without killing trade. For example, instead of restricting trade, we should negotiate specific multilateral accords to deal with specific environmental threats.

Goals for 2010

Conclude a new round of trade liberalization under the auspices of the World Trade Organization.
Open the WTO, the World Bank, and International Monetary Fund to wider participation and scrutiny.
Strengthen the International Labor Organization’s power to enforce core labor rights, including the right of free association.
Launch a new series of multinational treaties to protect the world environment.

This is what I got on education; a mixed bag. Some sounds good, others raise red flags for this teacher; red flags bolded:

O`Malley adopted the manifesto, "A New Agenda for the New Decade": Create World-Class Public Schools

Now more than ever, quality public education is the key to equal opportunity and upward mobility in America. Yet our neediest children often attend the worst schools. While lifting the performance of all schools, we must place special emphasis on strengthening those institutions serving, and too often failing, low-income students.

To close this achievement and opportunity gap, underperforming public schools need more resources, and above all, real accountability for results. Accountability means ending social promotion, measuring student performance with standards-based assessments, and testing teachers for subject-matter competency.

As we demand accountability, we should ensure that every school has the resources needed to achieve higher standards, including safe and modern physical facilities, well-paid teachers and staff, and opportunities for remedial help after school and during summers. Parents, too, must accept greater responsibility for supporting their children’s education.

We need greater choice, competition, and accountability within the public school system, not a diversion of public funds to private schools that are unaccountable to taxpayers. With research increasingly showing the critical nature of learning in the early years, we should move toward universal access to pre-kindergarten education.

Goals for 2010

Turn around every failing public school. (Using Chicago's privatization language...ugh.)
Make charter schools an option in every state and community.
Offer every parent a choice of public schools to which to send his or her child.
Make sure every classroom has well-qualified teachers who know the subjects they teach, and pay teachers more for performance. (Merit pay based on test scores)
Create a safe, clean, healthy, disciplined learning environment for every student.
Make pre-kindergarten education universally available.


I'll be paying attention. At this point, I'm not embracing him. I'm not comfortable at this point with the number of red flags.

I'm not an anti-vaxxer, but

I personally find the current polarized frenzy to be ludicrous.

It's not the simplified black and white that the simple would like it to be. Very, very few issues are.

When DUers tell someone who refuses a small pox vaccination for their child that:

their child ought to be isolated from the general public: http://www.democraticunderground.com/10026191344#post6

that his choice affects everyone and will spread: http://www.democraticunderground.com/10026191344#post55

that he's potentially putting others at risk, making him despicable, selfish, and ignorant: http://www.democraticunderground.com/10026191344#post87

when routinely vaccinating for smallpox ended in the U.S. in 1972, just WHO is ignorant?

When politicians decide to make vaccinations an issue, and the masses follow along obediently, lining up to battle it out because a small fraction of people want to refuse vaccinations, despite the fact that all 50 states require vaccinations for children entering public schools...while shoving the much larger problem of poverty, and much more frequent other categories of child neglect and abuse under the rug, I'll damned well say:

I'm not an anti-vaxxer, but if you are so damned concerned, where is your outrage and energy addressing those other much more frequent and widespread neglects and abuses? Refusing vaccinations is just one. Is it that neglect and abuse aren't an issue until they spread to others? Is that it?


I believe that

there are currently two standardized tests developed for the CCSS: PARCC, and the "Smarter Balanced" test. All of the 46 or so states that have adopted the CCSS will be giving one of those two tests.

My state, and therefore my district and school, will be giving the Smarter Balanced test, so I don't know anything about PARCC. We haven't seen the Smarter Balanced test, but there is a practice test available online that we've been exploring. There might be a practice test online for PARCC that you could take a look at.

As far as "teaching to the test" goes...that's been the norm since the introduction of high stakes testing, first at the state level in some states, and then at the federal level with NCLB. States that wanted a waiver from NCLB had to 1. Adopt CCSS or another set of FEDERALLY approved standards...good luck with finding "another set." 2. Use high stakes tests based on those standards for both accountability systems and educator evaluation systems.

In other words, NCLB hasn't really gone away; it's been fed some steroids and re-branded.

The very existence of high-stakes tests ensures that there will be teaching to the test. When you threaten people, they are going to circle the wagons.

As the high-stakes testing mandates have grown more powerful, so has the focus on "data driven" instruction. Teaching to the test.

None of this is new. It's just, as I mentioned above, been re-branded.

As far as the CCSS, or any other set of standards, or any test goes? It's not the standards, nor the test that are at the root of the problem. It's the misuse and abuse of those standards and tests. It's the high-stakes. And that misuse and abuse is embedded in the mandates that the public education system must abide by. Mandates created by politicians and corporate power mongers. Non-educators.

Your concern, the concerns of all advocacy groups, should be about the political manipulation of the system through high-stakes tests rather than about one set of standards or one test.

As far as the difficulty of the test goes? I can't speak to PARCC, but I can say that the practice version of the Smarter Balanced test is certainly no walk in the park. Since there are no correct answers given, I've been in meetings with teachers taking and discussing that practice test...highly educated professionals who can't agree on correct answers to many items. That's often because of the prompts to choose the best example/s or sentences providing evidence for something, when all of the choices provide that evidence. The argument then becomes about which is "best," and how many "best" examples there are, since the prompts leave the number of possibilities open-ended.

For the record, teachers have been speaking out against high-stakes testing and the damage it does to public education since it first reared its ugly head back in the 90s at the state level. We spoke up loudly enough when GWB took office and it went federal that his Sec of Ed called us "terrorists." And all along, the general public bought the story about how those high stakes tests were needed because we were mostly incompetent, and the nation needed to bust teachers' unions and fire all those bad teachers.

If parents and the rest of the general public had listened, had "had our backs," from the beginning, we wouldn't be in the current situation. I hope someone is listening now.

This quote:

"Sometimes, educators are better at starting new things than we are at stopping things – several decades of testing ideas have sometimes been layered on top of each other in ways that are redundant and duplicative, and not helpful."

This is problematic. He is saying that he's an educator. He's not. And, his stuff isn't "new." His, and Obama's, "things" are continuances, extensions, and enrichment of the policies in place when he was appointed. They are even more destructive to public education than the precursors.

So, in one sense he's correct: HE is not very good at "stopping things," especially since ending the destructive toll taken on public education by high stakes testing was never his goal. If actual educators were in charge of education policy, you'd see them "stopping things."
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