(UPDATE: Please see the addendum at the end of this post.)
Part I of this series on the round table discussion between NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia and NJ education bloggers and activists focused on the devastating effects of high-stakes testing on special needs children, and how edu-preneurs are profiting from the testing boom.
Part II focuses on the mainstream media blackout.
As with Part I, unless otherwise indicated, all quotes are Lily's.
When you repeat a lie often enough it becomes the truth*
"Everything [Secretary Duncan] said, everything [he's] advocated for says there must be a consequence for not having your quota of kids hitting your cut score...
"[He] needs to see teachers being evaluated by students' test scores, students being labeled by their test scores, schools being called 'failures' by student test scores...
"Let's call it what it is; it's not 'accountability'...
"The fact is that standardized tests won't tell you if kids are college and career ready, yet they say it and the mainstream press prints it. And that has to end." (emphasis mine)
"The bloggers and the educators are the only ones asking, 'Why are we basing so much of education funding on something that benefits the testing industry?'"
If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know about the ongoing feud some of us have with The Star Ledger editorial board including director, Tom Moran (here, here and here for starters). Despite numerous attempts to educate him on the facts, he simply refuses to do his homework. It's no wonder Lily didn't want to meet with them. They're not alone. Other Pulitzer Prize-winning newspapers are equally inept in their reporting, preferring to shill for those setting the policies or, like The Los Angeles Times, resorting to McCarthy-era tactics like publishing teachers' evaluation scores (the newspaper's reasoning being this is public information). A short time later a teacher who was rated ineffective took his own life. "Family members have guessed that the rating contributed to his death."
Why the dearth of factual reporting? Much has been written about the incestuous relationship between the mainstream media and the billionaires who fund ed 'reform', but a good place to start is this David Sirota piece. For example, Rupert Murdoch's News Corp owns The New York Post, The Wall Street Journal and Fox Broadcasting Co. as well as Amplify, the company that was awarded a $12.5 million contract from the Obama administration to develop Common Core assessments.
Is it any coincidence that Fox News comes down squarely on the side of 'reform'? There is so much wrong with this Tucker Carlson piece it's cringe-inducing, and my own appearance on Fox and Friends had me wondering how anyone in their right mind could believe that garbage.
The traditionally 'liberal media' isn't entirely innocent. Although MSNBC's Morning Joe generally has a balanced roster of panelists and guests, Joe Scarborough has a personal ax to grind with teachers unions. (And I'll talk about NBC's Education Nation in Part III.) As I've said before, with all the excuses we hear from students about why they didn't do their homework, educators are experts in B.S. detection, and there's a whole lotta that being shoveled at the uninformed general public by media outlets that fan the flames, beat the war drums and call for teachers' heads on platters because "it's all about the
"Though it is rarely mentioned, the truth is that the largest funders of the 'reform' movement are the opposite of disinterested altruists. They are cutthroat businesspeople making shrewd financial investments in a movement that is less about educating children than about helping 'reform' funders hit paydirt. In that sense, they are the equivalent of any industry leaders funding a front group in hopes of achieving profitable political ends (think: defense contractors funding a front group that advocates for a bigger defense budget). The only difference is that when it comes to education 'reform,' most of the political press doesn’t mention the potential financial motives of the funders in question.
"While I’ve written about this reality before, recent news perfectly exemplifies how the 'reform' movement is really just a sophisticated business strategy."
(Note to Tom Moran: Is David Sirota a 'conspiracy theorist', too?)
Rutgers University Professor and blogger Dr. Bruce Baker weighs in (emphasis mine):
We've entered a bizarro world I never could have imagined when I started out doing this stuff back in the mid-1990s. And this Bizarro world is being promoted from the supposed highest echelons of our highly stratified society.
This idiocy - cast as lofty super-intellectual progressivism that us poor common folk simply can't grasp... has to stop.
We are being led down a destructive road to stupid - by arrogant, intellectually bankrupt, philosophically inconsistent, empirically invalid and often downright dumb ideas being swallowed whole and parroted by an increasingly inept media - all, in the end creating a massive ed reform haboob distracting us from the relatively straightforward needs of our public schools.
Lily gets the last word:
"It's just incredible that Campbell Brown and Silicon Valley [billionaires who are financing Vergara] are all very wealthy and most of them have Wall Street ties. Isn't it just a coincidence that all these really wealthy billionaires woke up and said, 'I want to make the world a better place. Let's fire more teachers.' Not 'let's find better ways to train or hire teachers.' If you fire a bunch of people but have the same hiring practices, you're still going to get the same people, so how serious are you?
"What they're really saying is, 'We need a really fast, easy way to get rid of a bunch of teachers.' And replace them with... what? Teachers who never taught pre-NCLB. [Teaching to the test] is the only way they know how to teach."
That's it for Part II. Stay tuned for Part III:
The false invitation to educators and what happened when one said, "No more!"
The following two excellent blog posts on the ways ed 'reformers' are buying the media and shaping the message were brought to my attention after I originally posted this piece.
First is Mercedes Schneider's post about how Bill Gates purchases messaging, particularly via NPR:
Those with the obviously-declared education privatization agenda have appointed themselves the “keepers of the education conversation.” They will publicize what they decide “works.” After all, they are above actually doing the educating, and since those of us doing the educating are “too busy,” we need for them to cement the narrative that what they pay for (test-driven reform, charters, vouchers) is what “works.” As Washington Post’s Lyndsey Layton reports:
Bruce Reed, president of the Broad Foundation, said the idea for Education Post originated with his organization but that other philanthropic groups had recognized the need years ago. …One of the goals of Education Post is to publicize what works in public education, Reed said.“Administrators, school leaders and teachers have papers to grade, schools to run, and they don’t have time to get out and talk about this,” he said. “This is an effort to help spread information about what works both inside the field and outside.”Education Post also will have a “rapid response” capacity to “knock down false narratives” and will focus on “hot spots” around the country where conflicts with national implications are playing out, [former Arne Duncan communications shaper] Cunningham said. [Emphasis added.]
Information control, my friends. And, of course, the controlled narrative will feed the idea of corporate reform “success”:
While there are myriad nonprofit organizations devoted to K-12 education,none are focused solely on communication, said Howard Wolfson, an adviser to Bloomberg Philanthropies.“There hasn’t really been an organization dedicated to sharing the successes of education reform around the country,” Wolfson said. “You have local success, but it isn’t amplified elsewhere. And there is a lot of success. There is also an awful lot of misperception around what ed reform is, and there hasn’t been an organization . . . focused on correcting those misimpressions.” [Emphasis added.]
I’m sorry, but the “misimpression” of corporate reform as being punitive and destructive to the community-based school and the career teacher and friendly to a grossly-under-regulated privatization is beyond “impression”; it is a reality fostered not only by years of a failed NCLB but one that continues to be fostered by NCLB waiver-yanking US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
How funny that those keen on promoting the traditional public education “failure” narrative now want to shape it into a “success” designed to conceal their own failure.