Posts Tagged ‘Testing’

WI Libertarian Legal Organization Wants Schools to Follow Science?

November 22, 2020 Leave a comment

The op ed article linked above appeared in The Hill. Calling on school districts to “trust science” instead of teacher’s unions in making decisions about school closings. Here’s the concluding paragraph of the article by Will Flanders, the Research Director for the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty:

For months, every measure taken to combat COVID-19 has been done with an emphasis on “trusting the science.” But the science is increasingly indicating that in-person learning, on balance, is relatively safe and that the risks are far outweighed by the importance to children and families. Education is fundamental for all children, and if political ideology and teachers unions are the deciding factors for whether a district will meet in person or not — not the science and the evidence — then it seems that districts across the country may have their priorities a bit backwards.

There’s one problem with Mr. Flanders research: it focuses on the link between districts that have unions and districts that closed schools thereby ignoring the exogenous factors that the school boards might have considered in making their decisions. For example, it’s entirely possible that the districts represented by unions had higher community incidence of COVID than those districts without unions; or the schools in union districts might have greater problems with air quality; or parents at schools with unions might have been more insistent that schools be closed. The decision to reopen schools is based on a host of variables and I find it hard to believe that the existence of a teachers union was determinative.

A closing question for Mr. Flanders and his libertarian friends: did you support your Governor when he trusted science and insisted on face masks… or did you support the wholly political lawsuit against him?

Valerie Strauss Offers a Hopeful Forecast for the Direction the Biden Administration Will Take

November 14, 2020 Comments off

As noted in the previous post, President Elect Joe Biden has selected Linda Darling-Hammond to head his Education transition team, a role she played leading into the Obama administration. In this Washington Post article, columnist Valerie Strauss laments the results of the Obama administration’s education policy but sees a different outcome this time around.  She believes Mr. Biden will listen to and act upon the ideas about education equity that Ms. Darling-Hammond espouses as opposed to the “run-schools- like-a-business” ideas Mr. Obama ultimately embraced. Ms. Strauss’ perspective on the Obama administration is succinctly and bluntly summarized in this paragraph:

Obama wound up tapping Arne Duncan, a reformer in the DFER mold, as education secretary. Duncan, the former chief of Chicago schools, pushed the evaluation of teachers by student standardized test scores, the adoption by states of Common Core State Standards and the expansion of charter schools. The result was that students took many more standardized tests and some states created cockamamie evaluation systems that saw teachers evaluated by the test scores of students they didn’t have. The Common Core, which started with bipartisan support, saw a rushed implementation that helped lead to opposition to it.

Ms. Strauss noted that unions perceived Mr. Biden as fair and even-handed and looked to him as a “North Star” when he served in the Obama administration. And President-elect Biden’s plan for funding and improving public education is ambitious and expensive. But, as Ms. Strauss points out, the primary role of the transition team will be to identify all the places the Trump administration backtracked on the positive reforms of the Obama administration and acted to undercut public schools in favor of religious and other private schools. Ms. Strauss concludes her article with this dose of reality:

It is more than highly unlikely that there will be federal funding available to do everything he promised, but public education advocates say they are hopeful that he will stick to his promise to concentrate on publicly funded school districts and not school choice, like DeVos, or standardized testing, like Duncan.

All the signs at the moment indicate that Biden’s education agenda will be significantly different from Duncan’s (and certainly DeVos’s) and start to address the issue of educational equity in ways that Darling-Hammond has always thought were important, including how public schools are funded. Stay tuned.

I will stay tuned… and will be most interested to see what President Biden’s first budget looks like when it comes to funding his promises.

The Hill Recommends More Money, Less Testing for Public Education

November 14, 2020 Comments off


Education Funding Must Be a Priority for Biden Administration“, The Hill’s recent op ed piece by David DeMathews and David Knight, took a different perspective than the test-and-punish accountability ethos that has dominated federal policy and funding for the past two decades. Unlike bipartisan legislation that has invariably linked funding to test scores, DeMathews and Knight recommend that money be directed to schools serving children raised in poverty and for social services needed to support all students, especially after coming out of the pandemic. As for testing, it was heartening to read two education professors outside of the Northeast advocating it’s demise:

Researchers have concluded that the nation’s significant investment in high-stakes testing has not narrowed test score gaps between affluent and low-income students despite significant investments from the Bush, Obama and Trump administrations. However, teacher job dissatisfaction and turnover have increased during this period. COVID-19 has exacerbated these decade-long problems, as shown by a recent report from the American Institutes for Research, suggesting that the pandemic has contributed to a further decrease in enrollment in educator preparation programs while many teachers are considering early retirement.

I read recently that Joe Biden is looking to Linda Darling-Hammond for advice on help set his public school agenda. With much to undo in the Department of Education he might consider her to replace Betsy DeVos for she would bring some gravitas to the position and would not be tarred the way a union affiliated nominee would be. Whoever Biden selects, I hope they red THIS article and heed its advice and recommendations.