Obama’s Race to the Bottom


Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty(rafflaw)-Guest Blogger

On the eve of President Obama’s Inauguration for his second term, I thought it might be useful to look more closely at one of his policies that is not working for students or parents. I am referring to his educational policy, better know by its marketing name, Race to the Top.  This “quaint” title for his corporate backed privatizing plan hides the negative impact it has had in the schools themselves.  It is has led to school closings and teacher firings for the sole purpose of school districts being eligible for  the Race to the Top grants from the Federal government! 

While this foundation backed type of “reform” was started by the Bush Administration’s No Child Left Behind program, President Obama has taken the No Child Left Behind program to even greater lows.  “The current wave of school closings is latest result of bipartisan educational policies which began with No Child Left Behind in 2001, and have kicked into overdrive under the Obama administration’s Race To The Top. In Chicago, the home town of the president and his Secretary of Education, the percentage of black teachers has dropped from 45% in 1995 to 19% today. After winning a couple skirmishes in federal court over discriminatory firings in a few schools, teachers have now filed a citywide class action lawsuit alleging that the city’s policy of school “turnarounds” and “transformations” is racially discriminatory because it’s carried out mainly in black neighborhoods and the fired teachers are disproportionately black.”  Common Dreams

In order to understand how misguided this Race to the Top is, we need to take a moment to review just how does it work and how do schools and school districts “win” these federal grants. I apologize for the length of the following quotation, but it is necessary to understand how destructive this program can be.

“Secretary Duncan at his side, President Obama introduced Race To The Top, drawn up by the Bill & Melinda Gates, the Eli Broad, Boeing, Walton Family and other foundations. Under Race To The Top states and school districts are forced to bid against each other for many of the same education dollars they used to receive as a matter of course. The winning districts are those who apply Race To The Top’s four official solutions to their so-called “failing schools.”

Race To The Top’s four federally mandated “solutions,” which are never spelled out by corporate media news outlets, are “school transformations,” “school turnarounds,” “school restarts,” and “school closures.”

Race to the Top defines a school transformation,” its first remedy, as firing the principal and up to 50% of teachers, replacing them with temps and newbies, hiring expensive consultants, often the same folks who drafted Race To The Top guidelines or their cronies, to redesign curriculum and personnel policies. “Transformed” schools tie teachers jobs to test scores (that’s what caused the national epidemic of cheating scandals) lengthening school days with no extra pay, cutting wages & benefits and of course lots more costly and useless tests.

Race To The Top calls its second remedy “school turnaround.” Turnarounds are exactly the same as school transformations, with high priced “run the school like a business” consultants, increased reliance on standardized tests, sanctions for teachers and all new hires sourced from Teach For America type agencies, except that transformations fire up to 50% of school staff, but to be called a turnaround schools must fire at least 50% of school staff.

School restarts,” are the third Race To The Top solution. In a “restart” you close the public school and reopen a new school with new staff and the same connected consultants used for transformations and turnarounds, but all under the management of a private corporation. In other words, you close the public school and open a charter school in the same building. Charters of course can use public money to hire even less qualified teachers, pick and choose the students it serves, and often to generate handsome private profits.

Race To The Top ‘s fourth remedy isschool closure. ” You fire the staff, padlock the school doors and let families take their chances on the free market, or find another public school if they can.

The states and school districts quickest to carry out the most transformations, turnarounds, restarts and school closings are the ones who get to keep or increase their levels of federal funding. Those who drag their feet lose federal education dollars. That’s why it’s a race, but not exactly to the top.”
Common Dreams

That is a lot of information to digest, but the bottom line is that school districts have to fire teachers and close schools to increase their chances of getting the much-needed federal education dollars!  Race to the Top takes the Bush inspired teach to the test nonsense and includes the requirement that school districts must “turnaround” schools by firing teachers and/or closing schools many times in areas that can least afford the closing of any public schools.  Why would President Obama and Sec. Duncan push this kind of abhorrent policy?  Your guess is as good as mine, but my guess is that by firing teachers and forcing schools to close serves the privatization model pushed by these very same foundations and corporations.

Is it a good thing that inner city schools are closed and that qualified and experienced minority teachers are replaced by inexperienced teachers in the schools that remain open? Is it any wonder that the Chicago Teachers Union has fought back by striking and by fighting the discrimination of minority teachers firings in court?  The Seattle teachers are now fighting the teach to the test mentality that is not preparing our students to think critically.

“For the Seattle teachers, the issue is the district decision to require Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) tests three times per year and to use the results to judge teachers.  The testing juggernaut is out of control and teachers and students are the ones who are directly in its path.  Similarly, when Chicago teachers went on strike in September, a key issue was the misuse of student test scores in teacher evaluations. Both actions are part of a growing national resistance to high-stakes testing that includes not only teachers but parents, students, principals, school boards, and education professors and researchers. This resistance includes a National Resolution on High-Stakes Testing signed by more than 475 organizations and 14,000 individuals.  In Seattle, some parents had been opting their children out of the tests even before the teachers’ boycott. These parents understand that the Garfield teachers have a powerful case against these tests and their uses.”  Yahoo News

Not only is this bad education policy, it continues the corporate backed austerity measures that do nothing but make the economy worse by firing people and making it harder for those same companies to get qualified and educated workers.  Is it possible that the true goal of the Race to the Top program is to make sure the public school system fails and allows for charter and private schools to fill the void at a huge cost to the public?

I realize some schools are not successful, but to make the closure of schools that are working to obtain more Federal dollars is not a progressive policy.  What do you think?

114 thoughts on “Obama’s Race to the Bottom”

  1. What real education reform looks like
    Teachers unions aren’t the problem. Poverty and punitive funding formulas for poor schools are
    By David Sirota

    Now, at year’s end, we’ve learned from two studies just how powerful economics are in education outcomes — and how disadvantaged kids are being unduly punished by government policy.

    The first report, from Stanford University, showed that with a rising “income achievement gap,” a family’s economic situation is a bigger determinative force in a child’s academic performance than any other major demographic factor. For poor kids, that means the intensifying hardships of poverty are now creating massive obstacles to academic progress.

    Because of this reality, schools in destitute areas naturally require more resources than those in rich ones so as to help impoverished kids overcome comparatively steep odds. Yet, according to the second report from the U.S. Department of Education, “many high-poverty schools receive less than their fair share of state and local funding.” As if purposely embodying the old adage about adding insult to injury, the financing scheme “leav(es) students in high-poverty schools with fewer resources than schools attended by their wealthier peers.” In practice, that equals less funding to recruit teachers, upgrade classrooms, reduce class sizes and sustain all the other basics of a good education.

    Put all this together and behold the crux of America’s education problems in bumper-sticker terms: It’s poverty and punitive funding formulas, stupid.

    Thus, we arrive at the factor that decides so many things in American society: money.

    As the revelations of 2011 prove, students aren’t helped by billionaire-executives-turned-education-dilettantes who leverage their riches to force their faith-based theories into schools. Likewise, they aren’t aided by millionaire pundits sententiously claiming that we just “need better parents.” And kids most certainly don’t benefit from politicians pretending that incessant union-busting, teacher-bashing and standardized testing represent successful school “reforms.”

    Instead, America’s youth need the painfully obvious: a national commitment to combating poverty and more funds spent on schools in the poorest areas than on schools in the richest areas — not the other way around.

  2. rafflaw,

    The bait and switch of school “reform”
    Behind the new corporate agenda for education lurks the old politics of profit and self-interest
    By David Sirota

    In recent weeks the debate over the future of public education in America has flared up again, this time with the publication of the new book “Class Warfare,” by Steven Brill, the founder of American Lawyer magazine. Brill’s advocacy of “reform” has sparked different strands of criticism from the New York Times, New York University’s Diane Ravitch and the Nation’s Dana Goldstein.

    But behind the high-profile back and forth over specific policies and prescriptions lies a story that has less to do with ideas than with money, less to do with facts than with an ideological subtext that has been quietly baked into the very terms of the national education discussion.

    Like most education reporters today, Brill frames the issue in simplistic, binary terms. On one side are self-interested teachers unions who supposedly oppose fundamental changes to schools, not because they care about students, but because they fear for their own job security and wages, irrespective of kids. In this mythology, they are pitted against an alliance of extraordinarily wealthy corporate elites who, unlike the allegedly greedy unions, are said to act solely out of the goodness of their hearts. We are told that this “reform” alliance of everyone from Rupert Murdoch to the Walton family to leading hedge funders spends huge amounts of money pushing for radical changes to public schools because they suddenly decided that they care about destitute children, and now want to see all kids get a great education.

    The dominant narrative, in other words, explains the fight for the future of education as a battle between the evil forces of myopic selfishness (teachers) and the altruistic benevolence of noblesse oblige (Wall Street). Such subjective framing has resulted in reporters, pundits and politicians typically casting the “reformers’” arguments as free of self-interest, and therefore more objective and credible than teachers’ counterarguments.

    This skewed viewpoint becomes clear in this excerpt of a C-Span interview with Brill about “Class Warfare,” in which Brill is talking about a group called “Democrats for Education Reform” — a group financed by major hedge fund managers:

    “[The group] was created by a small group of frustrated education reformers … They happen to be well-to-do frustrated education reformers who were Democrats and they had an epiphany … And the epiphany they had was that the Democrats, their party, their party that they thought stood for civil rights, were the political party that was most in the way. And what frustrated them was they consider education reform to be the civil rights issue of this era. And they really couldn’t believe it was their party that was blocking their idea of reforms that are necessary. So they describe it repeatedly … as a sort of Nixon-to-China gambit in which Democrats are going to reform the Democratic Party and they’ve made lots of progress.” (emphasis added)

    Though self-billed as a work of objective journalism, Brill’s book reads like an overwrought ideological manifesto because — like much of the coverage of education — it frames the debate in precisely these propagandistic terms.

    As Brill and most other education correspondents tell it, those most aggressively trying to privatize public schools and focus education around standardized tests just “happen to be” Wall Streeters — as if that’s merely a random, inconsequential coincidence. Somehow, we are to assume that these same Wall Streeters who make millions off of “parasitic” investment schemes to leech public institutions for private profit couldn’t have ulterior motives when it comes to public schools.

    No, in the standard fairy tale sold as education journalism, these “reformers” are presented as having had an honest, entirely altruistic “epiphany” that led them to discover that “the reforms that are necessary” (ie., only the policies Wall Street deems acceptable) comprise “the civil rights issue of this era.”

    In this framing, millionaires and billionaires trying to eviscerate traditional public education from their Manhattan office suites are the new Martin Luther Kings — even though the empirical data tell us that their schemes to charter-ize and privatize schools have been a systemic failure, often further disadvantaging the most economically challenged students of all (one example: see Stanford’s landmark study showing more than a third of kids whom reformers ushered into charter schools were educationally harmed by the move).

    The truth, of course, is that for all the denialist agitprop to the contrary, corporate education “reformers” are motivated by self-interest, too. In a sense, these “reformers” are akin to the Bush administration neoconservatives when it came to Iraq. Some of them wanted to invade for oil, some wanted to invade to create a new sphere of influence, some wanted to invade to further isolate Iran, and still others wanted to invade to “spread democracy.” But as Paul Wolfowitz famously said, they “settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on which was weapons of mass destruction” as the public rationale for war.

    Same thing for those who fund corporate education “reform”: they have a lot of different self-interests, but they’ve settled on schools as a political target that unifies them all.

    So, then, what are those self-interests? Here are three of the biggest ones that go almost entirely unmentioned in the ongoing coverage of the education “reform” debate.

    Self-Interest No. 1: Pure Profit

    First and foremost, there’s a ton of money to be made in the education “reforms” that Big Money interests are advocating.

    As the Texas Observer recently reported in its exposé of one school-focused mega-corporation, “in the past two decades, an education-reform movement has swept the country, pushing for more standardized testing and accountability and for more alternatives to the traditional classroom — most of it supplied by private companies.”

    A straightforward example of how this part of the profit-making scheme works arose just a few months ago in New York City. There, Rupert Murdoch dumped $1 million into a corporate “reform” movement pushing to both implement more standardized testing and divert money for education fundamentals (hiring teachers, buying textbooks, maintaining school buildings, etc.) into testing-assessment technology. At the same time, Murdoch was buying an educational technology company called Wireless Generation, which had just signed a lucrative contract with New York City’s school system (a sweetheart deal inked by New York City school official Joel Klein, who immediately went to work for Murdoch.

    Such shenanigans are increasingly commonplace throughout America, resulting in a revenue jackpot for testing companies and high tech firms, even though many of their products have not objectively improved student achievement.

    At the same time, major banks are reaping a windfall from “reformers’” successful efforts to take public money out of public schools and put it into privately administered charter schools. As the New York Daily News recently reported:

    Wealthy investors and major banks have been making windfall profits by using a little-known federal tax break to finance new charter-school construction. The program, the New Markets Tax Credit, is so lucrative that a lender who uses it can almost double his money in seven years…

    The credit can even be piggybacked on other tax breaks for historic preservation or job creation. By combining the various credits with the interest from the loan itself, a lender can almost double his investment over the seven-year period.

    No wonder JPMorgan Chase announced this week it was creating a new $325 million pool to invest in charter schools and take advantage of the New Markets Tax Credit.

    On top of this, “reformers’” initiatives to divert public school money into voucher schemes — which data show have failed to produce better student achievement — means potentially huge revenues for the burgeoning for-profit private school industry, an industry that “has fascinated Wall Street for more than a decade,” reports PBS Frontline.

    The bottom line is clear: In attempting to change the mission of public education from one focused on educating kids to one focused on generating private profit, corporate leaders in the “reform” movement are pursuing a shrewd investment strategy. Millions of dollars go into campaign contributions and propaganda outfits that push “reform,” and, if successful, those “reforms” guarantee Wall Street and their investment vehicles much bigger returns for the long haul.

    In light of all the money that’s already being made off such “reforms” (and that could be made in the future), pretending that businesspeople who make their living on such transactions are not applying their business strategies to education is to promote the fallacy that the entire financial industry is merely a charitable endeavor.

    Self-Interest No. 2: Changing the Subject From Poverty and Inequality

    Inconvenient as it is to corporate education “reformers,” the well-proven fact is that poverty — not teacher quality, union density or school structure — is the primary driver of student achievement. We can see this most easily in two sets of data.

    First, as the Nation magazine reports, “The research consensus has been clear and unchanging for more than a decade: at most, teaching accounts for about 15 percent of student achievement outcomes, while socioeconomic factors account for about 60 percent.” Second, as Dissent magazine notes in its examination of U.S. Department of Education data, American students at low poverty schools consistently score near the top on international tests. Indeed, U.S. students in public schools with a poverty rate of less than 10 percent “outperformed students in all eight participating nations whose reported poverty rates fall below 10 percent.”

    The reason America’s overall scores on such tests are far lower is because high poverty schools produce far worse results — and as the most economically unequal society in the industrialized world, we have far more poverty than our competitors, bringing down our overall scores accordingly. Predictably, as economic inequality and poverty have spiked in America during the Great Recession, those poverty-fueled education problems have gotten even worse.

    This reality obviously represents a problem for the growing ranks of economically struggling Americans. More and more citizens simply cannot afford to live in rich neighborhoods that benefit from a property-tax-based education financing system which has created gated communities out of school districts. As documented in a new study by the University of Kansas, this system allows wealthy enclaves to disproportionately target their tax revenue to their own public schools and “hoard” public monies — all while other schools in low-income areas are starved for resources.

    This structure is hugely beneficial to the super-rich — but the poverty question poses a potential political problem for them. As the New York Times recently put it, if America realizes that “a substantial part of the problem (is) poverty and not bad teachers, the question would be why people like (Wall Streeters) are allowed to make so much when others have so little.”

    That question, if it became central in our political discourse, would potentially lead the growing ranks of economically struggling Americans to start demanding governmental policies that address wealth inequality and its consequences — policies such as re-regulating Wall Street, raising taxes on millionaires, eliminating tax policies that allow revenue hoarding, and targeting disproportionately more public funds at schools in high-poverty areas rather than at schools in wealthy neighborhoods.

    But, then, those policies are precisely the ones that offend and threaten rich people. So the wealthiest and most politically astute among them have constructed front groups like “Democrats for Education Reform” to press a message of education “reform” that seeks to change the subject from poverty altogether. Their message basically says that the major problem in America is not the fact that our public policies are helping make more citizens poor, nor the fact that the same economic structure that allows the Walton family to own more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of the whole nation has one in five kids living in poverty.

    No, reformers give us what I’ve previously called the “Great Education Myth,” telling America that the real problem is supposedly the schools — and that if we just make radical and empirically unproven school changes then everything will supposedly be great. And, tellingly, the “reformers’” specific policy prescriptions tend only to be those changes that don’t ask rich people to share in any sacrifice.

    Thus, for instance, the “reformers” push to tear up teachers union contracts and demonize the structure of public schools, rather than, say, initiating a discussion about raising more revenue for schools most in need. Seeking to avoid any larger debate about raising taxes on the wealthy to pay for such new education investment, they float their favorite one liner about how we “can’t throw money at the problem,” even though many of the schools with the biggest challenges need more resources to combat poverty.

    You don’t have to believe me to know that the need is there; just listen to the corporate education “reformers’” own much-celebrated hero, Harlem Children’s Zone’s Geoffrey Canada, who insists schools in high-poverty areas “can’t succeed … without substantially increased investments in wraparound social services,” reports the New York Times. But since those are investments that probably require tax increases, they aren’t the thrust of the corporate “reform” movement’s agenda.

    In the bait-and-switch of the “Great Education Myth,” then, the corporate “reformers” get to pretend that they care about poor people and brag that they are benevolently leading “the civil rights issue of this era,” when what they are really doing is making sure America doesn’t talk about the macroeconomic policies that make Wall Streeters so much money, and impoverish so many others in the process.

    Self-interest No. 3: New Front in the War on Unions

    Today, unions are one of the last — and, unfortunately, weakening — obstacles to corporations’ having complete control of the American political system. Whenever there is a fight over economics in particular — whenever a Wall Street-backed tax, deregulation, Social Security privatization or trade bill comes down the pike — it is the labor movement that comprises the bulk of the political opposition. Therefore, crushing unions in general has been an overarching goal of the corporate elite, and one way to crush unions is through education policy that undermines one of the largest subsets of the labor movement: teachers unions.

    Looked at through this prism, we see a key reason that education “reformers” are not satisfied with merely finding common policy ground with unions on points of potential consensus. They don’t want any agreement with unions because the underlying goal is to destroy those unions entirely. Hence, “reformers” are increasingly focused on promoting union-free charter schools and diverting public school money into union-free private schools as a means of crippling the labor movement as a whole.

    To know this truth is to know that the Walton family of Wal-Mart fame is now one of the biggest financial forces in the education “reform” movement. As the single most anti-union force in contemporary American society, the family now annually holds out a huge wad of Wal-Mart cash as a hard-to-resist enticement for cities to divert public school money exclusively into union-free charter schools or union-free “innovation” schools. Essentially, the money is offered, but on the condition that policymakers put it into education initiatives that undermine teachers unions.

    While the foundation publicly insists it is looking only to help kids excel, union busting — not student achievement — is clearly what drives the Walton family’s education activism. As but one example proving that motive, consider that just five days after news broke that Los Angeles’ traditional public schools are outperforming charter schools, the Walton family announced it is dumping a massive new tranche of Wal-Mart cash into a plan to expand the city’s charter schools. If the family was truly focused on helping kids, it would have put that money into traditional public schools that were showing success. Instead, the money went to the union busters, student achievement be damned.

    Brill epitomizes how that motive has been ignored by establishment reporters covering education. After spending years reporting a massive tome on the education debate, he told the New York Times with a straight face that “I didn’t see it as the rich versus the union guys,” as if schools’ being an arena for the age-old battle between capital and labor is so preposterous, it didn’t even cross his mind.

    Brill may be telling the truth here, because corporate education “reformers” are so ubiquitously branded as disinterested altruists, that any other motive probably never did cross his mind, just like it never crosses most other reporters’ mind. But just because the union-busting part of the story isn’t being told, doesn’t mean it isn’t a key objective of the “reform” movement.

    None of this is to argue that teachers unions don’t act out of self-interest. They do. The point, though, is that they do not have a monopoly on self-interest in the education debate. As the modern-day version of what Franklin Roosevelt would call “organized money,” the underwriters of the corporate education “reform” movement are just as motivated by their own self-interest. It’s just a different portfolio of self-interest.

    For Americans looking for credible voices in the confusing education debate, the question, then, is simple: Which self-interest is more aligned with improving schools for our kids?

    Teachers unions’ self-interest means advocating for better teacher salaries and job security — an agenda item that would, among other things, allow the teaching profession (as in other nations) to financially compete for society’s “best and brightest” and in the process help kids. The unions’ self-interest also means advocating for decent workplace facilities, which undeniably benefits not only the teacher, but also students. And it means pressing for curricular latitude that doesn’t force educators to teach to a standardized test, a notion that would help actually educate students to think critically, rather than train them to be test-taking robots.

    Corporate education “reformers’” self-interest, by contrast, means advocating for policies that help private corporations profit off of public schools, diverting public attention from an anti-poverty economic agenda, and busting unions that prevent total oligarchical control of America’s political system. In short, it’s about the profit, stupid.

    Neither side’s self-interest is perfectly aligned with the goal of bettering our education system. But one side is clearly far more aligned with that goal than the other.

    1. “Self-Interest No. 2: Changing the Subject From Poverty and Inequality”


      Thank you for the David Sirota article all of which I totally endorse. My belief is that the most important “self-interest” is number 2 above. One has only had to work on the front-lines of poverty, as I have, to understand that the education problem doesn’t begin in schools, it begins at home. When you have a situation of underfed (or badly fed) children, living in hovels whether urban or rural and lacking the means of obtaining the equipment need to excel in public school, we could only expect the most extraordinary to overcome their environmental circumstances. With my own children, living in a fully employed two-income household it was a stretch to provide for their needs for the quality suburban school district they attended. I can remember putting off a utility bill so I could buy one daughter the expensive Scientific Calculator that was the requisite for her trigonometry course. They both thrived in school and in College, as they now do in their careers. They were of course helped by having educated, education oriented parents, with the means to move to a quality school district and to supply them with the encouragement and wherewithal to succeed.

      This was in direct counterpoint to the poverty work that was my career where I would see people struggling to put food on the table and to try to raise their children in horrible, over crowded housing. So much of anyone’s success in life has to do with the environment in which they have been raised. The wealthy elite (.01%) in this country breaks down to perhaps three separate categories:

      1. Those to the manor born, who believe that they have been chosen by heavenly powers for their good fortune and that everyone else is to be exploited. Think GE Bush, Donnie Trump and the Walton’s.

      2. Those who have made the “leap” from the comfortable middle class to great wealth and so feel a sense of “noblesse oblige” to the poor, but secretly harbor the belief that being poor in and of itself is a condition of failure. Think Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.

      3. Those who have escaped poverty, reach a high level and believe those who haven’t aren’t trying hard enough. Think Jamie Dimon

      With these attitudes education simply becomes another industry to be exploited for profits and another cover for the public pretense of charitable piety. After all Rockefeller and Carnegie made up for their vicious rapaciousness by becoming “philanthropists” to cultivate their historic images.

      I damn them all, but mostly I damn more their parasitic minions professing expertise on poverty, education and racism. Their fatuous pronouncements of insight merely allow them to serve as Pied Pipers, but instead of rats, leading suffering humans to destruction in a sea of need. While the evidence is already in that America ranks quite low on the economic equality scale, these supposedly “caring” experts succeed in keeping the discussion focused away from the reality of wide economic disparity being the measure of lack of success scholastically, to blame it on the system itself. Given that the reality is that poor school districts have always been underfunded, their testing and measurements are a cruel hoax, perpetrated as a coverup for greed and privilege.

  3. Rumor today is that Joe Biden is going to run for potus next time. Just say ‘no’ to Hillary. We can find a better woman for that office.

  4. @Nick: A list of the expense leaks I saw included multiple $10,000 a night suites in Vegas, $250 bottles of wine at lunch when it was just her and her senior staff, dinner bills exceeding $2000 for four people, again not entertaining, just routine stuff. Thousands of dollars worth of custom tailored cloth drapery and cloth bunting for every stage, used once and then discarded, instead of the paper other candidates (including Obama) used. She and her staff spent campaign donations to live like royalty, while screwing the peasants. (Sarah Palin was doing the same thing, just as inexcusable.)

    And the “duck and cover” lie (running from an airplane under gunfire, later refuted by video of her walking across the runway to meet schoolchildren bearing flowers) was, for me, just the inexcusable icing on the cake. To this day.

  5. rafflaw, Just a bit!

    TonyC, One of the best indicator of Hillary’s character comes from the days she practiced law. Believe it or not, there is some honor among attorneys. A settlement, stipulation is agreed to verbally and it’s honored. Most attorneys who dealt w/ her when she worked for Rose agree that she had no honor. You had to get EVERYTHING in writing w/ Hillary. I personally know 2 attorneys who had that experience w/ her. I think they’re both Dems. They say she could not be trusted and told me there were others they knew who said the same. I had not heard of her being a campaign scofflaw shitting on small biz people, but it fits her personal profile. There are Hillary worshippers here so get ready for some blowback.

  6. @nick: I am generally opposed to unions. I am also opposed to Hillary; during her Presidential campaign she proved herself to be a straight-up liar, and she was a breathtakingly wasteful spender of campaign funds, and she stiffed small-business owners in a dozen states she had contracted to set up stages, sound systems, and infrastructure (porta-potties, first responders, water bottles, etc) for her rallies. IMO Hillary Clinton is not an honorable person. If she had to stiff somebody, she should have stiffed people that could afford it, like her incompetent campaign manager.

  7. All you union folks just need to get Hillary elected. She’ll get you all back to the good ol’ days. But..you know that anyway.

  8. I would like to echo Tony C.’s kudos to Elaine. The testing mandates are not producing better educated students. Teachers need to be evaluated on a broader level of criteria than relying mostly on test performance. If you keep relying on test scores, the practice of kicking kids out who don’t perform well will become the norm. Didn’t that happen in Texas when NCLB was formulated there?

  9. @Elaine: What teachers will want to take the neediest students into their classrooms if they think they may lose their jobs because their students don’t test well enough?

    An excellent point.

    @Elaine: Some people like the idea of using only test results because it’s not complicated–it’s simplistic.

    Like many other things in politics (like polarization) I think demanding standardized tests are a form of frustrated shouting, “For God’s sake, at least teach them to add and read Godammit!!!!!”

    People are frustrated, and politicians continue to pull BS that favors their rich friends that have “solutions” that cost a lot and do nothing. (There is a Demotivational poster about consultants (my former profession) that reads, “Consulting: If you cannot be part of the solution, there is a lot of money to be made in prolonging the problem.”)

    The simplistic ideas are simple on purpose, this is what we are reduced to when the complex ideas go forever undone. We want our children learning calculus, civics, medicine, computer programming. But failing that: Please, just do this one brain-dead thing!

    I think the polarizations we see in the USA (both in political parties and on a hundred issues), the very simplistic demands for bright lines between success and failure, are all the symptoms of frustration at the apparent inability of our ‘leaders’ to get anything done that doesn’t just seem to make things worse, or cost a fortune without any visible changes.

    I also think that is a symptom of rampant corpocracy and most citizens do not yet realize that. They think government is incompetent, but I think the opposite is true; our politicians are expertly funneling billions of dollars exactly where they want it and without any accountability.

  10. Eric 1, January 21, 2013 at 11:40 am

    Elaine – I understand the difficulties involved in measuring teachers performance based on student test scores, however, if the primary goal of teaching is for students to learn, how then could we measure the performance of a given teacher if we don’t measure them at the end of each year to see what they have learned?



    The results of students’ high stakes test scores SHOULD NOT be the major criterion upon which we determine a teacher’s effectiveness in the classroom. There is way too much focus in education today on prepping children for such tests. It limits the curriculum. Teachers are forced to spend valuable class time prepping students for paper and pencil tests. Such tests don’t provide us with an overall view of everything children actually have learned and how much they have progressed in a specific school year. The tests are limited as to what they can evaluate.

    I think we should be looking at how much money is being spent in this country on the purchase and scoring of these tests. I believe the money could be better spent. We should be implementing the best educational practices that get children involved and excited about learning–not constantly prepping them to take tests.

    What teachers will want to take the neediest students into their classrooms if they think they may lose their jobs because their students don’t test well enough? Some of the best teachers at the school where I taught got more than their share of students with educational needs and discipline issues. Should such teachers be punished/lose their jobs because their classes don’t test as well as the classes that have fewer needy students.

    Testing can play a part of a teacher’s evaluation–but should never be the determining factor as to a teacher’s excellence/ineffectiveness. In addition, one would have to look at students’ previous testing record to know if a child had actually made progress.

    I’d say the issue of evaluating both students and teachers is a complicated one. Some people like the idea of using only test results because it’s not complicated–it’s simplistic.

  11. Eric,
    your statement that the union teachers are paid more than their educated peers does not compute. show me the numbers. You have some wealthy districts that are able to pay their teachers more than others, but most are paid below what people with Masters or PHD’s or EDd’s would make in the corporate world.
    The reason teachers and their unions do not want to be judged by test scores alone is that each and every year the students you get in front of you as a teacher are varied in their abilities and family stability. When you have students whose parents are not involved to say the least, that student has an uphill battle. When you include the handicapped or disabled students into the mainstream, should their test scores be included in the teacher’s evaluation? Should the tests which, in many cases do not measure what the student has actually learned. Teaching to the test only measures that the students can remember the data that is going to be on the test. It does not evaluate their critical thinking skills and in some cases, their life skills.
    Teachers are evaluated on a daily basis by students, administrators and even parents. By forcing districts to evaluate strictly on test scores, you will be losing good teachers on a year to year basis and the students will not be any better prepared for their next step in education or life.
    You may want to read or re-read Elaine’s link at 10:59 am concerning Deborah Ravitch’s comments on high stakes testing and evaluating.

  12. @Mike: I agree with that corollary, if you attend school in a poor district the majority of your friends will be lucky to step up just to the next 10% economic bracket (above their parents), they will not have (or inherit) social and business contacts for jobs or investment capital, they are much less likely to attend college and have skills that make them worthy sweat-equity partners, and the 1% of gifted that can power through those obstacles with raw talent are celebrated, but that is hardly a prescription for the other 99%.

  13. What the advocates of privatization don’t seem to understand is that we tried that already: it is called monarchy. A monarchy is a private government, as is feudalism, for all intents and purposes.

    And what those who buy into the market-based thinking behind privatization don’t seem to understand is that, when markets work, they are highly unpredictable: if a competition is fair, the outcome is uncertain. That’s what a competition means. Markets are therefore a poor tool for the securing of basic rights.

  14. Very relevant comments regarding our American News channels from Mr. Turley’s most recent post:

    I also continue to amazed at the coverage by Fox and MSNBC — two networks that tend to follow predictable takes on Obama. MSNBC anchors have been gushing over his popularity despite the polls showing little change in the unpopularity numbers. Fox has been highlighting the divisive views of Obama to a degree that makes him look like a bunkered recluse. It is part of our new echo chamber of news where people just watch networks that reaffirm what they want the world to look like — despite evidence to the contrary.

    I could not agree more. How is it that CNN World is so much better than the CNN we are able to watch here? Is it purely the competition from the likes of BBC World and Canada’s CBC World?

  15. Bruce – I don’t actually avoid Fox news any more or less than I do CNN or other American news channels. Much of our television news seems to be very light on unbiased facts (which are costly to collect since they require reporters in the field) and very heavy on unsubstantiated opinion – which is very cheap to obtain – just get a talking head from each side to shout at each other.

  16. Eric, you should watch Fox news to get the whole story and not be duped by the boot licking liberal media

  17. Elaine – I understand the difficulties involved in measuring teachers performance based on student test scores, however, if the primary goal of teaching is for students to learn, how then could we measure the performance of a given teacher if we don’t measure them at the end of each year to see what they have learned?

  18. Eric,

    “Second, the adamant refusal of the teachers’ unions to allow any measurement of job performance at all leaves them uniquely alone…”

    All school districts–as far as I know–have systems in place to evaluate their teachers. Many teachers, however, do object to the proposed use of student test scores as the main method of evaluating their classroom performance.

Comments are closed.