A Heartless Congressional Blunder!

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A Teacher’s Perspective on the “Every Child Achieves Act of 2015”

by Dawn Hoagland, gutsy public school teacher and regular contributor to ABCSOFDUMBDOWN.BLOGSPOT.COM
The “Every Child Achieves Act” has passed unanimously out of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pension Committee in the Senate. The usual suspects are singing its praises while the people who actually read all 601 pages of the bill are dreading its implementation.

This bill is an affront to everyone who loves children. The teaching profession requires love and patience and creativity. Real teaching to inspire real learning requires these traits. Continuous computer testing for compliance to a prescribed outcome does not. In fact, love and creativity will get in the way of implementing this one-size-fits-all experimental disaster.

Anyone who loves children would not want to subject children to this creativity crushing soul sucking system. This bill funds lots of testing and lots of interventions for “at risk” students, which apparently includes everyone who doesn’t ace the Common Core assessments– in other words, everyone.

Anyone who thinks this is a good idea that will lead to improved learning for students clearly knows nothing about human nature or any of the proven analysis of W.E. Deming. Top down quality control measures that rely on a system of punishments and rewards placing everyone in a competitive atmosphere do not even work in the business world for which they were designed.

This type of a system is completely inappropriate for schools that contain small children who are trying to become well-developed human beings. Test-driven reform coupled with punishments causes schools and teachers to spend too much time on test-prep, to narrow the curriculum to what is tested at the expense of deeper learning, to game the system, and even to cheat (for example, the recent convictions of Atlanta teachers and administrators).

“Deliverology,” as invented by Sir Michael Barber, who is now the head of Pearson International, is a command and control method of management designed to improve whatever it is applied to. Barber worked as an adviser to Tony Blair for four years applying his awful ideas to Health and Education in England before coming here. England is still suffering from his “reforms.”

Interestingly, David Coleman, the supposed architect of the Common Core worked alongside Sir Michael Barber at Mckinsey and Company. The Common Core with its relentless testing schedule and data collection resulting in the ranking and sorting of children and teachers is an example of “Deliverology.”

So apparently no one on the Education Committee is familiar with Deming or the Deliverology disasters unfolding in England because if they were, surely they would have stopped this dopey bill. The bill codifies the data collection and funds annual testing with hundreds of millions of dollars to be given away to Pearson each year until 2021.

New York State received $19,670,975 in federal grant money (our tax dollars) in 2010 to create a P20 Longitudinal Data System. Expected major outcomes are:

  • Extend SLDS (Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems) to include student-teacher matching and the expansion of the data base to include new data elements
  • Establish foundation for a P20 System, including creation of a postsecondary longitudinal data system, and an outreach to state agencies housing, workforce, health, and social service data
  • Create an Instructional Support system providing teachers and other education professionals with information to support continuous improvement
  • Create a data base to support research and policy analysis
  • Create a system for tracking student progress and outcomes over time, including students’ preparation to meet the demands of postsecondary education, the 21st century workforce and the Armed Forces
  • Create processes to ensure quality and integrity of data across all systems*

Heartwarming, isn’t it? Data is the new currency and it is being sold or given away for free to key players. This bill continues and expands the types of data being collected.

tudents are going to be tested in the social and emotional domain since it has been determined that perhaps attitudes and dispositions are even more important than hard skills when it comes to being a successful worker.

When they start mental health screening, the “health reports” which should be protected with HIPPA confidentiality laws will not be. This information will simply be included in every child’s “educational record,” now accessible to third party vendors. If Senator Bob Casey, Jr. gets his amendment adopted, the bill will be expanded to include infants as well as K-12 students.

Educational records have been protected since 1974 under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) until they were changed in 2011 by an Obama Executive Order. Arne Duncan lobbied Obama to change FERPA in order to make the data collection plan accessible to various state agencies and private corporations such as Pearson.

This bill funds continuous testing and continuous data collection of all kinds of invasive information. It mandates continuous ranking, sorting, and tracking of our children and teachers. It mandates continuous interventions to manipulate the behavior and personalities of our children through operant conditioning to conform to some collectivist dream of uniform obedient worker drones. Who wants this? Not parents and not children.

One reason the reformers are so interested in data is to substantiate their claims that there are many “bad” teachers in the classroom. They want to be able to point to failing student scores on these cockamamie tests in order to justify or mandate the firing of many teachers. When this happens, neighborhood public schools will close and new charters will open everywhere.

The Every Child Achieves Act funds huge giveaways to charter school investors in the form of grants and tax credits. This bill will encourage an enormous increase in the number of charter schools in our country. It could prove to be the death knell for our neighborhood public schools.

All of these charter schools will be funded with our tax dollars but will not be subjected to regular auditing or other mandates, such as hiring certified teachers, required of neighborhood public schools.

Charters will not be overseen by elected school boards responsible to the parents and the taxpayers. This will mean that the U.S. government and the states will be foisting a system of taxation without representation on the people of this great republic. Will we stand for this in 2015?

Wake up! Call congress and demand an education bill designed for human beings made in the image of God. We cannot allow this Brave New World bill to get signed into law. We will be very sorry if we do.

*http://nces.ed.gov/programs/slds/state.asp?stateabbr=NY