Bye bye Treasure Island

At grad school this week we had the “CC$$” talk. I’ve been holding on to notes and waiting for a time to mention the Smarter Balanced practice tests and the money being siphoned to people who already have more than enough. The course is about literacy theories so I hadn’t had the chance until Tuesday to get a couple of talking points out. I’m maybe the only one who isn’t teaching at the moment so I’ve held back. A few people have mentioned that the CC$$ allows them to do more in the classroom and I have to remind myself that NCLB has been around for over a decade and that’s what they’re comparing it to. There were a few comments re the computer adaptive nature of the tests and everyone knows HSTs are indelibly tied to the CC$$. I got the feeling that some teachers are cautiously embracing it. I don’t know what can be done on the ground as I’m not in a school. People in admin are key and unfortunately there are many admins who’ve drunk blue.

There are potential cracks in the CC$$ armor though. The opt-out movement is growing in New York State and elsewhere. New York was the first state (along with Kentucky) to be pummeled by the new tests. Diane Ravitch’s new book came out this week, exposing the lies and hoaxes of the corporate reform movement. There is such cold calculation on the part of corporate ed deformers. You’d expect their conscience to kick in at some point but it hasn’t so far.

Arne Duncan was on Colbert this week and he is dangerously wooden. The abusive nature of HSTs wasn’t brought up but Colbert did bring up the fact that the developers of the CC$$ want to see more non-fiction/expository texts (or as Colbert said: manuals and memos) at the expense of narrative fiction and other forms of fiction (Colbert: Treasure Island). This isn’t a highly publicized topic but it’s an essential part of the whitewashing of the nation’s children. It would be closing the door on diversity of opinion and reading about experiences that touch us all, in different ways. There is a sociopathic edge to too many of the corporate ed profiteers. They show absolute disregard for the well-being of young children and are blinded by profit. Instead of investing in communities, and lifting at least some of the 25% of children living in poverty up, they throw it into teacher evaluation metrics and pretend an ‘effective’ teacher can turn things around for the kids. Diane Ravitch mentions spending money on pre-natal care for women struggling to get by. That would mean less children being born premature and/or with disabilities. It’s funny, once you enter the realm of what financial priorities really should be it’s like seeing through the looking glass. You know what feels right in your gut and what would be a humane reaction to such a high poverty rate; but then you see Gates throwing billions at a bracelet that would monitor student engagement (and from there the teacher’s effectiveness-of course) and you see Arne Duncan ‘having a lot of fun’ on Colbert, while a quarter of the nation’s children wake up starving. Duncan now says that the goal is to have the highest college graduation rate in the world. Diane Ravitch  debunked almost all claims made by the corporate deformers, which made me think he might have been informed and so now college graduation is where it’s at. I wonder if at any moment the thought flashed through his mind that college loans are one of the biggest, if not THE biggest reason for people declaring bankruptcy. He’s so far up his tower he must be getting low on air.

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