Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Cult of personality

We're testing this week, and I'm cranky. Correlation?

We also believe that if we want to improve student outcomes, especially in high-poverty schools, nothing is more important than ensuring that there are effective teachers in every classroom and effective leaders in every school.
Arne the Scarecrow, March 3, 2010
House Committee on Education and Labor

I used to work in the projects--Stella Wright Homes, Mravalag Manor, Hayes Homes, Bradley Court, Pennington Court--an America we keep hidden in polite company.

Teachers matter, and they matter a lot. But they do not matter as much as food, as heat in February, as albuterol for wheezing. They do not matter as much as coats and underwear. They do not matter as much as a quiet bed, a caring guardian. Abraham Maslow mentioned this way back before Arne was born with the silver spoon up the wrong side of his alimentary canal

Just when I thought his crüe was creepingly complete, with Al Sharpton and Newt Gingrich serving as Arne's Dementors, he has now recruited General Powell.

Under the leadership of our Founding Chairman, General Colin Powell, and our current Board Chair, Alma Powell, the Alliance has become the nation’s largest partnership focused on the well-being of our young people.

Ah, the well-being of our young people--the same man whose false words ("Leaving Saddam Hussein in possession of weapons of mass destruction for a few more months or years is not an option, not in a post-September 11th world") helped lead our young people into a disastrous unwinnable war now has joined the crüe.

Powell's little white lie was driven by data, no?

It's testing week. I see my kids working hard on tests that have little value.

I can save a few bucks by pointing out the obvious--there will be a strong correlation between my students' socioeconomic status (a fancy way of separating the full and empty bellies) and their scores.

Yep, teachers matter. Yep, we cannot lower expectations because a child was foolish enough to pick a poor placenta. But until someone shows me a definitive study showing that poor districts are going out of their way to hire incompetent teachers, I'm going to continue to point out the obvious.

I've pulled live cockroaches out of children's ears. I've begged for asthma medicine (and may have borrowed some, too). I've stolen antibiotics. I've treated toddlers for gonorrhea and tuberculosis.

Want to guess how they fared later in life on these tests?

Arne, do you really believe the nonsense you spout? Really?


John Spencer said...

We're testing this week (hence the angry monkey cartoon on my blog).

I think teachers have a huge impact. I also think that we begin to have an impact when we are humble enough to remember that we cannot save them.

I've been in homes where there were hypodermic needles and the parents had porn on TV and the state was so backlogged that these kids couldn't get placed into foster care. It's not that I devalue the role of education. It's just that I'm not convinced that a child who is hooked on phonics can automatically break the cycle of being hooked on crack.

I've been in homes where five families stay in a two bedroom apartment and each adult works full time in the fields so that America can have cheap produce.

The fact that any child from such an environment is able to learn and read proves that there were several adults (sometimes parents, sometimes relatives, sometimes church folk, sometimes social workers) who made a difference.

Anonymous said...

ever noticed that the worse the project the fancier the name?



ain't that double-speak for ya