We have to educate our way to a better economy.
– Sec. Arne Duncan
In the latest round of circumventing the United States Congress, the U.S. Department of Education rolled out a new competition Friday that mirrors the cock fight tactics of Race to the Top.
In competing for a portion of $185 million in funding, states will have to show their colleges’ teacher preparation programs graduate teachers whose students score well on state testing. They’ll also need to tighten up teacher licensing requirements and kill off poor performing teacher preparation programs.
The move is wholly undemocratic and circumvents the checks and balances meant to stabilize the country. The DOE’s anti-policy plays on the needs of states, colleges and universities to find alternative sources of revenue as we double dip into another recession.
The move is akin to educational bum fights.
States and institutions that might otherwise be thoughtful in their adoption of policy will have little choice but to make moves they would otherwise abhor or at least question.
More frustratingly, the competition supposes we have all agreed student scores on state standardized tests are to be the measure of a teacher’s effectiveness. American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten made just such an argument in her response to the competition:
At the same time that the validity of using standardized tests as the ultimate measure of performance is being widely questioned, the U.S. Department of Education appears to be putting its foot on the accelerator by calling for yet another use for tests.
If this is to be the policy of the land, if this is to be the shape of the advent of completely nationalization of the K-12+ education system, then let it be more worthy of the country’s finest ideals.
Let there be debate.
Let it be fierce and thoughtful.
Let there be ideas from all sides presented to live or die on their merit.
Let it be the law of the land and the procedures of creating that law that governs our path.
To do otherwise and sidestep the system, to sidestep democracy, is to abdicate your right to complain or claim shock when those with whom you disagree choose the same path.