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, May 31, 2011 : Daily News Clips

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  • Leonie Haimson
    From: Feinberg Marge Sent: Tuesday, May 31, 2011 10:00 AM To: &News Clippings Subject: Daily News Clips Tuesday, May 31, 2011 INDEX Tuesday, May 31 Room For
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      From: Feinberg Marge
      Sent: Tuesday, May 31, 2011 10:00 AM
      To: &News Clippings
      Subject: Daily News Clips



      Tuesday, May 31, 2011




      Tuesday, May 31


      Room For Debate

      Testing Students to Grade Teachers

      New York Times Op-Ed


      New York City education officials are planning to develop up to 16 new standardized tests for 3rd through 12th grades. Unlike other exams, these will be used to grade the teachers, not the students.

      Under a state law passed last year that helped New York win $700 million in a federal "Race to the Top" grant competition, school districts must evaluate teachers on a scale from “ineffective” to “highly effective,” with potential firing for those rated ineffective for two years in a row. The city expects to spend about $25 million creating the new tests, which would be in addition to the standardized tests students already take.



      Testing Students, to Evaluate Teachers

      New York Times Letters to the Editor

      Re “Tests for Pupils, but the Grades Go to Teachers” (front page, May 24):

      I am absolutely fed up with testing mania. The plan to add “more than a dozen new standardized tests” that students must take but whose purpose is to rate teachers is an outrage.



      Big bucks, bitsy bang

      New York Post Editorial

      New York's school system is putting on a seminar in how to waste billions. Care to watch?

      New York spends $18,126 per high-school pupil, 73 percent higher than the national average of just $10,499, according to the Census Bureau.



      Pleeze help: Writing-challenged Brooklyn principal Andrew Buck asking parents, teachers for support

      Daily News

      Exclusive - An infamous Brooklyn principal - exposed by the Daily News for letters riddled with grammatical errors - is up for tenure and brazenly asking parents and teachers for support.

      Andrew Buck of the Middle School for Art and Philosophy made headlines in October by denying his students textbooks and then sending rambling, nonsensical letters about it to parents.



      Street named after beloved Edward R. Murrow High School principal Saul Bruckner

      Daily News

      East 17th St. in front of Edward R. Murrow High School has been renamed "Saul Bruckner Way" in honor of the beloved former principal who helmed the Midwood school for 30 years.

      Bruckner, who served as principal from the school's founding in 1974 until 2004, died a year ago at age 76.



      Lawsuit may prevent New Visions charter schools from opening in Marble Hill

      Daily News

      Jasmine Blackwell was swept away by promises that two new charter schools will open in September, and she entered her son in a lottery to vie for a seat in one of them.

      New Visions Charter High School for the Humanities and New Visions Charter High School for Advanced Math and Science, to be co-located on the John F. Kennedy High School campus in Marble Hill, will "lead the way in a New Age way of educating children," according to incoming Principal Lewis Thomas 3rd.



      Longtime Christopher Columbus H.S. Educator, Principal Set to Retire

      New York Post

      One of Christopher Columbus High School’s longest serving educators has announced that she will putting the chalk down for good.

      Estelle Hans, after decades of work in the Columbus Educational Campus as a student, teacher and principal, has decided it’s time to retire.



      Changing the Odds at Truman High School

      New York Post

      Representatives for Morris Heights Health Center recently went to Truman High School to recruit students for its new Changing the Odds program.

      They took a group of students and held a “value class,” where students were asked to stand up if they considered hanging out with friends more important than finishing homework. The vast majority of students stood up.




      Governing, but Not Taking Any Questions

      New York Times

      There in the well of an auditorium in this busted industrial age beauty stands our new Democratic governor, delivering an incantatory Republican speech about slashing taxes and overcoming small-minded politicians.

      “They are voting their party ideology, they are voting with their party leadership — this has to stop,” he says, disgust filling his voice like water into a cistern.



      Two Months Into Tenure, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott Continues Push for New Tone


      "While we may not always agree on issues, whatever the group may be, they will be part of the conversation. I will talk to them, meet with them, and [be] inviting people who may have felt that we didn’t listen to them to say 'Hey, this is where I am.'"

          — Dennis Walcott, Schools Chancellor



      Proposed law: Blast a school budget, attach your name

      Legislators want more disclosure on efforts to sway school votes

      Times Union

      No more anonymous mail attacks on school budgets. No more phone calls to local voters with a Virginia area code that try to defeat the Albany district spending plan.

      Under a new proposed state law, those who try to influence a school budget vote will have to attach their name to their efforts. Current state law does not require disclosure for those trying to sway voters on school budgets.




      Monday, May 30


      Parents say administrators are siccing ACS on them to retaliate for complaints

      Daily News

      Complain at school and get a knock on the door.

      Friction with principals and fights with teachers have led to visits from child welfare investigators, numerous parents have told the Daily News.



      Bill Gates and the School Reform Debate

      New York Times Letters to the Editor

      I am a teacher with Teach Plus, which was featured in the opening lines of “Behind Grass-Roots School Advocacy, Bill Gates” (front page, May 22). Our perspectives on what motivated our advocacy were not included in the article.

      Thousands of great teachers are being laid off this spring, simply because they lack seniority, and many are seeking opportunities to fight for their jobs and for their students. Depicting us as the pawns of Bill Gates is unjustified, particularly since his foundation, while supporting the national organization Teach Plus, does not finance the work of the Indianapolis chapter.



      Caribbean teachers win major concession in New York

      Caribbean Media Corporation

      CMC – The New York-based Association of International Educators (AIE) and the Black Institute have won a significant concession from the New York City Department of Education (DOE) on behalf of Caribbean teachers working in the United States.

      The lobby groups said after a 10-year struggle, they have forced the DOE to change its policy regarding the obtaining of letters of support from principals for Caribbean teachers.




      Sunday, May 29


      The combined assault on charter schools by the teachers union and the NAACP is a disgrace to both

      Daily News Editorial

      The mother of two Brooklyn elementary school children has powerfully expressed how horribly wrong the United Federation of Teachers and the NAACP are in their furious attacks on charter schools.

      Kathleen Kernizan is one of thousands of New York parents who've turned to privately run, publicly funded charters as a way out of failing traditional public schools.



      Charters, in black and white: Integrating charter schools is long overdue

      Daily News Op-Ed

      About 90% of students attending charter schools in New York City are minorities. This has provoked some to accuse charter schools of creating "racial isolation" and rolling back the integration efforts that started with the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education ruling of 1954.

      At the national level, UCLA's Civil Rights Project issued a report lamenting that "charter schools enroll a disproportionate share of black students and expose them to the highest level of segregation."



      Teachers hostage to 'success'

      New York Post Column

      The e-mail box runneth over with bad tidings. Teachers are reporting that cheating is rampant in New York City schools -- and they claim principals are the culprits.

      The reports are responding to my column that many schools are denying students the freedom to fail in a misguided bid to help them. To judge from the response, the problem is worse than I feared. Much worse.



      Test case

      Daily News Letter to the Editor

      Manhattan: To Voicer Roger Clegg: I am a Bronx Science student. I took the specialized high school admission test to get in. Nowhere on any form did I ever have to put my ethnicity. The score on this test is the only thing used to decide admissions. Race is never factored in.



      Regent says NY should take over Buffalo schools

      Associated Press

      BUFFALO, N.Y. — A member of New York's Board of Regents says Buffalo's public schools are in such a state of crisis they should be taken over by the state.

      Regent Robert M. Bennett tells The Buffalo News that Buffalo's schools are among the most troubled 1 percent of New York districts.




      Saturday, May 28


      For Some Eighth Graders, Belated Good News

      New York Times

      This time when Radcliffe Saddler got his envelope at school on Friday afternoon, it was thin and feather-light, and he sensed it was good news. It also meant the end of a painful process that weighed on his family and occupied nearly his entire eighth-grade year.

      As chronicled three weeks ago in an article in The New York Times, “In the School Choice Maze, Some Eighth Graders Are Lost,” Radcliffe was one of 8,239 eighth graders in New York City who had to go through a second round in applying to public high schools because they were shut out of all their choices in the Department of Education’s complicated, controversial admissions system. Notifications of where those students would attend high school were sent out on Friday.



      Too Young for Kindergarten? Tide Turning Against 4-Year-Olds

      New York Times

      Erin Ferrantino rarely has to consult the birthday chart in her kindergarten classroom to pick out the Octobers, Novembers and Decembers. This year, there was the girl who broke down in tears after an hour’s work, and the boy who held a pencil with his fist rather than his fingers.

      “They struggled because they’re not developmentally ready,” said Ms. Ferrantino, 26, who teaches in Hartford. “It is such a long day and so draining, they have a hard time holding it together.”



      No one's laughin' at these teachers: Educators busted for ethnic jokes in the classroom

      Daily News

      These jokes landed with a thud - and a slap on the wrist for the school staffers who told them.

      One assistant principal told "yo mama" jokes, a teacher called rowdy students the "Taliban" and another educator tried to pass a racial slur off as humor, Department of Education investigative reports show.



      Teacher gutter mouths

      10 guilty of harass

      New York Post

      These teachers need to have their potty mouths washed out with soap.

      The city Department of Education's Office of Equal Opportunity found 10 teachers guilty of sexual harassment or verbal bias, referring to students as "Taliban" and "border jumpers" and uttering Mexican slurs and the N-word, records obtained by The Post show.



      Met big's ed. boost

      New York Post

      David Einhorn, the hedge-fund honcho hoping to save the struggling Mets, is also making a big pitch for city education reform.

      Einhorn — the Amazins’ new minority owner — is a major financial backer of the city’s growing charter-school movement.



      Staten Island teens banned from prom after vandalizing school property

      New York Post

      There hasn't been this much prom-night carnage since "Carrie."

      A Staten Island Catholic high school has pulled prom privileges for one-quarter of the graduating class after the pranksters Facebooked a night of vandalizing and drinking on school property.



      Student brings fake Uzi to class, promises to 'start shooting' then gets arrested, classmate says

      Daily News

      High school students in Queens got the scare of a lifetime Friday when a classmate brandished a realistic-looking toy Uzi and promised to "start shooting."

      A 15-year-old freshman has been charged with criminal possession of a weapon after he flashed the fake gun in English class at Flushing High School and promised to take revenge on classmates who teased him.



      Public Schools Are Charging for Frills and Basics

      Wall Street Journal

      Karen Dombi was thrilled when her three oldest children were picked for student government this year -- not because she envisioned careers in politics, but because it was one of the few programs at their public high school that didn't charge kids to participate.

      Budget shortfalls have prompted Medina Senior High in northern Ohio to impose fees on students who enroll in many academic classes and extracurricular activities. The Dombis had to pay to register their children for basic courses such as Spanish I and earth sciences, to get them into graded electives such as band, and to allow them to run cross-country and track.



      2 Dreyfus students charged in theft of teacher's purse

      Staten Island Advance

      STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Extracurricular subtraction added up to two arrests inside Dreyfus Intermediate School, police said.

      The two male students, ages 11 and 12, broke open a locked closet at the troubled Stapleton school yesterday and stole a teacher's pocketbook, according to the NYPD.



      Prom night safety discussed

      Staten Island Advance

      STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- The girls filed into the hall with their colorful heels while the boys hit the dance floor in their plaid shirts. It was Senior Day for Curtis High School at the Staaten, West Brighton.

      The speaker, Assemblyman Matthew Titone (D-North Shore), used his short time at the microphone to deliver a life-or-death message.



      Columnist survives 'Career Day' at local school

      Staten Island Advance

      STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — I ‘m adding a new T-shirt to my collection: “I survived Career Day 2011 at PS 65.”

      The visit I made to the Stapleton school Wednesday marked my first-ever Career Day participation, and I can’t say I was exactly looking forward to it. In fact, I almost didn’t accept school counselor Liz Rodriguez’s invitation to meet her “little dolphins,” afraid I wouldn’t know how to talk to second- and third-graders, or worse, have nothing to say that would interest them.






      Texas House Votes to Cut School Spending by $4 Billion

      Associated Press

      AUSTIN, Texas—The House has voted to cut Texas public school funding by $4 billion.

      Voting largely along party lines, lawmakers approved the cuts Sunday on a 84-63 vote in the Republican-controlled House. The Senate was still debating the bill late Sunday night.



      Answer Sheet

      7 obvious things in education that are ignored

      Washington Post Blog

      This was written by educator Anthony Cody, who taught science for 18 years in inner-city Oakland and now works with a team of science teacher-coaches that supports novice teachers. He is a National Board-certified teacher and an active member of the Teacher Leaders Network. This post appeared on his Education Week Teacher blog, Living in Dialogue.



      Class Struggle

      Why not honors courses for all?

      Washington Post Blog

      Parents in Fairfax County have proved themselves one of the largest and most powerful forces for innovation in American education. But they have taken a wrong turn in their effort to save the three-track system—basic, honors and AP/IB— in the county’s high schools.

      Many Fairfax parents actively oppose the elimination of honors courses in upper high school grades. They don’t want to leave their children with the choice of just the basic course or the college level Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate version. “Let’s keep choices on the table,” West Potomac High School parent Kate Van Dyck told me.



      L.A. Unified to give leftover meals to nonprofits that feed needy

      Los Angeles Times

      The district expects about 200 agencies eventually will want to receive the uneaten student lunches that previously had been thrown out.

      The Los Angeles Unified School District has offered up to 21,000 uneaten meals it has each day to nonprofit organizations that feed the hungry.



      L.A. teachers union, district reach deal on furloughs

      LA Times

      Los Angeles teachers union officials have agreed to accept furlough days to help defray the city school district's estimated $408-million budget shortfall, officials announced Friday.

      Several other labor groups had accepted furlough days, and district leaders had been pressing officials with United Teachers Los Angeles to agree to the unpaid days off.



      Is Detroit Public Schools worth saving? Charter process sparks debate

      Detroit Free Press

      The Detroit Public Schools, as we know it, could disappear in a few years.

      A DPS action plan would charter up to 45 schools, close 20 and leave about 70 that include the best-performing schools, some newly constructed and a handful of special-education schools that are expensive to run.







      Tuesday, May 31



      Room For Debate

      Testing Students to Grade Teachers

      New York Times Op-Ed

      May 31, 2011




      New York City education officials are planning to develop up to 16 new standardized tests for 3rd through 12th grades. Unlike other exams, these will be used to grade the teachers, not the students.


      Under a state law passed last year that helped New York win $700 million in a federal "Race to the Top" grant competition, school districts must evaluate teachers on a scale from “ineffective” to “highly effective,” with potential firing for those rated ineffective for two years in a row. The city expects to spend about $25 million creating the new tests, which would be in addition to the standardized tests students already take.


      What have we learned about tests as accountability tools for teacher performance? Why do school systems believe that tests are the answer to reforming education?



      A Dangerous Obsession


      Linda Darling-Hammond is the Charles E. Ducommon Professor of Education at Stanford University, where she is co-director of the Stanford Center on Opportunity Policy in Education. She was founding director of the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, and she led President Obama’s education policy transition team.


      There is a saying that U.S. students are the most tested, and the least examined, of any in the world. American policymakers are quick to turn to testing to cure whatever problems they think exist in schools. Because teachers’ judgment is mistrusted, we test students in the United States more than any other nation, in the mistaken belief that testing produces greater learning.


          Top-scoring countries in student achievement, like Finland and Korea, have eliminated crowded testing schedules and improved their scores by doing so.


      However, nations like Finland and Korea -- top scorers on the Programme for International Student Assessment -- formally test students only in the 12th grade, to inform college admissions, having eliminated the crowded testing schedules used decades ago when these nations were much lower-achieving. Other high-achievers typically test students but once in elementary and/or middle school to see how they are progressing. Those that add essay examinations in high school, like Hong Kong, Singapore and the U.K., increasingly include school-based assessments of project-based activities like science investigations and research papers. None of these nations use the kind of multiple-choice tests common in the United States.


      Meanwhile American students, who now spend weeks of every school year from 3rd grade to 11th grade bubbling in answers on high-stakes tests, currently perform well below those of other industrialized countries in math and science, and have more trouble writing, analyzing and defending their views, because they have much less practice in doing so.


          Expect teaching and curriculum to be narrowed further as teachers focus more intensely on these tests.


      The current desire to attach scores from a burgeoning battery of tests to teacher evaluation could make matters worse. Recent research shows that test score gains are highly unstable and error-prone for measuring individual teachers, and that making high-stakes decisions based on these tests causes schools to reduce their teaching of important content and skills not measured by the tests. As a group of leading researchers warned last week before the New York Regents voted on such a scheme, we can expect teaching and curriculum to be narrowed further as teachers focus more intensely on these tests, and we can expect teachers to seek to avoid serving special education students, new English learners and others whose learning is poorly measured by the tests.


      At the end of the day, stronger learning will result from better teaching, not more testing, as leading nations have long understood.



      Costly, But Worth It


      Marcus Winters is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, where he has done several studies on education testing and school report cards.


      What percentage of New York City’s teachers are performing at an unsatisfactory level? Did anyone guess 2.3 percent? That’s how many were rated unsatisfactory by the school system in 2009-201 0— and it actually represents an enormous uptick (up from 0.89 percent) in "unsatisfactory" ratings because of the city’s emphasis on improving the system.


          Despite their limitations, standardized tests provide important information about teacher quality that can improve our flawed system for evaluating teachers.


      How do we square such low rates of teacher failure with the fact that, despite real improvements to the system, students in New York City's public schools perform poorly in large numbers? Simple. The current evaluation system depends very little on answering the one question we care about most: Are students learning in a teacher’s classroom? Incorporating analysis of student test scores helps focus evaluations on answering that essential question.


      Test scores are important because they’re objective measures of the schooling outcome. It’s appropriate to emphasize student achievement on math and reading tests because these are the building blocks for success, and far too few students attending public schools today adequately possess these basic skills. Developing new tests and the right methods for analyzing them can be costly. But their potential contribution to improving teacher quality — the single most important school-based factor for fostering student learning — far outweighs the upfront cost.


      Of course, test-score analysis can’t tell us everything we want to know about a teacher’s performance. Using it in isolation to evaluate teachers creates bad incentives and can miss a great deal of what makes a teacher effective. But research shows that evaluations of a teacher’s contribution to her student’s test scores this year is a far better predictor of how much her future students will learn than are the factors prioritized by the current system: years of experience and possession of advanced degrees. Failing to utilize such important and accessible information about a teacher’s effectiveness is scandalous.


      Standardized tests are imperfect measures of student achievement, and the statistical analyses that utilize such tests are imperfect tools for evaluating teachers. But despite their limitations, standardized tests provide important information about teacher quality that we should use to improve our terribly flawed system for evaluating teachers. New York City’s movement toward increased use of test scores to evaluate teachers is a step in the right direction.



      One Factor Among Many


      Updated May 30, 2011, 07:00 PM


      Kevin Carey is the policy director of Education Sector, a research group, and a columnist for The Chronicle of Higher Education.


      School leaders in New York City and nationwide are being forced to make difficult decisions about teachers this year. With budgets still reeling from the aftershocks of the recession, layoffs are unavoidable.


          New measures are needed, but the city should be cautious in using initial test results for personnel decisions.


      Reasonable people agree that teacher effectiveness can’t be ignored when deciding who stays and who goes. Firing great teachers because they happen to be low on the seniority totem pole is madness. So is paying teachers with no regard to success or failure in the classroom.


      New York City should be applauded for working to bring more information about student learning into the teacher evaluation equation. It won’t be easy, though, and school officials should plan for some bumps on the road ahead.


      Until recently, using student test scores to evaluate teacher performance was the third rail of education policy. Just three years ago, the United Federation of Teachers pushed through legislation in New York state creating a moratorium on using “student performance data” to make teacher tenure decisions.


      Times have changed. Earlier this month, the leaders of the nation’s largest teachers union, the National Education Association, circulated a policy statement endorsing “valid, reliable, high quality standardized tests that provide meaningful information regarding student learning and growth” as one element of larger, multi-dimensional evaluation systems.


      That’s the approach being taken in New York City, where improvement in student performance on the new tests will make up only 20 percent of a teacher’s evaluation. Regular state tests will be another 20 percent, with the balance coming from classroom observations and other measures.


      If designed well, the “performance tasks” being developed by the city, which can include essay writing and complex problem-solving, will help students learn even as their learning is being gauged. New tests always take time to calibrate and refine. The city should be cautious in using initial test results for high-stakes personnel decisions.


      New York, along with 41 other states, is also adopting the Common Core State Standards, which will be accompanied by sophisticated new tests that are currently being developed by two non-profit consortia with federal grants. The city should be careful not to duplicate that testing effort. But overall, the city's approach is a welcome development for students who deserve to be taught by educators with a demonstrated ability to help children learn.


      Trust Principals, Not Tests


      Updated May 30, 2011, 11:59 PM


      Michael J. Petrilli is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and executive vice president at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. He blogs at Flypaper.


      Improving teacher evaluations is one of the most important reforms encouraged by the federal “Race to the Top” initiative — and one of the central components to making our schools better. No one can defend today’s evaluation systems which, by and large, find every teacher to be above average (if not superior) even as our student achievement results lag our international competitors.


          If we can’t trust principals to identify their best and worst teachers, then the whole project of school reform is sunk.


      If pay and employment decisions are to be based on teacher performance, at least in part, we need evaluations that can stand up to scrutiny (and to lawsuits). Simply put, we won’t make much progress in terminating our least effective teachers (either for cause or because of budget pressures) until we have evaluation systems that are fair, trustworthy and rigorous. And it’s only common sense that one element of those evaluations should be an assessment of how much students are learning under the teacher’s charge.


      However, there’s a real downside in moving to centralized, rules-based, bureaucratic evaluation models, as indicated by New York City’s decision to add a dozen new tests to collect more teacher performance data. I feel for the city; if you want evaluations to be grounded in data, then it’s not crazy to assess students in subjects for which children are not currently tested by the state. But talk about attacking a fly with a sledgehammer. There’s already a ton of testing in our schools. Isn’t there another alternative?


      There is an option that neither reformers nor the unions want to consider: trust the principal. In most of American life, individuals are evaluated by their managers, who have a lot of discretion over their employment, their salaries, and any bonuses they might receive. In the best organizations, those managers collect plenty of data before making their decisions — peer reviews, outcome data, etc.— but none of this is meant to substitute for human judgment. It’s not a perfect system, and without safeguards it can be open to abuse, but if you believe in matching authority with accountability, it’s the least worst alternative.


      If you trust the principal, then there’s no need for new citywide tests. Good administrators that want to evaluate their social studies teachers, for example, might spend more time in their classrooms. They might look at the quality of student work, or get feedback from peers and parents. Maybe they’d want an objective assessment of student growth in the subject over the course of the year; give them the option. But don’t make it mandatory.


      And if administrators actually have the authority to link their evaluation decisions to something meaningful — firing bad teachers, bumping the salaries of their superstars — they will have reason to take the evaluation process more seriously.


      Reformers who are pushing for statewide or even district-wide evaluation systems are saying out loud: we can’t trust principals to make these decisions on their own. And they are creating pressure for districts like New York’s to spend countless hours and dollars trying to gather data. If we can’t trust school leaders to identify their best and worst teachers, then the whole project of school reform is sunk. Not all the additional tests or teacher evaluations in the world can change that.



      Avoiding the Poverty Issue


      Updated May 30, 2011, 07:00 PM


      Paul Thomas is an associate professor of education at Furman University in Greenville, S.C. He is writing a book on poverty in the United States. You can follow his work at Radical Scholarship and on Twitter at @plthomasEdD.


      Since the 1890s, public education has been criticized for its failures and simultaneously heralded as the sole cure for all of society's ills. And for almost a century, the U.S. has been a culture fully committed to measurement while also not completely sure what test scores reveal.


          Focusing on tests, schools and teachers allows political discourse to keep our attention distracted from the social failures reflected in our schools, not caused by our schools.


      Evidence and basic logic refute the use of test scores to evaluate the quality of teachers. Many examinations of using test scores in teacher evaluation have exposed the complexity and difficulty in identifying teacher quality and measuring it. But beyond that evidence, we should consider the tension created by our faith in accountability and the flaw of holding teachers accountable for the outcomes of their students.


      Overwhelming evidence shows that student outcomes in education are connected to out-of-school factors -- from about 60 percent to as much as 86 percent. But admitting and accepting that student achievement and education quality are overwhelmed by cultural and social dynamics speaks against our idealized view of our culture and our enduring faith in rugged individualism.


      Continuing to place faith and power in standardized test scores -- despite decades of evidence that test scores reflect more significantly the lives of children than the quality of teachers or schools -- reveals our social refusal to examine our commitments and the undeniable inequity of our society.


      Test-based claims of education in Finland being superior to our system help mask our failure to care about childhood poverty as a society. The U.S. has well above 20 percent of children in poverty, while only 3 percent to 4 percent of children in Finland are poor.


      In 1967, Martin Luther King Jr. proclaimed: "We are likely to find that the problems of housing and education, instead of preceding the elimination of poverty, will themselves be affected if poverty is first abolished."


      Focusing on tests, schools and teachers allows political discourse to keep our attention distracted from the social failures reflected in our schools, not caused by our schools.


      Why do we cling to test scores and demonize our teachers and schools? To avoid facing the plight of poverty on our children and our schools.



      Wasting More Money


      Updated May 30, 2011, 07:00 PM


      Molly Putnam has taught at the High School of Telecommunication Arts and Technology in Brooklyn for eight years. She currently teaches government and economics in the social studies department.


      In my eight years as a teacher in New York City, here’s what I’ve observed about standardized tests:


      The test scores go up.

      The test scores go down.

      The test is too easy.

      The test is too hard.

      The schools are cheating.

      Too many students are passing with a 65.

      Not enough students are passing.

      Too many students are

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