Is Common Core Creating the Code for a Computerized Education System?

Astronomer Stephen Hawking recently raised concerns about the threat artificial intelligence poses to human civilization.  But even if we are not all turned into drones by some supermind, major changes are afoot, revealing both a bright and dark side of the technologies we find so addictive.

As teachers, most of us are excited to see our students turned on by the latest technologies. Computers allow students to conduct research on the web, email experts for information, gather images and view videos from around the world. Students can use digital tools to create, rather than simply consume. Students can make their own podcasts, tutorials, or creative projects. 

But technology has a darker side as well. I have been reading a book, called Mindless: Why Smarter Machines are Making Dumber Humans, which explores these dimensions of 21st century technology. Author Simon Head describes the ways in which computers are being used to reorganize and manage all sorts of aspects of life and commerce.

American society is now organized for the convenience and profitability of corporations, who, as Gilens and Page recently documented, hold sway over the political process.  Those corporations have discovered the extraordinary value of «Computer Business Systems,» which allow all sorts of processes to be rendered more efficient.

As I read of the ways these systems work, I began to understand some of the imperatives driving 21st century education «reform.»

 CBSs are amalgams of different technologies that are pulled together to perform highly complex tasks in the control and monitoring of businesses, including their employees. The technologies of the Internet are crucial to CBSs because they provide the foundation for computer networks that can link the workstation of every employee or group of employees within an organization. (p. 6)

Products known as «data warehouses» and «data marts» are also critical to the CBS control regime. Data warehouses contain the gigantic quantities of information needed to store data in millions of transactions performed daily by tens of thousands of employees – the raw material of the system. Data marts «cleanse» and order this data so that it can be used to evaluate performance in real time and in line with matrices established by management. Once data warehouses and data marts are fused with the monitoring capabilities of CBSs, then the building blocks of a very powerful system of workplace control are in place. (p. 7) 

When we think of work being controlled and sped up, the image of a factory worker comes to mind. We see Charlie Chaplin, in Modern Times, struggling to keep up with his assembly line. This movement for efficiency was called Taylorism, and transformed industrial production. In the 21st century, this is not just for factory workers.

The way this works is that system designers develop rules that govern interactions between the different parts of a process – even when those parts are actually human beings. Then those processes are analyzed and the system is reorganized and optimized for efficiency. If you have interacted with telephone tech support, you may have experienced this sort of management. Our medical services are now being organized on this basis, with insurance providers who have very specific ideas about what «best practice» means – and it is usually that which is the fastest and costs the least.

Simon Head explains:

How can this regime of precise measurement and of panoptic managerial vision be transferred to a context where the objects of production are the treatment of sick patients, the transactions between teachers and pupils, or the decisions to hire and fire employees? The answer is that the structure and context of these activities must be expressed in a form that can be captured by the system, so that their digital representations can then be read analyzed. But the limits of «capturability» become apparent when one looks at transactions between human agents where attempts to impose «capturability,» and with it the disciplines of CBSs, distort the meaning of what is being done and leave the data generated highly vulnerable to GIGO – garbage in, garbage out.

So what would it take to bring this sort of efficient management to education?

First of all, we need a discrete set of measurable learning objectives that everyone agrees are the goal for the K-12 system.

We need curriculum and most importantly closely aligned tests that tell us if students have met these objectives.

We need devices that students work on capable of recording and transmitting their every keystroke, their every written thought, and everything they have read or viewed on their screen.

Then we need data systems to track the performance of all the parts in the system. We want to know how the students are doing, but we also want to measure the effects of various learning technologies, readings, assignments and, of course, the effect of their teachers. So we need systems to record, store, and analyze all this data.  

Not sure how this will be possible? Take a minute to listen to Jose Ferreira, of Knewton: 

Education happens to be the world’s most data minable industry by far. And its not even close…. The name of the game is data per user. So one of the things that fakes us out about data in education is because it is so big – like the fourth biggest industry in the world – it produces incredible quantities of data. But data that just produces one or two data points per user per day is not really all that valuable to an individual user. It might be valuable to like a school district administrator, but maybe not even then. So let’s just compare. Netflix and Amazon get in the ones of data points per user per day. Google and Facebook get in the tens of data points per user per day. So you do ten minutes of messing around in Google and you produce about a dozen data points for Google. So Knewton today gets five to ten million actionable data points per student per day. Now we do that, because we get people, if you can believe it, to tag every single sentence of their content – we have a large publishing partnership with Pearson, and they’ve tagged all of their content. And we’re an open standard, so anyone can tag to us. If you tag all of your content, and you do it down to the atomic concept level, down to the sentence, down to the clause, you unlock an incredible amount of trapped, hidden data.

We literally know everything about you and how you learn best. Everything. Because we have five orders of magnitude more data about you than Google has. We literally have more data about our students than any company has about anybody else, about anything, and it’s not even close. That’s how we do it.

So this «learning system,» according to Mr. Ferreira, can use its predictive power to know how to teach every concept to every student. And it is critical that all the students be connected, because the system draws its intelligence from its ability to analyze these trillions of data points from millions of students. Mr Ferreira, in his 2012 speech above, claimed that in the following year his company would have the data for ten million students, and not long after that, 100 million.

Clearly you do not need teachers in this scenario, except perhaps to supervise the students as they work on their devices. Class sizes can expand significantly. You do not even need schools. All a student needs is some sort of computer and a connection to the internet.

This system to reorganize education sounds remarkably close to what Bill Gates has been advocating for the past few years. The Common Core would provide us with the list of discrete learning objectives, Pearson, Amplify and various other tech companies are producing the devices, tagging their content to the standards. The Department of Education is funding the standards-aligned tests, to be taken on computers. The Gates Foundation created inBloom to function as the data warehouse, (though that has now collapsed.)

Gates spoke with teachers earlier this year:

If states use common academic standards, the quality of classroom materials and professional development will improve, Gates said. Much of that material will be digital tools that are personalized to the student, he said. «To get this innovation out, common standards will be helpful.»

The wave of technology that has transformed the US economy since the advent of the internet twenty years ago has yielded tremendous advances in efficiency and productivity. However, the benefits of these advances have flowed up to the top one percent – or even the top .1 percent. A recent report suggests that nearly half the jobs in the US may be lost in the next twenty years as a result of computerization.

The people running the economy are looking for ways to cut any labor that can be rendered obsolete through technology, and educators are not immune to this trend.

The skills and abilities that students develop in school, under the guidance of skilled educators, are not so easily measured, and this is a powerful reason to reject the mechanization of education. The late Gerald Bracey offered this list of things not measured by tests:

  • creativity
  • critical thinking
  • resilience
  • motivation
  • persistence
  • curiosity
  • endurance
  • reliability
  • enthusiasm
  • empathy
  • self-awareness
  • self-discipline
  • leadership
  • civic-mindedness
  • courage
  • compassion
  • resourcefulness
  • sense of beauty
  • sense of wonder
  • honesty
  • integrity

In the years to come, we can choose to conform to the most efficient ways to organize our work and the process of education, so as to cost the least amount possible, while delivering the technical skills required by the employers who still require human labor. Or we can flip the paradigm, and organize our schools and our lives to serve the full development of children as human beings. This is decidedly inefficient. Huge amounts of time will be utterly wasted on kindergarten music recitals and artistic endeavors not worthy of a major gallery. This choice transcends education, and runs through every aspect of our culture. It is a challenge that requires not the efficient calculations of a thinking machine, but the slower contemplation of a moral mind. 

What do you think? Is the Common Core part of an effort to computerize education? 

Continue the dialogue with Anthony on Twitter. 


Editorial Carson’s proposed anti-bullying ordinance goes too far Bullying


Laws and LegislationBullyingCrime
Bullying is a serious issue. But bringing criminal charges against school-age bullies isn’t the answer
Under Carson’s proposed anti-bullying law, a kindergartner could be arrested

Bullying, amplified by social media, can be a serious problem. But bringing criminal charges against children and teenagers who are mean to their peers isn’t the answer, especially when they’re literally too young to have learned that one plus one equals two. The city of Carson should back away from its proposal to make bullying a low-level crime.

If it passes, the proposed ordinance could result in the arrest of any bully whose victim is kindergarten age up to 25 years old; the perp could be a kindergartner as well. The first two violations would be considered infractions and the third a misdemeanor. Parents of minors could also face arrest or fines.

But even though the ordinance is intended to address bullying that truly intimidates, there’s too much leeway for turning everyday childhood taunting into a case for the prosecutor’s office. The official report to the Carson City Council supporting the proposal, for instance, cites as examples of cyber bullying «hurtful, rude and mean text messages» as well as «spreading rumors or lies about others» by social media. Carson Mayor Jim Dear, a teacher whose support for the proposal is obviously sincere and well intentioned, says it gives the victims of bullying a weapon against their enemies that they now lack: the ability to say «that’s a crime and you can be put in jail for it!»

It would be a mistake to bring children into the criminal justice system for bullying except in the most severe situations, such as violent attacks. As the ordinance says, bullies as well as their victims are more prone to suicide than other children. Arrest is not a useful long-term strategy.

And there are already laws that prohibit criminal threats and use of the Internet to harass or instill fear. In fact, an article included in the report to the City Council recommends broadening the use of existing laws rather than creating an overlapping anti-bullying law. It also notes that most off-campus taunting is protected under free-speech guarantees.

Dear says the new law would be helpful because police and prosecutors currently see bullying as minor and are loath to respond to complaints. But it’s unclear how the proposed law would change police priorities.

Children who make the lives of others miserable shouldn’t get away with it. But Carson would be better off hiring a trained civilian intervention officer to visit both families in cases of serious bullying, to advise victims of their rights under existing laws and to try to mediate agreements and change behaviors. Children often escalate problematic situations, but adults should resist the temptation.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times

Bill Gates and the Push to Privatize Public Education

An Interview With Mercedes K. Schneider


Mercedes K. Schneider holds degrees in secondary education (English and German), guidance and counseling, and applied statistics and research methods. She is finishing her 19th full-time year of teaching, 14 of which have been as a certified teacher in the traditional public school classroom. Schneider lives in her native southern Louisiana and blogs on education issues at Information Age Publishing just released Schneider’s first book, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who in the Implosion of American Public Education, which is climbing in popularity on Amazon. Her book unpacks the whys and wherefores of the groups and people propelling the corporate assault on the nation’s public K-12 schools. She and I conducted this interview via email.

Seth Sandronsky: Talk about who you are and the actors (family influences) and factors (class interests) that produced Mercedes K. Schneider today.

Mercedes K. Schneider: One major influence on my development was my father. He thought I was smart and strong, and he told people so in front of me. He also enjoyed conversing with me about history and politics (he served in World War II under Army General George Patton). He died when I was only 12 (today happens to be the 34th anniversary of his funeral), but his influence on me during my formative years was undeniable. He allowed me to work part time at an early age (11 years). He also allowed me to pursue my varied interests despite their unusualness. For example, I had a Honda CT 70 minibike, and I remember sitting on our patio cleaning the carburetor as he watched. I also rebuilt bicycles and sold them and repaired appliances. He was clearly proud of me.

Another major influence was my teachers. I am a product of public schools and state universities. So many of my teachers took obvious pleasure in my abilities. I am able to function well in both math and English. I did not know until I was an adult that functioning well in both is unusual.

SS: In A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who in the Implosion of American Public Education, you investigate and reveal the corporate actors and factors driving school reform: “The primary motivation behind this destruction is greed.” How does that motive work in politics?

MKS: One of the best examples of greed driving the political process is the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Corporations pay thousands of dollars annually to belong to ALEC, but legislators pay $100. Legislators are then “scholarshipped” to attend conventions that second as appealing vacations.

ALEC’s corporate members foot the bill in exchange for legislators’ taking corporate-benefiting “model legislation”—including education legislation—back to their districts. All are happy: ALEC’s corporate members increase profits via legislation designed to protect the profit motive; legislators receive”perks” such as nice vacations called “conventions” and they get to take credit for the model legislation. Thus begins a cycle of corporations and legislators “helping” each other to serve their own selfish purposes in a twisted mockery of democracy.

SS: Describe your awakening to the perils of K-12 public school reform.

MKS: In October 2011, my principal was concerned about the upcoming state board of education (BESE) elections. A number of candidates were in favor of “reforms” such as teacher evaluations based upon student test scores and charter takeover of schools deemed “failing” based upon an imposed school letter grade system. My principal told me that if the “reform” candidates gained a majority in on the state education board, we (public education) were in trouble. I remember his words sinking in.

In my Chiefs for Change chapter, I write about Florida GOP Gov. Jeb Bush’s role in influencing the 2011 BESE elections. The out-of-state money bought the election: 

SS: The Chicago Teachers Union and city residents fought back against top-down reform in 2011. What is the response of the reformers?

MKS: The “reformers”—chiefly the one wielding the control (the goal of corporate reform is to centralize control, preferably in a single individual) is the mayor, Rahm Emanuel. His “response” was to close 49 public schools and later open 7 new charters, which, according to the Chicago Tribune, keeps the number of charters opening “on schedule”:

Thus, conversion of Chicago Public Schools into a privatized system continued.

SS: Organized labor has been on the receiving end of a one-sided upper class attack for decades. What is the leadership of national teacher unions (not) doing to resist this trend?

MKS: The leadership of both national unions, the National Education Association (NEA) and American Federation of Teachers (AFT), have bought into the corporate reform “experiment.” Thus, those attacking the national unions really haven’t done their homework. Both AFT and NEA are attempting to pull their memberships in the direction of corporate reform. No issue illustrates this better than the diehard allegiance of both AFT and NEA to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Both AFT and NEA have accepted millions from noted CCSS funder, billionaire Bill Gates, to develop “CCSS-aligned” lessons (NEA) and “work on CCSS” (AFT).

Both AFT and NEA have locals that are also a members of the group, Teachers Union Reform Network (TURN), a group that states the following as its goal:

TURN’s intended goal is to explore, develop, and demonstrate models that lead to the restructuring of unions so that they will become more responsive and responsible in organizing around projects designed to improve student learning.

Gates supports the “reform” of unions. He has paid $3.5 million to TURN under the heading, Consortium for Educational Change

Gates calls this “advancing teaching and learning through labor-management collaboration.”

Keep in mind that Gates approaches organizations that he views will follow his wishes and offers them his money.

In sum, the “one sided attacks” on both national teachers unions is idiocy on the part of the “upper class”– those chiefly promoting education privatization.

What are the national unions doing? Taking the corporate reform money and carrying out the privatization bidding. The actions of both national union presidents read more like privatizing reformer actions than union president actions.

SS: Filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan and Michelle Rhee, past chancellor of public schools in DC, and current head of the advocacy group StudentsFirst, are joining forces to advance the case for reforming U.S. public education. Talk about the role of the media and public school reform.

MKS: In my book, A Chronicle of Echoes, I wrote two chapters on Michelle Rhee and her so-called “reforms.” She “taught” for one year unassisted, and according to her test score expectations as DC Chancellor, she would have had to fire herself. Then there is the suspicious “investigation” into the DC test erasures also detailed in my book.

Corporate reform wields power via the billions in corporate and “philanthropic” money at its disposal. Media is dependent upon those billions; as such, the message promoted in the mainstream media is often a pro-privatization message. The exploding popularity of social media as a means to communicate the reality of the failure of data-driven “reform” attests to the failure of the mainstream media to ethically rise to the occasion.

When it comes to ticket sales of Rhee-promoted “parent trigger” film, Won’t Back Down, however, America told Rhee what it thought of parent takeover of a “failing” school: Box Office Mojo ranked the movie as having the worst opening since 1982 out of movies that saturated 2,500-plus theaters.

Rhee’s StudentsFirst still tried to push the movie onto lawmakers by enticing them with beer and food. No go.

SS: The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are sweeping the nation. Explain what the CCSS are, and the motives of the people and groups pushing them.

MKS: Though I have one chapter on CCSS “lead architect” David Coleman in A Chronicle of Echoes, I plan to write a book on CCSS this summer. The CCSS “arrangement” is quite the deep well. However, allow me to offer a very abbreviated explanation here.

It seems that 46 (likely 45 states and DC) governors and state education superintendents signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for CCSS in 2009. So, to say that CCSS is now “sweeping the nation” implies a current decision to adopt. What is “sweeping the nation” now is the awareness that CCSS is an ill-fitting, inflexible trap that was chosen for each of 46 states by two individuals in 2009, before there was even a federal Race to the Top (RTTT, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009) to tie CCSS to, and before CCSS was even created.

In short, what is happening now is that the American education stakeholders (teachers, parents) are realizing that they have been had, that those couple of privileged, powerful individuals whose lives are not directly touched by the public school classroom have signed away those classrooms for the sake of sameness, of standardization—and of the possibility of federal money.

CCSS is an unprecedented experiment. Bill Gates, the man who has pumped at least $2.3 billion into CCSS (Georgia State University Professor Jack Hassard’s calculation) has admitted in different interviews documented by both education blogger Anthony Cody and by Washington Post education writer Valerie Strauss that CCSS (and other Gates-funded education reforms) is an experiment. Furthermore, in an American Enterprise Institute interview, Gates notes that he believes CCSS is important because “scale is good for free-market competition.”

An excellent education experience for students is not the ultimate goal of CCSS. Enabling large scale standardization of public education in order to market education as a product on a national scale (including curriculum, assessments, and teacher training and ongoing professional development) is.

CCSS is a rigid anchor to which mega-corporations such as Pearson, “the world’s leading learning company,” might construct the profoundly profitable, national education experience for the masses. (Note: CCSS is not for the elite. The children of privilege—those attending schools that cost $35,000-plus per year, for instance—are exempt).

The National Governors Association (NGA) and Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) are the copyright holders of CCSS. In signing the CCSS MOU, governors and state education superintendents have agreed to not alter CCSS. Thus, the “states” have agreed to forego any future “state leading” away from CCSS, and they did so before CCSS was even created. “States” can add some content to CCSS but cannot remove content.

The twisted premises behind CCSS is that standardizing education for the masses is both possible and good, and that the profit-driven “market forces” will benefit public education. Some principal promoters of CCSS are former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Fordham Institute President Chester Finn and Executive Vice President Mike Petrilli, AFT President Randi Weingarten, NEA President Dennis van Roekel, and Education Trust CEO Kati Haycock.

None of these individuals has children subjected to CCSS. None is a classroom practitioner forced to adapt to CCSS. All live lives shielded from the direct impact of a CCSS-forced rigidity, and all are pushing CCSS so hard as to make their doing so for ulterior motives (such as money and power) the only plausible explanation.

SS: Thank you for your time, Mercedes K. Schneider.

MKS: My pleasure, Seth. Thank you for your interest in my work.


A New Kind of Problem: The Common Core Math Standards

Nov 20 2012, 12:03 PM ET

A set of guidelines adopted by 45 states this year may turn children into «little mathematicians» who don’t know how to do actual math.


zhu difeng/shutterstock

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article for describing some of the problems with how math is currently being taught. Specifically, some math programs strive to teach students to think like «little mathematicians» before giving them the analytic tools they need to actually solve problems.

Some of us had hoped the situation would improve this school year, as 45 states and the District Columbia adopted the new Common Core Standards. But here are two discouraging emails I received recently. The first was from a parent:

They implemented Common Core this year in our school system in Tennessee. I have a third grader who loved math and got A’s in math until this year, where he struggles to get a C. He struggles with «explaining» how he got his answer after using «mental math.» In fact, I had no idea how to explain it! It’s math 2+2=4. I can’t explain it, it just is.

The second email came from a teacher in another state:

I am teaching the traditional algorithm this year to my third graders, but was told next year with Common Core I will not be allowed to. They should use mental math, and other strategies, to add. Crazy! I am so outraged that I have decided my child is NOT going to public schools until Common Core falls flat.

So just what are the Common Core Standards for math? They are a set of guidelines written for both math and English language arts under the auspices of National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Where they are adopted, the Common Core standards will replace state standards in these subject areas, establishing more common ground for schools nationwide.

To read newspaper coverage of the new standards, you’d think they were raising the bar for math proficiency, not lowering it. «More is expected of the students,» one article declares. «While they still have to memorize or have fluency in key math functions and do the math with speed and accuracy, they will have to demonstrate a deeper understanding of key concepts before moving on.»

But what does this mean in practice? Another recent article explains, «This curriculum puts an emphasis on critical thinking, rather than memorization, and collaborative learning.» In other words, instead of simply teaching multiplication tables, schools are adopting «an ‘inquiry method’ of learning, in which children are supposed to discover the knowledge for themselves.» An educator quoted in the article admits that this approach could be frustrating for students: «Yes. Solving a problem is not easy. Learning is not easy.»

With 100 pages of explicit instruction about what should be taught and when, one would expect the Common Core Standards to make problem-solving easier. Instead, one father quoted in the aforementioned article complains, «For the first time, I have three children who are struggling in math.» Why?

Let’s look first at the 97 pages of what are called «Content Standards.» Many of these standards require that students to be able to explain why a particular procedure works. It’s not enough for a student to be able to divide one fraction by another. He or she must also «use the relationship between multiplication and division to explain that (2/3) ÷ (3/4) = 8/9, because 3/4 of 8/9 is 2/3.»

It’s an odd pedagogical agenda, based on a belief that conceptual understanding must come before practical skills can be mastered. As this thinking goes, students must be able to explain the «why» of a procedure. Otherwise, solving a math problem becomes a «mere calculation» and the student is viewed as not having true understanding.

This approach not only complicates the simplest of math problems; it also leads to delays. Under the Common Core Standards, students will not learn traditional methods of adding and subtracting double and triple digit numbers until fourth grade. (Currently, most schools teach these skills two years earlier.) The standard method for two and three digit multiplication is delayed until fifth grade; the standard method for long division until sixth. In the meantime, the students learn alternative strategies that are far less efficient, but that presumably help them «understand» the conceptual underpinnings.

This brings us now to the final three pages of the 100-page document, called «Standards for Mathematical Practice.» While this discussion is short, the points it includes are often the focus of webinars and seminars on the new Common Core methods:

    1. Make sense of problem solving and persevere in solving them
    2. Reason abstractly and quantitatively
    3. Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others
    4. Model with mathematics
    5. Use appropriate tools strategically
    6. Attend to precision
    7. Look for and make use of structure
    8. Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning

These guidelines seem reasonable enough. But on closer inspection, these things are essentially habits of mind that ought to develop naturally as a student learns to do actual math. For example, there’s nothing wrong with the first point: «Make sense of problem solving and persevering in solving them.» But these standards are being interpreted to mean that students «make conjectures about the form and meaning of the solution and plan a solution pathway rather than simply jumping into a solution attempt. They consider analogous problems, and try special cases and simpler forms of the original problem in order to gain insight into its solution.»

This is a rather high expectation for students in K- 6. True habits of mind develop with time and maturity. An algebra student, for instance, can take a theoretical scenario such as «John is 2 times as old as Jill will be in 3 years» and express it in mathematical symbols. In lower grades, this kind of connection between numbers and ideas is very hard to make. The Common Core standards seem to presume that even very young students can, and should, learn to make sophisticated leaps in reasoning, like little children dressing in their parents’ clothes.

As the Common Core makes its way into real-life classrooms, I hope teachers are able to adjust its guidelines as they fit. I hope, for instance, that teachers will still be allowed to introduce the standard method for addition and subtraction in second grade rather than waiting until fourth. I also hope that teachers who favor direct instruction over an inquiry-based approach will be given this freedom.

Unfortunately, the emails and newspaper articles I’ve been seeing may herald a new era where more and more students are given a flimsy make-believe version of mathematics, without the ability to solve actual math problems. After all, where the Common Core goes, textbook publishers are probably not too far behind.

Racism, Eugenics and Testing — Again

The historical association between racism and standardized testing recently returned to haunt the American Psychological Association (APA) and the American Educational Research Association (AERA). The APA was scheduled to present a lifetime achievement award to Raymond B. Cattell, a leading developer of standardized personality tests, until anti-racist groups revealed Cattell’s work in the eugenics movement.

The Anti-Defamation League of the B’nai B’rith argued that Cattell «exhibited a lifelong commitment to racial supremacy theories,» a criticism reinforced by others who have studied his work. The APA then postponed the award and appointed a committee to investigate the issue. Meanwhile, the AERA, which has an educational research award named after Cattell, said it also would investigate the claims.

Eugenics presents itself as a science which seeks to improve genetics by preventing people with «inferior» genes (as evidenced, for example, by their IQ test scores) from having children. Historically, it has claimed that Europeans, particularly those from northwestern Europe, are genetically superior intellectually, physically and morally. Beginning in the 1920s, and continuing in some European nations until at least the 1960s, women have been sterilized in the name of eugenics. Hitler pointed approvingly to the work of early eugenicists, many of whom were prominent in the history of the development of standardized testing.

Cattell responded that the critics have taken his writings from the 1930s «out of textual and historical context,» and denied being a racist, saying, «I have not ever studied racial differences.» He also said his «views of eugenics have evolved over the years,» and he supports it only on a voluntary basis.

However, Cattell is the founder of the Beyondist Foundation, whose first newsletter dates from 1993 and which openly espouses eugenics, stating «the need is to lessen the excessive birth rate in the below 100 IQ range.» People of African, Latin American and American Indian descent in the U.S. are disproportionately likely to have IQ scores below 100.

Cattell also has been on the editorial board of Mankind Quarterly, founded in 1960, which was denounced by U.S. Rep. Cardiss Collins as «a sinkhole of racist maundering.» The work of the quarterly also received attention through criticism of Herrnstein and Murray’s The Bell Curve. Charles Lane, writing in The New York Review of Books, exposed the quarterly’s racist orientation and the extent to which The Bell Curve relied uncritically on spurious «research» printed in the journal.

Institutional Implications

The claim that the APA and the AERA had no knowledge of Cattell’s past is itself curious. It suggests that either the organizations and their leaders consistently separate their research from social context or that a racist and eugenicist approach is so common in the profession of psychological testing that Cattell simply did not stand out. Another researcher who has argued that IQ tests prove genetically-based racial inferiority, Linda Gottfredson, released a survey a few years ago noting that most «intelligence researchers» agree with her position. (Ironically, this came at a time when evolutionary biologists have reached wide agreement on the meaninglessness of race as a genetic concept.) Thus, the APA award to Cattell is a reminder that the racist history of testing is by no means over, but remains pervasive in at least some areas of mental measurement, despite condemnation by others in the profession.

Cattell has been praised as one of the foremost developers of personality tests. A skeptic might wonder what sort of person would be deemed «normal» by a eugenicist who has been quoted as saying that Hitler was in some ways reasonable.

Teachers, teachers unions and the “Common Core”: This is a test

Lois Weiner April 23, 2014


1. More rigorous academic standards required by the new national curriculum, Common Core Curriculum Standards (CCSS) and its high-tech national test PARCC controlled by Pearson will alter employment for US students by making them “college and career ready.”

2. The Common Core Curriculum Standards are a “state-led” initiative.

3. Elected officials of both teachers unions endorsed CCSS and PARCC at the direction of members, after informed debate.


1. False

As this 3 minute video explains, Common Core proponents argue it levels the playing field for jobs. It implies but does not say that we need the Common Core because of historic inequality in education linked to race.  If students are “college and career ready” they will find well-paying jobs, or as the US Department of Education phrased its goal in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Act, ”The goal for America’s educational system is clear… Every student should have meaningful opportunities to choose from upon graduation from high school.»   Schooling is “the one true path out of poverty” (Arne Duncan).

This assumption obviates the state’s role in ending poverty through economic policy, for example by outlawing poverty-level wages, currently maintained by a minimum wage that sustains a class of working poor, and by creating well-paying jobs that support a sustainable economy.  The diminishing number of well-paid jobs sentences the vast majority of working people to a lifetime of economic insecurity. Yet labor, what remains of it, including teachers unions, has failed to take on the underlying rationale for the Common Core, which pushes vocational training into kindergarten.  PARCC, the profitable (for Pearson) test that ties student achievement and teacher evaluation to the new standards is losing support, mostly because of Right wing opposition to the federal government’s usurpation of what is held in the Constitution to be the right of the state, controlling education.

Schooling is not and cannot be the “one true path out of poverty” for the vast majority of children because our economy consigns millions to unemployment and work that pays poverty wages. Yet it is also the case that public education in the US has historically reproduced social inequality.  Teachers unions and progressives ought to answer the “one true path out of poverty” claim by demanding 1. the government create high-paying jobs that support a sustainable economy AND 2. address  factors we know from empirical scholarship contribute to unequal outcomes in schooling, such as segregation, organizational practices within schools such as tracking, disciplinary practices, and because of taken-for-granted assumptions about students’ “ability.

2. False

Mercedes Schneider, a researcher who teaches school in New Orleans, documents in a blog how CCSS was developed, tracing its funding to Bill Gates.

“It is important to those promoting CCSS that the public believes the idea that CCSS is «state-led.» The CCSS website reports as much and names two organizations as «coordinating» the «state-led» CCSS: The National Governors Association (NGA), and the Council for Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). Interestingly, the CCSS website makes no mention of CCSS «architect» David Coleman… Nevertheless, if one reviews this 2009 NGA news release on those principally involved in CCSS development, one views a listing of 29 individuals associated with Student Achievement Partners, ACT, College Board, and Achieve. In truth, only 2 out of 29 members are not affiliated with an education company.

CCSS as «state-led» is fiction. “

3. False

AFT and NEA officers have recently called for a moratorium in implementing CCSS and PARCC, reversing their initial support. Both unions accepted funding from Gates to implement CCSS.        Typical of those who hold power that is seldom checked, national officials have not explained their about-face as being correction of an error on their part.  The problem is not just implementation of the curriculum and the test, as the unions now charge but rather of the premises.  Mercedes Schneider nails the problem with AFT and NEA’s call for delaying implementation.

If your information about education and CCSS has come from the NY Times, AFT and NEA publications and social media, or even progressive magazines, like Mother Jones, it’s likely you didn’t understand why so many teachers and parents are angry about CCSS and PARCC.  While Right-wing opposition has garnered a great deal of attention, there’s been almost no discussion of the dangers of CCSS, the way it pushes down academics to kindergarten (forget about play); the way it identifies a “core” that excludes civics (examination of the duties of citizens in a democracy) in social studies; the way it marginalizes the experience of literature and the arts; the way it undercuts teachers’ ability to give students choices in what and how they learn.

I see many calls on social media for the AFT and NEA national officers to reverse themselves and reject CCSS and PARCC.  In response the unions point to polls that support their position.  But polls should not decide an issue on which teachers’ jobs, students’ lives, and control of our society’s future depend.  We need vigorous, informed debate throughout the union – not just state and national conventions.  In the locals!! The debate should be followed by a referendum: “Should our union endorse and help implement the CCSS as tested by PARCC?”

«Ρουμπρίκες», copy paste και πολιτικές λαθροχειρίες


Παρ, 02/05/2014 – 08:53 —

Tο επιμορφωτικό υλικό του Π.Δ. για την αξιολόγηση των εκπαιδευτικώ

Γιώργος Καλημερίδης

αναδημοσίευση από την Εκπαιδευτική Λέσχη

Στο παρόν άρθρο θα ασχοληθούμε, όχι γενικά, με την πολιτική λογική και το παιδαγωγικό περιεχόμενο του Π.Δ. για την αξιολόγηση των εκπαιδευτικών, αλλά πολύ πιο συγκεκριμένα με το επιμορφωτικό υλικό που κυκλοφόρησε για την αξιολόγηση στελεχών και εκπαιδευτικών από το Ινστιτούτο Εκπαιδευτικής Πολιτικής (ΙΕΠ) και αποτελεί, κατά κάποιο τρόπο, τον οδικό χάρτη για την υλοποίηση της αξιολόγησης στην πράξη. Ήδη υπάρχει μια αξιόλογη αρθρογραφία που, κατά τη γνώμη μας, απαντάει με επάρκεια, από την πλευρά του εκπαιδευτικού κινήματος, στο παιδαγωγικό περιεχόμενο και τις πολιτικές στοχεύσεις της κυβερνητικής πολιτικής για την αξιολόγηση[1]. Η προσπάθεια εδώ είναι να ενισχύσουμε την υπάρχουσα επιχειρηματολογία με την ειδικότερη εξέταση του επιμορφωτικού υλικού, που κατά τη γνώμη μας, θα φωτίσει ακόμη περισσότερο το πραγματικό πολιτικό περιεχόμενο του Π.Δ. για την αξιολόγηση των εκπαιδευτικών που δεν είναι άλλο από την ενοχοποίηση του εκπαιδευτικού, την εξατομίκευση των ευθυνών για την εκπαιδευτική κρίση και την προσπάθεια επιβολής του πειθαρχικού ελέγχου και του ανταγωνισμού σε όλο το εύρος των εκπαιδευτικών πρακτικών.

Με βάση το συγκεκριμένο επιμορφωτικό υλικό “πραγματοποιήθηκαν” τα σεμινάρια των στελεχών εκπαίδευσης και των σχολικών συμβούλων το Μάρτιο -Απρίλη και αυτό το υλικό θα αξιοποιηθεί και στην αντίστοιχη επιμόρφωση των σχολικών διευθυντών το αμέσως επόμενο χρονικό διάστημα. Βασικός σκοπός του είναι “(α) να βοηθήσει τους επιμορφούμενους αξιολογητές να εξοικειωθούν σε μεγαλύτερο βαθμό με το Π.Δ. 152/2013 και (β) να αποτελέσει βάση προβληματισμού, ανταλλαγής απόψεων και εξάσκησης σε τομείς που ενδεχομένως θα απασχολήσουν τους αξιολογητές” [2].

Το υλικό της επιμόρφωσης έχει διαμορφωθεί από τον ίδιο τον πρόεδρο της Ανεξάρτητης Αρχής Διασφάλισης της Ποιότητας στην Πρωτοβάθμια και Δευτεροβάθμια Εκπαίδευση (ΑΔΙΠΠΔΕ), Ηλία Ματσαγγούρα, σε συνεργασία με δύο από τα μέλη που συμμετείχαν και στην επιστημονική ομάδα που εισηγήθηκε το Π.Δ, την Αλεξάνδρα Κουλουμπαρίτση και τον Παρασκευά Γιαλούρη. Διαρθρώνεται σε δύο μέρη: ένα εισαγωγικό θεωρητικό κείμενο του ίδιου του προέδρου, που επιδιώκει να τεκμηριώσει και να νομιμοποιήσει επιστημονικά τη συγκεκριμένη επιλογή και μεθοδολογία αξιολόγησης και ένα δεύτερο μέρος που είναι ένας πρακτικός οδηγός για κάθε επιμέρους τομέα και κριτήριο αξιολόγησης του εκπαιδευτικού έργου, όπου κυριαρχούν οι “ρούμπρικες”[3], οι δείκτες αξιολόγησης, καθώς και ενδεικτικές περιπτώσεις από την καθημερινή σχολική πρακτική που πιστεύεται ότι θα προσανατολίσουν τους επίδοξους αξιολογητές σε αντικειμενικές και ασφαλείς αξιολογικές αποτιμήσεις.

Το δικό μας άρθρο ξεκινάει με την εξέταση της αξιολόγησης των εκπαιδευτικών στις Η.Π.Α και ειδικότερα με την πολιτική της αξιολόγησης στην πολιτεία της Νέας Υόρκης. Αν και φαινομενικά πρόκειται για μια παράδοξη θεωρητική επιλογή, θα προσπαθήσουμε να αποδείξουμε ότι οι εξελίξεις στις ΗΠΑ σχετίζονται άμεσα τόσο με το Π.Δ. όσο και με το επιμορφωτικό του υλικό και με αυτό τον τρόπο θα δικαιολογήσουμε και τον τίτλο του άρθρου. Αρχικά θα μελετήσουμε τη γενική πολιτική για την αξιολόγηση στην πολιτεία της Νέας Υόρκης και στη συνέχεια θα επικεντρωθούμε στην ατομική αξιολόγηση των εκπαιδευτικών μέσω ενδοσχολικής παρατήρησης. Θεωρούμε ότι είναι αναγκαία η συγκριτική εξέταση της εκπαιδευτικής πολιτικής, πόσο μάλλον όταν αποτυπώνονται διεθνώς τρανταχτά παραδείγματα «δημιουργικής» αντιγραφής και μεταφοράς[4], συχνά μάλιστα χωρίς καν την αναγκαία εθνική αναπλαισίωση. Στη συνέχεια θα αξιοποιήσουμε την ανάλυση της αμερικάνικης εμπειρίας, για να αναδείξουμε συγκεκριμένες πλευρές του επιμορφωτικού υλικού και του δικού μας Π.Δ.

Α. Εξετάσεις υψηλών απαιτήσεων (high stakes testing) και η αξιολόγηση εκπαιδευτικών στην Πολιτεία της Νέας Υόρκης.

H αξιολόγηση των εκπαιδευτικών στην πολιτεία της Νέας Υόρκης εντάσσεται στην ευρύτερη πολιτική της ομοσπονδιακής κυβέρνησης του Μπάρακ Ομπάμα και ειδικότερα στο εκπαιδευτικό πρόγραμμα “Κούρσα για την Κορυφή” (Race to the Τop – RTTT) που ανακοινώθηκε στη διάρκεια της πρώτης προεδρίας Ομπάμα. Αν και προεκλογικά οι Δημοκρατικοί είχαν πολιτευθεί με ένα πρόγραμμα που ήταν επικριτικό στη νεοφιλελεύθερη και νεοσυντηρητική εκπαιδευτική πολιτική του προέδρου Μπους και πιο συγκεκριμένα του “Κανένα Παιδί Να Μην Μείνει Πίσω” (NCLB), στην πράξη, αμέσως μετά την ανάληψη της εξουσίας συνέχισαν την ίδια πολιτική ιδιωτικοποίησης της δημόσιας εκπαίδευσης και τυποποίησης των εκπαιδευτικών πρακτικών διαμέσου της άμεσης σύνδεσης μαθητικών αποτελεσμάτων και αξιολόγησης σχολείων και εκπαιδευτικών.

Το RTTT είναι πρόγραμμα ομοσπονδιακής χρηματοδότησης των εκπαιδευτικών συστημάτων των διάφορων πολιτειών των ΗΠΑ σε ανταγωνιστική βάση και με την προϋπόθεση ότι οι διάφορες πολιτείες ανταποκρίνονται στις βασικές πολιτικές προϋποθέσεις και στόχους της ομοσπονδιακής εκπαιδευτικής πολιτικής. Τα βασικά στοιχεία της πολιτικής του RTTT είναι : α. Η ανάπτυξη συστημάτων αξιολόγησης των εκπαιδευτικών που θα βασίζονται στα αποτελέσματα των μαθητών σε τυποποιημένες εθνικές και πολιτειακές δοκιμασίες β. Τα σχολεία που αποτυγχάνουν στα εθνικά συμφωνημένα κριτήρια θα κλείνουν ή θα μετατρέπονται σε σχολεία ειδικής συμφωνίας (charter schools) με ιδιωτικό – επιχειρηματικό management. Στα συγκεκριμένα σχολεία θα απολύεται ο σχολικός διευθυντής και το μισό ή και όλο το εκπαιδευτικό προσωπικό γ. Θα πρέπει να αναπτυχθούν συστήματα πληροφόρησης για κάθε διάσταση της σχολικής ζωής και να ενισχυθεί ο κεντρικός έλεγχος της δημαρχιακής εξουσίας (mayoral control) στα τοπικά εκπαιδευτικά συστήματα[5].

Το RTTT συνεχίζει, από αυτή την άποψη, τις βασικές κατευθύνσεις της καπιταλιστικής ανασυγκρότησης του αμερικάνικου εκπαιδευτικού συστήματος από την έκδοση, τουλάχιστον, του “Ένα έθνος σε Κίνδυνο” του 1983, μια διαδικασία που χαρακτηρίζεται από την ενίσχυση του κεντρικού ομοσπονδιακού και πολιτειακού ελέγχου της δημόσιας εκπαίδευσης στις ΗΠΑ σε ένα πλαίσιο, όμως, ανταγωνιστικών σχέσεων μεταξύ διαφοροποιημένων μεταξύ τους σχολικών μονάδων[6].

Για το πρόγραμμα έκαναν αίτηση 44 πολιτείες κάτω από την πίεση της υποχρηματοδότησης της δημόσιας εκπαίδευσης των διάφορων πολιτειών και τελικά εγκρίθηκε η κατανομή επιπρόσθετης χρηματοδότησης σε 19 πολιτείες, μεταξύ των οποίων και η πολιτεία της Νέας Υόρκης. Η συμμετοχή της πολιτείας στις δράσεις του RTTT συνοδεύτηκε από μια πρωτοφανή επίθεση στους εκπαιδευτικούς και δυσφήμισης των επιστημονικών τους ικανοτήτων, στο όνομα της υπεράσπισης των δικαιωμάτων των παιδιών. Σύμφωνα με τον κυβερνήτη της πολιτείας “ θα πρέπει να συνειδητοποιήσουμε ότι τα σχολεία μας δεν είναι ένα πρόγραμμα απασχόλησης, δεν αφορούν τους ενήλικες, αλλά τα παιδιά”[7]. Κοινοί τόποι, ασφαλώς, και παρόμοια επιχειρηματολογία επίθεσης στον κόσμο της εκπαίδευσης, αν και είμαστε ακόμη κάπως μακριά από το πλαίσιο του δικού μας Π.Δ και του επιμορφωτικού του υλικού. Μια πιο προσεκτική ανάγνωση, ωστόσο, των επιχειρούμενων αλλαγών νομίζω ότι θα αποσαφηνίσει καλύτερα τους κοινούς τόπους αλλά και τα δάνεια και τις πολιτικές λαθροχειρίες των εγχώριων μεταρρυθμιστών μας.

Το σύστημα αξιολόγησης των εκπαιδευτικών που ανέπτυξε η πολιτεία της Νέας Υόρκης βασίζεται σε μια κλίμακα από το 0 έως το 100 και με βάση τη συγκεκριμένη ποσοτική αποτίμηση οι εκπαιδευτικοί κατατάσσονται σε 4 περιγραφικούς αξιολογικούς χαρακτηρισμούς: αναποτελεσματικός (0-64), υπό ανάπτυξη (65-74), αποτελεσματικός (75-90) και υψηλής αποτελεσματικότητας (91-100). Η αξιολόγηση πραγματοποιείται στη βάση συγκεκριμένης ποσόστωσης μεταξύ των τεσσάρων χαρακτηρισμών, όπου ένα 10% πρέπει αναγκαστικά να κριθεί ως αναποτελεσματικό και ένα 40% ως υπό ανάπτυξη[8]. Για κάθε εκπαιδευτικό συντάσσεται στη συνέχεια η Ετήσια Έκθεση Επαγγελματικής Ανάπτυξης (ΑPPR) και υπάρχει η δυνατότητα δημοσιοποίησης των αποτελεσμάτων της αξιολόγησης, που οδηγεί συχνά στη δημόσια διαπόμπευση των εκπαιδευτικών που αποτυγχάνουν.

Οι εκπαιδευτικοί που κρίνονται δύο φορές ως αναποτελεσματικοί μπορούν να απολυθούν και, σύμφωνα με τoν David Hursh, πάνω από το 50% των εκπαιδευτικών στη Νέα Υόρκη αναγκαστικά, με βάση και τις ποσοστώσεις που διαμορφώνει η αξιολόγηση των εκπαιδευτικών, αλλά και τα ταξικά πρότυπα αποτυχίας των μαθητών, κρίνονται ως αναποτελεσματικοί ή ως υπό ανάπτυξη, γεγονός που έχει πολύ σοβαρές συνέπειες για την επαγγελματική τους εξέλιξη[9]. Η αξιολόγηση των εκπαιδευτικών καθορίζει το μισθό, τη μονιμοποίηση και την εργασιακή σχέση του κάθε εκπαιδευτικού. Η αναφορά στο επιμορφωτικό υλικό του ΙΕΠ ότι συνήθως επιλέγονται, διεθνώς, 4 κατηγορίες περιγραφικού χαρακτηρισμού του εκπαιδευτικού δεν αναφέρεται προφανώς σε κάποιο γενικά αποδεκτό επιστημονικό πόρισμα, αλλά σε πολύ συγκεκριμένες νεοφιλελεύθερες πολιτικές επιλογές.

Η αξιολόγηση των εκπαιδευτικών και η ιεραρχική τους κατανομή στους 4 αξιολογικούς χαρακτηρισμούς εξαρτάται τόσο από την απόδοση των μαθητών τους στις εξετάσεις υψηλών απαιτήσεων, όσο και από την παρατήρηση της διδασκαλίας των εκπαιδευτικών στην τάξη από μέλη της εκπαιδευτικής διοίκησης. Έχουμε ένα διττό σύστημα αξιολόγησης του εκπαιδευτικού, όπου η υποτιθέμενη αντικειμενική αξιολόγηση, με βάση τα αποτελέσματα των μαθητών σε κεντρικές εξεταστικές διαδικασίες, συνυπάρχει με την παρατήρηση της ποιότητας της διδακτικής διαδικασίας σε κάθε σχολική τάξη. Στα πλαίσια του εκπαιδευτικού συστήματος της Νέας Υόρκης, το 40% του βαθμού κάθε εκπαιδευτικού εξαρτάται από τα μαθητικά αποτελέσματα και το 60% από την παρατήρηση της διδασκαλίας των εκπαιδευτικών και άλλα τοπικά αξιολογικά μέτρα, με βασική ωστόσο προϋπόθεση ότι αν ένας εκπαιδευτικός κριθεί αναποτελεσματικός, με βάση τα αποτελέσματα των μαθητών του, κρίνεται συνολικά αναποτελεσματικός. Άρα, στο αμερικάνικο εκπαιδευτικό σύστημα, έχει διαμορφωθεί ένα πολύ αυταρχικό αξιολογικό πλαίσιο που οδηγεί στην εργασιακή επισφάλεια τη συντριπτική πλειοψηφία των εκπαιδευτικών και στο μορφωτικό αποκλεισμό τις κυριαρχούμενες κοινωνικές τάξεις.

Θα μπορούσε κάποιος να ισχυριστεί ότι τα παραπάνω δεν έχουν καμιά σχέση με την ελληνική εκδοχή της αξιολόγησης. Το ίδιο μάλιστα το επιμορφωτικό υλικό μας διαβεβαιώνει, με τον πιο κατηγορηματικό τρόπο, ότι “το Π.Δ 152/ 2013 δε συμπεριλαμβάνει τις μαθητικές επιδόσεις σε εθνικές εξετάσεις στα κριτήρια αξιολόγησης των εκπαιδευτικών, ενώ ασφαλώς ενδιαφέρεται για τη συνεχή βελτίωση της ποιότητας της παρεχόμενης εκπαίδευσης”[10].

Πριν προχωρήσουμε σε μια βαθύτερη εξέταση της εκπαιδευτικής πραγματικότητας στη Νέα Υόρκη, καλό είναι να θυμηθούμε ότι ο ΟΟΣΑ προτείνει για το ελληνικό εκπαιδευτικό σύστημα την άμεση σύνδεση της αξιολόγησης των εκπαιδευτικών και των σχολικών μονάδων με την απόδοση των μαθητών. Επομένως, η σύνδεση μαθητικών αποδόσεων και αξιολόγησης εκπαιδευτικών και σχολικών μονάδων δεν είναι έξω από την κουλτούρα αξιολόγησης που προωθεί η κυβερνητική πολιτική και υπηρετεί το Π.Δ και το επιμορφωτικό του υλικό. Είναι απλά το επόμενο λογικό βήμα.

Δεν θα μείνουμε εδώ όμως. Νομίζω ότι έχουμε καταδείξει ως τώρα ότι η ποσοτική αξιολόγηση των εκπαιδευτικών, με βάση την κλίμακα του 100 και οι 4 αξιολογικοί χαρακτηρισμοί, δεν είναι ελληνική πατέντα, ούτε τεκμηριωμένο επιστημονικό κεκτημένο της παιδαγωγικής επιστήμης που μεταφέρεται στην Ελλάδα από το επιμορφωτικό υλικό του ΙΕΠ, αλλά πολιτικό δάνειο μιας αντιεκπαιδευτικής πολιτικής που συναντά την αντίδραση και την κριτική τόσο των εκπαιδευτικών της Νέας Υόρκης, όσο και της ευρύτερης αμερικάνικης πανεπιστημιακής κοινότητας.

Ενδεικτικά αναφέρουμε από το χώρο της κατεστημένης αστικής διανόησης και όχι της αμερικάνικης Αριστεράς, την Diana Ravitch, πρώην εκπαιδευτική σύμβουλο του προέδρου Μπους του πρώτου, η οποία με το έργο της κατακεραυνώνει την κυρίαρχη πολιτική για την αξιολόγηση[11] αλλά και την κριτική αποστασιοποίηση της Linda Darling Hammond, καθηγήτριας στο Stanford University και πρώην εκπαιδευτικής συμβούλου του πρόεδρου Ομπάμα, το όνομα της οποίας φιγουράρει μάλιστα και στη βιβλιογραφία του επιμορφωτικού υλικού, χωρίς να αναφέρονται, όμως, ρητά οι εκπαιδευτικές της θέσεις[12]. Είναι επομένως ξεκάθαρο ότι η κριτική στην αξιολόγηση του εκπαιδευτικού στις ΗΠΑ δεν είναι αποκλειστικό προνόμιο των “συντεχνιών” ή της “δογματικής μαρξιστικής Αριστεράς”.

Αυτό που πρέπει να κρατήσουμε, σε κάθε περίπτωση, είναι ότι το Π.Δ και το αντίστοιχο επιμορφωτικό υλικό υιοθετούν και αντιγράφουν, με βάση και τον εγχώριο συσχετισμό δύναμης, τη δομή και μια συγκεκριμένη πολιτική λογική αξιολόγησης των εκπαιδευτικών. Δυστυχώς, όμως, δεν εξαντλούνται εδώ οι πολιτικές και θεωρητικές λαθροχειρίες της εκπαιδευτικής πολιτικής του ΙΕΠ.

Β. Η αξιολόγηση των εκπαιδευτικών και το Danielson Group.

Θεωρούμε ότι έχει μεγαλύτερο ενδιαφέρον να εξετάσουμε με ποιους όρους πραγματοποιείται η αξιολόγηση των εκπαιδευτικών, μέσω παρατήρησης στη Νέα Υόρκη, γιατί εκεί θα ανακαλύψουμε πολύ πιο ενδιαφέροντα στοιχεία και για το Π.Δ και για το επιμορφωτικό του υλικό. Η αξιολόγηση των εκπαιδευτικών, μέσω της παρατήρησής τους από μέλη της εκπαιδευτικής διοίκησης, βασίζεται στη Νέα Υόρκη στο επιστημονικό έργο της Charlotte Danielson και ειδικότερα στο έργο της που η αρχική του εκδοχή γράφτηκε το 1996 με τον τίτλο “Πλαίσιο Διδασκαλίας” (Framework of teaching) και που από τότε γνώρισε διάφορες τροποποιήσεις και προσθήκες. Η πολιτεία της Νέας Υόρκης χρησιμοποιεί την εκδοχή του 2007 “Ενδυναμώνοντας την Επαγγελματική Πρακτική: Ένα Πλαίσιο για τη Διδασκαλία”, ενώ η τελευταία έκδοση είναι του 2013. Έχει πολύ μεγάλο ενδιαφέρον, πριν περάσουμε να εξετάσουμε διεξοδικότερα το έργο της C. Danielson, να μάθουμε ποια πραγματικά είναι.

Η C. Danielson είναι επικεφαλής μιας ιδιωτικής εταιρείας παροχής εκπαιδευτικών υπηρεσιών με το όνομα Danielson Group. Η συγκεκριμένη εταιρεία είναι ιδιαίτερα δραστήρια στον τομέα της αξιολόγησης εκπαιδευτικών και αναλαμβάνει τη στήριξη και την επιμόρφωση του στελεχιακού δυναμικού που υλοποιεί αξιολογικές διαδικασίες σε μια σειρά αμερικάνικων πολιτειών. Λειτουργεί δηλαδή υπεργολαβικά με δημόσια χρηματοδότηση και αναλαμβάνει την υλοποίηση των αξιολογικών διαδικασιών και των σχετικών επιμορφωτικών σεμιναρίων σε διάφορες δημόσιες εκπαιδευτικές υπηρεσίες. Πέρα από την Νέα Υόρκη, οι πολιτείες του Νιού Τζέρσι, του Λος Άντζελες και του Ντέλαγουερ βασίζονται στις υπηρεσίες του Danielson Group, ενώ σύμφωνα με τον ίδιο τον επιχειρηματικό όμιλο οι δραστηριότητές του έχουν επεκταθεί και έξω από τα σύνορα των ΗΠΑ, στην μνημονιακή Πορτογαλία, όπου η C. Danielson είναι σύμβουλος του υπουργείου Παιδείας στα ζητήματα αξιολόγησης αλλά και στο νεοφιλελεύθερο εκπαιδευτικό παράδεισο της Χιλής. Γενικά, όσο αφορά τις ΗΠΑ, οι δραστηριότητες του ομίλου επεκτείνονται διαρκώς σε πανεθνικό επίπεδο και το όνομα της Danielson έχει γίνει ταυτόσημο με την αξιολόγηση των εκπαιδευτικών.

H Danielson αναγνωρίζεται και από υπερεθνικούς καπιταλιστικούς οργανισμούς ως εισηγήτρια μιας διεθνώς αποδεκτής μεθοδολογίας αξιολόγησης των εκπαιδευτικών. Ο ΟΟΣΑ στην τελευταία έκθεσή του για την αξιολόγηση των εκπαιδευτικών με τον τίτλο “Οι εκπαιδευτικοί στον 21ο αιώνα, η χρήση της αξιολόγησης για την βελτίωση της διδασκαλίας” (2013), προβάλλει ως παράδειγμα αξιολόγησης των εκπαιδευτικών την πολιτεία του Ντέλαγουερ των ΗΠΑ, που ήδη έχουμε αναφέρει και η οποία χρησιμοποιεί ακριβώς το “Πλαίσιο για τη Διδασκαλία” της Danielson. Η πολιτεία καταγράφει λεπτομερώς την πρακτική των εκπαιδευτικών μέσα από αξιολογικές ρουμπρίκες και στις 4 κατηγορίες αξιολόγησης του εκπαιδευτικού έργου που προτείνει η Danielson, οι οποίες με τη σειρά τους διαιρούνται σε επιμέρους υποκατηγορίες αξιολογικών κριτηρίων. Πιο συγκεκριμένα οι 4 κατηγορίες είναι : ο Σχεδιασμός και η Προετοιμασία της Διδασκαλίας, το Εκπαιδευτικό Περιβάλλον, η Διεξαγωγή της Διδασκαλίας και οι Επαγγελματικές Υπαλληλικές Υποχρεώσεις του κάθε εκπαιδευτικού. Στην πρόσφατη, μάλιστα, αναθεώρηση της αξιολόγησης των εκπαιδευτικών στο Ντέλαγουερ προστέθηκε και μια πέμπτη κατηγορία, αυτή της προόδου των μαθητών[13].

Γενικά, το Danielson Group είναι αποδεκτό από μια σειρά αμερικάνικων εκπαιδευτικών αρχών αλλά και από διεθνείς ιμπεριαλιστικούς οργανισμούς, όπως ο ΟΟΣΑ, που επιδιώκουν την προσαρμογή των εκπαιδευτικών συστημάτων στις ανάγκες της καπιταλιστικής ανταγωνιστικότητας. Αν και αποδεκτό το “Πλαίσιο Διδασκαλίας” στο πεδίο των κρατικών και διακρατικών καπιταλιστικών γραφειοκρατιών, δεν ισχύει το ίδιο και με την αποδοχή του από τον κόσμο της εκπαίδευσης αλλά και της πανεπιστημιακής κοινότητας. Το όνομα Charlotte Danielson είναι συνώνυμο, για τους εκπαιδευτικούς της Νέας Υόρκης αλλά και πολλών άλλων πολιτειών των ΗΠΑ, με το σύγχρονο εκπαιδευτικό οργουελισμό και την επαγγελματική απαξίωση, αλλά σοβαρές ενστάσεις εκφράζονται και από πανεπιστημιακούς και μάλιστα από όλο το πολιτικό φάσμα. Με βάση τον Alan Singer, που διδάσκει στο Πανεπιστήμιο Hofstra της Νέας Υόρκης, θα πρέπει να αναρωτηθούμε σοβαρά ποια είναι τελικά η C. Danielson που θέλει να αξιολογήσει τους εκπαιδευτικούς της Νέας Υόρκης, καθώς, μολονότι η ίδια αναφέρει στην ηλεκτρονική διεύθυνση της εταιρείας της ότι έχει περάσει από όλες τις βαθμίδες εκπαίδευσης από το νηπιαγωγείο μέχρι το πανεπιστήμιο, έχει σπουδάσει Οικονομικά και είναι κάτοχος διδακτορικού στην κινέζικη ιστορία (!!) πουθενά δεν υπάρχει ένα συγκεκριμένο ακαδημαϊκό της βιογραφικό, πράγμα κοινό και σύνηθες στην ακαδημαϊκή κοινότητα[14]. Είναι βάσιμο να υποθέσουμε, επομένως, σύμφωνα με τον Singer, ότι αποτελεί μάλλον την επικοινωνιακή βιτρίνα, μιας δυναμικής ιδιωτικής εταιρείας η οποία θέλει απλά να πουλήσει το προϊόν της, που δεν είναι άλλο από την αξιολόγηση των εκπαιδευτικών. Γενικά, η Danielson αν και δεν έχει σαφή ακαδημαϊκή ιδιότητα, είναι αλήθεια ότι διευθύνει μια πολύ επιτυχημένη καπιταλιστική επιχείρηση. Μια επιχείρηση που διαμορφώνει την κυρίαρχη εκπαιδευτική πολιτική στις ΗΠΑ και όχι μόνο.

Γ. Το “Πλαίσιο Διδασκαλίας” και το επιμορφωτικό υλικό του ελληνικού Π.Δ.

Έχοντας παρουσιάσει την Charlotte Danielson, θα περάσουμε να δούμε το “Πλαίσιο Διδασκαλίας” της, που τόσο έχει απασχολήσει την εκπαιδευτική και επιστημονική κοινότητα των ΗΠΑ και αποτελεί τη βάση της ενδοσχολικής ατομικής αξιολόγησης των εκπαιδευτικών στη Νέα Υόρκη. Θα είμαστε συνοπτικοί και σύντομοι για τον πολύ απλό λόγο ότι θα παρουσιάσουμε κάτι που γνωρίζει ήδη και η ελληνική εκπαιδευτική κοινότητα, καθώς το έργο της Danielson ή πιο σωστά της εταιρείας Danielson είναι το ελληνικό Π.Δ. και το επιμορφωτικό του υλικό. Νομίζουμε συνεπώς ότι είχαν νόημα και αξία οι περιγραφές μας για την εκπαιδευτική μεταρρύθμιση στις ΗΠΑ.

Αν και υπάρχουν διαφορετικές εκδοχές του “Πλαίσιου Διδασκαλίας” (1996-2007-2011-2013) και αλλάζουν συχνά τα υποκριτήρια αξιολόγησης, ο αριθμός τους αλλά και οι γλωσσικές επιλογές που γίνονται για κάθε κριτήριο, η βασική λογική παραμένει, ωστόσο, πάντα η ίδια. Δυστυχώς στο επιμορφωτικό υλικό δεν έχουμε μια σαφή παραπομπή σε καμιά από αυτές. Εμείς μελετήσαμε την εκδοχή του 2007 και του 2013. Υποθέτουμε ότι η πρώτη αξιοποιείται στο επιμορφωτικό υλικό και είναι και αυτή που υπάρχει στην ιστοσελίδα του Γραφείου Εκπαίδευσης της Νέας Υόρκης. Αυτός ο φαινομενικός πλουραλισμός των εκδόσεων του ομίλου Danielson, δημιουργεί μια αίσθηση διαρκούς καινοτομίας και προσαρμογής, αναγκαίας για μια ιδιωτική εταιρεία που θέλει να πουλήσει το προϊόν της σε δημόσιους εκπαιδευτικούς οργανισμούς. Διευκολύνει όμως και κάθε επίδοξο μεταφραστή-εισηγητή του έργου του ομίλου Danielson.

Πώς ακριβώς λοιπόν λειτουργεί το “Πλαίσιο Διδασκαλίας” του Danielson Group; Για την αξιολόγηση των εκπαιδευτικών, όπως έχουμε ήδη αναφέρει, χρησιμοποιείται τετράβαθμη περιγραφική κλίμακα. Η ένταξη του αξιολογούμενου σε κάθε βαθμίδα της περιγραφικής κλίμακας συνεπάγεται τον ποιοτικό του χαρακτηρισμό: μη-ικανοποιητικός (non satisfactory), επαρκής (basic), ικανός (proficient) και εξαίρετος (distinguished). Στη συνέχεια διαιρείται το εκπαιδευτικό και υπαλληλικό έργο του κάθε εκπαιδευτικού σε 4 διακριτά αξιολογικά πεδία, που τα ίδια επιμερίζονται σε υπο-κατηγορίες αξιολογικών κριτηρίων. Για κάθε κριτήριο ορίζεται ένα σύνολο “επιθυμητών και ανεπιθύμητων” συμπεριφορών που συνδέονται με μια βαθμιαία κλιμάκωση των προσδοκώμενων καλών συμπεριφορών, προκειμένου να υπηρετηθούν και να νομιμοποιηθούν οι 4 περιγραφικοί αξιολογικοί χαρακτηρισμοί.

Με βάση αυτή τη λογική κατασκευάζονται οι περιβόητες ρουμπρίκες, που προσπαθεί να εισάγει το επιμορφωτικό υλικό και στο ελληνικό εκπαιδευτικό σύστημα. Οι ρουμπρίκες της Danielson, αλλά και των μιμητών της, δεν είναι τίποτα άλλο παρά εργαλεία διαβαθμισμένης παρατήρησης συμπεριφορών και ποσοτικής ταξινόμησής τους, στη βάση προκαθορισμένων κριτηρίων. Πρόκειται για μια απλή εκπαιδευτική παραλλαγή των μελετών (motion studies) του Τέυλορ για την οργάνωση και την ορθολογικοποίηση της βιομηχανικής εργασίας, στις αρχές του 20ου αιώνα, που νομιμοποιούνται από τη μεταφυσική πίστη του θετικισμού, ότι δηλ. μπορούν στις ανθρώπινες καταστάσεις να εφαρμοστούν με επιτυχία οι μέθοδοι ποσοτικοποίησης των φυσικών επιστημών.

Οι πίνακες που διαμορφώνουν οι ρουμπρίκες αξιολόγησης, με την ιεραρχική διαβάθμιση των επιθυμητών συμπεριφορών, οδηγούν απλά σε μια αδιάκοπη καταγραφή του εκπαιδευτικού και της πρακτικής του. Οι ρουμπρίκες, αν και σε τελική ανάλυση, είναι αυθαίρετες πολιτικο-ιδεολογικές κατασκευές διαμορφώνουν «λόγους αλήθειας» για το ποιος είναι ο ικανός εκπαιδευτικός[15].

Ειδικότερα, το “Πλαίσιο Διδασκαλίας” διαμορφώνει τις εξής 4 αξιολογικές κατηγορίες : Πεδίο Ι: Σχεδιασμός και προετοιμασία της Διδασκαλίας, Πεδίο ΙΙ: Σχολικό περιβάλλον, Πεδίο ΙΙΙ: Διεξαγωγή της Διδασκαλίας και Αξιολόγηση μαθητών, Πεδίο ΙV: Επαγγελματικές Ευθύνες. Αυτές είναι ασφαλώς οι γενικές κατηγορίες και του ελληνικού Π.Δ με την ίδια ακριβώς μάλιστα ονοματολογία, με τη μόνη διαφορά ότι το 4 πεδίο διαιρείται στην Ελλάδα και δημιουργείται ένα νέο πέμπτο πεδίο που αφορά την επιστημονική και επαγγελματική ανάπτυξη του εκπαιδευτικού.

Για ποιο λόγο άραγε; Για να προστατευθούν κάποιοι εκπαιδευτικοί με υψηλά τυπικά προσόντα ή για να ενταθεί ο ανταγωνισμός για την απόκτηση πιστοποιητικών; Θυμίζουμε απλώς ότι κάποιοι/ες έχουν πολύ σημαντικά υλικά συμφέροντα στο πεδίο των επιμορφώσεων, των μεταπτυχιακών και των λοιπών διαδικασιών απόκτησης τυπικών προσόντων.

Αντίστοιχες ομολογίες και δημιουργικές μεταφορές αποτυπώνονται και στο χωρισμό των γενικών αξιολογικών κατηγοριών σε επιμέρους υποκατηγορίες αξιολογικών δεικτών. Είναι αλήθεια ότι το ελληνικό Π.Δ είναι πιο γενικό σε σχέση με τις αναλυτικότερες διαιρέσεις του Danielson Group. Όταν όμως κατασκευάζονται οι ρουμπρίκες διαβαθμισμένης αξιολόγησης των εκπαιδευτικών και τα σχετικά αξιολογικά φύλλα που παραδίδονται στους αξιολογητές, αξιοποιούνται πλήρως οι ίδιες αναλυτικές διακρίσεις.

Για παράδειγμα η Charlotte Danielson προτείνει στο Πεδίο 2 Σχολικό περιβάλλον τα εξής:

2a: Δημιουργία περιβάλλοντος σεβασμού και αρμονικών σχέσεων,

2b: Εμπέδωση μιας κουλτούρας για τη μάθηση,

2c: Διαχείριση της σχολικής τάξης,

2d: Διαχείριση της μαθητικής συμπεριφοράς,

2e Οργάνωση του φυσικού χώρου.

Και συνεχίζει και υποδιαιρεί την κάθε επιμέρους υποκατηγορία σε νέα μικρότερα κριτήρια αποτίμησης. Στο δικό μας Π.Δ. στην κατηγορία Ι Σχολικό περιβάλλον τα κριτήρια είναι μόνο 3:

αα. Διαπροσωπικές σχέσεις και προσδοκίες,

ββ. Παιδαγωγικό κλίμα στην τάξη,

γγ. Οργάνωση της σχολικής τάξης.

Στις οδηγίες όμως για τους αξιολογητές οι ερμηνείες που δίνονται για τα τρία κριτήρια της Κατηγορίας Ι αντιστοιχίζονται με τις λεπτομερέστερες διαιρέσεις της Danielson και τις επιμέρους επιθυμητές συμπεριφορές που πρέπει να επιδεικνύουν οι εκπαιδευτικοί. Οι διαπροσωπικές σχέσεις και προσδοκίες(αα) -σύμφωνα με το επιμορφωτικό υλικό που έχει εκδοθεί- περιλαμβάνουν την ύπαρξη “ρεαλιστικών αλλά υψηλών προσδοκιών για την τάξη” που αντιστοιχεί στο 2b της Danielson για την εμπέδωση μιας κουλτούρας για τη μάθηση, που περιλαμβάνει ακριβώς την ανάπτυξη υψηλών προσδοκιών μεταξύ των μαθητών για το περιεχόμενο, και τη διαδικασία της μάθησης. Η Danielson επιλέγει ως διακριτή υποκατηγορία τη διαχείριση της μαθητικής συμπεριφοράς(2d), στη δική μας εκδοχή περιλαμβάνεται στην ευρύτερη κατηγορία της οργάνωσης της σχολικής τάξης. Τα ίδια αποτυπώνονται ως τάση και στα υπόλοιπα πεδία, όποτε δεν χρειάζεται μια πιο αναλυτική παρουσίαση, που θα κούραζε.

Αξίζει να σημειώσουμε ότι ακόμη και οι πολιτείες των ΗΠΑ που συνάπτουν σχέσεις ανοικτής συνεργασίας με τον όμιλο Danielson εφαρμόζουν με διαφορετικό τρόπο το “Πλαίσιο για τη Διδασκαλία”. Η Νέα Υόρκη από τους 4 περιγραφικούς χαρακτηρισμούς επιλέγει  δύο να τους δώσει αρνητικό περιεχόμενο, διότι στοχεύει σε μια μεγαλύτερης έκτασης γενίκευση της επισφάλειας και των απολύσεων. Επίσης, και καθόλου τυχαία, το Danielson Group δεν προσδιορίζει επίσημα τη σχέση του κάθε χαρακτηρισμού με τη βαθμολογική, ποσοτική του αποτίμηση, γιατί θεωρεί, προφανώς, ότι αυτό είναι υπόθεση των πελατών και των αναγκών τους. Κάλλιστα, το δικό μας 31, που ορίζεται ως η χαμηλή βάση της δεύτερης περιγραφικής κλίμακας του επαρκούς, σε μια άλλη κρατική υπηρεσία μπορεί να αφορά το 25 ή και το 70. Εδώ ισχύει το δόγμα “ό,τι θέλει ο πελάτης”.

Το εμπορικό πακέτο του ομίλου Danielson ολοκληρώνεται από την παρουσίαση ενδεικτικών επιλεκτικών περιπτώσεων της καθημερινής σχολικής ζωής που ανταποκρίνονται στους διαφορετικούς περιγραφικούς χαρακτηρισμούς, όπως ακριβώς και στην περίπτωση του δικού μας επιμορφωτικού υλικού. Πολύ συνοπτικά, η περιπτωσιολογία που διέπει το “Πλαίσιο Διδασκαλίας” και την αντίστοιχη εγχώρια εκδοχή του, αν και αδυνατεί να ερμηνεύσει συνεκτικά το εκπαιδευτικό έργο και συχνά οδηγείται μάλλον σε ανεκδοτολογικές γκροτέσκο αναπαραστάσεις του εκπαιδευτικού έργου (για παράδειγμα, τα κουστούμια των σχολικών θεατρικών παραστάσεων ή τα ανώνυμα τηλεφωνήματα στις διευθύνσεις εκπαίδευσης), υπηρετεί απλά την ιδεολογία του πειθαρχικού ελέγχου, προσπαθώντας να καθοδηγήσει τους αξιολογητές προς συγκεκριμένες ιδεολογικές οπτικές παρατήρησης του σχολείου και των εμπλεκόμενων φορέων. Η περιπτωσιολογία του “Πλαισίου Διδασκαλίας” δεν επιδιώκει, επομένως, να επιβοηθήσει την “αντικειμενική” παρατήρηση αλλά να προκαθορίσει τις ιδεολογικές της προϋποθέσεις.

Στη δική μας περίπτωση, από εμπιστοσύνη, ενδεχομένως, στην κατοχυρωμένη τεχνογνωσία της Danielson, δεν έχουμε μια απλή μεταφορά του γενικού σχήματος του Πλαισίου Διδασκαλίας για την αξιολόγηση του εκπαιδευτικού, αλλά συχνά μια απλή μετάφραση από τα σχετικά πινακάκια που παρουσιάζονται. Παραθέτουμε ενδεικτικά τρία χαρακτηριστικά παραδείγματα από τις σχετικές ρουμπρίκες, προκειμένου ο/ η καθένας/ μια να σχηματίσει τη δική του/της άποψη[16].

Επίπεδο απόδοσης: Ικανός (proficient)

Η τάξη είναι ασφαλής και διασφαλίζεται η πρόσβαση στην ουσιαστική μάθηση για όλους τους μαθητές, η ρύθμιση και οργάνωση της σχολικής τάξης είναι λειτουργική και δημιουργεί ευκαιρίες μάθησης (…) ο εκπαιδευτικός αξιοποιεί το διδακτικό χρόνο χωρίς απώλειες.


Ασφάλεια και προσβασιμότητα – οργάνωση της σχολικής τάξης



Danielson C 2007:11-13

ΙΕΠ 2014 : 62


Ο.Τ 2.1 ασφαλής και λειτουργική διαμόρφωση του χώρου

Ο.Τ 2.3 λειτουργική αξιοποίηση του διδακτικού χρόνου.

Επαρκής εφόσον κατά την πορεία της σχολικής χρονιάς διαμορφώνει κατάλληλα το χώρο ώστε να είναι ασφαλής και παιδαγωγικά λειτουργικός (π.χ γωνίες ενδιαφέροντος, πίνακας ανάρτησης των μαθητικών εργασιών) και αξιοποιεί λειτουργικά το διδακτικό χρόνο χωρίς απώλειες.

Βαθμίδα Ποιοτικής κλίμακας: Επαρκής


Danielson C 2013: 36


Tα πρότυπα αλληλεπίδρασης μέσα στην τάξη μεταξύ των μαθητών και του εκπαιδευτικού είναι αρνητικά, ακατάλληλα και δεν ανταποκρίνονται στην ηλικία, το πολιτιστικό υπόβαθρο και τις αναπτυξιακές ανάγκες των μαθητών. Η γλώσσα του σώματος των μαθητών είναι ενδεικτική συναισθημάτων ανασφάλειας και αποστασιοποίησης (..)

Βαθμίδα Ποιοτικής κλίμακας:

Μη ικανοποιητικός (non satisfactory)

ΙΕΠ 2014 : 56


Εφόσον στην πορεία της σχολικής χρονιάς μεταξύ αυτών και των μαθητών τους υπάρχει ουδέτερο έως και ψυχρό κλίμα και αρκετοί μαθητές βιώνουν με αρνητικό τρόπο και έχουν αρνητικές παραστάσεις προς τη σχολική ζωή της τάξης με αποτέλεσμα να παραμένουν αδιάφοροι και αποστασιοποιημένοι.

Βαθμίδα Ποιοτικής κλίμακας: Ελλιπής


Danielson C. 2013: 13



Διακεκριμένος (distinguished):

Κατανοεί ότι οι εκπαιδευτικοί δεν διδάσκουν συγκεκριμένα περιεχόμενα αφηρημένα, αλλά σε συγκεκριμένους μαθητές. Άρα θα πρέπει να γνωρίζει τα γνωστικά, συναισθηματικά και κοινωνικά πρότυπα ανάπτυξης των μαθητών του που είναι χαρακτηριστικά για τις ηλικιακές τους ομάδες, αλλά και τις διαφοροποιημένες ανάγκες του κάθε παιδιού. Επιπρόσθετα αναγνωρίζει ότι οι μαθητές έχουν ζωή και έξω από το σχολείο και προσαρμόζει τον προγραμματισμό του με βάση τις συγκεκριμένες οικογενειακές παραδόσεις και το πολιτιστικό υπόβαθρο των μαθητών του. Τα παιδιά που δεν χρησιμοποιούν τα αγγλικά ως πρώτη γλώσσα και τα παιδιά με ειδικές μαθησιακές ανάγκες λαμβάνονται υπόψη στο σχεδιασμό των μαθημάτων προκειμένου να εξασφαλιστεί η πρόσβαση όλων στη μάθηση.


Παρουσίαση της γνώσης στους μαθητές

IEΠ 2014: 74



Πολύ καλός:

i) Λαμβάνει υπόψη, κατά τον προγραμματισμό, εκτός από τα ιδιαίτερα ψυχολογικά και αναπτυξιακά χαρακτηριστικά της ηλικίας των μαθητών του, την κοινωνικο – πολιτισμική σύνθεσηκαι τις διαφοροποιημένες μαθησιακές ανάγκες καιδυνατότητες και τα ενδιαφέροντα των μαθητών της τάξης του και, παράλληλα, έχει καλή συνολική εικόνα της μαθησιακής πορείας και ετοιμότητας της τάξης και προγραμματίζει αναλόγως, μεριμνώντας ιδιαίτερα για τους μαθητές των ευάλωτων κοινωνικών ομάδων.

Περιγραφή Π.Δ

Σχεδιασμός, προγραμματισμός και προετοιμασία της διδασκαλίας σε ευρύτερη ενότητα μαθημάτων

Στην πράξη, η εμπειρία από την Νέα Υόρκη μας πληροφορεί ότι οι αξιολογητές μπαίνουν σε κάθε τάξη εξοπλισμένοι με τις διαβαθμισμένες λίστες κριτηρίων και περιγραφών (ρουμπρίκες) και απλά τσεκάρουν περιγραφικό χαρακτηρισμό (ελλιπής, επαρκής κτλ) και στο τέλος, με βάση και τις άμεσες πιέσεις της ποσόστωσης ολοκληρώνουν την αποστολή με ένα συγκεκριμένο βαθμό από το 0 έως το 100. Υπογράφονται τα τελικά φύλλα αποτίμησης, δημοσιοποιούνται και συντάσσεται η Ετήσια Έκθεση Επαγγελματικής Ανάπτυξης κάθε εκπαιδευτικού. Η τελευταία πράξη του έργου παίζεται, ασφαλώς, αλλού και αφορά την καταστροφή της ζωής πολλών χιλιάδων ανθρώπων, αλλά αυτή είναι μια διάσταση που δεν αποτυπώνεται ούτε μετριέται.

Με βάση τα παραπάνω, πριν καταλήξουμε σε κάποια γενικότερα συμπεράσματα, δημιουργείται πρώτον αρχικά ένα ηθικό ζήτημα, κεντρικό όμως στο πεδίο της επιστήμης. Το επιμορφωτικό υλικό, αν και δεν συνιστά ακαδημαϊκό κείμενο, παρ’ όλα αυτά, στο βαθμό που επιδιώκει να νομιμοποιήσει επιστημονικά ένα πλαίσιο αξιολόγησης, οφείλει να τηρεί την κοινά αποδεκτή ακαδημαϊκή πρακτική. Το επιμορφωτικό υλικό όμως ξεκινάει με την πολύ ενδιαφέρουσα μελέτη για τις εκπαιδευτικές ανισότητες στις Η.Π.Α του Berliner[17], συνεχίζει με τον πιο γνωστό εκπρόσωπο της κριτικής παιδαγωγικής στην Ελλάδα M. Apple[18], για να καταλήξει στην αναπαραγωγή των απόψεων ενός επιχειρηματικού εκπαιδευτικού ομίλου, χωρίς αυτό, μάλιστα, να αναφέρεται ρητά και ξεκάθαρα. Ας βγάλει ο καθένας/μια τα συμπεράσματά του/της.

Για εμάς, υπάρχουν ωστόσο κάποια ερωτήματα, που αφορούν την ηγεσία του υπουργείου Παιδείας και απαιτούν απάντηση:

α. Η ΑΔΙΠΠΔΕ έχει εκχωρήσει την αξιολόγηση των εκπαιδευτικών στην Ελλάδα στο Danielson Group και αν ναι, με ποιο οικονομικό αντίτιμο; Η παρουσία του Danielson Group στη μνημονιακή Πορτογαλία δημιουργεί κάποιους αναπόφευκτους συνειρμούς, ενώ είναι αναμφισβήτητη η διαπλοκή πολυεθνικών επιχειρήσεων και διακρατικών οργανισμών όπως ο ΟΟΣΑ.

β. Μέλη του δικού μας ΙΕΠ συνεργάζονται με το Danielson Group;

γ. Αξίζει να δαπανά το ελληνικό δημόσιο εκατομμύρια ευρώ, σε μια περίοδο υποχρηματοδότησης του δημόσιου σχολείου, για την απλή μεταφορά ήδη γνωστών στην επιστημονική κοινότητα απόψεων; Ενημερωτικά αναφέρουμε ότι εμείς απλά στείλαμε ένα ηλεκτρονικό μήνυμα στο Danielson Group και μας έστειλε σε λίγα δευτερόλεπτα όλο το γραπτό υλικό του. Νομίζω ότι όλοι εμείς, οι απλοί εκπαιδευτικοί της τάξης, που θα κριθούμε σε τελική ανάλυση από το “Πλαίσιο Διδασκαλίας” του Danielson Group, δικαιούμαστε συγκεκριμένες απαντήσεις.

Θα μπορούσε κάποιος/α να αντιτείνει στη μέχρι τώρα διατυπωμένη επιχειρηματολογία μας ότι μπορεί σε τελική ανάλυση να μην είμαστε πρωτότυποι, αλλά υιοθετούμε ό,τι πιο προχωρημένο υπάρχει στο υπάρχον παιδαγωγικό κεκτημένο παγκοσμίως. Δανειζόμαστε δηλαδή ό,τι αποδίδει στην πράξη. Νομίζουμε ότι έχουμε απαντήσει ήδη σε μια τέτοια πιθανή επιχειρηματολογία. Αν χρειαστεί, επί του συγκεκριμένου, θα επανέλθουμε με πιο αναλυτικά στοιχεία για τις συνέπειες της εκπαιδευτικής μεταρρύθμισης στις ΗΠΑ.

Συμπερασματικά, μπορούμε να πούμε ότι η Ελλάδα είναι μια ακόμη χώρα που αποφασίζει να αξιοποιήσει το σύστημα Danielson για να αξιολογήσει τους εκπαιδευτικούς της. Η ουσία είναι επομένως ότι η ηγεσία του υπουργείου Παιδείας επιλέγει τα πιο επιθετικά μοντέλα καθυπόταξης του εκπαιδευτικού που κυκλοφορούν στη διεθνή καπιταλιστική αγορά. Βάσιμα μπορούμε να ισχυριστούμε, λαμβάνοντας υπόψη μας τη διεθνή εμπειρία, ότι η ηγεσία του υπουργείου Παιδείας επιχειρεί να επιφέρει μια αντιδραστική τομή που θα σφραγίσει, αν υλοποιηθεί, την ελληνική εκπαίδευση για δεκαετίες. Όλα όσα ζούμε από το καλοκαίρι του 2013 και μετά δεν είναι τίποτα άλλο παρά η πικρή πρόγευση της πραγματικής κόλασης που μας ετοιμάζουν. Παρά τις όποιες διαβεβαιώσεις προετοιμάζουν νέο γύρο απολύσεων στη δημόσια εκπαίδευση, ελαστικοποίησης των εργασιακών σχέσεων και διεύρυνσης των μορφωτικών ανισοτήτων. Τα υπόλοιπα, αν και επιστημονικά πολύ ενδιαφέροντα, σχετίζονται απλώς με τον πασιφανή επαρχιωτισμό μερίδας της εγχώριας κυρίαρχης ακαδημαϊκής εκπαιδευτικής κοινότητας.

Αντί επιλόγου

Θα κλείσουμε μέσα στο κλίμα της εκπαιδευτικής συγκυρίας. Αποφασίσαμε να δημιουργήσουμε και εμείς ρουμπρίκες (ή έστω ρούμπρικες) αξιολόγησης και ακολουθώντας την παρότρυνση του ΙΕΠ για μια από τα κάτω προς τα πάνω (bottom – up) αξιολόγηση, διαμορφώσαμε διαβαθμισμένα κριτήρια αποτίμησης του επιστημονικού έργου του ίδιου του ΙΕΠ. Νομίζουμε, άλλωστε, ότι υπάρχει κοινή συναίνεση στην ανάγκη επιβολής παντού μιας κουλτούρας αξιολόγησης και, άρα, και της ανάγκης να αναπτυχθούν χρηστικά εργαλεία αποτίμησης της απόδοσης, όσων κατέχουν καίριες θέσεις στον εκπαιδευτικό σχεδιασμό της χώρας.


1.1 Χρήση βιβλιογραφικών πηγών.

Περιγραφικός χαρακτηρισμός

Δεν έχει πλήρη εποπτεία της επιστημονικής βιβλιογραφίας του υπό μελέτη αντικειμένου. Οι αναφορές του είναι επιλεκτικές, αποκρύπτοντας απόψεις στην υπάρχουσα βιβλιογραφία που δεν συμφωνούν με τη δική του και συχνά παραποιεί τα επιχειρήματα και τις θέσεις των επιστημονικών έργων στα οποία παραπέμπει. Οικειοποιείται θέσεις που δεν είναι δικές του χωρίς σαφή βιβλιογραφική αναφορά, με αποτέλεσμα να μην καθίσταται σαφές τι είναι δικό του και τι αποτελεί θέση άλλου επιστήμονα ή θεωρητικού. Δεν παρουσιάζει πρωτότυπες επιστημονικές απόψεις και το έργο του χαρακτηρίζεται ως συμπίλημα ήδη γνωστών στην επιστημονική κοινότητα θέσεων και απόψεων. Δεν μπορεί να ιεραρχήσει τη διαφοροποιημένη επιστημονική αξία των απόψεων και επιστημόνων που παρουσιάζει και ταυτίζει γενικά, τη βιβλιογραφική και επιστημονική έρευνα με την αναζήτηση πληροφοριών στο Διαδίκτυο μέσω των διάφορων μηχανών αναζήτησης (google κτλ).

Ελλιπής (0-30)

Έχει βασική γνώση της βιβλιογραφίας του υπό μελέτη αντικειμένου. Τεκμηριώνει τις θέσεις του με αναφορά στην υπάρχουσα βιβλιογραφία και παρουσιάζει με σαφήνεια και αντικειμενικότητα τις θέσεις που ήδη ενυπάρχουν στην επιστημονική κοινότητα γύρω από το συγκεκριμένο αντικείμενο μελέτης.

Επαρκής (31-60)

Πολύ καλός (61-80)

Όχι μόνο γνωρίζει την υπάρχουσα βιβλιογραφία, αλλά κατανοεί και τις διακριτές πολιτικές και ιδεολογικές προϋποθέσεις του υπό μελέτη αντικειμένου, τον κοινωνικό προσδιορισμό των απόψεων που έχουν ήδη διατυπωθεί από την υπάρχουσα βιβλιογραφία και ευρύτερα, την αντιπαραθετική, διαλογική φύση της επιστημονικής έρευνας. Διευκρινίζει με σαφή και ανοικτό τρόπο τη δική του θέση μέσα στην υπάρχουσα επιστημονική συζήτηση.

Εξαιρετικός (81 -100)

Εξαιρετικός, εφόσον, πλέον της προηγούμενης υποπερίπτωσης, ανοίγει νέους δρόμους στην επιστημονική συζήτηση και το έργο του γίνεται το ίδιο, σημείο βιβλιογραφικής αναφοράς από άλλους επιστήμονες και ερευνητές. Κατανοεί πλήρως το σύνθετο πλέγμα των σχέσεων εξουσίας – γνώσης- κυρίαρχης ιδεολογίας, που χαρακτηρίζει γενικά το επιστημονικό πεδίο και τοποθετείται από την πλευρά της άρσης κάθε προσπάθειας χειραγώγησης της μεγάλης κοινωνικής πλειοψηφίας.

Περιγραφικός χαρακτηρισμός

Αδιαφορεί πλήρως για τις κοινωνικές και πολιτικές επιπτώσεις της επιστημονικής του έρευνας. Πολύ εύκολα υποτάσσει τις επιστημονικές του γνώσεις σε θεσμούς που έχουν κίνητρα και στόχους που δεν συμβάλλουν ή υπονομεύουν ανοικτά τη γενική ευημερία, με στόχο το προσωπικό όφελος. Ενδιαφέρεται κυρίως για την προσωπική του προβολή και υποτάσσει τη γνώση του στην μεγιστοποίηση των προσωπικών του υλικών απολαβών και προνομίων. Πολύ εύκολα τροποποιεί τις θέσεις του και εργαλειοποιεί ή διαστρεβλώνει πορίσματα του επιστημονικού του πεδίου, προκειμένου να ικανοποιήσει είτε τα προσωπικά του συμφέροντα ή εξουσιαστικούς μηχανισμούς έξω από το επιστημονικό του πεδίο. Επιδιώκει, με το έργο του, να προσδώσει “αντικειμενικότητα” και επιστημονικό κύρος σε βαθύτατα αντικοινωνικές πρακτικές .

Ελλιπής (0-30)

Γνωρίζει και σέβεται το δημόσιο χαρακτήρα της επιστημονικής γνώσης και δεν υποκύπτει σε εξωτερικές πιέσεις προσαρμογής των επιστημονικών πορισμάτων του σε εξουσιαστικούς μηχανισμούς και αντικοινωνικούς θεσμούς.

Επαρκής (31-60)

Πολύ καλός (61-80)

Συνδέει άμεσα την επιστημονική του γνώση και το επιστημονικό του κύρος με την ευημερία της μεγάλης κοινωνικής πλειοψηφίας. Συμβάλλει με το έργο του και την πρακτική του στη συνολική μορφωτική ενδυνάμωση όλων των μελών της κοινωνίας

Εξαιρετικός (81 -100)

Εξαιρετικός, εφόσον, πλέον της προηγούμενης υποπερίπτωσης, κατανοεί ότι η εκλαΐκευση της επιστήμης και η μορφωτική χειραφέτηση όλης της κοινωνίας, προϋποθέτει την άρση όλων εκείνων των εξουσιαστικών εκμεταλλευτικών σχέσεων που οδηγούν στον αποκλεισμό της μεγάλης κοινωνικής πλειοψηφίας από τα αγαθά της γνώσης και της παιδείας. Στρατεύεται ενεργά στην πάλη για μια κοινωνία ισότητας, δικαιοσύνης και δημοκρατίας, χωρίς προνόμια και ταξικούς διαχωρισμούς.

Στη συνέχεια σας παρατίθεται ο πρώτος δείκτης με ενδεικτικά παραδείγματα συμπεριφοράς στην εξέλιξή τους από βαθμίδα/επίπεδο σε βαθμίδα/επίπεδο. Σας ζητείτε να εφαρμόσετε το αντίστοιχο σε κάθε υποπερίπτωση των προτεινόμενων δεικτών με βάση την παρατήρηση “υψηλού συμπερασμού” (high inference), όπου η συμπεριφορά συνεπάγεται μέσα από ενδείξεις.

Περιγραφικός χαρακτηρισμός

Ο ερευνητής παραπέμπει σε θεωρητικούς που υποστηρίζουν διαμετρικά διαφορετικές θέσεις με τον ίδιο, προσπαθώντας μέσω επιλεκτικών και παραποιημένων αναφορών να καταδείξει την καθολικότητα και την ευρύτερη επιστημονική θεμελίωση των δικών του θέσεων. Αντιγράφει πλήρως θέσεις ήδη γνωστές στην επιστημονική κοινότητα και μάλιστα από αμφισβητούμενου επιστημονικού κύρους διανοητές.

Ι.1 Ελλιπής

Ι.2 Πολύ καλός

Παρουσιάζει με συνοπτικό τρόπο το πεδίο της επιστημονικής συζήτησης του υπό μελέτη αντικειμένου και δηλώνει με ξεκάθαρο τρόπο τη δική του θέση. Αναδεικνύει την πολλαπλότητα των διαφορετικών θέσεων που έχουν διατυπωθεί και την πολιτικο-ιδεολογική διάσταση κάθε μιας από αυτές.

Με βάση τα παραπάνω μπορεί ο καθένας να αξιολογήσει, το επιμορφωτικό υλικό του Π.Δ και τους πολιτικούς του εμπνευστές. Το μαχόμενο ριζοσπαστικό εκπαιδευτικό κίνημα έχει, σε κάθε περίπτωση, κάνει ήδη και την αξιολόγησή του και τις πολιτικές του επιλογές. Θα καταργήσει στην πράξη το σύγχρονο εκπαιδευτικό μεσαίωνα και μαζί και τους ιδεολογικούς κέρβερους του νεο-επιθεωρητισμού.

Βιβλιογραφικές Αναφορές

[1] Βλέπε Καλημερίδης Γ. 2013, Αθανασιάδης Χ. 2013, Διαμαντής Κ. 2014, Νούτσος Χ. 2014, Παυλίδης Π. 2014.

[2] ΙΕΠ 2014 : 4.

[3] Η χρήση της λέξης “ρούμπρικες” από τους συντάκτες του επιμορφωτικού υλικού, συνιστά παρατονισμό, αφού η λέξη είναι μεταφραστικό δάνειο από τη γαλλική γλώσσα (rubrique) που σημαίνει (μεταξύ άλλων) στήλη άρθρου σε εφημερίδα ή περιοδικό. Η σωστή λοιπόν τονικά εκδοχή της λέξης είναι ρουμπρίκες.

[4] Βλέπε για το συγκεκριμένο ζήτημα που είναι κεντρικό στη συγκριτική παιδαγωγική ενδεικτικά Ball S 1998 και Levin B. 1998.

[5] Αναλυτικά Hursh D. 2014 Ravitch D. 2010.

[6] Βλέπε για την εξέλιξη της ομοσπονδιακής εκπαιδευτικής πολιτικής McGuinn P. 2006.

[7] Hursh D. στο ίδιο σελ. 579

[8] New York State Department 2014.

[9] Βλέπε αναλυτικά το πολύ ενδιαφέρον άρθρο του Hursh D. 2013, στο οποίο βασιστήκαμε για την παρουσίαση της εκπαιδευτικής μεταρρύθμισης στη Νέα Υόρκη.

[10] IEΠ 2014:15

[11] Βλέπε Ravitch D. 2010a.

[12] Σύμφωνα με την Darling Hammond, “ Δεν υιοθετούμε μια ατομικιστική, ανταγωνιστική προσέγγιση κατανομής και ιεράρχησης των εκπαιδευτικών που υπονομεύει την ανάπτυξη των κοινοτήτων μάθησης” (όπου 2014: 4).

[13] ΟΕCD 2013:38.

[14] Singer A. 2013.

[15] Βλέπε Μαυρογιώργος Γ. 2002:145-6.

[16] Επισυνάπτουμε, σε κάθε περίπτωση, ως παράρτημα όλο το κείμενο του “Πλαισίου Διδασκαλίας”, προκειμένου η εκπαιδευτική κοινότητα να σχηματίσει τη δική της εικόνα. Μπορεί να αντληθεί από εδώ.

[17] Berliner D. 2009 . Επισημαίνουμε απλά ότι πρόσφατα δημοσιεύτηκε η έκθεση της Unicef για την κοινωνική και οικονομική κατάσταση των παιδιών στη μνημονιακή Ελλάδα. Η Ελλάδα παρουσιάζει τα μεγαλύτερα ποσοστά αύξησης των παιδιών που ζουν σε συνθήκες φτώχειας σε όλη την Ε.Ε. Αυτό το γεγονός αφενός αποσιωπάται με την παρουσίαση ερευνών από τις ΗΠΑ και αφετέρου είναι ασαφές πώς αυτή η πραγματικότητα ενσωματώνεται στο Π.Δ και το επιμορφωτικό του υλικό.

[18] Apple M. 2002, σε μια έκδοση μάλιστα που έχει ως στόχο να απομυθοποιήσει το δογματισμό της αξιολόγησης του εκπαιδευτικού.



Αθανασιάδης Χ. (2013), Αξιολογώντας την αξιολόγηση. Μια εσωτερική κριτική του Π.Δ για την αξιολόγηση των εκπαιδευτικών. On line δίκτυο alfavita: εδώ

Apple M. (2002) “Αν η αξιολόγηση του εκπαιδευτικού είναι η απάντηση, ποια είναι η ερώτηση; στο Κάτσικας Χ – Καββαδίας Γ. (επιμ.), Η αξιολόγηση στην εκπαίδευση. Ποιος, ποιον και γιατί. Αθήνα: εκδ. Σαββάλα.

Unicef (2013), “H κατάσταση των παιδιών στην Ελλάδα” (Αθήνα: Ελληνική Επιτροπή της Unicef).

Διαμαντής Κώστας (2014), “Αξιολόγηση εκπαιδευτικών: Μια κριτική του σχετικού Προεδρικού Διατάγματος” On line δίκτυο alfavita: εδώ

Ινστιτούτο Εκπαιδευτικής Πολιτικής (2014), “Προκαταρκτικές ενέργειες για την εφαρμογή του συστήματος αξιολόγησης. Επιμορφωτικό υλικό για την αξιολόγηση στελεχών και εκπαιδευτικών πρωτοβάθμιας και δευτεροβάθμιας εκπαίδευσης (Π.Δ152/2013)”. Αθήνα: ΙΕΠ.

Καλημερίδης Γ . (2013), “Πειθαρχικός έλεγχος και εξουσία . Το Π.Δ για την αξιολόγηση των εκπαιδευτικών” . Περιοδικό Αντιτετράδια τευχ. 103.

Μαυρογιώργος Γ. (2002), “Αξιολόγηση του εκπαιδευτικού: η εναρμόνιση του πανοπτισμού” στο Κάτσικας Χ- Καββαδίας Γ. (επιμ.), Η αξιολόγηση στην εκπαίδευση. Ποιος, ποιον και γιατί. Αθήνα: εκδ. Σαββάλα.

Νούτσος Χ. (2014), “Η αξιολόγηση των εκπαιδευτικών : το ακατάλληλο όργανο”. Εφημερίδα Αυγή 6 Απρίλη 0n line: εδώ

Παυλίδης Π. (2014), “Αξιολόγηση εκπαιδευτικών και βελτίωση του εκπαιδευτικού έργου”. Διάλεξη στο ίδρυμα Θρακικής τέχνης on line: εδώ


Ball S. (1998), «Big policies / small world: an introduction to international perspectives in education policy». Comparative Education vol.34 no.2.

Berliner D. (2009), “Poverty and Potential: out of school factors and school success”. Arizona: Education Policy Research Unit.

Danielson C. (2007), “Enhancing professional practice: a framework for teaching”. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Danielson C. (2013), “The Framework for Teaching: Evaluation Instrument”. Princeton: Danielson Group.

Darling Hammond L. (2014), “ On piece of the whole. Teacher evaluation as a part of a comprehensive system for teaching and learning”. American Educator spring 2014.

Ηursh D. (2013), “Raising the stakes : high stakes testing and the attack on public education in the New York city”. Journal of education policy vol.28 no.5.

Levin B. (1998) « An epidemic of educational policy – making. What can we learn from each other». Comparative Education vol 34 no2.

McGuinn P. (2006), “No chlid left behind and the transformation of federal education policy 1965-2005”. Lawrence: University press of Kansas

New York State Department (2014), “Guidance of the New York State’ s annual professional review fr teachers and principals – to implement Education Law 3012”. New York 2014.

OECD (2013), “Teachers for the 21st century. Using evaluation to improve teaching”. OECD publishing.

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αναδημοσίευση από την Εκπαιδευτική Λέσχh


Act Now to Keep Students Safe

Saturday, 26 April 2014 10:03 By Bill Lichtenstein, Truthout | Op-Ed


This story wasn’t funded by corporate advertising, but by readers like you. Can you help sustain our work with a tax-deductible donation?

A critical window of time is closing to protect America’s kids against restraint and seclusion in schools. According to data just released from the US Department of Education Office of Civil Rights, 107,000 kids were subjected to physical restraint or were confined to seclusion rooms in schools during the years 2011 and 2012.

To protect kids nationally, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Rep. George Miller, D-California, have introduced the federal Keeping All Students Safe Act (Senate Bill 2036; House Resolution 1893), which would ban the use of restraints and seclusion in schools except in cases of a bona fide emergency. However, with Harkin and Miller, both passionate champions of this issue and legislation, set to retire from Congress at the end of this year, the fate of this bill protecting students against restraint and seclusion in school is uncertain if the bill is not passed during this session.

As a journalist who has covered child welfare issues over four decades, the story of the use of physical restraint and seclusion rooms in schools remains a deeply personal one for me. In 2006, I learned that my daughter Rose, who was 6 at the time, had been locked inside a broom closet in the basement stairwell of her school in Lexington, Massachusetts, over a three-month period, sometimes for up to several times in a day. She was found naked, standing in her own pee, after she removed her clothes so as not to soil herself. I would later write about her horrific treatment and expose the widespread use of restraints and seclusion rooms in schools across the country, setting off a firestorm in communities nationwide over these shocking practices.

Parents, journalists and lawmakers mobilized throughout the country and visited their local schools to find out if restraint and seclusion were being used with their kids. In many cases, they were shocked to find out that they were. Over the past 18 months, state and local legislation and rules limiting or banning the use of restraints and seclusion in schools were passed.

In Reno, Nevada, for example, 12 seclusion rooms that were found to have been in use had their doors removed, were repainted, and other uses were found for the spaces, with Frank Selvaggio, the student service director, saying, «The vast majority of our educators would never even think of trying to do something inappropriate like forcing a child to go into a room.»

In Oregon, Gov. John Kitzhaber signed a 2013 law that prohibits use of restraints in schools.

And the issue cuts across the legislative aisle: In Arizona, conservative Republican Gov. Jan Brewer signed legislation into law in April 2013 that limits the use of seclusion rooms in schools.

However, currently only 19 states have laws on the books restricting the use of physical restraints and seclusion rooms with students in schools. In Idaho, Mississippi, North Dakota, New Jersey and South Dakota there have been no laws limiting the use of restraints and seclusion in schools, not even ones mandating that parents be notified when their children are subjected to these practices. The wide range of rules nationwide has led Miller to compare the situation to «the Wild West.»

Meanwhile, the toll on kids is high. Of the 70,000 students who were subjected to physical restraint and 37,000 who were confined to seclusion rooms during 2011 and 2012, according to the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights data, students with special needs or disabilities were disproportionately affected. While students with special needs represent only 12 percent of the national student population, they represent 58 percent of those who were placed in seclusion or involuntary confinement and 75 percent of those who were physically restrained at school. Students of color with disabilities represent 36 percent of those who were physically restrained at school, despite accounting for only 19 percent of all students nationally.

And the outcome for kids can be fatal. Sixteen year-old Corey Foster died while being restrained on a school basketball court in Yonkers, NY, and 13-year-old Jonathan King hanged himself in a Georgia school after being left alone in a seclusion room, leading to a statewide ban on the use of isolation rooms.

Don King discusses the death of his son, 13 year-old Jonathan, who hung himself after being left in a Georgia school seclusion room.

At the February 12 introduction of the Senate Keeping All Students Safe Act, Harkin compared the seclusion rooms he had seen in schools with cells for terrorists at the military prison that he visited in Guantanamo, Cuba, and Robert Ernst, a former student from Lexington, Massachusetts, described being dragged into and then locked in a seclusion room at his school.

«Hearing the stories of these students and parents – and the legal challenges they faced when seeking change – it became clear that strong action was necessary to help them and thousands of families like them. I introduced the Keeping All Students Safe Act to ensure that we put an end to these practices, which have no place in the classroom,» Harkin said in a statement to the Huffington Post.

Both sponsors of the bill, Harkin and Miller, are retiring from Congress in 2014. In their absence, advocates are concerned that it will likely be difficult to get this legislation introduced and passed in future sessions.

«In order for the Keeping All Students Safe Act to become law this Congress, it needs to start moving through committee . . . in the spring or early summer in order to see it pass the full Congress this fall,» Julia Krahe, the spokeswoman for Miller’s Committee on Education and the Workforce, told the Huffington Post.

Staff members of both the Senate and House committees agree that it’s critical that concerned parents, advocates, educators and the public call Washington and let their federal senators and representative know how they feel about the use of restraints and seclusion in schools and the importance of the Keeping All Students Safe Act. Without that groundswell of support, they say, the bill may well die.

May 8 is Children’s Mental Health Day, and it has been targeted as a National Day of Calling to Keep Students Safe. It’s critical that you and others you know pick up the phone and call your senators and representative to let them know how you feel about physical restraints and seclusion rooms in school and about the Keeping All Students Safe Act.


Diane Ravitch: School privatization is a hoax, “reformers” aim to destroy public schools

Our public schools aren’t in decline. And «reformers» with wild promises don’t care about education — just profits

Diane Ravitch: School privatization is a hoax, "reformers" aim to destroy public schools (Credit: Lightspring via Shutterstock/Salon)

As long as anyone can remember, critics have been saying that the schools are in decline. They used to be the best in the world, they say, but no longer. They used to have real standards, but no longer. They used to have discipline, but no longer. What the critics seldom acknowledge is that our schools have changed as our society has changed. Some who look longingly to a golden age in the past remember a time when the schools educated only a small fraction of the population.

But the students in the college-bound track of fifty years ago did not get the high quality of education that is now typical in public schools with Advanced Placement courses or International Baccalaureate programs or even in the regular courses offered in our top city and suburban schools. There are more remedial classes today, but there are also more public school students with special needs, more students who don’t read English, more students from troubled families, and fewer students dropping out. As for discipline, it bears remembering a 1955 film called “Blackboard Jungle,” about an unruly, violent inner-city school where students bullied other students. The students in this school were all white. Today, public schools are often the safest places for children in tough neighborhoods.

The claim that the public schools are in decline is not new. In his Pulitzer Prize-winning book “Anti-intellectualism in American Life,” Richard Hofstadter characterized writing on education in the United States as “a literature of acid criticism and bitter complaint . . . The educational jeremiad is as much a feature of our literature as the jeremiad in the Puritan sermons.” From the 1820s to our own time, reformers have complained about low standards, ignorant teachers, and incompetent school boards. He noted that anyone longing for the “good old days” would have difficulty finding a time when critics were not bemoaning the quality of the public schools.

There is a tendency nowadays to hark back with nostalgia to the mythical good old days, usually imagined as about forty or fifty years ago. But few people seem to realize there never was a time when everyone succeeded in school. When present-day critics refer to what they assume was a better past, they look back to a time when a large proportion of American youths did not complete high school and only a small minority completed four years of college. In those supposedly halcyon days, the schools in many states were racially segregated, as were most colleges and universities. Children with disabilities did not have a right to a free public education until after the passage of federal legislation in 1975 and were often excluded from public schools. Nor did schools enroll significant numbers of non-English-speaking students in the 1940s and 1950s or even the 1960s. Immigration laws restricted the admission of foreigners to the United States from the early 1920s until the mid-1960s. After the laws were changed, the schools began to enroll students from Latin America, Asia, the Middle East, Russia, Africa, and other parts of the world that had previously arrived in small numbers.

Thus, those who now sharply criticize the public schools speak fondly of an era when most schools were racially segregated; when public schools were not required to accept children with physical, mental, and emotional handicaps; when there were relatively few students who did not speak or read English; and when few graduated from high school and went to college.

Indifferent to history, today’s corporate reformers insist that the public schools are in an unprecedented crisis. They tell us that children must be able to “escape” their “failing public schools.” They claim they are “for the children,” unlike their teachers, who are not for the children. They would have the public believe that children and their teachers are in warring camps. They put “children first” or “students first.” Their policies, they say, will make us competitive and give us “great teachers” and “great schools” in every community. They say they know how to “close the achievement gap,” and they claim to be leading “the civil rights issue of our time.” Their policies, they say, will make our children into “global competitors.” They will protect our national security. They will make America strong again. The corporate reformers play to our anxieties, even rekindling dormant Cold War fears that we may be in jeopardy as a nation if we don’t buy what they are selling.

The critics want the public to believe that our public schools are a clear and present danger to our society. Unless there is radical change, they say, our society will fall apart. Our economy will disappear. Our national security is in danger. The message is clear: public education threatens all that we hold dear.

Recognizing that most Americans have a strong attachment to their community schools, the corporate reformers have taken care to describe their aims in pseudo-populist terms. While trying to scare us with warnings of dire peril, they mask their agenda with rhetoric that is soothing and deceptive. Though they speak of “reform,” what they really mean is deregulation and privatization. When they speak of “accountability,” what they really mean is a rigid reliance on standardized testing as both the means and the end of education. When they speak of “effective teachers,” what they mean is teachers whose students produce higher scores on standardized tests every year, not teachers who inspire their students to love learning. When they speak of “innovation,” they mean replacing teachers with technology to cut staffing costs. When they speak of “no excuses,” they mean a boot-camp culture where students must obey orders and rules without question.

When they speak of “personalized instruction,” they mean putting children in front of computers with algorithms that supposedly adjust content and test questions to the ability level of the student but actually sacrifice human contact with a real teacher. When they speak of “achievement” or “performance,” they mean higher scores on standardized tests. When they speak of “data-driven instruction,” they mean that test scores and graduation rates should be the primary determinant of what is best for children and schools. When they speak of “competition,” they mean deregulated charters and deregulated private schools competing with highly regulated public schools. When they speak of “a successful school,” they refer only to its test scores, not to a school that is the center of its community, with a great orchestra, an enthusiastic chorus, a hardworking chess team, a thriving robotics program, or teachers who have dedicated their lives to helping the students with the highest needs (and often the lowest scores).

The reformers define the purpose of education as preparation for global competitiveness, higher education, or the workforce. They view students as “human capital” or “assets.” One seldom sees any reference in their literature or public declarations to the importance of developing full persons to assume the responsibilities of citizenship.

Of equal importance are the topics that corporate reformers don’t talk about. Seldom do they protest budget cuts, no matter how massive they may be. They do not complain when governors and legislatures cut billions from the public schools while claiming to be reformers. They do not protest rising rates of child poverty. They do not complain about racial segregation. They see no harm in devoting more time and resources to standardized testing. They are not heard from when districts cut the arts, libraries, and physical education while spending more on testing. They do not complain when federal or state or city officials announce plans to test children in kindergarten or even pre-kindergarten.

They do not complain about increased class size. They do not object to scripted curricula or teachers’ loss of professional autonomy.

They do not object when experienced teachers are replaced by recruits who have only a few weeks of training. They close their eyes to evidence that charters enroll disproportionately small numbers of children with disabilities, or those from troubled homes, or English-language learners (in fact, they typically deny any such disparities, even when documented by state and federal data). They do not complain when for-profit corporations run charter schools or when educational services are outsourced to for-profit businesses. Indeed, they welcome entrepreneurs into the reform community as investors and partners.

If the American public understood that reformers want to privatize their public schools and divert their taxes to pay profits to investors, it would be hard to sell the corporate idea of reform. If parents understood that the reformers want to close down their community schools and require them to go shopping for schools, some far from home, that may or may not accept their children, it would be hard to sell the corporate idea of reform. If the American public understood that the very concept of education was being disfigured into a mechanism to apply standardized testing and sort their children into data points on a normal curve, it would be hard to sell the corporate idea of reform.

If the American public understood that their children’s teachers will be judged by the same test scores that label their children as worthy or unworthy, it would be hard to sell the corporate idea of reform. If the American public knew how inaccurate and unreliable these methods are, both for children and for teachers, it would be hard to sell the corporate idea of reform. And that is why the reform message must be rebranded to make it palatable to the public.

The leaders of the privatization movement call themselves reformers, but their premises are strikingly different from those of reformers in the past. In earlier eras, reformers wanted such things as a better curriculum, better-prepared teachers, better funding, more equitable funding, smaller classes, and desegregation, which they believed would lead to better public schools. By contrast, today’s reformers insist that public education is a failed enterprise and that all these strategies have been tried and failed.

They assert that the best way to save education is to hand it over to private management and let the market sort out the winners and the losers. They wish to substitute private choices for the public’s responsibility to provide good schools for all children. They lack any understanding of the crucial role of public schools in a democracy.

The central premise of this movement is that our public schools are in decline. But this is not true. The public schools are working very well for most students. Contrary to popular myth, the scores on the no-stakes federal tests— the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) — are at an all-time high for students who are white, black, Hispanic, and Asian. Graduation rates are also at an all-time high.

More young people than ever are entering college. Even more would go to college if the costs were not so high.

Of course some schools and districts have very low test scores and low graduation rates, and this has always been true. Most of these schools and districts have two features in common: poverty and high concentrations of racial minorities. The combination of these two factors is associated with low test scores. Children whose parents are poor and have low educational attainment tend to have lower test scores.

Children who are poor receive less medical attention and less nutrition and experience more stress, disruption, and crises in their lives. These factors have an ongoing and profound effect on academic performance.

That is why poor children need even more stability, more support, smaller class sizes, and more attention from their teachers and others in their schools, but often receive far less, due to underfunding.

Unfortunately, many people are unwilling to address the root causes of poor school outcomes, because doing so is either too politically difficult or too costly.

They believe it is faster, simpler, and less expensive to privatize the public schools than do anything substantive to reduce poverty and racial isolation or to provide the nurturing environments and well-rounded education that children from prosperous families receive.

Instead, the privatization movement nonchalantly closes the schools attended by poor children and destabilizes their lives. The privatization agenda excites the interest of edu-entrepreneurs, who see it as a golden opportunity to make money. But it is bad for our society. It undermines the sense of collective responsibility for collective needs. It hurts public education not only by attacking its effectiveness and legitimacy but by laying claim to its revenues. The money allocated to privately managed charters and vouchers represents a transfer of critical public resources to the private sector, causing the public schools to suffer budget cuts and loss of staffing and services as the private sector grows, without providing better education or better outcomes for the students who transfer to the private-sector schools.

Reformers in every era have used the schools as punching bags. In one era, progressives complained that the schools were obsolete, backward, mindless, rigid, and out of step with the demands of the modern age. Then, in their turn, came anti-progressives or “essentialists” who complained that the schools had grown soft, standards and curriculum had collapsed, and students were not learning as much as they once did.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, reformers lambasted the schools, saying they were too academic and ignored the economy’s need for trained workers. In 1914, Congress passed the first federal legislation to encourage industrial and vocational education so that schools could prepare young people for jobs on the nation’s farms and factories. In the 1930s, with millions of people out of work, reformers blamed the schools for their inability to keep students enrolled and out of the ranks of the unemployed. Reformers called on the schools to be more attentive to the needs of adolescents so as to entice them to stay in school longer. The New Deal created the Civilian Conservation Corps and the National Youth Administration to provide education and training for young people during the Depression.

In the 1940s, reformers complained that the schools were obsolete and were failing to give students the skills they needed for life and work; “life adjustment education” became the reformers’ battle cry. In the 1950s, reformers said that the schools had forgotten the basics and needed to raise academic standards and return to time-honored subject matter disciplines. In the 1960s, reformers said that the schools were too academic and that students were stifled by routine and dreary assignments; the reformers wanted more spontaneity, more freedom, and fewer requirements for students. At the same time, the civil rights movement achieved major gains, and the schools became the focus of national legislation and Supreme Court rulings that required desegregation.

In the late 1970s, a backlash against the reform ideas of the 1960s and early 1970s led to the rise of minimum competency testing and, once again, a return to the basics. Despite the pendulum swings, despite the critics and reform movements, the American public continued to be grateful for public education and to admire its community schools.

Then came the 1980s, with a stern warning in 1983 from the National Commission on Excellence in Education that we were “a nation at risk” because of the low standards and low expectations in our schools. Our national slippage was caused, said the commission, by “a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a Nation and a people.”

This mediocre educational performance was nothing less than “an act of unthinking, unilateral educational disarmament.” The alarmist rhetoric was excessive, but it was enough to generate media attention and caused many states to raise their graduation requirements. In response to the dire warnings in the 1983 report, standards, testing, and accountability became the national agenda for school reform.

Many policy makers agreed: set higher standards; test to see if students have mastered them; hold back students or prevent them from graduating if they don’t pass. There was no research to support these strategies, but they were widely accepted anyway, as were proposals to reward the schools that succeeded on state tests and penalize those that did not. The first Bush administration embraced these ideas, as did the Clinton administration. The second Bush administration made testing and accountability the federal agenda with passage of its No Child Left Behind legislation.

Somehow, in the midst of all this nonstop controversy and criticism, the public schools continued teaching generations of students. And somehow, despite the endless complaints and policy churn, the American economy continued to be the largest in the world. And somehow, American culture continued to be a creative and vibrant force, reshaping the cultures of other nations (for better or worse). Our democracy survived, and American technological innovations changed the way people live around the globe. Despite the alleged failures of the schools that educated the vast majority of them, American workers are among the most productive in the world.

After the publication of “A Nation at Risk: The Imperative For Educational Reform” in 1983, public discourse about the nation’s educational system settled on the unfounded belief that America’s public schools were locked into an arc of decline. Report after report was issued by commissions, task forces, and study groups, purporting to document the “crisis” in American education, the “crisis” of student achievement, the “crisis” of high school dropouts, the “crisis” of bad teachers.

News magazines like Time and Newsweek published stories about the crisis, television networks ran specials about the crisis, editorialists opined about the causes of the crisis. The steady drumbeat of negative journalism had its effect: Public opinion about the quality of American public education dropped from 1973 to 2012. In 1973, 58 percent of Americans felt confident about the public schools, but by 2012 their approval rating had dropped to only 29 percent (which still was higher than public confidence in banks and big business, which stood at 21 percent, or Congress at 13 percent).

In striking contrast, Americans whose children attended public schools continued to have a very high opinion of their own schools. In another Gallup poll in 2012, only 19 percent of the public gave an A or a B to the nation’s public schools, but 77 percent of parents awarded high marks to their own public school, the one they knew best. Two-thirds of respondents said they read mostly “bad stories” in the media about public schools. So, the parents who had the most direct experience with the schools thought well of them, but the relentless negative coverage by the media very likely drove down the general public’s estimation of American public education.

More recently, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation dedicated its considerable energies to persuading the public and policy makers that the nation’s public schools are failing. In 2005, Bill Gates told the nation’s governors that the nation’s high schools were “obsolete” and “broken.” At that time, he wanted to redesign the American high school by making schools smaller, with the goal that every student would be prepared to enter college. Three years later, his foundation abandoned its small-school initiative, having spent $2 billion to persuade districts to replace their comprehensive high schools with schools too small to offer a balanced curriculum. Despite this setback, Gates remained certain that the public school system was obsolete and broken. The solution, his foundation now believed, was to develop new evaluation systems that could identify ineffective teachers so that there would be an effective teacher in every classroom.

In 2012, Melinda Gates was interviewed on the PBS “NewsHour.” When the interviewer asked her what was “working and what can scale up,” she responded:

If you look back a decade ago, when we started into this work, there wasn’t even a conversation across the nation about the fact that our schools were broken, fundamentally broken. And I think that dialogue has changed. I think the American public has woken up to the fact now that schools are broken. We’re not serving our kids well.

They’re not being educated for the — for technology society.

The Gates Foundation and others financed a lavish, well-coordinated media campaign to spread the word about our broken public schools; its leading edge was a documentary film called “Waiting for Superman.” The film, which included interviews with Michelle Rhee, Bill Gates, and the economist Eric Hanushek, among others, made the central points that public education was failing, that resources don’t matter, and that the best ways to fix the national crisis of low test scores were to expand the number of privately managed charters, fire ineffective teachers, and weaken the unions that protected them. It was released in September 2010 with an unprecedented publicity campaign, funded in large part by the Gates Foundation, and was featured on the cover of Time magazine. The film was also the centerpiece of a week of programming on NBC, which the network called “Education Nation,” as well as the subject of two programs on Oprah Winfrey’s popular television show.

The film told the story of five children who were desperate to enroll in privately managed charter schools and whose hopes depended on winning the lottery to gain admission. Each child was adorable, and the viewers’ emotions became engaged with their plights and their dreams of escaping from awful public schools (and in one case a Catholic school). The film painted public schools as failures whose teachers were self-centered, uncaring, and incompetent. The statistics in the film about poor educational performance were misleading and erroneous, as was its idyllic portrait of charter schools. Yet the producers and promoters of the film made sure it was viewed as widely as possible, giving free screenings throughout the country to parent groups, state legislatures, even to the national conference of the PTA.

“Waiting for Superman” provided the charter school movement with a degree of public visibility it had never had. It also gave the movement a populist patina, making it seem that if you were concerned about the plight of poor inner-city children, you would certainly support the creation of many more charter schools. The film burnished the claim by charter advocates that they were involved in “the civil rights issue of our time,” because they were leading the battle to provide more choice to poor and disadvantaged children trapped in low-performing public schools.

The film’s narrative, as well as the larger public discussion, was directed away from the controversial issue of privatization to the ideologically appealing concept of choice. Reformers don’t like to mention the word “privatization,” although this is indeed the driving ideological force behind the movement. “Choice” remains the preferred word, since it suggests that parents should be seen as consumers with the ability to exercise their freedom to leave one school and select another. The new movement for privatization has enabled school choice to transcend its tarnished history as an escape route for southern whites who sought to avoid court-ordered desegregation in the 1950s and 1960s.

To advance the privatization agenda, it was necessary never to mention the P word and to keep repeating the C word. After all, the public had no reason to be enthusiastic about the takeover of one of its essential public institutions by private financiers and entrepreneurs. Privatization of libraries, hospitals, prisons, and other basic services had long been hailed by those on the political right, but how could one persuade entire communities to hand over their children and their public schools to private sector corporations, some of which hoped to turn a profit off their children, in order to reward their shareholders? The only way to accomplish this sleight of hand was to pursue a skillful public relations campaign that drummed in the message, over and over, that our public schools are failures, that these failures harm our children and threaten our nation’s future prosperity. Repeat it often enough, and people would come to believe that any alternative would be better than the current system.

Once that message sank in, Americans would be ready for the antidote: eliminating the public schools they had long known and cherished as the centers of their communities.

The prestigious Council on Foreign Relations issued a report in 2012 intended to provoke fears that the public schools not only were failing but endangered the future survival of our nation. Joel I. Klein, former chancellor of the New York City public schools, and Condoleezza Rice, former secretary of state in the administration of President George W. Bush, were co-chairs of the task force that produced the report. The report warned that the nation’s public schools were a very grave threat to national security. It recited doleful statistics showing that students in the United States were not leading the world on international assessments but scoring only in the middle (but not mentioning that this was the same complaint that had been expressed in “A Nation at Risk” thirty years earlier). It asserted that employers could not find qualified workers and that the schools were not preparing people to serve in the military, the intelligence service, or other jobs critical to national defense.

On and on went the bill of indictment against the public schools. The task force offered three recommendations. One was that the states should adopt the Common Core standards in mathematics and reading, already endorsed by forty-six states. Since the Common Core standards have never been field-tested, no one knows whether they will raise test scores or cause the achievement gap among different racial, ethnic, and income groups to narrow or to widen. One study, by Tom Loveless of the Brookings Institution, predicted that the standards would have little or no effect on academic achievement; he noted that “from 2003 to 2009, states with terrific standards raised their National Assessment of Educational Progress scores by roughly the same margin as states with awful ones.” Loveless reported that there was as much variation within states, even those with excellent standards, as between states.

The task force’s second recommendation was that the schools of the nation should have a “national security readiness audit” to see if they were doing their job in preparing students to meet the nation’s economic and military needs. This seemed like a hollow attempt to revive Cold War fears, given that there was no military adversary comparable to the Soviet Union. The report did not suggest what agency should conduct this audit, what it would cost, and what would happen to those schools that failed it.

The key recommendation of the task force, whose members included leading figures in the corporate reform movement, was that more school choice was needed, specifically the expansion of privately managed charter schools and vouchers.

If it were true that the nation faced a very grave security threat, this was not much of a call to arms to combat it, since most states had already adopted the Common Core standards and were increasing school choice in response to the Obama administration’s Race to the Top program.

Perhaps the most curious development over the three decades from “A Nation at Risk” to the 2012 report of the Council on Foreign Relations was this: what was originally seen in 1983 as the agenda of the most libertarian Republicans — school choice — had now become the agenda of the establishment, both Republicans and Democrats. Though there was no new evidence to support this agenda and a growing body of evidence against it, the realignment of political forces on the right and the left presented the most serious challenge to the legitimacy and future of public education in our nation’s history.

Excerpted from “Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools.” Copyright © 2013 by Diane Ravitch. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


Obama Administration Plans New Rules to Grade Teacher Training Programs By MOTOKO RICHAPRIL 25, 2014

Education Secretary Arne Duncan at New York University this month. Mr. Duncan said teacher preparation should become more like medical training. Credit Michael Nagle for The New York Times
 The Obama administration announced on Friday that it was developing ratings of teacher preparation programs to make them more accountable for their graduates’ performance in the classroom.

Teacher training programs have frequently come under attack as ill-conceived or mediocre, and teachers themselves have often complained that such programs do not adequately prepare them to handle children with varying needs and abilities.

“We have about 1,400 schools of education and hundreds and hundreds of alternative certification paths, and nobody in this country can tell anybody which one is more effective than the other,” Arne Duncan, the education secretary, said at a town-hall meeting at Dunbar High School in Washington on Friday. Συνέχεια

300,000 education jobs lost, White House urges investment

By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) – Budget cuts are forcing districts to scale back on teachers and staff, resulting in larger class sizes and fewer school days, according to a White House report released Saturday.

More than 300,000 education jobs have been lost since the end of the recession in June 2009, said the report, which was prepared by the White House Council of Economic Advisers, Domestic Policy Council and National Economic Council.

«Think about what that means for our country. At a time when the rest of the world is racing to out-educate America, these cuts force our kids into crowded classrooms, cancel programs for preschoolers and kindergarteners, and shorten the school week and the school year. That’s the opposite of what we should be doing as a country,» the report quotes President Barack Obama from an address in June.

As a result of the cuts, the national student-teacher ratio increased from 2008 to 2010, from 15.3 to 16, the report said, reversing nearly a decade of gains. Typical class sizes are larger than the ratio because it includes teachers for students with disabilities and other special cases.

Some schools are also shaving the number of days students spend behind their desks by shortening the school week, school year and trimming programs like preschool and kindergarten, the report said.

The White House report, «Investing in our Future: Returning Teachers to the Classroom,» highlighted the potential consequences of such cuts: lower graduation rates and overall achievement levels. Obama also discussed teacher hiring his weekly address.

The report, which comes in an election year for Obama, also stressed the need to invest in education and praised Obama’s plan to provide $25 billion to prevent layoffs and strengthen public education, while slamming Republicans in U.S. House of Representatives for passing a budget that would cut non-defense discretionary spending by almost 20%.

Republican Mitt Romney’s education plan emphasizes school choice over efforts to reduce class sizes, a stance he said was backed by some studies, and his experiences as governor of Massachusetts. Earlier this year, he said he frequently heard teachers seek smaller class sizes, but some of the worst-performing schools in the state had small classes.

«Just getting smaller classrooms didn’t seem to be the key,» he said.

The White House report echoed some campaign rhetoric, urging action to keep students from falling behind and touting Obama’s American Jobs Act. The American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association released statements Saturday in support of Obama’s plan, warning of «poverty spiking and student enrollment increasing,» and calling class size «a critical piece of the school improvement puzzle.»

«The difference between the President’s education budget proposals and those of Congressional Republicans highlights a choice between two fundamentally different visions for our country,» the report said. «Nowhere is this contrast more clear than with regard to the choice about investments in teachers and educators as we enter the upcoming school year.»



School Privatization and the Charter School Scam: Corporate America’s Neo-Feudal Assault on Education

“The new feudalism reverses the trend of the past thousand years toward the assumption by the government of basic public amenities like policing, public roads and transport networks, and public schools. In the United States—to a degree unmatched in any other industrial democracy—these things are once again becoming private luxuries, accessible only to the affluent few.”Michael Lind 

“The privatization of schooling would produce a new, highly active and profitable industry.”—Milton Friedman

American schools are in crisis. This is especially palpable in the inner cities. Although stemming from larger social and societal problems—coupled with a federal policy that facilitates school disruption—the cause of the crisis has been leveled solely on teachers. On a largely bipartisan basis, the solution has been to fire teachers en masse, coupling this with a massive wave of school closings. Subsequently, these public schools are massively privatized, mostly in the form of charter schools. This chain of events, far from unconnected phenomena, are part of the overall project for privatizing public schools. It is an attempt, inter alia, at windfall profits and to overturn the centuries-long commitment of the state to free compulsory education. In other words, neo-feudalism.
Originally focusing on the advocacy of private school vouchers, the architects of school privatization have redirected their energies to the adoption of private charter schools. Since this crucial pivot, the movement has evolved into a much larger coalition, bringing together the forces of right-wing corporatism and Wall Street Democrats, the ostensible allies of labor. It is this convergence that existentially threatens the very notion of public education in America.
Couched in terms of genuine concern for children and through demagogic sloganeering such as “school choice” or even in terms as innocuous as “school reform,” proponents of privatization have presented themselves as the saviors of children. [1] Facing largely failing schools—again, due to larger societal factors and lack of school funding in many cases, sometimes deliberately withheld—many parents look favorably at the prospect of sending their children to private voucher or charter schools in the hopes it will provide a more viable alternative. But as the Black Agenda Report observes, “The charter school racket is the perfect Trojan Horse for corporate domination of the classroom, at public expense, opening up a new, wholly subsidized educational ‘market’ valued at hundreds of billions of dollars a year, in which the public pays and private parties profit.” Under the guise of empowering parents and communities, it transfers public assets into private hands.

Behind the scenes of the movement for the replacement of public schools with for-profit charter schools, we find legions of billionaire hedge-fund hyenas, Wall Street—the same rapacious forces that brought us the world economic depression—and cynically opportunistic political operatives working at the behest of corporate and conservative foundations. These are flanked by neoliberal Wall Street Democrats and Republicans, the strongest allies of corporate America. Wall Street wants charter schools. It wants privatization because corporate America sees a potential bonanza in profits, a multibillion dollar opportunity to loot American schools at public expense. Indeed, as Glen Ford notes, “Anyone who believes that the Lords of Capital would finance anything that puts real power in the hands of poor parents, is in need of remedial education.”

In addition to profits, it also affords a further opportunity to smash the remnants of labor unions in America. In a country where labor unions have been in a continual rout for the past four decades—under both Republican and Democratic administrations—teachers unions have become one of the last bastions of militant trade unionism. Privatizing or charterizing public schools continues the attenuation of labor because their proliferation eliminates teachers unions. In fact, the original project to privatize schools, as we shall see, held as paramount the goal of breaking the historic relationship between Black America—the most consistently progressive constituency in America—and labor unions, where blacks were represented disproportionately with respect to their percentage of the overall American population.

Right-Wing Corporate Agenda to Co-Opt Black America

The project for national school privatization largely began as a parochial right-wing initiative focusing primarily on vouchers for private schools. This was a project that, if adopted, would have exacerbated American class separation in addition to reversing the historic commitment to public education. Elite private schools could have—unlike public schools—raised tuition to price out all but the wealthiest students. This would work to cement already increasingly oligarchic tendencies in America.

Moving away from this narrow right-wing initiative, the project for school privatization undertook a dramatic shift beginning in the late 1990s. For years Republicans had tried unsuccessfully to gain legitimacy within the Black community. Republicans had manifold methods for attempting to penetrate the Black community—from running token Black Republicans to bankrolling faux Black intellectuals—all of which were ultimately unsuccessful. Hitherto, not one Black Republican had been elected to a black district since 1939. Eventually, the Right had an epiphany. It realized the cynical use of education was a method by which it could penetrate into the Black community. American Blacks, descendants of enslaved people—who in their plight faced its criminalization—consider education indispensable for social mobility.
Rather than directly attempt to co-opt Blacks through the Republican Party, it would make inroads by working through the Democratic Party itself, where Black America resides politically. School privatization could also potentially drive a wedge between labor and blacks. Towards this end, it would foster and bankroll Black political operatives and opportunists in favor of school privatization. To bring this to fruition the right-wing corporate forces created a synthetic movement for school privatization within the Black community, where hitherto such a demand never existed. This was because, in a paradoxical irony, the progenitors of privatization, by way of school vouchers, were white racists who opposed the integration of schools by the federal government. They wanted segregation academies. Because of this, Blacks, with good reason, associated vouchers with white racists. To make privatization palatable to the Black community would be an arduous task indeed. But the right-wing operatives were awash with money and a newfangled strategy to inveigle the Black community.

This newfangled right-wing strategy was best elucidated by Glen Ford in the pages of the Black Commentator in his exposé of then Newark mayoral candidate Cory Booker, who was an integral part of these efforts. In retrospect, the advent of Booker on the national scene is a historic watershed in American politics. It was an ominous harbinger of what was to come for Black American politics; henceforth Black politicians would come increasingly into the orbit of the corporate embrace. Ford’s article “Fruit of the Poisoned Tree: The Hard Right’s Plan to Capture Newark, NJ” thoroughly documents Booker as the willing front man of the Hard Right’s twofold plan to infiltrate Black Democratic politics and to implement school privatization via vouchers. The incisive article also tells a larger story. It traces the new strategy’s very origins.

Those origins ideologically and financially lie in the Bradley Foundation, a wellspring of ultra-conservative political causes, located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Bradley is the ultra-conservative foundation par excellence—an organization that Republican President George W. Bush described as his “favorite” foundation. Bradley had between 1985 and 1999, according to one count, distributed $365 million to a myriad of right-wing organizations. School privatization was among the causes that it championed. For example, around 2002 it pledged $20 million for private schools in Milwaukee for the next decade, while giving a paltry $60,000 to the public school system in 2000.

The brainchild of the new strategy for co-opting Blacks via an education gambit at Bradley was Michael Joyce, its then president. Far from being interested in genuinely empowering Blacks, Joyce was a man who could care less about the plight of Blacks ill-served by the public education system. In fact, Joyce lauded Charles Murray, author of the infamous American Enterprise Institute (AEI) supported “Bell Curve” theory which posits the dubious notion that Blacks have inferior intelligence. Joyce once asserted “Charles Murray, in my opinion, is one of the foremost social thinkers in this country.” AEI, a favorite think tank of Bradley, was a recipient of $825,000 of Bradley money in 2000.
Bradley Foundation Creates Its Vessel: Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO)

For Michael Joyce, his efforts might have not succeeded were it not for his partner in privatization Dr. Howard Fuller, a Milwaukee based self-styled Black nationalist. [2] During the late 1960s and early 1970s Fuller had been part of an effort to create “Malcolm X Liberation University” in Greensboro, North Carolina. For financial reasons this effort proved abortive, with the institution lasting a mere four years. This lesson was not lost on Fuller though; to turn his quixotic Black nationalist desires into a viable movement, he would need money. Being from Milwaukee, he knew where that money resided. What resulted was a paradoxical alliance in which two forces who should be diametrically opposed to each other, worked in tandem. Without qualms, Fuller turned to the Bradley Foundation of Michael Joyce. In Milwaukee, his connections afforded him the opportunity to become superintendent of Milwaukee public schools. In close association with Bradley, he worked to establish seven of the first inner-city voucher private schools. His efforts were frustrated when he faced the Milwaukee school board, where four out of five candidates backed by teachers unions were elected.


After resigning from his position in consternation, Fuller redoubles his Bradley-backed privatization efforts. Fuller was promptly set up at Marquette University—a favorite campus of Bradley and its sister organization the Walton Family Foundation, the philanthropic arm of retail juggernaut Wal-Mart. Operating his own “non-profit” on a $900, 000 annual salary, training and indoctrinating cadre to promote what they sophistically call “school choice” in the Black community.


The Bradley-Walton-Fuller effort to promote voucher and later charter schools crested with the establishment of the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO). This group, according to one estimate, received $1.7 million from June 2001 to early 2002, while the Walton Foundation provided $900,000 for seed money. Such a gilded entrance on the political scene belies any notion of being a grassroots organization. As Glen Ford concludes: “The Black Alliance for Educational Options has no life independent of Bradley and its wicked sister, the Walton Foundation… In a December 2001, report, the liberal People for the American Way (PFAW) asked, rhetorically, is the BAEO a ‘Community Voice or Captive of the Right?’ Transparency in Media, which keeps track of right-wing foundations, describes the BAEO as ‘a project’ of the Bradley Foundation.”


As a testament to the true ideological underpinnings of Cory Booker, Fuller, and their ilk, a BAEO symposium attended by Cory Booker, received $30,000 from Milton Friedman—the intellectual patron saint of privatization and favored economist of Ronald Reagan, the hero of conservatives. Friedman had his own foundation follow up with $230,000 for ads promoting school vouchers. The subsequent media blitz which included TV, radio, and print ads was valued at $3 million, according to one estimate. Plainly, this was no grass roots phenomena of Black folks seeking “school choice”; it was a full-fledged ultra-conservative-backed bacchanalia. Indeed, once the BAEO was well-established, it would achieve a quasi-governmental status under the Republican regime of George W. Bush, becoming a recipient of millions in federal grant money during his tenure as part of Bush’s pro-voucher outreach to the Black community.

Cory Booker: The Corporate Right’s Great Black Hope

Cory Booker, the focus of Glen Ford’s exposé, represented the hopes and aspirations of the new right-wing strategy. The prospect of Booker in a solidly Democratic mayoralty would settle the question of whether or not the Hard Right’s newfangled strategy was a viable option to penetrate the Black political scene. As Ford framed it at the time:

The billionaires who fund the American Hard Right are salivating over the prospect of seizing control of City Hall in Newark, New Jersey, May 14.

They have found their champion: Cory Booker, Black mayoral candidate from the city’s Central Ward, a cynical pretender who attempts to position himself as the common people’s defender while locked in the deep embrace of institutes and foundations that bankroll virtually every assault on social and economic justice in America…

Booker owes his growing national prominence to this crowd, whose influence has provided the 32 year-old with a campaign war chest rivaling that of four-term incumbent Sharp James. Never has a Newark election been more closely watched by the super-rich and their political network. Booker is their Black Hope for electoral legitimacy. Although only a first-term councilman from a medium-sized city, the former Rhodes Scholar is already at the top of the Right’s list of New Black Leaders.

Booker’s anointment as a prince in the Hard Right’s pantheon is based on his support of public vouchers for private schools. This “movement,” the creation of right-wing paymasters like the Bradley Foundation of Milwaukee, and the Walton Family Foundation, Bentonville, Arkansas, hopes to drive a wedge between urban Blacks and the teachers unions. Without amicable relations between these two Democratic pillars, the Party, as we know it, is finished….


Booker is the Right’s eager ally. He is adored in the corridors of the Heritage, Hoover, Manhattan and American Enterprise Institutes, think tanks that handle publicity and publication for the Bradley and Walton moneybags.

Normally, that Booker was allied with the fringes of Hard Right in support of school private vouchers might be received with alarm in the Black community. But Booker, much like Obama, ran on vague terms, with no mention of vouchers in his candidacy announcement speech. Instead, he portrayed his opponent, the incumbent mayor Sharpe James, as a tool of downtown business interests; Booker promised a “renaissance for the rest of us.”

If his true intentions were not sufficient to raise red flags, his tight partnerships with some of the most reactionary Republicans should have. Booker found good company with former Jersey City Mayor and failed GOP gubernatorial candidate Bret Schundler, another champion of private school vouchers. Along with wealthy Republican businessman Peter Denton, Booker and Schundler founded the non-profit Excellent Education for Everyone. Schundler had earlier received a $500,000 grant from the Walton Foundation for his “Scholarships for Jersey City Children” non-profit, a large part of which he merely used for his election campaign. Booker and Schundler were also notably present at the creation of the BAEO, making a pilgrimage to Milwaukee for a Bradley funded symposium. Booker would soon join the board of BAEO—along with a catalogue of other right-wing operatives and opportunists such as former congressman Floyd Flake of Queens, the only member of the Congressional Black Caucus to openly endorse private school vouchers at the time. [3]

Most importantly for the fortunes of the young opportunist Booker as a servant of right-wing circles, his standing was his solidified when he delivered a speech to the Manhattan institute—a sort of New York media affiliate of Bradley for which it gave $250,000 in 2000. Here Booker obsequiously delivered on many of the ultra-right’s litany of key demands, inveighing against what he called the “old paradigm,” which Booker opined was about “race-based machines” securing “big entitlements.” A chorus of right-wing voices—spearheaded by noted conservative columnist George F. Will, champion of privatization—soon proceeded to trumpet the cause of Booker. A column by Will about what he called Booker’s ”renaissance” for Newark explained that Booker’s plans are “drawn from thinkers at the Democratic Leadership Council and Manhattan Institute think tank, and from the experiences of others such as Stephan Goldsmith, former Republican mayor of Indianapolis, a pioneer of privatization and faith-based delivery of some government services, and John Norquist, current Democratic mayor of Milwaukee, which has one of the nation’s most successful school-choice programs.”


What Will’s somewhat disingenuous column omitted was the role of Bradley in Milwaukee’s dubiously termed “successful” “school-choice” programs, and that the Democratic Leadership Council was the southern based conservative arm of the Democratic Party. Through Booker’s access to the right-wing moneybags, he was able to raise $3 million in contrast to the $2.5 million of incumbent Sharpe James. Will noted that Booker had raised his millions mostly via “reform-minded” (read exponents of privatization) “supporters in New York financial circles.” In truth, these are the same forces that fund corporate right-wing think tanks such as AEI, the Manhattan Institute.

Booker, in a later revelatory Freudian slip, again demonstrated where his true allegiances lie. During the 2012 presidential election season, Booker defended the “good” works done by GOP candidate Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital, a predatory firm that had engaged in all manner of asset stripping and jobs destruction. Booker was “nauseated” by “unfair” attacks leveled at Romney and Wall Street. That same year, Booker, still the abject servant of the right-wing elements, delivered a speech on education “reform” (right-speak for privatization) in Jersey City. This big luncheon was paid for by ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) a political arm of the much-dreaded billionaire Koch brothers who fostered the obstructionist Tea Party. Booker was pari passu with Republican Governors Chris Christie of New Jersey (a close ally of Booker with whom he agrees with on many issues) and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana at the ultra-conservative luncheon. Booker’s rousing speech was laden with anti-union and anti-public school rhetoric, with some accounts stating it was even more ultra-conservative than those given by Jindal or Christie. To be sure, Booker was well in his right-wing element. Booker’s actions demonstrated that not only could a Democrat—albeit a nominal one—attack the institution of public schools and unions, but he could also partake in right-wing circles and defend Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital, one of the most predatory moneyed interests in America.


 Obama Regime: A New Emphasis on Private Charter Schools

The school privatization effort has today reached its apex under the Obama regime. Since developing their early privatization agenda focusing on private school vouchers, the corporate and moneyed interests—the milieu which brought Cory Booker to power—changed their emphasis to “charter schools.” From their perspective it is a more viable proposition. Working inside the public school system, these are private institutions for which the public fits the bill. Thus, financially, it is a no lose proposition for their proponents. Charter schools are the faster route to wrest control of public schooling to privatizers than vouchers. The pace at which private voucher schools can be created—which is a one by one basis—is slower than the speed that charter schools can enter the public school system. The term ‘charter school,’ in truth, a misnomer, also avoids using the word “privatization” which is widely unpopular. Additionally, in terms of targeting the Black community, it obviates the stigma associated with vouchers. Lastly, but certainly not least among considerations, the ranks of the pro-privatization crowd have been bolstered after Wall Street and the Internet rich joined their ranks. As we shall see, Obama, a Democratic president heavily tied to Wall Street banking interests, has served as the front man for privatization via charter schools on the national level, making more strides toward this end than Bush could ever have dreamed of.

The only discernable difference between the Bush II regime and that of Obama vis-à-vis education is in their emphasis. With Bush, Republicans were committed to creating private school vouchers. Their second choice was the charter school, which is now the favored initiative of the Obama regime. Obama has facilitated the firings of teachers en masse in numbers beyond what Bush could have done. By virtue of him being a Democratic president, any potential backlash—that doubtless would have befallen a Republican regime—against his anti-teacher, anti-union and mass school closing polices is muffled. The national level teachers unions ill-served by his policies continue to provide support to him. To add insult to injury, his Teach for America Program uses what are, in effect, “scabs” to replace experienced unionized teachers. These professionalized teachers are replaced by less-paid young, mostly white, teachers, who graduate from a 5 week teacher program with a higher turnover rate than the teachers they replace.

The primary tool of the Obama regime to enact privatization is the “Race to the Top” initiative, its signature education policy. Taking Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” program as his starting point, Obama’s “Race to the Top” program at its core is an instrument of coercion for privatization. It relies on the acquiescence of the states for privatization via charters. The “Race to the Top” awards federal education dollars based on the testing regime, how many teachers are fired, how many schools are closed. This incentivizing of school closings has resulted in an unmitigated wave of school closings involving perhaps hundreds—from Philadelphia to Chicago—in the inner cities. In order to make room for charter schools, there needs to be a rubble for them to replace. Towards this end, the charter school scam continues unabated.

 Chris Macavel is an independent political analyst based in Harlem, NY. He writes for the blog “The Nation-State” at He seeks to enlighten about the growing dangers of NATO imperialist ambitions and Wall Street domination in American political life. He is the author of the forthcoming book “Imperialism in the ‘Arab Spring’: How The West Guided the MENA Uprisings” 



[1] One propagandist film Waiting For Superman plays on this very notion.[2] Fuller also appears in the propagandist film Waiting For Superman to promote the privatization movement he helped to create. His ties and backing from ultra-conservatives is omitted completely from the narrative.[3] Floyd Flake would later create the Edison Schools private school network. Ford also profiles the catalogue of BAEO members in his exposé.

“Arne Duncan at ED: Year One
“Cory Booker: Sellout or Dumbbell?” 
“Conflicts of Interests and the Race to the Top”
“Fruit of the Poisoned Tree: The Hard Right’s Plan to Capture Newark, NJ”
Newark: The First Domino? The Hard Right Tests Its National Black Strategy” 
“Glen Ford: Corporate Assault on Public Education”


GUY: Don’t run education like a business

John Guy / Special to IBJ

March 15, 2014

Disagreements about education reform result from conflicting models: the business model and the social model. Governors such as Daniels and Pence, reflecting their backgrounds and support structures, tend toward the business model. Superintendent Ritz, with almost 35 years as a teacher/communications coordinator in elementary schools, is more aligned with the social model. Συνέχεια

A tale of two movements: Why standards and choice need each other

The modern education-reform movement is essentially made up of two distinct but complementary strands: one focuses primarily on raising K–12 academic expectations, particularly for poor and minority students, who have long been held to lower standards than their middle-class and affluent peers. The second is aimed at expanding education choice through various mechanisms, chiefly charter schools and vouchers.

Unfortunately, these reforms have often been pursued in isolation, with advocates pushing for one or the other but not both together. Some even claim that the two strategies are competitors, if not antagonists. But the reality is that, in order to see real progress and avoid the most vexing unintended consequences of either reform pursued alone, each needs the other in order to deliver on its promise. And therein lies a challenge. Συνέχεια

Bill Gates’ Sobering 2009 Speech to Legislators

March 20, 2014

On March 13, 2014, Bill Gates had dinner with 80 senators and other elected officials. Given his keynote the following day to members of the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), make no mistake that Gates used his time with the senators and other officials to push the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

However, Gates is more than CCSS. Gates is the entire spectrum of reforms, and he is more than willing to use his influence to promote his opinion of educational reform to those supposedly elected By the People.

The following text is an excerpt from Gates’ 2009, speech to the National Council of State Legislatures, which “co-chair” Gates offered as part of his complete speech on so-called education reform. Συνέχεια