It's kind of amazing to read that the reformies are playing down test scores as a way of assessment.I've been hearing the reformies for a good twenty years or so, and test scores were pretty much their bread and butter. I mean, why do we public school teachers suck? Of course it's because our test scores suck. Why did they close almost every comprehensive high school in New York City? Because our test scores suck. Why is there such a proliferation of charters? Because our test scores suck.
Now that charters have gotten well more than a toe in the door, they don't like all this test score stuff. I mean, you can just game the system so much, and then you get bored. How many times can charters dump 65% of their students, lose a few more, and then claim that 100% of their grads are going to college? How many times can they keep kids in their seats doing test prep until they pee their pants?
Better to just focus on stealing space from public schools. Hey, let's push into your building, trash your library, and dump all the public school kids in the basement. Let's get a bunch of funny shirts and drive every kid to Albany on buses. And just to make sure it's the worst field trip ever, let's make the kids do homework on the bus.
Here's the thing--charters have the same kids we do. Except they don't, because only proactive parents would even bother to fill out a charter application. I'd argue proactive parents can be a pivotal factor in how well students do. And hey, if those selected student's don't do well, they can put them on "got to go" lists and send them straight to Palookavile, aka public schools.
It's really challenging to understand how, with all those advantages, charters don't outscore and overtake us at every turn. But the fact is they don't. My school has none of those advantages and we do better than a whole lot of schools. Some people say that's because we have great kids, while others say it's because the ESL teachers are so smart and good looking. I can only suppose it's a combination of the two.
The reformies are right, actually, if they determine that students are not test scores. Nonetheless this is an industry that's argued it needed to exist because, you know, test scores sucked because, you know, public school teachers sucked. Being a public school teacher, I was not much amenable to that line of thought. But that's what I heard over and over. We need Moskowitz Academies because only they can save our children. Only KIPP has the secret sauce that will change our destinies. Only foul-mouthed Steve Barr from Green Dot can do this thing no one can do.
All we've learned from that is there isn't any secret sauce or magic shortcut. I don't know about you, but I hate seeing children marched about like little martinets so everyone can see how quiet and well-behaved they are. I don't give a golly gosh darn if some guy can save a minute and eighteen seconds via his ultra-efficient manner of passing out papers.
The reformies made their beds, and they ought to sleep in them, no matter what sort of creepy crawly things infest them. They raised the creepy crawly things, claim to love them, and ought to show the grit they're forever demanding from our children. They need to put their considerable money where their mouths are.
So yes, I support the removal of high stakes testing. Except for charter schools. In charter schools, in voucher schools, and in every reformy enterprise out there, they ought to count, double, triple, or more. In fact, if kids don't pass tests, charters ought to return state funding for those kids. If they toss the kids out, charters ought to return every dime that accompanied those kids. If the kids fail, charters ought to return the money for that year.
Charters promised us Superman. Superman doesn't bill the city for his services, especially when he fails spectacularly.