BREAKING: Arne explains!

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 4, 2018

In search of the source of those score gains:
Before we say another word, let's repeat the important points we stated on Monday.

We commented on the opening paragraphs of Arne Duncan's op-ed column in the Washington Post. Those paragraphs appear below, hard-copy headline included:
DUNCAN (4/2/18): Don't believe the education naysayers

Lately, a lot of people in Washington are saying that education reform hasn’t worked very well. Don’t believe it.

Since 1971, fourth-grade reading and math scores are up 13 points and 25 points, respectively. Eighth-grade reading and math scores are up eight points and 19 points, respectively. Every 10 points equates to about a year of learning, and much of the gains have been driven by students of color.

It should be noted that the student population is relatively poorer and considerably more diverse than in 1971. So, while today’s kids bring more learning challenges, they perform as much as 2½ grades higher than their counterparts from half a century ago.
Say what? According to Duncan, American public school students, in both grade levels tested by the Naep, are scoring several years ahead of their predecessors in math.

On Monday, we stated a pair of basic points about this startling new revelation. They help define our semi-Stalinist, idiocratic new world.

First point: This may be the first time this basic information has appeared in the Washington Post or the New York Times. The airbrushing of such basic information represents a major journalistic scandal—a Stalinistic scandal so vast that it begs for an explanation.

It isn't likely that you'll ever see any such explanation. Based on past experience, it's more likely that you'll never see this basic information reported again.

Here's a second point: It isn't just that you've never seen this information in the Post and the Times. You've also never been told about any of this by your favorite corporate liberals!

Rachel hasn't told you about this; neither have Chris or Lawrence. As far as we know, you haven't even been about this by Jonathan Chait!

As public schools and public school teachers have been trashed by advocates of "reform," your favorite multimillionaire liberal stars have kept their pretty traps shut. Why do you think our corporate stars have done that? Why do you think that is?

Everything we've told you so far represents a scandal. Having said that, let's also say this—unless we're mistaken, there's someone else who's never made any special effort to pass this information along. That person is Arne Duncan!

At the start of Monday's column, Duncan warns you about "the education naysayers," to borrow the language of the headline atop his column.

Is Arne Duncan one of those people? Under Obama, he was education secretary for almost seven years. Did he call attention to the long-standing test score gains which he seems to treat, in this column, as an important fact?

We don't know the answer to that. We're leaning toward a no.

We've been trumpeting those test score gains for over a dozen years now. Kevin Drum excepted, have you seen a single "career liberal" journalist respond to the long-standing war against public school teachers by citing these basic statistics?

(In fact, the score gains are even larger than Duncan's presentation suggests. We'll discuss this point, for the ten millionth time, before we're done with his column.)

Major journalists (and activists!) have kept their traps shut about these score gains down through the many long years. Therein lies a major journalistic scandal—further evidence of the fact that you live 1) under a reign or "manufactured consent" and 2) within a full-fledged idiocracy.

Today, let's raise a question for further review. Let's look again at Duncan's opening paragraph:

"Lately, a lot of people in Washington are saying that education reform hasn’t worked very well. Don’t believe it."

In that passage, Duncan suggests that "education reform" deserves credit for those score gains. Later, he basically makes a plain assertion to that effect.

Does that claim seem to be accurate? Does it even seem to make sense?

Tomorrow, let's move ahead to those questions. Does Duncan's cheerleading for "education reform" even make basic sense?

25 comments:

  1. "Why do you think that is?"

    Because this is part of liberal propaganda, the key to their electoral survival. As the midterm elections approach, expect more fake outrage at 'our children falling behind'.

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    2. Comrade's got a groupie, and she even makes more sense then you.

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    3. Mao is a producer of Russian raw, low-grade sewage.

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    4. Mao is sick of the propaganda. It's why he's genuinely furious with the Trump White House for failing to meet the Department of Homeland Security's email protocols on 18 of their 26 domains.

      Just kidding, Mao, DavidinCal, every Trump voter, and the entire corporate-owned media NEVER gave a shit about email security and protocols. They were just repeating right-wing propaganda about Clintons emails nonstop for the entire Presidential campaign.
      CMike, on the other hand, actually believes it shows Hillary's 'corruption". It's why CMike is a bigger fool than propagandists like Mao.

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  2. This increase represents a change in curriculum, not necessarily a change in the performance of students or teachers. Topics are being introduced at younger ages.

    Perhaps the NAEP has been revised over the years to reflect such curriculum changes, but that would eliminate the comparability across years, the kind of comparison Somerby regularly makes. Kids would be learning different things in different years, so the change in scores becomes less meaningful, even in terms of comparing minority children with white children.

    Somerby claims that no one is aware of this information. I disagree. Anyone who went to school themselves during that 50 year gap is aware that they learned different things than their parents did and could do different things at earlier ages. Anyone with grandkids is surely aware of this change. The textbooks are different, more advanced compared to what was done in previous decades.

    Maybe this is due to greater participation in preschool. Or perhaps education professors discovered that kids could handle math earlier than formerly thought. Or perhaps different teaching methods for literacy are permitting earlier introduction to writing and reading. Neither of these has anything to do with teacher proficiency or student ability. It does have to do with advances in pedagogy and curriculum design and perhaps teaching methods and teacher training. Somerby never breaks education down into any of these factors.

    Today might be a good time to talk about what is happening in OK. Teachers are protesting the 4-day school week and lack of supplies and resources available to students. They are doing this despite receiving a $6000/yr raise. They are using up their sick pay and vacation pay to picket legislators. Because longer school years and school days equate to better student performance, which roughly means more learning.

    Arne Duncan is undercutting the efforts of teachers to improve classroom experiences for kids by suggesting that the schools are doing a bang up job with what resources they already have, which conservatives will interpret to mean that there is no need to increase funding, and in fact, funding for education can always be cut even when other budget line items cannot. It is nice that Duncan is telling us all that the schools are doing fine -- except they aren't. Because op-ed pieces like his are invariably used to justify budget cuts and that's why no one wants to talk about school progress.

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  3. Somerby says: "As public schools and public school teachers have been trashed by advocates of "reform,""

    Duncan's article is titled "People are saying education reform hasn’t worked. Don’t believe them."

    In other words, "reform" was apparently needed, and it has "worked."

    It's right there in the title.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There is DeVos-style reform and there is the reform advocated by the Obama administration (Duncan-style) and there is the steady progress made across decades by professionals in education, which I would characterize as change but not necessarily reform. There is Common Core and there is the charter-school movement, two different forms of "reform". If you go back further, there was New Math and Phonics.

      clearly there has been improvement, but figuring out what has caused it requires more than a cursory comparison of NAEP scores and a finer-grained analysis. It requires things like the many studies comparing charter and public schools, for example.

      Somerby won't grapple with any of that. Neither does Duncan. But it is crucial to think more about this if you are going to oppose DeVos and her "reforms".

      Somerby could do so much good with his blog but instead he wastes our time with this shit.

      Delete
    2. DeVos' reforms are all the fault of the media. And liberals.

      Delete
    3. DeVos' "reforms" are nothing of the sort: she's a grifter attempting to privitize education - thus destroying public education - for the benefit of her and her fellow grifters. Calling this scam "reforms" puts the doublespeak of Orwell's 1984 to shame.

      Delete
  4. "According to Duncan, American public school students..."
    Actually, Duncan isn't talking just about public schools. He discusses educational achievement generally.

    At one point, Duncan says:
    "Today, about 3 million students enroll in charter schools. In places where they are held accountable, such as Boston, charter students gain an extra 12 months in reading and 13 months in math, according to one study."

    Charter schools...aren't public schools. Also, my understanding is that the NAEP does not measure test scores just at public schools. While it is true that "At the state level, results are currently reported for public school students only", it is also true that "The national NAEP sample is then composed of all the state samples of public school students, as well as a national sample of nonpublic school students."

    ReplyDelete
  5. There are still problems in our schools, despite the improvement in test scores. Somerby mentioned the terrible problems in the Detroit public schools (in a single post a while back). He seems to find the "achievement gaps" between black and white students troubling. There have been recent teacher strikes in WV and OK. Does a recognition and discussion of these real problems give fuel to the anti-public school types? Possibly. But they still need to be addressed.

    ReplyDelete
  6. "Tomorrow, let's move ahead to those questions. Does Duncan's cheerleading for "education reform" even make basic sense?"

    Somerby will surely give us a clear answer...tomorrow.

    ReplyDelete
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