It's all propaganda now: We want to make a few more points this week about Arne Duncan's recent column. In his column, Duncan stated Such Things As Could Not Be Stated Till Now.
More specifically, Duncan said that public school test scores have gone way up. Once again, headline included, here's how the column began:
DUNCAN (4/2/18): Don't believe the education naysayersVery few people have ever heard about the very large test score gains of the past twenty (or forty-five) years. In this age of "education reform," the publication of such information has, in effect, been verboten.
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.
American citizens weren't allowed to hear about these test score gains. Instead, we've been told, again and again, often in baldly dishonest ways, that nothing has worked in the public schools, as allegedly demonstrated by domestic and international test scores.
The disinformation has been endless. Within the nation's upper-end news orgs, Duncan's "revelation" about test score gains is almost entirely new.
That said, please notice a tiny small problem:
Previously, test score gains were suppressed in service to the interests of "education reform." We had to be told that nothing had worked in order to justify the need for the types of "reforms" approved by Insider Elites.
That was a deception, a con. But please notice—in Duncan's column, we're now being told that test scores have risen in order to praise the the types of "reforms" approved by those elites.
Right there in his opening paragraph, he attrbutes the rise in test scores to "education reform." A bit later on, he says this:
DUNCAN: None of our progress happened because we stood still. It happened because we confronted hard truths, raised the bar and tried new things. Beginning in 2002, federal law required annual assessments tied to transparency. The law forced educators to acknowledge achievement gaps, even if they didn’t always have the courage or capacity to address them.In those passages, Duncan seems to attribute our gains to actions taken in 2002 and since 2008. But the rise in test scores to which he refers stretches back over the past forty-plus years!
A decade ago, learning standards were all over the place. Today, almost every state has raised standards. The percentage of high school students taking college-level classes has tripled since 1990.
"Education reform" of the type he praises is relatively recent. The test score gains he describes were occurring long before that!
Do we live in an idiocracy? Amazingly, that's the kind of analysis we get, in one of our nation's major newspapers, from a recent high-profile cabinet member. A fellow who went to Harvard! Where he played on the basketball team!
In fact, Duncan generally understates the apparent size of those test score gains. He does so by failing to "disaggregate" scores—by failing to show us how much individual groups of kids have gained. (Black kids and Hispanic kids, for example.)
But did those score gains really result from "education reform" of the type Duncan is praising? The claim makes virtually no sense on its face—except in a world where all roads must, by law, lead to certain types of elite-approved "reform."
Do we live in an idiocracy? Actually yes, we do!
We know it seems that this can't be true—that we must be engaged in amusing hyperbole.
We aren't being hyperbolic at all. More on Duncan's column tomorrow, including some hideous stats.