By A.P. Dillon
If it looks like a political stunt and smells like a political stunt, then it stands to reason it is a political stunt.
President Obama’s big shift in rhetoric on testing this past week comes at a politically convenient time. In a total course reversal, Obama wants a cap that limits the testing on children to 2% or less of their class time. That 2%sounds great, but really it’s not changing anything if one realizes that 2% of a school year’s class time translates to somewhere between 20 to 24 hours worth of testing. Like I said, this is a stunt.
This administration has beaten the drum of ‘test and punish’ for seven years right alongside tying test scores to teacher evaluations — a move that has had teachers unions up in arms nationwide.
What better way to quell the powerful, big donors like teachers unions just prior to a Presidential election year than to offer a ‘testing cap’?
It’s bait in an election cycle where education is taking the main stage with voters.
Likewise, it’s an opportunity for this administration to subtly hit Hillary Clinton over the head again, as she has come out supporting Common Core, which has been anchored to two testing consortia and ‘testing accountability measures’.
This isn’t just about hitting Hillary over the head. It’s also about beating Congress over the head. Again.
Remember, the House pushed forward with the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind, which strengthens over testing instead of stemming it. The reauthorization also solidified Common Core. It’s a nightmare.
A recent article at Front Page Magazine by Mary Grabar points this out. Here’s an excerpt, but do read the whole thing:
In a smooth move, the Obama administration called on Congress to fix a problem that had been foisted on the people without the consent of Congress—namely the national Common Core standards, even as the widely hated name was scrupulously avoided. The Obama administration also told teachers to fix tests that they had not devised and were forced to administer.
In an even smoother move, the New York Times summed up the blame this way:
The administration’s move seemed a reckoning on a two-decade push that began during the Bush administration and intensified under President Obama. Programs with aspirational names — No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top — were responding to swelling agreement among Democrats and Republicans that higher expectations and accountability could lift the performance of American students. . . . .”
Alas, the push began “during the Bush administration.”
Shorter: If JEB! needed a final coffin nail, here it comes.
Meanwhile, in Obama’s backyard of Washington, D.C., only 1 in 10 DC students score ‘college ready’ on the new Common Core math tests. The scores dropped in neighboring Maryland as well. Let’s not even get into the results for Hispanic students; Obama has that one covered with a forced touchy-feely outreach program.
But for educrats like William Bushaw, who is the director of the agency overseeing the NAEP (Nations Report Card), the narrative remains the same: Common Core is not to blame.
William Bushaw, executive director of the National Assessment Governing Board, which oversees NAEP, tried to discourage connecting this year’s test results and Common Core in a telephone call with reporters Tuesday.
NAEP exams, while overlapping with the Common Core standards, are not tied to any specific curriculum or material used in public schools, Bushaw said.
He added that states might not have used Common Core in the same way.
“We should not assume the Common Core has been evenly or persistently implemented in the country,” he said.
– News and Observer 10/27/15
That’s an AMAZING admission right there, folks. For the last 5 years, supporters of Common Core have maintained that the standards would be the same — everywhere.
About every five or so years, Educrats and Ed Reformers roll out some shiny new reform. None of these amazing reforms have moved the needle for our kids, nothing has changed for them. Nothing has changed in the way these reformers window dress the failure of their amazing reform either; perhaps they took deck chair rearranging lessons in a past life.
It was vital kids be able to transfer from state to state and learn the exact same thing, even though the transient student population is less than 2% of the overall student population in the United States.
So not only was Common Core not being implemented the same way, it’s now clear the other major platform of Common Core has crumbled. That platform is consistent comparison of tests from state to state.
But don’t blame Common Core. It’s the implementation. It’s the tests. It’s anything but the flawed and experimental standards that were rolled out rapid fire in order to yoke states into using them via the Race To The Top grant.
Having said all of that, Obama’s ‘test cap’ is an insulting band-aid on a machete wound that this administration has allowed to fester for the better part of his Presidency.
A.P. Dillon resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina and is the founder of LadyLiberty1885.com.
Her current and past writing can also be found at IJ Review, StopCommonCoreNC.org, Heartland.org and Watchdog Wire NC.
Catch her on Twitter: @LadyLiberty1885