Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Opinion

June 17, 2014

WE THE PEOPLE: Kick corporate greed out of schools

CROSSVILLE — Last month I promised to end my series on the “education reform movement” that is tearing apart our traditional public school system. I also promised to suggest how you can help stop this train wreck.

One piece of good news is that on June 10 the Gates Foundation called for “delaying the attachment of consequences” to the new Common Core State Standards. The bad news, of course, is that they didn’t call for scrapping the CCSS, nor did they call for an end to “big tests” like PARCC and TCAP. Gates poured over two billion dollars into pushing for Common Core and national standardized testing (at least for your kids, not Bill and Melinda’s). The delaying tactic was necessary, though, because things are not going as Gates, Wall Street and the Waltons had planned, despite the buying of so many state legislators.

Another positive (reported so well in the Chronicle) was that the scores on the latest TCAP tests weren’t released on the expected (legal?) date. Why can’t a giant corporation (Pearson) get machine-scored test results back in a few days? One answer might be that giant corporations are monstrously inefficient (as we know). Perhaps the results needed to be “massaged” before they were released. Perhaps the “wrong schools” or “wrong students” scored higher than the “right” ones (and the “formula” needed adjusting, as in other states). We will never know. At any rate, it gave our state DOE a well-deserved black eye and caused a few more parents to pay attention to the baloney coming out of Nashville.

Most teachers give back a hand-scored test the next day. They then go over that test so students who lost points can understand why (often from other students). Also, the teacher can use the feedback to better understand the inaccurate responses (in order to inform future instruction). True education is a dialogue, not a series of directives from “above.” This, of course, underscores the poverty of mechanized “teaching” and testing that eliminates person-to-person contact. A real educator in any subject area not only helps students develop a better understanding of informational content, but fosters social and emotional growth as well.

But, in Tennessee, directives from Nashville and Washington have tied the hands of both teachers and local school boards. Parents are the only remaining force that can stop the gutting of our public schools, the stealing or our tax dollars so a few can reap tremendous profits at the expense of our children.

How can you become informed and active in this repressive atmosphere? There is a group of Tennessee parents who have organized to spread information, parent-to-parent. Join them (TennesseeParents@gmail.com). If you want detail and in-depth analysis of the mess, there is excellent blog run by Mercedes Schneider (http://deutsch29.wordpress.com/). Get on her mailing list. Also, let your state and federal representatives know that you expect them to support local control of your public schools. All of them have voted for a top-down, test-heavy takeover.

This is an issue on which both Liberals and the “Tea Party” libertarians ought to agree. Let’s kick corporate greed out of our public schools. Let’s give real teachers the authority and support to do their very difficult and important job.

• • •

This column represents alternative thoughts to other published columns in the Crossville Chronicle. “We the People” is published each Wednesday. Opinions expressed in “We the People” columns are not necessarily those of the Crossville Chronicle publisher, editor or staff. For more information, contact John Wund, coordinator, at jwund@frontiernet.net.

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