Date: Mar 12, 2013 2:26 AM
Author: kirby urner
Subject: anecdote: popular public school teacher axed by alien test
Here's an interesting true story regarding teacher training and criteria.
Parent activist: we had this teacher in our Japanese immersion
program, a native Japanese, whom the parents and students likewise
adored. Her students were actually doing better in math than those
with other teachers. Her students were motivated. Given this was an
elementary school teacher, she taught all subjects. She had done so
successfully for three years. Successfully as judged by student and
parent satisfaction, student test results.
This parent is not me. He's a smart guy for sure, has worked for
government labs (Sandia), knows psychometrics / statistics, respected
as a coach at Nike most recently (Nike has a reputation for
appreciating smarts, Intel too, both local employers). He adores his
kids. His wife is a PhD chemist and member of a native American
tribe. The school greatly benefits from this family's participation
in its community.
The school, elementary, has a Japanese immersion program.
Anyway, there's this recertification test teachers need to take every
so often, or maybe that's a new policy. In any case, it turns out in
Oregon the teachers get herded through a testing experience that
Oregon bureaucrats have seen fit to outsource to a UK-based firm. No
other private companies are allowed to compete for at least five
years, says the contract. Teachers submit to body searching at the
testing site and are warned that questioning procedures is likely to
adversely affect their scores. They're forced to pay for the
privilege, to keep a license in Oregon.
The parent activist solicited State offices for records of any
complaints against the private testing czar that Oregon has apparently
sold out to. He was charged money but given some records. This
company has an iron fist in other states as well apparently, or at
least there've been lawsuits. There was one for bias, stating the
test was culturally biased, and the company lost on that one. Do
Oregonian legislators know anything of this? Public schools are
firing teachers based on a test that other states have found to be
Here we have a Japanese person who maybe doesn't know the fifth US
president. She can Google it up, as she can any number of trivial
facts. But when it comes to a closed testing environment with no
Google, it turns out she doesn't have sufficient recall of the kinds
of trivia one needs to please this UK company. The low score goes
back to the State and the State, in its infinite wisdom, applies its
automatic cut offs, its low pass filters. The bureaucrats assume
Americans will take this meekly and mildly, usually a safe assumption
in this land of the cowed, obsequious and afraid.
These parents, now missing a teacher, are curious though. About 75 of
them. How can a whole school of people be over-ruled by some foul
bureaucrats in bed with some UK private empire? Why is the faculty
makeup of this public / community school being determined by people
who write SAT tests or whatever? Who needs them? What business is it
I'm taking the parents' side. I find it scandalous that Oregon is in
the grip of such incompetent bureaucrats and their paymasters. Any
test is bound to have its exceptions and people get paid at some level
to exercise judgment. Applying rules in a mindless exceptionless
manner is NOT intelligent, though it's what judges have been forced to
do with "three strikes" etc. The rule-minded want to run the world
mindlessly, according to spreadsheets and their formulae. They don't
want to have to really *think*. They are anti thinking. And they're
trying to control the public schools.
This would be Haim's "education mafia" I'm pretty sure. Lots of big
private capitalist companies are benefiting though. I never
understood why he thought this EM was "socialist". Is the Mafia
socialist? Well, in looking out for family interests maybe. It's far
from obvious though.