Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Flip a Coin

AFT President Randi Weingarten has an interesting article up at the AFT website. Ms. Weingarten suggests we drop our "fixation" on testing. She points out that this is not what students need, and that there are other forms of learning that will better benefit them. She even cites the President, who used his "bully pulpit" to say much the same thing at the SOTU speech.

I couldn't agree more, actually. Learning is more about doing than testing, and no one remembers, "Oh, that Miss Wormwood. Boy, could she give a multiple choice test. I lived to blacken those circles..."

Yet Barack Obama has enabled a sea of testing, first by appointing basketball expert Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education, and next by allowing his baseless programs like Race to the Top to promote testing even more. In fact he boasted about how, with a relatively small amount of federal money, he got cash-starved states to jump up and down and show just how "reformy" they really were.

And Ms. Weingarten, despite her principled opposition, supports the reelection of this President, just as she supported mayoral control and its renewal, despite its clear inability to help New York's teachers or students.

So it's hard, for me, to understand how Obama and Weingarten are opposing such programs by supporting them. It's positively Orwellian. I'd love to get behind both of them and help them achieve their professed goal of halting our testing obsession. But as long as they keep giving lip service to good ideas while energetically promoting bad ones, that's going to be very tough indeed.
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