John Oliver Knows Better Than You! Charlie Barone Probably Does! Lawrence MA, Charter Waits, And More

The idea of a center-to-left coalition focused on broad-based education reform has captivated reformers, including me, like a mirage in the desert. Today Charlie Barone writes about the potential in RealClearEducation.

A lot of people chattering about this John Oliver segment on standardized testing. My take: Yawn. I doubt that too many viewers of that show are really wide open on many issues, seems like a place where people with strong priors go to have them confirmed. But I might be too cynical. Substantively, I guess I’d rather stand with these guys than a TV comedian on an issue that matters to millions of youngsters – especially the most disadvantaged youngsters. But here’s a thought exercise: During this past winter could John Oliver have done the same segment – the same modality –  but about global warming instead of testing? Yes, he could. Think Oliver in a park during a snowfall ridiculing those thinking the earth is getting warmer. They’re ridiculous because anyone can see it’s snowing! Look at me, I’m up to my waist in snow here in Boston and these fools say things are getting warmer! (Imagine the accent and some funny pictures).  Of course, never mind the body of research about warming and the views of actual experts who study it, he knows better. Here, it’s the same thing on education except the stance on testing is just more politically correct. The story was amusing as an entertainment vehicle but you’ll look in vain for a tether to the actual evidence base around these issues. He just knows better. In other words, just because something has some salty language delivered with a British accent and a blowjob joke sprinkled in doesn’t mean it’s still not herd mentality political correctness rather than actual analysis or subversiveness.

ERS takes a look at Lawrence, MA.

You can quibble with various methodologies for computing the number of families on charter school waiting lists but no matter how you add it up there are a lot of families that want something different.

Ross Douthat on police unions. Almost a mirror image of the teachers union debate on the left.

My U.S. News & World Report column this week – on ESEA – will run end of week in a new USN product.

6 thoughts on “John Oliver Knows Better Than You! Charlie Barone Probably Does! Lawrence MA, Charter Waits, And More

  1. PhillipMarlowe

    1963 Civil Rights:
    I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
    2015 Civil Rights:
    I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by their test score.

  2. Linda/RetiredTeacher

    Why on earth would anyone support these tests when the governor of New York has described them as “meaningless” and the American Statistical Association has termed them “not valid” for the purposes for which they are being used?

    The truth always comes out but sometimes it takes a while.

  3. PhillipMarlowe

    During the first week in March, several New Mexico schools with Latino/a student populations of over 90% organized mass walkouts against the Common Core PARCC tests in Albuquerque and across New Mexico, with the message, “We are not a test score.”

    On Feb. 17th the Newark Student Union, an organization led primarily by students of color, occupied the Newark school district headquarters in part because of their opposition to the implementation of the new Common Core tests.

    On April 7th Gerald Hankerson, the President of the Seattle/King County NAACP chapter launched a press conference against the new Common Core, Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), tests, by saying, “…the Opt Out movement is a vital component of the Black Lives Matter movement and other struggles for social justice in our region. Using standardized tests to label Black people and immigrants ‘lesser,’ while systematically under-funding their schools, has a long and ugly history in this country.”

  4. John Young

    My take: Yawn. I doubt that too many viewers of that show are really wide open on many issues, seems like a place where people with strong priors go to have them confirmed.

    Like here, right?

  5. Art

    The American Statistical Association has not in fact made the categorical claim that Linda /RT ascribed to it

  6. Linda/RetiredTeacher

    Art is correct, but it’s revealing that he did not provide the obvious clarification. The ASA slammed the “high-stakes value added (VAM) of evaluating teachers.”

    Personally, as a teacher and a parent, I found standardized testing to be very valuable. When administered correctly, these tests tell us how our child is doing scholastically when compared to other children of the same age.

    The key word is “correctly.” These tests are, in many cases, administered incorrectly and their results are often “gamed” and misused. Here are two common ways:

    Educators see the test ahead of time and drill the students on the items (or similar items) from September to May.

    Weak high school students are told they must transfer to the alternative school because “they might not graduate otherwise.”

    etc.

    Sadly the minority student is often the one most hurt by this testing craze. Can we all agree that we need to do away with the MISUSE of standardized tests?

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