Hands Can’t Hit What Eyes Can’t See? Delta Comes…What’s The Matter With Oregon?

Randi Weingarten is an excellent tactician, but she’s not a great strategist. With enough hustle you can use the former to keep the latter liability at bay. But it’s a time limited strategy regardless. We’ve seen this play out before. The NEA hangs back. When is the last time you heard much about the NEA president, can you name her without googling? Weingarten, though, can’t get enough of being in the media. But the NEA’s approach might be the smarter strategy because enough zigging and zagging on a high profile issue and people start to notice…We’re going to find out soon how CTU, for instance, feels about a big push on reopening schools in this context. This isn’t teacher evaluation or reforming teacher contracts, where the same dynamic played out, this is the kitchen table issue in a lot of places right now.

Why? Delta is going to be an issue for schools. Seemed foreseeable. 

This from Oregon. It is really hard to see how removing the requirements that schools teach kids strikes a blow for equity. But here we are:

Gov. Kate Brown had demurred earlier this summer regarding whether she supported the plan passed by the Legislature to drop the requirement that students demonstrate they have achieved those essential skills. But on July 14, the governor signed Senate Bill 744 into law.

…Brown’s decision was not public until recently, because her office did not hold a signing ceremony or issue a press release and the fact that the governor signed the bill was not entered into the legislative database until July 29, a departure from the normal practice of updating the public database the same day a bill is signed.

…Lawmakers and the governor did not pass any major expansion of learning opportunities or supports for Black, Indigenous and students of color during this year’s legislative session.

…Much of the criticism of the graduation requirements was targeted at standardized tests.Yet Oregon, unlike many other states, did not require students to pass a particular standardized test or any test at all. Students could demonstrate their ability to use English and do math via about five different tests or by completing an in-depth classroom project judged by their own teachers.

It seems like the moment we’re living and the ethos in our sector is creating a situation where performative gestures like this are incentivized or rewarded more than actual efforts to improve the lived conditions of young people or steps that might give them greater choice in life. Math seems like another example.

Speaking of Oregon, and speaking of the moment, a not insignificant amount of the current “CRT” debate seems to be about age-inappropriate content and badly done DEI work. If you want to see schools do a better job teaching history, and separate the sheep from goats on an honest accounting of American history, this kind of thing is a problem, no? It’s low-hanging fruit.

A few weeks ago I wrote, 

Maybe on social questions I’m just an optimist by habit, but it seems to me that the ‘we need to do a better job teaching history, including the history of racism, and why the past is in some ways present,’ ‘don’t coerce speech and political viewpoint in public schools,’ and ‘don’t do dumb age-inappropriate things’ camp is actually quite large and diverse. It’s just a bit politically homeless in a strident debate.

Since then events seem to have bolstered that view?

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