More Good Reads – South Rises Again, Will VA? And Shafer Attacks!

Politifact’s truth-o-meter gives generous score of ‘half true’ to AFT President Randi Weingarten’s claim about teachers unions and achievement on This Week.  Some background on the issue here. In Slate Jack Shafer provides the hardest-hitting case on behalf of the LA Times on value-added yet. Harder than the LAT itself!  And in the RTD Kris Amundson turns in her summer homework and challenges the commonwealth’s educational stance.

7 Replies to “More Good Reads – South Rises Again, Will VA? And Shafer Attacks!”

  1. “We decided to check Weingarten’s claim that states that “have lots of teachers in teachers unions tend to be the states that have done the best in terms of academic success.”

    Then Politifact issued a complete untruth. It writes “Weingarten’s statement not only makes an absolute claim about better academic performance in states with strong unions, it implies unions are the reason why — otherwise, why cite it?”

    Since when does tend mean absolute?

    He also doesn’t know enough about education to answer is own question. Firstly, he reveals his logic saying that unions oppose a list reforms but he then assumes that those reforms would improve student achievement. On the simplist level Randi’s statement is a refutation of that assumption. He’d need to prove his assumption before he could give her a half truth. Randi was presenting her BALANCED case (too balanced for many in the rank-in-file by the way) against some reforms, and argued for our preferred reforms. That is enough of an answer to his wierd question.

    And anyone who thinks we’ll ever “prove” those reforms are better than traditional reforms isn’t playing with a full deck. You, his major source, believe one way and I believe another and nobody will ever know who was right. That’s democracy, that’s education, and that’s life.

    I agree with Randi that unions have better policies and better policies “tend” to produce better results. Also results aren’t just generated in the classroom. Good wages, job security, health and nutrition, and hope are the key ingredients for educational success. Those conditions are the goal and results of teachers union is specific, and unionization in general. I believe and I have evidence that the decline of unions in general and the decline in wages and living conditions are bad for families and thus bad for educational outcomes. If I claimed to be absolutely correct, he could give me a half truth or lower, but those aren’t issues where we’ll ever have “proof.”

    I also believe a team mentality and the values of unions are more consistent with the values of education and the values of education tend to be different than the values of reformers. I believe this scorch and burn politics is bad for kids, and I believe that Randi agress. You come from the breaking eggs to make an omelet school. Would Politifact seek to determine that collaboration vs. conflict is the right or wrong approach?

    I also believe the values of peer review are more consistent with the educational values that I respect. The union presented its evidence. You all presented your summary of the evidence, and yet he just accepted your summary without citing evidence. I haven’t read your book, I’ll admit, but I think Politifact owed it to the readers, in the spirit of peer review, to cite actual evidence and not just your opinion.

    That being said, your opinion was much more knowledgable and fairfully expressed that the non-expert opinion of Politifact.

  2. Oh, I forgot to mention that Jack Shafer’s opinion was labeled for what it was, media criticism. He didn’t bother to address educational issues. He just cried liberal! liberal! liberal!. The Times took on liberals in the liberal city of LA and lived through it.

    Fine. I am proud to be a liberal. I understand why Dems are afraid of the word. But when it comes to educational politics, regardless of what we call it we need to get back to our liberal roots. After all it has been absolutely proven that liberalism is true in all cases.

    Just kidding. The complexities of education are so great that they should make the firmest liberal wonder, but we’ve been intimidated into moving away from the liberal values that I believe are the best educational values.

  3. Andy,

    I’ve got to agree with John. I’m surprised you gave ink to Jack Shafer’s diatribe against teachers unions. Not much analysis there, just vitriol. And no consideration of many of the technical issues related to calculation and application of value added scores. There were better and more thoughtful options to give some lovin’.

    For example, see here:

    One of your earlier posts on the topic is even included.

  4. Shafer’s piece a good read? Really?
    I felt that if a reader had even a passing familiarity with the issues he or she would think it was pretty shallow stuff.

  5. Andy likes anything that supports his opinion, regardless of the quality. Thats how things roll in DC.

  6. It is frightening to think that a supposed education “reformer” would laud an article that blasts the people who provide educational services for our children. Citizens who sincerely want to improve education for all students need to ask themselves why. Historically it’s been extremely difficult to recruit and retain teachers for our most challenging schools, so why would a “reformer” make it even more difficult to attract qualified teachers in the future? There is a mountain of research to tell us that the most important factor in the schooling of a child is the teacher, so shouldn’t reformers be looking for ways to make the profession more attractive to talented to young people?

    When something isn’t right, as with the Bernie Madoff situation, there are usually big hints along the way that warn people to stop and take a closer look. In educational “reform” that time is now. Why would reformers bash teachers? What would be the purpose of this? If many highly successful (and higher-paid) teachers are pushed out of their jobs, who would benefit?

    I feel certain that the nation is on the precipice of a Wall-Street type debacle in education as millions (billions?) of RttT money is siphoned off into private pockets before it even reaches the schools. I hope someone with the power to do something is watching.

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