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Thursday, September 1, 2011

The 40% solution? NYT editors parrot the Billionaire Boys Club and ignore the research

Today, in an editorial, the NY Times inveighs against the recent court decision that held that the new teacher evaluation system should be based 20 percent rather than 40 percent on state test scores, as mandated by a law passed by the Legislature.  

Somehow NY Times editors are under the delusion that teacher evaluation system based 40 percent on  state test scores, which themselves have been absurdly manipulated over the last several years, would be a more “rigorous” system.  They even appear to agree that if any teacher  did poorly on the that one portion of the system for one year only, he or she would deserve the lowest of ratings – as the Commissioner King would prescribe – in a perversion of the entire notion of multiple measures.

It is sad that none of the research showing the fallibility and potentially destructive effects of such a simplistic rating system has managed to penetrate into their heads.  Thus the Times shows itself as averse to research and expert opinion on the subject as the Wall Street Journal and the Daily News – and as firmly under the sway  of the oligarchy of ignorant billionaires and hedge fund operators who are now making education policy in this nation.

As Marc Epstein  put it, “If the issue is education reform, put Governor Chris Christie in a room with Governor Andrew Cuomo; Joel Klein, the education reformer and lifelong Democrat; Secretary of Education Arne Duncan; and the editorial boards of the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Post and New York Times, and you'd think you're at a family reunion straight out of "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet."

For a far more reasonable analysis of this eminently fair court decision, that merely ratified the notion that the Regents and the State Education Department should respect  the legal framework informed by their own advisory task force and negotiated by themselves, the legislature and the unions, see Mike Petrilli of the conservative Fordham Institute in NY Regents: Stop the madness!
Too bad the editorial board of the NY Times continues to show itself as averse to the expert consensus as embodied in this letter from the National Academy of Sciences on “Race to the Top”, that warned against a reductionist and ultimately unreliable teacher evaluation based heavily on standardized test scores,  as well as this letter from renowned academics, protesting Commissioner King’s unilateral decision to ignore the law.

The NY Times editors should recall their principled stance they took when the Bush administration allowed the influence of politics and big money to overwhelm research, science, and good sense.  Instead, on the issue of education policy,  they seem headed in the same ignorant and profoundly damaging direction.


tedmlewis said...

Sadly, the NYT has often championed the "reforms" supported by Gates, hedge fund managers and co., even as it also prints stories on how these reforms harm education. For example, the Times had an excellent profile of a universally respected excellent teacher who was smart, talented, and driven---but who was ranked as an ineffective teacher by a complicated "value added" test score evaluation.

NYC Educator said...

I was very upset by that. The Times editorial board, at least regarding education, is tough to distinguish from that of the Post. Where's that liberal bias I've been searching for?

Anonymous said...

The Times is a publishing company, after all. They have always been anti-union and they doubtless see gold in educational publishing as a potential savior of their failing print empire.

Anonymous said...

The editors at the Times are clueless about the issue of teacher evaluations. Even though they write so passionately on their editorial page about the inequities in our society between the rich and the working classes, they are unable to connect the dots and recognize what it takes for a great number of our teachers to do their jobs and accomplish the great things they do. They should know better then support an evaluation process that place so much weight on standardized test score when the results of these types of assessment are being heatedly debated in and out of the education community.

Anonymous said...

The editorial boards of all three major NYC newspapers are anti-union and public school teacher. They have bought in to the ridiculous test mania and charter school nonsense created by our education mayor. Why is it so difficult to understand teacher ratings based on test scores depends more on the type of student you have in your class rather than the type of teacher you are?Why don't they understand this rating signals only those teachers who teach subjects tested by state wide exams.,many teachers do not?Is this fair?The more test mania takes over,the less the children learn.What a shame!

Michael Fiorillo said...

It just goes to show that, when pushed by self-interested billionaires posing as philanthropists, you can't keep a bad idea down.