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Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Joke’s on Us

February 11, 2012 (GBN News): In a stunning development, GBN News has learned that Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s signature “Race to the Top” program was originally conceived as a practical joke on President Obama. According to a source in the Education Department, the Secretary was merely looking to embarrass the President after a particularly humiliating loss on the basketball court.

Apparently, Mr. Duncan never really expected to carry the hoax quite as far as it went. But, the source told GBN News, “Practically every state in the Union bought into it hook, line and sinker. All sorts of bizarre stuff started happening: Every teacher in a high school gets fired in order to improve it; math teachers are evaluated on students’ English scores. You couldn’t make that stuff up. But with billionaires willing to back it, it just took on a life of its own.”

“The ironic thing,” the source added, “is that the President may get the last laugh. I think Obama has been on to this all along. Why else would he sound like he doesn’t even know his own Ed Department’s policy? He’s obviously feigning ignorance just to ruin the prank and turn it back on Duncan.”

When asked if this matter is likely to sour the relationship between the two men, the source said emphatically, “No way. Come on, it’s just two basketball buddies busting each other’s chops. I’m sure there are no hard feelings. After all, it’s not like their own kids are affected.”


teacherken said...

Duncan's kids attend public school in Arlington VA. They are potentially subject to Race to the Top.

Gary Babad said...

But if you check the link, teacherken, you'll see that the Arlington district eschews tying teacher evaluations to test scores: "We do not tie teacher evaluations to scores in the Arlington public school system." (Arlington school district teacher, March 31, 2011). So it's likely that the district has managed to avoid many of the other aspects of RTTT as well. After all, why else would Duncan have chosen it for his kids?

teacherken said...

1. Duncan put his kids in Arlington schools when he came to DC as sec ed.

2. So far Virginia has not taken RttT money. So far. Thus Arlington, where I live and where I have taught in the past, does not HAVE to tie teacher evaluation to student scores.

3. Virginia has a strict Dillon rule. If state were to sign on to RttT, Arlington would have to comply.

4. I did write "potentially" - they are in a public school, which already makes them subject to NCLB. Obama's kids are in Sidwell Friends, which exempts them from all of those federal mandates.

Ian H. said...

Almost Onion-worthy...

Frustrated Math Teacher said...

As a math teacher, it is my fault if my students aren't able to read the word problems I give them, and I get in trouble for not including more literacy in my math curriculum. So please let me for forget about trying to teach my students how to use the quadratic equation, I need them to do more free writes in class....

sigh... What happened to being expected to do math drills in class until you are forced to memorize how to do the problems in your sleep? What happened to wanting to work with struggling kids? If my evaluation and job retention is going to be tied to test scores, I don't want to work in a poor school. I would rather work in a school where the kids have two parents, where drugs aren't an issue, where the kids actually have food in the fridge when they get home, where there is no worry about violent gangs and gunfire. If I'm going to lose my job because on my evaluation it states I couldn't help my kids pass the algebra regents when they come to me reading at a 3rd grade level, screw this. I'm quitting working in a poor school and am aiming for the rich schools instead.

Education is falling the the hole, and some people wonder why. I wanted my whole life to be a teacher and help students who actually need help, but not when the system is going to be like this. I'm sorry, NYC, but you might need to find another math teacher. I love math, and I love teaching it, but the way you treat teachers make me think I need to rethink my career options.

Joel said...

Thank you. This explains everything. The only was Race To the Top and its ridiculous emphasis on testing made any sense was if it was really a joke. I really appreciate you for clearing this up for me.

zulma said...

Great piece!

I wouldn't be surprised if those two basketball buddies conjured up the RttT scam just to see if the public would fall for it. Well, we did and the faux-democrats are having the last laugh while teachers and students go home crying.

I plan to put it on FB.