The Already Existing Chaos in Student Testing

April 11, 2014


(Guest post by Greg Forster)

Matt complains about “coming chaos in student testing” because opponents of Common Core don’t agree on what should replace it. As I’ve been arguing in the comment thread, the American political system is designed to allow messy, chaotic coalitions to form quickly among people who don’t agree about much but want to oppose something that they all dislike, even if they don’t agree about why they dislike it or what should replace it.

You want to know why that’s happening in the case of Common Core testing? Stuff like this:

I’d like to tell you what was wrong with the tests my students took last week, but I can’t. Pearson’s $32 million contract with New York State to design the exams prohibits the state from making the tests public and imposes a gag order on educators who administer them. So teachers watched hundreds of thousands of children in grades 3 to 8 sit for between 70 and 180 minutes per day for three days taking a state English Language Arts exam that does a poor job of testing reading comprehension, and yet we’re not allowed to point out what the problems were.

Imagine how that sounds to parents. Jim Geraghty comments in his email blast:

We live in a world where Ed Snowden’s revealed all of our biggest national-security secrets, but parents in New York State can’t know what’s on the tests the kids are taking. What, are they trying to design a system with as little accountability as possible?

Yes, they are.

You would not have this huge anti-CC coalition drawing together people who agree about nothing else if CC were not being done in such a way as to generate huge opposition from a very diverse set of constituencies. And the CC coalition has proven that it is not willing to bend even an inch to accommodate those concerns.

As long as the CC coalition behaves the way it does, no one has any right to complain about the coalition that has formed against it. They are right to work together to oppose CC without waiting for consensus to emerge on an alternative.

I will keep on saying it and saying it: The core issue is trust. Nothing else matters. The system has lost the trust of parents, not because the parents are paranoid but because the system actually does not deserve their trust. Nothing else is going to go right until the system earns back the parents’ trust.

And the only plausible path to restoring trust is school choice without a common standard.

Update: More analysis of testing concerns from Rick Hess: “Four years after these testing consortia launched, I still can’t get answers to practical questions about whether the results will provide the kind of valid, reliable data needed to support transparency, accountability, and informed competition.”

A Little Context for OFA’s Sob Story

August 10, 2010

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

The latest item making the rounds is an e-mail from Organizing for America, the old Obama campaign appendage now grafted into the DNC. A teacher from Ambler, Pa. pleads that if we don’t shovel a huge chunk of money into the EduJobs rathole, it’s theoretically possible that someone “like me” could potentially lose a job.

With that special blend of entitlement mentality and self-righteousness only the blob has mastered, she solemnly intones:

I’m not a special interest. I’m a teacher.

(Portentious boldface in original.)

Jim Geraghty would like you to be aware of the numbers featured above – this teacher’s school district, Wissahickon, has an average salary almost half again as high as the state average salary. And that’s before we look at benefits, which are much richer for teachers than in the private sector. Geraghty remarks:

When the local board of education spends money at a rate that the local tax base cannot afford, those teachers who refuse to adjust their salaries to reality do start to look like a special interest.

Mike Petrilli hammers the point home:

Your job could easily be saved if your union leaders were willing to accept some modest concessions. (Even a salary freeze might do the trick.)  But when teachers demand job protections, generous benefits, and salary increases in the midst of a recession…well, that’s expecting special treatment, indeed.

Not to mention JPGB’s own Matt Ladner, commenting on the instantly-famous chart comparing private sector job destruction in the current crisis to government job protection:

The yellow line just put another $10 billion on the credit card of the red line. Let them eat cake!

Sometimes I almost feel sorry for these people.

It’s Not Easy Being Greene

June 14, 2010

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

Jim Geraghty, sorting through the various theories that have been offered to explain the mysterious landslide victory of unknown candidate Al Greene in the South Carolina Democratic senatorial primary:

Shortly after the election, Robert Ford, an African-American South Carolina state senator who ran for governor, offered the theory that voters could tell Greene was black by his last name: “No white folks have an ‘e’ on the end of Green. The blacks after they left the plantation couldn’t spell, and they threw an ‘e’ on the end.” This is an intriguing and possible theory, except that the world is full of people with the last name Greene who aren’t black (such as Florida Senate candidate Jeff Greene, author Graham Greene, and actress Michelle Greene) and plenty of African Americans with the last name “Green.”

Bad news, Jay – apparently you’re only the fourth most famous non-black Greene.

“Just Call Me Mister Butterfingers!”

January 22, 2010

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

President Obama says health care socialization has “run into a bit of a buzz saw.”

Jim Geraghty asks: What’s the survival rate for people who run into buzz saws?

Geraghty Sums It Up

May 7, 2009


HT Damage Control Music

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

NRO’s Jim Geraghty sums up Obama’s new position on D.C. vouchers:

“We know our stance is indefensible; please make this issue go away.”


February 11, 2009

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

I just got caught up reading the last 24 hours’ worth of Jim Geraghty over on NRO, and it’s a cornucopia of posts that relate directly to a variety of topics we’ve been discussing here on JPGB:

Jim: “Say, fellows . . . when the central argument that the president uses to defend $838 billion or so in new spending is a lie, isn’t that news? Shouldn’t that be something of a big deal?”

In case the president is interested, Jay has proposed an alternative to the stimulus, although he has also noted that even doing nothing would be better than a stimulus bill.

Which I take as evidence that even the bill’s supporters don’t expect it will have a stimulative effect on the economy, as we’ve discussed; they’re supporting it because it’s a forty-year wish list of liberal fantasies and payoffs.

By which time he hopes the economy will have turned around on its own, so that the improvement can be attributed to the “stimulus,” just like Jay has pointed out.

This slander was debunked within days of the collapse, as we’ve noted. The real reason it collapsed is because “infrastructure” spending goes where politics dictates, not where there are real needs for improved infrastructure. So more spending doesn’t produce improved results.

And speaking of how infrastructure spending is really spent…

Jim reminds us that the Post, even while admitting that Murtha was a profound embarrasment, endorsed him on grounds that he delivered “infrastructure” pork to his district.

“When You’re in the Red, Listen to Fred”

December 2, 2008



“This bailout will get out of control. It will get out of control and we’ll be lucky to live through it.”

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

Fred Thompson on nonstop bailouts: “If you work in New York in a tall building making millions of dollars every year, it’s called ‘leverage.’ If you’re livin’ anywhere else, it’s called ‘living above your means.'”

Jim Geraghty quips: “When you’re in the red, listen to Fred.”

Where Did You Get That Marvelous Datum?

July 31, 2008

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

NRO blogger Jim Geraghty has a good post today about Obama and school choice. But what I particularly want to point out is this, which he notes in passing:

These numbers from the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics for the 2003-2004 school year put average tuition paid by private elementary school students at $5,049

It looks to me like the word “these” was supposed to have a link, but there’s no link. I wasn’t aware NCES had collected any private school tuition data since 1999. And that figure looks a whole lot like the figure NCES was reporting back in 1999. Did Geraghty find the tuition number and assume it came from the most recent iteration of the Private School Universe Survey? (Actually the PSS has just released its 2005 data, but we’ll overlook that for the moment.) Or does NCES still collect private school tuition data, and somehow I missed it?

I’m not sure which outcome to root for.

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