I read the article that follows below earlier this week and had to agree with much of what is stated. The Value Added Model of Education (VAM) — notice the clever use of the words ‘value’ and ‘added’ — this would have made Orwell’s head jerk for it is this type of doublespeak that we find throughout the poisonous educational ‘debate’.
There is clearly little value in removing literature, music, playgrounds, recreation and other humanitarian pursuits from the curriculum for children and then force them to take test all day long under the tutleage of bordom and tyranny. In fact, it is immoral.
The “Disinterest Compounded Daily Model” (DCDM) my name for the value added model adopted by UTLA and fashioned like garments by people who have no idea of what education is, entails or strives to become an ideological one size fits all uniform that students are told they must wear to enter the low paid or no paid work force. This is an example of education being administered, not educational opportunities being offered by teachers.
The child abusers who design these bludgeoning devices in the name of education do so for many reasons. Christian fundamentalism and the hatred for questioning and the thirst for obedience and hierarchy is one reason. It is also a reason many Christians home school.
Fool’s gold sellers such as reactionary Terry Moe and his colleague Chubb at the Hoover Institute are motivated by market fundamentalism as the answer to all the ails society. They have a particular hatred for teachers which you can read about if you go to the Hoover Institute site and find their work. This hatred is for collectivism as much as for ‘teachers’ and the fact that teachers even have or think they should have a say in the ideological hierarchy inherent in reactionary thought is inexcusable. They actually are delighted that automation will finally get rid of teachers. They also wish a curriculum that tells people what to think, not one that encourages them how to think.
But the right wing think tanks and the likes of Moe and Chubb are really only the projectionists for the Modern Plato Cave where bondage is voluntary and images command and manufacture consent. The real people behind the curtain are the usual suspects: the uber rich ruling classes and their lap dog politicians or front group carney barkers who sell propaganda to the masses to feed private profit for a few.
It was Louis Powell who, in 1973, told the ruling elite that they must begin to set up and build a movement of think tanks and paid courtiers, spokespeople, who can then develop the talking points and the legitimacy for the reactionaries’ plan to appeal not simply New Deal politics, but the very notion of the Enlightenment itself. The time was right and the project was launched and now we have literally a landscape of sophistry.
Then there are obvious individual sociopaths like Newt Gingrich or Donald Trump and his ilk who simply wish power and money.
These reactionaries, then and now, represent the opposition to the abolition of slavery, opposition to the 14th amendment as it applies to natural people, opposition to sexual freedom and gay and lesbian rights, opposition to women’s right to vote or make decisions about her body and of course opposition to democracy (like an elected Senate), either at the workplace or in the public arena.
In order to gain the momentum that they have gained over forty years, these think tanks were and are necessary for the ruling class and change names like chameleons change colors. For example, the CATO Institute used to be the Koch Institute.
All of this is done to confuse the public with faux organizations and messages that will either have the effect of numbing down or dummying down the consciousness of ordinary working people. The corporate media is little more than the sock puppet press for the ruling class and they of course are connected Wall Street so if one gets their ideas from TV or right wing corporate news medai, they know little of how their society works.
The reactionaries of today, what many call the Tea Party, are not conservatives. They are ‘reactionaries’. They detest movements from the abolition of slavery to the civil rights movement that threatened the hegemony and hierarchy of the plutocrats. For the ruling class the issue now, is to create the new medieval corporate society — the toll booth society whereby we all pay the scum of the earth to live on the planet they are destroying with their pro-growth capitalist policies. This means privatizing the public commons and assuring that dissent is brutally put down.
So when it comes to education let us not be fooled by those who call themselves “philanthropists” and say they want to “reform” education. First of all, they are not philanthropists just as Vanderbilt was neither a philanthropists nor J.D Rockefeller. They are New Gilded Aged financial billionaires that make their money off of the exploitation of cheap labor, the use of government for tariff and treaty purposes, the use of government for copyright laws, the use of government to pass regulations favorable to them, and for the use of govetrnment6 for not prosecuting them under the Sherman anti Trust Act. They are white collar criminals who pose as friendly faces, say they hate government and then attempt to control it for they really love it if they own it.
Then of course, we must ask, who appointed the Waltons, The Bill and Melinda Gates Society, Elye Broad, invasion of privacy peddler Reed Hastings of Net Flix, Agassi the tennis player and the rest of the gaggle of billionaires and millionaires who have nothing better to do with their money than try to control the teaching profession? Who made these men, or families like the DeVos family or Art Pope the heads of America’s Department of Education?
Arne Duncan calls no shots other than those he makes on the basketball court and we don’t know his success rate there. We do know his success rate as the head of the Department of Education. He is a failure for the public interests but a huge success for the billionaires and millionaires and the hedge fund and venture capitalist concerns that are now taking over the $600 billion dollar US educating market with their eyes on the $3 trillion dollar market worldwide. Arne opened the government door for them to get federal money and now it swings one way to close schools and the other to offer opportunities for further privatization and financialization. This is and was Race to the Top, a race to the slop by ALEC and the thousands of right wing faux organizations that now have bivouacked into the public commons with the interests to euthanize it.
The Value Added Model of Education is litte more than what can be called “Zombie functionalism and neo-instrumentality” in education and if you have the time you can read about its history in the US and how it ties into the Gates plan for US education at: http://philosophers.posterous.com.
The article is long but I believe an important read for it places VAM and other such things as the Core Curriculum in historical and economic context and without an understanding of educational policies as historical products of capitalism, we tend to assume we can democratize education within a system of totalitarianism and this is simply naive.
The teacher unions
In the interim, you can read about how UTLA is once again selling out its rank and file and partnering with seedy administrators, many of them former lobbyists for for-profit education interests, in helping to create the new neo-feudal landscape for teachers. All of this under the patronage of the National AFT and Randi Weingarten who not only has stated she loves Green Dot ‘private schools’ but actually opened one herself. Business unionism is her strong point and she has done nothing but sell out teachers since her tenure as president. But so has Van Roekel of NEA.
Clearly with this type of appeasement and capitulation on behalf of the leadership of AFT and NEA, in this case UTLA, teachers can expect not only to become Wal-Mart workers in a low paid service job, but see their profession transformed by billionaires and their front men into at-will work right in front of their eyes. And the union, seeing the crime occur in broad daylight cannot even muster up the courage to be a Good Samaritan while they take in salaries, in the cae of Van Roekel, of over half a million dollars while teachers lose their jobs.
How sad for our children. How sad for our future.
With the passing of Gore Vidal last week, I’m having second thoughts about whether in the final analysis education has any value other than as a source of amusement and/or frustration for those of us who have enough of it to either get the sick joke or frustration that comes with understanding what’s going on in public education. The phrase that keeps coming back to me from James Joyce’s Ulysses is, “History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.” Presumably, if I didn’t know history, at the very least I wouldn’t be aware that I was living in a nightmare. Add to this the rather chilling trivial coincidence that educated types get off on from Ulysses that the rather narrow and intolerant school master is also named Deasy.
For Gore Vidal, education was something to be used to take responsibility for one’s individual life to fulfill your responsibility as a productive member of society, based on the belief that you did not have to cloak yourself in religious superstition or defer to alpha male authority in order to make sense out of life and the world- doesn’t seem like too radical an idea, but, alas, I’m educated and there in lies the rub, when working for LAUSD, the most anti-intellectual organization I have ever experienced in my 65 years on this earth.
Years ago when now UTLA President Warren Fletcher represented me in one of my enumerable disciplinary conferences I had with the Los Angeles Unified (LAUSD) wonks, because I insisted on educating all students, he referred to what was going on between LAUSD and United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) as kabuki, that highly stylized form of Japanese theater where everybody plays their part and nobody dares to deviate from the highly scripted action no matter how insane things get. Who knew at the time that Warren was just dying to join the troupe.
One of the latest kabuki co-productions of LAUSD and UTLA has to do with a test-score-based teacher evaluation system (called AGT) that is similar to the “value-added” teacher evaluations that the L.A. Times published two years ago. This idea supported by LAUSD is that teachers’ work performance has to be at least partially judged by how well students do on annual standardized examinations. Of course, “partial performance review” quickly becomes all. Especially, if you piss off your administrator by continuing to question why this system of public education never succeeds.
At first blush VAM or AGT sound reasonable in a rational best-of-all-possible-worlds reality where students are assumed to advance into secondary education only when they have mastered more fundamental skills. However, the subjective LAUSD reality of social promotion makes such a system a non sequitur, given the abysmal student level that LAUSD administration has continued to abide and actually encourage for generations. Therefore, things have only gotten worse over time. I mean what would you do for cheap labor, if you educated your Latino population? White folks might just have to take care of their own kids and mow their own lawns- Dios no lo quiera!
What test-score based teacher assessment is really about is scapegoating teachers for LAUSD longstanding administrative failure, so teachers can be blamed and replaced with low-paid benefit-less instructors, who will allow the abysmal academic level of students to sink even further, while LAUSD’s Superintendent John Deasy turns the reins over to for-profit hedge-fund-run charters.
While this form of cultural suicide is looking more and more inevitable, my damned education from an LAUSD of a different era keeps pushing me for the answer to just one question that Deasy, Fletcher & Co and the media never seem to get around to:
Why should single-subject credentialed teachers with a substantive course to teacher, little time to do it, and no remediation skill set have to address the substantial deficits of their students as a prerequisite to being able to understand the teacher’s subject matter? Is this realistic? These students arrived in these teachers’ classes already hopelessly behind. Why should Value Added Model assessment be used to hold teachers exclusively responsible for the predictable after the fact failure of these students on their annual student assessment?
LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy and UTLA President Warren Fletcher should have no fear and lose no sleep over my criticism, since their purposeful and up to now successful dumbing down of public education has made the number of people who can actually understand what I am saying an ever diminishing on. Add to this a mainstream media that reports their soap opera uncritically and you have a clear vision of what Gore Vidal saw and commented upon so eloquently throughout his life- much to his chagrin.
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