In this latest installment of “someone has to say it” I again reveal my attempt to engage EDweek and Teacher Beat author Stephen Sawchuk in a legitimate discussion concerning education reform.
Last week EDweek published Stephen’s story on the “proposed” changes to teacher accreditation unveiled by the new Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). In case you’ve forgotten NCATE and TEAC merged (CAEP) to further destroy professional teacher preparation and turn teaching into a low wage, low skill temporary job lacking in any intellectual engagement.
The BIG 5 Recommendations:
1. Content and Pedagogical Knowledge
2. Clinical Partnerships and Practice
3. Candidate Quality, Recruitment, and Selectivity
4. Program Impact
5. Provider Quality, Continuous Improvement, and Capacity
Some would say that the five items seem reasonable. Well I guess I’m unreasonable because once you get beyond the big bold proclamations you need to only read:
Programs would have to show their impact on P-12 student learning through value-added measures…
That’s it for me. Game over! Valued-Added is junk science and the research on its use is pretty damn conclusive—Don’t Do It!
But this really isn’t the point of this post. At the end of the story Mr. Sawchuk invited responses:
Education Week will shortly be following up on reaction in the field to these measures. So if you are a state official, a faculty member, a program administrator, or a teacher-candidate, please weigh in in the comments section or contact me directly.
So I did.
“CAEP President James G. Cibulka, however, said that the panel ultimately came down in favor of a shift toward outcomes, in part because of a thin and largely anecdotal teacher education research base that has long plagued programs’ attempts to determine best practices. Remedying that will require the field to put a heavier emphasis on evidence, a theme woven throughout the document.”
While the “research base is thin” that does not mean that you go forward with an experimental surveillance system (not accreditation). The claim itself is not entirely accurate. In fact when you look at the most controversial aspect of the new CAEP –use of VAM –the research is THICK that it should not be used. Of course many think tanks and other advocacy groups have released “research” in support of VAM. However it is not research.
Therefore the idea that the new CAEP is based on “evidence” is nonsense. The rankings that CAEP intends to produce will be invalid and falsely label teacher education programs. It might seem like nitpicking but VAM is a sham and all the other changes proposed to CAEP are truly experimental at best. There is NO research base to suggest that the proposed evaluation system will do anything positive.
Only one (mentors and internships) has some decent research to support making changes. However, finding the best mentors in the total CAEP proposal will not identify our best mentors because these people will be simply identified by VAM scores. Therefore even the one suggestion that does have decent support in the literature will be rendered worthless.
And Mr. Sawchuk responded:
Hi Tim, I believe what Mr. Cibulka means is that programs will hopefully be able to link aspects of their programming to achievement outcomes, therebyimproving the empirical research base. I’m sorry if that wasn’t clear.
So “someone had to say it” and I decided to contact Mr. Sawchuk “directly:”
Look I don’t want you to think I have anything against you personally (because I don’t). I just don’t think you fully comprehend the stakes. This is not “news” you are reporting. You are literally chronicling the biggest fleecing of taxpayers by some of the most powerful interests aligned against public education. My harshness in my critiques of you and other education reporters is the fact that you fail to either understand this or you really don’t believe that this is a conspiracy to do away with the American public system of education.
When you talk about Cibulka improving the research base you’re assuming he has a legitimate concern that is rooted in improving teacher education. The new CAEP has nothing to do with quality “assessment” and accrediting of teacher prep programs. As I said, the use of VAM despite the THICK literature that overwhelmingly says not to do it is clear “evidence” that this has nothing to do with research on teacher preparation. Even the one aspect that has pretty good support in the literature (internship and mentoring) is going to be carried out in a way that has no support.
You can think I’m some crazy conspiracy theorist but I have been in public education for over twenty years. What you are witnessing is a well financed and planned take over of public education. To use the “research is thin and largely anecdotal” is just rhetoric that dismisses the entire profession of teaching and learning from PhD conducted research to constructivist teaching and learning that emphasizes critical learning.
Anecdotal research can be extremely powerful and help explain complicated phenomenon. When someone refers to it as “anecdotal” that is purposely dismissive and an attempt to discredit it. The accumulated research (anecdotal, case study, qualitative, longitudinal and also quantitative) on teaching and learning and cognitive development and the power of equitably delivered critical educational experiences is far from “thin.” In fact it is overwhelmingly supportive of doing what goes on in the private schools used by Gates, Obama, Rhee and other reformers that insist that the public system must be changed.
However the change they advocate through think tanks and special interest funded studies (absent peer review) has already drastically changed our public schools and at best, turned them simply into institutions designed to deliver content (content chosen by reformers) as efficiently as possible . There is no regard for the fact that this is a massive civil rights violation. It does not put “students first” and it is hurting MY KIDS! It’s a sham and there are more and more of us that know it. And we are going to continue to fight back in anyway we can. For me that is organizing mass opt outs, writing scathing critiques of ed “news” and making sure that the people fighting ed reform get a voice through our radio show.
This is what separates us. I am fighting for the public schools MY KIDS and all kids deserve. I am not a reporter. I’m an activist! I am a researcher. I am a teacher. This is not a job for me. This is my passion and so I will constantly critique and analyze education news that has any hint of corporate influence. So the whole the “research is thin and largely anecdotal” really is just an attempt to dismiss what we really do know about powerful teaching and learning. And look, using VAM will not add a damn bit of “empirical” evidence to the literature. VAM is garbage. It has one use and that is to demoralize teachers that love to teach and reward teachers that “do what they’re told” and conform to the new world order of education reform.
You see. This not some academic exercise for me. This is an attempt to break through the media blackout that refuses to report on the biggest story in America in the last 100 years–the hostile take over and dismantling of the American public system of education by the most powerful and elite in this country.
I am always willing to talk,
It’s been over a week and my inbox remains empty. Again, too harsh? If you think so you to have your head stuck in a hole. Education reformers are WAR PIGS and if the media and education news outlets refuse to reveal it—I will!
Follow Timothy D. Slekar on Twitter: www.twitter.com/slekar