“Everybody Knows the Dice Are Loaded,” The Sad Tale of Educational Neglect, the Misuse of Faulty Test Scores and Insanity of Pursuing Wrongheaded Policies.

 Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows that the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows
Maybe Leonard Cohen is right, it sure seems so …
A couple of years ago Rick Mills, at that time the New York State Commissioner of Education either consciously or subconsciously decided to  “dumb down” the NYS standardized exams that all kids in grades 3-8 take and ease the scoring on some of the Regents exams that are required for high school graduation.
Maybe it was the “soft bigotry of low expectations,” maybe he wanted to pump up his own legacy, perhaps he intended, after easing the tests to ratchet up the exams over time. We do know that the exams made New York State look like it knew what it was doing, and the electeds glowed!
In New York City, a mayor outspends his challenger 20:1 emphasizing gains in pupil achievement that we know are illusory, and wins in a close contest.
A front page story in the NY Times (October 10, 2010), by Jennifer Medina and others exposed the charade,
 The fast rise and even faster fall of New York’s passing rates resulted from the effect of policies, decisions and missed red flags that stretched back more than 10 years and were laid out in correspondence and in interviews with city and state education officials, administrators and testing experts.

The process involved direct warnings from experts that went unheeded by the state, and a city administration that trumpeted gains in student performance despite its own reservations about how reliably the test gauged future student success.

The article recounts how insiders and outsiders knew the “books were cooked,” huge gains in achievement were not possible, but no one in a high position was interested in blowing the whistle, after all, glittering scores were not to be challenged.

Eight years into the Klein administration all the press releases, all the adulation, the scampering from city to city, from nation to nation, crowing about the success of the “New York Miracle” is called into question.

It’s not like we can be proud of what preceded, from the centralized pre-1970 Board of Education. to decentralized school districts, to the many flavors of Children First, achievement gaps persist, too many kids falter, and high school graduation rates don’t transfer into college success.

John Garvey, who recently retired as the liaison between the city’s Education Department and CUNY. “…. everyone is beginning to realize that a Regents diploma has very, very little to do with what it takes to do well in college.”

Reading/math scores, graduation rates are exceptionally poor predictors of college success, as evidenced by the staggering number of graduates who require remediation and fail to complete their first year in community college.

Richard Kessler in the Huffington Post gets it right,

The simplicity underscoring much of the present debate belies just how complicated schools can be. It’s easy to parrot the phrase: “We know how to fix our schools.” But don’t you think, if we knew, if we really knew how to do it to scale, it would have been done already? The fact of the matter is that educating children is hard, complex, and long-term.

Walt Gardner in his Reality Check  Education week blog …. evokes Campbell’s Law

“The more any quantitative social indictor is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor.”

The national and local education leadership suffer from insanity, as defined by Albert Einstein, (Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results). The same banal euphemisms: data, report card grades, lockstep workshop models, to the exclusion of teacher judgment, to the exclusion of the impact of poor health, gangs, foreclosures, the pathologies of poverty.

Some high schools should have been closed, some teachers are inadequate, too many principals are not leaders, the leadership programs “du jour” ignore setting a standard: to be a principal you had to have been a superior teacher. Why were high schools allowed to fail?  Why do principals hire inadequate teachers and grant them tenure?

Gloating over firing teachers that your handpicked and trained principals hired is insane.

School systems and US Department of Education stumble forward, in spite of policies that are clearly wrongheaded.


They are, according to Albert’s definition, insane.



2 responses to ““Everybody Knows the Dice Are Loaded,” The Sad Tale of Educational Neglect, the Misuse of Faulty Test Scores and Insanity of Pursuing Wrongheaded Policies.

  1. Zola vous aime. Your j’accuse of the Mayor’s
    and Chancellor’s uncecoming conduct regarding phony tests scores is an indictment in demand of a trial. Unfortunately, the UFT’s hands are unclean.
    Although Randi knew that the jump in scores was unreal, she hopped on DOE”s bandwagon last year, collaborating in the fraud. And who suffers?
    It’s always the same–students whose skin is a different shade.


  2. A brilliant article outlining the failures of State Ed, No Child Left Behind, and of course, the evilly-inclined DOE, detailing their collusion to destroy public education for the sake of politics . Yet somehow, the previous poster reads this very clear indictment of the current test-ed system and sees only Randi Weingarten. Okay, the state cooked the scores, and okay, the feds made promises they had no intention of keeping, and okay, Klein and Bloomberg basked in the spotlight of lies, but forget about all that and blame Weingarten and the UFT. In fact, blame them for everything and distort the truth so that the malicious educrats can continue to wreck havoc on schools and school children. A strategy worthy of the mayor cum chancellor himself.
    Has someone told Mr. Nobile that Randi Weingarten is long gone? Has Mr. Nobile noticed that the UFT is the only voice for kids and their parents? Maybe he needs to read the article a few more times.


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