For some communities, high stakes testing is an unnatural disaster…. It’s a means for quietly but efficiently transferring wealth away from public schools and into private hands… this is euphemistically called #choice but it is really the choice of no choice. (Think NOLA without a hurricane) Several large cities in America have already been the victim of this policy. ( New Orleans, Newark, New York, Philadelphia, Detroit, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Chicago, among others) Why do they do it? It would be a pleasant fiction to pretend that the financial incentives are not a main goal. Closing schools and reopening them as charters is a tidy investment opportunity with big returns. How about a “39% tax credit that more than doubles return on investment within just 7 years… a tax credit on money that they’re lending so they’re collecting interest on the loans as well as getting the 39% tax credit.”
For-profit charters rake it in as do online school which open up and take tax dollars from public schools. In exchange for a low value education of daily test prep designed to return scores, charters can pocket the remainder as profit. “Non profit” charters may pay a CEO half a million or use nominal non profit status as a pass through to for-profit entities. All of this haymaking creates vested interest along with a cottage industry of lobbyists to court politicians and dump money into election campaigns and paid spin doctors who flood the airways to impact public opinion.
This is happening. While we pay attention to the shell game of manipulated cut scores and manufactured failure (or success rate), staked tests are being used to take over whole cities and cannibalize or shut down community public schools. In poor communities, schools are being eaten alive as their dollars leave, leaving remaining students in need of services that no longer exist. Other schools are labeled as “failure factories” and shut down only to open again as charters that… wait for it… don’t take the kids that they supposedly failed. In middle income communities, high stakes testing is used to stack rank children, educators, and schools. The well being of whole communities is pinned to the performance of children in ways that are unrelated to the educational needs of those children.
How can parents and communities end the insanity? Be informed. Click on the links to supporting materials if you want to know more. Go to nysape.org run by and for parents. If you’re in NYC, go to optoutnyc.com. Have your children opt out. Refuse consequential use of scores… including evaluating your child’s teacher, impacting your child’s access to gifted programs or remediation, and your school’s report card. Demand that tests be used diagnostically not as a tool for stack ranking or predatory take over of public institutions. And, like all important things, remember that involvement is the key. The best school is not the creation of an external entity, but the product of the living partnership of a community. Instead of investing in high stakes testing, invest in a relationship with your child’s teachers. Partner with them and with the other stakeholders in the community. Together, we are responsible for the education of our children and for protecting a future in which they can participate fully. Be part of a thriving real community.