The uproar we’ve heard from educators in the case of Tony Bennett’s (alleged) manipulation of school grades is the pot calling the kettle corrupt.
A few years ago the state switched from fall to spring testing, changing test difficulty and cut scores in the process. Miraculously everyone’s passing rate for ISTEP increased by 5 percent, much better than the 2 percent annual increase Atlanta achieved during its recent cheating scandal.
Instead of disbelief, there were high fives all around. The unquestioning media gushed about record “improvements.” Bennett boasted about his policies and school administrators about all their “hard work.” At the same time his new “A-F” rating system, then weighted largely on improvement instead of achievement, gave “A” grades to struggling systems like FWCS while rating SAC and NAC with “Cs”. Those ludicrous grades were not reversed for another year, allowing FWCS to hang banners all over town proclaiming, “We are an A-rated district” and telling voters they now deserved another shot at a building project.
Our belief in the value of an educated public perpetuates a public education system that believes in the value of self preservation. Anyone who tries to change it should be prepared to bear his cross humbly against the inevitable backlash, something Bennett could never do. The hypocrisy is grating on those of us who are paying for it.
Now that parents are fortunate enough have an expanded choice of education options, let’s have taxpayer choice in where our education dollars go.