Friday, July 1, 2011

RTTT (Race to The Top): State takeover of our children

From Huff Po at I just have to give my two cents....well more like few dollars as I have quite a lot to say. The article is in blue italics and my response in regular or italic (stupid blogger acting up) blackish gray text.

A $500 million federal competition for early education money will stress assessment, teacher training and program alignment, according to an announcement Thursday by officials from the White House, the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services.

So first, what does the Dept. of Health and Human Services have to do with education? Cradle to the grave alright. School is good for your health? And why must it be a competition- what, the losing schools don't deserve funding? And our teachers are trained to death, the only way to can get "better" teachers in their meaning of better would be to do a frontal lobotomy. Then teachers would just follow the scripted curriculum, test kids like mad, not complain about wages or crowded classrooms or RTTT for that matter.

"We're really announcing something historic," Roberto Rodriguez, special assistant to the president for education in the White House Domestic Policy Council, said during an evening call with reporters to announce more details about the government's Race to the Top program. "We believe that this ... can really have the same kind of impact around some of the core challenges that we faced around our early learning community."

Errr....translation....get 'em while they're young, indoctrinate or brainwash or brain-dead 'em early. The family or community is too inept to care for or educate children so let it go to the state. To quote some folks here, and I'll make it in small text to avoid confusion (hopefully), "Every child in America entering school at the age of five is insane because
he comes to school with certain allegiances toward our Founding Fathers,
toward his parents, toward our elected officials, toward a belief in a
supernatural being, and toward the sovereignty of this nation as a separate
entity. It's up to you, teachers, to make all these sick children well by
creating the international child of the future." Chester M. Pierce,
Professor, Department of Educational Psychiatry, Harvard University.

"We really don't know how to raise children. If we want to talk about the
equality of opportunity for children, then the fact that children are raised
in families means there's no equality, we must take them away from families
and communally raise them." Dr. Mary Jo Bane: former Clinton Administration
assistant secretary of administration for children and families in the US
Department of Health and Human Services.
(holy moly, now I know why the Dept. of Health and Human Services is all gung-ho about RTTT!)

“Each year the child is coming to belong more to the State and less and less to the parent.” Elwood Cubberley (I have many posts related to this jerk.) Yep. The kids NEED to belong to the state, an early learning community.

The Race to the Top competition, he said, is a White House priority, as it relates to Obama's goal of producing the highest proportion of college-educated people in the world.

"On behalf of the president, I just want to emphasize how important this Race to the Top program really is to our larger education agenda," he said.

Great. I'm all for educated people, but my fears are if we end up with the highest % of college educated people, will we dumb down college so everyone gets a degree? If so, then our highest-educated status is just a meaningless title.

And the term "agenda" tied to education simply makes my skin crawl.

The draft criteria for the early education competition, which is the third round of the Race to the Top program, stress quality programs, teacher training with a clear set of credentials, family engagement and assessments of student learning from a young age.

How young? Will we be giving standardize tests to pre-schoolers now?

“The Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge can transform the quality of early learning programs across the country,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a statement. “The proposed criteria aim to establish a comprehensive approach that better coordinates, implements and evaluates high quality early learning and development programs with a focus on giving families the information they need to select the best program for their child.”

Little Billy, do you want this indoctrination- err, program with scripted curriculum, or this one, or look, this one? What Billy? They're all the same?

The criteria are open to public comment, and the final guidelines will be released in August. States must submit applications in October and grants ranging from $50 million to $100 million will be rewarded before the end of the year.

"I think it is the beginning of the breakthrough," said Pedro Noguera, an education professor at New York University. "The fact that they're putting money into early education is a good thing."

Steven Barnett, co-director of the National Institute for Early Education Research, said in an email statement that federal dollars "can help offset some of the dramatic state budget cuts we have seen over the last few years, particularly in state-funded pre-K. We are optimistic that Race to the Top will help states expand upon their existing spectrum of programs or give a jump start to those states who have not yet prioritized early learning."

Aaah the goold old dangling of the money carrot with strings attached, how very government-y of them. And as you may deduce, I'm for early learning, but a schooling agenda for our toddlers, no no no and no.

Earlier iterations of Race to the Top stressed education standards and teacher evaluations, resulting in a slew of new laws that, in some cases, tied educator management to student performance on standardized tests. Michigan's RTTT-inspired law enabled a recently announced state takeover of Detroit's lowest-performing schools. The teacher review legislation created in New York as part of the earlier RTTT application sparked a lawsuit over its implementation this week.

With nearly $4 billion in funding, the competition has had a tremendous impact -- but has been met with mixed reviews. "Simply making more money available to states when they're so desperate is a good thing. Focusing on underperforming schools is a good thing," Noguera said.

"The bad thing is prescribing the remedies they have, which are way too narrow and don’t get at the underlying causes of school failure," he continued. "I don’t like the idea of a competitive grant process when all the states need help. I don’t like the idea that the federal government is dictating strategies that are based on little research. There's very little research on judging students based on test scores."


This time around, the focus is on unifying a disparate system of pre-K programming, improving the quality of educators and expanding accessibility for impoverished children.

"We know that disparities in access to high quality early learning programs pose a significant challenge to our economic competitiveness moving forward," Rodriguez said.

According to the new guidelines, state applications must also establish metrics for kindergarten assessment. While Noguera said assessment can be important, he added that too much assessment could distract from the bigger picture.

"Collecting data is good. What's more important is to get kids the help they need," he said. "Some means of tracking is certainly important. These days, we spend more time tracking and monitoring than we do actually helping. I hope we find the balance we need."

Yep. Testing toddlers, nearly. We as teachers do need to know "where" kindergartners are academically, to help them succeed but that is different than testing. Sure, maybe RTTT means for us to informally assess kinders. However, I highly doubt "they" promote that, and instead promote standardized tests as the textbook and testing companies profit and those profits funnel into campaigns for the government and money talks. Teacher-made free assessments do not.

And tracking...I've got some posts on that, too. Yep. Let's decide little Susie is a moron in kindergarten because she drew a flower across her test instead of bubbling in "B". Now Susie will be tracked in the vocation bound track for life, denied chemistry, French, and the like because that's not her "path".

The guidelines give budget caps for each state and emphasize a focus on "states with large, high poverty rural communities," even if those states' applications rank lower than others.

“Meeting the needs of our youngest children so they are healthy and learning is critical to our nation’s competitiveness,” U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement. “This public comment period will provide us with vital input from states and communities, from child, family and education experts, and from teachers and program directors. Together, we can work to improve standards, promote health, engage and support families, and provide children with the building blocks for success.”

"Together" my arse. Your little education experts are running the show, and is it the schools' job to promote health? Just more state takeover of our daily lives my dear, as we're too stupid to know what's good fro us so best we hand it over to the omniscient state experts.

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