Two days ago, I wrote a blog post warning that FairTest was giving bad advice regarding the ESEA rewrite.
Admittedly, I wrote the post in a bit of haste. I had a baby tugging at my leg, family members begging me to get off the computer, a fiery incredulity at what FairTest had written regarding its support of the new ESEA, and – yes – a heart-pounding sense of panic over how much confusion there seems to be regarding what will be in the new ESEA, and how very little time we have left to stop or delay the vote (t-minus 5 days).
So, I apologize for not making clear my view on this issue.
First, let me be clear that no, I do not know Monty Neill or Bob Schaeffer of FairTest, and I trust those who tell me that they are both firmly dedicated to education and our students.
But here is what I also know.
I know that unbeknownst to many of us, two distinct Opt-Out movements have grown up side by side.
One is true grassroots – the parents, teachers, and students who have had enough of corporate education reform, and who see opting out as a way to protest the usurpation of our schools
The other is what I will call “Corporate Opt Out” – the opt out movement quietly encouraged by groups like the Education Commission of the States, next-gen ed reform masterminds like Tom Vander Ark, as well as the very testing companies that have already sold their “summative testing” branches to focus on the impending shift to embedded, competency-based assessment.
Corporate Opt Out has skillfully positioned the impending ESEA rewrites as a response to the voices of the people, who are worn down by years of NCLB-era reforms.
But this is not what the ESEA rewrites are. They have been planned and pre-cooked behind the scenes by the very industries we seek to protest against.
Somehow, whether intentionally or not, FairTest has become allied with Corporate Opt Out.
They have signaled this not only through their advocacy of the ESEA rewrites, but also through their work behind the scenes as part of the Forum for Educational Accountability.
Here is some of what the FEA, chaired by Monty Neill of FairTest, advocates:
Now see this, from FairTest’s annotated bibliography:
“Many states are working on performance assessments; some have included performance items as part of statewide exams. The Council of Chief State School Officers has a number of interstate consortia working on performance assessments, and they can put you in touch with states developing performance assessments, such as Vermont (portfolio assessments), Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, and Maine (performance exams).”
Now read here, to see what this actually means in my home state of Maine. (Spoiler alert: the Gates Foundation plays a prominent role.)
So you see, despite cries of bad form and intolerance of opposing views, I must stand by my position that FairTest is giving very, very bad advice by advocating that we support the new ESEA.
Please call your legislators today, and at the very least ask that they delay this vote.
Go here to find the number you need to reach your congressmen. (Don’t be nervous – someone friendly will answer, I promise!)