By Ben Velderman
ATLANTA – It’s been said that everything a person really needs to know in life, he or she learned it in kindergarten.
If that’s true, it would explain where American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten learned the child-like reasoning skills she is applying in her analysis of the Atlanta standardized-test cheating scandal.
The Atlanta cheating scandal involves more than 35 teachers who allegedly changed students’ test answers to artificially inflate their overall scores. The scores are used by states to ensure compliance with the federal No Child Left Behind education law, reports the Huffington Post.
The latest development in the scandal came last Friday, when the 35 Atlanta educators – including former Superintendent Dr. Beverly Hall – “were named in a 65-count indictment … that alleges a broad conspiracy to cheat, conceal cheating or retaliate against whistleblowers in an effort to bolster student test scores and, as a result, receive bonuses for improved student performance,” reports CBS News.
In a joint statement issued on Tuesday, Weingarten and Georgia Federation of Teachers President Verdaillia Turner said the cheating scandal “crystallizes the unintended consequences of our test-crazed policies.”
“Standardized tests have a role in accountability, but today they dominate everything else and too often don’t even correlate to what students need to know to succeed,” wrote the teacher union leaders.
They continued: “We have to re-order our priorities and move our schools from a test-based culture to one that is deeply rooted in instruction and learning, so that our kids can become engaged participants in the knowledge economy and our democracy.”
Statements like those lead one to conclude that Weingarten’s reasoning skills are still stuck at elementary school level. Is she really excusing cheaters?
The reason so many states use standardized tests is to ensure that students have the basic reading, writing and math skills “to be participants in the knowledge economy and our democracy.”
For too long, that wasn’t happening. An alarming number of students were leaving school completely unprepared for adult life.
When K-12 reformers started to demand better results from the schools, school leaders responded that they needed more latitude to remove ineffective teachers from the classroom.
After Weingarten and other teacher union leaders refused to acknowledge that good educators could be distinguished from bad ones, K-12 reformers decided to determine a teacher’s effectiveness – in part – by how their students performed on standardized tests.
The “test-crazed policies” that Weingarten denounces are the direct result of the unions’ stubborn refusal to abandon its “one-size-fits-all” assembly-line approach to education.
And now that a handful of corrupt teachers have been discovered in Atlanta (and a few other districts across the country), Weingarten thinks she can use that as an excuse to essentially throw the standardized tests out the window and focus instead on “balanced approach” to reform that emphasizes “high-quality instruction” and a “rich curriculum.”
Weingarten knows that if standardized tests are discredited, school leaders will have no way of guaranteeing “high-quality instruction” in every classroom.
Weingarten uses child-like circular reasoning to confuse her political opponents, in the hopes they will eventually become so frustrated that they give up trying to improve the public education system and turn things back over to the union-dominated education establishment.
That would suit Weingarten just fine, because her primary job as the leader of one of the nation’s largest labor unions is to make sure her members remain employed at all costs.