With a slight adjustment, Paul Krugman’s analysis of the S&P downgrade works for education reform as well.
1. US debt is downgraded, sparking demands for more ill-advised fiscal austerity
2. Fears that austerity will depress the economy send stocks down
3. Politicians and pundits declare that worries about US solvency are the culprit, even though interest rates have actually plunged
4. This leads to calls for even more ill-advised austerity, which sends us back to #2
Applied to education reform:
1. US schools are criticized, sparking demands for ill-advised standardized testing
2. Fears that testing is dominating the curriculum send confidence in schools down
3. Politicians and pundits declare that teacher effectiveness is the culprit, even though instruction is focused on tested material
4. This leads to calls for even more ill-advised testing, which sends us back to #2
And back to Krugman for the zinger, “Behold the power of a stupid narrative, which seems impervious to evidence.”
Really, how much of an appetite for this shit do we have? I’m starting back to work this week and I dread every moment we will spend discussing the “data” that these tests excrete. More broadly speaking, when stupid narratives are the norm, we should expect more of the same. For teachers, this problem needs to be addressed directly because it isn’t going away on its own. Take a look at Michael Martin’s post on EDDRA2, explaining why high-stakes testing is a counter-productive fraud.