Thursday, July 7, 2011

What? No Child Left Behind has produced cheaters?!

I have to admit that this was not a prediction that I had when No Child Left Behind (or “Every Child Dragged Along” as it is known in some circles) first came about.  But to hear that cheating on standardized tests has become a fairly big problem is not entirely surprising.

Teachers and administrators in an Atlanta school district were all caught helping students cheat on their standardized tests, the ones that are used by the NCLB program to determine if a school is failing.  It goes as far up as the Superintendent who, although may not have had an active role, likely at least knew about it and did nothing.

This scandal was so deep that whistle blowers were labeled as “disgruntled,” and slapped with ethics investigations.

I probably don’t need to explicate all the implications of this, but I’m going to anyway.  These teachers completely fucked these kids over.  It’s one thing when a kid, on his or her own volition, cheats to pass a grade, but it’s something entirely different when a teacher does it.  There’s so much that is completely fucked up with this.

First, the obvious is that these kids are getting the impression that cheating is okay.  I mean hell, if my teacher is helping me cheat, then it must be okay in certain circumstances, right?

Second, and probably even more fucked up, is that these kids were cheated out of a real education for however long they’ve been under this asinine horseshit.  Who the hell knows where these kids are in terms of their intellectual development.  They could be functionally retarded for all we know (hyperbole).  This seriously sucks because the last thing we need in American society is more idiots who can’t fucking think, and these teachers have all but ensured that the supply of morons will not fall short.

What’s sad is that when I read that it was over 100 Atlanta teachers that perpetrated the cheating, I still wasn’t shocked.  I mean, we should all be shocked and appalled that teachers and administrators perpetrated a very serious ethics violation, but are we really all that shocked?

I mean, we tell teachers that their jobs are suddenly going to depend on whether or not their kids perform well, and there were plenty of educators in shit-hole urban schools who shat themselves at such a prospect.  Was it really a wise idea to place their employment in the hands of kids who straight up don’t give a shit about school?  Implementing high stakes testing made American education even worse because teachers had to shift the focus from educating kids to making sure they wouldn’t be out of a job.

This is why privatizing public education would probably be a horrendously bad idea.  I know that we would like to think that competition and what not would drive teachers to do better, but I whole heartedly believe that teachers aren’t the problem, as I’ve stated in many articles before.  So instead of actually making education better, all we would do is get a lot of good educators fired. 

Dan Rather is not fucking pleased.
One problem we’re facing is that not many people even want to teach, because there’s little benefit seen in it.  Why teach high school chemistry for $35k a year when you can get your masters and make $60k a year?  So what we want to do is make teaching even less rewarding by placing job security on whether or not some kid works hard enough to do well on a standardized test?  Somehow I don’t think that will solve any problems.  It would likely lead to more educator-sponsored cheating.

Education is not a competitive business, and it should never be treated as such.  When we introduce competition into education we end up with this bullshit.


Harrison said...

You have to know which schools are underperforming... it's called accountability.

Country Thinker said...

Actually, I think education works pretty well when it's treated as a competetive business. School choice has been one of the better developments in education.

Silverfiddle said...

Like country thinker, I too disagree with your conclusion that this discredits privatizing education. Just the opposite.

Of course you will have crappy parents who are disgruntled with every school they go to, moving their kid around, but other paying parents will negate that.

I also believe that instead of graduation, kids go take something equivalent to a CompTIA or other outside agency certification. That will keep the schools honest.

Privatize it all and we don't need these phony balony "standardized tests."

Jack Camwell said...

I think you need to look no further than charter schools to see what happens when a school is run like a business. Charter schools, in Columbus at least, are where children go to die intellectually because the administration is too worried about funding and staying financially afloat.

So what you get are a bunch of school administrators who have MBA's rather than graduate degrees in education.

Right now we're seeing the affects of raising the stakes on educators. Like anyone, they will do whatever it is they have to do in order to keep their livelihoods. What's to stop them from inflating their grades in order to boost performance? Even if you do away with standardized tests, grade inflation is almost impossible to measure.

Kids aren't failing because of shitty teachers: they're failing because of a shitty society. They're failing because we've told them it's not their fault. We've told them that it's their teachers' fault for not implementing technology in lessons.

The blame truly lays at the students and parents themselves. A teacher can only do so much for an apathetic student.