Bipartisanshit: Obama's Education Policy Endorsed by Newt Gingrich, Al Sharpton
The Black Agenda Report has been documenting the atrocities of the Obama education policy, including the traveling sales trio of Gingrich, Sharpton and Education Secretary Duncan. Now, why, you may ask, would Newt Gingrich endorse Obama's education policies? And shouldn't such an endorsement be a huge red flag to anyone who thinks government - and public schools - should and can work since, you know, Gingrich has spent his entire career working to destroy government.
There are at least two reasons that I can see why Gingrich - and any corporatist - would love Obama's education policies. First, Obama is giving away 4.35 billion dollars as part of the stimulus to try to improve schools. Good, right? But here's the catch, to be eligible for the giveaway, the state has to embrace charter schools. Now you might think that a big fancy study by Stanford University that found charter schools less successful overall than public schools would at least raise a question about whether pouring even more tax dollars into these private-run schools is a good idea, but you'd be wrong. Because, quite simply, there is no amount of empirical evidence that can stop bipartisan doubling down on bad policy (see, e.g., TARP). So even though there is no evidence charter schools do better than public schools (in fact, there's evidence of the opposite), you cannot get any of this additional money unless your state embraces charter schools. To be followed, of course, by studies which show charters, having gotten an extra $5 billion pumped into them, perform better than public education. At least, I'm sure that's what they're hoping will happen. It will make replacing your school board with a corporation so much easier.
Now, for the second reason, Newt Gingrich loves that Obama Administration education policy - it is an attack on teachers. And, really, it's incredibly brave for Obama to go out and take on those anti-union, conservative, Republican... Oh, wait, that's right. Teachers are a democratic constituency. Of course, they're going under the bus. And how, you ask? Because another requirement for getting that money is to tie teachers' performance to test scores. What's wrong with that, you might ask? Well, for starters, just as there's no evidence that charter schools are better than public schools, there's no evidence that holding teachers accountable for their students test scores makes them better teachers:
According to leading "education researchers" (sub required[link omitted]), the draft guidelines that the Obama administration has published for federal economic-stimulus money and Title I aid for schools "have no credible basis in research."
The researchers point to two regulatory priorities in particular that are lacking in research evidence: evaluating teachers based on students' standardized test scores and promoting the growth of charter schools.
"One theory of action seems to be that holding teachers more accountable for the gain in their students' test scores will induce them to become better teachers," writes Duke University's Helen Ladd. "At this point, I am not aware of any credible evidence in support of that proposition."
Now in normal times, the funneling of $5 billion to charter schools and other unproven educational methods might've gotten some Congressional scrutiny. However, this was rushed through with the stimulus package and now will be doled out under Education Regulations. Basically whatever Obama says, goes. It is, as Paul Rosenberg points out, as if Obama is using shock doctrine on our public schools. But, hey, he's a good guy so I'm sure he'd never do that. He's just so awesome that he's gotten Newt Gingrich to change! Change you can believe in!
NOTE - As is so often the case with non-evidence-based policies, the longer they go on, the harder they are to spin as success. Witness the recent non-results of Duncan's alleged successful tenure in Chicago. And then there's the damage to the community and adverse impact on minority teachers the policies have done.
NOTE 2 - Of course, the entire test-based system of turning out workers instead of citizens plays into corporatist hands generally, which is another reason why Gingrich loves Obama's continuation and expansion of some of the worst elements of NCLB. But, hey, don't worry, Duncan assures us, they'll be changing the name. Branding, it's the new policy.