A Reprieve from What?

Shortly after my last posting I read an article in The New York Times: “Education Secretary Allows Reprieve on Test-Based Teacher Ratings.” The last time I checked, a reprieve was the postponement of an execution or sentence. That implies, of course, a crime. The truth is that a VAMmed teacher would not even have it as good as a criminal. A conviction of crime must result from evidence of and testimony to criminal behavior, but VAMs are statistical phantoms, and only tenuously connected to behavior of any kind. What is more, a criminal has the benefit of due process of law, but a teacher would suffer termination with no judgment at all.

The reporter says the “reprieve” resulted from recognition of the “enormous pressure” teachers are under. The prospect of arbitrary ruin does tend to have that effect, but I suspect there is more behind the “reprieve” than sudden compassion. Once the VAM meat-grinder is turned on and the expected hecatombs ensue, no sensible person will touch a VAM-linked teaching job. Imagine what that will do for the faculty room and the classroom!

Of course it is possible that the rottenness of these “metrics” is finally becoming apparent to the people at the Department of Education and the Gates Foundation, but don’t hold your breath waiting for them to call things by their proper names. (See my last posting.) A whole other ethos governs much of those institutions’ discourse on “education.”

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