So I’m working on some other education-related posts (recently read some stuff that pissed me off and want to get it right), but it’s worth noting that Michelle Rhee’s education faith-tank StudentsFirst has issued ratings of various states–ratings that have nothing to do with actual educational outcomes (boldface mine):
In a report issued Monday, StudentsFirst ranks states based on how closely they follow the group’s platform, looking at policies related not only to tenure and evaluations but also to pensions and the governance of school districts. The group uses the classic academic grading system, awarding states A to F ratings.
With no states receiving an A, two states receiving B-minuses and 11 states branded with an F, StudentsFirst would seem to be building a reputation as a harsh grader.
Ms. Rhee said that the relatively weak showing reflected how recently statehouses had begun to address issues like tenure and performance evaluations.
So who are the winners? You’ll never guess:
The two highest-ranking states, Florida and Louisiana, received B-minus ratings. The states that were given F’s included Alabama, California, Iowa and New Hampshire. New Jersey and New York received D grades, and Connecticut a D-plus. The ratings, which focused purely on state laws and policies, did not take into account student test scores.
You don’t say? We’ll get to test scores in a moment, but first, let’s look at StudentsFirst’s grades:
So Massachusetts, which has one of the best education systems in the world, ranks fourteenth. One of Massachusetts’ supposed deficiencies is that “[t]he state should create more high-quality public charter options for parents by strengthening accountability rules for charter schools and improving their access to facilities.” Never mind that a reevaluation of Boston charter schools showed no difference between regular public and charter schools (pdf; though the charter schools did have lower retention rates. Yes, lower to the point where they had to be rectified by state law). Minnesota, which is also very competitive, ranks 26th with a D. New Hampshire, which also does very well according to the NAEP, ranks…41st with an F. North Dakota, another high-performing state according to the NAEP, finishes dead last.
So we have systems that work very well (or are even world-class), but according to StudentsFirst, they are mediocre since they are ideologically incorrect. This is fucking moronic.
What makes this exercise in neo-liberal corporate agitprop all the more despicable is that any of the top-performing nations, such as Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Finland (don’t forget
Poland Finland!) would fail miserably according to StudentsFirst’s political criteria.
That, and their U.S. gradings, tell you all you need to know about education ‘reform’ and its so-called leadership.