Interview with myself about the NEA RA now that I am home.

Q: How does it feel to be back home in Chicago.

A: Sweet. Hot. But sweet.

Q: You missed Obama’s phone call to the RA from Ohio?

A: Yes I did. But it doesn’t sound like I missed much. It wasn’t much more than the usual, “We thank you for all you do,” stuff. The Obama campaign won’t address anything of substance because they know their current policies run counter to what most public school teachers believe and want to hear from a self-described education president.

Q: What happened with the NBI supporting the SOS conference in Washington that is planned for August?

A: It got voted down.

Jane Watson, an SOS supporter and delegate from Washington state offered a very simple NBI that didn’t ask for much more than an endorsement of the conference and putting a link to SOS on the NEA website. It seemed very non-controversial.

Q: Do you think most delegates in the hall know much about SOS?

A: No. And that was a source of some of the problems.

Somebody, I don’t know who, offered an amendment to send the issue of working with SOS to the Executive Committee. I thought this was probably a good idea since the NEA had supported the SOS march in Washington and had a relationship with the organizers. But that was rejected by the delegates for reasons that had nothing to do with the issue of SOS itself and had more to do with RA rules.

Suddenly a group of delegates from Florida – I don’t know who they are – went to the mic and started blasting SOS. They claimed it was a Michelle Rhee front group. One claimed that the organization had “withered” since the Washington march and that Diane Ravitch has quit.

Ravitch, by the way, later issued a statement saying that reports of her departure from SOS were untrue.

Before anyone could get to a mic to rebut the lies coming from Florida, the question was called and the NBI was voted down. I really think that for most delegates, they didn’t know what this was about and just wanted to get away from it.

Q: Who were these people from Florida? What are they up to? Who was behind it?

A: I have no idea.

But I bet we will find out. And they will have some explaining to do.

Q: Some bloggers seem to be blaming the NEA leadership for allowing this to happen.

A: I don’t know what Dennis could have done. He can’t take part in the debate even if he was aware of what was going on.

Q: Let’s move on.

A: Okay. Well I just got a text that the delegates voted to pass NBI 82.

Q: What’s that?

A: It calls on the NEA to collect data and quantify the time lost to standardized testing. The intent of the makers of the NBI 82 is to collect data that demonstrates how the emphasis on standardized testing has real costs for student learning, teacher preparation, the arts and student engagement.

Activists have been looking for ways to get beyond just a general condemnation of standardized testing. The adoption of this NBI moves the NEA in that direction.

Q: And NBI 85? The Opt Out one by the goofs who threatened to jubilantly eradicate the NEA if it failed.?

A: It failed. So now the NEA must jubilantly be eradicated.

16 thoughts on “Interview with myself about the NEA RA now that I am home.

  1. Well I can tell you offhand I’ve at least lost a good month or two due to standardized testing. It only takes a couple of people (with an unarbitrary number on remuneration) to calculate that ;-).

    1. Laughing. It wasn’t my NBI or my theory. It doesn’t seem that complicated to me either. But I understand.

      1. This was also in reply to the NBI post you wrote up yesterday about putting arbitrary numbers on things. Odd.

  2. Fred,

    You stated “Activists have been looking for ways to get beyond just a general condemnation of standardized testing.” For a very specific condemnation of educational standards and standardized testing read, understand and spread the word of Noel Wilson’s 1997 dissertation “Educational Standards and the Problem of Error” to be found at: . There has been no professional (or any other that I know of) rebuttal to this study. The educational powers that be know that it is best to not comment on it, keeping it “alive”, better to let it rest in the dust bins of history.

    For a shorter take on the invalidity of the whole process see Wilson’s “A Little Less than Valid: An Essay Review” to be found at: . The test makers and corporate public education deformers continually try to assert the “validity” of the process. Wilson focuses on the “invalidity”. As he says at the beginning of the review “As before I focus on validity. Why? Because the good book says, ‘Validity is, therefore, the most fundamental consideration in developing tests (p. 9). I concur. If the test event is not valid, is indeed the test is invalid, then all else is vain and illusory.”

    I continually refer to these two studies as most have never heard of Wilson. You’ll get to know him when you read the first study cited.

    We should continually be reminding people that all the major organizations that deal with standardized tests, the American Psychological Association, the National Council on Measurement in Education and the American Education Research Association quite clearly state that the usage of standardized test results for any purpose other than what the test was designed is UNETHICAL (yes, that should be shouted out). Evaluating a 5th grade math teacher using the scores from the end of year standardized test scores, since the test was designed to supposedly assess a student’s math skills and not the teacher’s teaching ability, is UNETHICAL. All of these teacher evaluation schemes like VAM or any similar method are by definition is unethical.

    Just for giggles. A little quick short answer response analogy question for a standardized test:

    Standardized testing is to teaching and learning as ____________ is to preparing and eating gourmet food.

  3. Thanks for these sources. I wasn’t precise in what I wrote. What I meant to say is that activists within the NEA have been looking to move beyond resolutions that are general critiques of standardized testing. You are right, of course. There are tons of studies that provide data showing the harm of the present excessive use and misuse of standardized testing. And as brother Vilson pointed out in another comment, just ask a teacher.

    1. Fred,

      Sorry, I didn’t introduce myself as I didn’t realize that my name would be what is my new blog. Just started the other day and with the holiday, and my son coming home for a couple of days, I haven’t written (blogged) anything more.

      Anyway, my name is Duane Swacker. This will be my 19th year of teaching Spanish in two different public high schools here in the Show Me state. I didn’t start teaching until I was 38 and had numerous other jobs prior. I am a master upholsterer along with having my masters in education administration almost 15 years ago (prior certified but decided I couldn’t be part of any administration that would be enforcing the NCLB) and was half way through a PhD in education administration when the university pulled my funding. I also realized that it was teaching that I enjoyed the most and doing admin would have caused me a drastic reduction of joy, happiness and peace of mind.

      To me one of the most irritating aspects of all this standardized nonsense is that it is proven to be irrational, illogical, unethical and harmful to the students. Seems simple enough to me that we shouldn’t be doing the things the way they are shoved down our throats-and I’m lucky as Spanish isn’t one of the tested areas. And Jose is right, just ask the teachers. Let’s see, if I have a tooth ache, I’m going to ask my mechanic for help. Makes sense, eh?? ¡Ay ay ay! ¿Qué tal raza?

      Thanks for your blog!

      (A Mr. Teachbad certified “difficult teacher”)

  4. Hi Fred,
    I was the author of NBI 85 & I think people were confused by its intent. first, let me state that while I support opt out provisions, I am in no way affiliated with the group you reference below.
    Q: And NBI 85? The Opt Out one by the goofs who threatened to jubilantly eradicate the NEA if it failed.?

    A: It failed. So now the NEA must jubilantly be eradicated.

    My idea for this NBI was one that I thought was simple. The intent was simply to provide educators with opt out information from their own state, so that if they were considering this option, they would know if it was allowable in their state or not. I think that as educators we should have this information & I’m not sure why anyone would be opposed to simply informing members of state law on this issue.

    1. My apologies for confusing you with the Opt Out group that I mentioned. I am pleased that the earlier NBI encouraged support for parents to opt out and that that NBI was passed.

  5. Regarding SOS you said, “I don’t know what Dennis could have done. He can’t take part in the debate even if he was aware of what was going on.”

    Seems to me that Dennis, like Randi, is getting the big bucks to know what’s going on.

    But more importantly is why are so many teachers attending this conference so clueless??? I bet they know more about “The Bachelor” than what’s going on across the country in education. When did Duncan become the good guy?? In her blog, Ravitch reminds us just what he stands for.

    Oh! How nice of the delegates to support Chicago when they refuse to say anything negative about the man who ruined Chicago schools. I wonder how many of them will wake up when they get pink-slipped over some arbitrary statistic known as VAM.

    NYCEducator had a pretty good discussion on the subject of Obama. And Reality-Based Educator had a pretty good comment on why teachers aren’t as politically savvy as other constituencies.

    1. Read the statement from the Florida delegate who spoke about SOS. There is much to hold the NEA leadership accountable for. This is simply not one of them.
      Your change of focus from criticizing the leadership to attacking the membership is wrong. Where did you read or hear that the delegates voted that Duncan was a good guy? The same delegates who voted a 13 point indictment of Duncan’s policies at last year’s RA, decided to avoid a confrontation with the administration this year. I disagreed. But I don’t think the delegates were stupid or clueless. In fact they are very aware and quite political.
      Your snark towards the vote to support Chicago teachers is shared by neither the CTU leadership or the membership. Ask them.

      1. I did read the response and find it ironic that someone would speak on an issue without first doing a thorough investigation like going to the website.
        Last year the NEA did contribute to the event. So how many teachers left that conference without knowing the truth?? And I still contend the president should have corrected that speaker because he of all people should know that Anthony Cody and Diane Ravitch would never be associated with Michelle Rhee.

        I have found in my experience with the UFT delegates that they blindly follow whatever Randi or Mulgrew says. They accept everything as truth, even to go so far as to congratulate them on their agreement with Cuomo on the evaluation process which gives only 40% towards testing. However, if a teacher fails that area 2 years in a row, they are out of a job. 40% sounds more like 100% to me. But I may very well be wrong on that point too.

        As for “avoiding a confrontation with Duncan”, I have no idea why they would not want to do so. But for Duncan I would assume it’s good news since he can continue his agenda. Very similar to when Randi decided not to endorse the Democrats who ran against Bloomberg. It was good for Bloomberg. Or when she decided to support mayoral control not once but twice and the delegates supported her. If that was to “avoid confrontation”, it didn’t work. Sleeping with the enemy never works.

        As far as Chicago. I have more faith in CORE members than the AFT/NEA combined.. If that’s “snarky”, so be it. But so far they are the only group to finally stand up and say “Enough!!” That to me is true leadership and commitment to public education.

      2. Please also note it is not my intention to get into a war on words, but I just felt I had to voice my opinion on this matter. And my term “clueless” refers to just how uninformed many teachers are about the education grassroots movements taken place. I wonder how many teachers at these conventions ever got to view “The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman”, a film made by NYC teachers and parents? I wonder if they know why SOS was formed and last year held a rally? I wonder if they know how groups like Parents Across America are fighting back against the Parent Trigger Laws and high-stakes testing? Do you think they do??

  6. Thank you, Duane Swacker for citing Wilson’s documentation on invalid use of student tests. I will read it as soon as I can. This issue is very troubling to me, because I used to teach assessment.
    A well researched must-read for information on the damage the backers of charter schools are causing is “Charter Schools and the Corporate Makeover of Public Education:
    What’s at Stake?” Mike Fabricant & Michelle Fine –

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