A Challenge to Testing Orthodoxy
TEXAS AFT LEGISLATIVE HOTLINE
MONDAY, AUGUST 1, 2011
Texas Charter Schools Lag Traditional Schools in Accountability Ratings: Texas AFT is appropriately skeptical about the usefulness of state accountability ratings as the measure, by themselves, of what our schools actually accomplish. But the data compiled do allow for a comparison of the ratings assigned to charter schools versus traditional public schools.
As in years past, a far higher percentage of charter schools received an "academically unacceptable" rating in the accountability ratings published by the Texas Education Agency on July 29. Charter schools rated academically unacceptable made up 14.5 percent of all charter campuses; in contrast, the percentage of traditional public schools rated academically unacceptable was 6.2 percent.
The divergence was even more apparent in a comparison between charter operators (many operating more than one campus) and school districts. Some 18.6 percent of charter operators were rated academically unacceptable; only 5.0 percent of school districts received that low rating.
A Grass-Roots Challenge to Top-Down "Reform" Orthodoxy: On July 30 thousands of teachers, parents, and community allies marched on the White House to rally support for a challenge to the current excessive emphasis on standardized testing in our public schools. Participants came from all across the country to lend their voices to the call for change. They represented the rising resistance of millions of Americans not only to the excesses of high-stakes testing but also to ongoing attacks on the education profession and the creeping privatization of public schools.
The affirmative agenda of the Save Our Schools March, which had the support of the American Federation of Teachers, focused on equitable funding of public schools, full funding of community and family support services, and ensuring small class sizes, among other common-sense prescriptions.
A hallmark of the Save Our Schools March also was a call for grass-roots leadership in education reform by those most knowledgeable about what our students need--teachers, families, and local communities—as opposed to what the march organizers termed the top-down "political and corporate control of curriculum, instruction and assessment decisions for teachers and administrators."