Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot
Container City: Shipping containers, indispensable tool of the globalized consumer economy, reflect the skyline in Singapore, one of the world’s busiest ports.
Topics: Michelle Rhee, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, education wars, education reform wars, Education Reform, education reform movement, Common Core, kaya henderson, Department of Education, Randi Weingarten, American Federation of Teachers, News, Politics News
Washington, D.C., chancellor Kaya Henderson announced on Thursday that the city’s public schools would at least temporarily stop evaluating teachers based off of student test scores, a move Henderson described as necessary in order to allow students to acclimate themselves to new tests built around the standards established by the Common Core.
The decision represents one more break between the city and the legacy of Henderson’s predecessor, the famous and controversial education reformer Michelle Rhee. During her tenure as D.C. chancellor, Rhee’s aggressive implementation of test-based evaluation standards was one of the many initiatives she championed during her short and contentious tenure.
Henderson’s action was supported by one of the most powerful players in the education reform wars, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Along with two powerful teachers’ unions — who are usually their adversaries (or frenemies, if you prefer) — the foundation stated that a temporary suspension of test-based evaluations was necessary in order to properly embrace the new Common Core standards.
The Department of Education, however, was considerably less enthusiastic about D.C.’s decision. “Although we applaud District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) for their continued commitment to rigorous evaluation and support for their teachers,” said DOE spokeswoman Raymonde Charles, “we know there are many who looked to DCPS as a pacesetter who will be disappointed with their desire to slow down.”
On the other hand, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, celebrated the move and chastised the DOE for its lack of support. ”The federal Department of Education should be applauding this, not thwarting it,” Weingarten said. “When they’re thwarting it, you wonder, ‘What is that about? Is that about learning or is it about measurement for measurement’s sake, or testing for testing’s sake?’”
A study published last month in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis raised questions about whether evaluating teachers and making personnel decisions based on test scores had any effect on teacher quality. Some critics also believe that such high-stakes testing incentivizes cheating, and the District is one of several jurisdictions that have weathered cheating scandals.
Henderson said she remains committed in the long term to assessing teacher performance based in part on test scores, as the District has done since 2009. More than half of the states have incorporated test scores into evaluations, although the nation’s capital has been more aggressive in firing poorly rated teachers — as well as rewarding the top performers with pay raises and bonuses.
“I don’t think there’s a problem with our evaluation system. I believe it does what we want it to do,” Henderson said. “Our teachers have increasingly more and more faith in it. I want them to continue to have faith in it.”
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Angry Crowd: People jostle for food relief distribution following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti
“Black Friday” Shoppers: Aggressive bargain hunters push through the front doors of the Boise Towne Square mall as they are opened at 1 a.m. Friday, Nov. 24, 2007, Boise, Idaho, USA
Suburban Sprawl: aerial view of landscape outside Miami, Florida, shows 13 golf courses amongst track homes on the edge of the Everglades.
Toxic Landscape: Aerial view of the tar sands region, where mining operations and tailings ponds are so vast they can be seen from outer space; Alberta, Canada
Ice Waterfall: In both the Arctic and Antarctic regions, ice is retreating. Melting water on icecap, North East Land, Svalbard, Norway
Satellite Dishes: The rooftops of Aleppo, Syria, one of the world’s oldest cities, are covered with satellite dishes, linking residents to a globalized consumer culture.
Child Brides: Tahani, 8, is seen with her husband Majed, 27, and her former classmate Ghada, 8, and her husband in Hajjah, Yemen, July 26, 2010.
Megalopolis: Shanghai, China, a sprawling megacity of 24 Million
Big Hole: The Mir Mine in Russia is the world’s largest diamond mine.
Clear-cut: Industrial forestry degrading public lands, Willamette National Forest, Oregon
Computer Dump: Massive quantities of waste from obsolete computers and other electronics are typically shipped to the developing world for sorting and/or disposal. Photo from Accra, Ghana.
Oil Spill Fire: Aerial view of an oil fire following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, Gulf of Mexico
Airplane Contrails: Globalized transportation networks, especially commercial aviation, are a major contributor of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Photo of contrails in the west London sky over the River Thames, London, England.
Fire: More frequent and more intense wildfires (such as this one in Colorado, USA) are another consequence of a warming planet.