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posted: 6/7/2014 5:01 AM

Commercialism perilous to public schools

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Heidi Reich, a courageous New York public-school teacher, expressed her views on the Common Core State Standards and high-stakes testing in a letter that was recently published in The New York Times. Reich's truth-telling letter exposed serious problems with CCSS and her state's failure to provide support for teachers whose jobs will depend on high-stakes testing. What's going on here?

To begin, Bill Gates, of Microsoft fame and fortune, has a near obsession with testing based on an old management adage: If you can't measure it, you can't manage it. The adage is flawed in the sense that it is not really applicable to the measurement of teacher performance. Nonetheless, the Gates Foundation provided enormous financial backing for the development of the beleaguered CCSS and the discredited Value Added Measure (VAM) that are used to evaluate teachers via student test scores.

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It should come as no surprise that CCSS and the VAM are simply manifestations of Gates' thinking. It's part of a grand strategy to profit from the widespread commercialization of K-12 education. Unfortunately, this commercialization comes with horrific unintended consequences -- the death of both the teaching profession and public schools.

The unchecked expansion of be-all-end-all, K-12 education technology is a good example of the destructive power of too much of a good thing. Computers, iPads and the like will never be a substitute for a caring teacher no matter how great the technology and no matter how immediate the access to massive arrays of digital libraries. Students are human beings, not automatons.

America's overall health and well-being is dependent on educational leadership that can help render an educated and skilled citizenry -- human capital with plenty of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) in the mix.

Frank G. Splitt

Mount Prospect

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