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JANUARY 21, 2013 5:00PM

The Paxton Pundit: Teaching to the Test of Crappy Results

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When you dissect the difference between what a third grader ought to know and the performance of your class register's poorest performing sub-group, they nomenclaturize.

How about an "achievement gap?" Sure. Why not?

Hooray! Somebody's ass just got covered.

You poor teachers.


We (the taxpayers writ large) need to steer away from the rocks of crappy results. We need an educator at the helm, not one of those scam artists with a catch phrase.

New Mexico lingers in the doldrums of achievement, despite jargon-correct attention to standards and assessment. Our 2012 Quality Counts score was virtually the national average.

Who knew putting public policy parrots in charge of state agencies would prove uneventful, at best?


What has turned my microfiber long johns to coarse wool, you may ask?

It's the monopoly of mediocrity, savvy reader.

At the crossroads of free enterprise jingoism and professional training, apparatchiks like New Mexico's Hanna Skandera (the legislature refuses to elevate her from acting secretary because she's straight out of public policy, not education) are solving problems without using any evidence-based model (what professionals do). Nobody ever works from last year's data; it's always "starting now, we're going to put the children first."

Then they'll want credit for what they'll need to cover their asses to claim.

They are placeholders for the ever-rising tide of abandonment of traditional institutions.



Hanna Skandera (not a witch)

10th grade physics students have a better grasp of the act of observation impacting the thing observed than this woman.  

Skandera and our governor, one of the national media's Latinas worthy of mention, Susana Martinez, attended an invitation-only confab a couple of weeks ago, sponsored by the US Chamber to drive home the point (I'm guessing) that our state's scores are so poor we'll need to call upon the services of their sideline business: Initiative for a Competitive Workforce.

Well, ICW does the tank thinking but can easily hook us up with a for-prof in our area.

All new out-of-town seminars and mandatory, bi-weekly in-services. Hooray!

'Cause we're putting the children first!


Conflating, perhaps deliberately, the agendas of millionaire lobbyists from DC with your local scholarship providing realtors and car dealers, the governor and her hand-picked veteran of Florida's Bush administration were joined by the Albuquerque and Albuquerque-Hispano Chambers of Commerce. 

The Albuquerque Journal ran a guest op/ed from someone in the Rod Paige tradition. Recall, he was the wonder super from Houston (the Texas Miracle) who later had to leave town in a brown paper sack.

His successor, Ms. Spellings (best name ever for a secretary of education) laid out the boilerplate jewels of the institute mostly known for treatises like "Overregulation Keeps U.S. From Rising in Economic Freedom Rankings" and similar bushwa.

She was writing to prime the pump for the importance of the aforementioned confab. Bilge pump, evidently.


Evidence of what was accomplished there is like sub-atomic collision data. We'll know it from proposed legislation or yet another complete revamping of standards and benchmarks.

I know right where my cat shits.

It took no more effort than that to find the Luntzspeak in the Journal's subsequent editorial. For the phrase "ensuring student proficiency and retention, and rewarding teachers who deliver it" is an open invitation for a free toaster if you visit Rod Paige's Timeshares at RHEEVILLE.


There's a bit of JavaScript (turn it on if you have to) magic over at the ICW. The "Monopoly of Mediocrity" Tour 2013 is coming to your town.  At a page which squeezes the last clever out of "The Good, The Bad & The Ugly," this self-described "institute" has one of those maps where you find your state.

Nothing new so far.

At the pace of one-at-a-time, they might have pulled off their little gimmick.

But, if you have allowed JavaScript mouseovers, state summaries will pop up alongside, and you will find that, while state responses to previous cries for and funding of "reform" are in the range of bad to good, the student performances are still mostly bad to ugly. As you Ouija your cursor over these United States of America, you'll discover that there's plenty of need to bring free enterprise further into education. And here's the shocker: just about everywhere.

The monopoly of mediocrity, mind you, is everything that's involved in the status quo: state budgets, teachers' salaries, classroom size, openness to innovation, and the list goes on. All one mediocre brush's worth. Do they offer Deming-worthy solutions? No, they fund studies of SAT scores of teachers trailing the other "true" professions. Et voila! They'll be happy to come to a closed-door session and tell you how the ICW can help your state or district.


This so-called mediocrity is far from devoid of stellar results, ask any life-long educator, just none of it winds up in an "H" St. lobby.  They must have different standards.

Something more - anything but getting out of the fucking way - MUST be done.

Laugh out loud funny, but for the knowledge they now have the ear of our state's policy-makers.

I fear especially for the states with single party rule. At least here in NM, we have a Democratic majority in the legislature, with some members having been (or having been married to) educators.

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For the newcomer: The Paxton Pundit is the alter-ego which had been eschewed. When the Beta went kawhooosh, one had to decide. Does anyone else miss Stellaa?
Stacey, interesting to read your take on this important subject! Locally, I read last week that some schools in the area may have to cut arts programs due to the tax cap imposed by the NY legislature. The pensions and benefits are never cut, just things that might benefit students...
Cuts across the board are more the rule here. The benefits are being watered down, pension contributions rolled back, then add all the usual impacts on the students that come with underfunding. Why is it always art?
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