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The “Dam of Lies” Analogy & It’s Relationship with Massachusetts

August 3, 2013

{I’m working on lessening my propensity to be tangential, as it’s a torturous quality for a fledgling blogger to have. Having celebrated my 4-month anniversary as The Indignant Teacher yesterday, I thought about ways to improve my blog. One way was to embrace my tangential-ness, by introducing the use of headings and sub-headings, thinking it may allow me to go off-topic for a minute and hopefully tie it into the particular post effectively. I hope it works, and if not, thanks for bearing with me and my quirks. I’m much more than simply indignant, you know.:}

The Indignant Teacher smells yet another investigation brewing.

Today’s group of nationally recognized “education experts” is comprised of members whose individual “expertise” is as varied and often contradictory as is a pizza parlor menu board. There are few things all of them agree with 100%, but the fact that Massachusetts was the only state in the nation to “dumb down” their standards by choosing to become part of Race to the Top and, consequently & more importantly, by adopting the Common Core State Standards as the new ones.
Someday I’d like to learn why the “CCSS” weren’t modeled after the Massachusetts State Standards in the first place. But they were’t.
I was thinking today about an article I recently read. It discussed Massachusetts as being the “smartest” state in the nation, as reported from analysis of percentages of population identitfied as having attained educations of “some college”, “Bachelor’s Degree”, “Advanced Degrees/PhDs” . The article was not recent, and discussed 2011 census data.
But it got The Indignant Teacher thinkin’.
Being as indignant as she is, The Indignant Teacher keeps herself well-informed about the goings-on in the world of education. And that is no easy task nowadays. At the rate things are moving, with (delicious) scandal after scandal chipping away at the credibility of the corporate reformists – with one erasure at a time – there is breaking news story every time you log onto the computer. Those “experts” mentioned in the introduction of this post must have the ways and means to focus on the news as it comes in, in order to maintain their status via reporting that breaking news as it comes in. 
The “Dam of Lies” Analogy
It appears these corporate reformists’ Dam of Lies they built is popping new leaks at an increasingly growing rate, and the water is starting to rush through the cracks at an increasingly alarming one, for the builders. It’s only a matter of time before the dam breaks, and the flood that erupts from behind it will prove devastating to what that dam was built to support. When word gets out that the dam was constructed with unsound blueprints based on untested theories – or worse – theories proven to be even unsafe, the builders will start to find their believers and supporters are turning their backs. When further information is released to anyone and everyone affected by the building of the dam, and each learns that none of the builders are even builders, that none of them ever even worked in dam construction in any capacity, even as basic as laborer, the builders will start to feel the punches coming faster and faster, and with more and more force. And finally, when the most damning (lol) information becomes know – that the builders lied and paid or otherwise compensated specific people to “cover up” certain events and circumstances that would get in the way of completion of the dam-building project – the builders’ worlds would collapse around them. As it should. You can’t built a “Dam of Lies” and expect it to withstand the constant pressure and force of the Truth which swirls and surges behind it. It will eventually burst open, but the longer it takes before it does, the worse devastated will become those it was created to protect, as well as the worse destroyed will become the builders who built it.
How That Analogy Relates to Ed Reform
The “Dam” is the decision of a state – in this case, Massachusetts, to have been granted a waiver from the awful, ugly truths of NCLB; the “Dam” is Race to the Top. It was reinforced as a structure by Common Core. 
Downstream from the Dam lies the world it was built to protect: the world of charter schools, virtual schools, vouchers, “management”; the world of standards, high-stakes, The Pearson Products, rankings and ratings. 
Also co-habitating among that world is another world, the world that the builders’ and architects’ pretend to have created and built the dam for the purpose of serving. And they have been serving that world, just serving to harm, not help. They are called the “Schoolchildren”.
The architects/builders of the Dam are The Gates, The Waltons, The Broads, The Kochs, Obama, Duncan, among others. Rhee is the Head Builder, who consulted the likes of Oprah and Time Magazine when choosing support structure construction plans and materials.
Those materials chosen are the tiny lies that together supported the structure. They were the first to fail, causing incomparable and significant cracks in the Dam, the largest of which being the Rhee DC Chancellor Scandal. That crack resulted in a slew of similar but less significant cracks, together now creating a crater.
Massachusetts’ and Their Dam of Lies
Every single state that decided to build a Dam in the first place did so because their current dam was failing. Every state, that is, except Massachusetts. Massachusetts’ dam was, at the time construction began, more than structurally sound. It was solid, if not better. So why did Massachusetts’ legislators decide to tear it down and replace it with a worse Dam? Worse, why do they continue to allow the Dam to remain in place, when they already know how to not only fix, but improve it by tearing the new Dam down and replacing it with the old one, if nothing else?
The 2011 Census Data and the Dam Analogy
The 2011 census data on educational attainment levels among the Massachusetts population led The Indignant Teacher to further explore data reported in other years, and with deeper investigation into a broader range of related variables. She then compared the data gathered from the US Census Bureau with the data gathered from NAEP test reports for different years going back to the mid-1990s. {The Indignant Teacher thinks her sudden ability to utilize skills acquired while acquiring an undergraduate degree in Sociology – a previously regrettable decision – is probably the most positive thing about this whole nightmare created by Ed Reform :}
While she regrets to say that she hasn’t prepared a thorough analysis of all the data, and ever doing so is a nice dream to have, The Indignant Teacher can well-summarize her findings, and make credible assumptions based on them.
Because when you have a state that houses not only the “smartest” adult population among the nation, but also the “smartest” school-aged population and this honor continues to be received as generations move from the school-aged population into the workforce, it’s safe to say that most of the children educated in said state grow up into the most well-educated adults who continue to live in said state, thus the reason for both groups’ combined overall “smartest” identity among their 49 sister and brother states.
It’s a safe bet that these Massachusetts “smartest” professionals are among the smartest within their individual career fields, when compared with those nationwide. MassachusettsDepartment of Education bred people who became the  “smartest” doctors out of a nation of doctors, the “smartest” accountants among a nation of accountants, the “smartest” lawyers among a nation of lawyers, the “smartest” teachers among a nation of teachers. 
Even if the above theory were to be proven wrong someday, it’s a pretty logical conclusion that the “smartest” legislators enacted the “best” educational policy in Massachusetts, whose dimensions and standards were carried out within the classrooms by the “smartest” teachers, who educated the “smartest” students.
Except one day suddenly there were people in decision-making roles in Massachusetts who weren’t the “smartest” in the group. They traded in our “smartest” state standards for RTTT and CCSS, knowing it was a weaker system. Over time, NAEP data evolved into something that would ultimately remove the “smartest” title from Massachusetts students. This year’s data shows Massachusetts having dropped to #2, after Vermont, in terms of “smartest” adults based on education attainment demographics. 
Clearly there’s a pattern, and it’s not a positive one. We are losing status as “smartest”, and it wouldn’t take a Rhodes Scholar to determine why. So why do we, as a state, allow the pattern to continue? Why can’t we do what we know works – what’s proven to work? And really, why did we sign on to this in the first place?
That’s where the Indignant Teacher smells an investigation brewing.
The person or people responsible for arguably making the most “un-smart” decision possible for Massachusetts education had to have had an alternate reason for building The Dam of Lies. They knew it wasn’t really what was best for Massachusetts students; they knew they were rejecting something that was worse than what Massachusetts students already had, actually.
Since the changes in the educational system in Massachusetts weren’t selected in thinking of the best interest of the students in the system, it bodes the question: who are the people whose best interests were considered prior to adopting these CCSS? And who are the people whose best interests justify maintaining compliance with CCSS, even after the proof contradicting it’s worth is flooding the world of Ed Reform? Bottom line is, someone in Massachusetts is reaping tremendous awards as a result of Massachusetts participating in RTTT and CCSS, and it’s not the state’s students or teacher’s, that’s for sure.
So who are they, & what do they stand to gain by watching the Dam of Lies start to buckle under pressure? The Indignant Teacher aims to find that out. Someday. But for now, she’s content to just blog about it, and fret about it. For now.

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One Comment
  1. gigi permalink

    I participate in a list-serve that includes teachers from all over the country and I’ve watched with amusement as teachers in other states scramble to adapt to the Common Core Standards. Why am I amused? Because in 9-12 ELA world, the Common Core standards are LESS challenging than what we (in MA) had in the first place. Yet, despite the relative laxity of the new standards we are getting all kinds of inservice programs and materials to help us implement these daunting new standards. Luckily there are plenty of paid consultants and book publishers to guide us through this very difficult transition.

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