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Re: Where to start ($$$ and Professors)

George's comments call to mind the point I often make in speeches which is,
outside of school teachers and administrators, good news about schools
serves no one's political reform agenda. Conservatives want privatization,
vouchers, tuition tax credits, so they bash the schools. Liberals want the
schools kept public but emphasize the problems in order to get money. Thus,
Bill Clinton says that 40% of American 3rd graders cannot read
independently, an idiosyncratic interpretation of NAEP data. He does not
say that in the most recent international reading study, those 3rd graders
were second among 27 nations, bested only by Finland.

As for the profs, at a Phi Delta Kappan editorial board meeting, Susan
Fuhrmann, then of Rutgers, now the dean of the U of Pennsylvania sald
baldly, "If you want money, you gotta say the schools are lousy. So what
else is new?" What else, indeed? Research universities use problems to
extract money from the feds, foundations, states, districts.

We should also keep in mind that the original psychometricians were
convinced that they were right, that science was infallible, that they were
doing for psychology what Newton had done for the physical universe. That
legacy still leaves a lot of test people acting more like members of a
religious brotherhood than as a professional society of disinterested

----- Original Message -----
From: George N. Schmidt <Csubstance@AOL.COM>
To: <ARN-L@listsrva.CUA.EDU>
Sent: Thursday, September 16, 1999 7:21 AM
Subject: Re: Where to start ($$$ and Professors)

September 16, 1999

Hello Friends and Colleagues:

The NYC debacle is no different from Chicago's, but in Chicago the fix is in
more firmly, at least for now. I hope people won't ignore the Whores of
Academe when they go after the hypocrisy behind much of the test abuse, both
in New York and in Chicago -- and growing elsewhere. Let's please make sure
that the professors who promote this stuff get due recognition along with
corporations that pollute our classrooms and schools.

McGraw Hill and Riverside couldn't do it alone. The only reason their tests
have any sale-ability is that they are imprimatured by someone in the
academic world. When PURE in Chicago demanded that the University of Iowa
stand behind its "no single point indicator" purism, Iowa's Professor Hoover
sent them a one-line letter saying that was Riverside's business. In other
words, he deftly passed the ethical buck.

Riverside's answer, when criticized for allowing Chicago to "abuse" the
multimillion dollar contract (by using percentile scores on the ITBS as the
sole criterion for promotion or retention of individual students and
probation/reconstitution for whole schools!) was that it wasn't precisely
according to their notions to use a single point indicator to pass or fail
kids - but that if you were going to use one test, their test was the best!
Their public relations department turned the whole thing into an
advertisement for Riverside's tests. The only way they were able to get away
with that was that the "Iowa" academics sat in Pontius Pilate silence during
the whole thing.

When the stories are written about all of this (and I will be writing and
publishing some of them), I'm not going to blame corporations for acting
corporations as much as I'm going to focus our attention on the professors
and academic departments that have evolved into wholly owned subsidiaries of
these corporations, on the one hand, or of the politicians who are hurting
kids, on the other.

As I've pointed out in previous posts, because of the huge number of dollars
available to promote this stuff (which could have gone to lowering class
or improving conditions in urban schools), guys like Paul Vallas (and New
York's Rudy Crew, and Illinois' Glenn ["Max"] McGee) have tens of millions
dollars to spread around the professoriat. The apologetics then come in with
the imprimatur of, say, Northwestern University ("all the high schools are
bad") or The University of Illinois at Chicago (viz., the current
"Educational Leadership" article which praises two of the most politically
corrupt high schools in Chicago, CVS and Robeson), further confusing the
debate and delaying public accountability.

I think that some people need to take a second look at some of their

I am less interested in blaming Riverside or McGraw Hill for acting like
corporations than I am in asking when "research" and "science" began going
the highest bidder in our supposedly hallowed halls of academe. Corporations
exist to make money and insulate owners from most liability while promoting
certain kinds of risk. That's the definition of capitalism, like it or not.
Is anyone else interested in publishing a list of how many professors are
making $100 an hour (etc., etc.) to sign off on this stuff? A little over
thirty years ago, the Institute for Defense Analysis and the National
Association developed ties with certain government funding sources and
agencies that later looked like very bad ideas to millions of students. In
fact, some of the professors now prattling on behalf of profitable
"standards" were in the front lines screaming against those "imperialist"
corruptions of academe back when Ramparts was reporting what was, to many,
old news.

I think people deserve to know how much the rolodex professors are paid for
their sound bites. Every reporter in America has the names of a few quotable
profs on their rolodex, and every Vallas and Crew trucks their quotes out
like a doctors' letters to prove they don't have some pedagogical STD --
before they get ready to _____ thousands of kids (and hundreds of teachers)
again. And every time some prof shows up at AERA or anyplace pretending to
disinterested, someone should at least post the price tag somewhere, like
warning labels on alcohol and nicotine products.

Everyone knows the puta under the streetlight on the corner is in business
make a profit. You (sort of) get what you pay for, and you know (unless
you're deluded) that it's not true love. That's capitalism.

What's obnoxious are the people who condemn the business person while
engaging in the same business a bit less overtly, honestly and directly. I
prefer a corporation with unabashed profit motives to a roomful of
soft-spoken and highly sensitive professors angling for their next Volvo,
vacation home in Provence, or undergraduate mentoring opportunity.

George N. Schmidt
Editor, Substance
(President and CEO, Substance, Inc. an Illinois corporation)
5132 W. Berteau
Chicago, IL 60641

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