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Oh Goodie! Another Report Card

January 8, 2013

The culmination of the initial release of A-F Report Cards in Oklahoma was the state grade. After all the calculations were thrown into the Wayback Machine, the state received a C. That’s right – of all the states in our fair state, Oklahoma is average.

wayback machine

That’s why yesterday, I was shocked – shocked! – to hear that Oklahoma received a D+ on an entirely different grading system. Michelle Rhee’s deceptively named organization Students First issued report cards for each state yesterday. It seems that if you stack the report card indicators in order to promote a particular agenda, you can pretty much issue any letter grade you want.

The funny thing about these report cards is that of all the states, Oklahoma was in 13th place – with a D+. Woo hoo! We’re above average! And look who is at the top…Louisiana, Florida, and Indiana. These are the three states Oklahoma is trying hardest to emulate. And of course, DC is near the top too – even though Rhee’s reforms there have destroyed both the schools and profession in her wake. You can see the complete list of state grades here.

With the Internet still burning with the release of the report card, Oklahoma’s anti-education movement was already chirping. Jason Nelson tweeted and blogged. Brandon Dutcher retweeted. And the Oklahoman quickly threw together an article highlighting the report card’s key components. Chiefly, the report card recommends more vouchers, elimination of class size limits, and decimating the teacher retirement system. If we do these things, we can be more like Louisiana, Florida, and Indiana. And then our test scores will …

Oh, that’s right, this report card mentions nothing about results. It’s strictly a scorecard of the extent to which states have adopted draconian reforms favored by ALEC. Diane Ravitch astutely points out the irony of a grading system critical of states for not doing more to evaluate teachers on student results when that system itself does not consider student results. For all the love reformers give NAEP, some of the highest scoring states are towards the bottom of this rank-order list.

For what it’s worth, I think Oklahoma educators deserve an A. We do more with less than just about any other state in the country. Could schools do more? Absolutely. Support them and find out.

Michelle Rhee’s record is well-documented. She was a failure as a teacher. She was a failure leading DC schools. She’s little more than a political operative now, and for reasons that elude me, the face of the reform movement. There’s little about Michelle Rhee worth taking seriously, yet many do. The only explanation I can give is that these same people take donations from the same right-wing corporate reformers.

Again, for the 500th time, we have a report card grade that means nothing.


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