A political post

This latest political season is astounding to me. I honestly can’t believe the crap that both sides of the two sided debate are throwing around.

From Obama lying about his record on jobs to Romney anti-republican stance on so many issues, frankly I don’t see how anyone can rationally vote for either side.

But two issues have stunned me. Discussing them will probably get me labeled as a flaming liberal, which simply isn’t true, because they are both currently considered core Republican values. But I’m sorry, those values are wrong.

For years republicans have blamed democrats for being the party of victims. There is some truth to it, I think democrats as a whole are more quickly to blame society than the individual for any success or failure.

So you’d think that the republicans would avoid the victim mentality at any cost. Yet in these two core values they are embracing victim hood instead of rejecting it.

The first is same sex marriage. I’m of the opinion looking at the history of the party that republicans should be fighting for this instead of fighting against it. Instead they are embracing the role of victim and rallying against same sex marriage.

Look at their language, the name of the bills, and everything republicans spew about same sex marriage. It’s all about defending marriage. From what? Evil homosexuals? Talk about victim hood. If your marriage is so weak that a same sex couple threatens it, you have real marriage issues. It’s pure morality, unadulterated bigotry and shamefully weak logic that allows republicans to feel justified in fighting same sex marriage rights.

The second is the republican embrace of high stakes testing as proof of the ability of a teacher. High stakes testing is an abysmal method of evaluating teachers, but god is it attractive. You draw a line in the sand and if the students are in one side, the teacher is good. If the students are on the other, the teacher sucks. It’s quick, it’s clear, and it is wrong.

It is also an expression of victim hood unlike anything I’ve ever heard the democrats put forth.

How? Simple. If teachers were the only thing that played a part in a student’s success, it might be a fair assessment. But teachers, while important, play a somewhat small part in the whole process.

Parents, home life, and breakfast play at least equal, if not more, important role in a child’s success in school. Let me give you a concrete example.

The is an elementary school on the south side of town who routinely test newly arriving kindergarten students at the beginning of the year. And each year a majority of those students, who’ve been with those teachers a matter of days, score at or higher than the year end benchmark. Do you really think those students have great teachers, or is it more likely that the parents, home life and nutrition of those students played a bigger part in those first few days of school?

Now that head start ripples thought the career of those students at that school. They have a head start in first grade, in second grade and so on.

Take a school from the north end of town who do the same testing in the same time frame. Yet those students score lower than the assumed baseline for a preschooler. Again, how can you blame the teacher? Isn’t it more likely that the parents, home life and nutrition play the larger role?

While the State of Alabama claims there is a “race gap,” that simply isn’t true. If you look at economics it becomes clear that income plays a much bigger role in the difference between students than race. Middle class parents produce students who, overall, do better than poor parents.

Now we’ve come to the crux of the matter. This is why republicans want to blame teachers and not parents. If they blame parents AND they recognize the issues behind success in schools they have to recognize the shortcomings of their social programs. It is easier for them to blame teachers.

But then how do you explain the current trend among democrats, including Obama, in jumping onto the high stakes testing bandwagon? Simple. They recognize a fundamental truth. It isn’t really about income.

Now I know I just drew a line between middle class and poor as far as success in the classroom. This is where you get deep into statistics, and the difference between causation and correlation. There is an absolute correlation between income and success in school. But there is no evidence of causation.

In fact, the causation is far more related to how the middle class act than the money they make. Studies show that middle class students whose families fall on hard times still tend to outperform poor students. Why is that?

Because middle class is almost universally literate, appreciate the value of education and the importance of success. Middle class parents tend to have much larger vocabularies, understand grammar, appreciate mathematics and pass these values on to their kids.

Poor parents have a much higher incident of illiteracy, a less appreciation for math, and fundamental misunderstanding of education.

That’s not a judgement nor is it racial. Second generation poor, regardless of race, tend toward this.

So how is it fair to think that teachers in poor schools should have the exact same expectation as middle class school teachers? It isn’t.

But the lure of high stakes testing is to appealing. It’s an “equalizer” that isn’t equal. It’s a metric that really doesn’t measure anything. It’s a test that doesn’t even recognize what it is testing. And it completely shifts the blame away from the three factors that more heavily influence a child success in school toward the one that the state, and society, has control over.

And is totally sad.


6 thoughts on “A political post

  1. Hey Michael,
    Good first article, and no I would not put you in the category of flaming lib. I will say on the testing that you are right about the life of the students being a major factor. I am in favor of doing a baseline test at the beginning of the year and a test at the end. This is a way to track if there has been any learning during the year. Will theses tests be as high at some schools as others? No. But there does need to be some concrete way to evaluate learning. The testing we have is not perfect, but I don’t know of anything else right now.
    Oh, and teachers are not victims either, though they may like to think they are sometimes. One is a teacher by choice, and you go into it knowing all of these things . . . . .which is why I am Not a teacher. 😉

    • While teachers aren’t victims in a classic sense, most of them started teaching long before high stakes testing.

      As for baseline and end of year testing to see how much learning occurred, that’s been standard teaching theory since Socrates. It is the basis of the Socratic method.

  2. I like your point about same-sex marriage. If you only saw the Republican side of the story, you’d think the left was trying to outlaw heterosexual marriage.

    • I really think the right has lost focus in regard to same sex marriage. You’d think they’d support equality but they can’t get their nose out of their moral compass long enough to see the fallacy of their own thinking. That’s mighty short sighted.

      It’s kinda sad. I know far to many gay couples who would fit in with the republicans much better than with democrats if they could feel at home. But they don’t, so at least nationally they support democrats.

      • Good post Mike, even if I don’t agree with most of your points.
        I agree Romney is really not a great candidate, but he has the MOST important point- he’s NOT named Obama. I honestly don’t think our way of life could handle 4 more years of the Big O (as in the “Big C”).

        As for gay marriage- that’s a dead horse I wish folks would quit kicking. It is a fight long lost and should be abandoned. No, gay marriage does not affect my marriage in itself but it IS yet one more milestone on the moral decline in this country.
        For those who pooh pooh the “slippery slope” theory- now that gay marriage is done Martin Scorsese (sp) is pushing for a TV series championing incest. Can “I Love Lassie” (sponsored by PETA) be far behind?

        I do take exception with your (apparent) disdain for people having a “moral compass”. It is a fact that everyone has one- they just have a different NORTH.

        Off topic-you should make it to TU trivia more often. We like you for more than just “2nd string Bill”. 😉

      • Good to hear from you Hoyt.

        I don’t have any disdain for anyone’s moral compass. You’re right, I have one and it leads me well and, no pun intended, I follow it religiously.

        However I can respect other people’s travels. And I’ve yet to hear anything but my morals are better than yours argument against same sex marriage.

        I also question where that morality is based on. But that’s a whole new discussion.

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