Response recorded for posterity. Response to: http://nyceducator.com/2010/09/value-added-what-can-be-done-with-it.html
Miss Eyre, I find you to be missing something in the distinction between "anti-teacher" and "blame the teacher." Indeed, it seems to be a running theme of the blog; a comedy of error. Here's the scenario: men in suits advance on you and your companions, firing automatic weapons as they shout that they're trying to help you, and is there anything they can do to assist you. When you ask them to stop shooting, they reload, fire again, and suggest that shooting may be the only way out of this. You become frustrated as you wonder why they won't realize that they are hurting more than helping.
The metaphor is not appropriate, because it is less ridiculous than reality. The lords of death have lately developed tongues of such profound skill in gymnastics that you cannot satirize them as effectively as they do themselves.
The more important side of the metaphor, though, is your reaction to these people. The reason that they maintain ridiculous positions, falsify evidence, lie, cheat, bribe and backstab is that they have goals: 1) the destruction of public education, 2) the destruction of any independence or free-thinking in the teaching profession, and 3) the transformation of our country's educational system into a job-training system that instills obedience for authority and lack of critical thinking above all else.
They are not interested in 1) statistics, 2) decency, 3) your emotions or 4) procedure. They keep their eyes on the prize, and remember: these are "means to an end" people. They will do anything to achieve their goal.
Logically, there are no other viable conclusions. Let's explore some of the possibilities, beginning with the facts you and NYC Educator have so well observed over the course of this blog.
1) Obama/Bloomberg/Duncan et. al. (let's just call them the Charters) rely on flawed data and disproved theories to support their agenda.
2) The Charters spend a phenomenal amount of money and energy supporting their agenda.
3) When confronted with rational objections or the outright failure of their claims, the Charters spin like dreidels and not only fail to alter their arguments, but instead increase the intensity of their support for them (similar to #1, above).
4) In some cases, the Charters not only rely on flawed data, but deliberately create and/or distort the very flawed data they use to support their arguments.
Now, what possible conclusions about internally coherent systems could explain this behavior?
A) Firstly, it's possible that the Charters genuinely, passionately believe that capitalist competition will improve schools. Thus, they feel that any deception or irrational behavior which serves to advance their cause is a temporary evil in service of the greater good. While internally consistent, this possibility nonetheless requires the Charters to be fully cognizant of their own massive fraud, and the immediate harm it causes our society.
B) It could also be possible that the Charters genuinely, passionately believe that charters, privatization, destroying teacher independence and livelihood, etc. are good things, and that this passion blinds them to their own deceptive work, such that they believe they are acting honestly and nobly. Trapped in repressive cycles of their own cognitive dissonance, they distort without being fully aware of what they're doing. Again, while internally consistent, this possibility requires the Charters to be delusional and unstable.
C) And, the last possibility is the one I believe to be not only correct, but the most plausible. Namely, that the Charters want to destroy public education, turn it into authority-based job-training, and discredit the bystanders (teachers). Oh, and stop paying them. Because of this, they'll do whatever it takes--whatever--to destroy you.
After all, the standardized tests don't accomplish much learning. Why, then, do they use them, when it's so easy to tell that they don't accomplish learning? The answer to this "mystery" is obvious: they use them because they're not interested in learning. They're interested in teaching children something else, and the very process of preparing for and taking irrational tests simply because someone orders you to is the important aspect of the instruction.
The "why" of why the Charters do this, though, is a subject for another time. What is important here is to suggest to Miss Eyre, and NYC Educator, and the rest of the teachers who aren't blinded by the golden light coming out of Bill Gates' pockets, that they need to stop reacting to the Charters attacks as though they are, in some way, "misguided." They are no more misguided than Obama's "unfortunate" choices to have bad education policies, or continue killing children with drone missiles.
These policies, far from being misguided, are very, very effective. They are direct attacks on the school system: on free access to an education that teaches children how to be better human beings, instead of just obedient workers. On the maintenance of a unionized class of semi-independent teachers who can, occasionally, use their contractual freedom to teach children to think critically, even if that thought leads them to criticism of the powers-that-be (the Charters).
Their lies, obfuscations and numbers games are all designed to confuse, bewilder and frustrate anyone who opposes them, and dazzle the rest of the herd. Even if A) or B) above are true, they're still either insane or, well, insane. It is not internally consistent to conclude that they're doing all this with some level of innocence or well-meaning. If they were, they would not lie and cheat. They would not use fake numbers, they would not treat teachers like dirt, and they would not deliberately ignore proof of their failure. If they had any scrap of well-meaning in them, then the data showing them their failure would cause them to reevaluate, or pause. They will not.
This is an attack. I won't tell you to treat it like one, because then they'd bring out the brute squad. However, you don't need to keep eating their trash by fretting about why they do it, or wondering why they are being so "irrational." They're not! They're being very rational and intelligent about their work. This is Drunken Master anti-school technique.