Anyone else becoming weary of the parade of national rankings giving Maine poor grades?
Don’t jump off a bridge yet, however. The recent “National Council of Teacher Quality” rankings, which awarded Maine a D+ for teacher training, make a useful little case study of the political gamesmanship that is going on. According to the BDN article on the rankings, the D+ grade is actually a slight improvement over Maine’s grade last year and places Maine in the middle of the pack nationally.
A little digging shows that Barbara O’Brien, current chair of the National Council of Teacher Quality is an active member of ALEC, the ultra-conservative, corporate-sponsored organization that would like nothing better than to see public education itself dry up and blow away.
While the recommendations of the Council, such as raising the bar for entrance into teacher training programs, are not without merit, the agenda that looms behind the report casts such a huge shadow that it truly renders the report useless. This is a case in which one would be better off not reading the news at all.
The ALEC strategy (frequently and guilelessly carried out by our governor) seems to involve saying bad things about public schools at every opportunity, in order to create a climate in which charter schools and virtual schools might be seen as more attractive.
The recent Michelle Rhee/Students First ranking is another example of an agenda-driven organization releasing highly negative rankings intended to push states toward adoption of a corporate agenda.
An ironic little sidenote is that our accidental governor, who earnestly intends to be in lockstep with ALEC, not so long ago stated that he wanted to relax standards for teacher certification and allow those with content knowledge but no teaching degree to teach.