Thursday, December 27, 2007

News Flash: Eli's a-comin'

A little satire on Eli Broad. Apparently having billions of dollars makes one an education expert, no matter how far removed said billionaire is from the realities on the ground. He has teamed up with Bill Gates for Ed in '08.

12-1-2007 (date I first posted this online)

Billionaire philanthropist, entrepreneur, and public education expert Eli Broad has teamed up with the International Star Registry to promote a provocative plan of action to raise individual student achievement (as measured by standardized test scores) and overall achievement in Title I schools across the nation.

Interviews conducted by the Education Trust's Kati Hiccup and the Education Sector's Andrew Rottenham confirm Broad's unyielding commitment to student achievement as the defining civil righs issue of our time. Asked to clarify his commitment to High Test Scores, Broad reiterated the business sector's no-nonsense approach to rigorous public school accountability:

"Every child is worthy, regardless of circumstancs in life - hunger, poverty,
abuse, neglect, lack of health care - you name it. However, a child can hardly
be expected to become a goodly contributor to the Global Economy unless our
failing public schools shape up and impart the essential skills that students
need to assume their roles in our rapidly changing world. All children deserve a
shot at the millions of high-paying jobs that await young people who are willing
to work hard, pull themselves up by their bootstraps, and measure up on The
The International Star Registry of Achievement, with hefty funding from Broad, will award qualifying states grants to motivate poor student achievers to score proficiently on The Tests. Details are emerging but it is clear students who perform adequately on The Tests will have a star named after them. In addition, the Registry's Ultimate Package includes a beautiful 24" X 20" full color parchment certificate beautifully embossed with the child's name, their star's name, the child's test date, test score, and star coordinates. The elegant certificates are double-matted in gold metallic frames.

Children who do not meet proficiency on The Tests but who are deemed to be nearing proficiency will not have a star named after them until they reach proficiency. However, they will receive the Star Registry's Deluxe Package, which includes a beautiful, double-matted certificate in a silver metallilc frame, a refrigerator magnet, and a bumper sticker for the family car (My Child is Nearing Proficiency!).

The Broad Prize Extraordinaire is reserved for entire schools. A school that by 2014 manages to achieve the ultimate NCLB goal of every single student in the building scoring proficient, regardless of ability or circumstance, will be awarded a nationally televised space launch to be attended by Sally Ride and congressional dignitaries. A message commemorating the event and containing the names of each student and their test scores will be gloriously launched into the night sky on board a real spacecraft that orbits the Earth.

Asked about public schools which fail to meet the much-prized 2014 standard, Broad said they should probably lower their flags to half-mast and be taken over by private companies.

Educators are not exactly jumping on board. Many are questioning the plan as an ultimately useless scheme which tosses badly needed funds into a black hole and promotes extrinsic rewards over a deep and lasting love of real learning. Many question the assumption that paper and pencil standardized tests provide children with a fair opportunity to apply and demonstrate what they really know and are able to do. Teachers noted that many bored and disengaged students don't even bother to try on The Tests, much less read them. They would prefer teaching which encompasses real world projects and applications rather than the narrow kind of teaching and learning that high-stakes testing inevitably leads to.

Others have noted that corporate-driven policies are putting the cart before the horse. Claiming that the achievement gap between disadvantaged students and their more fortunate peers is a symptom of other neglected societal gaps in our nation, rather than the cause, a number of activists have asked Broad if children wouldn't be much better served if he took on eradicating some of the known factors that contribute to low achievement, like lead-infested housing. Questioned about educators' misgivings, Broad dismissed the claims as the soft bigotry of low expectations. "It's about time teachers toughened up instead of whining. Low-performing corporate workers hardly utter a sniffle when their good-paying jobs are outsourced to China or rendered obsolete by technology."

Asked whether each student would receive a telescope where they could actually view their 'own' star, Broad replied that there are limitations to what philanthropists can and should do. "The whole point," he noted, "is that once schools have provided students with the necessary skills to get and retain good jobs, they will be able to buy their own telescopes. That's the beauty of my plan."

Tauna Rogers

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