Wednesday, December 16, 2015

PARCC Collectivists Disregard Education Needs of Actual Individual Students

PARCC” stands for “Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.” Sounds benevolent enough, except that the standardized tests associated with that “assessment” is colliding with a growing rebellion from teachers and parents, who are increasingly opting their children out of the PARCC tests.

Supporters of PARCC are pushing back. But what motivates these opponents of the “opt-out” movement? A clear indication of that motivation is provided in the very title of a 5/24/15 editorial by the New Jersey Star-Ledger. In If you believe in racial equity, don't opt out of PARCC, the Star-Ledger writes:

Opposition to state testing comes from the far left and the far right. It comes from parents who don't want their kids to feel like failures, or who are happy with their schools and don't see a need for improvement. And, of course, it comes from the teacher's union, which opposes accountability measures.

But here's what this issue boils down to. If you're interested in racial equality, you have to go for the PARCC, imperfect as it may be. Why? Because it's the only game in town -- and if we're going to have any hope of closing the achievement gap between poor, minority kids and their wealthier peers, we need this data to do it.

If this isn’t clear enough, the Star-Ledger goes on:

That's why a dozen civil rights groups, including the N.A.A.C.P. and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, released a powerful statement this month saying they are opposed to "anti-testing efforts." The PARCC provides data that is crucial for catching and combating inequities in public schools, they argued.

When parents decide to opt out, they're not just making a choice for their own child, the civil rights activists said. "They're inadvertently making a choice that undermines efforts to improve the schools for every child."

Get that? “Improving the schools” means looking over your shoulder to see what the next guy is doing, and then equalizing outcomes. How to do that? Condemn parents for doing what’s educationally best for their own children. In the Orwellian mind of PARCC proponents, leaving parents free to do what’s educationally best for their own child “undermines efforts to improve the schools for every child." You are guilty of harming other children, in other words, if you care about your own child

The Star-Ledger goes on to cite Newark, N.J. parent Tanya King, who believes that the tests will enable her to determine how well her child is doing, not according to objective facts, but in relation to their suburban counterparts.

To PARCC advocates, it’s superficially about the money. They claim they need the data from the PARCC tests in order to identify “achievement gaps” among schools, so as to identify where to funnel additional taxpayer money. PARCC is really just another central planning scheme to accomplish the impossible—provide a quality education for all children without actually focussing on individual children, who number in the hundreds of thousands. The PARCC proponents demand full participation in the tests from all students “The opt-out movement,” they claim, “is sabotaging the data.”

But there is a deeper, sinister premise underlying the PARCC movement. I left these comments:

The pure, smirking evil of collectivism is on display in the anti-opt-out movement. Collectivists moral concern is with the group, not the individuals who make up the group. These education collectivists don’t care one bit about the needs of the children who are hurt by the tests, or for the parents who judge the tests to be detrimental to their children. They don’t care about the needs of any individual students. They’re for “equality,” not quality.

Education collectivists only care about data, in order to concoct an imaginary average student outcome for the purpose of comparing one group to another. Education collectivists are mystics who view the group as religionists view God—as a supreme power. In the vision of “the dozen civil rights groups”—the dirty dozen—the racial group is the supreme entity, held to be separate from and above the individual students who make up the groups, and upon whose alter individual students are to be sacrificed. They are happily willing to sabotage the educational needs of individual students, in the name of not “sabotaging the data,” because actual living breathing students are not their moral concern.

Add to the education collectivists’ anti-individual worldview an Obsessive Comparison Disorder—applied to groups, rather than individuals—and you get to the essence of the evil. Their worshiping at the altar of “equality” won’t help children in perpetually failing schools, or children unmotivated to learn, or children with parents who don’t care. Why? Because education collectivism orients the individual away from a focus on her own achievement, in favor of forcing others down to her level. As proof, I give you this editorial. Indeed, if equality of educational outcome is the standard, why not just put the authorities governing “failing” districts in charge of all school districts in the state? That’ll equalize things, right down to the lowest common denominator.

With school districts or racial groups, as with individuals, it’s not how you stack up against others that counts. It’s whether the individual child is maximizing his unique potentialities [and chosen values], whatever those potentialities [and values] may be. The only kind of equality proper to man is to legally protect the right of each individual to act on his own judgement, and to be left free to achieve whatever his unique talents, ambition, personal value choices, life circumstances, and natural endowments will carry him. Any other kind of equality requires cutting everybody down to the level of the laziest, the least competent, the least motivated, the most helpless; a chain gang of mediocrity. In obsessing over some mystical group equity, education collectives ignore actual—i.e., individual—equity.

My advice to Tanya King and other like-minded parents: Stop trying to force other children into these PARCC tests, and start thinking about your own child—just as the parents who opt their children out of the PARCC tests are properly doing. Stop obsessing over how your child—or your child’s school, on “average”—stacks up against other children. Demand universal school choice—not just regarding tests, but across the board—so you can search out what’s best educationally for your own child from educators competing for the privilege of teaching your child. Look out for your own child. The education collectivists who are trying to squeeze everyone into a testing straightjacket certainly aren’t.

Related Reading:

Obama's Collectivist "Togetherness" vs. Individualist Togetherness

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