I’ve talked quite a bit about how Kelli Stargel and your state government used the equation below to fraudulently evaluate teachers and sabotage traditional zoned schools serving marginalized populations of kids. It’s called VAM (value-added model or measure). It’s basically a school grade for teachers — and just as drenched in bad faith.
But you may be surprised to learn that in deploying this anti-teacher weapon of chaos, Kelli Stargel was just being the good education Democrat that she actually is.
Below you will find an excerpt from this article about VAM, written in 2010. 2010. Let me say that again: 2010.
This excerpt and article should be equally uncomfortable for Republicans and Democrats to read.
Education Obama is the worst Obama
The fact is, VAM was a terrible Democratic idea championed by Barack Obama’s Department of Education and his Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Race-to-the-Top, the disastrous successor to George W. Bush’s and Ted Kennedy’s disastrous No Child Left Behind, made VAM a national thing for a while. A short while.
Education Obama is, by far, the worst Obama. I say that as someone who voted for him twice. I liked him very much on many other things. He also never embarrassed me as an American. But he was a conduit for elite, bipartisan, institutional policy on education. The fact that he and Jeb Bush agreed so often was sold as a lovely bit of national cooperation. Ask a teacher and test-stressed kids how all that good feeling worked out for them.
[Usual disclaimer: I’m a No Party Affiliate. I describe myself as an anti-prohibition, pro-14th Amendment, moral conservative — with conservatism defined by honest human observation rather than religion. But most people call me liberal. I don’t care what most people call me. Call me whatever you want to.]
VAM was quickly discredited by educators and statisticians alike and essentially abandoned by everybody else, right about the time Kelli Stargel and company started to think it was cool.
Want to hurt teachers? Steal from Democrats
I feel certain Florida’s education leaders thought it was cool because it was shown to fraudulently evaluate teachers in zoned neighborhood schools serving under-capitalized populations. It was a feature, not a bug. You cannot overstate their cynicism. You really can’t.
Eventually, the disruption and fraud of VAM got out of hand. VAM discredited itself even in Florida, even among the Republican voters and lawmakers who supported it implicitly through the people they elected. Last year, at the same time 7069 was becoming law, the legislators quietly got rid of VAM.
Yet VAM continued to rain disruption and destruction on Polk County human beings. Its past use still bears on current teacher evaluation and forced transfers. Thus, it is both a blood-sucking monster and undead. A VAM-pire, which happens to be the costume I wore last Halloween.
Have you heard any “liberal reform Democrat” take any responsibility, at all, for the harm their detached, statistical, moral vanity has caused for real teachers and kids?
Has any Democrat, anywhere, noticed and taken responsibility for this fact: outside of vouchers, it’s hard to see any difference between what Betsy DeVos thinks about the fundamental American K-12 educational model and what Arne Duncan and his Ivy League-Educated, too-elite-for-the-classroom spreadsheet jockeys think? Elite Democrats own the teacher shortage and teacher strikes as much as DeVos Republicans do. And non-elite Democrats probably don’t understand that as much as they need to.
Go away, Arne
Doubt me? Read this self-justifying essay from Arne Duncan. You’ll see two little excerpts below. But read the whole thing. See if you can find any reference to the human development of children. Does he show any inkling that kids are anything more than gamed data to him?
Tell me what DeVos could not have written. Tell me what Kelli Stargel could not have written.
The “liberal education reform Democrat” is maybe the least self-critical species of politician in any party. And that’s saying something. It’s the layer of smug moral vanity slathered on top of the failure that elevates them. They’re always talking about “hard choices” for other people — and other people’s kids — while pretending to care about yours.
And if you think this wins votes, Democrats, ask yourself if you’re planning to vote for Kelli Stargel.
Yes, my Republican friends, a vote for Kelli Stargel or Richard Corcoran, is a vote for the worst instincts and vanity of the Democratic elite. Trust me on this: if I was Adam Putnam or that Trump-loving guy, I would hammer “Common Corcoran” all day long and hang his devotion to Arne Duncan around his neck relentlessly.
Rank and file Democratic voters and candidates should ponder the same thought — and build messaging and policies that change that fact. Teachers are the cornerstone of the American middle class and our most vital national infrastructure. And yet elites of ALL parties and independent centrists — all forms of national power — have conspired to exclude them from any post 2008 economic recovery. And all forms of national power punished them with VAM and a million other daily “reform” stressors at the same time.
Democrats who wonder why teachers supposedly don’t vote should think about that — as should red state Republicans wondering why everybody’s walking out all of a sudden.
Everybody in power in every state in America owns this moment. Who will change it?
Here’s how I would do it. Start with a $20,000 federal raise for all 3.1 million teachers in America, with no strings attached. Run on that, one party or the other, and see what happens.