The Hard Way

Earlier I analyzed the political economy of education reform, and argued that supporting Publishers was the easy way to put better tests in front of students. This is because a testing regime flatters the money-seekingnature of Publishers, so their greed can be coopted. Nonetheless, it would be convenient to co-opt teachers as well.

I could see this happening in a number of ways, thought I don’t know if they are plausible

 

  • Teachers might be sufficiently educated through propaganda they actually become oriented around student outcomes
  • The solidarity in the teaching profession cracks, and teachers organize around different (though presumably still self-oriented) lines based on broader social and economic factors
  • Teachersaccept a smaller but more professional workforce organized around technology

The first and second of the above options assumes teachers stop acting as a rational actor. Teachers want money — they are politically active in order to divert welfare away from students to themselves — and because no one really knows if they are a ‘good’ teacher or not (as there is no good testing regime to tell), teacherse are naturally risk adverse. While no publishers see a risk of going out a business because of better tests, better tests would make it much easier to dismiss. low-than-great teachers

The third option — that teachers might agree to higher wages in exchange in exchange for integrating testing technology into the classroom – is possible. The West Coast Longshoremen struck an almost identical deal, and enjoy six-figure salaries as a result. This possibility requiers that teachers remain rational but have a hard-headed understanding of their operating environment. As the teaching profession has been lobotomized through generations of low wages, I doubt this degree of rationality will be forthcoming. Teachers have failed to use the federal-academic complex to pivot their front organizations into political success — what hope is there of teachers wising up now?

Even though working with publishers is the easy way to build a nation-wide testing infrastructure, and working with teachers is the hard way, both ways should be persued. Teachers still have some political power, and every iota of it that can be neutralized is an outa that can be used to improve the terms of trade with Publishers, a self-interested group that is not actively hostile to educating children through testing technology.