They say the King is gone. John King has resigned in the name of signing onto Duncan's ship as a senior adviser in D.C. In N.Y., King was a lightning rod for the anti-testing movement. He implemented the Core, casting students overboard in the process. He pushed an evaluation law into effect to ensure teachers will similarly walk the plank based in large part upon test scores. He plowed on towards icebergs despite repeated warnings. Is it any surprise that mutiny broke out?
Since announcing his resignation, King has attempted to justify his policies, drawing parallels between social inequalities, protests over recent police actions and school reform. From what I can tell, however, his test-based policies have done nothing to lessen social inequalities. If anything, the divide has only worsened. According to one source, "although black and Hispanic students achieved better scores on this year's test as compared with 2013, the achievement gap still got wider--since white and Asian students saw bigger increases in their scores."
At other times, King has attempted to justify his policies by invoking the image of his beloved teacher, Mr. Osterweil. Here's one refrain: "As a teacher, principal and policymaker, my goal is and has always been to give every student what Mr. Osterweil gave me--a classroom where they feel supported and inspired and challenged." I am sure Mr. Osterweil was a patient, loving and highly intelligent man.
Yet, I am equally sure that Mr. Osterweil must be dead. How do I know? A feeling based upon logic. If Mr. Osterweil was extant, and if he was half the teacher Mr. King makes him out to be, he would have stepped up and signaled to the Captain by now. He would have told Mr. King to change direction. If nothing else, he would have spoken to how excessive test prep eats at the soul of his profession. He would have told Mr. King that he can no longer afford the time to read so much Shakespeare or stage plays with his class. He might have told Mr. King about nervous, crying and over-stressed children during the six days of State testing each year. He might have told Mr. King about students losing interest in school.
Mr. Osterweil was a career teacher. And, I feel I know him far better than Mr. King. You see, despite King's professed love for his former teacher, I truly wonder if he would have listened any better to Mr. Osterweil than the parents and teachers of NY State. Just as he did with the democratic voices of the people, he might have conveniently compartmentalized Mr. Osterweil's complaints into the category of "special interests." I truly do not know. But at any rate, here's to the King and all the data miners his policies seemed to encourage before InBloom bit the dust--
From an Earlier Post entitled The (Commisioner) King and I: