Yesterday, Michelle Rhee’s “Students First” organization released a state policy report card grading state school sytems by their adherence to her anti-teachers’ union, pro-charter school policies. None of the states receive a passing grade, but what’s notable about the report is the negative correlation between highly rated states and actual student achievement.
Louisiana ranks highest on the Students First report card, scoring a B grade. The state also happens to rank near the bottom on 8th grade reading and math scores, coming in 49th on National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores for Reading and 47th for English.
The Washington Post’s Valerie Strauss reports on the grading system and what is actually taught in Louisiana’s vaunted schools:
[Rhee] went on to form StudentsFirst and pledged to raise $1 billion to upend the public education system according to her reform tastes. Those include merit pay for teachers (which has been tried over decades and never worked well); using standardized tests to evaluate educators (which assessments experts say is a bad idea); charter school expansion; voucher expansion; and weakening of teachers unions…
In Rhee’s grading system, the D.C. school system that is implementing the reforms she instituted got a higher grade than the states of Maryland and Virginia — which consistently are at or near the top of lists of high-performing states — and Virginia. Maryland got a D-plus. Virginia got a D-minus. The District? The urban system with the highest achievement gap in the country? It got a C-plus.
The states that got the highest score handed out — a B minus — were Florida and Louisiana. No surprise there…
Louisiana is the state where Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal instituted a statewide voucher program that gave public money to scores of Christian schools that teach Young Earth Creationism, the belief that the Earth and the universe were created by God no more than 10,000 years ago. Kids learn that dinosaurs co-existed with humans. That’s the state that got Rhee’s top grade.
Rhee’s full-report recommends that evaluation no longer be subject to bargaining, aims to link pay and employment to that very evaluation, pushes for more charter schools and seeks to eliminate teacher tenure. To take the Students First report card as a measure of anything more than to what extent school systems kowtow to corporate-backed reform policies would be a massive flunking of America’s public school system.
This article originally appeared on Unionosity.com.