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Skandera and Huffman: Defenders of the Status Quo

Politicians Hanna Skandera (New Mexico via Jeb Bush) and Kevin Huffman(Tennessee via Jeb Bush) are mad. They see a threat to the educational testing complex that gives them their power. Politicians like Skandera and Huffman need the hammer of test scores to scapegoat schools, manipulate data and public opinion and continue to divert money to privatization.
Hanna and Huff, as we affectionately call them, wrote a creepy opinion piece in the Washington Post. It sounds oddly like a press release from the Jeb Bush foundation which is run by Jeb and Patty Levesque.
Let me give you a few quotes from their political diatribe and then comment on them. Hanna and Huff say…

1.”In classrooms across the United States, higher academic standards are inspiring students and teachers.”

Response: They waste no time insulting teachers and kids. These two really hate teachers and public education. Common Core is creating more testing and profits for education companies. They are inspiring big business to think of new ways to pilfer tax dollars. Teachers inspire, parents inspire and kids inspire- no need for Common Core.

2. “Students are more engaged and excited in school, raising their hands more often, asking more questions, thinking critically and solving problems instead of just memorizing facts.”

Response: Common Core is making kids raise their hands more and ask more questions? Is there evidence of this miracle? I call bullshot on this one. This is also an insult to teachers. Do they think we really need Common Core to get kids to think critically and problem solve? Do they hate us that much? Or are they admitting the test based system they backed for years is a failure and we need more tests? Huh?

3. “Teachers feel more motivated, creative and empowered to develop new and better ways to reach their students.”

Response: Another insult. We do not need Common Core to think of ways to reach students. Common Core is a test driven boondoggle. Our job is always about reaching kids and saving lives, despite the test based nonsense from Hanna and Huff. Teachers are sick of giving tests up to 100 days a year- tests they do not make.

4. “Astonishingly, the unions seem to think that they can ask for more taxpayer money while simultaneously weakening measurement and accountability. This is the very course of action that has led the United States to its middling level of performance on international benchmarks.”

A. Huff and Hanna are the ones asking for more tax dollars to test kids even more at the expense of learning. They scapegoat schools for the ills of society.
B. No Hanna and Huff- our middling level of performance on international tests is both irrelevant and a result of the US being a world leader in child poverty. These tests are little more than poverty measures. Adjusted for poverty, our kids score at or near the top of these tests. Does it matter? No. (See Bracey, Cremins, Krashen)

Jeb Bush uses his “Chiefs for Change” to avoid the political spotlight and his Common Core albatross. They speak for him. Oddly Hanna and Huff are simply pushing the old status quo of test and punish. They are scared that their world of cocktail parties is about to end. More and more people are aware of the scams and canards they push.

The opinion piece in The Post is a desperate attempt to save the status quo and a testing empire that has helped keep poor and minority students under the boot of political opportunism. Hanna and Huff do not trust teachers. Their policies crush morale, take away teacher autonomy and turn schools into testing centers. Is this the goal? Making things so onerous in public schools that kids flee is part of the agenda.


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