Thursday, May 12, 2005

Official Deceit

What do we do when a statewide elected official publishes an opinion piece in the state's major daily newspaper that asserts a bald-faced lie?

In today's, Oregonian, State Sup't of Public Instruction Susan Castillo opposes HB 3162, which would abolish CIM/CAM and replace Oregon's failed testing system with one outsourced to an independent testing company. Castillo says we shouldn't just dump the CIM, but rather should allow her staff to conduct a year long study and make recommendations about where to go from here.

Great idea... let's let the people who for 13 years have so monumentally botched the implementation of the CIM/CAM mess figure out what to do next. I've always had a guiding principle: if you want to solve a problem, don't look to the people who caused it - if they knew how to solve it, they wouldn't have created the problem in the first place!

But, nobody is really suprised by the suggestion. After all, bureaucracies love to create "task forces" made up of "stakeholders" to conduct "studies" and "make recommendations." It's a great way to look as if something is being done, make sure everyone is busy, and whatever "solution" is proposed doesn't threaten the status quo.

But what does surprise me is that Castillo would tell a bald faced lie in her column. Strong language, you say? OK, perhaps she just made a misstatement; perhaps the untruth was told unwittingly.

Here is the issue - you be the judge whether it is possible for Castillo to make such an errant assertion on a matter so central to the question at hand.

Castillo wrote:
"House Bill 3162 requires Oregon to scrap those tests and purchase new ones -- even if the new tests deliver less information at higher cost. If that wasn't bad enough, those off-the-shelf tests would not meet federal requirements, putting Oregon's $400 million in federal funds at risk.

Oh really? That's odd, I wrote the bill myself and I distinctly remember covering that base. Oh here it is, right there in the bill, Section 11:

the tests "shall: (a) Meet the requirements of the federal No Child Left BehindAct of 2001 (P.L. 107-110, 115 Stat. 1425);

It strains credulity to think that Castillo was unaware of this provision in the bill. It was discussed openly in hearings attended by her staff. In one hearing, her associate superintendent in charge of assessment was asked point blank whether HB 3162 would leave us in compliance with federal requirements, and he said yes.

If I were inclined to be charitable on this point (and believe me I am not, I have seen far too much soft corruption out of the Oregon Department of Education for me to give them the benefit of the doubt,) I could allow for the possibility that perhaps Susan Castillo was simply mistaken, and that her assertion was wrong, but unintentional.

Of course to believe that, you would have to believe that 1) she is utterly ignorant of the bill she is opposing; 2) she did not bother to ask her staff if one of her central arguments against the bill is true, and 3) no one on her staff read her column before it went out (far from it.... they probably WROTE the thing) and that nobody bothered to correct the misstatement.

That is hard for me to believe. They just aren't that stupid.

But they DO think YOU are that stupid, and that is what irritates me so much about this kind of official deceit. We see it all the time in our state agencies. They lie and they know they can get away with it. There is no accountability; they think they are untouchable. The local media never challenges what they say; rather, they basically are stenographers for the bureaucracy.

So Castillo doesn't even have a second thought. Go ahead and lie. After all, it is for a good cause, saving a jobs-for-bureaucrats program.

2 comments:

springermom56 said...

Rob,

I sent a message on CIM/CAM to Ed Dennis. I have to admit, my kids are grown, and never had to deal with CIM/CAM, but in listening to all sides, it seems like another waste of money.

You touched on the replacement testing that would be required by NCLB, and I thought you would be interested in the response I recieved.

Here it is:

Linda -

Thank you for your feedback--it is great to hear from you.

Based on what you said in your email I want to ask you a follow-up.

The state would be required to do a set of tests to meet the federal
requirements of President Bush's signature domestic policy bill; the No
Child Left Behind Act or NCLB (in order to get our $400 million annually
from the US Department of Ed.). We would have to have them created to
our State of Oregon standards (we are not allowed by federal law to do a
national test like, Stanford, CTBS or Iowa Basic).

A testing company that gave testimony to the House committee told them
that they can do our system of tests but it would cost the state more
money. The bill currently under consideration would force the State to
potetially pay more money for less of a testing system than we get now.

So, speaking just to the tests here (not the cim and the cam which is
different, in fact cam is not a test or related to a test); we would
need to replace the state tests we use now with some other set of tests,
would you favor moving the ones that we have now out and creating new
ones?

Thank you for your support of our children!


Ed Dennis
Chief of Staff
Oregon Department of Education
503.888.1134
"Every Student, Every Day, A Success"

-----Original Message-----
From: Linda Condon [mailto:springerheart@hotmail.com]
Sent: Wednesday, May 11, 2005 9:58 AM
To: DENNIS Ed
Subject: CIM CAM

These burdensome and costly programs are not working.

With the budget issues Oregon is faced with each and every year, our
focus should be on demanding excellence of both the students and
teachers in the fundementals. Spending time preparing students for
testing is shortchanging them an education. They are not learning the
kind of education they need as a basis to grow, they are learning ways
to pass a test.

These kids today need to learn about math, reading, history and social
science, as well as good citizenship, morals and goal setting.

It seems that simply trying to pass a test is not what the future of our
State needs. We need people who have solid foundations, and are well
rounded and actually educated!

Please get rid of this dismal failure of a program, and get back to
basics!
I still have great memories of my school days, and the things I learned.
I'm glad that the only thing I have to look back on, is trying to pass a
CIM or CAM test.

Linda Condon
Keizer, OR

OregonRN said...

Rob,

Go for it! My kids are grown, too. My best friend is an education professor. Our school kids are in real trouble, and schools won't concentrate on teaching the basics unless forced by testing.

Out-source to people who know what they're doing and are compliant with current federal Dept. of Ed. guidelines.

We shouldn't be teaching to "pass the tests." If we teach effectively with proven methods and sane curriculum, our kids will pass with flying colors.