Monday, April 11, 2011

Tim Delia: Who's really behind VAM

[The University of Colorado at Boulder study] drives a proverbial stake through the heart of the VAM pseudo-science, that like its cousin phrenology, should have passed off the scene long ago. — Robert D. Skeels (LAUSD District 2 Board Candidate)

Are Value Added Methods (VAM) the new Flat Earth? How long do discredited theories linger?
Tim Delia published the following over the weekend, reprinted here with permission:

Who's really behind VAM

A survey of the people most vigorously supporting Value Added Measurement (VAM) reveals that they are not educators, nor psychologist nor psychometricians who have studied testing and human behavior.

Those pushing most ardently for value-added measurement models generally are a group that likes to call themselves "school economists." These education economists include Stanford University "courtesy professor of education" Erik Hanashuk, Harvard professor of right-wing politics Paul Peterson, Fordham Institution's (not to be confused with Fordham University) Chester Finn Jr and Caroline Hoxby.

The one thing they all have in common is that they are all senior fellows at the Hoover Institution on War, Revoulution, and Peace housed at Stanford University. The Hoover Institution counts Newt Gingrich, Dick Cheney and Condoleeza Rice as members (imagine them setting education policy).

The Hoover Institution is the home to some of this country's most, crazed, right-wing zealots. The Institution has a long history of ignoring science in supporting of its right-wing agenda. The Hoover Institution is well known for denying the facts of global warming. You can not talk science with a right-wing zealot — ask Galileo.

Just how right wing is the Hoover Institute? Their worst education event of 2010 was the one that saved thousands of teaching jobs. This isn't a joke. This is an actual cut and pasted from their website.

WORST Education Events of 2010
1. Stimulus dollars for education were mainly spent on avoiding layoffs.
About 80 percent of the administration’s $100 billion education stimulus money went to avert teacher layoffs and continue existing programs without regard to their effectiveness and with no hint of school improvement. The $10 billion EduJobs bill did more of the same. Such spending rewarded schools for inefficiency at an enormous cost in dollars and missed opportunities.

The fact that so called liberals and progressives support any of these measures is truly scary.

Tim Delia


In a follow up post Delia wrote:

Just how right wing is the Hoover Institution, major VAM proponents?

The Hoover Institution has a long history of supporting right-wing dictators around the world, most notably Chile's Augusto Pinochet. The Hoover Institution continues to argue that dictator Pinochet was actually good for Chile, ignoring the thousands killed, the lack of democracy, the banking collapse and the fact that Pinochet stole $25 million from the Chilean people. This is the Hoover Institution's idea of good governance.

This article below is not a joke. It argues that an earthquake in Chile that was far from any urban area was less deadly then the Haitian earthquake that struck 16 miles from the nation's capital because of Pinochet and his friend Milton Friedman.

Actual article:
How Milton Friedman Saved Chile | Hoover Institution
Jul 2, 2010 ... In 1973, the year the proto-Chavista government of Salvador Allende was overthrown by General Augusto Pinochet, Chile was an economic ...

By contrast, Chile's earthquake measured 8.8. That was nearly five hundred times more powerful than Haiti's, or about a million Hiroshimas. Yet Chile's reported death toll was a tiny fraction of the 230,000 or so believed to have perished in Haiti.

Value Added Measures, much like everything else coming out of the Hoover Institute is absolute craziness.



Right Wing Think Tanks, Ben Austin, Steve Barr, and Marco Petruzzi

I've been writing about the inordinate influence of these extreme right wing "think tanks" on public education policy for some time now, as has Dr. Danny Weil.

I sent the following comments in response the Delia's post:

Lest us not forget Hoover Institution and Fordham's school privatization journal EducationNext. It's in that bastion of reaction, that Andy Smarick published "Wave of the Future," a roadmap for converting public schools to charters, followed by Smarick's acolytes including the vile Ben Austin [1] to the letter. The end goal is to create in Smarick's words a "marketplace marked by parental choice."

Most frequently appearing phrases on the The Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace, Stanford University?

  • Private Enterprise
  • Free Markets
  • Individual Liberty

Pretty clear about who they serve and what they believe.

Robert D. Skeels

[1] This is the same Ben Austin who held an event with The Heartland Institute recently. For those of you that don't know, The Heartland Institute is essentially the John Birch Society with a budget.



Sharon said...

Don't you people have anything except ad hominem arguments to offer? Sheesh, that piece is all this McCarthyite insinuation.

Robert D. Skeels * rdsathene said...

Care to share what you feel qualifies as ad hominem or McCarthyism. I reread the initial piece and the part I wrote and don't see anything of the kind.

He names individuals, institutions, and foundations that support the VAM pseudoscience. Care to debunk any of it?

Moreover, do you even know what an ad hominem argument is? Hint, it has nothing to do with attacking your opponents shortcomings or ideology.

Robert D. Skeels * rdsathene said...

@Sharon, care to debate the mathematician mentioned in The 'value-added' debacle? Or are you like all the other right-wing trolls in the corporate reform camp that place, as the incomparable Dr. Ravitch says, "ideology before evidence."

It's you and your profit hungry charter-voucher camp that are channeling McCarthy, with your vicious attacks on teachers and communities.