Reactions to my recent Education Week commentary on the Atlanta cheating scandal have been interesting (see also this Washington Post blog post by Valerie Strauss that highlights my commentary). They mostly relate to the question I raised, whether the system is to blame or whether individuals, even when faced with strong pressure and incentives for opportunistic behavior, should act morally and legally. And, of course, several of the commentaries rehearse the somewhat well known criticisms of testing.
As best I can tell though, readers didn’t take up the issue I mentioned regarding the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores, which apparently improved during Beverly Hall’s tenure in Atlanta. If student performance was really getting better, then there was arguably less reason to engage in the alleged tampering. We won’t know whether the people accused of the cheating considered any of this, or indeed if most of them knew about the NAEP results in the first place. Meanwhile, suspicions have been raised about whether there had also been mischief in the NAEP sampling and scoring. For an especially lucid analysis of the NAEP results and how they relate to the Atlanta situation, I refer you to this excellent article by our friend Marshall (Mike) Smith, former Under Secretary of Education and Dean of the Stanford Graduate School of Education.
April 15, 2013
Today the Supreme Court has upheld the Affordable Care Act, which means that what was probably the signature domestic policy priority of the Obama administration will remain in law unless it is changed or repealed by Congress in the future. I’m not a lawyer, or a speed reader, so I won’t comment on the full decision of the Court. But I will share a few quick reactions.
SCOTUS, as it has become fashionable to call the Supreme Court of the United States, is one remarkable institution, fully willing and capable of issuing rulings that surprise even the wisest of constitutional scholars and other pundits. In this case the big surprise was the role of Chief Justice Roberts, who sided with the majority and wrote the main opinion defending the “individual mandate” as a tax allowable by the constitution. Justice Roberts may have longer-term constitutional or political goals, but on the surface his decision may put him in the category of Chief Justices who surprised – and probably annoyed – the Presidents who appointed them. I’m thinking here of Earl Warren, for example, and his role in the landmark Brown v Board of Education case that ended the legality of “separate but equal.” That case had such a huge impact on our national consciousness about the historical stain of discrimination, and set us on a path (which we are still on) to correct social and historical inequities in the provision of education for all children.