Education Los Angeles Times

The LA Times/U of Colorado Teacher Ranking Wars: Part 3

On Thursday, the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the University of Colorado
issued a reply to the LA Times’ story and blog posts written in response to the NEPC’s study that was highly critical of the research model that underlies the Times “Value-Added” Teacher Rankings that were released this summer to reactions ranging from praise to fury. (Whew. That was a longer than ideal sentence. But this ongoing education/social science/media quarrel is a bit like that. When trying to explain it, one is often reduced to run-on sentences and under-breath mutterings.)

In their study released nearly two weeks ago, the NECP researchers characterized the Times’ underlying research as “not adequate to validly or reliably produce the teacher ratings it published.”

The Times reacted with an article about the NECP study that—because, among other things, the Times bannered their story with a head-scratcher of a headline saying the NECP, in essence agreed with them— triggered its own little firestorm of controversy. And then, on Valentine’s Day, they followed up with two “readers representative” posts (here and here) that were responses to the criticism of their article. In the posts, the Times was also quite critical of the NECP researchers.

So the NECP replied.

I should warn you, much of this will read like inside baseball for those of you who haven’t been following this whole mess with obsessive intensity. But the underlying subject of the argument is of consequence.

And if you have been following the drama of the back and forth quarrel, you will definitely find the latest volley to be of interest.

I’ll have Part 4, the views of a neutral expert, next week.


Earlier this week, the LA Times came out against Measure L saying:

The voters elect a mayor and City Council to make those kinds of choices through a comprehensive annual budget process, adapting their allocations to the city’s ever-changing needs and circumstances. Mandatory funding proposals such as Measure L ask voters to make choices about particular programs without knowing how those choices will affect the rest of the budget. That is why The Times opposes them.

Children’s book author Susan Patron takes the other side of the argument in Friday’s LA Times opinion section. She writes:

The library’s budget is only 2% of the total city budget. In the past two years, the library force has been reduced by 28%. The book budget has shrunk to $1.70 per capita, versus a national average of $4.20. This is shameful. Measure L can change it.

Measure L will progressively increase the library’s share of existing city revenues. Within four years, it will increase the library’s charter-required funding from the current 0.0175% to a maximum of 0.0300% of each $100 of assessed tax value on property within the city.

The measure doesn’t call for a tax increase. It calls for a change in city priorities, a change in how we allocate the funds Los Angeles already collects. That change of priorities is crucial. The city’s leaders have shown that they cannot be trusted to weigh the worth of our library appropriately as they grapple with L.A.’s deficits. Their unwillingness to give the library its fair share means that the voters must step in.

Yep. What she said. I’m down with the POV of Susan-the-novelist and children’s librarian. The city council had its chance to do the right thing. Even after the LA Weekly’s excellent and shaming cover story on the matter, the council failed to step up.

So, regrettably, it seems like we ordinary library-going folks need to do so. The fact that all of this great city’s public libraries are CLOSED to the city’s children on the first school day of the week—every week—is simply not acceptable. Not even a little bit.

So, yeah, vote YES on Measure L.

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