. . .a pupil attitude factor, which appears to have a stronger relationship to achievement than do all the “school” factors together, is the extent to which an individual feels that he has some control over his own destiny. James Coleman, 1966
Friday, April 17, 2015
A former CEO (Chris Barbic) of a Texas charter chain, Yes Prep, was hired to be the state's ASD superintendent in charge of handing out contracts to his buds around the country in the charter industry, with Tennessee taxpayers on the hook to pay the hundreds of millions to build this new corporate welfare operation.
Hitler once observed that a lie must be beyond mere exaggeration in order for people to believe that it must be true for, as the rationale goes, no one in his right mind would make up something that appears so obviously fantastical. It must be true. Well, we are now in year 3 of Barbic's grand lie of moving the bottom 5 percent into the top 25 percent within 5 years, and even those who wanted to believe such fanciful academic promises have come to realize what a outrageous lie that was from the beginning.
Unless, of course, Barbic gets lots of help to rewrite the rule and the reason for ASD's existence, to begin with.
Enter Governor Bill Haslam and Josh Edelman of the Gates Foundation to come up with a plan to help Barbic and his staff of former TFA robots to propose that ASD schools should be allowed to recruit students from outside the districts they were meant to serve and save. Remember those lowest scoring community schools?
The proposal would permit select out-of-zone students — those who qualify for free-and-reduced lunch, who have failed statewide achievement tests, or whose parents or relatives work at an ASD school — to comprise up to 25 percent of students in any school operated through the ASD, most of which have been transitioned to charter school operators. Currently, only students who are zoned to a school in the ASD or another school in the bottom 5 percent are qualified to attend a school in the turnaround district.With charter chains like KIPP and Yes Prep reluctant to come into situations where their brands could be tarnished by low test scorers, and with hundreds of million$ of public dollars on the table to run the corporate welfare charters that everyone in TN is excited about except the taxpayers, the ASD's reason for being, i.e., improving community schools, is suddenly not nearly as important as making ASD seem less than the crumbling failure that it is.
This latest move represents a clear sign of desperation among high rollers who wanted to make Memphis into another NOLA. Parents and teachers across the state are calling for Barbic's bald head, and it seems to me that all of Haslam's horses and all of Haslam's men will not be able put the ASD back together again.
Thursday, April 16, 2015
See Part 1 here.
In 2010 Tennessee got a check from Race to the Top for $501 million. TN quickly moved to do everything their successful grant application had promised: adopt Common Core, build even bigger data systems on top of the VAM system that had been in place since 1992, uncap charter school expansion, and create a teacher evaluation system based on VAM student test scores.
By November 2011, Tennessee's new system for using test scores to evaluate teachers had made big news in the New York Times. Michael Winerip wrote:
The new rules, enacted at the start of the school year [2011-2012], require Mr. Shelton to do as many observations for his strongest teachers — four a year — as for his weakest. “It’s an insult to my best teachers,” he said, “but it’s also a terrible waste of time.”Because there are no student test scores with which to evaluate over half of Tennessee’s teachers — kindergarten to third-grade teachers; art, music and vocational teachers — the state has created a bewildering set of assessment rules. Math specialists can be evaluated by their school’s English scores, music teachers by the school’s writing scores.
It didn't take long for Commissioner of Education for TN, Kevin Huffman, to begin making modifications that might save the new system from drowning in own weight of paper, as all teachers were required to be evaluated 4 times each year. Observations would count as half the evaluation score, as testing in one form or another would make the other 50 percent of a teacher's score.
At the end of the 2011-2012 school year, the state's corporate ed reform office, the Gates Foundation and SCORE (State Collaborative On Reforming Education) reported that there were wide discrepancies between some principal observation scores and teachers' student test scores.
The solution provided by Huffman: re-educate principals to bring their observation scores in line with the lower ratings derived from test scores. None of the Kevin Huffman's former TFA advisors suggested that the tests might be off, even though researchers had already established that TN's VAM system could be depended upon to produce incorrect scores for 25 percent of TN's teachers each year (at least those teachers with test scores to report):
One of the most egregious shortcomings of VAM for educational purposes is that 1 in 4 teachers is mislabeled when using three years of data. It would take ten years of data, in fact, to get the error rate down to 12 percent (Schochet & Chang, 2010).By the end of 2014, teachers had documented how the VAM system in Tennessee is unfair, unreliable, and invalid. They filed a federal lawsuit in early 2015 against the state, Governor Haslam, and Kevin Huffman.
Since 2011, SCORE has been headed up by lawyer, Junior Leaguer, and former state legislator, Jamie Woodson, who likes to take her mind off the challenge of spinning bad news into good by working around the stables of her horse farm in East Tennessee: "I just enjoy the sight, the smells and the sounds of horses and the labor that it takes to tend to them properly." Umm.
As a legislator, Woodson was a sponsor for the bill that created charter schools in Tennessee, and she remains a loyal supporter of whatever it takes to replace public schools with charter schools across the state. Not surprisingly, Woodson acknowledges that SCORE's educational mission is the same as that to that of the Gates Foundation: "SCORE's mission is to ensure that every child graduates high school prepared for college or a career through its programs and activities. . ."
Earlier in 2015 SCORE released it annual report on the state's effort to be "First to the Top." (See Part 1 as it relates to that fantasy.) The report noted that the state had made progress in reducing the number of teachers whose evaluations are based on another teacher's scores. Details will be shared in Part 3.
“As a result, advantaged, mostly white parents are pushed to make choices that they think protect their privilege. These factors perpetuate the cycle of social reproduction and resegregation, wherein schools enrolling the most students from affluent white families are automatically considered “better”—and therefore attract more students from advantaged backgrounds.” — Allison Roda and Amy Stuart Wells
Washington Post just ran a piece entitled "White parents in North Carolina are using charter schools to secede from the education system," and it's exactly what we'd expect it to be.
Saw the link to the article on Dr. James Avington Miller Jr.'s Facebook page. Miller, of The War Report on Public Education radio show fame, had the following salient comment posted with the link: "BACK TO THE FUTURE------BACK WHERE IT STARTED"
I left the following commentary on Washington Post:
School Choice was coined by the segregationists, borrowed by the Broad/Gates/Walton Triumvirate, and now gleefully being reclaimed by the segregationists. Not just Southerners either, mind you. Check out Los Angeles "boutique charters" like Citizens of the World (CWC), Larchmont, and Metro. They cater to so-called liberal parents looking for "alternatives." What that really means is alternatives to having brown and poor children in their schools... well with the exception of those whose parents are self colonized and adept at respectability politics. Those are the parents of color that the Mike McGalliards of the charter project would boast are "so articulate" (read white-acting). The concept of school choice is racist and classist at its very core.
A NYSED spokesman said Wednesday that the state would still go ahead with its planned use of the data.
"We are confident the department will be able to generate a representative sample of students who took the test, generate valid scores for anyone who took the test, and calculate valid state-provided growth scores to be used in teacher evaluations," spokesman Jonathan Burman said in a written statement.
Relying on the test data in schools where the majority of students did not participate is sure to raise the ire of the swell of parents leading the charge.
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
“Walmart fortune heiress, Carrie Walton Penner, is currently the CCSA Board Vice-Chair (term ending 6/30/2017). By most accounts Walton Penner is close to both profiteer "Ref" Rodriguez of the PUC Charter School Corporation, and the well-heeled Ana Ponce of the Camino Nuevo Charter School Corporation.” — Robert D. Skeels
Charter industry profiteer Refugio "Ref" Rodriguez, and his California Charter Schools Association's (CCSA) ruthless campaign to capture the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board of Education seat for District 5 has had every advantage. Rodriguez is backed with millions of dollars from an assortment of billionaires ranging from right-wing extremists like the Walton Family Fortune (Walmart) heirs to anti-public-commons ideologues including Reed Hastings, Eli Broad, and Michael Bloomberg. He has received uncritical press from all the major Los Angeles corporate media outlets. Rodriguez has waged a dishonest campaign that viciously mocked the incumbent school board member's disabilities, and went as far to make deplorable accusations of racism. With essentially unlimited funding at his disposal, one would think that the profit hungry corporate charter school executive wouldn't need any more advantages. However, Rodriguez and his CCSA allies are leaving nothing to chance in defense of their lucrative profits. Profits that have been threatened by an incumbent who has insisted that the charter industry serve all students, not just the ones that are "cheap" to educate.
Evidence of possible further impropriety was provided by Cheryl Ortega. Ortega is the Director of Bilingual Education at United Teachers Los Angeles, has taught in the community for nearly half a century, is a member of the Greater Echo Park Elysian Neighborhood Council, and was recently honored as the 28th Congressional District Woman of the Year. Given her long-standing ties to the community, parents frequently use her as a clearinghouse for education issues. For example, this revelation that she posted on her Facebook feed:
Interesting and shocking fact regarding the Kayser - Rodriguez LAUSD school board race. A long time friend and former school parent at Logan Elementary School, told me that parents at the Sandra Cisneros/Camino Nuevo Charter Corp School in Echo Park were paid to attend political meetings to help elect Ref Rodriguez. They were told that Bennet Kayser would "close down their school" if elected to the school board. I am not surprised at Camino Nuevo's message given their record of "misleading" parents.
Asking around, I've been informed that these parents are being paid in kind (not cash), with expensive dinners, trips to Starbucks, etc. These reports corroborate each other, and with definitive proof that CCSA and Rodriguez are chasing profits, their purported "payment" of parents to sway this election makes perfect sense. Who is doing it makes sense too.
Camino Nuevo Charter Corporation's profits depend on market share
Camino Nuevo Charter Academy Corporation (CNCA) has a long record of duplicity. Their fourteen member Board of Directors, comprised mostly of hedge fund/investment managers, venture capitalists, brokers, and bankers, is wholly unaccountable to the community. CNCA's campaign to expropriate the newly constructed CRES #14 school site during Gates Foundation employee Yolie Flores' so-called Public School Choice (PSC) charter school handout project, saw CNCA trying to stack the vote by busing in outsiders. CNCA lost to the community public school plan by more than 2 to 1 margin, but Flores gave them our school anyway. Here is a photo, taken at Rosemont ES during the CRES #14 advisory vote, of one of nearly a dozen buses brought in by the Camino Nuevo Charter Corporation.
Charter schools using parents as political pawns for profits
It should be no surprise if CNCA is bribing parents to campaign and vote for Rodriguez. Even when they aren't using meals, gift cards, t-shirts, and other material enticements to induce parents into engaging in charter political activities, the lucrative charter school industry has another means of getting what they want—forced parent work policies. For years social justice activists have pointed out that CCSA, CCSA Advocates, Families that Can, and individual corporate charter chains have compelled parents to participate in their political activities by evoking their required "volunteer" hours. However, it wasn't until the watershed report from Public Advocates Inc. entitled Charging for Access: How California Charter Schools Exclude Vulnerable Students by Imposing Illegal Family Work Quotas was published that we began to recognize the full extent of this practice.
Wealthy Ana Ponce and Ref Rodriguez aiming for more profits
The essay PROFITS! Why Ref Rodriguez and his CCSA covet the LAUSD Board Seat exposed the connections between the CCSA, transnational corporations, and local charter school profiteers. This quote is extremely important:
Walmart fortune heiress, Carrie Walton Penner, is currently the CCSA Board Vice-Chair (term ending 6/30/2017). By most accounts Walton Penner is close to both profiteer "Ref" Rodriguez of the PUC Charter School Corporation, and the well-heeled Ana Ponce of the Camino Nuevo Charter School Corporation.
CNCA Corporation's 2012 Form 990, Part VII§A shows Ponce stuffing her pockets with a mind-boggling $230,811.00. Her ties to Rodriguez extend beyond their mutual profiteering, and California Charter Schools Association (CCSA) board memberships. Ponce did postgraduate work at Loyola Marymount University (LMU), and Rodriguez is an adjunct instructor there. Sadly LMU's education department faculty and administration is dominated by neoliberal privatizers, like Shane P. Martin, who actively work to destroy public education at the behest of their corporate sponsors. The one exception to LMU's complicity with the Broad/Gates/Walton Triumvirate is that of renowned Freirian scholar Professor Antonia Darder, who writes brilliant essays like Racism and the Charter School Movement: Unveiling the Myths. Darder's is the sole voice of reason in LMU's cacophony of corporate concerns.
Paying parents to advocate for the charter industry's political and financial aims, whether those payments are in kind, through required "volunteer" hours, or any other form of consideration is highly unethical, immoral, and likely illegal. In other words, it's just the sort of thing that Refugio "Ref" Rodriguez and his CCSA cabal would do.
If you live in LAUSD District 5, I implore you to demonstrate to charter profiteer Ref Rodriguez, his CNCA allies, and his deep-pocketed CCSA trade association that our communities value pupils over profits. Reelect the Honorable Bennett Kayser in the May 19, 2015 General Municipal Election!
Relay GSE Wants to Replace Legitimate Teacher Preparation and Professional Development with Digital Merit Badges
Without any protection from either of the teacher unions, corporate education reformers have remained free to bombard the teaching profession without fear of anti-aircraft fire from union leaders, who have cut deals with the oligarchs to make sure the union home offices are not damaged in the firestorms that result from the continued corporate bombing missions.
When combined with a recovering economy, the result has been an precipitous drop in teacher ed college enrollment, which has fed the corporate alternative preparations programs, from TFA, TNTP, and the infamous Relay Graduate School of Education--where teacher interns must raise test scores before their teaching degrees are granted. I have posted here and here on the Relay phenomenon.
There is a new money-making scheme that has been devised by the profiteers who back the Relay chain gang approach to teaching and the penal pedagogy that it entails. It is based on marketing a concept called micro-credentialing, and it aims to replace legitimate professional development with a series of online training info-bits that teachers can then claim toward their required hours of professional development. Instead of teachers taking college credit courses for ongoing professional development requirements, the hustlers at Relay are now in the business of developing modules based, no doubt, on the "no excuses" bible by Doug Lemov, Teach Like a
Relay's first big contract: Washington, DC schools.
Teachers in DCPS must complete 90 professional development “contact hours” every four years in order to renew their teaching license, and DCPS has final approval over what learning counts. The District is exploring innovative options for teacher professional development by piloting a new model, MyPD, which offers more personalized options for teachers to choose from (options that also align with the District’s Teaching and Learning standards). MyPD includes online opportunities such as virtual modules created by Relay Graduate School which are aligned to the the district’s teaching standards — and much like Mozilla’s badges, the strategies covered in Relay’s modules “stack” to convey competency in a larger skill.Never mind that there is no research to substantiate the use of any of this.
It does not matter what the Pearson and Microsoft Congressmen in Washington do or don't do with their states privatization version of ESEA. This testing orgy will end, public schools will be saved and renewed, and it will done by non-violent resistance and civil disobedience.
“From what I’m hearing from other superintendents, it could be at least 300,000 students across the state that opted out,” said William Cala, superintendent of Fairport Central School District near Rochester.Story here.
Monday, April 13, 2015
David Bradford ("Opt out of tests – kids will suffer," April 13) thinks that parents who opt their children out of the current tests are opposed to assessment. Wrong. They are opposed to excessive and inappropriate assessment.
Students in New York and across the country are now being tested more than any time in history, far more than is necessary and far more than is helpful. In addition, the tests have been made arbitrarily too difficult, resulting in high failure rates that do not reflect reality, and are inaccurate measures of students' abilities.
The opt out movement is a rational reaction to overtesting, and unresearched, unreasonable standards.
original article http://nypost.com/2015/04/12/opt-out-of-tests-kids-will-suffer/
Read the story here.
Sunday, April 12, 2015
Schools Matter – April 8, 2015