"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

If you're in Los Angeles this month, three education items to consider

These events and announcements are worthy of your consideration. Especially the event featuring Schools Matter's very own Dr. Stephen Krashen. I would love to attend all of these, but… law school.

Student Empowerment through Culture and Language
Tuesday, January 31 at 4 PM - 8 PM
3303 Wilshire Blvd Fl 10,
Los Angeles, California 90010
 Ethnic Studies, Dual and Mulitilingual Education. With the passage of Prop 58 the Multilingual Education Act and AB2016 Ethnic Studies we have a historic opportunity to advance issues and more. Join the UTLA Raza Ed. and Bilingual Education Commitee as we bring scholars, educators and community together for an engaging discussion. Best of all, this event is FREE!

Los Angeles student groups to protest racism and other right-wing hate

A busy week will be upon us. As most of you know, CEJ's campaign-turned-movement for the Schools LA Students Deserve has really grown in the last few years. Many of our chapters (we have 14 now!!) are called Students Deserve and our students, parents and teachers often call us Students Deserve now, although we are still Coalition for Educational Justice as well (CEJ). We have chapters as far west as Venice HS, as far east as Garfield HS, in Hollywood, Koreatown, Silver Lake, North Hollywood and South LA. We're seeing our dream of organizing across our huge city come to life!!
We wanted to share an exciting event  that our students have planned on their own with some support from our two new paid Students Deserve organizers, Maricela (full-time student and parent organizer) and Alfredo (part-time, supports the student organizing piece).
We're very excited to announce:
  • Weds, January 18th: Students United Against Hate, United for the Communities LA Students Deserve 
Event- MacArthur Park 4:30pm
 (PDF Flyer attached below) We want a safe space for students by students as we challenge Trump, his politics, his followers, the systems of oppression that have allowed him to exist, and the damage that he wants to do to us.

    There will be music, art, spoken word and a panel discussion. Our students are AWESOME. Please come to MacArthur Park on Wednesday after school if you are available!! We know that UTLA Chapter Chairs have Area Meetings that afternoon. 
We also will be involved on Thursday: January 19th: UTLA/ROS LA Morning Action. You probably know about the action taking place at schools. Students Deserve students want to support whatever this looks like at your campus to show that we won’t let Trump mess with schools and our communities.

Stay involved. Stay strong. Stay united. We will not be bullied by the incoming president and his right-wing cabinet nominees. WE WILL NOT BACK DOWN!
See you on Wednesday standing strong at MacArthur Park and Thursday standing strong at our schools!!

NPE Action endorses Alva and Petersen for the LAUSD Board of Education

Carl Petersen and Lisa Alva for LAUSD

The Network for Public Education Action is proud to endorse two candidates for the Los Angeles Board of Education District 2 primary election—Lisa Alva and Carl Petersen. 
Although it is very unusual for us to endorse two for the same position, both are well qualified and are committed to the ideals of NPE Action.
The third candidate in the race, the incumbent Monica Garcia, has clearly demonstrated by her record that she is not aligned with the pro-public education agenda of the Network for Public Education Action.
We therefore urge our supporters to vote for either Lisa or Carl.

Lisa Alva
Lisa has been a classroom teacher, school leader and a voice for teachers for 18 years. She told us that her first priority if elected “would be to redirect funding, resources and personnel to neighborhood public schools so that all children, especially at-risk youth, have enough variety in classes, and small enough classes, to benefit from a complete education that includes electives and vocational-technical training, from pre-K through Adult School. This means beginning and ending every conversation with the question, “How will this benefit students?”
She supports less standardized testing, and smaller class sizes. She also embraces charter school reform and transparency, and a return to democratically controlled schools.
According to Lisa, “Charter schools needlessly drain resources from neighborhood schools, weaken the teaching profession and leave more students behind than they serve.”
Carl Petersen
Carl is the father of five children, all of whom have attended public schools. Two of his daughters are on the autism spectrum so he is especially sensitive to the importance of funding for students with special needs.
Carl’s first priority is to stop Eli Broad’s Great Public Schools Now Initiative “to reach 50 percent charter market share.” According to Carl, “The LAUSD does not currently have the capacity, or the will, to oversee the 250 charters that already operate within the District. Doubling the number of these organizations will create opportunities for financial improprieties like those that have occurred at El Camino Real Charter High School, where public funds were used for expensive dinners, first class airfare and personal expenses. Charters are currently allowed to cherry pick students who are not English learners, do not have special education needs and do not have behavioral issues. The higher costs of serving these students are borne by the LAUSD schools that continue to serve these populations. Increasing the number of charters will shift these costs to an even lower base of students. The bankruptcy of the District is a likely result.”
Carl believes there should be less testing and he is opposed to the Common Core. He believes that there should be more accountability for the Los Angeles Board of Education.
The LAUSD school board election primary will take place on March 7.  We ask you to choose between these two fine candidates when you cast your vote. 
Thank you,
Carol Burris
Executive Director
You can share these endorsements using the following links:

Monday, January 16, 2017

Understanding KIPP Model Charter Schools: The Media and Research

Marketplace, which has a time slot on most public radio stations, had a piece last week on the replacement of a high-performing community public elementary school in Baltimore by a "no excuses" KIPP school. Most often these community wrecking ball school replacements are justified by low test scores within the targeted school, but the destruction of Langston Hughes Elementary School in Park Heights required other reasons.  Langston Hughes was a high performing community anchor, where parents knew their children would be taught by professional and caring teachers in small classes within a safe and supportive environment.

So the "under-utilized" excuse was used by the elite efficiency zealots who control public schools in Baltimore.  And even though the community had worked effectively to improve enrollment, the school choice had been made for the parents, children, and parents of Langston Hughes.  Their school would be shut down, regardless of their choice to stay open, and buses would be provided to ferry children to a KIPP school a mile away, where 26 children would be taught in a single classroom by a teacher schooled in corporate paternalism and most assuredly lacking in experience, cultural understanding, and empathy.  No Excuses.

This "school choice" story, where corporate interests push in with charter replacements and call it "choice," is never told in the media.  The sympathetic story cited above is the rare exception to the corporate charter cheerleading that has been the position of the New York Times and Washington Post for years.  See Part 17 below from Work Hard, Be Hard . . . .

The Media and KIPP Research
In 2008, Columbia University professor, Jeffrey Henig (2008) examined seven previous KIPP studies, and based on his analysis of previous finding, he offered the following recommendations:
·      Policy makers at all levels of government should pay attention to KIPP and consider it a possible source of information and guidance for their decisions.
·      Although KIPP may yield useful information, policymakers and others should temper their interest in the operation with wariness and realistic expectations. There are significant unanswered questions about how expansion might affect outcomes, especially in relation to the difficulty of sustaining gains dependent upon KIPP’s heavy demands on teachers and school leaders. Moreover, it is not realistic to think that the KIPP model is a panacea for distressed systems. It is possible that only a small proportion of students and families will be able to meet the demands KIPP imposes on them; even those enthused when they begin the KIPP regimen tend to leave in high numbers.
·      Policymakers, accordingly, should treat KIPP schools as potential tools that may contribute to—but not substitute for—systemic improvement.
·      Policymakers should be aware that KIPP has prompted some district interest in longer school days, weeks, and years. However, an extended schedule sometimes brings parental objections as well as potential taxpayer objections to the additional expense. With no strong evidence yet linking extended scheduling to KIPP success, policymakers might best encourage it as a school- level (rather than district-wide) option while concurrently promoting a combination of experimentation and careful analysis of consequences.
·      Researchers should help provide better data on patterns of movement in and between charter schools and traditional public schools, including information on why students leave and how their mobility affects student and school-level performance (p. 22).
The Great Lakes Center for Educational Research and Practice published Henig’s paper online on Monday, November 10, 2008.  Three days before the paper was published, however, Jay Mathews (2008) dedicated his education column at The Washington Post to preempting the Henig paper with his own interpretation, while taking the opportunity to promote the imminent publication of Mathews’ Work hard, be nice… (Mathews, 2009a). Mathews included this in his gloss of Henig’s recommendations:
He [Henig] says that ‘policymakers at all levels of government should pay attention to KIPP and consider it a possible source of information and guidance for their decisions’ but ‘should temper their interest in the operation with wariness and realistic expectations.’ He says policymakers ‘should treat KIPP schools as potential tools that may contribute to -- but not substitute for—systemic improvement.’
That makes sense to me and the KIPP officials I have been interviewing the past seven years… (Mathews, 2008, para 7-8).
Mathews does not mention in his column Henig’s other caveats and reservations, and no other news outlets, including The Washington Post, carried news stories on the publication of Henig’s research.
The situation was quite different, however, when Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. published the final piece of a study commissioned by KIPP and paid for by The Atlantic Philanthropies in 2008 at a cost of almost $4 million.  Not only did Jay Mathews (2013) devote a lengthy post to a piece, “Biggest study ever says KIPP gains substantial,” but The Washington Post’s Editorial Board (The Washington Post, 2013) went on the record a few days later to announce “KIPP doubters proven wrong:”
Officials of KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) have become accustomed to the doubters who think the success of the fast-growing charter-school network is too good to be true . . . . A study conducted by the independent firm Mathematica Policy Research, which analyzed data from 43 KIPP middle schools, found that students in these charter schools showed significantly greater learning gains in math, reading, science and social studies than did their peers in traditional public schools. The cumulative effects three to four years after entering KIPP translated, researchers found, into middle-schoolers gaining 11 months of additional learning growth in math and social studies, eight months in reading and 14 months in science. . . .Debunking claims that KIPP’s success is rooted in “creaming” the best students, researchers found that students entering KIPP schools are very similar to other students in their neighborhoods: low-achieving, low-income and nonwhite (para 2, 3).
Indeed, both KIPP (study included 43 of KIPP’s 125 schools) and the neighborhood students in this study are similar in terms of family income, achievement levels, and ethnicity.  In their eagerness to make a case for supporting KIPP, however, the Editorial Board remains mum about differences acknowledged by the Mathematica study (Tuttle, et al, 2013) that influence test outcomes.  For instance, the Mathematica researchers note a characteristic differences that is common in examining charter school and public school demographics: the 43 KIPP schools enrolled significantly fewer male students (52% compared to 49%), fewer limited English proficiency (15% compared to 10%) and fewer special education students (13% compared to 9% (p. xiv).
Conducted over five years, an earlier part of the Mathematica study was presented at annual conference of the American Education Research Association (AERA) in New Orleans in 2011.  There, researchers presented findings related to attrition rates that were not included in the final summary findings.  Researchers (Nichols-Barrer, Gill, Gleason, & Tuttle, 2012) found that when attrition rates were compared between middle school KIPPsters and public middle school students from the same feeder elementary schools (rather than comparing to the entire district), KIPP’s attrition rates were significantly higher than comparison schools for 5th grade (16% compared to 11%), not significantly different for 6th grade, and significantly lower at KIPP than comparison schools for 7th grade (9% compared to 13%). 
Researchers found, too, that while KIPP maintained stable populations in grades 7 and 8, the public comparison schools were receiving large numbers of new students in grades 7 and 8.  The chart below (see Figure 17.1) was part of the 2011 AERA presentation and was not included in Mathematica’s final report. 
In effect, KIPP schools replace, or “backfill,” fewer students in grades 6, 7, and 8 than the surrounding public schools, and the late arrivals that KIPP schools generally have scores that are above the mean for the district (Nichols-Barrer, Gill, Gleason, & Tuttle, 2012), whereas the late arrivals at the public schools have scores below the mean:
KIPP schools differ from district comparison group middle schools in how late arrivals compare with on-time enrollees. Students who enroll late at KIPP tend to be higher achieving than those who enroll on time, as measured by their grade 4 test scores, whereas the reverse is true at district comparison group schools (see Table III.2). At KIPP schools, on average, late arrivals scored 0.16 and 0.15 standard deviations above the mean for the local district in math and reading, respectively, at baseline (or the 56th percentile). . . . Conversely, late arrivals at district schools had significantly lower average baseline test scores than on-time enrollees. In district comparison schools, late arrivals scored 0.29 standard deviations below the mean in both subjects (or the 39th percentile); on-time entrants scored 0.03 and 0.01 above the mean in math and reading, respectively (the 51st and the 50th percentile). All of these differences are statistically significant (p. 15).
In short, late arrivals at KIPP are significantly stronger academically than the average district students who arrive late, while the larger influx of late arrivals to public comparison schools in grades 7 and 8 are significantly weaker than the district mean.  The same paper reported that KIPP’s late arrivals were significantly less likely to be black males or in special education, and they were more likely to make the KIPP schools less disadvantaged over time.  The opposite was found to be the case for the late arrivals at district comparison group schools.  All of these important facts escaped the attention of the Washington Post’s Editorial Board and its principal education writer, Jay Mathews.
While the Mathematica study (Tuttle, Gill, Gleason, Knechtel, Nichols-Barrer, & Resch, 2013) found significant test score increases among KIPP students (pp. 31-40), questions remain as to how much better KIPP school test scores would be without the known advantages like 50-60 percent more time in school, test preparation focus, fewer and higher-achieving replacement students, fewer black male students, higher attrition among low performers and problem students, fewer special education and ELL students, and large funding advantages from both public and private sources. 
To its credit, The New York Times (Dillon, 2011, March 31) reported in 2011 that Western Michigan University researchers found
. . . the KIPP network received $12,731 in taxpayer money per student, compared with $11,960 at the average traditional public school and $9,579, on average, at charter schools nationwide.
In addition, KIPP generated $5,760 per student from private donors, the study said, based on a review of KIPP’s nonprofit filings with the Internal Revenue Service (para 8-9).
Another study (Baker, Libby, & Wiley, 2012) also found large budgeting advantages at KIPP, as well as at two other KIPP-inspired charter chains, Achievement First and Uncommon Schools:
We find that in New York City, KIPP, Achievement First and Uncommon Schools charter schools spend substantially more ($2,000 to $4,300 per pupil) than similar district schools. Given that the average spending per pupil was around $12,000 to $14,000 citywide, a nearly $4,000 difference in spending amounts to an increase of some 30%. In Ohio, charters across the board spend less than district schools in the same city. And in Texas, some charter chains such as KIPP spend substantially more per pupil than district schools in the same city and serving similar populations, around 30 to 50% more in some cities (and at the middle school level) based on state reported current expenditures, and 50 to 100% more based on IRS filings. Even in New York where we have the highest degree of confidence in the match between our IRS data and Annual Financial Report Data, we remain unconvinced that we are accounting fully for all charter school expenditures (pp. i-ii). 
Mathematica researchers acknowledged, too, the potential positive influence on KIPP scores that results from built-in parental self-selection bias, even though Mathematica (Nichols-Barrar, Gill, Gleason, & Tuttle, 2014) was not asked to investigate this important aspect:
A potentially important limitation of this study is that there could still be unmeasured differences between the students attracted to KIPP and those enrolling in other schools. We analyze the peer environment at KIPP as measured by demographic characteristics and prior achievement, but we do not have direct measures of parent characteristics, prior motivation, or student behavior (para 31).
         Finally, the enthused Editorial Board of The Washington Post did not mention the following significant findings from the Mathematica study (Tuttle, Gill, Gleason, Knechtel, Nichols-Barrer, & Resch, 2013) that raise serious questions related to KIPP’s inability to increase student “good behaviors,” as well as KIPP’s negative effects on the behavior of children in KIPP’s total compliance environments where “grit” and zest are valued over honesty and compassion:
KIPP has no statistically significant effect on several measures of student behavior, including self-reported illegal activities, an index of good behavior, and parent reports of behavior problems. However, KIPP has a negative estimated effect on a student-reported measure of undesirable behavior, with KIPP students more likely to report behaviors such as losing their temper, arguing or lying to their parents, or having conflicts with their teachers (p. 68).
Alter, J.  (2008, July 11).  Jonathan Alter on Obama and education.  Newsweek.  Retrieved from
Baker, B. D., Libby, K., & Wiley, K. (2012). Spending by the major charter management organizations: Comparing charter school and local public district financial resources in New York, Ohio, and Texas. Boulder, CO: National Education Policy Center. Retrieved from http://nepc.colorado.edu/publication/spending-major-charter 
Desilver, D.  (2013, December 19).  Global inequality: How the U.S. compares. Pew Research Center.  Retrieved from http://www.Pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/12/19/global-inequality-how-the-u-s-compares/
Dillon, S.  (2011, March 31).  Study says charter network has financial advantages over public schools.  The New York Times.  Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/31/education/31kipp.html?_r=1&
Goodnough, A.  (1999, October 20).  Structure and basics bring South Bronx school acclaim.  The New York Times.  Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/1999/10/20/nyregion/structure-and-basics-bring-south-bronx-school-acclaim.html
Grann, D.  (1999, October 4).  Back to basics in the Bronx.  The New Republic.  Retrieved from https://www.cs.unm.edu/~sto/maunders/educate/grann.html
Grannan, C.  (2008, July 13).  Newsweek recommends that Obama do a little teacher-bashing to win fans. Examiner.com.  Retrieved from http://www.examiner.com/article/newsweek-recommends-that-obama-do-a-little-teacher-bashing-to-win-fans
Henig, J.  (2008).  What do we know about the outcomes of KIPP schools?  The Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.  East Lansing, MI: The Great Lakes Center for Education Research & Practice.  Retrieved from http://greatlakescenter.org/docs/Policy_Briefs/Henig_Kipp.pdf
KIPP Foundation.  (2014).  The promise of college completion: KIPP’s early successes and challenges—Spring 2014 alumni data update.  Retrieved from http://www.kipp.org/files/dmfile/2013AlumniUpdateonCollegeCompletion.pdf
Klein, J.  (2014).  Lessons of hope: How to fix our schools.  New York: Harper.
Mathews, J.  (2013, February 27).  Biggest study ever shows KIPP gains substantial.  The Washington Post. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/class-struggle/post/biggest-study-ever-says-kipp-gains-substantial/2013/02/26/ff149efa-7d50-11e2-9a75-dab0201670da_blog.html
Mathews, J.  (2009a).  Work hard, be nice: How two inspired teachers created the most promising schools in America.  New York: Algonquin Books.
Mathews, J.  (2009b).  Turmoil at two KIPP schools.  [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://voices.washingtonpost.com/class-struggle/2009/03/turmoil_at_two_kipp_schools.html?wprss=rss_blog
Mathews, J.  (2008, November 7).  The most promising schools in America.  The Washington Post.  Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/07/AR2008110700861.html
Monahan, R.  (2014, November 11).  Charter schools try to retain teachers with mom-friendly policies.  The Atlantic.  Retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/11/charter-schools-now-try-to-keep-teachers-with-mom-friendly-policies/382602/
Nichols-Barrer, I., Gill, B., Gleason, P, & Tuttle, C.  (2014).  Does student attrition explain KIPP’s success?  Education Next, 14 (4).  Retrieved from http://educationnext.org/student-attrition-explain-kipps-success/
PBS News Hour.  (2015, January 8).  Can teaching kids to resist the marshmallow help pave the way to success?  [Transcript]. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/can-teaching-kids-resist-marshmallow-pave-road-success/
Rotherham, A.  (2011, April 27).  KIPP schools: A reform triumph, or disappointment? Time.  Retrieved from http://content.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2067941,00.html
Smith, H.  (2005a).  Making schools work.  [Transcript].  Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/makingschoolswork/atp/transcript.html
Tuttle, C., Gill, B., Gleason, P., Knechtel, V., Nichols-Barrer, I., & Resch, A.  (2013).  KIPP middle schools: Impacts on achievement and other outcomes.  Washington, DC: Mathematica Policy Research.  Retrieved from http://www.kipp.org/files/dmfile/KIPP_Middle_Schools_Impact_on_Achievement_and_Other_Outcomes1.pdf
Somerby, B.  (1999, September 24.)  Our current howler: Critique the children well.  [Blog post].  Retrieved from http://www.dailyhowler.com/h092499_1.shtml
Tuttle, C., Gill, B., Gleason, P., Knechtel, V., Nichols-Barrer, I., & Resch, A.  (2013).  KIPP middle schools: Impacts on achievement and other outcomes.  Washington, DC: Mathematica Policy Research.  Retrieved from http://www.kipp.org/files/dmfile/KIPP_Middle_Schools_Impact_on_Achievement_and_Other_Outcomes1.pdf
The Washington Post.  (2013, March 1).  KIPP doubters proven wrong.  The Washington Post.  Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/kipp-doubters-proved-wrong-in-new-study/2013/03/01/f003b95c-81ef-11e2-a350-49866afab584_story.html
Wilgoren, J.  (2000, August 2).  The Republicans: The issues; for 2000, the G.O.P. sees education in a new light.  The New York Times.  Retrieved from https://www.cs.unm.edu/~sto/maunders/educate/grann.html
Woodworth, K. R., David, J. L., Guha, R., Wang, H., & Lopez-Torkos, A. (2008).  San Francisco Bay Area KIPP schools: A study of early implementation and achievement. Final report. Menlo Park, CA: SRI International.

Big Data and Small Junkies

If you are a reluctant teacher or parent now being inundated with reasons you should embrace more computer screen time for school kids, there are good reasons for your skepticism.  Here's one:
Most people are shocked to hear that a video game can actually be more potent than morphine. While this is a phenomenal advance in pain management medicine and for use with burn victims, it begs the question: Just what effect is this digital drug—a digital drug that’s more powerful than morphine—having on the brains and nervous systems of seven-year-olds who are ingesting very similar digital drugs on their glowing screens?  And, if stimulating screens are indeed more powerful than morphine, can they be just as addicting?

As I discuss in my book, Glow Kids, screen tech can affect the brain just like a digital drug: Gaming raises dopamine levels by 100 percent and activates the H-P-A (the Hypothalmus-Pituatary-Adrenal Axis, otherwise known as the "fight or flight" response). Shockingly, recent brain imaging has shown that excessive gaming negatively impacts the frontal cortex—the executive functioning region of the brain which also controls impulsivity—in exactly the same way that cocaine does. This is why Peter Whybrow, head of neuroscience at the University of California, Los Angeles, calls screens "electronic cocaine" and other researchers call video games "digital heroin."

Many of us who research tech addiction and work with screen-addicted kids understand that screens can be addicting. We didn't know that they are so powerful that they can be used as digital morphine. Do you want your child digitally ingesting something that has such a powerful neurobiological effect?

Sunday, January 15, 2017

The People that Games Play

If you know anyone who takes the Facebook game seriously, please share this with them so they can see how "social" media works.  Or if you have ever been ostracized, lost "friends" or "followers" based on sharing a minority viewpoint or saying something you knew was true but unpopular, you might find this report interesting.  

Or if you think this dystopian system laid bare here is somewhere in the foggy future or in another part of the world where bad things happen, think again.  

And if you are allowing your children to be hooked up to screens at school where their intellectual, behavioral, and moral data are being collected, then you really need to see this.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Corporate Education Reform Poster State

Since Lamar Alexander served as Governor in the 1980s, Tennessee has been at the forefront of corporate education reform.  Tennessee was in the first wave of states to initiate mandatory student competency on standardized tests in order to get a diploma, and it was one of the first to ram down a career ladder program that ended up disproportionately rewarding teachers who worked in the whitest and leafiest suburbs.

Alexander's focus on shiny new things in education earned him the title of Education Governor, while allowing the state to shrink the proportion of funding going to education.  More state money was available, then, to build an economy based on the hospital and prison industries, along with foreign investment in bringing auto manufacturing to Tennessee. 

Alexander's gubernatorial replacement, Ned Ray McWherter, wanted to take on the mantle, too, of Education Governor, if he could find a cheap way to do it. Enter the tobacco-chewing agriculture statistician from UT Knoxville named Bill Sanders, who had been trying for years to sell a statistical formulae for measuring the effects of various treatments on the subsequent growth of ag products, from soybeans to cattle. It was called value-added modeling (VAM), and Sanders promised that he could accurately and cheaply measure growth in academic achievement, while sorting out the bad farmers teachers whose crops of students remained stunted.

Sanders offered the perfect education solution by not requiring major investments in teacher pay, facilities, resources, curriculum, or teacher preparation.  The state could continue to squeeze the education budget as it continued to avoid any talk of a state income tax, even as it expanded the prison industry, the hospital industry, and foreign industries looking for sweet deals to lure companies to Tennessee.

VAM became law in 1992, with Sanders' proprietary algorithm written into state statute.

The details to this sordid case of ed reform run amok can be found in The Mismeasure of Education.  The story line in Part II details the contours and dimensions of the education funding shortfalls, and it details the State's commitment to low and entirely regressive taxes.  It also traces the State's desperate attraction to and dependence on federal grants, or any grants, to fill that great education funding chasm.

The State's efforts to find outside sources to fund public education reached a zenith in 2010, when TN was one of the first two states to win a Race to the Top grant, worth $501,000,000.  Another $90 million came to Memphis from the Gates Foundation, money that was used to blow up the Memphis Public Schools and to build a hothouse for growing corporate welfare charter schools.

With the RTTT grants that have since dried up, the State set about to create a charter school incubator (Achievement School District (ASD), now funded by the State, that will hatch a steady supply of cuckoo corporate charters that taxpayers will have to feed for as long as these interlopers continue to feed from and foul the public education nest.  

The ASD began 6 years ago with the big lie that, by pure force of will and hard fists, the charter zealots would, in a five period, “ catapult the bottom 5% of schools in Tennessee straight to the top 25% in the state.”  

Now that the pipe dream has been exposed for what it is, the ASD has shifted its sights to a goal that no one can accurately assess, since no one knows what it means: "By 2025, we will close the opportunity gaps long persistent in Tennessee’s public education."  Do they plan for every poor kid to be in a zero tolerance unregulated "no excuses" corporate charter school with uncertified teachers?

And what of the grand scheme that began in 1992 to make Tennessee schools world class with the help of a magic statistical formula?  Well, the formula is still part of a state statute, and its owner, Bill Sanders, has retired to a handsome farm estate a few miles south of Nashville.  SAS in Cary, NC is now in charge of selling the magic formula to other cities and states.  Business is off.

As for Lamar Alexander, Tennessee's education pioneer and political profiteer.  He's doing fine.  In fact, as co-chair of the Senate education committee, Lamar is set to smooth the way for the confirmation of a billionaire who hates public education to become the next, and likely last, Secretary of Education.   I can't get a call through to his office, for some reason.

What about the schools in Tennessee, you ask.  This headline and chart are from Ed Week, which offers the latest Quality Counts report:

Tennessee Earns a C-Minus on State Report Card, Ranks 36th in Nation

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Monica Crowley, Serial Plagiarizer

Conservative talking head, Monica Crowley, has been outed for multiple acts of deliberate plagiarism that go back to her doctoral dissertation and forward to her 2012 book (page not found at Amazon), which includes at least 50 separate examples of stolen material.  Her book has pulled from the shelves by Harper-Collins.

If Monica Crowley were an applicant for anyone else, she would be dropped like a hot potato.  For the Trumpists, however, stealing others' work appears to earn her a badge of respect and guaranteed immunity from criticism by Trumpists.

Columbia University might not be so forgiving, however.  She could lose her PhD for the serial plagiarizing of her dissertation.
In a report Monday, Politico Magazine said it identified "more than a dozen sections of text that have been lifted, with little to no changes, from other scholarly works without proper attribution" in Crowley's 2000 dissertation, Clearer Than Truth: Determining and Preserving Grand Strategy: The Evolution of American Policy Toward the People’s Republic of China Under Truman and Nixon, for her Ph.D in international relations at New York’s Columbia University.

According to Politico, "in some instances, Crowley footnoted her source but did not identify with quotation marks the text she was copying directly. In other instances, she copied text or heavily paraphrased with no attribution at all."

Such acts appear to violate Columbia's policies against both "Unintentional Plagiarism" and "Intentional Plagiarism," Politico reports. The university has revoked a Ph.D. for plagiarism on at least one occasion.

Lamar Alexander Assures Diane Supporters about DeVos

When Diane Ravitch wanted her flock to be herded into supporting the federal charter school expansion legislation known as ESSA, she called upon Lamar Alexander's office to offer a nine-part spin session (see below) designed to mislead, obfuscate, and soothe any remaining skeptics. After all, Diane's support prior to ESSA passage was seminal in neutralizing early resistance to the new blueprint for Ed Reform 2.0.  The least that Alexander could do, as the Bill's co-sponsor, was to offer up his propaganda chief to help baffle any remaining ESSA doubters with tons of regulatory bullshit.

Though Diane's most recent ESSA campaign of political treachery essentially signaled the end of the Fall and Rise of the Reign of Ravitch, she continues to try to distinguish her own policy agenda from the neoliberal ed policies that her actions consistently support, even as she disavows them.  The most recent example can be found in her incessant lambasting of Billionaire Betsy as the educational anti-christ, when, in fact, Betsy DeVos serves as the perfect foil for Ravitch's long-time allowances for corporate welfare non-profit charter schools in her education ecosystem. 

The biggest differences between Betsy and Diane is that Betsy likes any kind of privatization and is proud of it, while Diane has a selective criteria for draining public education funds with segregated charters, and she doesn't like to talk it--at all.  Ravitch would rather pretend, in fact, that she is leading the opposition, even if it directly down the rabbit hole.

Maybe, just maybe, Alexander's office can put to rest any skepticism that remains about Billionaire Betsy.  The temporary delay in her confirmation has not at all altered Alexander's enthusiasm for her eventual rise to power.  His office enthuses:
“Betsy DeVos is an outstanding nominee who has complied with all of the committee’s requirements and no one doubts that she will be confirmed as Education Secretary,” an aide to Alexander said. “This hearing delay is simply to accommodate the Senate schedule.”
Let's see now--how does that old saying go: a friend of my friend is my, what is it, now?

Who is Cambridge Education?

January 10, 2017

On September 15, 2016, the Philadelphia School Reform Commission approved a $200,000 contract with Cambridge Education for investigation of the cash-strapped Philadelphia School District that stated:
RESOLVED, that the School Reform Commission authorizes the School District of Philadelphia, through its Superintendent or his designee, to execute, deliver and perform a contract with Cambridge Education, to develop, manage, and execute a comprehensive School Quality Review process, to gather data and develop qualitative reports on school quality and to engage the school community and gather community input, for an amount not to exceed $200,000, for the period commencing September 16, 2016 through June 30, 2017. 

The description the SRC provided of the Resolution said:

The information gathered during the School Quality  Review process will be used to inform recommendations on appropriate measures to be taken to promote sustained school improvement through the System of Great Schools process. The vendor's purpose in the School Quality Review Process will be to provide additional on-the ground data to inform decision-making. All final recommendations on the investments and interventions to be made in schools will be made by the District.

See SRC Resolution A-3 for the full description of this resolution.

Since the September 15th, 2016 meeting, the SRC has held hearings at its eleven Priority Schools. They were deemed low performing based on test scores. All are in low-income communities. No consideration of the economic status of the student population or lack of resources for the schools due to underfunding was considered.

The SRC will look at five options for these eleven public schools:
  Entering the school into the District’s Turnaround Network
• Merging the school with a nearby high-quality school
     Engaging a contract partner
• Initiating an evidence-based plan for academic improvement
• Restarting the school

Overseeing the SRC’s Priority Schools meetings is Chris Finn of Cambridge Education. The leadership page of Cambridge Education shows they are all about business, and have no background in education. Joining Cambridge in the Philadelphia Priority Schools hearings is Educators 4 Exellence, a corporate education reform group funded by the Gates Foundation.

According to its website, Cambridge has 350 consultants:
We work with academies, schools and colleges to develop appropriate strategies to bring about sustainable and embedded practice, improving life opportunities for future generations. We recognise all educational institutions have unique needs and we collaborate with you to develop tailored approaches to some of today’s urgent questions.

A central part of their school reviews is “educator accountability” which includes a great deal of “delivering, supporting, and monitoring the implementation of improvement strategies across classrooms, schools, and districts.” Of its long-range strategy, Cambridge Education says:

As education systems grow in independence and sophistication, we can help to track and manage them. Wherever you are, we are your local company – but with global backing.

Cambridge Education’s recent activities in the U.S. are listed on its parent company Mott MacDonald website.

Our education experts at Cambridge Education worked with Springfield Public Schools to provide 130 administrators and district staff with training to meet the new Massachusetts Educator Evaluator Rubric and supporting the design and implementation of a curriculum alignment plan. The District is now able to provide more targeted professional development customised to requirements of individuals.

For Hillsborough County Public Schools we helped implement the Empowering Effective Teachers initiative, requiring that teachers are observed by administrators, peer evaluators and mentors. In 2013, we collected and analysed over 2,500 lesson observation scores with the resulting analysis being used by the county to help inform its decision making.

Through a partnership with Dr Ronald Ferguson of Harvard University, Cambridge Education delivered The Tripod Project®, a system for US educator evaluation using staff and student surveys. These surveys have been an integral part of the Gates-funded Measures of Effective Teaching project, which is improving results in English and Mathematics.

Cambridge Education is based in England with international offices including a subsidiary in the US. Click on the map points to see its offices internationally and in the U.S. Cambridge Education’s goals in the U.S. are described on its parent company Mott MacDonald’s website. The description follows the usual privatization stealth method of corporate education reformers of speaking in vague generalities, but never being specific information about the privatization objective for public schools.

The British website British Expertise says:
Cambridge Education has been in existence for more than 30 years, and was originally a joint venture between Sir M MacDonald and the University of Cambridge. We still maintain close links with the University, but are now part of the Health and Education arm of Mott MacDonald, a major, international multi-disciplinary consultancy company with more than 12,000 employees worldwide. Cambridge Education itself has over 160 staff members at its HQ in Cambridge and 220 worldwide, of which about a third are educational professionals.

The Mott MacDonald Group Executive Board

A current report of Mott MacDonald says it employs over 16,000 people in 150 countries. Education, with its subsidiary Cambridge Education, is only one sector of its portfolio. Others include aerospace, bridges, buildings communications, environment, health, industry, international development, city development, oil and gas, power, railways, transportation, water.

The Our Hertage page of Mott MacDonald Group highlights some of the companies developed by MMG.

Mott MacDonald Group’s current projects in North America says they are expecting “unprecedented growth in North America.”
The article “Transforming teacher education and learning” shows that they are aiming to become an international leader in digital learning. They are using their Raspberry Pi system and tablets to “demonstrate the value of technological resources and digital learning in teacher education, helping colleges see the value of embedding these practices into their teaching curriculum.”

Members of the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools attended many of the Cambridge Education focus group meetings for the Priority Schools. In their APPS Review of Cambridge Education Reports on Priority Schools they concluded:

After attending several focus group meetings at six of the eleven schools designated by the Hite administration as Priority Schools, after reviewing Cambridge Education’s contract with the district, and after closely reviewing the Cambridge final reports on the eleven schools, there is no other conclusion for us to come to: the Cambridge reports cannot be considered reliable on any level, including anecdotally.