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

Monday, November 10, 2008

Corporate Corruption Comes to Pre-School in (Where Else) Texas

In 2003 Susan Landry was appointed by Governor Rick (the-Market-Solution) Perry to head up a statewide effort called TEEM (Texas Early Education Model). Besides the more obvious goal of privatizing Headstart, TEEM aims to bring the same rigid chain gang instructional methods and materials to Texas preschools for the poor that have become standard fare in the elementary testing camps that house older children of the poor across Texas. That's right--scripted pre-school, cognitive decapitation, and testing for our tiniest brown and poor children.

And for Landry's efforts to control the behaviors and learning potential of 52,000 little ones far into the future, she is paid $269,535 per year (more than twice the Governor's salary). Landry and her staff have also soaked up at least another $500,000 in royalties from outfits like Sopris West and SRA/McGraw-Hill, who supply the "learning" materials for Landry's outfit. Here's a clip from a nice piece of reporting from the Houston Chronicle on the latest edu-industrial waste site to be exposed:
AUSTIN — An experiment to better prepare low-income youngsters for school has cost taxpayers more than three times the typical pre-K curriculum and raised questions about payments to educators who commercialized the program.

Staff members at the State Center for Early Childhood Development have received about $500,000 in royalties from vendors and book publishers whose products are used in classrooms participating in the Texas Early Education Model, or TEEM.

Critics fear that the $80 million program is little more than an effort to market research and products through a variety of commercial vendors.

"This preschool scheme is not about preparing these little ones to be ready for school," said Jay Spuck, a retired Houston-area school administrator and former teacher. "It is about advancing a political agenda of implanting corporate interests into nursery schools."

But the staffers say they only receive royalties from pre-K products sold outside the TEEM program.

The Texas Early Education Model evolved from a 2003 state law to improve pre-kindergarten coordination among public schools, Head Start programs and child-care centers.

The approach, which champions training teachers and early literacy instruction, was developed and studied as part of a highly competitive federal grant program conducted by the Institute of Education Sciences, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and The National Science Foundation, founders say.

"I really expect these kids to show effects of this program long term," said Susan Landry, director of the State Center. "It is probably not an inoculation against everything bad in education, but it gives them a fair shot. They get to start on the same footing. These kids are writing their names, they are writing letters, and they are so proud of it." . . . .
So far the results have been, shall we say, pathetic. This is from an independent evaluation submitted to the Texas Education Agency in 2007:
There was considerable variation both between and within communities with regards to student performance and teacher outcomes. For about half of the communities, students in the treatment groups improved more than students in the control groups, and for the other half of the communities students in the control groups improved more than the students in the treatment groups on the student outcome measures (e.g., mCLASS subtests). TEEM did lead to overall improvement for teachers, although there was considerable variation, with teachers in both control and treatment groups obtaining both positive and negative difference scores on the
teacher outcome measure (i.e., Teacher Behavior Rating Scale.)(p. 2).
Which brings us to the whole issue of testing children as young as 3 years old an ongoing experiment: Unethical, immmoral, and abusive, all at public expense. And even though Roland Good's name is not on it, TEEM uses the same 60-second testing methods and PDA technology that Good manufactured for his DIBELS empire.

Here is a small chunk of a lengthy report by Landry's own staff (An Experimental Study Evaluating a State Funded Pre-Kindergarten Program: Bringing Together Subsidized Childcare, Public School, and Head Start) that details some of the regimented training to prepare teachers for their regimented teaching. And remember: No middle class children allowed:
Child assessment. Assessors were trained during a four-day workshop by a Ph.D. level trainer that included didactic training and practice after which assessors participated in a graded certification process. Standardized certification procedures evaluated general administration procedures including following verbal and behavioral scripts detailed in administration manuals, administering practice items, establishing basal and ceiling items, recording children’s responses, and managing children’s behavior. Following obtainment of full certification, assessors were evaluated again during the initial stages of testing while they worked with children enrolled in the project. Specifically, project coordinators sat next to an examiner and observed administration of each subtest. If any difficulties were noted, then follow-up training/supervision was provided (p. 18).

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