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

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Lies of Eli Broad (rhymes with toad)

The oligarchs that Obama now allows to direct national education policy continue to place their handpicked goons as titular heads of the major urban school systems. The latest example is Detroit, where Robert Bobb, a stock hustler, er, investment consultant, has been named as "emergency financial manager." Two days ago, leading vulture philanthropist, Eli Broad, forked over $450,000 "to support Bobb's efforts." The announcement came in an op-ed in the Detroit Free Press, where Broad repeated the standard lies that are used to make case for dictatorial governance and thorough charterization of urban systems.
Detroit now has the opportunity to join the ranks of New Orleans and other city school systems nationwide -- from Boston to Chicago to New York City to Washington, D.C. -- that have successfully turned around after producing abysmal student outcomes.

In every one of these cities, real changes for students happened only after mayors or governors took over and put in place strong leaders who had a serious desire to rebuild.

In every one of these cities, new leaders took advantage of best practices that are proven to work for students nationwide, including challenging academic standards, longer school days, and public charter schools -- practices for which President Barack Obama has expressed his strong support. And in every one of these cities, leaders based every decision on student interests, rather than adult politics.
In a sweet irony, today the Free Press reports that Michigan's system of assessing how charters are doing in comparison to public schools has an basic flaw that simply helps to promulgate the basic lie of the charter industry:
The state's official method compares all 232 charter schools to 20 "urban host districts" in whose boundaries sit 75% of the state's charter schools. Most are larger districts -- including Detroit and Grand Rapids -- that generally have lower test scores.

Some experts say the state's method skews the comparison in favor of charter schools by comparing charters in more affluent areas to those urban districts. When the charter schools are compared with the districts in which each actually sits, about three out of five fall short on the MEAP.

"The findings are misleading and misrepresent the evidence in the report," Gary Miron, a professor of education at Western Michigan University wrote to the state Board of Education.

On the MEAP math test, for example, a Free Press analysis found 20% of charter schools did better under the current MDE formula but scored worse when compared with their local districts.

Concord Academy in Antrim, east of Grand Traverse Bay, illustrates the gap. It beat the 20-district average for math MEAP scores on which the MDE based its report. But it did worse than Alba Public Schools, the district in whose boundaries the school sits.


  1. But the pro-charter goons won't listen to any of this and will argue their side to the end. They're very, very tenacious.

    One, for example, is someone named Stuart Buck (who I, through the marvels of the internet, discovered to be a Harvard Law school-educated research associate for the Walton family's pet project at the University of Arkansas, the Department of Education Reform, but who denies being paid for the time he spends arguing with anti-charter folks like Caroline Grannan and myself) who constantly posts pro-charter/pro-school choice spin at http://education.change.org/.

  2. Anonymous11:50 AM

    Nearly every day I come to this site, and I am often filled with shock & awe
    at the continuing brazen advance
    of the Corporate Privatizers and their nation-wide deceptions.

    What happened to "teachers as activists"?

    What happened to student defiance
    against the system?

    Too many teachers at my urban school are refugees from business jobs that failed, and have a very narrow and shallow view of what education and learning actually is.

    Nice folks, but TOOLS.
    Like so many students, they have become adept at shopping, and "going along".

    If I were to apply a football score to the Privatization situation, I would say right now it's about 35-0,
    with the Privatizers in the lead.

    Plus, the Privatizers get to control placement of the goalposts.
    The Privatizers also OWN THE REFS.

    It doesn't look very good for team "Public Education" right now.

    Where is Public Education's Johnny Unitas, or Joe Montana, who will lead us to improbable victory against totally rigged/stacked odds?

    It doesn't look like Obama will be that person.

    Who WILL?

    Isn't there ANYONE wealthy, famous or powerful willing to be an open, public champion of our community Public Schools?

    I can't even get other teachers at my school to come and read this site. Complacency and
    helplessness rules at my school, and most others, I fear.

    Are we doomed?


  3. So, this guy's name is Bob Bobb. Or is it Bobby Bobb? That's funny. But I digress.

    Schools have become big business. It's only going to get bigger and put more money into corporations that create "tests" which in turn, will line the pockets of the well-connected who get "educational testing" contracts. Add the massive amount of money going for school construction projects (along with kick-backs, etc) and schools have become gold mines.

    We are on a slippery slope and they're pouring soap on it.

  4. Anonymous12:31 PM

    Buck em!!