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

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ravitch is right. Gates is wrong.

Ravitch is right, Gates is wrong. My comment on "Ravitch answers Gates," The Answer Sheet: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/answer-sheet/diane-ravitch/ravitch-answers-gates.html

Ravitch is right, Gates is wrong. And those who think American education is broken are wrong, and so are those who think that Ravitch et al (I think I'm the et in et al) do not believe in helping children develop basic skills.

  1. Poverty is the issue. Students from middle-class homes who attend well-funded schools score near the top on international tests. Our mediocre average scores are because we have such a high percentage of children living in poverty compared to other industrialized countries. This shows that poverty is indeed the factor. (Yes, I am aware of our "low" math scores in a recent analysis. We were beaten by two clear outliers, Korea and Taiwan) and countries with small populations, including Lichtenstein, Iceland, Switzerland and the Netherlands. We were also beaten by Hong Kong, not a country. And those high scorers did not do nearly as well on tests of science and reading.
  2. Basic skills: the approaches we endorse consistently produce excellent results in the basic skills, better than skill-based approaches. I will be happy to post sources, references, citations from the professional literature.
  3. The answer is, as Ravitch says, dealing with poverty, i.e. protecting all children from the effects of poverty. This means nutrition (I was happy to see Arne Duncan giving strong support to this recently), better health care (e.g. more school nurses) and far more access to books – classroom libraries, school libraries, and public libraries in areas of high poverty. Wide reading is the major source of the vocabulary and knowledge that children of poverty often lack, and current studies strongly suggest that providing a source of books can make up for the negative effect of poverty on reading proficiency.

Geoffrey Canada, in his autobiography Fist, Stick, Gun, Knife, informs us that outside of school voluntary reading contributed substantially to his school success: "I loved reading, and my mother, who read voraciously too, allowed me to have her novels after she finished them. My strong reading background allowed me to have an easier time of it in most of my classes."

More on the "STEM shortage"

A story in the Chronicle of Higher Education reported that the percentage of foreign students studying for PhD's in science and engineering in the US is down.

Of great interest is this paragraph discussing the reasons for the drop:

"The Obama administration and the Bush administration before it both sought to encourage such enrollment, calling foreign students critical to the future of the United States' technological and economic competitiveness. Many in Congress have pushed back, however, reflecting voter fears that foreigners would compete for scarce jobs."

"Scarce jobs" for PhD's in science and engineering? Isn't there supposed to be a huge shortage in science and technology trained experts, with far more open positions than qualified applicants?

"American universities see decline in foreigners earning science doctorates"


For more articles doubting the STEM shortage: http://www.phds.org/the-big-picture/scientist-shortages/

Monday, November 29, 2010

Will Citizens of All Political Stripes Coalesce Against the Billionaire Boys' Club?

For many Democrats and Republicans (at least the ones that Diane Ravitch likes to remember), the intrusion of the federal government into state and local education issues has been an acceptable burden to bear, since it was only the Federal government that could guarantee the enforcement of civil rights laws.  In fact, ESEA was enacted in 1965 as the carrot for Southern states to enforce the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which the apartheid South considered a big stick.

Now, the federal government under the direction of the modern day efficiency experts of the corporate foundations, incentivizes states to create segregative charter schools and ignores the goals of integrated and democratic living as a primary purpose of the public schools.  In short, there is no longer any reason for democrats to support federal intervention in education. 

The question, then, goes to Republicans, and it is asked today in an op-ed by Ravitch in the Wall Street Journal:  Is there a reason for Republicans to continue to support the federal effort to blow up the public schools, when it seems apparent that a national stranglehold on schools by a handful of oligarchs inside the federal bureaucracy will be the likely outcome of such efforts?  Interesting.

Now that Republicans have regained control of the House of Representatives, they must take a stand in the battle for control of American education. The issue today is between those who want to federalize education policy and those who want to maintain state and local control of the public schools.

Historically, the GOP has always been the party of local control, and for most of the 20th century Republicans opposed almost every effort by Democrats to expand the power of the federal government over the nation's public classrooms.

In 1965, when Congress passed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Republicans worried that it was the start of intrusive federal mandates. In time, though, they accepted that there is a legitimate federal role in providing extra funding for needy students, ensuring educational opportunity for children with disabilities, protecting students' civil rights, gathering accurate data, and sponsoring research.

Today, however, the federal government has ballooned into the all-powerful education behemoth that the GOP long feared. Ironically, the trouble started as a result of President George W. Bush's No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation. It has saddled the nation's public schools with a regime of testing and sanctions that is burdensome, harmful and ineffective.

NCLB decreed that all students, in all states, must be proficient on state tests in reading and mathematics by 2014—a goal no state is even close to meeting. As the deadline draws nearer, schools that are central to their communities are being closed or forced to fire their staff because of NCLB requirements. The local leadership may have better ideas, but the federal government demands punishments.

President Obama's Race to the Top fund extends federal control well beyond NCLB. Last year, as part of the economic stimulus plan, Congress gave the Department of Education an unprecedented $5 billion in discretionary funds to promote educational reform. The Obama administration used the money to promote unproven strategies.
To qualify for Race to the Top money, states and districts were expected to evaluate their teachers by using student test scores, even though research consistently warns of the flaws of this method. Similarly, the Obama administration is pressing states and districts to replace low-performing regular public schools with privately managed charter schools, even though research demonstrates that charters don't, on average, get better academic results than regular public schools.

The present course is virtually the opposite of what high-performing nations do. Countries like Finland, Japan and South Korea have improved their schools by offering a rich and broad curriculum in the arts and sciences, not by focusing only on testing basic skills, as we do. These nations have succeeded by recruiting, training and supporting good teachers, and giving continuing help to those that need it. The Obama administration, by contrast, has disregarded the importance of retention and improvement of teachers, while encouraging an influx of non-professionals into the field.

The Education Department, for example, recently awarded Teach for America $50 million to scale up its recruitment of smart college graduates who agree to teach for two years. The organization now offers five weeks of training to about 8,000 prospective teachers each year. While such a program is admirable, it doesn't help to replace the 300,000 teachers who retire or leave the profession annually. The teaching profession needs large numbers of well-prepared, experienced professionals, not constant turnover.

Many members of Congress were once members of local school boards. They understand that their public schools are the heart of their community and that local problems are best addressed by local solutions.

National curriculum standards may help, if they are validated. But the ones promoted by this administration were not implemented anywhere before they were foisted on 40 states by state legislatures competing for federal dollars. Massachusetts, the highest-achieving state in the nation, dropped its own proven standards to adopt the new, unproven ones so as to be eligible for Race to the Top funding.

The question today for Republicans is whether they are a party that endorses top-down reform from Washington, D.C., or a party that respects the common sense of the people back home and their commitment to their local public schools.

Ms. Ravitch, who served as assistant secretary of education in charge of research in the George H.W. Bush administration, is a research professor of education at NYU.

Councilman Barron Calls for Parent Boycott of NY Schools Until Qualified Chancellor Is Appointed

From Gothamist:
. . . .Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries and other city pols say they will file a temporary restraining order to block her [Black's] appointment, which Jeffries said state Education Commissioner David Steiner didn't want to approve anyway. "Commissioner Steiner appears to have made this decision in the back room with Mayor Bloomberg whispering in his ear. By all accounts he was not comfortable with the appointment of Cathie Black, but he appeared to bow from immense pressure from City Hall and the mayor's rich and powerful friends to strike a compromise that is not in the best interest of our children."

At a protest in Brownsville, Black critic City Councilman Charles Barron urged parents to keep their children out of schools until a "qualified chancellor" is selected, and said having current Performance and Accountability Chancellor Shael Polakow-Suransky helping her out wouldn't change anything. "We question the legality of her riding on someone else's credentials," he said. "Mayoral control is out of control. The mayor is disrespectful, the mayor is abusive of the power the system gave him. And Cathie Black is unqualified to teach in a classroom, nevertheless [will] run the largest education system in the country." . . .

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Black Advised Corporate Welfare Queen, Deborah Kenny, on Management and Book Deal

There is reason for Deborah Kenny to be smiling.  As CEO of Harlem Village Academies charter school in charge of 450 students in total, she raked in $442,000 this past year.  Connection to Cathie Black?  Nothing having to do with education, it seems, even though Black touts her connection to Harlem Village as the source of her cred on all things educational.  From the Daily News:
City schools chancellor nominee Cathie Black insists she's connected to public education via a highly touted charter school - but a close look shows she's had no contact with students, parents or teachers there.

Officials at the Harlem Village Academies admit the school's National Leadership Board, which Black joined just five months ago, has never met.

That board "has no operational or governing authority" over the school and exists for "support purposes only," the school said in response to Daily News questions.

Black primarily advised the school's CEO, Deborah Kenny, on "management, leadership, and the development of a book" Kenny is writing, the school said.

Harlem Village parents and former employees had little knowledge of Black, who is expected to get a state waiver that will allow her to take the job despite having almost no education experience.

"No, no, no, she's not with us," said the parent of a sixth-grader. "She's not on our board. We have a lot of people who give money, lots of very famous people come here. That could be what it is."

A second parent added, "I've heard of Cathie Black from the papers, but she's not part of this school."

Black's link to Harlem Village appears to be her only connection to New York public schools.

She went to Catholic school, sent her children to a Connecticut boarding school and spent her career in the publishing business.

Far from the average school
A former Harlem Village employee said Black visited the school in 2009 at Kenny's invitation as a possible donor. After that, the former employee never saw Black again.

Harlem Village officials said Black started on the board in July, a month after she lost her job as president of Hearst Magazines.

It's not clear when Mayor Bloomberg first approached Black with the idea of becoming chancellor.

Whatever Black's role there, Harlem Village has little in common with the average public school.

Kenny, who oversees 450 students, is paid $442,000, including a $140,000 "bonus" and $27,780 in "other" expenses.

The schools chancellor gets $250,000 to oversee 1.1 million students. . . . .
Sounds to me Kenny ought to advising Black.

Educational Planning, Parts I and II

Planning in the City, pre and post Cathie Black.  Get your pencils laptop IPad ready:

Oprah and Eli

For some it has been a mystery why someone with Oprah's public image would be up to her neck in corporate education reform built on planned segregation and exploitation of the poor and the brown.  Yet her recent 60-minute infomercial with Gates and Guggenheim to pump Waiting for Superman is indicative of her aggressive parroting of the corporate welfare charter meme.  Same with the televised love fest she sponsored for New Jersey's loudmouthed governor, Newark mayor's Cory Booker, and the billionaire twink, Zuckerberg.

But as Bracey always said, just follow the money to find the source of the heartfelt commitment.  Most of us forgot or never noticed that Oprah became a member of Eli Broad's economic family when she hired Eli's chief invesment officer (another billionaire) to oversee her own proliferating billions back in May of this year.  So Oprah does, indeed, know where her bread is buttered and also who can get her even more bread. 

The article from Street Insider.com, and the chart (click it to enlarge) is from Muckety (btw, Lee Bass is an oil tycoon and former Bush Pioneer):
May 20, 2010 1:51 PM EDT
Oprah Winfrey has hired a chief investment officer at Eli Broad as the first member of a team she is putting together to aid in the handling of her personal investments and fortune made from television, magazines and movies, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal today.

Billionaire and philanthropist Peter Adamson will be the first piece in the full investment organization surrounding Winfrey, who is estimated to be worth $2.4 billion -- making her one of the richest African Americans of the 20th century.

Adamson, 47, has served as the investment chief since 2001 and is considered a strong addition to the family office that will manage Winfrey’s wealth. She came to hiring Adamson through her longtime law firm, Ziffren Brittenham LLP, according to the WSJ's sources.

While working for Broad, Adamson has a record of making 3-4 percent above the indices, while managing $2.5 billion in investments for the Broad Foundation.. . .

Responding to Thomas Friedman: Poverty, not teachers' rank in graduating class

November 27, 2010

Letter in the NY Times

Raising Performance in Our Schools

Response to Friedman, Teaching for America, Nov. 21: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/21/opinion/21friedman.html?_r=1&ref=opinion

• To the Editor:

Thomas L. Friedman notes that in countries like Denmark and Finland that outperform the United States in education, teachers graduate in the top one-third of their classes.

But there is another explanation for why the United States lags behind: poverty. The percentage of children living in poverty in Denmark and Finland is under 3 percent. In the United States the percentage is 21.

Poverty means poor nutrition, substandard health care, environmental toxins and little access to books, all of which have a strong negative effect on school success.

Middle-class American children attending well-financed schools outscore nearly all other countries. But our overall scores are unspectacular because we have such a high percentage of children living in poverty.

Increasing pressure on teachers and parents will not significantly improve achievement, but if we can protect children from the effects of poverty, American tests scores will be at the top of the world.

Stephen Krashen
Los Angeles, Nov. 22, 2010

The writer is professor emeritus at the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

John Walton: DFER Catalyst?

John Walton: DFER catalyst? So says Whitney Tilson in an interview from his documentary, A Right Denied. Here is a snippet:
[DFER was started] …with a few other friends that are involved with a couple other other charter schools, and they were money managers like me involved with a couple similarly high-performing charter schools, we finally decided to create a little guerilla movement within the Democratic party. Interestingly, it came about as a result – what really catalyzed it – was a conversation with John Walton, who passed away a couple years ago in a plane accident, as you may be aware. But he, through his foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, has been one of the most generous supporters of KIPP and other charter schools and school reform in general. And he was a big backer of a group called the Alliance for School Choice. So we saw him speak at the Harvard Club, a couple of my friends and I, went to talk to him afterwards and he invited us to come join this organization and so we participated in a few calls. And what we discovered was that we were the only Democrats on the call or in the room, and it was largely backed by well-known Republicans like John Walton and Wal-Mart and so forth, and they were quite successful at persuading Republican politicians to support whatever legislation and so forth but were having a lot more trouble getting traction with Democrats. And the reason became clear to us very quickly. It was because their sources of funding and who they were – all Republicans – when they came to talk to Democrats, the Democrats were sort of like, “What are you doing in my office and why should I listen to anything you have to say? And this is some sort of Republican conspiracy to kill our schools and voucherize everything and harm the Democratic party. The real problem, politically, was not the Republican party, it was the Democratic party. So it dawned on us, over the course of six months or a year, that it had to be an inside job. The main obstacle to education reform was moving the Democratic party, and it had to be Democrats who did it, it had to be an inside job. So that was the thesis behind the organization. And the name – and the name was critical – we get a lot of flack for the name. You know, “Why are you Democrats for education reform? That’s very exclusionary. I mean, certainly there are Republicans in favor of education reform.” And we said, “We agree.” In fact, our natural allies, in many cases, are Republicans on this crusade, but the problem is not Republicans. We don’t need to convert the Republican party to our point of view, and this is an issue that for decades, the intrenched forces of the status quo have successfully resisted change by making this issue a Republican vs. Democrat issue, and it’s not. It’s a people who like the existing status quo and will fight fiercely to preserve it vs. people who are looking out for the kids that are not being served well by the status quo. That’s the real issue here. But in order to even have that conversation, in order to change peoples’ minds on the Democratic side, you had to be a Democrat yourself. So we told John Walton, “Thank you, you’ve inspired us to do this and we’re going to create an organization with quite a similar mission to what you’re doing, not voucher focused so much, but a broader mission, but we can’t take any of your money.” That’s probably the first time in his life anyone had ever said, “You’re our friend. We’re doing something you would support, but we can’t take a penny of your money.” Because the moment we take any Wal-Mart money – that’s anti-union, etcetera, etcetera – then it becomes a partisan issue again.
[Also posted at DFER Watch]

Perplexed; Imagine in FL

Recently, the state of Indiana released a list of schools that failed to make AYP.  I'm not going to discuss the (de)merits of AYP; instead, I'm going to point out something that, as the title of this post suggests, has me a bit perplexed.  Two of the four Imagine-run schools in the state made the failing APY list.  Here's the summary provided by the Journal Gazette, which also notes the reasons why the school failed to meet AYP:
Imagine MASTer Academy: English performance overall and by black, Hispanic and white students; English and math performance by special education students; English participation by black and special education students.

Imagine Schools on Broadway: English and math performance overall and by black and low-income students.
And here's what has me scratching my head: Imagine's 2010 annual report, recently posted on their website, ranks both schools an A- based on Imagine's internal measurements of student achievement.  Imagine MASTer Academy is described as "Making Unprecedented Gains!" The school, Imagine claims, "exceeded the authorizer's expectations in student growth in Math, Reading, and Language Usage in 2009-2010," and, "Met the exceeding growth category for all subject areas."  The other school, Imagine Schools on Broadway, is described as having a "Laser-like focus on Academics [that] Led to Significant Growth for All Students."  D'oh!

Meanwhile, in the state with the most Imagine-run schools (Florida - 17 schools), the company is receiving more negative publicity for the way one of their schools, Imagine Schools Land O'Lakes, is doing business.  Here's a snippet from a recent article, courtesy of the St. Petersburgh Times:
The school's enrollment has declined by 50 students — down to 485 — since the fourth week of classes. Its waiting list has shrunk to a fraction of what it was when the charter school first opened two years ago, with seats available in almost every grade level. Its governing board has experienced almost a complete turnover.

Pasco County school district officials found several areas of concern in their recent review of Imagine, including problems with financial reporting, governance, non-profit status, teacher certification and monitoring of student progress. The school's delay in filing one set of papers with the state has jeopardized about $75,000 in funding that was expected to pay for textbooks.
And more concerns (my bolds):
Scowcroft [the district's charter school supervisor] harbors a concern that has aired nationally about the non-profit status of Imagine. The state requires charters to be run by non-profit entities, yet Imagine corporate headquarters in Virginia has yet to secure that status from the IRS.

Also mirroring other complaints about Imagine across the country, Scowcroft notes that the local charter sends nearly 40 percent of its state money to the company rather than putting it into the school. The school has run two years of deficits, meanwhile, covered only by Imagine's corporate coffers, she said.

Moreover, the school's board of directors has what Scowcroft called limited power. Most of the members have turned over in the past year, and the decisions they make are largely controlled by the parent company, she said.
It was just a few weeks ago that another FL district approved a charter for Imagine.

White Knuckles Among Corporate Education Reformers

(Click to enlarge. Photo: Patino for News) With the Daley/Duncan reforms in Chicago so poisonous that Ron Huberman is in flight even as "Ren2010" has been eliminated from the City bureaucracy's vocab, and with Michelle Rhee repudiated and dismissed in DC, and with the empirical evidence piling up that nearly all of the federal (Gates/Broad) K-12 initiatives have no support among scientists, humanists, or serious researchers, and with parents around the country quickly coming to realize that charter choice means choice without a voice, and with teachers reclaiming their own voices from the whore union leaders who have been selling teachers down the river, and with students the world over openly confronting the Oligarchs who want to eliminate the public space for education and to make it a multinational corporate enterprise, with all this going on, the challenge to Bloomberg's corporate dictatorship in the City was a big deal.  Even Arne called the corporate stooge, Steiner, to give his blessing to the "deal."

The deal, of course, centers on the appointment of Polakow-Suransky as Cathie Black's obsequious tutor on all things educational.  Until July 2009, Polakow-Suransky had remained a utility infielder and gofer within the City's ed bureaucracy.  When the heat from the fraudulent test score scam got too hot for accountability chief, James Liebman, forcing him back uptown to resume his professorial role at the Columbia Law School, the unknown Polakow-Suransky was brought to absorb the public's rage as the testing house of cards came tumbling down.  Polakow-Suransky, who has been properly schooled by the Broadies, now reaps his reward for loyalty to the Borg.

Today's installment in the continuing saga from the Times:
. . . . Mr. Bloomberg viewed Dr. Steiner’s challenge as a critical test of his authority over the school system. The mayor told people involved in the negotiations that a rejection of Ms. Black would undermine the model of mayoral control and set a dangerous precedent.

At one point while the negotiations were under way, Mr. Bloomberg said publicly that the law requiring the schools chancellor to hold education credentials was obsolete and should be abolished.

Mr. Bloomberg had initially believed he could build enough public pressure to force Dr. Steiner to approve Ms. Black, according to the person with knowledge of the negotiations. Business executives, former mayors and celebrities like Whoopi Goldberg flooded Dr. Steiner’s offices with messages in support of Ms. Black.

But Dr. Steiner remained skeptical, and he said on Tuesday he would consider her appointment only if Mr. Bloomberg installed an educator at her side.

The talks with the mayor about that possibility grew more serious after an eight-member panel advising Dr. Steiner on Ms. Black’s qualifications on Tuesday mustered only two votes unconditionally in support of her, unexpectedly throwing the selection process into disarray.

Mr. Bloomberg typically loathes intrusions into his management of the city. But throughout the negotiations for the waiver, he showed an unusual willingness to compromise to preserve Ms. Black’s candidacy. To the surprise of his own associates, he held his tongue in public, refusing to challenge Dr. Steiner and the panel that rebuked his choice for chancellor.

The reaction to the deal, and to Mr. Polakow-Suransky’s appointment, was mixed on Friday.

State Assemblyman Hakeem S. Jeffries, a Democrat who has helped coordinate the opposition to Ms. Black, said he would pursue a legal challenge, arguing that the appointment of a chief academic officer does not compensate for Ms. Black’s lack of educational experience.

Sol Stern, an education researcher at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative research group, said he thought that the deal was a victory for Mr. Bloomberg, and that Mr. Polakow-Suransky’s appointment would not be a serious check to Ms. Black’s authority. “He will be treated by the mayor and Black as a gofer,” Mr. Stern, a frequent critic of the mayor, wrote in an e-mail. “This is a farce.”

Underscoring the high-stakes nature of Ms. Black’s fate, even the federal secretary of education, Arne Duncan, spoke to both Dr. Steiner and Mr. Bloomberg during the negotiations.. . .

Friday, November 26, 2010

Tax Free Corporate Billions Leveraged to Take Over Social Policy Making

The new Gates Foundation financials are out, and things look much improved in 2009 following the 2008 meltdown.  When you click on this chart to enlarge it, you will see that the Gates Foundation now has nearly 30,000 millions of dollars (that's 30 billion) to use as it sees fit to bribe, to silence, to shape, to destroy, to seed, to alter, to maintain, to transform, to extort, to buy quiet, to build out of thin air any social policy that the Foundation wants, and all of it is tax-free.  Well, not quite.  In 2009, the Foundation paid $60,000 on $30 billion.  Damned excise taxes. 

Thirty billion dollars, by the way, represents 7 Races to the Top.  We can see how just one of them threatens sanity in schooling all across the nation.  Can you imagine what a widespread disaster 7 of them would bring.  This, however, is the real and potential power of the numerous corporate foundations that are going all in to transform American schools for the masses into corporate data hubs designed to breed compliance, fear, non-thinking, anti-culture, consumption, selfishness, ahistoricism, and limited technical skill.  The Oligarchs are determined that the road to ecological apocalypse at least will be orderly.

Steiner Proves To Be Just Another Bloomberg Flunkie: Accepts Broadie as Black's # 2

Shael Polakow-SuranskyAs I surmised, it was all Kabuki theatre, and in the end, the same fool who spouts the right-wing fantasy that Dewey recanted his lifelong work for democratic schools, offers a wave-through for Bloomberg's corporate bulldozer that will be driven by bleary-eyed party bud, Cathie Black, with the help of Klein's man in charge most recently of sheltering the big lie on NY City student test scores.
The Broad Superintendents Academy Class of 2008
Deputy Chancellor for Performance and Accountability
New York City Department of Education
“Teachers and principals need to be accountable for student performance and empowered to make the critical decisions that impact their daily work to accelerate student learning.”
From the NYTimes:
The state’s education commissioner, David M. Steiner, and the Bloomberg administration have reached a deal that will allow Cathleen P. Black, a media executive, to become the next schools chief.

A top education official in the city’s schools system, Shael Polakow-Suransky, the chief accountability officer, will be named the chief academic officer to serve as the No. 2 to Ms. Black, according to a person with knowledge of the agreement between the state and the city.

In return, Dr. Steiner on Monday will grant Ms. Black a waiver from the state law requiring the chancellor to have certain education credentials that Ms. Black, the chairwoman of Hearst Magazine, lacks.

Mr. Steiner had expressed reservations about granting Ms. Black an exemption and had made the appointment of a chief academic officer a condition for considering her nomination.

The move is a major concession from Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg who typically resists any intrusion into his management of city agencies.

Corporate Education Reformers: Hoarders of Financial and Social Capital

Last updated, 3:36 PM

The corporate education oligarchs centered in Washington state, along with their reps in Washington, DC, are making a lot of noise now about those lazy, overpaid school teachers with their fancy Masters' degrees.  For the frugal oligarchs, teachers' advanced degrees and step pay increases represent areas to save big.  The propaganda is being produced and disseminated by one of Gates's tax shelters for philanthrocapitalists, the Center on Dismantling Reinventing Public Education.

Meanwhile, we hear no concern expressed by billionaire Gates or the 10,000+ Microsoft millionaires who are quietly waiting for their Bush tax cuts to be renewed, even though the payout to the made men of Microsoft will blow about a 700 billion-dollar hole in the federal deficit over ten years.  That's $67 billion a year for tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.  EPI asks, What would you do with $67 billion?
In EPI’s Briefing Paper, What Would You Do With $67 Billion?, Policy Analyst Andrew Fieldhouse notes that the debate over whether to extend Bush tax cuts for the wealthy is occurring at a time that "unemployment remains high, job creation is weak, and revenues are scarce." In addition, the emergency federal unemployment benefits that have helped protect long-term unemployed workers from financial ruin during the recession are about to expire, meaning that two million Americans could lose their unemployment benefits by year end. Fieldhouse argued that if some of the $67 billion cost of providing tax cuts to the wealthy were invested in a second stimulus package modeled after the 2009 Recovery Act, or to preserve emergency benefits for the long-term unemployed it would generate hundreds of thousands of jobs. By contrast, giving the money to the wealthy in the form of tax cuts would give more money to "a group whose incomes have seen the strongest growth over recent decades and who will put relatively little of it back into the economy,” Fieldhouse notes.
Nor do we hear anything about any giving back during this emergency by the corporations whose profits in the third quarter of 2010 were the highest recorded ever:
Unemployment may be high, but business is booming…or at least corporate profits are. New data from the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis shows businesses earned profits at an annual rate of $1.66 trillion in the third quarter of this year—making it the highest figure recorded since the government began keeping track more than 60 years ago.
And how about those increasingly poor school children?  Where can we save money on their backs?  Gates, Broad, and the Waltons would like to place those children with white two-year corporate missionaries from TFA into the cheap segregated KIPP corporate charters to be psychologically and culturally sterilized, thus making them suitable to share the corporate space that is quickly replacing the public domain.

Meanwhile, the megawealthy continue to hoard their economic and social capital and to ignore the fact that poverty is a problem, even as they proclaim their cheap, apartheid education solutions as a victory for civil rights.

The racism and oppression of the corporate state advocates grows increasing transparent.  From Steve Nelson at HuffPo:
Education reform is an unmitigated disaster. Years ago, before the advent of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), I observed that the rapidly spreading inclination toward standards and accountability in public education was like measuring Hansel and Gretel more often and expecting them to gain weight. Since then, American educational policy has wandered deeper and deeper into the forest.

The latest crumbs tossed at the problem come in the form of the so-called Race to the Top (as though learning is a race and everyone can stand together on the summit) which, like all sound bite reforms, is over-hyped and under-funded. The relatively meager funds don't even come close to compensating for the deterioration of state and local funding because of the ongoing recession. And the test-driven pedagogical practices demanded as conditions of this funding are nearly certain to further diminish the quality of the learning experience in American schools.

While it is disturbing and ironic that federal policy and funding are driving poor educational practice, there is a significantly larger elephant wandering through this thicket. If one takes a few steps back from the trees and looks at the forest, it is clear that the symptoms of educational decline in America have nothing to do with schools, teachers, pedagogy, standards or accountability. Decades of research indicate strongly that the decline in student achievement can be accounted for entirely by the dramatic increase in wealth disparity and the persistence of racism in America.
One such study, from the Institute for Research on Poverty, reported a nearly straight-line correlation between growth in the wealth "gap" and the increase in educational inequality. Countless other studies confirm this basic relationship. Whether in terms of college matriculation, test scores or drop out rates, the problems driving current misguided policies can be traced to an increasingly inequitable society.
 While tax

But educational policy makers and social commentators, including the President and Education Secretary, blindly operate on the opposite cause and effect premise: that the increase in wealth disparity is somehow caused by the erosion of educational standards and if we only demand more of poor children, particularly children of color, social injustice will be cured. It is an educational version of the mean spirited "pull yourself up by your boot straps" attitudes that have inhibited social justice for many decades. As has always been the case, one can't pull up on boot straps when owning no shoes.

The best predictor of academic success has always been financial and social capital. This is true in looking at school success by district or SAT score by individual. Everyone knows this but no one wants to talk about it. People and communities with more resources enjoy advantages such as more home stability, more books and oral language at home, more pre-school opportunities, better air quality, better educated parents, less stress and perhaps most powerfully, more cause for optimism and a higher sense of self-worth.

Particularly in the wake of Herrnstein and Murray's offensive (and bad science) book The Bell Curve, the debilitating effects of race and class on "intelligence" and learning have been broadly acknowledged. Herrnstein and Murray were guilty of an intellectual version of the faulty cause and effect premise that fuels current educational policy. They observed racial differences in IQ scores of roughly 15 percent. While their theory (and the general field of psychometry) is complex, the most wrong-headed notion emerging from their work was that this IQ disparity explained social inequity.

While this debate has not been entirely settled, research showing the opposite cause and effect relationship has soundly rebutted their work. Historically disadvantaged groups perform less well on intelligence tests because of their diminished status. Over many decades lower castes in India and Japan have shown similar deficits in IQ testing, but it was not being less intelligent that relegated them to the lowest class -- it was being relegated to the lowest class that suppressed performance on intelligence measures.

One fascinating study tracked members of a low Japanese caste with many members who moved to California. Their supposed intelligence deficit of 15 percent disappeared when they moved from social oppression to a more equitable society. This has been similarly confirmed in studies of European Jews, who had tested significantly below average in the World War I era and then radically changed in a mere generation after emigrating to the United States.

All the hot rhetoric over educational achievement is nonsense. The problem in America is a dangerous class divide, not a crisis in teaching and learning. Until we address deepening poverty, demoralizing unemployment and insidious racism, too many American children will fulfill the sad prophesy they inherit.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Teachers Need to Finish the Job in DC: Put George Parker on the Same Rail with Michelle Rhee

From the WTU website:
Washington Teachers’ Union
Important Run-Off Election Information
The WTU is conducting a run-off election to determine the officers and members of the Executive Board. No candidate (with the exception of treasurer) received a majority of votes in the first round of voting.
Please click here to review a sample ballot of the candidates for office.
Ballots for the run-off election are being mailed to WTU members on Nov. 15, 2010.
Your ballot must be placed in the reply envelope and mailed so that it is received no later than 4 p.m., on TUESDAY, NOV. 30, 2010.
IF YOU NEED A DUPLICATE BALLOT for any of the following reasons:
• you have not received a ballot by Nov. 19, 2010;
• the ballot package you received is incomplete; or
• your ballot has been lost, damaged or spoiled;
Please call Maria Landi, American Arbitration Association, at 800/273-0726. If you call after hours, you may leave a message with your address and a ballot will be sent to you.

Questions about the WTU elections?
Contact Al Squire, WTU administrator
202/393-5673 • asquire@aft.org

The voters have done their part in DC by voting out Fenty/Rhee.  Now it is the teachers' turn to finish the job. 

George Parker was able to elbow his way to the corporate welfare feeding trough when he acquiesced to IMPACT, the pay-for-test-score evaluation scheme put together for Rhee by the Broadies and the Waltons, along with prostisuits from the AFT who have turned their backs on DC teachers and the students who need teachers who teach, rather than test. 

Parker's ethically-challenged history of bowing to the corporate foundations should be swept out of DC Schools with the Fenty-Rhee clan, and new blood should be brought in to quash the unworkable and morally-bankrupt evaluation scheme that has no scientific basis and no educational value. 

Send a message to the new Mayor that education is the goal in DC Schools, not more test and punish by the Billionaire Boys' Club.

You have a choice in DC.  Clips from Turque's WaPo story:
Michelle A. Rhee is no longer chancellor of D.C. schools, but her presence still looms large over a Washington Teachers' Union election that is entering its final contentious days.

Incumbent President George Parker faces a stiff reelection challenge from Nathan Saunders, the union's general vice president, who contends that Parker was too pliant in his dealings with Rhee. He cites the collective bargaining agreement Parker negotiated with Rhee, one that weakens traditional seniority and other job protections for teachers. Union members approved the contract in June.

Saunders also pledges to pursue legal, legislative and lobbying efforts to undo Rhee's signature initiative, the new IMPACT evaluation system that links some teacher appraisals to student test scores and can trigger dismissals for educators who don't meet certain classroom performance criteria.

"I know what it takes to be the leader of a labor union," said Saunders. "We've had too much strength by the chancellor and not enough strength by the union and the community."

Should Parker lose when mail ballots are counted on Tuesday, he would join Rhee and Mayor Adrian M. Fenty as the third major figure in the 2007-10 school reform movement to leave office this year.
. . . .
But getting rid of it[ IMPACT), Parker said, is not an option.

"You look at where the country is going, and we have to get in front of a document like IMPACT and make it a fair document," he said.

Have your votes counted on Tuesday, DC teachers.  Parents, children, and other teachers around the country are counting on you. 

Texas Jury Nails the Hammer: Delay Could Get Life

Makes me warm and fuzzy, too.  Happy Thanksgiving!

From WaPo:
. . . .A jury in Austin found DeLay guilty of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Punishment for the first ranges from five years to life in prison, but the former congressman from the Houston suburb of Sugar Land could receive probation.

DeLay will remain free until he is sentenced on Dec. 20.
"This case is a message from the people of the state of Texas that they want - and expect - honesty and ethics in their public officials," said Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg. "All people have to abide by the law."
Reporters in the courtroom described DeLay as stunned by the verdict, which came after 19 hours of deliberation.. . .

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

November's Rotten Apple in Education Goes to James McSwain, Principal of Lamar High School

With apologies to the work of Jerry Bracey, whose Rotten Apple Awards in Education should still be required reading for education policy students and "thought leaders" like Andy R, I am offering this monthly award, which will be announced on the same day as the Monthly Education Hero.  There are so many nominees in this Rotten category each month, the competition will be keen for sure.

But hands down, this month goes to Larmar High School principal, James McSwain, who has dumped, burned, who knows, most all the books and "repurposed" the school library into a coffee shop run by students.  I guess you might say McSwain is really serious about preparing his high schoolers to compete for those 21st Century American jobs.

The Library's website also makes a pitch for the right-wing online database, Questia, where students are supposed to find safe reading, i. e., heavily censored.  As an old high school librarian myself, I did my litmus test and it came up positive for ultra-conservative selection in fiction.  No Catcher in the Rye by Salinger (not even Franny and Zooey), and nothing, nada, by Robert Cormier.  This is supposed to be a high school collection that is professionally chosen.  No adolescent library worth its salt would be without these authors, whose book jackets that have been memorialized in tee-shirts and book bags. 

The school library is the heart, hub, and soul of a school, serving as a place to do the messy work of learning to do research, to read, to think, to view, to listen, to produce media, to teach information literacy, technological literacy, media literacy.  A place to make up a missed test, do an independent study, ask a librarian for a book recommendation.  The school library serves to host important school functions like PTO meetings and National Honor Society receptions and faculty meetings, an intellectual center for curriculum work and planning, where teachers can take a break and read English Journal, a place where kids can wander and check out a paperback.  A resource for coming of age questions, a place to collaborate and find out about careers and college, to plan science projects, to hang art work, to have a quiet place amongst the hubbub of school.  And a place for parents to contribute and know they are doing important work for the school in checking out books and shelving them, and offering a smile to students who don't get enough of them.  The existence of a library has been shown to have a significant impact on student test scores, for christsakes.

You have gone too far, Mr. McSwain.  You are the Rotten Apple of the Month.  And that is putting it kindly.

From Hair Balls:
Just adding a coffee shop to a neighborhood library so people can feel like they're in Starbucks and ultra hip was apparently too passe a trend for Principal James McSwain of Lamar High School.

Finishing up a week ago, McSwain has thrown out nearly all the books and filled the space they were unnecessarily taking up with couches and coffee and food and told his students that they can access the exciting world of reading through e-books! And if they don't have a laptop of their own and Internet access to do so, they can use one of the laptop computers in the library coffeeshop!

He's even expanded the library coffeeshop hours to 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. which works great if you're one of those kids with your own transportation and not one who is too young, too poor or with rotten parents who won't let you drive to school yourself rather than riding the bus.

And he's bought 35 new laptops! For a Houston ISD flagship school with more than 3,000 students in it.
A veteran educator who visited the school a few weeks ago said most of the books were already gone by then. "There were a few down one side. They assured me they're getting rid of those as soon as they could. The plan is to turn the whole space into a coffee shop run by students."

Students will be able to access places online such as Questia, an online resource facility where you can get articles about anything that you want, she told Hair Balls. There's books online, too, but as she put it, the selections are limited. Her reaction:

"I was appalled. I was stunned by the whole thing I can't imagine what he was thinking. I'm assured this is old school thinking and we should just appreciate that they're not old school thinkers."
The change, she said, was "designed to impress the new superintendent [Terry Grier] with the forward thinking nature of that particular principal at that particular school. "

She said she was told one teacher who had kids after school working on their volunteer hours was asked to send them to the library to "get rid of the books." She said he asked what they meant and "They said they didn't care; just get them out of here."

"He couldn't bring himself to throw away books. He said it didn't seem like a good thing for the kids to do. They got somebody [else]. My impression was that most of the books were thrown away. Some of them may have been donated."

Hair Balls tried to reach McSwain; he would only speak to us through HISD Sarah Greer Osborne. This is what she told us:
"The school library has been updated. It's got a lot of new electronic equipment. Most of it's e-books and new laptops and they're putting their money, instead of into paper, they're putting it into electronic resources. 
Yes, there are still books there but most of it is now e-books where the kids can check out the book and as long as they have Internet access they can read the book. The library is now open from 6:30 to 6:30, a.m. to p.m., and he says the kids are eating it up; they have never seen so many kids in the library before. They only did this a week ago and he says the number of e-books being checked out is through the roof.

He says the kids love it. They did put coffee and food in there so the kids when they're staying after school and before the kids can have a little coffee, read a book it's just like Starbucks. Except they're providing the books as well. The kids are eating it up that's what they want. They want the e-books."
The veteran teacher wasn't as excited. "It's just stupid. It just boggles the mind. I'm sure there's more to the story and I'm sure that they can make it sound better than I'm making it sound to you but in the end it's a terrible story. There's no way in my mind that you can gloss this story and make it seem like a good idea.

"There's no way to get hold of a book on the campus to read for pleasure or to use to write a paper. If you don't have access to a computer of your own then you have to compete for one of the computers that are in the coffee shop. And you have to find a way to get it done during the time the coffee shop is open."

The teacher said the whole thing breaks her heart; but she can walk away from it. At least she's not the Lamar High librarian, whose library has been "repurposed" (a favorite educator buzzword these days), presiding over a coffee shop with all those swell couches.

November's Education Hero: Superintendent Bill Mathews

Here is something to go with your pumpkin pie.  If you know of education heroes whose actions defy the corporatization of American schools, send me a link: ontogenyx@gmail.com:

This is from WaPo:
By Valerie Strauss
A number of school districts in states that won money in the Education Department's $4 billion Race to the Top competition have decided they don’t actually want the money because, in most cases, officials think it is more trouble to accept it.

In Ohio, which won $400 million in the Race sweepstakes, more than two dozen districts and public charter schools say they think it will cost them more than they will get from the federal government to implement the required reforms, according to Sean Cavanagh at www.edweek.com.

And then there is the Jones County School District near Macon, Ga., headed by Superintendent Bill Mathews.
Mathews has decided not to accept $1.3 million in Race to the Top money -- the district’s share of Georgia’s $400 million pot -- for reasons including his refusal to implement a value-added assessment system for teachers, based on student standardized test scores. (The county had signed up for the money before Mathews became superintendent last year.)

Assessment experts say these systems should not be used to evaluate teachers, pointing to new research that indicates they are not reliable and error rates are unacceptably high, but they are supported anyway by the Obama administration. Many of these systems are seen by teachers as ignoring other factors beside a teacher’s influence that can affect a student's performance on a standardized test.

And that’s why Mathews decided not to accept the money and why the county school board went along with his recommendation.

Mathews was quoted in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the research doesn't bear out the effectiveness of these systems, and that implementing one would be too expensive. He said that educating children in the county’s public schools is a team effort by all of the adults in the building, and that singling out the teachers in this way would be wrong.

“My philosophy has always been that from the front door to the back door, from the secretary to the lunchroom worker, [everyone] is responsible for the student achievement of every child,” Mathews was quoted as saying. “We set our goals and if we meet our goals, we all celebrate.”

We’d all be a lot better off if there were more Bill Mathewses out there running our public school districts.

Bloomberg's Toadies Vote No, Sort of

The limos were idling for hours yesterday at an undisclosed Manhattan location as Bloomberg's toadies huddled in an attempt to not look like whores while giving Bloomberg's unqualified appointee for Chancellor a qualified pass.  In the end, they agreed on a plan that would hopefully save face for the educationists on the panel, while giving Bloomberg time to come up with a plan that will in the end make him look like a reasonable negotiator who knows how to cut a deal and get his way in the end.  At least that's my take.  A somewhat different take below.

From New York Magazine:

A big, rare loss for Michael Bloomberg this afternoon: The state education commissioner has conditionally rejected the mayor’s choice for city schools chancellor, Cathie Black. David Steiner may have simply been underwhelmed by Black’s publishing-industry résumé; his advisory panel, which voted against granting the necessary waiver, appears to have been embarrassed by having been portrayed in news stories as Bloomberg toadies.

Steiner is giving Bloomberg an out, however, saying he’d accept Black if she hires a top assistant who actually knows something about education. The next move is Bloomberg’s, and none of them are easy. He could elevate one of the “pedagogical experts” he says Black would have leaned on anyway — but that would essentially admit that Black is a figurehead and not the “visionary” Bloomberg had touted. He could refuse to install a No. 2 who’s a real educator and have Steiner reject Black, leaving the school system rudderless — not likely. Bloomberg could withdraw Black’s application and admit defeat — even less likely. Or Black could back out, saving some face but leaving the mayor to start over. My wagering, however, is that Bloomberg, through intermediaries, spends the next several days trying to get Steiner to change his mind or put some time limit on the Black-helper. And if Steiner doesn’t budge, Joel Klein may need to ask Rupert Murdoch for an extension on that new job.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Goodloe-Johnson Strategic Plan, p. 11

As Mr. Dempsey noted in a comment on an earlier post, the Big Lie by the Broadies is on page 11 of the Strategic Plan, "Excellence for All. (Click image to enlarge)

Please Buy Me a Ticket to Sun Valley and a Subscription to "Education Insider" for Just $4,900 per Year

 I was having a hotdog and wowing at the White Board Advisors website below, which had been linked by a reader at the Seattle Public Schools Community Blog. At the bottom of the White Board page, I saw Dutko Worldwide, and it brought me back to good ole days before Gene Hickok found a new home at Dutko, right after he stopped being in charge of handing out ED federal grants to seed the corporate education industry under Rod Paige.  Yep, that was before Hickok decided to spend more time with his family, while avoiding criminal charges by paying $50,000 in a federal investigation of conflict of interest charges involving Bank of America stock and federal grants.  It gets complicated.

Well, I can see Gene has done good for Dutko and helped position them up front among today's edu-"thought-leaders." Huh.  I was wondering, though, who Wireless Generation and Josh Reibel are, when my email popped with a message from a friend on a new Valerie Strauss post at WaPo.  I clicked over and, damn!, there is the answer to my hotdog-chewing question about Wireless Generation:

Murdoch buys education technology company

By Valerie Strauss
[Disclosure: Kaplan Inc. is a for-profit education subsidiary of The Washington Post Co., which publishes The Washington Post, my employer.]

This didn't take long: Joel Klein announces Nov. 9 that at year’s end he will resign as York City’s Schools chancellor to become executive vice president at Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. Yesterday, the company announced that it was buying a technology company with big financial ties to the New York City school system.

Murdoch’s company, according to a story at businesswire.com, is acquiring 90 percent of Wireless Generation, a privately held Brooklyn-based education technology company, for approximately $360 million in cash. It will become a subsidiary of News Corp.

One of the things Wireless Generation does is build large-scale data systems that centralize student data and is a “key partner to New York City’s Department of Education on its Achievement Reporting and Innovation System (ARIS) as well as on the City’s School of One initiative,” the story said.

(The ARIS contracts -- worth tens of millions of dollars -- and the contracts the New York City Education Department has issued for its School of One program were apparently negotiated rather than competitively bid.) . . . .
I did a bit more digging on Wireless and found that their premier product is an early literacy intervention piece called Burst Reading, which allows teachers to sort, group, and track young kids with the ease of operating a hand held phaser:
An insomniac, genius sidekick for every teacher
At the heart of Burst:Reading is a sophisticated algorithm that works overnight to analyze detailed formative assessment data. It groups students based on similar strengths and needs, and provides 10-day sequences of high-quality curriculum synchronized with their abilities. Teachers bring the instruction to life with interactive lessons and materials that engage and inspire their students on the path to reading with comprehension.
Anyway, it seems like serendipity to me, but back to the website and why I am asking you to send me to Sun Valley and to buy me a subscription to "Education Insider."  How else am I supposed to catch up with the "thought leaders?"
Send checks or money orders to: Send Jim Horn to Sun Valley and Buy Him a Subscription to "Education Insider."

Looks great, doesn't it!  Heli-skying and talking smack with Andy, the Eduwank, thought-leader extraordinaire.

Last year, a group of about a dozen education reformers, entrepreneurs and investors met in snowy Sun Valley for a series of discussions on the progress of education reform and the opportunities and risks associated with private sector investment in the space. The result was three days of creative thinking and camaraderie, collaboration and planning. And of course, skiing.

Not surprisingly, this group of intermediate-to-expert skiers and thought-leaders had the time of their lives—which included, for many, their first heli-skiing experience. We pledged to return again, and build a tradition by combining education policy, business, and outdoor adventure.

For this year’s event, we are pleased to announce a series of dinner discussions on topics including:

  • An Insider’s Perspective on Education Policy and Politics, with former White House advisors and Education Insider co-publishers Andy Rotherham and John Bailey
  • The Risk and Reward of Education Investing, with Bain Capital Founder and Rocky Mountain Wealth Concepts Chairman, Coleman Andrews
  • Growing and Managing the Education Enterprise: The Entrepreneurs Perspective, with Wireless Generation President, Josh Reibel and Curriculum Associates CEO, Rob Waldron
Additional details will follow.  In the meantime, please mark your calendar for this unique opportunity to share an incredible setting, valuable relationships and insight, and spirited discussion.

For more information or to RSVP, please contact: Elliot Parks at Elliot.Parks@Dutkoworldwide.com.

Craig Pattee, President, Dutko Worldwide
Josh Reibel, President, Wireless Generation
Ben Wallerstein, Managing Director, Dutko Worldwide

And when I clicked on Education Insider, I got this:
Education Insider is a monthly report and webinar that provides real-time insights on federal education policy trends, debates, and issues—from the handful of decision makers that are driving the process.
Trying to follow the ins-and-outs of Federal education reform — a morass of legislation, regulations, grants, mandates and more — is like assembling a giant jigsaw puzzle. It is often difficult to see the entire picture when all you have is a few pieces.  The challenge is piecing together bits of conversations, speeches, legislation, regulations, and other expressions of policy intent to discern what is happening in the debate.  This process is even more complex since other policy issues and political agendas can change the trajectory of education policy.
As with any issue, there are only a handful of insiders that will shape the debate but never before has there been an attempt to tap their collective insights and forecasts.
Organizations must anticipate and react to Federal policy and funding changes need high quality information and analysis and the complete picture that Education Insider provides.
Download a sample.  Subscribe today.

How Does Education Insider Work?

Through an exclusive surveying tool we ask key policy and political “insiders” for their opinion on important federal policy ranging from the timing of key legislation to the support or opposition of policy proposals.  Essentially, this is a regular tracking poll of key education influencers to get their collective sense of trends and issues.  Feedback from the field is coupled with the expert analysis of our co-publishers to provide subscribers with visibility into issues, trends, and likely outcomes. Members have the opportunity to participate in monthly discussions with insiders and experts.

Who Are The Insiders? 

Influential leaders who are shaping education reform including individuals who have or are currently serving as key policy and political “insiders."
  • White House and U.S. Department of Education leaders 
  • Congressional staff
  • State school chiefs
  • Leaders of major trade associations and think tanks
So I can read along with Arne to find out what Eli and Bill and Rupert and the Waltons have in mind for education.
Whoop!  Out of my budget league--unless I get some help.  Check it out:
Whiteboard Advisors offers a number of subscription based products, as well as client-specific proprietary research and consulting services. The following products are available for purchase through our website, including the Education Insider, which utilizes our unique insider survey methodology to track and report monthly on federal education policy developments and trends. Please contact us for additional information or to discuss your organization’s specific needs.
Add to cart
Education Insider - 30 Day Membership
Education Insider - 30 Day Membership
Education Insider - One Year Membership
Education Insider - One Year Membership

Broad Alum Busted in Seattle Public School Scandal for Lying to Advance Corporate Ed Reform

Brad Bernatek began his Broad Residency in Urban Education Cohort 2006 with Seattle Public Schools and became the chief honcho for accountability in 2008.  From the Broad website:
Brad Bernatek serves [for now] as Director of Research, Evaluation and Assessment for Seattle Public Schools. In this role, Bernatek runs the department responsible for student statistics including enrollment, demographics, evaluation and standardized testing. During his Residency, Bernatek served the district as interim manager for research, evaluation and assessment and as special assistant to the chief operations officer.
When a new strategic plan was being put together in 2008 with the new superintendent, Maria Goodloe-Johnson (Broad Supt. Academy, Class of '03), the Broadies needed some really embarrassing piece of information about SPS that could be used to leverage the changes they wanted to initiate: ending the remains of the school integration plan killed by the Roberts Court in 2007, more testing, closing more schools, opening more corporate charters, longer school days, teacher pay and evaluations based on test scores, working to end tenure, and the bringing in Teach for America to replace professional faculty.  In short, the disaster capitalists needed a disaster to bring about change before anyone could regain their composure.

The Broadies turned to one of their plants, Brad, and as chief of accountability and stats (I know, it's ironic, right?), he delivered with a whopper of a scary lie presented as fact that would have the entire Seattle community recoiling every time they heard it: only 17 percent of Seattle students graduated ready for college.  Shocking, dismal, a scandal!  The news, in fact, was so devastating that, under the PR plan developed by the Gates-and-Broad-owned Alliance for Education (see the video here with the lie pasted right about the middle), Goodloe-Johnson's strategic plan was on the fast track. 

Did the Superintendent ever question this new fact about 17 percent of her seniors being ready for college, when if she had checked with any guidance counselor in SPS, she would have found out that half of Seattle's seniors go off to college?  No, she did not, and that is why she should fired along with Brad.  The truth that will found if any reporters are willing to ask is that the Broadies and Gates make the decisions in Seattle Public Schools, and the hired hands do what they are told.  And Goodloe-Johnson was not told to ask any questions.  In fact, Goodloe-Johnson came on board as the first female African American superintendent in Seattle, quite intent upon following the good ole boy Broad script for containment and segregation of urban school children, while muttering the mantra of "excellence for all."

Here is a bit from a telling Goodloe-Johnson feature from Seattle Woman in 2009 (my bolds):
In June of this year the school board approved a new student assignment plan that departs radically from the past. The heart of its mission is to reinvigorate the neighborhood school, assigning most students to their closest building and working to assure “Excellence for All”— the title of Goodloe-Johnson’s five-year strategic plan which began last year — for every child, and in every school. 

With this new plan, Seattle’s long-held priority of integrated schools will take a second seat.

The top priority, says Goodloe-Johnson, sitting forward in her chair, is having high quality education available at every school in the district, not just a few. While she deeply believes in the value of being exposed to people of different backgrounds, the bottom line must be educational quality.

. . . .

Now in her third year, the superintendent has led the district through other challenges as well. A $34 million state budget shortfall had to be dealt with. In addition to closing five buildings, all or part of eight other schools were moved. While predicted to save millions, these moves traumatized hundreds of families and staff. (It must have been affirming, a month or so after the board passed these difficult changes, to have the Gates Foundation announce it was giving the district $7.2 million. In addition, the district is receiving nearly $2 million from Boeing and two foundations.) Transportation schedules have been “tiered,” resulting in nhttp://www.blogger.com/post-edit.g?blogID=14707730&postID=6714122392685599937early 50 fewer buses on the streets this school year. And a new curriculum plan aims to align learning goals throughout the district’s schools.

And so, then, below is the first part from the story about Brad's Big Lie in the Seattle Times.  I keep thinking of that number--17 percent.  Where have I seen that prominent figure?  Oh, now I remember--it is from the only national peer-reviewed evaluation of charter schools:
" . . . [the CREDO Study] found that 17 percent of charter schools reported academic gains that were significantly better than traditional public schools, while 37 percent of charter schools showed gains that were worse than their traditional public school counterparts, with 46 percent of charter schools demonstrating no significant difference. 
And please don't feel sorry for Brad.  Just like the Wall Street accountability experts, Brad will have many job offers from the same corporations that he was serving while being paid by Seattle taxpayers for the past four years:

Seattle Times education reporter

The claim: Starting in 2008, Seattle Public Schools reported that a meager 17 percent of its high-school graduates met the entrance requirements for four-year colleges. The district quietly quit using that number then recently revised it, without comment, to 46 percent.

What we found: A little shock wave went through Seattle's education community when the district first began suggesting that so few of its students took the courses they needed to apply to a four-year college in this state.

The 17 percent was one of the numbers district leaders used to justify the district's five-year plan that included a new system of assigning students to schools, more testing for students, and new teacher and principal evaluations.
That statistic was false, but the district used the number in presentations to the School Board and to the public.
Other groups picked it up as well, using it to lobby for their own priorities.

The Seattle Council PTSA, for example, cited the statistic in stating why the district needed to make the high-school curriculum more consistent from school to school. In a newsletter sent to school PTAs all over the city, the council said Seattle Public Schools' data "shows that only 17 percent of its students finish high school able to meet the actual admission requirements to public four-year colleges and universities in Washington."

And as recently as August, former Seattle Mayor Norm Rice cited the statistic in a similar way in arguing for what he wanted to see in Seattle's new teachers contract.

About two weeks ago, without fanfare, the district reported a new, much higher number. In a ream of data released that day on how its schools and the district as a whole are doing, it said 46 percent of the students who graduated this past June met the entrance requirements for Washington's public four-year universities.

The district did not call attention to the change, or explain why the number had changed so dramatically.
The reason: The 17 percent was never really what it seemed.

Brad Bernatek, the district's director of research, assessment and evaluation, said he came up with the 17 percent figure in 2008, but it was supposed to be a measure of how many high-school graduates were prepared to succeed in four-year colleges, not just get admitted.

To arrive at that figure, he counted only students who took four years of math and three years of science — more than what's required by public four-year colleges in this state. He also ruled out any student who didn't have a B average, even though a C average is enough to apply.

Deep in an appendix to the district's strategic plan, that's how the 17 percent figure is described.

But to the public and the School Board, the district described the figure inaccurately.

In a presentation used at community meetings in 2008, for example, the district said only 17 percent of its graduates "met the entrance requirements for a four-year college." . . . .