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

Thursday, December 31, 2015


Yes. I used the forbidden phrase. But let’s use those two words as if CCSS had never existed. In fact let’s ask what the true common core of teaching should be.

Young children, as in the forest schools covered in this NYT article (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/31/fashion/outdoor-preschool-in-nature.html?login=email&_r=0&mtrref=query.nytimes.com), are free to ask and discover as their natural curiosity drives them.

Shouldn’t that be at the common core of teaching from pre K all the way through grad school? I am not advocating living in the forest all ones life.  I am advocating that we already know how to make that natural curiosity work in all learning environments, including the classroom. Curiosity revolves around questions.

Imagine instead of memorizing or preparing for tests, regardless of what technology is available, and at any age, we consider how to get all children to learn how to learn and love it by doing the following. If they can do these, then I propose they will be college, career, and life ready.

How do we build on their natural curiosity, not destroy it? To what extent do we use both intrinsic and /or extrinsic motivation?

What is the big question they want to know? These can range from why is the sky blue to… how can I build the tallest tower using the 25 blocks on the rug to ...  to what extent is the 2016 presidential race different from or similar to presidential races throughout American history, or how would you define quantum physics.

What do they need to understand to answer those questions?
What knowledge must they acquire to understand how to answer those questions?

How and where will they acquire the knowledge and understanding necessary to answer their big question or the one posed by their teacher? What are the questions they need to ask to gain the knowledge and understanding required?

What skills must they have or acquire to do all of the above?

I submit to you that these steps hold true at all ages and abilities. They hold true for toy block builders, forest pre K kids, explorers and pioneers, inventors, scientists, and even presidential candidates…. Maybe especially for them.

The means to these ends are endless, regardless of available technology. All involve some kind of wonder, sense of discovery, trial and error, legwork, homework, or research dependent on age, skills, and cognitive abilities. The means also depend on how each child learns best and the particular question asked. The means can be visual, tactile, linear (reading) or aural.  It is our job as teachers to help each of our charges find the right means for them and the subject matter.

Finally, within our classes we know we have children with a range of both cognitive abilities and skills. Some have a high degree of both, some a low degree of both. Some have a high degree of cognitive abilities, but a low degree of basic skills, and some have a low degree of cognitive abilities, but a high degree of basic skills.  For us the challenge is to be able to work with all and each so that they keep that natural curiosity that drives real learning and make sure that each child develops both the highest degree of cognitive abilities and basic skills they are capable of.

If we follow this “common core” of techniques, why does anyone need a Common Core forced on us by state governors, Achieve Inc., and the federal DOE?

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Irresponsible journalism

Submitted to USA Today (Dec. 28)

To the editor:

There have been thousands of research studies done in the last 50 years on how we learn foreign languages, published in reputable scientific journals and books.  Using case histories, experiments and correlational studies, researchers have examined topics such as which methods are more efficient, the role of listening and reading as compared to speaking and writing, the impact of correction and formal grammar study, and the role of personality and motivation.

"Easy ways to study foreign languages" (December 26) included none of this rich storehouse of knowledge, presenting  only the opinions of one (junior) reporter. 

I understand that the writer is a "college contributor." The fault is with the USA Today editors for not providing guidance.  Editors would never allow a reporter to give advice on how to treat cancer without insisting that sources be consulted.  Unfortunately, irresponsible reporting is typical when the topic is education.

Stephen Krashen

Original paper:

Easy ways to study foreign languages

By Maija Inveiss
Struggling to learn a foreign language? A lot of people are in the same boat. Whether you’re just starting to learn a new one or are brushing up for a semester abroad, use these tips to improve your language skills.
Find an organization: Many schools have clubs and organizations that focus on specific foreign languages. At these student meetings you can find others also struggling to pick up a new language, as well as those who have the expertise to help you improve your skills. Importantly, it’s a great way to practice by talking with others — perhaps the best way to pick up a new language. You can also learn about the culture of the country you’re studying.
Watch Netflix: Watch foreign-language films on Netflix. At first, watch the movie with the subtitles — but then turn them off.  Watching American and British TV is often cited as a big way people from other countries have learned English. Learning in this way is fun, too. Don’t have Netflix? No problem! Find a radio station or news station.
Use Duolingo: The app Duolingo is a fun way to refresh your language skills and a great way to study in bite-size pieces. The app provides a well-rounded approach to foreign languages.
Find a pen pal: Services like My Language Exchange can help connect students with other people in who want to practice a foreign language. Reddit also has threads designed to find pen pals. Often you might be able to find a native speaker. Native speakers can teach you slang and more conversational phrases. My Language Exchange gives users 115 different languages to choose from.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Guest Post: Pennsylvania is failing Philly's schools – so, close the schools?

Students walk the halls at De Burgos Elementary School. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

by Daun Kauffman
Daun Kauffman is  North Philadelphia public school teacher. This article is posted on his blog  LucidWitness.com

December 28, 2015

The Pennsylvania Senate's effort to amend the PA School Code (H.B. 530), is part of the backroom wrangling over our state budget.

Senate amendments to the bill require the state to directly take over or close five individual schools every year. This Senate incursion into education is a textbook example of aggression and obstruction with no advance intelligence, no input, from "frontline ground troops." So politicians with uninformed philosophies push more and more state bureaucracy into sectors where the state is ignorant and, in fact, failing.

It is impossible to continue silently enduring simplistic views of learning and teaching practice (by non-practitioners) and simplistic "solution pills" to "fix" or increase learning, which instead continue generating more and more collateral damage: academic damage, systemic damage, financial damage, social damage, personal damage, and more.

Newsflash: There is no simplistic, quick fix, or someone would have done it long ago! In fact, Pennsylvania took over the School District of Philadelphia 15 years ago already! The state's record of academic decline, and their consistent record of precise underfunding of Philadelphia in particular, is a prime cause of our condition, a contrived disaster.

Ask yourself: After 15 years of state management, is the School District of Philadelphia better off today or worse off?

Now politicians want to go even further? The Senate proposes a required micro-management (or closure) from the state level of the five "worst" schools in Philadelphia.

All for the sake of negotiating a state budget?

I ask, "What secret solution does the state have?"

There are no capital programs, no curriculum programs, no books, no supplies, no teacher incentives or punishments, no longer hours, no charter business plans, and no "common core" or "standardized" testing program nor even school closings that start at the center of the learning process. Instead they all focus on the periphery.

The learners, children, are the center. Children are people. It takes highly trained, highly competent people to work with people — with 30 people, in one room, all day, every day, while facilitating learning. Whether we choose to view the truth, or adopt the pol's simplistic view of people (children and teachers) as 'widgets' will determine success and failure.

Also see:

Peg with Pen: Gaslighting & Turnaround Schools

Peg with Pen: Gaslighting & Turnaround Schools: I am currently working in a turnaround school.   A turnaround school is a public school that has been deemed "failing" by policy ...

Rigged Trade Deals, Corporate Core Standards, and Human Commodities

Every so often the corporate foundations and the billionaires need to reach way down in their nasty bag of tired tricks to come up with another smelly old chestnut aimed to infuriate teachers and raise the worry levels of the general public.  Their crass cures (more testing) for false problems are as predictable as their singular diagnosis (failed schools), which identifies the entirely predictable symptoms (low test scores) of a real problem (poverty) that remains entirely ignored by those with the resources to do something about it.

The low standardized test scores are entirely predictable without ever taking even one of the many standardized tests that are used as evidence that public schools have failed to prepare children to become assets to the corporations that pretend to have jobs for them after high school--if they had been prepared for them.  The sad truth, of course, is that there are fewer good jobs today for graduates than there were 10 or 20 or 30 years ago when test scores were no better than they are today.

This gets us to the real crux of the matter, which is entirely hidden in the NYTimes story yesterday that appeared above the fold on the front page.  This is no small mistake but, rather, a planned editorial decision that functions as a specific tactic for a larger strategy.

In the next few weeks, many subtle and not so subtle reminders will be broadcast far and wide as to why we should embrace the coming trade deal. which represents "the most brazen corporate power grab in American history."  Sure to be swept through Congress in the coming days, the TPP, the implicit argument goes, is at least partially needed because American schools are not readying enough human capital for the corporations to exploit.  If they were, American business would not need to send larger swaths of the remaining American jobs into the Eastern Pacific and the Far East, where workers will be exploited out of sight of American shoppers, who watch the video on their new phones of Asian workers jumping out of windows where their phones were made by what amounts to slave labor.

To do what is necessary to lay blame where there is none, a somewhat subtle rationale for sending even more jobs overseas is required. The phony rationale, of course, has everything to do with American graduates who are not "college and career ready." The way we know this, of course, is through "data," which comes from the same antiquated and racist tests that have been used for hundred years for social weeding and placing blame on a social institution (schools) that can never ever alter the conditions that are chiefly responsible for the vast gaps in scores between rich and poor.

At the same time, all the smug bastards from ExxonMobil or AT&T or Volvo are hedging their bets and ready to leap even deeper into the virgin Pacific Basin terrains for unregulated exploitation and economic wildcatting.  In the meantime, American schools will be blamed if and when the leap occurs.  Had we just done our job as educators, businessmen would not be burdened with establishing education policy and running our schools.  When will we ever understand how that works?

Saturday, December 26, 2015

NYU's Online Teacher Prep for the Poor

NYU announced last week that the university will begin selling an online teacher prep Masters program that is aimed at the poor and brown school children of America.  Not to worry, though, NYU's Steinhardt School will continue to provide real professional teacher undergrad degrees to those students who have plans to teach in Westchester County or some other white enclave within America's leafiest suburbs.

No doubt NYU plans to make a lot of money on this internship-based online program, and no doubt some of the millions of non-profit dollars that the University rakes in will be used to pay for the millions recently laid out for renovations and palatial treatments to NYU's presidential living quarters overlooking Washington Square in lower Manhattan.  The cash brought in from NYU's exploitative teacher prep for the poor will also be helpful in paying the $800,000 per year in retirement benefits when the current university president floats away on his golden parachute.

You may be wondering how an online Masters program will provide supervision for students dumped into schools without the benefit of any previous professional training.  No problem: NYU has partnered with of Silicon Valley's best white salesmen to provide digital connections, recorded lessons, and surveillance from afar.  All saved to corporate servers and ready to be used in whatever ways may be salable.  Protections for students and interns?  Data security? Informed consent?  Nonsense, this is the Steinhardt School, and these are poor kids, after all.
NYU Steinhardt will use Silicon Valley-based HotChalk’s technology platform, including an online video observation and collaboration tool provided by the New Orleans-based startup Torsh, Inc., to enable rigorous analytics designed to support, term after term, a continuous cycle of measuring, learning, and adapting to improve educational outcomes for students and teachers alike.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Teacher's Reminiscense Highlights How KIPP Is So Different

The education industry's education news outlet, Chalkbeat, has a short feature infomercial on an African-American KIPP teacher in Indianapolis. His name is Andrew, and Andrew grew up attending a socioeconomically diverse magnet school in Louisville, KY.  He speaks proudly about the benefits of such an education, and the irony presented by Andrew's current teaching job at an intensely segregated KIPP seems entirely lost on him or the reporter who wrote the story.

Andrew's story in Chalkbeat confirms the powerful learning and cultural benefits of socioeconomic diversity that we have known about since James Coleman's research began in the 1960s.  Sadly, Andrew is teaching in a segregated "No Excuses" school that offers children none of the diversity advantages that Andrew enjoyed while growing up in Louisville. 

Instead, Andrew's KIPP students remain rigidly segregated in total compliance chain gang schools that middle class parents would never allow for their own children.  The beneficiaries of KIPP's kind of miseducation are corporate foundations and the education industry, and the result is the building of charter business empires on the backs of the most vulnerable children, who must bear the burden of the paternalistic programs and Broken Windows philosophy that are aimed to culturally sterilize the poor.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Will the Real Hillary Clinton Please Stand Up?

Hillary Clinton with Eli Broad at the pre-ball dinner hosted by Broad
at the Inauguration Ball of Barack Obama on January 20, 2009.

by Ken Derstine

December 23, 2015

Hillary Clinton has caused a major scramble by her supporters after she spoke at a small high school outside Des Moines, Iowa. In her remarks she told the students at Keota High School on Tuesday, December 22,

This school district and these schools throughout Iowa are doing a better than average job. Now I wouldn't keep any school open that wasn't doing a better than average job. If a school is not doing a good job then, you know, that may not be good for the kids, but when you have a district that is doing a good job it seems kind of counterproductive to impose financial burdens on it.

Her political opponents have seized on this, claiming that she is in favor of closing almost half the schools in the country.

U.S. News and World Report came to her defense Wednesday, December 23, saying her remarks “were taken out of context”. Education writer Diane Ravitch agreed. Sounding like a Clinton campaign manager, Ravitch echoed the paper, saying.

She mis-spoke. Hillary understands that the federal government doesn’t close schools. Period. A mistake. A slip of the tongue. An unthinking bow to corporatist ideology. She was wrong and she knows it. She has to walk back this careless statement. We don’t need any more school closings. Such closings have had a disproportionately harmful affect on communities of color.  Talk about school support, school helping, not closings. That’s yesterday.

So where does Clinton stand on the Broad method of closing “low-performing” public schools in low-income communities and turning them over to charters?

In a December 17th article in the Wall Street Journal, “Clinton Views on Charter Schools, Teacher Evaluations Upset Some Democrats” (You must do a Google search for the article title to get the full article.) it was reported that some neo-liberal Democrats are worried that Hillary Clinton isn’t fully committed to corporate education reform. Laura Meckler reported,

Their worries stem from skeptical comments she has made about charter schools and teacher evaluations, as well as her close relationship with teachers’ unions, who are critical of both.

There are a lot of deep-pocketed donors who are concerned, and they’re going to hang onto their checkbooks until there is more clarity,” said Whitney Tilson, managing partner of Kase Capital, who has given more than $150,000 to Democrats in recent years. He hasn’t donated any money to Mrs. Clinton or the super PAC supporting her this year “primarily because of this issue.”

Another major Democratic donor, Eli Broad, refused requests for contributions from another friendly super PAC, and only changed his mind after personal reassurances from former President Bill Clinton and campaign chairman John Podesta that Mrs. Clinton will support charter schools.

Besides the misleading statement that the leadership of the teachers’ unions are opposed to teacher evaluations based on standardized tests and charters, the article portrays Eli Broad and Bill Clinton as distant acquaintances.  On September 19, 2015, at the dedication of Eli Broad’s museum in Los Angeles, the LA Times Reported,

Of his friendship with the Broads, Clinton turned to them and asked,
“What year did you come and sit in the living room with me?” Edythe Broad noted that Clinton daughter Chelsea, now an active figure in the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative, had been a baby at the time and that Hillary Rodham Clinton, a Democratic presidential candidate and former secretary of State, had been Eli’s lawyer. After settling on 1983, Clinton said, “I looked up one day and Eli was in my living room, and my life has never been the same.” (Boldface added)

Far from being distant acquaintances, the Clinton’s have had a close relationship with Eli Broad for more than thirty years. [See my article “Eli Broad and the Clintons: Update of the Update” for the full details.]

It should also be pointed out that Mortimer Zuckerman, the chairman and editor-in-chief of the U.S. News and World Report (and publisher of the New York Daily News), was on the Broad Foundation Board of Directors for a number of years.

Also see:

Context Does Not Absolve Clinton
Curmudgucation – December 23, 2015

Hillary Clinton: Still on the Hook
Mercedes Schneider @ deutsch29 

Was Hillary misquoted? Taken out of context?
Mike Klonsky's Smalltalk Blog - December 23, 2015
Includes a report on Randi Weingarten's supporting role in the damage control.

Which Side Are You On, Hillary?
The New York Times - March 12, 2015

Ignored, Uninformed and for the GOP, Crazy for Charters: Presidential Candidates Get an F Grade on K-12 Public Education
Alternet - March 24, 2016


For more related links, see this article on Defend Public Education!

ESSA Does Not End NCLB

For the corporate unions and their paid stooges, the confetti from the ESSA celebration is probably getting a little soggy by now.  For anyone who has looked inside the rewrite of ESEA has done nothing but rain on the Ravitch and FairTest parade ever since. 

From a letter from ED dated December 22, 2015. If you believed the lie that federal mandates and "test and punish" are over, then think again. 

But I guess I "quibbling."  After all, there is no punishment unless you don't test, which is still the racist tool that will be used to shut down public schools in favor of segregated chain gang charters.

My bolds:

Dear Chief State School Officer: 
Before the spring 2016 test administration, I would like to take this opportunity to remind you of key assessment requirements that exist under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (ESEA). These requirements will remain in place for the 20152016 school year, and similar requirements are included in the recently signed reauthorization of the ESEA, known as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). 

A high-quality, annual statewide assessment system that includes all students is essential to provide local leaders, educators, and parents with the information they need to identify the resources and supports that are necessary to help every student succeed in school and in a career. Such a system also highlights the need for continued work toward equity and closing achievement gaps among subgroups of historically underserved students by holding all students to the same high expectations.

Section 1111(b)(3)1 of the ESEA requires each State educational agency (SEA) that receives funds under Title I, Part A of the ESEA to implement in each local educational agency (LEA) in the State a set of high-quality academic assessments that includes, at a minimum, assessments in mathematics and reading/language arts administered in each of grades 3 through 8 and not less than once during grades 10 through 12; and in science not less than once during grades 3 through 5, grades 6 through 9, and grades 10 through 12. Furthermore, ESEA sections 1111(b)(3)(C)(i) and (ix)(I) require State assessments to “be the same academic assessments used to measure the achievement of all children” and “provide for the participation in such assessments of all students” (emphasis added). These requirements do not allow students to be excluded from statewide assessments. Rather, they set out the legal rule that all students in the tested grades must be assessed. 
. . . .

  1. If a State with participation rates below 95% in the 2014−2015 school year fails to assess at least 95% of its students on the statewide assessment in the 20152016 school year, ED will take one or more of the following actions: (1) withhold Title I, Part A State administrative funds; (2) place the State’s Title I, Part A grant on high-risk status and direct the State to use a portion of its Title I State administrative funds to address low participation rates; or (3) withhold or redirect Title VI State assessment funds. 

    For all States, ED will consider the appropriate action to take for any State that does not assess at least 95 percent of its students in the 20152016 school year overall and for each subgroup of students and among its LEAs. To determine what action is most appropriate, ED will consider SEA and LEA participation rate data for the 20152016 school year, as well as action the SEA has taken with respect to any LEA noncompliance with the assessment requirements of the ESEA.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

ASD Advisory Councils in Memphis Calls ASD Process a "Scam"

Last week Shelby County Schools called for a halt to Achievement School District takeovers in and around Memphis.

This week it seems the ASD hostile school takeover scheme has hit another snag, when a group set up by ASD to rubber stamp its plans called the process a "scam."  From the Commercial Appeal:
The group of people the state-run Achievement School District picked to add transparency to the school takeover process turned against the ASD on Monday, claiming the matching process was "a scam" meant to give the illusion of community input.

The group held a news conference in front of the Shelby County Schools administration building, although a statement from SCS said the district was not directly involved in the event. No one from the SCS administration was present, but board member Stephanie Love attended and spoke.

She, along with members of the neighborhood advisory councils that evaluated charter operators, called for families in the four schools slated for ASD takeover not to attend those schools next year.

"I am asking every parent whose school was taken over: Do not send your children to that school," Love said. "You begin to call the board and you tell us that you want us to put your children in a Shelby County school." . . . .

Friday, December 18, 2015

Ravitch's Blinding Insight

Diane Ravitch was a staunch supporter of the rewrite of ESEA until it was passed.  Ever since last April, Ravitch and various neoliberal groups that she fronts for have maintained a steady stream of enthused propaganda about the ESEA rewrite. 

Now that the status quo of testing, privatization, and segregation has been guaranteed for another few years with the rewrite that she supported, Ravitch seems to have suddenly seen the light:
The Every Student Succeeds Act shifts much–though not all–of the responsibity [sic] for testing and accountability to the states. States have more flexibility, if they choose to exercise it. Many states, lacking imagination or thoughtfulness, will continue to do what the Department of Education and NCLB forced them to do.
What will she discover next?

An Inspiring Holiday Poem

Thursday, December 17, 2015

From ESEA to ESSA: The Hole Gets Deeper

Modern education reform started in 1965, when the passage of the first Elementary and Secondary Education Act signaled that policy elites had chosen the politically expedient over the morally responsible.  In doing so, the root causes of poverty and racism were buried beneath a mountain of misplaced blame labeled school accountability.  The segment below this post from The Mismeasure of Education explains what I mean.

Beginning with ESEA, unequal student achievement became the proxy for deep inequalities that go all the way back to slavery, but instead of addressing the resulting poverty that is always mirrored in test scores, Lyndon Johnson and the Congress chose to travel the low and easy political road of pretending to fix schools, which quickly turned into a blame game that got everyone outside of schools off the hook for a deep and unacknowledged societal shame that was unequaled in the Western world.

Now fifty years later nothing has changed except that American businessmen have turned five decades of inept schooling interventions into an education industry that generates major revenue streams worth billions of dollars, which effectively cut channels that direct the flow of our society's children based on the whims of capitalists without conscience.

The recent passage of the reauthorization of ESEA shows that education reform has become much like the permanent "war on terror:" never-ending, misdirected, and arrogantly uninterested in the long term outcomes.  The shame of the nation, as Kozol called our great moral failing, just got more shameful.

Background reading below from The Mismeasure of Education, which offers an explication of the educational events of the 1960s.

The Modern Testing Era Begins
         As noted earlier, education has not always been the chosen road to opportunity and upward mobility.  The case had to be made, and the solution had to be sold, and James Conant was instrumental toward establishing education as the means to that end.  Between the New Deal and the early 1960s, policy makers at the national level consciously chose to focus efforts to establish social and economic equity through increasing access to education (Kantor & Lowe, 1994), rather than the more expensive and politically unpopular route of wealth redistribution, job creation, guaranteed minimum income levels, and programs to disrupt segregated living patterns and inadequate health care provisions. Progressives in the U. S. had advocated during the 1930s for the kind of social and economic development efforts that became institutionalized in the social democracies of Western Europe and Scandinavia after World War II, and the “movement to expand government control of the market and to alter its distributional patterns seemed likely to succeed even in the United States” (p. 6).  Following World War II, however, the GI Bill, the rhetorical messaging of leaders like Conant, and successes within the labor movement had, in effect, reduced the perceived need for direct government structural intervention in social equity efforts. The NAACP’s focus, too, on school desegregation as the primary civil rights agenda added to the impetus already taking hold:
By the late 1950s and early 1960s, the political space for active state intervention in the market had thus shrunken considerably. Although the Civil Rights movement sought to put full employment planning and income redistribution back on the public agenda, these policies generated little support from the middle class or from blue collar workers who received benefits mainly through the private sector. Consequently, when policy makers in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations began to formulate poverty policy, they ruled out active government intervention to create jobs and redistribute income because without widespread popular support they did not think they could win approval for such measures in Congress (p. 7).
Even though the federal strategy of increasing educational opportunities with large infusions of cash was able to buy Southern support, finally, for the desegregation of schools, it set a precedent for future generations policy elites who continue to espouse the belief that “education is the civil rights issue of our generation” (Lewin, 2012, para 5). This expression has taken on a deep sense irony in recent years, since federal education funding sets a high priority on the unlimited spread of charter schools, which have a clear segregative effect (Frankenberg, Siegel-Hawley, & Wang, 2010; Miron, Urschel, Mathis, & Tornquist, 2010) on public schools, even in areas where schools were intensely segregated already.     
         The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) came one year after the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, and President Lyndon Johnson promoted ESEA as a hard-to-ignore financial incentive aimed to make palatable the non-discrimination requirements of the Civil Rights Act for Southern segregationists.  Johnson hoped that the ESEA funds offered to states and cities that agreed to desegregate would finally break the back of Southern apartheid, which had remained largely undisturbed despite the 1954 unanimous Supreme Court decision in Brown v Topeka Board of Education decision.  The plan was hugely successful, so much so that apartheid education largely disappeared in 17 Southern states by the late 1960s (Orfield, from Mondale & Patton, 2001). Distrustful, however, of the Southern political establishment in general and Lyndon Johnson in particular, Senator Robert Kennedy did not want to see the draining away of millions of Title I dollars before they could ever reach the malignantly and impoverished minority children for whom Title I was intended (Lagemann, 2000).  Kennedy, in fact, argued for standardized procedures and uniform data gathering, and he called for a “good faith administration effort to hold educators responsive to their constituencies and to make educational achievement the touchstone of success in judging ESEA” (Mathison, 2009, p. 6). At a Senate hearing in 1965, Kennedy went so far as to propose “some testing system that would be established [by] which the people at the local community would know periodically as to what progress had been made” (Barone, 2007, p. 4).  In advocating program evaluations for the original ESEA Title I programs, Kennedy unwittingly served to inspire the program accountability movement in education (p. 10).
Robert Kennedy’s efforts to find out if poor children were actually learning to read were complicated by new federal budgeting requirements for implementing cost-benefit analyses aimed to increase efficiency in federal spending by identifying the most successful programs.  Satisfying either aim would have been difficult for a single evaluation scheme, but satisfying both proved entirely too much.  Further complicating efforts, as Ellen Lagemann (2000) has pointed out, were state fears and resentment related to potential federal control or state embarrassment for poor results. All of these concerns were on the table as a new national assessment was being developed, field tested, and administered in 1969.  It was called the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), and today it is known as America’s Report Card.  More will be said about NAEP in Part IV, particularly as it relates to the use of arbitrary and unrealistic norming in order to then use the low test results for political purposes.

         Another seminal event that unwittingly contributed to the growth of the educational accountability by testing is known today as the Coleman Report (Coleman, et al, 1966). The mandate for the Coleman report came from the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which required a research study be conducted within two years of passage to identify where educational resources in public educational institutions were lacking due to “race, color, religion, or national origin” (Lagemann, 2000, p. 193). Almost overnight, previous education program evaluation criteria based on resource inputs shifted to program outputs as the mandate for tracking education program effectiveness was written into federal legislation.
While everyone, including James Coleman, expected to find large differences in achievement based on large differences in resources between the 600,000 children that his study included in 4,000 black and white schools, the findings confounded expectations.  As Coleman scholar, Gerald Grant (2009) points out, Coleman found discrepancies in spending between black and white schools to be less than expected, due to infusions of cash by Southern states in hopes of maintaining the “separate but equal” apartheid systems.  But even where resource differences were large, Coleman found these disparities in black schools influenced student achievement differences much less than “who you went to school with:”
       Simply put, Coleman found that the achievement of both poor and rich children was depressed by attending a school where most children came from low-income families.  More important to the goal of achieving equal educational opportunity, he found that the achievement of poor children was raised by attending a predominantly middle-class school, while the achievement of affluent children in the school was not harmed.  This was true even if per-pupil expenditures were the same at both schools.  No research over the past forty years has overturned Coleman’s finding . . . (p. 159). 
         Coleman and his team (1966) found, too, that non-Asian minority children are more affected by social composition than are white children, and that “if a minority pupil from a home without much educational strength is put with schoolmates with strong educational backgrounds, his achievement is likely to increase” (p. 22).  Though this finding is commonly cited in analyses and interpretations of the Coleman study, the dynamics that shape this social fact are most often attributed to the social capital that accrues for various reasons when poor children go to school with middle class children.  Coleman, however, clearly introduces a race element beyond socioeconomic status that is related to the effects of oppression and demoralization that is rarely cited.  Therefore, we include this rather lengthy quote below, which if attended to by policy makers, would doubtless create an added urgency to dust off long-neglected integration plans.  Notice that Coleman remains loyal to and supportive of the charge given him under Section 402 of Civil Rights Act of 1964 to provide data related to “the lack of equal educational opportunity for individuals by reason of race, color, religion or national origin . . .”, even though his investigations have led him to findings that even Coleman could not have predicted:
This analysis has concentrated on the educational opportunities offered by the schools in terms of the student body composition, facilities, curriculums, and teachers.  This emphasis, while entirely appropriate as a response to the legislation for the survey, nevertheless neglects important factors in the variability between individual pupils within the same school: this variability is roughly four times as large as the variability between schools.  For example, a pupil attitude factor, which appears to have a stronger relationship to achievement than do all the “school” factors together, is the extent to which an individual feels that he has some control over his own destiny [italics added]. . . . The responses of pupils, except for Orientals, have far less conviction than whites that they can affect their own environments and futures.  When they do, however, their achievement is higher than that of whites who lack that conviction.
         Furthermore, while this characteristic shows little relationship to most school factors, it is related, for Negroes, to the proportion of whites in the schools.  Those Negroes in schools with a higher proportion of whites have a greater sense of control.  This finding suggests that the direction such an attitude takes may be associated with the pupul’s school expererience as well as the experience in the larger community (p. 23).
Coleman found hope, then, strongly correlated with the presence of a sense of autonomy, which is more easily demonstrated, measured, and retained where racial and economic mixing prevails, rather than in racially and economically segregated environments—whether that segregation is sustained by antiquated beliefs, legal maneuvering, or by outdated school assessment practices.  And it was this “pupil attitude factor” of hope that had a greater effect on achievement than all other school effects examined in the Coleman study, which remains the largest research undertaking of its kind in U. S. educational history.
         The Coleman findings on socioeconomic status and school achievement echoed the findings of another large, longitudinal study a few years earlier, whose similar results on the topic were similarly ignored (for similar reasons, we may assume).  The federal research project in 1960, Project Talent, involved detailed questionnaires in over 1,300 high schools and a series of tests for 440,000 students that included achievement, attitudinal, interest, and aptitude tests, surveys, and questionnaires. Instruments were administered in 1960 when students were 9th graders and again in 1963 when they were seniors.  By 1973, it is clear that Washington’s elite had digested the implications of these studies, as expressed here by fiscal and monetary expert, Alice Rivlin (1973):
       The most general result of these statistical studies [the Coleman Study and the Project Talent study] has been the finding that variables reflecting the socioeconomic characteristics of students and their families explain most of the variation in test scores, and variables reflecting school characteristics or resource inputs explain very little. 

       These results should not be exaggerated—they do not prove that "schools don't matter"—but they certainly provide a basis for considerable skepticism about using test scores as measures of the output of the education industry as such. Test score changes may primarily reflect changes in the school population and the way it is mixed, rather than the productivity of school resources themselves (p. 424).
Lagemann (2000) recounts the drama surrounding the release of the Coleman Report’s initial findings in 1966, and the subsequent “firestorm” set off within the Johnson Administration, which knew that Coleman’s findings could sabotage the Administration’s strategy of using the federal purse to buy Southern support to end apartheid schooling in the South, as set forth by ESEA the year before.  Johnson knew that Republicans, already resistant to more federal spending, would seize and exploit the counterintuitive fact that spending levels were clearly not the prime factor in performance discrepancies.  Coleman’s findings, too, offered a swipe at a core component of the American secular faith in education and educational opportunity as “the chief instrument for redressing the inequalities of American life” (Kantor, 1991, p. 50). 
This lofty notion had, indeed, fed the Jeffersonian belief, later transferred to Horace Mann, that education may provide solutions to social problems that were thought to be the result of the poor’s own shortcomings.  Blaming the poor for their poverty is as traditional as our Calvinist forefathers of Puritan New England, who viewed the socioeconomically unfit as having earned their lack of status through their own moral failings (Rippa, 1996).  These shortcomings, in turn, might signal the column of the celestial tally sheet to which all souls had been added who were not part of the Elect, or God’s elite.  From this early theological base, there eventually grew the Protestant economic catechism of the Gilded Age, with ample doses thrown in of Social Darwinism, which “held that responsibility for poverty lay not with the business cycle or the existence of a capitalist reserve army of the unemployed, but with the moral failure of the poor themselves to conduct proper family economy” (Dawley, 1993, p. 27).
By the 1960s the poor’s personal flaws and the lifestyles (Kantor, 1991) they spawned were bundled within a new and encompassing concept known as the “culture of poverty,” which acknowledged structural barriers as well as the traditional blaming of the victim[i]:
First, though it acknowledged the structural sources of deprivation, the culture of poverty thesis tended to focus attention more on the personal characteristics of the poor themselves than on the economic and social conditions that shaped their lives (Aaron, 1978, p. 20). Consequently, and this is the second point, because it implied that people were poor due to their own attitudes, behaviors, and life-styles, it suggested that changing the poor rather than redistributing income or creating jobs was the best way to eliminate the problem of poverty (p. 55).  
         The third characteristic that Kantor (1991) attributes to the “culture-of-poverty thesis” was its belief that, since the economic and psychological conditions left the poor without the “will and capacity to attack the sources of their own deprivation” (p. 55), professional intervention was required, which assured a powerful role for the liberal public policy makers during the 1960s.  Such interventions, however, did not disrupt the underlying assumptions of economic order, systems of privilege, or existing power relations, as initiatives to help the poor focused more on education and training programs.  As noted earlier, these kinds of compensatory solutions could be provided without disrupting the social and economic structures that would have been challenged by job creation programs or other alterations to economic and socio-cultural patterns.  The preferred compensatory strategies adopted by liberals could “compensate for capitalism's inevitable flaws and omissions without interfering with its internal workings” (Kantor quoting Brinkley, 1991, p. 56).
         Coleman’s findings, however, were not governed by any of these assumptions.  His findings clearly suggest the need for structural alterations to the racial and socioeconomic organization of schools, while clearly pointing to the limited value of simply adding resources without structural modifications.  The initial findings of the Coleman Report, therefore, were appropriately muted by Johnson’s White House; the media, with no open controversy to sell copy and with its accepted narrative wisdom to protect, largely ignored the complete findings when they did appear late in 1966 (Coleman et al, 1966).  Both liberal and conservative policy people, then, read the Coleman Report looking for ideological ammunition, and they found it.  Conservatives centrally concerned with cutting costs and conserving the status quo cherry-picked Coleman’s findings (Alexander, 1997) to argue that “throwing money”[ii] at educational problems couldn’t fix them, while liberals used Coleman’s findings related to social capital and the importance of racial and economic mixing to argue for mandatory busing policies to achieve racial balance.  Coleman remained disappointed (Coleman, 1972) at the reception of the study, and he remained throughout his life an advocate for removing all barriers to socioeconomic integration, even as an interim measure toward achieving equity and equality (Kahlenberg, 2001). Kahlenberg (2001) cites Coleman from a rare interview in 1972, in which his claim for the significance of social capital is made unequivocal:
Coleman said that research continued to show that "a child's performance, especially a working-class child's performance, is greatly benefited by his going to a school with children who come from educationally stronger backgrounds." Coleman declared flatly: "A child's learning is a function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher" (p. 62).
         How different today’s education reform agenda might be if Coleman’s core finding had been acknowledged and taken to heart for its central truth: schools alone can never consistently close the gaps in achievement that reflect deep differences in levels of autonomy and privilege, wide disparities in opportunity, deep veins of racism, and an ongoing and deepening hope gap.  How different our schools might be if we were to take seriously what good research already tells us, or if we as a society were to fund other social science research with the potential to matter in the health of our neighborhoods and our world.  Or how differently our schools and our perception of schools might be if we were to conceive of educational improvement as one important component of a comprehensive commitment to social and economic renewal, in a way that acknowledges the wisdom expressed by Jean Anyon’s (1997) quip:  “Attempting to fix inner city schools without fixing the city in which they are embedded is like trying to clean the air on one side of a screen door” (p. 168).
         Instead, it would seem that another, though harsher, version of corporate education reform is now aimed toward U. S. schools.  The latest testing/accountability scheme of Race to the Top continues to ignore Coleman’s core research findings on how social and economic segregation impact achievement, even as today’s corporate reformers continue to cite education[iii] as the civil rights issue of the present era.  If we are to believe, then, the mountain of scholarship[iv] that validates Coleman’s findings (Garoran & Long, 2006) as they relate to the power of shared social capital and the limited capacity of schools alone to end output gaps as measured by test scores, we must surely find ways to counter the essential irrationality that says there are “no excuses” for children and teachers segregated by race and class, who must accomplish the impossible or, else, accept the punishing and inescapable consequences.  Here we are reminded Richard Hofstadter’s (1955) warning to those who dare challenge the status quo masked as reform:
In determining whether . . . [social] ideas are accepted, truth and logic are less important criteria than suitability to the intellectual needs and preconceptions of social interests.  This is one of the great difficulties that must be faced by rational strategists of social change” (p. 204).
         Until such time that our society signals a return to common sense and humane values applied to education policymaking, we may wonder what calamities may be required to halt this generation’s “revolving, reformist administrative shell game” (Martin, Overholt, & Urban, 1976, p. 71) to preserve the status quo while proclaiming change.  During the first half of the previous century’s “orgy of tabulation” (Rugg, 1975), it took an economic depression and a world war to interrupt the virulent social-efficiency engineering project that eventually threatened democracy and human rights everywhere.   Will we, once again, choose the failed efforts and dangerous intoxicants of the past in a different guise, while ignoring the continuing retrenchment of structural inequality and social inequity that make our democratic ideals increasingly arcane and the hope that sustains us, adults and children alike, less likely with each passing school year?

[i]  William Ryan coined the phrase, “blaming the victim,” in his 1971 book of the same title, Blaming the Victim.
[ii]  Karl Alexander (1997) traces the skeptical research related to school spending to economist Eric Hanushek, longtime Fellow at the conservative think tank, the Hoover Institution: 
Hanushek's first literature review, titled "Throwing Money at Schools," covers 130 school-level and person-level analyses of basic "bread and butter" issues, including effects on student performance of pupil expenditures, class size, and teacher experience. His conclusion (1981:30): "Higher school expenditures per pupil bear no visible relationship to higher student performance." That was in 1981. Then in 1989, with more studies in hand (N = 187): "There is no strong or systematic relationship between schooling expenditures and student performance." (Hanushek 1989:47).
   Words like "strong" and "systematic" somewhat qualify the 1981 conclusion, but the impression stands, and people in high places take this work seriously. In a series of speeches in 1988, Former Secretary of Education William Bennett invoked Hanushek's work to conclude: "Money doesn't cure school problems. We've done 147 studies at the Department of Education and we cannot show a strong, positive correlation between spending more and getting better results" (cited in Baker 1991).
   Such a sweeping conclusion is very likely wrong, however. For example, a recent meta-analysis (Hedges, Laine & Greenwald 1994:11) of Hanushek's 1989 data finds "substantially positive effects" for per pupil expenditures and for teacher experience and "typically positive" effects for teacher salary, administrative inputs, and facilities.
[iii] Since his appointment in 2009, Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, repeatedly claimed that “education is the civil rights issue of this generation” (http://chronicle.com/article/article-content/64567/).  In laying out his similarly focused, though more aggressively privatized, education policy agenda in June 2012, the Republican contender, Mitt Romney also called education “the civil rights issue of our era” (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/24/us/politics/romney-calls-failing-schools-civil-rights-issue-of-our-era.html).  Both political parties continue to embrace charter schools as a key policy initiative, even though charters have been found to have segregative effects, even in schools systems that are intensely segregated (Frankenberg, Siegel-Hawley, & Wang, 2010; Miron, Urschel, Mathis, & Tornquist, 2010).
[iv] See Applications of social capital in educational literature: A critical synthesis (Dika & Kusum, 2002) Review of Educational Research, Vol. 72, No. 1 (Spring, 2002), pp. 31-60