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

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Dubious Claims by the TN Dept. of Education

Tennessee politicians enjoy a long, sordid history of underfunding public schools, crying about poor education quality, making outrageous demands of students and teachers, and complaining about federal interference while begging for federal grant stashes to keep state school doors open. 

One of those big stashes of federal cash is about to run out in 2019 unless state politicians can gin up a good reason for extending the Gear Up TN, a 7-year grant awarded in 2012 "that aims to expand the college-going culture in Tennessee and empower students to succeed."  

This program, which focuses largely on counseling high school students into college and career fields that fit the needs of corporations receiving huge public incentives to locate in Tennessee, is worth $29,590,281 to state politicians, who, by the way, are unwilling to ask TN's wealthy elites or said corporations to pay a fair share to educate Tennessee children.

And so recently the TN Department of Education (TDOE) manufactured a report that claimed that 30 percent of TN's high school graduates had skirted high school requirements, as established in 2010 by Business Roundtable honchos with the U. S. Diploma Project.  Could this be the reason why so many kids drop out of college, the State asks.  How could this happen! 

According to TDOE, it would seem that quite overnight the State realized that Tennessee school counselor corps falling down on the job, along with administrators and teachers who should act as counselors when counselors can't keep up.  And thank goodness, too, for Gear Up TN.  Where would the state be without it!! 

Obviously, TDOE never guessed that someone might challenge their phony claims that were published in this glossy report.  And as you might guess, TDOE never asked local school boards or superintendents to help verify the shocking statistic that 30 percent of graduates were not taking required courses to graduate.

Well, a local superintendent did challenge the fake numbers and came up with quite a different set of numbers.  The news spread, and now the TDOE phony data has been exposed:
While state officials continue to check districts’ data, it appears that more than 70 percent of what looked like missing requirements were in fact data errors. Thirty percent of the time, students had actually been allowed to graduate without taking required courses — meaning that only about 12 percent of graduates overall had not met requirements.
TN Ed Commish, Candace McQueen, added this bit spin that somehow does not restore confidence:
McQueen said the state is taking several steps. At the top of the list, she said, is working with the companies that manage student information to improve data entry.
Does anyone know which companies she is talking about?  Are these the same companies that produced the Report?  How reliable or secure is this student data?

How embarrassing for Haslam's coterie of dissemblers at TDOE.  How will they now justify another $30 million of Gear Up TN federal welfare grants to fund what fiscal conservatives won't pay, themselves?  Surely, one of the State's contracted data mercenaries can come up with something.

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