Archive for the ‘Education “reform”’ Category

Klein cashes in on education “reform”

May 19, 2011 Leave a comment

With the possible exception of Michelle Rhee, no leader of the education “reform” claque says worse things about teachers than Joel Klein, the former NY City schools chancellor.

Klein is at it again in The Atlantic, with the modestly titled “Who Ruined Our Schools: An Insider Tells All.”  Any guesses who’s at fault? Here’s Valerie Strauss’s summary:

[A]dults in education (except for him and others who agree with him) only care about themselves and not about helping kids learn and … the lousy teaching corps and its unions are responsible for the sorry state of public education.

So who did Klein go to work for when he left the NYC schools? Renowned public-education advocate Rupert Murdoch, that’s who!

He now is executive vice president at … News Corp.; two weeks after his move was announced, the company said it was buying a technology company with big financial ties to the New York City school system.

Klein champions the Billionaire Boys Club agenda, especially the insistence on linking teacher evaluation to student scores on standardized tests. (Just because his claims about test-score improvement on his watch in NYC proved untrue, and just because research shows the linkage lacks validity and reliability, he doesn’t care. Like Bush 43, Klein apparently believes the same things on Wednesday as he did on Monday, no matter what happens on Tuesday.)

Bill Sez: I fully agree with Valerie Strauss –

Accusing several million teachers of being lazy and caring only for their pensions won’t improve public schools. Using questionable methods to evaluate teachers won’t either. And turning the public education system, a civic institution that is not a business and should not be run as one, into “a competitive marketplace,” as Klein suggests, will cause enormous damage that leaves far more kids behind than there are now.


New NY Education Commish Fits Billionaire Boys Club Model

May 18, 2011 Leave a comment

There’s a powerful personal story in the appointment of Dr. John King, Jr., to be New York’s new state education commissioner, the first African-American and first Puerto Rican to hold the post. King’s parents both died before he turned 13, and he credits public-school teachers with encouraging him on a path to undergraduate study at Harvard, a law degree from Yale and a doctorate from Columbia.

Chancellor of the NYS Board of Regents Meryl Tisch was fulsome in her praise for King:

“John has dedicated his career to closing the achievement gap and raising the level of achievement for all,” she said in a statement. “He has a deep, passionate, personal commitment to public education and will be an outstanding commissioner for all New Yorkers.”

What might be on King’s agenda as commissioner? Look at his background and take a guess: he co-founded a charter school in Boston and was managing director with Uncommon Schools, described as a non-profit charter management organization. Think he might be favorable to more charter schools in public education?

Is anyone surprised that an advocate of education “reform” ideas got this job? Could it be related to incredible levels of spending by the Billionaire Boys Club to advance an agenda that includes charter schools, mayoral control, and teacher evaluation and pay tied to student test scores?

Read more…

Schools, kids shouldn’t be waiting for Superman

May 2, 2011 Leave a comment

Now that Billionaire Boys Club-trained Jean-Claude Brizard is leaving the Rochester school district for Chicago, it’s a good time to drop the “waiting for Superman” expectation that any one person in any single job can transform public education in any mid-size to large US city.

Kudos then to Rochester Democrat and Chronicle columnist Mark Hare for yesterday’s essay, “Brizard’s departure should be wake-up call.” Said Hare:

We are very likely to spend the next several months or longer debating the kind of leader the city schools should have. The subtext is: The right superintendent can save public education in Rochester. The facts say there is no such person.

You can understand why the Noise Machine and pro-Brizard corporate types like to focus on the “Superman” model; it means they can ignore the tremendous economic and social disadvantages faced by city kids, growing up in harsh poverty in environments offering little support for educational achievement. Hare comments:

[T]oo many people (I hear from lots of them) think we just need a no-nonsense leader or unions with less clout. They blame parents and even the children themselves, faulting their morals and work ethic. They send me racist and ignorant emails insisting that minorities would destroy public education in the suburbs.

Hare supports expanding programs that enable city students to attend suburban schools, citing research by Richard Kahlenberg of The Century Foundation. He knows the opposition to a completely metropolitan school district would be overwhelming.

Bill Sez: That could help. But I really cheer when Hare adds, “If Brizard’s departure could move us beyond the search for superman to the search for community solutions, we’d owe him big-time.”

Did high-stakes testing produce cheating in Philly, too?

May 1, 2011 Leave a comment

On top of USA Today’s investigation of improbable test-sheet corrections in the DC public schools, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports today on the possibility of “testing irregularities” at a middle school that apparently achieved huge gains on state-mandated tests, earning public acclaim from ex-Gov Ed Rendell and others.

According to the Inquirer,

In just two years, the 400 seventh and eighth graders at Theodore Roosevelt Middle School in East Germantown had jumped a stunning 52 points in math on a 100-point scale and 51 in reading on the statewide assessment known as the PSSA. The improvement was the best – by a considerable margin – of any comparable school in the School District of Philadelphia.

But while 73% of the school’s 7th-graders scored as proficient or advanced on the state test, other records showed that only 34% were reading at grade-level by the end of the year.

One teacher told the Inquirer, “There are some kids who maybe you could argue just did a lot better on the PSSA or happened to take that test seriously. But there are certain students who consistently, across all subject areas, have D’s or F’s who are consistently under 40 percent on benchmark tests. I looked at their scores and said, ‘These have to be manipulated.’ ”

Bill Sez: How many more of these stories have to turn up before advocates of high-stakes testing start having second thoughts?  H/t: Atrios.

“Broadie” Brizard’s claims questioned in Chicago

April 21, 2011 Leave a comment

Chicago mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel is already under fire for selecting Rochester school superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard to take over the helm of the Windy City’s public schools, based in part on some questionable claims Brizard made about his tenure in Rochester.

Brizard departs after completing less than three years in Rochester. He’s an alumnus of the Broad Superintendent’s Academy, a training program funded by a leader of the Billionaire Boys’ Club that bankrolls most of the education “reform” crowd. Broad and his pals believe public schools should be run as a business and advocate for charter schools, despite little or no evidence that charters achieve better results.

Meanwhile, readers of the Rochester Business Journal are in full boo-hoo-hoo mode over Brizard’s departure — about what you’d expect from wealthy white Republican suburbanites who tend to be fond of education “reform” leadership that does nothing to challenge established power. More on that later.

Out west in Chi-town, Tribune columnist Eric Zorn cast a jaundiced eye on Brizard’s “achievements” in Rochester:

Can Rochester, N.Y., superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard pad a payroll? Skirt the rules? Spend frivolously? Distort statistics to make himself look good? Infuriate his constituents with a high-handed style? Check, check, check, check and check.

Read more…

Categories: Education "reform"

Billionaire-driven education “reform” fails again

April 8, 2011 Leave a comment

It’s not surprising former media executive Cathie Black lasted only three months as NYC schools commissioner. The surprise is that NYC mayor Bloomberg and his cronies in the education “reform” crowd thought it was a good idea to appoint her in the first place.

How unqualified was Black? Dana Goldstein reports,

A publishing executive with no personal or professional experience with any public school system–let alone with the incredibly complex New York City public school system–Black sent her own two children to private boarding school in Connecticut, and had attended parochial schools herself. …[O]ne of Black’s first comments upon visiting New York City school buildings was that they seemed “clean.”

The “reforms” being pushed by Bloomberg, Gates, Broad et al focus on opening charter schools, closing neighborhood schools, and enforcing teacher “accountability” for students’ standardized test scores. But these ideas are not broadly accepted by actual public school parents, Goldstein notes.

Michelle Rhee walks back her “enemies” comments

March 31, 2011 Leave a comment

Someone identifying herself as former DC schools boss Michelle Rhee called Washington Post education writer Jay Mathews to describe as “stupid” her response to the USA Today report on improbably high numbers of wrong-answer erasures and corrections on standardized tests during her tenure.

This seems very unlike Rhee and the education “reform” crowd, who often rely on smearing anyone who questions results they claim to have achieved in classrooms, schools and districts. Saying that “enemies of education reform” had to be behind the erasures scandal story — that sounded like the Michelle Rhee we know and … disagree with.

According to Mathews,

She said that she thinks cheating might have occurred in the District and that she is glad her successor, Acting Chancellor Kaya Henderson, ordered a new investigation. Rhee said she still believes that the vast majority of teachers and administrators would never falsify test results, but that there can be exceptions. She said we should improve test security procedures so such abuses could not recur.

Mathews allows that people as prominent as Rhee “almost never” walk back their own statements, and he praises her for doing it. “She would not comment on …what exactly led her to make the Monday statements, which I think were thoughtless, insulting and, as she said, stupid,” he writes.

I wonder what Rhee’s supporters/defenders have to say now — will they stand behind a statement she has repudiated?

Bill Sez: Credit where credit is due, I guess. Let’s wait to see if the DC schools’ inspector general really digs in to “find out what caused so many answers to be so mysteriously changed from wrong to right.” [Emphasis added.] And let’s not forget Campbell’s Law, the likelihood that incentives corrupt rather than encourage good teaching/learning or any other social endeavor.

Also worth noting: the USA Today series on education and testing was conceived and edited by Jay Mathews’ wife, a fact he discloses in the Post story.