A fact-based critique of “Waiting for Superman”

This distorted documentary came out a few years ago but a lot of people still think its claims are accurate. Here Leonie Hemson (sp?) deals with one of its claims.


Published in: on April 21, 2014 at 4:36 pm  Comments (1)  

Teachers at a PA cyber-charter school vote to unionize

About time. (The e-school’s CEO was recently indicted for fraud, too!)


Published in: on April 21, 2014 at 4:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

A DC teacher’s real accomplishments

As opposed to the fictitious ones of Michelle Rhee:


Published in: on April 20, 2014 at 2:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

An open letter to Teach For America recruits

The short version of the letter is that the new TFA recruits should quit.
Read why:


Published in: on April 18, 2014 at 8:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

Neal Degrasse Tyson on Social Pressures and Genetic Differences and

He’s never been female, he avers, but he knows something about the pressures against black people succeeding in the sciences. The pressures are huge and happen at every turn; he’s pretty sure that’s also why there are many fewer women scientists than male scientists.

His suggestion? Once we actually equalize opportunity for all, and see the results, then we could perhaps have a discussion about those genetic differences.

Published in: on April 18, 2014 at 10:08 am  Leave a Comment  

Electronic Schools of Ohio are an Excellent Idea for Investors

But not so wonderful for Ohio’s students, families or taxpayers. The moral of the story is that in Ohio,
1.charter schools do MUCH WORSE than regular public schools in test scores
2. e- Schools, or online charter schools charge about the same as regular public schools beget per pupil even though the have no building to maintain and no bus transportation
3. Dropout rates at e-schools are MUCH HIGHER than at their public compeeion, even worse than at charter schools
4. Some politicians continue pretending and making excuses

Read this, by Stephen Dyer:

OH State Rep. Excuses Poor e-School Performance

Remember state Rep. Andrew Brenner, who last month claimed that public education was socialism? Well, he’s back at it — pimping and making excuses for statewide eSchools (which are among the worst performing schools in the state) while saying those same excuses are not allowed for traditional public schools.

Here’s the Gongwer Report where he does this (subscription required). The opening sentence is perfect irony when he excuses poor performance of eSchools because they “can be tied to the challenging population they serve.” Couldn’t that be said of major urban districts too?

Oh no. Not to Brenner, who happens to be the vice chairman of the House Education Committee. He claimed that the urbans hadn’t made the “management decisions” other districts have made.

For the record, the Big 8 Urban districts (Akron, Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo and Youngstown) spent 14% of their money on administrative, non-instructional costs last year. The major statewide eSchools (the Alternative Education Academy, Buckeye Online School for Success, the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, Ohio Connections Academy, Ohio Virtual Academy, Treca Digital Academy and the Virtual Community School of Ohio)? Try 23%. Perhaps eSchools should be making the “management decisions” the Big 8 have made.

And why should we be even comparing the statewide eSchools in performance or cost with the Big 8 anyway? About 80% of all statewide eSchool students come from non-Big 8 districts. So shouldn’t the “apples-to-apples” comparison Brenner requested we make on performance be with non-Big 8 districts?

Anyway, remember that eSchools don’t have busing, lunch rooms, buildings or any other fixed cost of a brick-and-mortar operation. Yet the average statewide eSchool still spends more per pupil than a handful of school districts, even though school districts get local revenue too. In fact, the average eSchool spends $7,266 per pupil while the average district spends $9,826 per pupil.

What’s the difference?

Try operations support (busing, mostly). The average eSchool spends $78 on this category. The average district spends $1,935 per pupil. If you subtract out the districts’ busing costs, the average Ohio eSchool spends more per pupil than 234 school districts, or nearly 4 in 10 districts. And they only get outspent by less than $3,000 per pupil in the Big 8.

And remember that because they’re urban districts, the Big 8 are mandated to spend a lot of that money — they have little choice. So actually, when you account for those spending realities, the average Big 8 district spends $8,490 per pupil — not far off from the statewide eSchool average of $7,266.

So how efficient are these virtual operations, really?

Which brings me to Brenner’s most outrageous statement, where he claims that eSchools’ performance is achieved spending “$6,000″ while some districts are spending $20,000 for similarly bad results. Again, the statewide eSchools (which house nearly all of the eSchool kids) spend about 21% more than Brenner’s claim — $7,266 on average. And, for the record, there are 2. That’s right, 2 school districts in Ohio spending $20,000 or more per pupil. One is Orange City Schools — one of the state’s top 5 districts. The other is Cleveland Heights, which, while struggling, is hardly as bad as, say, the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow — Ohio’s oldest, largest eSchool.

That’s it. And once you subtract costs for busing, etc. no Ohio district spends more than $20,000 per pupil. Not a one.

Again, Brenner is spinning the apocryphal story that public schools spend money less efficiently and get worse results. The truth, my friends, is the exact opposite. And when you look at Fleeter’s analysis, the more discretionary money an Ohio school district has, the better they tend to perform. The highest performing districts in the state, in Fleeter’s analysis, have the highest discretionary per pupil spending.

It wasn’t that long ago that I discovered that the statewide eSchools received enough state money to pay for 15:1 student-teacher ratios and a $2,000 laptop every year for every student and still clear nearly 40% profit. I’m not the only one who’s questioned why Ohio taxpayers should be forking over nearly double the per pupil amount for eSchools as they do for traditional public schools. The average online eSchool gets about $6,800 per pupil from the state (the rest of the $7,266 is mostly federal and private money). The average district gets a bit more than $3,500.

So, when kids go to eSchools, they typically remove more state money from the district than the state would have received if the kid had stayed in the district, which leaves kids not in eSchools (who are in mostly higher performing districts) with less state revenue.

It would be one thing if eSchools were rocking the socks off traditional districts on performance. But they aren’t — a fact Brenner, to his credit, acknowledged, before he made his excuses. In fact, ECOT graduates barely 1/3 of its kids. Yet they were able to pull Gov. John Kasich to speak at their 2011 graduation ceremony. Would Kasich go to to a traditional public school graduation where even 70% of the kids graduated? No way. Even though that’s twice the rate of ECOT.

My biggest disappointment with Brenner is this: Our kids need guys like Brenner — people who are strong choice proponents — to be the fiercest proponents for excellence in choice. Brenner had an opportunity to stand before eSchools and demand they do better. The rest of the state has to do more with less. So should they. “The days of 35% graduation rates for double the state money are over,” he could have said.

But he didn’t.

Instead, he did that which folks in the choice movement have derided public school advocates for years: make excuses.

That constitutes a failure of leadership. And it’s extremely disappointing. But I can’t say it’s unexpected. After all, the operator of ECOT — William Lager — did spend $180,000 on Republican lawmakers just in the last few weeks of the last budget. So perhaps Brenner is angling for some of that.

There’s an old saying that goes something like this (PG rated version): “If you can’t eat their food, drink their booze, take their money, then vote against them the next day, you shouldn’t be in politics.” Brenner is in a great position to make much needed changes in Ohio’s eSchool landscape. Instead, he excused their miserable failings by using misleading arguments.

Our kids deserve better.


Published in: on April 17, 2014 at 5:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Re-Segregation of America’s Schools

A three-part series detailing how our nation is re-segregating its school system.
I hope this link works:


Published in: on April 17, 2014 at 11:35 am  Leave a Comment  

What Kurt Vonnegut might have written about 15 years from now

Robert Shepherd wrote this and I hope he doesn’t mind me repost ing it:

Let Freedom Trickle

Were Kurt Vonnegut not in heaven now, if he were still among his fellow great apes, he might tell a tale something like this:

The year was 2030 and there was a grit crisis.

Not that people weren’t warning about this way back in 2014. Some few visionaries saw the crisis coming. Secretary of Education Privatization Arne “Dunkin” Duncan had let the country know in no uncertain terms, way back then, that Amerika, Inc., was in trouble. If it didn’t do something to stop those lazy, shiftless teachers and kids in Topeka and Jacksonville from being failures, Singapore was going to throw the whole country to the mat, stomp on its rib cage, buy up its MacDonald’s franchises, and replace its Walmarts with Singaemporiums.

The Common Core Curriculum Commissariat and Ministry of Truth–CCCCMiniTru for short–had tried to stave off the disaster. It had really tried.

It had fired all the teachers for underperformance and replaced them with nifty “personalized” software from Gates.Murdoch Pearson Knowlogy, Inc. (Company motto: “Teaching, there’s an app for that”). It had hooked up all the kids to retinal scanners and galvanic skin response monitors to measure their gritfulness in real time as they did their identically personalized worksheets on a screen. It had installed headphones to blast into kids’ ears Barry Sadler’s “Song of the Green Beret” and The Mormon Tabernacle Choir cover of “Everything Is Beautiful” whenever their gritfulness fell below proficiency level 3 point 86. Kids would do anything to avoid those.

From their gleaming, floating offshore cities—West Xanadu, Elysium, Redmond, and Shangri-La LA—the 0.1 percent dispatched drones to monitor the general population for terrorist activities such as spending too little on consumer goods and failing to show up on time to their meager and part-time but nonetheless essential service jobs, assigned to them by Gates/Murdoch Kelly Temp Services, the sole employer of proles. Everyone, young and old alike, was rigorously tested every 23 point 4 minutes to ensure proper understanding and performance of whatever task he or she happened to be engaged in—nail polishing, going to the bathroom, preparing Happy Meals—whatever.

To no avail. Sure, people (well, proles) were doing what they were supposed to do–they were going through the motions at the required pace. And they were hitting their grit benchmarks. The Fair and Balanced Good News of well-met production quotas for grit, along with other key production metrics, was continually broadcast from every wall and street corner by Gates/Murdoch Fox state television, and if you missed those reports, you could always check the running ticker on your Gates/Murdoch Google Glass and Retinal Scanner.

But weirdly, nothing quite worked. Everything the proles produced, though to specification, was shoddy. Things fell apart. STUFF–the essential output of Consumer Homo Economicus–was produced with grit but not, it seemed, with True Grit. Whatever could the Plutocrats and their windup politicians do?

Fortunately, Walmart Pharmaceuticals and Neurological Engineering had a solution: Freedom Juice, piped into people’s heads via ports installed in the back of their skulls. Gates/Murdoch Goldman Citi Merrill Chase Bank of Amerika, Inc arranged a loan from the Singaporeans to install the necessary infrastructure. Soon, a network of piping covered the entire country and, and one tendril of a pipe led to the back of the head of every student and worker at every desk.

What could go wrong?

Published in: on April 16, 2014 at 10:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

Rachel Maddow takes on the violent right wing racist

More people in the USA have been killed by right wing racist wackos since September 2001 than by Islamic jihadists, according to Rachel Maddow.

But the white nazis, kluxers and so on don’t get any where near the attention of Federal anti-criminal or intelligence services that the Muslim extremists do.

Try to see if you can view some details here:


Published in: on April 15, 2014 at 11:51 pm  Comments (1)  

What Does A Teacher Make, or Do?

Another nail in the coffin of Value Added, thanks to Diane Ravitch. Here is an excellent quote from the article:

““This paper presents the first evidence that teachers have meaningful effects on non cognitive outcomes that are strongly associate with adult outcomes and are not correlated with test scores.” (Emphasis mine, italics his, by the way.)

“I have to stop with this blog post here (but I promise to do more deciphering of this paper in the next few days.) My only question at this point would be: why hasn’t anybody explained this to Arne Duncan, perhaps through the use of hand puppets and a mallet?”

I have known for a long time that while I may have been better than some teachers in finding useful explanations of certain math topics than some of my peers, there were certainly a lot of teachers who were much better at relating emotionally and personally to a lot of my students. Obviously our students are the best judges of who of us were most/least helpful in their lives.


Published in: on April 15, 2014 at 10:56 pm  Comments (2)  

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