Ten Years of Educational Reform in DC – Results: Total MathCounts Collapse for the Public AND Charter Schools

Just having finished helping to judge the first three rounds of the DC State-Level MathCounts competition, I have some sad news. NOT A SINGLE TEAM FROM ANY DC PUBLIC OR CHARTER SCHOOL PARTICIPATED. Two kids from Hardy MS were the only ones from any DC public or charter school.

I was in the judging room where all the answer sheets were handed in, and I and some engineers and mathematicians had volunteered to come in and score the answers.*

In past years, for example, when I was a math teacher and MathCounts coach at Alice Deal JHS/MS, the public schools often dominated the competitions. It wasn’t just my own teams, though — many students from other public schools, and later on, from DC’s charter schools, participated. (Many years, my team beat all of the others. Sometimes we didn’t, but we were always quite competitive, and I have a lot of trophies.)

While a few public or charter schools did field full or partial teams on the previous “chapter” level of competition last month, this time, at the “state” level I am sad to report that there were none at all. (Including Deal. =-{ )

That’s what ten years of Education ‘Reform’ has brought to DC public and charter schools.

Such excellence! a bunch of rot.

In addition to the facts that

  • one-third of last year’s DCPS senior class had so many unexcused class absences that they shouldn’t have graduated at all;
  • officials simply lied about massive attendance and truancy problems;
  • officials are finally beginning to investigate massive enrollment frauds at desirable DC public schools
  • DCPS hid enormous amounts of cheating by ADULTS on the SAT-9 NCLB test after Rhee twisted each principal’s arm to produce higher scores or else.
  • the punishment of pretty much any student misbehavior in class has been forbidden;
  • large number of actual suspensions were in fact hidden;
  • there is a massive turnover of teachers and school administrators – a revolving door as enormous percentages of teachers break down and quit mid-year (in both public and charter schools);
  • there isfraudulent manipulation of waiting lists;
  • these frauds are probably also true at some or all of charter schools, but nobody is investigating them at all because they don’t have to share data and the ‘state’ agency hides what they do get;
  • DC still has the largest black-white standardized test-score gap in the nation;
  • DC is still attempting to implement a developmentally-inappropriate “common core” curriculum funded by Bill Gates and written by a handful of know-it-alls who had never taught;
  • Rhee and Henderson fired or forced out massive numbers of African-American teachers, often lying about the reasons;
  • they implemented a now-many-times-discredited“value-added method” of determining the supposed worth of teachers and administrators, and used that to terminate many of them;
  • they also closed  dozens of public schools in poor, black neighborhoods.

Yes, fourth-grade NAEP national math and reading scores have continued to rise – but they were rising at just about that exact same rate from 2000 through 2007, that is to say, BEFORE mayoral control of schools and the appointment of that mistress of lies, fraud, and false accusations: Michelle Rhee.

So what I saw today at the DC ‘state’-wide competition is just one example of how to destroy public education.

When we will we go back to having an elected school board, and begin having a rational, integrated, high-quality public educational system in DC?


* Fortunately, we didn’t have to produce the answers ourselves! Those questions are really HARD! We adults, all mathematically quite proficient, had fun trying to solve a few of them when we had some down time — and marveled at the idea of sixth, seventh, or eighth graders solving them at all! (If you are curious, you can see previous year’s MathCounts questions here.)


The Example of West Virginia Teachers Should Inspire Us All

The recent state-wide strike by the school teachers of West Virginia, and their victory on the behalf of ALL West Virginia state workers, should inspire teachers and other workers all over the country, as Jan Resseger writes so eloquently here.

I read one article elsewhere, written by a right-wing journalist of some sort, criticizing teachers as whining, overpaid crybabies. That person did not, however, criticize any of the billionaires or millionaires for extracting maximum profits for the shoddy profits or apps they sell, nor the unlivably low wages they pay to retail, service, or manufacturing workers all over the country. How on earth can you pay rent and utilities and transportation and health care and everything else even for a single person, working full time at the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour or even double that? You can’t, is the short answer.

While a handful of billionaires own more than half the population combined, it is beyond time for the rest of us to organize and demand a better life. This can only be done in large numbers, with workers (and consumers) sticking together. All by yourself, you can’t do much. However, if you can persuade others to stick together, on a massive scale, and not to allow ourselves to be divided by race, gender, national origin, religion, or anything else, then the sky’s the limit! Divided we fall, united we stand!


More on why “Guns for Teachers” is a rotten idea

Larry Cuban clearly shows (once again) why arming teachers is not wise.


Published in: on March 8, 2018 at 10:55 am  Leave a Comment  

Corporate America Is Not Your Friend

We should heed the advice of Krystal Ball, whoever she is:


Published in: on March 2, 2018 at 2:26 pm  Comments (1)  

Firearms casualties go down significantly during NRA conventions

During the three-day-long annual NRA conventions, members can’t bring their weapons along. As a result, some of the most enthusiastic gun owners (many of whom have very large, or multiple gun cabinets) in the US have less access to guns.

Guess what?

Gun casualties GO DOWN across the nation by about 20% during that time, a careful study has shown.

The researchers describe their study here. They compared statistics from emergency rooms and hospitals for the periods of time before, and found that firearms injuries went down by about 20% during NRA conventions, compared to the same days of the week, nation-wide, over the three weeks before and the three weeks of each annual convention. The effect is most pronounced in the South and in other areas of higher-than-average gun ownership.

And given that only 80,000 people each year attend NRA conventions, perhaps the conclusion is that it’s NRA members themselves that are at least a large part of the gun violence problem in America?

Published in: on March 2, 2018 at 2:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

Our Tax Rate Increased This Year

My wife and I are merely a sample of two, but:

I just did our taxes. Our effective federal tax rate increased from 2016 to 2017, from 15.90% to 16.64%.

So what happened to that big tax cut we were promised?

Published in: on March 1, 2018 at 7:52 pm  Comments (2)  

One More Fraudulent DCPS Leader Out

Antwan Wilson just resigned.



The interim successor to Antwan Wilson needs to be asked when, exactly, did she realize that:

1. Her boss, Michelle Rhee’s claimed miraculous teaching accomplishments were fraudulent;

2. Her boss, Michelle Rhee was asking principals to cheat;

3. Noyes principal Wayne Ryan was committing massive fraud by “fixing” student answer sheets;

4. Ryan had no business being promoted to supervising other principals;


5. Why Ryan was quietly allowed to resign;

6. When she realized that attendance rates, suspension stats, grades, and graduation rates at all comprehensive DCPS high schools were all fraudulent;

7. Why she didn’t speak up about any of those frauds.

I guess I shouldn’t hold my breath waiting for answers.

Published in: on February 20, 2018 at 6:01 pm  Comments (4)  

State-Wide Teacher Strike This Week in West Virginia?

If it happens, it’ll be a first in the nation since a very long time, but long overdue.

Details here.

Published in: on February 19, 2018 at 7:15 pm  Comments (4)  

Both Cars and Guns Are Dangerous. Regulate Both!

I own cars, and I own some guns.

In every country I know of, you must register your car, prove that you know how to drive safely, and even have insurance. Why not for guns as well?

According to the CDC, the number of gun deaths is almost exactly equal to the number of car deaths: 33,594 versus 33,736.

Cars are pretty much essential for survival today. Guns in private hands? Not so much. Sure, hunting deer and target shooting are fun, and challenging, but I don’t NEED to eat venison or rabbit or squirrel. We are way beyond the point where private ownership of guns with large magazines, bump stocks, or armor-piercing bullets make any sense at all.

Handguns don’t make families safer, but rather the exact opposite. If students walk out en masse on April 20, the anniversary of the Columbine massacre, I will support them any way I can.

Here is a great graphic:

Published in: on February 18, 2018 at 10:08 am  Comments (3)  

Mark Twain on Christianity and Other Religions

Mark Twain was a wonderful writer and thinker. He helped organize against imperialism, both American and European, and the basic message of “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” was anti-racism.

He was also very critical of organized religion. If you want to read some of what he wrote on this issue, check out “Letters From the Earth”, which you can read here.

Published in: on February 17, 2018 at 9:02 pm  Comments (1)  
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