“Rigorous” curriculum requirements at regular DC High School — a rousing sign of Reformer Success (Not)

You may have heard that under Chancellors Rhee, Henderson and Wilson, everything is now wonderful and getting better in DC’s public schools. Graduation rates are supposedly up and so are test scores.

But a lot of this “progress” looks less and less promising when you look carefully. And that’s what WAMU’s reporters have done in the case of FC’s Frank Ballou High School, which won plaudits for not only graduating its entire senior class, but had every single senior accepted into college.

Sounds great, right?

Not so fast.

At Ballou, as at almost all other DCPS “comprehensive” (ie neighborhood, non-selective) High Schools, the bar that students must get over isn’t very high: they have to a carbon-based life form, they need also to have a pulse, and they need to be a member of the species Homo sapiens. And that’s not all!

There is more!

At some point the student must have been officially enrolled at the school!!

No requirement that they actually attend their classes, or do any assignments whatsoever or even take any tests.

BUT — and this is very important: come June, they must be one year older than they were during the previous June.

Man, that’s rigor. And wow betide any teacher who wants to flunk a student for not attending classes or doing any work in class or even taking any quizzes or exams. That’s a firing offense.

Don’t believe me? Read the article:


Published in: on November 29, 2017 at 6:36 pm  Comments (2)  

Some of the Ways that the Rich Keep on Getting Richer

Are described in this article in The Guardian. Shameful!

Gutting All DC High School Graduation Requirements

The question of exactly what it takes to earn a high school diploma in the District of Columbia, or anywhere else, is of course one for which one answer won’t satisfy everybody. Which is why whenever such requirements are set, they need to be widely debated so that the very worst ideas can at least be eliminated.

My former colleague Erich Martel has brought to my attention what seems to be a ‘stealth’ attempt to completely gut the DC HS graduation requirements, and perhaps to turn them all over to whoever it is that sells easily-defrauded online courses. I am reprinting his entire letter for your edification. Please read, and take some action. Letters and emails definitely help!


[To] Ms. Wilson-Phelan and Mr. Batchelor,

cc: GRTF members, SBOE members, teachers; concerned community

 [From: Erich Martel}

I read your draft proposal for changing DC graduation requirements (http://tinyurl.com/ybm63tr5) which you submitted to the Graduation Requirements Task Force (GRTF) and was shocked. I then read the minutes of the meetings posted on the SBOE website, but saw no such recommendation.

Your proposal to remove all specifically named courses from the list of math (except Algebra I), science, social studies and English credit requirements for a DC high school diploma (these courses all have standards that the State Board adopted) would be a radical change that could lead to each LEA picking a random topics from each subject area, most likely taught online and assessed by online tests, approved by OSSE.  Has OSSE conducted any graduation compliance audits? That would give greater control over grades to LEA administrators and replace teachers with bots.


Coming right on the heels of your (Ms. Wilson-Phelan’s) vigorous promotion of competency-based education (replacing teachers with online programmed instruction), this new effort to radically rewrite the graduation requirements needs to be supported by facts and evidence:

A)  Clear descriptions (identified by sources or authors) of the obstacles or problems that each of the current requirements pose (e.g. if students are failing U.S. history or Geometry, GRTF members – and the public – need to know why.  You can’t solve a problem, if you don’t know why it’s a problem); and

B) Clear descriptions of how your proposed replacements will address the specific reasons that explain why students are failing each course


To that end, I make the following requests, which I hope all GRTF members will consider necessary in order to make informed decisions (the minutes show that several members have asked for evidence):

1. Can you provide evidence that each DCPS and DC charter high school requires every student to pass all 24.0 credits that the current DC graduation requirements specify?

In 2013, Mr. Hense, the founder and CEO of the Friendship charter schools, in testimony before the SBOE, submitted redacted transcripts from 3 Friendship Collegiate 2011 graduates as evidence of their achievement.  Two did not have U.S. History (the third took it at a previous school); three did not have the 2nd year of world history; all three had 9 or 10 courses whose credit values were inflated.     


2. How many students in each DCPS and charter high school needed one or more online credit recovery classes to receive the DC high school diploma in 2016 and 2017?


3. How many students were failing high school courses needed for graduation, but were certified to graduate in 2016 and 2017, because their teachers were pressured to give passing grades or because administrators changed failing grades to passing grades?

If you cannot get this information, will you ask the members of the SBOE to request an independent audit of all DC and charter high schools, such as the one reported this past week in Prince Georges County, MD?

I encourage you and GRTF and SBOE members to read the following three audits:

a) The newly released (10/31/2017) 211pp auditor’s report of the Prince Georges County PS investigation into allegations of grade changes, ineligible diploma awards, etc. in 20 of the 26 high schools:https://www.scribd.com/document/363400267/Report-finds-problems-with-Prince-George-s-Co-HS-graduation-rates#from_embed


b) Links to the two investigation reports that resulted from my discovery of altered grades and ineligible graduates at Wilson HS in 2002 and 2006. The first by contractor, Gardiner, Kamya & Assoc.; the second by the DC Inspector General:



4. What is the source of your draft proposals?

 Please list the names and professional associations of any and all individuals, including registered lobbyists, DC OSSE officials or staff, education policy associations, DCPS officials, DC Public Charter School Board members and staff, DC charter operators, staff or board members, etc., who may have been in contact with you for the purpose of changing the graduation requirements that you are proposing. 

Since your proposal would lead to contracts with vendors of educational technology, online user licenses, etc., all of questionable educational value, it is important that GRTF members and the public know all of the details behind this unusual proposal.


I look forward to your reply.



Erich Martel

Retired DCPS high school teacher

(1969-2011: Cardozo HS, Wilson HS, Phelps ACE HS)







Grifters and Crooks, the entire Trump Administration!

I don’t pretend to have special inside information on details of the most recent guilty pleas and indictments of three recent Trump administration officials. But I would like to emphasize the huge amount of plain old-fashioned greed, sleaze, public corruption, by this bunch of thieving grifters.

Part of one indictment I just saw charges involved receiving millions of dollars in expensive oriental rugs, fancy sports cars, extra luxury homes or condos, and large sums secretly put into untraceable bank accounts by other, often foreign criminals — like various Russian or Ukrainian kleptocrats and monsters like Mobutu and Savimbi.

Obviously the Trump campaign manager for 5 months was not exactly the type of fellow who would understand the concerns of looking out for unemployed former WV coal miners who are losing their hard-won health and pension benefits to people like Wilbur Ross, the Trump Secretary of Commerce, who made billions doing just that. And who have become addicted to opioids/opiates by the constant pains of all those broken bones and black lung disease.

Trump really did an excellent job at convincing a lot of poor- to -middle-income White working people that he was on their side. But it was all a con. Exactly NONE of his policies have done anything to improve the economy. That road reconstruction and public works program that was going to put millions of Americans to work?

Wait — what DID happen to that? It was on the news for a week, and that’s about that. No new high speed inter- or intra-City rapid mass transit system. That stupid Wall has a couple of prototype sections under construction (and if you think the Mexican government is going to pay for it, I have a nice, tall tower I’d like to sell you right in the national Mall in Washington DC. It’s beautiful marble and can be seen day or night. For a small but substantial fee, you too can buy a share of what used to be the “Washington Monument”. Send me your email, SSN, bank routing number, PIN and list of passwords while you’re at it!!)

Then add on top of that what we know about Flynn’s lies and the anti-education, anti-science and pro-polluter policies of the current heads of the EPA, Interior, and Education, you realize these folks aren’t even “conservatives” if that word means anything. There is nothing good about past policy or practice or law that they want to keep. They want to rearrange the playing field until they have it all, and to hell with the environment and livelihoods of the rest of us.

That being said, I want to be clear that both the Democratic and Republican party leaderships are guilty of kowtowing to the wealthiest and most powerful — Wall Street, Goldman Sachs, and the other dozen or so people who own as much wealth as HALF OF THE HUMAN POPULATION OF THIS PLANET, COMBINED.

Much of The deregulation of banks and finance occurred under Clinton and was continued under every single following administration.

That insane, confusing, many-thousand page tax code? The vast majority of its provisions were inserted by congress staffers to benefit a tiny number of wealthy corporations, often just one firm. Will the Trump tax cut for the wealthy change that? Maybe a couple of them will be cancelled for show (like what Cheeto did at the Carrier plant) while the other special tax breaks will live on and plus, the rich will get all the tax breaks anyway, and we will still have a military stronger than the rest of the world together…. because why? To where exactly has the amazing American military brought peace and freedom during my lifetime –ie since 1950:

Korea? Vietnam? Cambodia? Laos? Yemen? Lebanon? Iraq? Iran? Guatemala? El Salvador? Haiti? Afghanistan? Somalia?

Also — consider the insane and counterproductive War on Drugs. Many of us know people who got addicted to some substance or other. We also know that two of the most lethal and addictive drugs out there are tobacco/nicotine and ethyl alcohol (aka liquor, beer, wine, etc). (Killed my parents and at least 1 grandparent, maybe more.)

But if we know someone who has a problem with booze, we try to get them help.

We no longer arrest people for selling wine and beer. Heck, you can buy them in the supermarket!

And we are making it harder to smoke cigarettes, which is a good thing. We probably should the heads of Big Tobacco because know how roughly how many peoples lives were cut short by smoking.

But what about illegal drugs and folks like Rush Limbaugh who get so addicted to synthetic Opioids that they pay multiple doctors for prescriptions out the wazzoo?

Not even close. “Tobacco, alcohol killed 120 times more Americans than all other drugs combined in 2013”

If you’ve ever been in a hospital, you know that the opioid/opiates family of drugs can both very beneficial as short-term pain-killers. You may also know that if you use them for chronic pain, it’s not so wonderful. They tend to become addictive and burden their users with horrible side effects that make life a nightmare.

And then there is marijuana — which nobody has ever died from an overdose in recorded history. And is a pretty fine pain palliative and antidepressant and tonic — at least in older people.

Or so I hear. (What would I know?)

There a number of other categories of illegal substances I won’t discuss other than to say that in general, our draconian and totally-unevenly-enforced drug arrest and incarceration policies, which continue even now, even here in Washington, DC, are nuts. Yes, you can get a medical marijuana card here, and giving away weed to a friend is legal, but police continue to arrest folks for smoking a joint in public at a rate TRIPLE that before legalization!?!?!!

We also know that blacks and whites pretty much use illegal drugs at the same rate all over the nation. However, as Michelle Alexander and others have pointed out, virtually the only ones who end up getting arrested AND really truly entered into the INJUSTICE system are blacks and Latinos. The others are advised not to do that again.

So we have an enormous fraction of black and brown youth who have lost the right to vote, to go to college, to take out a loan, or get a decent job, just for a joint or a bag of weed? Or a pill of some sort? Or have their car or house legally taken because someone left a marijuana pipe in it?

What kind of nutty society does such a thing?

Oh yeah.


And back to politics: that get tough criminalization if black and brown youth started a long time ago — I bet that research will show that during Prohibition (1922-1932, +\_) blacks were charged with alcohol violations much more frequently than whites. Having read a great book on the economics of the Jim Crow era, I am sure that one way for a corrupt, racist southern sheriff, or policeman or private hustler was to find a black person who had a few drinks in him or her, and fine him/her an amount they couldn’t pay for the crime of being drunk. Then they cop takes the prisoner in front of a judge, who then sells him/her to a mine or plantation or factory owner to work, for free, with no rights, for 6 months, a year, or until they died.

Sick, sick, sick.

This has been known officially since the mid-thirties. FDR, whatever his leadership skills may have been in fighting Nazis and other Fascists in World War 2, was given a report about the Jim Crow slave labor camps, and had the ONLY COPY DESTROYED because it would interfere with his alliance with southern racist politician leaders of the Democratic Party. the Ainslinger demonization of Marihuana went on from 1930-37, under both presidents Hoover and FDR.

Nixon and Reagan famously ramped up the War on Drugs, but if you look at the graphs of prison population over time, the accelerated rise under the Clinton Administration is just amazing. Go look (1992-2000)

And while Obama said on the campaign trail that he was going to stop all sorts of unwarranted foreign interventions, the foreign war record shows otherwise. In addition, deportations were higher than ever, and his administration engaged in a two-term assault on public education in general and school teachers in general, much like Betsy DeVos does under the current Administration. And the total prison population didn’t shrink much. And while many of us have family members or friends who went bankrupt and lost almost everything during the last two Big Crashes brought on by corporate greed and dishonesty, I think I can count on one hand the number of corporate fraudsters who went to jail behind that. While the banks and corporations were bailed out or bought up for pennies on the buck by people like Wilbur Ross, whom you should look up. The corporate heads, past and present, did amazingly well. The workers, not so much.

So yes, the past many American presidencies have helped the wealthy at the expense of the rest of us. But the huge inequality gap in the US– the largest in the advanced world, and which started climbing seriously under Reagan, continued to rise under Clinton, both Bushes, and Obama. anybody who thinks Any politician I’ve named will help, is seriously deceived. Especially not the mess of grifters in office right now.

Published in: on October 30, 2017 at 11:18 pm  Leave a Comment  

Training to be a Professional? We don’t need no stinkin’ training!

First we had Teach for America, which sends 20-somethings with no training to speak of out to the most impoverished communities as teachers.

(Right. We all know that it’s much better that the poor and brown kids who really do need trained and experienced education professionals, are instead saddled with an ever-churning roster of completely inexperienced newbies who are blindly trying to follow a script, at least until they crash, burn, and quit.

(Look on the bright side: each TFA noobie placed in a school district earns TFA many thousands of dollars!)

If you like TFA, then you will loveProfessionals for America“, where they extend this idea to the medical profession, airline pilots, and much more!

What could possibly go wrong?

Warlords, Islamists, Imperialists Communists and Mass Murder in Afghanistan

Interesting article in Alternet on the messy, messy history of modern day Afghanistan:


Published in: on October 26, 2017 at 4:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

Miraculous “STEM-Robotics” Newark Charter School closes LESS THAN TWO MONTHS after ribbon-cutting by Governor Christie

Yes, you read that correctly. The METS charter school opened to great fanfare in late summer (August 29, 2017) and yesterday, October 19, same year, the school’s interim (ie substitute ) principal announced they are kicking out ALL of their 9th and 10th graders effective NOW.

Uh, that’s less than two months, right?

At the ribbon cutting, Gov Chris Christie as usual denounced public education in his state (which he is the boss of) and said that only privately-run charter schools (run by some of his friends, some of whom profit very nicely from their posts, could do the job.

So after a mere 7 or 8 weeks of school, the school admin says, “my bad. Actually, we have no idea how to run a school. We are much worse at it even than the Newark public school system that we’ve been badmouthing for so long.”

Quite an admission. I’m sure the entire MSM from wapo & nut to CNN or fox or msnbc and the trump and Christie administrations are sure to point out and acknowledge this massive failure, right?

Sure. And I’m the king of France and Spain.

Published in: on October 20, 2017 at 9:11 am  Leave a Comment  

Ideas from actual educators on How education could be run better in the future

This apparently is NOT going to be complaints by insiders about how screwed up things are right now, or how awful education policy and practice is or was in the past.

Nor is it the useless and positively harmful advice we get from billionaires and their acolytes ongoing to turn THOSE KIDS into meat-widget consumers and worker bees based on Big Data. (I.e. from people who have never taught but sure do see all those megadollar signs hidden in the Ed Biz…)

Sounds interesting. Take a look.

Published in: on October 16, 2017 at 2:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

“Dropout Recovery” as a Money-making Scheme

The charter and voucher industries are very good at making money, and are highly touted by the likes of Betsy DeVos, Arne Duncan, Barack Obama, and various hedge fund managers.

They don’t actually do much educating. For details on how little they do, while extracting large sums of cash from the public coffers, read this USATODAY article:


Published in: on October 5, 2017 at 8:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

You’re So DC….

This week’s DC City Paper had the results of a contest for the best way to finish that sentence. Which gave me an idea: I could make up my own silly and pointless game, where you get points for having done various things relating to Warshindin Dee Cee…

Keep an honest total!

1. If you were BORN in DC, you get 20 points

2. If you were born inside the DC beltway, but not in DC, you get 4 points

3. If you weren’t born in either DC, MD, or VA, you lose 11 points

4. For each year that you attended a public school or a charter school in DC, you get 3 points

5. For each year you attended private school in DC, you get 2 points

6. For each semester of college or university in DC, full or part time, you get 1 point

7. For each year that you lived in Anacostia, you get 4 points

8. For each year you lived west of Rock Creek Park, you get 2 points

8. Oops: for each year that you lived between Rock Creek and The Anacostia River, you earn 3 points

9. For each summer you worked in the DC summer youth employment program (pre or post Marion Barry), you get 3 points

10. If your family moved out of DC to avoid living in an integrated neighborhood, you lose 10 points

11. But if you moved back into DC, you gain 7 points

12. For each year that you worked in DCPS or any hospital, you get 2 points

13. If you’ve ever been robbed, beaten up, or burglarized in DC, you get 4 points per event

14. If you’ve ever robbed, beaten up, or burglarized anybody in DC, then you only get 2 points per event

15. You get 2 points, per location, for knowing how to get to the following places **without** using GPS or a map: NRL; Children’s Hospital; Blue Plains; Barry Farms; St Elizabeth’s; Eastover; miniature golf course in East Potomac Park; Shrimp Boat; Aquatic Gardens; Arboretum; Howard University’s Crampton Auditorium; and Dumbarton Oaks’ pre-Colombian museum.

16. If your DCPS Elementary, Junior High, or Senior High School got closed or turned into a charter school, you get 7 points

17. If you TAUGHT at a DC school (of any sort) that you attended, you earn 11 points

18. For each of your parents who taught in DCPS you earn 8 points

19. For each year that YOU lived in DC, you get 1&1/2 points

20. If you live(d) in the suburbs but work(ed) in DC, you get 1 point. Not per year. Total.

21. If you live(d) in the Md-Va suburbs but told people you were “from DC”, you lose 3 points for every time you said that.

22. For each person on your block whose full name you know, you get 2 points. If they are a different racial group from you, double that.

23. For each house on your block whose home you’ve visited, you get two points. (Realtors’ Open Houses don’t count) Again, count double if they are a different racial group

24. For each generation of your family that reside/s/d in DC, you get 7 points

25. Give yourself 9 points for every march or protest in DC that you’ve attended or organized.

How’d you do?

Published in: on October 1, 2017 at 9:08 pm  Comments (4)  
%d bloggers like this: