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.)

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Dear math teacher, This is your best post ever–sad as it was to read yet more of the reality of the past ten years of “reform.” Can/would you check a sum for me?

    1,009,136,768 738,146,278 791,510,420 800,771,052 810,329,815 804,767,246 813,369,189 875,542,386 904,764,059 905,673,228 *930,498,476*

    I get, using head and hand, 9,384,508,907 but I want a “second opinion” by someone with your expertise. If my addition is correct, how is it properly expressed as a decimal?

    I will be forever grateful for your help. Sarah Livingston

    On Sat, Mar 10, 2018 at 1:18 PM, GFBrandenburg’s Blog wrote:

    > gfbrandenburg posted: “Just having finished helping to judge the first > three rounds of the DC State-Level MathCounts competition, I have some sad > news. Unless I missed one or two kids, it seemed that NOT A SINGLE STUDENT > FROM ANY DC PUBLIC OR CHARTER SCHOOL PARTICIPATED. Not o” >


    • Thanks for the kind words, but the way you posted those numbers is rather confusing. I don’t understand the last nine-digit number with the asterisks in front and behind it.
      You want to add the other numbers, right? Why not just use a decent calculator?


  2. OPINION: 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. Unless I missed one or two kids, it seemed that NOT A SINGLE STUDENT FROM ANY DC PUBLIC OR CHARTER SCHOOL PARTICIPATED.


  3. OT. I do not live in the USA and I wondered how there could be a Office of the State Superintendent of Education when DC is not a state?

    Do you see any hope of an improvement in educational outcomes in the near future? Or even a return to some kind of rationality?

    The situation seems pretty dire at the moment.


    • I guess that they didn’t know what else to call OSSE when they created it.
      The National Academy of Sciences did a report on DC’s education and found that in 9 years, there had been essentially no progress – after throwing billions of dollars at consultants, builders, and administrators, and closing down dozens of schools and firing thousands of teachers.
      The education (and general) situation in the US is extremely dire. It didn’t help that right-wing Republicans and wealthy Democrats were united on demolishing public education.


  4. That’s for the reply. Lack of imagination seems a good explanation. Maybe it was also a hint for statehood? 🙂

    We have some education problems here (Ontario) particularly with math (the province seems to try a new flavour of math instruction ever year though that may be an exaggeration) but we don’t have the wholesale chaos in the education system in any of the Canadian systems that seems to characterize the US.

    Have you ever heard of Jump Mathematics? https://jumpmath.org/

    I find it fascinating. It was developed somewhat accidentally by John Mighton, a man with the unusual combination of two Governor General awards in literature and a Ph.D in mathematics. He is now a Fellow at the Fields Institute at the University of Toronto.

    My background is psychology and, to me, it looks like Mighton has incorporated much of the best of learning theory into the program as opposed to the dog’s breakfast of heaven knows what that seems to underpin some other math programs.

    @ 7th Streeter

    I think I understand what you want but it is impossible to do the way that you have formatted the numbers.

    Try supplying the numbers with no commas in the numbers and a comma to separate each number.

    Example with three numbers

    2,500 5,999 450

    We need the numbers to look like this:

    2500, 5999, 450


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