The difference between Trump and Sanders

… is explained by the incomparable Peter Greene at Curmudgucation.

Here is the gist:

“That’s the difference from Bernie Sanders, who is not playing a game at all, but is simply trying to communicate a message. Trump, who is playing a game, has no message to communicate. Sanders is revealing the hollowness of the Presidential race by showing what substance looks like. Trump is revealing the hollowness by turning it into performance art, an exaggerated cartoon candidacy, a show that turns to the other candidates and says, “Look, if you really want to play this bullshit game, let’s really do it, and not just half-ass it like you bums are used to doing. If you want to be a bullshit slinging, woman-bashing, minority-abusing, ethically rudderless asshat, let me show you how it’s really done.””

Published in: on August 30, 2015 at 8:45 pm  Comments (1)  

Irony and education by Russ Walsh

He writes that Edu Deformers believe that 

“[…] we can solve the teacher shortage by loosening certification requirements, so that anyone who can prove s/he is breathing can teach. This seems to be the direction that states like North Carolina and Kansas are going. As I understand this argument, it goes something like this, teachers and their unions are the problem in education, so let’s solve the problem by putting even less qualified, less knowledgeable people in the classroom. I have to wonder how many reformsters go to a doctor who is unlicensed and received five weeks of medical training in the summer.”

Published in: on August 30, 2015 at 9:37 am  Leave a Comment  

Will Technology Fix Our Schools?

Peter Greene, a teacher in PA is by far the best and most original thinker and blogger on the crises of education in America today I have ever read.  And I’ve been reading stuff on education for a long time. Even my masters’ thesis was on the track record of what was then called “Compensatory Education” back in 1980-81.

Greene explains why the answer is No, in very common-sense and reasonable explanations of what actually happens in a classroom and the debates and behind-closed-doors negotiations between MegaBuck Tech Corp and Apple and Microsoft for required license upgrades, and plus the machines (which cost around a grand apiece) only are going to be supported for about three years and afterwards would be up to individual teachers to try to keep alive, while the others fall to pieces.
Textbooks — good ones, that is– don’t require batteries, won’t fail if you drop them hard or put on top of a loudspeaker or in the sun. And are seldom stolen for gain, and their pages are always in order unless somebody engages in wild and crazy vandalism.

Please read this column of his and follow him or bookmark or “Hi-Fleegle” him or whatever the new hi tek buzz app is this week.
(btw- this is one of two or THREE such posts just day from him!)

A typical quote so you can see how original Greene is:

“Technology Is More Expensive Than You Think” 

“Remember when we were all excited because instead of paper books, we were going to use electronic versions of texts. Instead of having to buy new copies of High School Handbook of Tedious Grammar every five-to-ten years at a cost of Good God They Want HOW Much For This Dollars, we would have awesome digital copies that would never wear out. It was going to save the district millions.

“But then it turned out that the company was going to make us license the e-copies of the text every three years for You Can’t Be Serious Dollars, and the savings from going to to e-books were going to be somewhere between Modest and Non-existent. And that was before it finally sank in that netbooks or chromebooks or tablets or whatever we were using would only survive a few years before either needing to be replaced or being abandoned by the company that provided them. So actual savings turned out to be negative dollars.”

(Parenthetically – I am not a Luddite. I had opportunities to learn about computers going back to the late 1950s, when an electro -mechanical calculator that took about 60 seconds to chug through a single long division problem – and your fingers better not get caught while it was working it out) to remote Time Share BASIC by WATS line to the mainframe at Dartmouth College. And learned BASIC COBOL FORTRAN Logo Pascal Vanilla Pilot IDL Linux 6500 family Assembly and machine languages, as well as English Latin French Spanish Hebrew and learned a few words in many others. And how many brands and models of word processors, spreadsheets, drawing and painting and image manipulation software, and database software … Not to mention games….

It’s annoying as hell when you take a long long time learning how to do or use something, and just as you begin to get really good at it, people declare that it’s obsolete?

With computers it’s always like that. Now with human languages it’s different — what you learned five or 20 years ago is still useful, even though expressions do change. (It’s no longer ok to call an adult with the phrase “garçon” or “boy” but the grammar still works. It is like riding a bike – you can get that sense of balance. And it’s largely free – you don’t have to pay someone a fee to speak Chinese or Arabic. And if you learned only Classical Arabic, it still can be helpful for street Arabic in any country. (Or so I understand….)

I was about to write, “The thing I like about human languages is that they never become obsolete.” But even that’s not true. The ones we study in school – English, French, Spanish, German, Latin, Chinese, Arabic, Russian, are all ones who have a bright future, yes, and are not likely to disappear any time soon. Even Latin of course lives on in new forms all across Europe, tho nobody speaks the old or even medieval forms in day-to-day conversation. (Pig Latin oesday otnay ountcay.)

But remember all the native tribes, languages and cultures that existed on every single continent, at various levels of technology and social developments, who were wiped out completely, with barely a place name recalling their very existence. Here on the East Coast of the USA, in Washington DC and vicinity, the physical DNA and RNA patterns may linger on (male explorers were not going to turn down a rare opportunity for inter-racial nookie, no matter who of their fellows they were secretly buggering on those multi-month-long expeditions… But the languages of the Paspahegh or Kiskiack Indians are utterly lost by virtue of the Amerindian Geonocide.

We have no idea how they lived or what they thought.

We know very little even about any of the tribes mentioned and fought with or against Julius Caesar in modern day Western Europe. We cannot decipher the language of the Etruscans or even the earliest civilizations of the Indus River (today’s Pakistan)– one of our very earliest settled, irrigated, urban center civilizations. (Mohenjo-Daro) and many small languages today are down to just a tiny handful of speakers, all elderly…

Other languages have been almost obliterated in living memory. Much more recently than the ancient Roman or Chinese or Japanese Empires, entire languages and cultures have been wiped out. When I was a young child in the 1950s, the US government forbade the speaking of native American languages in the reservation schools…

So indeed, genocide is possible, and has happened many times. And our ancestors and our governments are directly guilty of it.

Published in: on August 29, 2015 at 2:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

Rember when MOOCs were going to replace all of higher education?

Only 3 years ago the entrepreneurs peddling Massive Online Open Courses like Coursera were predicting the collapse by 2022 of 99% of all colleges and universities, to be replaced by those corporations, particularly among non-traditional learners.
No surprise: It isn’t happening. Completion rates are around 15% and those few who do succeed mostly seem to be those who already have college degrees.
But Thrun and other MOOC founders seem less than concerned about living up to their earlier, lofty rhetoric or continuing that tradition of bringing education to an underserved population. True, they haven’t entirely abandoned their rhetoric about equal access to educational opportunities. But they’ve shifted to what’s becoming a more familiar Silicon Valley narrative about the future of employability: a cheap and precarious labor force. That’s the unfortunate reality of “Uber for Education.”
– See more at:

Published in: on August 24, 2015 at 9:52 am  Comments (1)  

Common Core

If you actually compare the CC math curriculum with what we had in DC beforehand, supposedly based on the Massachusetts standards, there are places where it’s better and places where it’s worse.
To me that’s not the big deal. It’s everything else: the idea that every teacher has to march through them at the exact speed using the exact same lessons and evaluations (or else kids March thru a computerized set of lessons w little or no personal input or cooperation from others) so that DATA can be collected and punishments and cash handed out to adults — while cheating kids out of any sort of interesting lessons a teacher (shudder ! A mere teacher!) might devise. Especially if they teach poor kids.

Published in: on August 11, 2015 at 1:23 pm  Comments (1)  

How “School Accountability

Excellent article on the ways that certain civil rights organizations have been (apparently) paid off by billionaires like Bill Gates to change their stand and now pretend that taking lots of standardized tests and doing test prep all year is the new struggle for civil rights.
Long article but well worth it. Written by Ken Derstine at Schools Matter.

Published in: on August 11, 2015 at 1:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

A lawsuit against Value-added Measurements

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New post on Diane Ravitch’s blog

Bruce Lederman Explains the Challenge to New York State Teacher Evaluation System

by dianeravitch

Bruce Lederman is representing his wife, Sheri Lederman, a fourth grade teacher in Great Neck, New York, in a legal challenge to New York State’s teacher evaluation system. Several readers asked to see the court papers, and I will post some of the affidavits from nationally recognized experts in a day or two. For now, here is Bruce Lederman’s explanation of the theory behind the legal claim on behalf of Sheri Lederman. The New York State Education Department sought to have the case dismissed without a hearing, but the state Supreme Court accepted the case. There will be oral arguments on August 12 at 10 a.m. in Albany in the court of Judge McDonough, 10 Eagle Street. If you are interested, please attend.
Bruce Lederman writes:
                  Several of your readers have asked for an explanation of the legal theories behind the Lederman v. King lawsuit. I am attaching the reply memorandum of law which explains in detail the evidence and expert opinions in the case, as well as the legal arguments at issue. I also attached reply expert and facts affidavits from Aaron Pallas (Columbia), Linda Darling-Hammond (Stanford), Audrey Amrein-Beardsley (ASU), and Sean Patrick Corcoran (NYU), Jesse Rothstein (Berkeley), Carol Burris, Sharon Fougner and myself (which has an important email exchange with Professor John Friedman, co-author of the widely cited Chetty, Friedman & Rockoff studies).
                  To summarize for your readers the legal theories, we are proceeding based upon three theories. First, seek to have Sheri’s Growth Score Rating of 1 out of 20 points declared null and void under New York law on the grounds that it is “arbitrary and capricious.” Under New York law, any actions by a State Agency (in this case the Dept. of Education) can be challenged as “arbitrary and capricious” which is generally defined by the Courts as irrational and unreasonable based upon the facts. Second, we are asserting that the New York Growth Model (a VAM program) actually violates the New York law because it does not measure growth as defined in Education Law §3012-c(2)(i), is also not transparent and available to teachers before the beginning of the school year as required by Education Law § 3012-c(2)(j)(1) and does not allow all teachers to get all points as required by Education Law § 3012-c(2)(j)(2). Third, we argue that if Sheri is not allowed to have the individual facts of her case reviewed and is rated by a computer program whose results are not reviewable by a human being base upon real life facts, then she has been denied due process of law in violation of the Constitution. We ask, rhetorically, is this 2001 a space odyssey where the computer is always right and common sense has gone out the window?
                  One specific thing we are challenging is that she got a growth score of 14 out of 20 in year 2012/13 and a growth score of 1 out of 20 in 2013/14, even though the proficiency of her students (i.e., Students whose scores meet or exceed state standards) was virtually identical and there is no rational explanation for such wild swings in scores year to year. Another thing her case illustrates is the problem of ceiling effect when teaching high performing students. For one student, she got a failing student growth percentile (SGP) of 27 out of 100 because the student got 60 out of 60 questions right on a 3rd grade test, and got 64 out of 66 questions right on his 4th grade test while in Sheri’s class. Even though the student was in the 98th percentile, the teacher was rated in the 27th percentile because a child got 2 questions wrong. Is that rational?
                  The issues of why New York’s Growth Model does not comply with the law is that the law tells the Department of Education to measure change in student achievement between two points in time. New York’s Growth Model does not do this because instead of measuring growth, it creates what we are calling a “survivor-type” competition where the computer predicts what children should do and evaluates teachers on a bell-curve for whose students met the computer predictions. There are many problems with this, most notably that the computer is comparing apples and oranges. The fact that a child got a score of 300 on a 3rd grade math test and a score of 295 on a 4th grade math test does not prove that the child did not learn substantial amounts in 4th grade. This is explained very well by Professor Aaron Pallas in his reply affidavit, which I highly recommend reading. Sheri and I suggest that all our experts provide important information and I suggest that people read their affidavits.              
                  Another significant fact is a series of statistics located by Dr. Carol Burris. Dr. Burris found that there were wild swings in teacher ratings between 2012/13 and 2013/14 which made absolutely no sense. For example, Scarsdale, which is generally highly regarded, went from having 0% ineffective teachers and 13% highly effective teachers to 19% ineffective teachers and 0% highly effective teachers in one year. Something is obviously wrong. There are additional examples in Dr. Burris’ reply affidavit which your readers may find interesting.
Finally, a very important issue which is presented is the defense of New York State which claims that there are academic studies recommending the use of VAM-type programs for these types of high stakes teacher evaluations. All of our experts do a great job of explaining that there are no studies that suggest that VAM-type programs can accurately rate teachers in individual cases. Professor Sean Patrick Corcoran from NYU explains that studies have found that VAM is unbiased, not that it is accurate. New York’s Education Department is misunderstanding the difference in their position in our case. Professor Corcoran provides a simple example that if you throw darts at a dart board and always miss, but miss as much to the left as to the right, and as much to the top as to the bottom, you are not biased, but you are also neither precise nor accurate. Also, I had an interesting email exchange with John Friedman, co-author of the widely discussed Chetty, Friedman Rockoff studies where he readily acknowledged that his studies were only saying that VAM-type scores tend to be accurate “on average” which he explained means over the lifetime of teacher. He suggested considering VAM scores like a type of lifetime batting average in baseball. Professor Friedman specifically said that VAM scores can be too high or too low in any year, and that they may be wrong because a particular student had a bad day when the test was taken. Following this logic (which comes from one of the leading VA researchers) rating teachers based upon VAM generated scores is like rating a baseball player based upon a single randomly chosen at bat.
                  We are scheduled to have an oral argument on August 12, 2015, and are optimistic that the Judge will recognize that something is terribly wrong with New York’s Growth Model and the rating of 1 out of 20 points given to Sheri. We believe we have established that New York’s Growth Model (which it paid a contractor $3.48 million to develop) is a statistical black box which no rational person could find fair or accurate.
                  We thank all those who have supported us.
dianeravitch | August 7, 2015 at 11:19 am | Categories: Education Reform | URL:

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Published in: on August 7, 2015 at 11:58 am  Comments (1)  

On School DEforms in Louisiana

“Crazy Crawfish” is running for school board in Louisiana. He has a long and useful article on how effective (or not) the DEforms have been that were instituted by the billionaires and their ex-TFA minions there, especially after firing all seven thousand New Orleans public school teachers after Hurricane Katrina. The answer, if you look at NAEP, is none. 

He also has a number of proposals on that which ought to be done.

Here is the link:

Published in: on August 4, 2015 at 2:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

Disaster Capitalism, Greek Style (with a nod to Naomi Klein)

Disaster capitalism, Greek style

Under the terms forced on Greece just now, by the ‘troika’, all small Greek businesses need to pay all their taxes for the entire year, in advance, before they’ve earned any money at all. But foreigners living there can send out any funds they like, tax free– according to noted economist Joseph Stiglitz in the NYT.

It goes without saying that under the terms granted by the troika, Greek unions need to be enfeebled and half the population must be reduced to pauperdom. The troika is the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Commission.

In my opinion Greece should have instead withdrawn from the Euro zone and begun printing their own money and defaulted in the same way that Germany did after World War One: at first state that one drachma equals one euro, but then keep printing more and more of them, so that they could pay off the billions of Euros in billions of drachmas. Where’s the catch? Again, follow the lead of the Germans, who made it so that it took a billion Deutschmarks to buy a loaf of bread. Greece wouldn’t have to go quite so far: just make a single spanakopita cost a million drachmas.

Such hyperinflation would of course wipe out the savings of the wealthy – but they are the ones who’ve been screwing the country for ages.

Let me also point out that part of the reason Greece is in deep financial crisis is that they spent the equivalent of $15 billion building stadiums for the Olympics in 2008 – stadiums that are now unused. Boston did the right thing in taking their name out of the competition for the next set of games.

Here is the link :…/greece-the-sacrificial-lamb.htm…


Published in: on August 1, 2015 at 5:04 pm  Comments (1)  
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A Rally for Transparency and Open Government


I attended a small rally for open government and transparency this morning at the Wilson Building in downtown DC, sponsored by the Washington Teachers’ Union.

The issue is a move to make it so that no one — not even the WTU, which is the bargaining agent for all DCPS teachers — would be able to see any teacher evaluation data, even with names or other identifying information redacted. To be sure, the Union is not interested in having names and scores of teachers printed in the Washington Post or put on-line. However, Using leaked data from DCPS’s first year of the IMPACT teacher evaluation system, I have shown on this blog that the evaluation system is basically invalid, since there is only a very low correlation between classroom observation scores and “value-added” scores computed by an incomprehensible “black box” algorithm whose details teachers are not permitted to see or examine.

If we had more data on these invalid scores, we would probably discover that, as in New York City, the “Value-Added” scores jump around wildly from year to year for any given teacher, even if they are teaching the exact same subject and grade level and at the same school, teaching very similar kids. (R-Squared in NYC was less than 0.1, which means essentially no correlation at all! In DC, r-squared correlation between classroom observation scores and “value-added” scores was about 0.13, also quite low.)

That’s me in the back holding the handmade sign with graphs I made. 

Published in: on June 30, 2015 at 10:37 am  Leave a Comment  

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