A Dr-Seuss-Style Rhyme on Educational Reform

Diane Ravitch has posted a very apt poem in the style of “Dr Seuss” that was written by a teacher commentator. I liked it and think you might, also. Here is the link:


Published in: on April 18, 2015 at 8:29 am  Leave a Comment  

Parents in New York State are opting out of testing in HUGE numbers

i am copying Diane Ravitch’s post on this:

Published in: on April 15, 2015 at 7:54 am  Leave a Comment  

What can parents and teachers learn from the new Common Core report cards?

Nothing at all.

All that teachers and parents get back, 6 or 7 months after the tests are given, is a number.

 All those extra hours of impossibly difficult, ambiguous, computer-based testing that was supposed to give parents and teachers actionable data? Take a look for yourself at the results given in New York State last year, one of the first states to give the next generation of Common Core tests, and tell me what useful information you see:


I see nothing that is of any use to anyone except for small-minded policy wonks who are intent on labeling certain schools and teachers as “failing” because they have students who don’t have scores that are as high as some other students in other schools. Thus justifying closing the schools, firing the teachers, and turning the education of those kids over to unaccountable private operators who won’t do any better, but who will make a lot of profits.

Nowhere in this report does it explain what the student’s strengths and weaknesses are in reading or math or writing. And even though preparing for this test, and taking this test, took somewhere between one-third and one-quarter of the school year and umpteen million dollars of finding that could have been spent on something useful.

The child is literally reduced to a score.

Such a travesty. 

Published in: on April 14, 2015 at 10:24 am  Comments (1)  

Six Horrible ‘Innovations’ of Charter Schools

I have actually visited a lot of public and charter schools here in DC, both as a student myself many decades ago, as a parent of two kids who went through DCPS K-12 from roughly 1985 through  1999 and who graduated from two of our magnet schools; as a teacher myself and many-time coach of various MathCounts teams; as the son of a former itinerant art teacher, and as a mentor and observer in numerous secondary and middle schools, both in the charter and regular public schools; and the husband of a current Pre-K DCPS teacher; and the grand dad of an almost 2-year-old whose parents are trying to figure out what to do with her next year. And a volunteer at Brookland Bunker Hill. And my siblings and friends attended a variety of public and private schools here in DC. And my 4X great aunt, Louise Plessner Pollock, established the very first kindergarten normal school here in DC.

Seems to me that Ravitch and Greene are partly wrong: there are about five ‘innovations’ that charter schools are mostly trying out. But I don’t think they are good ones that are going to solve our real problems. Nor are they actually innovations.
Here is what I see:
If you want to be a successful charter school, you must:
1. Carefully screen your incoming students by various subtle methods that exclude the students most difficult to educate. (Hint: the longer the application process, and the more steps of any sort, the more you exclude the students whose parents are in prison, dead, or otherwise mentally or physically incapacitated or ev en flat-out illiterate, innumerate, or not tech-savvy.) Of course, that means that the kids who are the most at risk are not served. (As you can see on my blog, virtually all the schools in DC that have a population that is officially greater than 70% at risk are DC public schools, not charters.) When I look at the profiles of the public and charter schools, it seems we have once again devolved into a segregated system like the one I attended here in DC and Montgomery County Md in the 1950s and early 1960s. We have a handful of largely-white, low-percentage-of-high-risk schools in Upper Caucasia (JKLMMO and Deal and Wilson) joined by a handful of magnet schools (Walls, Banneker, Ellington and now Basis) and a small handful of charter schools that attract groups of white applicants (eg Yu Ying & 2 Rivers) and then there are a bunch of charters in the middle, and then there are almost-all-black and almost-all-at-risk schools in far southeast or southwest. See https://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2015/02/20/a-closer-look-at-charter-and-regular-public-school-enrollments-percentages-of-students-at-risk-and-percentages-of-students-proficient/ for details and graph and spreadsheet with all the details.
2. (For most of them – there are a few exceptions) Use really heavy-handed education methods that do not allow room for any creativity or choice on the part of the students — precisely the type of pedagogy that is utterly forbidden to public schools. If a teacher at a public school required a student to stay at his or her desk until he/she soiled their garments, that teacher would be fired immediately and held up for public ridicule. At Eva Moskowitz’s ‘Success Academies” in NYC, that teacher is exemplary. As would have been the case of a teacher in a novel by Charles Dickens.
3. Really high suspension (in-school, out-of-school) and expulsion rates and heavy recommendations to parents to transfer their children out if they are getting in trouble a lot, not doing the heavy work load, etc. If a student misbehaves, then there are serious and progressive punitive codes that are in fact enforced. Note: all of those methods are, again, strictly forbidden to DCPS teachers. if they report a kid for fighting, swearing, or even breaking things or hurting other students or an adult in the classroom, the constant response of DCPS administration is to blame the teacher, no matter what, for not being able to solve the problem by his/herself WITH NO SUPPORT from anyone. DCPS administrators suspend almost nobody at all. What’s more, if a DCPS teacher places his/her hands on a student for any reason, even to pull two kids apart who are really fighting, will often trigger a fomal accusation of ‘corporal punishment’. Agreed that what we have in DCPS is utterly insane, but is what they have in the charter schools so wonderful? Surely there is something much more innovative to be discovered. Hmm, what do they do at schools like Sidwell or Phillips Andover?
4. Not accept any students at all after september and even after the beginning of a strand of grades (eg nobody after 6th grade in middle school, nobody after 9th grade in HS, and so on; details will vary). This is not a progressive reform. So where do the kids go (somewhere between 5 and 30% per year, depending on the DC charter school, who are pushed out of almost every single DC charter school over the course of a school year? Well, either they drop out of school entirely, move to another state, or enroll in another DC public school. And the latter MUST take them. Excuse me – what kind of reform is hat?
5. Hire young kids as teachers right out of college with no work or real-world or education experience at all, push them to work 10- to 14-hour days, 6 or 7 days a week, all year round, with minimal training, and expect them to follow a script until they burn out. After a year or two, they quit or are fired in despair and exhaustion, or else they perceive this as the harassment you need to pass through on their way to being another Eva Moskowitz with an annual salary (before extra perks and benefits) of half-a-million dollars… This sort of educational model is what we used to have on the Ameican frontier (think of what school was like in Tom Sawyer) and before teachers actually attempted to become, ya know, professionals who studied their craft and asked for some autonomy and say-so over curriculum, etc. Gadzounds! We can’t have that! Only the 1% should have any autonomy! Teachers should toe the line of their bosses — and it makes no difference if their bosses (Duncan, Moskowitz, Kopp, etc have never, ever taught in their entire lives, or if the ones who did (MRhee for example) faked all the amazing claims their resumes or had someone else write their ‘doctoral’ dissertation (Steven Perry for example) or if they are flat-out grifters (Kent Amos for example). But this is no longer unique to charter schools – DC public schools now have the situation where the typical (modal) teacher has 0, 1, or 2 years of experience. This saves a lot of money because those teachers will soon be fired or quit, will never reach promised salaries of $100K after 30 years, and will never collect a pension. But they can go back to live in their parents’ basement, waiting tables or doing temp jobs, trying to pay off their student loans, which not even bankruptcy will erase…
6. Have a really, really long school day and school week. Don’t emulate Finland, but rather Korea. Chavez SPPPCS for example coops its kids into a single room from 7:30 to about 5:00 every single day. The only time they get to leave the room is if they need to go to the bathroom, or to get their wrapped-up lunch or breakfast burgers from a cart right outside the door. Once or twice a week there is a ‘special’ class like PE. Now, some charters actually have decent after-school programs like real sports or art or instrumental music, as well as study hall. I am in favor of extracurricular activities, but they do take specially trained staff and extra funds — both of which regular public schools are told to do without, naturally.
So these are what I see as the six major ‘innovations’ of charter schools. Sorry, but these are not acceptable.
Published in: on April 11, 2015 at 10:01 am  Comments (1)  

Merrow on Corruption in American Education

I don’t think I could have written this summation of the sorry aspects of Smerican educational Deforms better myself. I think Merrow is really sorry that he gave Michelle Rhee such favorable publicity a few years ago. With his new critical stand towards the educational DEformers, he gets no publicity at all.

I recommend reading this column:


Published in: on April 9, 2015 at 12:40 pm  Comments (1)  

From ” http://m.democracyjournal.org/730854/show/abf5f0b21e85b89c1755c9f1793dbf43/? “

“We are now caught in the throes of an anti-government movement that is 60 years old and that started with an attack, fueled by a fear of racial integration, on the notion that all children should attend a public school. Race and class interests, and the growth of suburbia as a refuge from integrated inner-city school systems, came to a head in the late 1960s.”

Published in: on April 7, 2015 at 2:13 pm  Leave a Comment  

Latest from Bob Schaeffer at Fair Test on Resistance to Corporate Testing Mania

The assessment reform movement gains momentum across the U.S. and even beyond national borders, as parents, students, teachers, administrators, and school board members say “Enough is enough” to standardized exam misuse and overuse. Now is the time to ratchet up pressure on members of Congress and state legislatures to roll back test-and-punish mandates!

Less Testing: More Teaching — Contact U.S. Senators April 8 
National Day of Action for “No Child Left Behind” Overhaul

Fact vs Threat: Schools Unlikely to Lose Federal Funds Due to High Opt Out Numbers

Atlanta School Test Cheating: Lessons Policy Makers Ignore

Are Exit Exams Necessary?: 
More States Say “No”

Join the Obamas to Opt Out of High-Stakes Testing

 Testing Companies Fight for Assessment Contract

Districts Report High Opt-Out Levels
Colorado Students Use Test Opt-Out Time for Education

 Parents Protest Standardized Exams; Support Opt-Out Bill

District of Columbia
 Test Cheating: How Did it Differ from Atlanta

Senate Passes Bill Curbing State Testing Amid GOP Anger
High Time for a Testing Timeout

: Atlanta Cheating Verdict Reveals Education “Reform” Failure

Students Organize Screening of Anti-Testing Film

: Debunking the Post-Katrina “Miracle”

Parent Explains Why So Many Families Are Opting Out of Testing

: Tell the Schools, “No PARCC For My Kids”
Massachusetts Students Explain Test Flaws

 Governor Continues Effort to Reduce Testing After Rejection by Feds

 Common Core Testing A Battleground Issue

New Hampshire
 Districts Develop Performance Assessment Systems

New Jersey
 PARCC Test Refusals Top 50,000
Nearly 40% of Montclair Students Opted Out from PARCC Test

New York Districts Forced to Drop “Sit and Stare” for Students Who Opt Out
Thousands of New York City Families Will Boycott Math, Reading Exams

North Carolina School Grading System Should Be Erased
North Carolina Teachers Tell Board There’s Too Much Testing

Ohio Auditor Continues Probe Into Test Score Manipulation 
Ohio First Year of PARCC Implementation No Picnic

 Sees More Than a Thousand Opt Outs So Far
Oregon Letter Blasts Damage to Education From “No Child Left Behind” Testing Law

High-Stakes Testing Has Many Problems
Less Testing, More Teaching: A Great Move for Pennsylvania Schools

Rhode Island Students and Teachers Find Faults With PARCC Test

Texas Anti-Testing Push Continues at State, Local Levels
Texas Families Start STAAR Opt-Out Movement

Washington State Tests Useless for Measuring Teacher Effectiveness
Washington Parents Protest Use of Non-Validated Smarter Balanced Exams

Canada Testing the Idea of Scrapping High-Stress Exams

United Kingdom Teachers Endorse Boycott of New Test of Four-Year Olds

“Hocus Pocus” and the History of High-Stakes Testing in the U.S.

The Lost Purpose of School Reform

Bob Schaeffer, Public Education Director
FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing
office-   (239) 395-6773   fax-  (239) 395-6779
mobile- (239) 699-0468
web-  http://www.fairtest.org


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Published in: on April 7, 2015 at 1:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

More from Whistleblower Adell Cothorne and Mercedes Schneider

Published in: on April 3, 2015 at 12:04 pm  Leave a Comment  

Do international test scores matter?

this is from Diane Ravitch:

Published in: on April 2, 2015 at 3:43 pm  Leave a Comment  

Diagnosing a very sick teacher

Write ABOVE THIS LINE to post a reply or view this on Basecamp

Dave Greene Dave Greene posted a comment about this message on Basecamp.


Yes. I have to pass along this comment I received. Wonderful piece.

Harris Lirtzman*said:*

April 2, 2015 at 4:19 PM

Mr. Greene:

I can assure you that I have analyzed your very peculiar case with all the
professional care and diligence required.

I have made the following diagnosis:

1. You taught in public schools during a period where income inequality and
poverty were ‘reproduced’ very effectively by social structures guaranteed
to propagate a rigid pattern of academic performance differences correlated
deeply with class and race. 2. During that period there was a weak social
consensus that public schools with high proportions of students from
communities with indicators of higher poverty would receive greater
resources (i.e., federal Title 1 funds).

3. Beginning in the late 1980s and accelerating rapidly through the early
2000s, that consensus was shattered by the collapse of the ‘moderate’ wings
of both major political parties and the rise of a group of ‘new
philanthropists’ who no longer used their wealth to promote social welfare
but to create organizations using only ‘data-driven’ measurement and
results to assess ‘success.’

4. During this same period, an oligarchical libertarianism based on the
theories of Milton Friedman and Ayn Rand took over the center-right
research foundations, promoting various forms of ‘market choice’ as the
only way to ‘improve’ public schools.

5. During the 2000s, a series of international testing regimens ranked
American students as mediocre achievers setting off a moral panic used by
the new philanthropists and libertarian social researchers to justify rapid
change in the American public sector.

6. A unified group of wealthy contributors and organizations captured the
leadership of both political parties by using that panic to promote
untested theories about ‘failing’ public schools that could be ‘saved’ by
blaming teachers and imposing top-down ‘reform strategies’ that would be
‘cost-free’ to government and society, which could then be absolved from
any concerns about student and family poverty and reducing vast disparities
among communities.

I have made the following prognosis:

1. You retired from the profession at a propitious moment.

2. However, you suffer from a neurosis that is common among current and
former public school teachers who have not accommodated themselves to the
the ‘new paradigm.’

3. Your neurosis expresses itself in a constant need to ask questions,
challenge unreasonable assumptions and doubt the wisdom of the oligarchs,
libertarians, fraudulent researchers and government leaders who now control
social and educational public policy-making.

I suggest the following course of treatment:

1. A prolonged course of behavior modification using a version of the
‘Ludivico ‘Technique’ form of aversion therapy demonstrated so effectively
by a Mr. Anthony Burgess in his research study called ”A Clockwork Orange”
by watching “Waiting For Superman” until your corneas dissolve.

2. An extended period during which you read no book, article or blog that
offers any reasoned critique of the education reform paradigm.

3. That you state out loud three times, three times a day two mantra-like
formulations know to reduce anxiety among disaffected social observers like
yourself: ‘I live in the best of all possible worlds’ and ‘Market choice
theory’ is the best of all possible philosophies.’

Respectfully yours,

Dr. Harris M. Lirtzman Department of Educational Self-Delusion The
Gates-Walton University for Social-Science Construction

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Published in: on April 2, 2015 at 3:28 pm  Comments (1)  

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