American Soldiers in Afghanistan vis-Avis the Soviets …

Recently I read a very interesting article in Quora that compared the American war effort in Afghanistan with that of the former Soviet Union. Unfortunately, I can’t find the article, but I hope I remember some of the salient points:

1. The Soviets fought the Afghan Islamic jihadis whom the Americans were indirectly funding by way of enormous sums of money and weapons given to the corrupt military regime of Pakistan.

2. Those same Islamic jihadis, that the Americans supported and funded for so long, ended up forming the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. The Taliban was definitely supported by the Pakistani military – and hence, was supported by the US. Eventually, Al-Qaeda planned and carried out the attacks of September 11, 2001, turning on their former sponsor. Afghans know this. Most Americans don’t.

3. The Soviets actually entered Afghanistan as a result of a legal request from the then-existing Afghan communist government — which was divided into two factions that hated each other and at times murdered each other. The Americans most definitely received no such legal, official invitation. Sure, wanting revenge is normal, but the American government makes a big deal about legality — when it suits their interests. Again, Afghans are quite aware of this hypocrisy.

4. Much or most of the educated folks in Afghanistan at that time were very much in favor of one or the other communist groups. Next time you ride in a taxi or whatever with an Afghan refugee driver, ask him or her about this. [There are, in fact, a lot of highly-educated from all over the Middle East who have taken refuge from the endless wars over there. The US does not use their skills wisely. – my addition]

5. Before the Soviet intervention and later all-out wars, Afghanistan was a fairly peaceful and not totally undeveloped place. The Soviets gave a lot of actual aid for improving transportation, education, health care, the position of women, dams, electricity, etc. current American aid does zilch for the people but lots goes into the pockets of corrupt officials — which is ALL of them. Afghans know this. Americans think that Afghans are all Crazy jihadis. (Yes, I am quite familiar with how the USSR ended up being one of the most repressive and f***ed up nations around.)

6. The same religious reactionaries  (or their descendants) who used to fight the Soviets are now fighting the Americans. The Afghans know this. Americans, in general,  don’t.

7. The Soviet army had much a more hands-on methodology or ‘doctrine’ than the American one does today. Soviet soldiers actually went out on patrols, regularly [and had members who were fluent in the various Afghan languages. They didn’t really need interpreters. – my addition] If they suspected that somebody in village X had given intel to the Jihadis, then they tended to kill everybody in Village C. Face to face. Not with a drone or far-off and invisible artillery 10-20 minutes after a small arms attack from some jihadis.

8. The Soviets controlled the cities, not the countryside; whenever the Soviets left a region, the jihadis came back. The Americans now control the cities, and the skies, but not the countryside. Whenever the Americans or their allies leave a region, the jihadis come back.

8. Consequently the Afghan jihadis had and have lot more respect for Soviet soldiers than American ones, who they see as seldom going out on patrol, never knowing the local languages, and being totally reliant on superior electronic warfare: really, not warriors.

9. The writer noted that the American-installed governments in Afghanistan are among the most corrupt ones on the planet. Afghans know this. Americans don’t.

10. Afghanistan is more like a continent of warring tribes than a nation. The tribes don’t speak the same languages- literally – and have bad blood going back hundreds or thousands of years. Betrayal (of people whom they have smiled to, shaken hands with, eaten with, received cash payments from, etc) is the norm, not the exception.

11. The writer also predicted that as soon as the Americans withdraw, the “elected” regime will fall very, very fast, and that the jihadis are just biding their time until the Americans get sick of the war. They are very confident that they will win.

Published in: on May 3, 2018 at 8:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

What Good Does Standardized Testing Do?

Perhaps it has no real positive use at all, argue two writers. I used to score really high on these this sort of test. But I eventually learned some of the inhuman uses to which they have been put (eg eugenics, “scientific” racism, mass murder, racial segregation and imperialism. I am also grimly aware that there are many personal traits* that I am really bad at. Those traits are ones which no standardized test can possibly hope to measure — Briggs-Meyers be damned. In fact B-M is pseudoscience, just like Freudian psychoanalysis, rohrschach tests, horoscopes, auras, or Dianetics.

These are the links here and here.


If You Could Make ONE change….

* my personal failings and weaknesses are my own and I don’t feel like sharing them with you, dear reader.

Published in: on May 1, 2018 at 5:57 pm  Comments (2)  

Why are the oligarchs attacking public education?

Steve Ruis has been explaining why: it is a direct attack by the oligarchs on the lower 80% of the US population to make them accept a world where they have no power, no stable life, no decent healthcare, no good schools for their kids* nor anything else that folks OUGHT to enjoy in the most powerful and wealthiest nation in the history of the entire planet.

In order that the Walton family (and a few others – the top 1%) can have a life style more opulent than any king, rajah, or emperor at any time in the history of the world, with mansions, yachts, private jets and so on.

*these inferior schools are ones where the kids don’t learn to question authority, don’t go on field trips, don’t have well-trained and experienced teachers, and at all times have their eyes trained on the teacher, respond in unison, and so on. In other words KIPP: Kids In Prison Program, some of the kids and teachers there call it.

Exactly the kind of totalitarian education for serfdom that Americans used to rail against.

Here are some of Steven’s recent posts:


Published in: on April 30, 2018 at 8:33 am  Comments (2)  

Why Did NAEP Scores Fall in 2017 in DC and Elsewhere?

Live by the sword, die in the same manner.

‘Reform’ leaders (bankrolled by billionaires like Bill Gates, the Koch Brothers, and the Walton family and a handful of hedge-fund managers) have justified their mission to destroy public education because of ‘low test scores’ under elected leadership; teachers must not be given the right to have an official, collective voice in working and teaching conditions; and any school with low test scores (i.e. those with poor, black, immigrant, and/or brown students and families) needs to be turned over to the tender mercies of the free market — charter schools and vouchers, making it easier for corporations and well-connected individuals to vacuum up billions of taxpayer funds.

Pretty much all of the school systems in the country have now succumbed to the rule of the education ‘reformers’. So let’s see how well that’s working out in test scores, namely, the National Assessment of Educational Progress. If the scores go up at all under the hegemony of the ‘reformers’, then the billionaires and privatizers tend to shout it from the rooftops and to get editorial boards of friendly newspapers (like the Washington Post) to cheer about it.

When the dismal results were announced at the National Press Club last week, I didn’t hear or read so much crowing. Let’s see why by looking at this graph of Average NAEP Scale Scores for all 4th grade students in a number of locations. If you look at the right-hand end of the graph, or at the last few columns of the table, these trends are now not looking so good. They are either flat or trending slowly downward.

4th grade math, all students, dc + national + city, 1990-2017

Not such great news if you are a supporter of the billionaires and privatizers: even by their own yardstick, their scheme isn’t really working. At the national level (which includes public and private schools of all types), the scores in 2017 were exactly the same as they were TEN YEARS EARLIER (2007). Same thing happened in the public schools, too!

Imagine! Ten years of zero progress under the privatizers!

In Washington, DC, the leveling-out has happened a bit more recently, but we must note that in the entire city (public, charter, private, and parochial), scores lm 2017 were the same as they were two years earlier, and in the regular DC public schools, the scores are LOWER than they were two years ago.

Maybe this is why these reformsters can’t keep a job and keep bouncing from city to city.


Newfound Teacher Militancy in ‘Red’ States and in a DC Charter School!

It is great to see so many of my former teacher colleagues in red states, as well as at a charter school here in DC, engaging in militant action against the corruption and privatization and defunding of public education. Walkouts in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Arizona and Colorado are very inspirational not only to parents, teachers and students in those states, but also to the entire, beleaguered working class and union movement in this country.

I am also pleased to see the teachers at Chavez Prep Middle Charter School here in DC also doing their bit in exposing the hypocrisy of their own management in wasting millions on hiring consultants instead of actual classroom teachers for science or English as a second language. (Most of the teachers I’ve known who worked at charter schools told me they took the job with very high expectations and commitment, but found out after a while that the high-sounding ideals of the school weren’t carried out in practice.) Here is the Washington Post article on the Chavez demonstration:




Teachers from only D.C. charter school with a union take to the streets to protest

Teachers and staff from the District’s Chavez Prep Middle march to the Mount Pleasant Neighborhood Library on Tuesday as they protest what they say is the school’s excessive spending on a consultant. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)

By Perry Stein April 25 at 6:43 PM

A rare battle between teachers and administrators at a charter school has broken into public view, with educators taking to the streets of a D.C. neighborhood to press their case that the school is spending millions of dollars on consultants while cutting core classroom positions.

The teachers at Chavez Prep Middle — the first D.C. charter school to unionize — say the administration’s spending is hurting students, who predominantly come from low-income, Hispanic families.

The teachers voted in June to unionize and are represented by the American Federation of Teachers. The three other campuses in the D.C. Cesar Chavez charter network are not unionized. The protest unfolded as teachers at Chavez Prep Middle are negotiating their first contract with school leaders.

“We want to make sure our students are as best served as possible,” said Do Lee, an eighth-grade math teacher. “But a lot of our money is going to the [consulting firm], and we don’t see the trickle-down effect.”

The leaders of the Cesar Chavez charter schools say the consulting firm is needed to boost the lagging performance of students and that the schools risk closure if their academic standing does not improve.

Charter schools are publicly funded and privately run, and unlike the traditional public school system, their teachers are not typically unionized. Massive teacher protests have been organized by unions in states such as Oklahoma and West Virginia this year, but they have emerged from the states’ traditional public school systems, with thousands of teachers represented by a single union. At Chavez Prep Middle, 30 teachers are in the union.

Nearly 7,000 charter schools serve 3 million students in the country, according to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. The American Federation of Teachers says that in the past year, teachers at more than a dozen charter schools nationwide have voted to unionize.

School leaders at Chavez said the union is misrepresenting the staffing cuts and the role of the consulting firm — and argue that it is a necessary investment for the school.


The Cesar Chavez network has a four-year, $5.3 million contract with TenSquare, a consulting firm that supports charter schools, according to school leaders. The annual budget at the four schools combined is more than $26 million.

[Teachers walk out, cancel classes for an hour at D.C.’s Anacostia High]

Enrollment and standardized test scores have declined in recent years in the Chavez network, and the D.C. Public Charter School Board said in December it would close the schools if they don’t improve their academic performance, according to the board’s 2017 review. The board ordered the Chavez network’s Parkside Middle to be shut down over the next three years. The charter network schools have experienced high turnover in their administrations.

Network administrators say they brought in TenSquare to help turn around the schools.

“The goals for TenSquare’s efforts within the Chavez network require a sustained effort,” Rick Torres, the network’s board chairman, wrote in a statement. “The good news is that we are already seeing encouraging signs of improvement thanks to the dedication of our teachers and staff and the support of TenSquare’s specialists in the areas where Chavez needs additional help to support our students and families.”

TenSquare founder Josh Kern said his consulting firm has 12 employees working across the four campuses. He said the firm trains school leaders, coaches and teachers and works with struggling students. TenSquare is working with three other D.C. charter schools, and Kern said client schools see dramatic improvements in their charter board evaluations. The firm also works with schools in New Orleans and Las Vegas.

“The work we are doing is essential to the school,” Kern said, “and absolutely necessary to improving the school.”

The unionized teachers at Chavez Prep Middle have already scored a small victory: The National Labor Relations Board found merit in March to allegations that Chavez school administrators are making changes to the workplace without negotiating with the teachers. An administrative trial is set for this summer.

Chavez Prep Middle teachers who protested Tuesday said they are angry that the administration is not filling vacant positions for a social studies teacher and a teacher of English as a second language. The Columbia Heights middle school campus has a large population of Hispanic students, and teachers said the English-language position is critical. The loss of these positions, they argued, leaves the staff stretched thin.

But school leaders said they had to make those cuts because of declining enrollment. The schools receive city funding for each student enrolled, and the four campuses went from 1,420 students in the 2015-2016 school year to 1,172 students this year, according to data from the D.C. charter board.

The protesting teachers marched from the middle school campus in Columbia Heights to the Mount Pleasant Neighborhood Library, where some of the teachers met with school leaders to continue contract negotiations. Representatives from TenSquare were present at the negotiations.

The educators carried signs invoking the philosophies of the school’s namesake, Cesar Chavez, a Mexican American farmworker who became a national labor leader.

“What would Cesar do?” one sign read. Protesters chanted “TenSquare, escucha, estamos en la lucha,” which translates from Spanish to, “TenSquare, listen, we are in the fight.”

“It seems to us that TenSquare is coming in and exploiting a broken evaluation system to fill their pockets,” said Christian Herr, a science teacher at the school and one of the union leaders.

Published in: on April 27, 2018 at 9:32 am  Comments (2)  

And how about in 8th grade reading? Surely DC is in the leading NAEP TUDA pack there, too?


data table, 8th grade, all reading, all naep tuda cities

DC is number 22 out of 27 cities as of last testing, a year ago. And we were only #3 out of 6 back in 2002, so I am not sure that’s an improvement.

If you prefer an extremely hard-to-read line graph, here you go:

8th grade reading, all cities in NAEP tuda, 2002-2017

Published in: on April 26, 2018 at 4:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

Is DC Truly the “Leader of the Pack” of other Cities in NAEP Scores?

Is DC Truly the “Leader of the Pack” of other Cities in NAEP Scores?

Did it leap from the tail of the pack to the head?


Or even to the middle?


True, it’s no longer in last place, but part of that is because a bunch of other cities with worse scores have now joined the ‘race’.

If Detroit had been one of the original NAEP-TUDA* cities, I bet Motor City would have placed last back in 2003, but we’ll never know, because there is no public data for that year, that I know of. It places right after in DC in charter-school penetration.

There is also no public data on New Orleans, in which all of the public schools were closed after the hurricane twelve years ago, and which has the highest proportion of its publicly-funded students in charter schools of anywhere in the nation.** Too bad we can’t see the data on that one. I predict NO-LA’s scores would be near the bottom as well, and so would the other school districts with really high charter school penetration – whose data is also hidden from view.

Don’t forget the growing number of white kids in DCPS (and in certain charter schools) such as at Alice Deal MS.

Oh well, I decided to graph the average NAEP scale scores in math for every single one of the 27 cities in TUDA.

8th grade math all naep tuda cities, all students

Look for yourself. DC is not even the top half, despite what you may have heard.

*Trial Urban District Assessment; National Assessment of Educational Progress

** Top 10 school districts by percentage of market share (source )

  1. New Orleans, LA (57%);
  2. Washington, D.C. (36%);
  3. Detroit, MI (32%);
  4. Kansas City, MO (29%);
  5. Dayton, OH (27%);
  6. Youngstown, OH (26%);
  7. St. Louis, MO (25%);
  8. Flint, MI (24%);
  9. Gary, IN (23%);
  10. Phoenix Union High School District, AZ (22%);
  11. and Minneapolis, MN (22%).

I know that graph is awfully hard to read. I am posting the raw data table here, put in order from high to low scores for 8th grade average NAEP scale scores for 2017. You will notice that out of 27 cities, DC is number 20.

data table, 8th grade all naep tuda reading all cities

Notice that the data for DC in the NAEP TUDA is not exactly comparable at all times from one year to the next. At one point they decided that for DC, this would only be for DCPS itself, not the private or charter schools. Oh, well.

What Do the Latest NAEP Results Tell Us About Education “Reform” in Washington, DC?

The usual gang of supporters of bipartisan education “reform” never tire of telling the world how wonderful education ‘reform’ has been in Washington, DC, what with the proliferation of charter schools, Congressional support for vouchers, a seriously handicapped teachers’ union, tremendous churn of teaching and administrative staff, tons of consultants, and direct mayoral control.

I’ve been among those saying that the results are NOT so wonderful. I have documented how virtually none of the promises came true that Chancellors Michelle Rhee and Kaya Henderson made about 8 years ago. They promised that the improvements in test scores, graduation rates and much more would go through the roof, but in fact, almost none of that came to pass. The recent scandals about truancy, absenteeism, phoney grades and illegitimate graduation rates have shown that much of their supposed successes have been purely fraudulent.

In addition, I showed recently that in fact, progress for a number of DC’s subgroups (blacks, whites, and Hispanics) on the NAEP 4th and 8th grade reading and math tests are further evidence of failure, since improvement rates per year BEFORE mayoral control cemented the rule of our ‘reformista’ Chancellors wee BETTER THAN they were AFTERWARDS.

I was asked by one of the members of DC’s now-powerless board of education to analyze changes over time for ALL of DC’s students as a group (not subdivided in any way) to compare pre- and post-‘reform’.

I made my own graphs using the data on the NAEP Data Explorer page, being careful to use the same vertical scale in each case, and starting at the lowest point, or nadir, of DC’s NAEP scores back in the 1990s. I asked Excel to calculate and draw the line of best fit for the data points. In each case, that ‘trend-line’ of linear correlation fit the data extraordinarily well. In fact, the R-values of linear correlation went from a low of 94% to a high of 99%. I didn’t use the graphs that the NAEP Data Explorer page provided, because they changed the vertical scale from situation to situation – so a rise of, say, 10 points over 20 years would look just about the same as a rise of, say, 60 points over 20 years. And they aren’t! So my vertical (y-axis scale) is 200 points in each case.

I also marked on the graphs where the dividing line was between the time when we had an elected school board (abolished in 2007) and the present, when we have direct mayoral control with essentially no checks or balances on his or her power.

So here are the graphs:

4th grade math, ANSS, all dc, 1996-20174th grade reading, ANSS, all DC, 1998-20178th grade math, ANSS, all DC, 1996-20178th grade reading, ANSS, all DC, 1998-2017

So do you see any miracles?

Me neither.

So what does all of this that mean?

  1. You need a good magnifying glass to see any significant differences in progress on the NAEP test scores for ‘all students’ in Washington, DC when comparing the two eras. The slopes of the dashed lines of best fit are essentially identical on the two sides of the purple line.
  2. Since the proportion of white inhabitants of DC and of students in DC’s publicly-funded schools have both increased markedly in the past 10 years, and the proportion of black residents and black students have decreased markedly, and this has skewed the graph in a positive direction after 2007.* That means that this data, and these graphs, are actually making the overall situation look more favorable to the reformistas.
  3. Anybody pretending that there are huge increases in national test scores after the reformistas took over education in DC, is blowing smoke in your eyes.


*Why? When you remove low-scorers and add high-scorers (on anything) to a group, the overall average score will go up.

Here is a sports example: A football coach has been given a roster consisting of these players:

  • twenty big, strong, and bulky linesmen and backs and so on. Let’s pretend their average weight is 280 pounds.
  • twenty relatively small, but very fit, place-kickers (actually, they are soccer players looking for a fall sport) who weigh an average of 180 pounds each.

The team’s average weight is exactly 230 pounds (That’s (20*280 + 20*180) / 40) .

At noon,  the coach realizes there is no need for so many place-kickers, and she cuts 15 of the placekickers, leaving five of them. Their papers say that each one in fact weighs 180 pounds.

NOTHING ELSE CHANGES. In particular, none of the players gain or lose any weight during these fifteen minutes that the coach is making these changes.

At a quarter past noon, the average weight of the team has now increased markedly. It is now (20*280 + 5*180) / 25, or 260 pounds – it has gone up by 30 pounds simply by cutting 17 of its least-heavy players.

Is that coach a genius, or what, at bulking up her team?

Actually, although it’s not the direct result of what any Chancellor has done, this situation is somewhat similar to what’s happening in DC. Remember that white students in DC are the highest-scoring group of white students anywhere in the nation, because their parents overwhelmingly have graduate or professional degrees; DC’s white working class left town decades ago. So when relatively low-scoring African-American students (from working-class families) move to PG County, and white students and their relatively-highly-educated families move into DC from wherever, the averages will increase much as they did in my example with the imaginary football team.

What are the real effects so far, in schools, of the various changes effected by Betsy DeVos and the current GOP administration?

Don’t wait to read this blog to find the answer out from me. I’m nine years out of the classroom, and to have anything useful to say on this, you need to hear from people who deal with this every day!

My younger colleagues at my last school are now retiring or moved into other professions! I would love to hear what teachers, parents, counsellors, students, administrators, etc have to say.

One of my former students (now a teacher in Maryland) shared a link today to a WaPo article concerning actions of the DeVos education department, rescinding 72 guidance documents regarding rights for disabled students.

My comments were something like this (edited):
Hi, X—- Thanks for sharing this. At first I thought it was brand-new news that I had somehow missed when I read or skimmed the Washington Post print edition this morning, pretty thoroughly. [Being retired, I can do that, with coffee and home-made banana bread from scratch! Current teachers have no time to do that at all!]
But then I looked again and saw this is a rather old article (October 2017). I recall that I was quite bothered by the issue back at the time, figuring that DeVos was doing something dreadful. Like many folks, I hated DeVos and everything she stood for. Along with thousands of others, I marched, held signs, chanted, banged drums and even spoke briefly at late-night vigils and demonstrations outside the Capitol against her.
And I still think she’s bad news for many of the same reasons other folks do! However, now re-reading the article and its follow-up, I am wondering, mostly because I don’t have facts. In the followup Post article, the DoEd spokespeople claimed that the changes were just cleaning up wording of the laws and regulations, getting rid of parts that had already been superseded and would make no practical difference at all to anybody.
Perhaps those spokespeople are really correct and it’s just a matter of making the text simpler without changing anything in practice, and her opponents are merely playing politics and making mountains out of anthills to get their supporters riled up, just like the anchors and yellers at Faux News [sic] do.
On the other hand, it is also possible that the DeVos (or her evil henchpersons) were in fact carefully crafting in loopholes so that nefarious deeds could be done to remove federal or state or local support for kids who really need it, and somehow put extra taxpayer dollars into the pockets of evil capitalistic swindlers. 
I don’t know.
It could be either one, or neither.
It does sound awfully suspicious that they only asked for expert or advocate comments AFTER the rules had been deleted. Shouldn’t the officials  do that beforehand? Of course they should. But, apparently they didn’t — or else, somebody’s lying about them not being notified.
I have no idea which of the various possibilities I’m raising here is/are true. For me to know, I would need to hear from those experts who deal with hearings and procedures and student care on this stuff. Best of all would need to hear from people who have different irons in the fire – since we all have biases, including those who are really connected to the rights of disabled students. Often there are tradeoffs or different and legitimate points of view. 
It’s too bad that many of the people spouting off on things like this really don’t know what the details really are, and are just repeating talking points. I’m often as guilty of that as many people are, (and I feel like I have many more failings than the average person) but I think I have one aspect that might cancel out part of one of my failings is that I tend to make a bit more of an the effort than the average person to go find out if something is true or false, using actual data. Debunking or confirming things is much easier than it used to be, unless someone goes to a lot of trouble to make up an elaborate hoax. (Conspiracy theorists are sometimes right, and sometimes not. People have a very hard time at discerning whether another person is lying or not. 
When I look into stuff, I am often really surprised by what I find. Sometimes my hunches (hypotheses) are confirmed, and sometimes they are contradicted by the facts on the ground; in which case I have to make sense of those results.
 I fear that too many folks do group-think because they really fear negative feedback from friends, family, fellow-students, co-workers, colleagues or neighbors if they disagree.

Does anybody with experience with the DoEd want to pitch in and comment on the various DeVos changes?

Published in: on April 24, 2018 at 12:30 pm  Leave a Comment  



Add one more to the long list of recent DC public education scandals* in the era of education ‘reform’:

DC’s NAEP** test scores are increasing at a lower rate now (after the elected school board was abolished in 2007) than they were in the decade before that.

This is true in every single subgroup I looked at: Blacks, Hispanics, Whites, 4th graders, 8th graders, in reading, and in math.

Forget what you’ve heard about DC being the fastest-growing school district. Our NAEP scores were going up faster before our first Chancellor, Michelle Rhee, was appointed than they have been doing since that date.

Last week, the 2017 NAEP results were announced at the National Press Club building here on 14th Street NW, and I went in person to see and compare the results of 10 years of education ‘reform’ after 2007 with the previous decade. When I and others used the NAEP database and separated out average scale scores for black, Hispanic, and white students in DC, at the 4th and 8th grade levels, in both reading and math, even I was shocked:

In every single one of these twelve sub-groups, the rate of change in scores was WORSE (i.e., lower) after 2007 (when the chancellors took over) than it was before that date (when we still had an elected school board).

I published the raw data, taken from the NAEP database, as well as graphs and short analyses, on my blog, ( which you can inspect if you like. I will give you two examples:

  • Black 4th grade students in DC in math (see ):
    • In the year 2000, the first year for which I had comparable data, that group got an average scale score of 188 (on a scale of 0 – 500). In the year 2007, the last year under the elected school board, their average scale score was 209, which is an increase of 21 points in 7 years, for an average increase of 3.0 points per year, pre-‘reform’.
    • After a decade of ‘reform’ DC’s black fourth grade students ended up earning an average scale score of 224, which is an increase of 15 points over 10 years. That works out to an average growth of 1.5 points per year, under direct mayoral control.
    • So, in other words, Hispanic fourth graders in DC made twice the rate of progress on the math NAEP under the elected school board than they did under Chancellors Rhee, Henderson, and Wilson.


  • Hispanic 8th grade students in DC in reading (see: )
    • In 1998, the first year for which I had data, Hispanic 8th graders in DC got an average scale score of 246 (again on a scale of 0-500). In 2007, which is the last year under the elected board of education, they earned an average scale score of 249, which is an increase of only 3 points.
    • However, in 2017, their counterparts received an average scale score of 242. Yes, the score went DOWN by 7 points.
    • So, under the elected board of education, the scores for 8th grade Latinx students went up a little bit. But under direct mayoral control and education ‘reform’, their scores actually dropped.


That’s only two examples. There are actually twelve such subgroups (3 ethnicities, times 2 grade levels, times 2 subjects), and in every single case progress was worse after 2007 than it was beforehand.


Not a single exception.


You can see my last blog post on this, with links to other ones, here: or .




Why isn’t there more outrage?


*For many years, DC officials and the editorial board of the Washington Post have been bragging that the educational ‘reforms’ enacted under Chancellor Michelle Rhee and her successors have made DCPS the fastest-improving school district in the entire nation. (See or for just two examples.)

It didn’t matter how many lies Chancellor Rhee told about her own mythical successes in a privately run school in Baltimore (see ).  She also got away with falsehoods about the necessity of firing hundreds of teachers mid-year for allegedly being sexual predators or abusers of children (see ); there were always acolytes like Richard Whitmire willing to cheer her on publicly (see ), even though the charges were false.

A lot of stories about widespread fraud in the District of Columbia public school system have hit the front pages recently. Examples:

  • Teachers and administrators were pressured to give passing grades and diplomas to students who missed so much school (and did so little work) that they were ineligible to pass – roughly one-third of last year’s graduating class. (see ) You may recall that the rising official (but fake) high school graduation rate in Washington was a used as a sign that the reforms under direct mayoral control of education had led to dramatic improvements in education here.
  • Schools pretended that their out-of-school suspension rates had been dropping, when in actual fact, they simply were suspending students without recording those actions in the system. (see )
  • Less than half of the 2018 senior class is on track to graduate because of truancy, failed classes, and the like. ( see )
  • High-ranking city officials, up to and including the Chancellor himself, cheated the system by having their own children bypass long waiting lists and get admitted to favored schools. (see )
  • A major scandal in 2011 about adults erasing and changing student answer sheets on the DC-CAS test at many schools in DC in order to earn bonuses and promotions was unfortunately swept under the rug. (see )
  • About those “public” charter schools that were going to do such a miraculous job in educating low-income black or brown children that DCPS teachers supposedly refused to teach? Well, at least forty-six of those charter schools (yes, 46!) have been closed down so far, either for theft, poor performance on tests, low enrollment, or other problems. (see ).



**Data notes:

  1. NAEP, or the National Assessment of Educational Progress, is given about every two years to a carefully chosen representative sample of students all over the USA. It has a searchable database that anybody with a little bit of persistence can learn to use: .
  2. I did not do any comparable measurements for Asian-Americans or Native Americans or other such ethnic/racial groups because their populations in DC are so small that in most years, NAEP doesn’t report any data at all for them.
  3. In the past, I did not find big differences between the scores of boys and girls, so I didn’t bother looking this time.
  4. Other categories I could have looked at, but didn’t, include: special education students; students whose first language isn’t English; economically disadvantaged students; the various percentiles; and those just in DCPS versus all students in DC versus charter school students. Feel free to do so, and report what you find!
  5. My reason for not including figures separated out for only DCPS, and only DC Charter Schools, is that NAEP didn’t provide that data before about 2011. I also figured that the charter schools and the regular public schools, together, are in fact the de-facto public education system that has grown under both the formerly elected school board and the current mayoral system, so it was best to combine the two together.
  6. I would like to thank Mary Levy for compiling lots of data about education in DC, and Matthew Frumin for pointing out these trends. I would also like to thank many DC students, parents, and teachers (current or otherwise) who have told me their stories.


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