Against Proposed DoE Regulations on ESSA

This is from Monty Neill:


Dear Friends,

The U.S. Department of Education (DoE) has drafted regulations for
implementing the accountability provisions of the Every Student Succeeds
Act (ESSA). The DOE proposals would continue test-and-punish practices
imposed by the failed No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law. The draft
over-emphasizes standardized exam scores, mandates punitive
interventions not required in law, and extends federal micro-management.
The draft regulations would also require states to punish schools in
which larger numbers of parents refuse to let their children be tested.
When DoE makes decisions that should have been set locally in
partnership with educators, parents, and students, it takes away local
voices that ESSA tried to restore.

You can help push back against these dangerous proposals in two ways:

First, tell DoE it must drop harmful proposed regulations. You can
simply cut and paste the Comment below into DoE’s website at!submitComment;D=ED-2016-OESE-0032-0001
or adapt it into your own words. (The text below is part of FairTest’s
submission.) You could emphasize that the draft regulations steal the
opportunity ESSA provides for states and districts to control
accountability and thereby silences the voice of educators, parents,
students and others.

Second, urge Congress to monitor the regulations. Many Members have
expressed concern that DoE is trying to rewrite the new law, not draft
appropriate regulations to implement it. Here’s a letter you can easily
send to your Senators and Representative asking them to tell leaders of
Congress’ education committees to block DoE’s proposals:

Together, we can stop DoE’s efforts to extend NLCB policies that the
American people and Congress have rejected.


Note: DoE website has a character limit; if you add your own comments,
you likely will need to cut some of the text below:

*/You can cut and paste this text into the DoE website:/*

I support the Comments submitted by FairTest on June 15 (Comment #).
Here is a slightly edited version:

While the accountability provision in the Every Student Succeeds Act
(ESSA) are superior to those in No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the
Department of Education’s (DoE) draft regulations intensify ESSA’s worst
aspects and will perpetuate many of NCLB’s most harmful practices. The
draft regulations over-emphasize testing, mandate punishments not
required in law, and continue federal micro-management. When DoE makes
decisions that should be set at the state and local level in partnership
with local educators, parents, and students, it takes away local voices
that ESSA restores. All this will make it harder for states, districts
and schools to recover from the educational damage caused by NLCB – the
very damage that led Congress to fundamentally overhaul NCLB’s
accountability structure and return authority to the states.

The DoE must remove or thoroughly revise five draft regulations:

_DoE draft regulation 200.15_ would require states to lower the ranking
of any school that does not test 95% of its students or to identify it
as needing “targeted support.” No such mandate exists in ESSA. This
provision violates statutory language that ESSA does not override “a
State or local law regarding the decision of a parent to not have the
parent’s child participate in the academic assessments.” This regulation
appears designed primarily to undermine resistance to the overuse and
misuse of standardized exams.

_Recommendation:_ DoE should simply restate ESSA language allowing the
right to opt out as well as its requirements that states test 95% of
students in identified grades and factor low participation rates into
their accountability systems. Alternatively, DoE could write no
regulation at all. In either case, states should decide how to implement
this provision.

_DoE draft regulation 200.18_ transforms ESSA’s requirement for
“meaningful differentiation” among schools into a mandate that states
create “at least three distinct levels of school performance” for each
indicator. ESSA requires states to identify their lowest performing five
percent of schools as well as those in which “subgroups” of students are
doing particularly poorly. Neither provision necessitates creation of
three or more levels. This proposal serves no educationally useful
purpose. Several states have indicated they oppose this provision
because it obscures rather than enhances their ability to precisely
identify problems and misleads the public. This draft regulation would
pressure schools to focus on tests to avoid being placed in a lower
level. Performance levels are also another way to attack schools in
which large numbers of parents opt out, as discussed above.

_DoE draft regulation 200.18_ also mandates that states combine multiple
indicators into a single “summative” score for each school. As Rep. John
Kline, chair of the House Education Committee, pointed out, ESSA
includes no such requirement. Summative scores are simplistically
reductive and opaque. They encourage the flawed school grading schemes
promoted by diehard NCLB defenders.

_Recommendation:_ DoE should drop this draft regulation. It should allow
states to decide how to use their indicators to identify schools and
whether to report a single score. Even better, the DoE should encourage
states to drop their use of levels.

_DoE draft regulation 200.18_ further proposes that a state’s academic
indicators together carry “much greater” weight than its “school
quality” (non-academic) indicators. Members of Congress differ as to the
intent of the relevant ESSA passage. Some say it simply means more than
50%, while others claim it implies much more than 50%. The phrase “much
greater” is likely to push states to minimize the weight of non-academic
factors in order to win plan approval from DOE, especially since the
overall tone of the draft regulations emphasizes testing.

_Recommendation: _The regulations should state that the academic
indicators must count for more than 50% of the weighting in how a state
identifies schools needing support.

_DoE draft regulation 200.18_ also exceeds limits ESSA placed on DoE
actions regarding state accountability plans.

_DoE draft regulation 200.19_ would require states to use 2016-17 data
to select schools for “support and improvement” in 2017-18. This leaves
states barely a year for implementation, too little time to overhaul
accountability systems. It will have the harmful consequence of
encouraging states to keep using a narrow set of test-based indicators
and to select only one additional “non-academic” indicator.

_Recommendation:_ The regulations should allow states to use 2017-18
data to identify schools for 2018-19. This change is entirely consistent
with ESSA’s language.

Lastly, we are concerned that an additional effect of these unwarranted
regulations will be to unhelpfully constrain states that choose to
participate in ESSA’s “innovative assessment” program.

Monty Neill, Ed.D.; Executive Director, FairTest; P.O. Box 300204,
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-477-9792;; Donate
to FairTest:

The Curmudgeon Cracks Open Some of the Lies and Half-Truths Behind Arne Duncan and Common Core

(Yet another old post from April 2014 that never made it out. By the way, I still think that Peter Greene, who writes ‘Curmudgucation’, has the most original, pithiest, and most right-on-the-money thoughts anywhere on education and social policy that I have read anywhere.)

Read this nuanced treatment of the mendacity and partial truths used by Arne Duncan in defending the so-called Common Core.

Trends on the NAEP give a clue as to why Arne Duncan quit

Seeing the rather large drop on the NAEP scores for students across the nation – results released at midnight last night – gives me the idea that Arne Duncan (secretary of education for the past 7 years) quit rather than face the blame for his failed policies. After all, he (and the rest of the billionaire deformer class) have been promising that if you open tons of unregulated charter schools, use numerology to fire many of the remaining veteran teachers, and make education into little more than test prep for all students of color or those who come from poor families, then the test results will improve.

Well, they didn’t improve.

I will let you see for yourself how the percentages of students deemed ‘proficient’ in 4th grade and 8th grade on the NAEP at the national level generally dropped. I include DC (where I come from), and in five other states – two that are high-performing (NH and Massachusetts) and three that are low-performing (CA, AL and NM).

The one bright spot for District residents is that DC is no longer the last in the nation in every category! DC students now have slightly higher percentages proficient in certain categories than two other impoverished states – New Mexico and Alabama, as you can see in the graphs below. (The graph for the District of Columbia is the light blue one at the bottom,)

On the other hand, the increases in percentages of students ‘proficient’ in DC since 2008, the first year after mayoral control was imposed and the elected school board was neutralized, are nothing but a continuation of previous trends.

As usual, if you want to take a closer look, click on the graphs.

% Proficient in 4th Grade Math: DC, Nation, MA, CA, NH, NM, AL through 2015

% Proficient in 4th Grade Math: DC, Nation, MA, CA, NH, NM, AL through 2015

Percentage 'Proficient' or Above on 4th grade NAEP reading through 2015, DC, Nation, AL, CA, MA, NH, NM

Percentage ‘Proficient’ or Above on 4th grade NAEP reading through 2015, DC, Nation, AL, CA, MA, NH, NM

8th grade math NAEP

8th grade math NAEP

8th grade reading

8th grade reading

Arne Duncan is Leaving

I am pleased to report that Arne Duncan is stepping down as the US Secretary of Education. I wish he was being fired and disgraced, because he has done more to destroy and resegregate public education than any other individual. Except Barack Obama, who appointed him.

Good riddance. But his replacement is not likely to be better: John King, who was utterly indifferent to parent complaints about over-testing.

(PS – sorry for the original typos. Trying to write a post via my iPhone is asking for errors galore.)

Where have all the teachers gone?

A lot of them have retired (like me) or quit in disgust. This writer collected comments from dozens of teachers around the nation who explained why they retired early or quit teaching altogether because they could not stand the direction that American education has taken.

Very worthwhile reading.

With Friends Like These …

With Friends Like These…

(public education doesn’t need enemies!)

An assessment by Ken Derstine of the overhaul of ESEA / NCLB / ECAA act. Here is the link:

What Exactly Were the Differences Between Cheating in Atlanta Under Beverly Hall and the Cheating in DC Under Michelle Rhee?

We all know that administrators and teachers in DC and in Atlanta cheated in order to keep their jobs and gain large cash bonuses. In one city, scores of teachers were indicted, some plea=bargained, some went to jail, and the chief died of cancer. In the other city, only a couple of whistle-blowers lost their jobs, but the chief went on to fame and fortune while all the other culpable parties kept their bonuses.

But why is it that only in Atlanta were teachers and administrators indicted and convicted, but nowhere else?

What difference was there in their actual behavior?

To me, the answer is simple: in DC, officials at every level, from the Mayor’s office up to the President of the US and the Secretary of Education, were determined to make sure that Michelle Rhee’s lying and suborning of perjury and lies would never be revealed, no matter what.

Read for yourself part of the official documents in Atlanta (I’m quoting from The Answer Sheet) and see if you can find any real differences in behavior between what happened there and what happened in DC.

“A[tlanta] P[ublic] S[schools] principals and teachers were frequently told by Beverly Hall and her subordinates that excuses for not meeting targets would not be tolerated. When principals and teachers could not reach their targets, their performance was criticized, their jobs were threatened and some were terminated. Over time, the unnreasonable pressure to meet annual APS targets led some employees to cheat on the CRCT. The refusal of Beverly Hall and her top administrators to accept anything other than satisfying targets created an environment where achieving the desired end result was more important than the students’ education.

“To satisfy annual targets and AYP, test answer sheets were altered, fabricated, and falsely certified. Test scores that were inflated as a result of cheating were purported to be the actual achievement of targets through legitimately obtained improvements in students’ performance when, in fact, the conspirators knew those results had been obtained through cheating and did not reflect students’ actual academic performance.

“As part of the conspiracy, employees of APS who failed to satisfy targets were terminated or threatened with termination, while others who achieved targets through cheating were publicly praised and financially rewarded. For example, teachers who reported other teachers who cheated were terminated, while teachers who were caught cheating were only suspended. The message from Beverly Hall was clear: there were to be no exceptions and no excuses for failure to meet targets.

“Beverly Hall placed unreasonable emphasis on achieving targets; protected and rewarded those who achieved targets through cheating; terminated principals who failed to achieve targets; and ignored suspicions CRCT score gains at schools within APS. As a result, cheating became more and more prevalent within APS, until by the time the 2009 CRCT was administered, cheating was taking place in a majority of APS’s 83 elementary and middle schools. This was substantiated by GOSA’s erasure analysis, which identified 43 APS elementary and middle schools with at least one out of four classrooms within those schools having a statistically improbable number of erasures changing wrong answers to right answers. GOSA’s erasure analysis identified an additional 9 APS elementary and middle schools as having at least one out of five classrooms with a statistically improbable number of erasures changing wrong answers to right answers. Confessions by dozens of APS employees subsequently confirmed what GOSA’s statistical analysis indicated; widespread cheating occurred on the 2009 CRCT.

“It was further a part of the conspiracy and endeavor that targets achieved through cheating were used to obtain financial and other rewards for many of the conspirators.

“It was further part of the conspiracy and endeavor that targets achieved through cheating were used by Beverly Hall to obtain substantial performance bonuses.

“It was further part of the conspiracy and endeavor that Beverly Hall and other conspirators would interfere with, suppress and obstruct investigations into cheating using various methods. Conspirators would refuse to investigate reports of cheating; suppress and deny the existence of reports of cheating; fail to act upon APS investigators’ conclusions that cheating was occurring; suppress and deny the APS investigators’ conclusions that cheating was in fact occurring; fail and refuse to provide complaints of cheating to the Governor’s Special Investigators, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and investigators from the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office; and intimidate witnesses with the intent to hinder, delay, or prevent the communication of criminal offenses to law enforcement officers. When questioned by the Governor’s Special Investigators and law enforcement officers, many of the conspirators made false statements some under oath denying their knowledge of and participation in the cheating.”

An inspiring interview with Diane Ravitch

Read it here.

A quote:

[Interviewer]: My biggest disappointment with Barack Obama is his education policy. He had Linda Darling-Hammond as his consultant during the 2008 election, and we get Arne Duncan.

[Diane Ravitch]: That was bait and switch. The greatest disappointment of this entire situation, which I consider to be a direct assault on the very principle of public education in America, is Barack Obama. In the state of the union, the president said that he didn’t want teaching to the test, but he wants teachers who don’t get the test marks to be ousted. He pretends to be completely detached and almost as though he doesn’t know what Arne Duncan is doing. Arne Duncan is doing what Barack Obama wants him to do, and they are doing what the Wall Street hedge-fund managers want them to do. They are pushing a privatization agenda, there’s no question about it. Obama always said if the unions were under assault, he would put on those walking shoes. Did you see him in Madison, Wisconsin? I didn’t. In fact, I was in Madison, Wisconsin to speak at the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, and I happened to be there right in the middle of that great demonstration. On Twitter I was exchanging tweets with Justin Hamilton, Duncan’s press secretary at the time, and I challenged him to march together around the State House. Arne and the president were in Miami with Jeb Bush celebrating the turn-around of Miami Public High School, which in a month received notice it was going to be closed. I mean, it was all a sham. We are surrounded by so many frauds, hoaxes, and shams. Arne has been a leader in perpetuating the hoaxes, and the president has been right there by his side. Arne Duncan is a guy who’s dedicated to persuading people that Michelle Rhee is right. He’s the worst Secretary of Education in our history.

Listing of Educational Bloggers

This is a list of the blogs maintained at the present time by some fellow-activist teachers and others.


A Teacher on Teaching A Teacher on Teaching
Aaron Barlow Aaron Barlow or
Accountable Talk Accountable Talk
Adam Bessie Automated Teaching Machine
Alan Singer Alan Singer
Alexandra Miletta Alexandra Miletta
Alice Mercer Reflections on Teaching
Allan Jones Allan Jones
Amy Moore Amy Moore
Andy Spears Tennessee Education Report
Ani McHugh Teacherbiz
Ann Policelli Cronin Ann Policelli Cronin
Anne Tenaglia Teacher’s Lessons Learned
Anthony Cody Anthony Cody
Arthur Getzel The Public Educator (aka liberalteacher)
Arthur Goldstein NYCEducator
Arthur H. Camins Arthur H. Camins
Audrey Amrein-Beardsley VAMboozled
Aurelio M. Montemayor Parent Leadership in Education
Badass Teachers Association (Marla Kilfoyle, Melissa Tomlinson) Badass Teachers Association and
Barbara Madeloni Educators for a Democratic Union
Barbara McClanahan readingdoc
Betsy Combier Parent Advocatees
Big Education Ape Big Education Ape
Bill Betzen School Achieve Project
Bill Boyle Educarenow
Bob Sikes Scathing Purple Musings
Bob Valiant Defend-Ed
Bonnie Cunard Continuing Change or
Bonny Buffington BBBloviations
Brett Bymaster Stop Rocketship
Brett Dickerson Life At the Intersections
Brian Cohen Making the grade blog
Brian Redmond rsbandman
Bruce Baker School Finance 101
Bruce Bowers Reflections on teaching and learning
Carol Burris Carol Burris and Answer Sheet
Chaz Chaz’s School Daze
Chris Cerrone Children should not be a number
Chris Guerrieri Jaxkidsmatter
Chris Thinnes Chris Thinnes
Christian Goering Edusanity
Christopher Martell On Social Studies and Education
Christopher Tienken Christopher Tienken
Christopher Wooleyhand Common Sense School Leadership
Claudia Swisher Claudia Swisher
Cynthia Liu K12NN News Network
Dan McConnell Truth and Consequences
Daniel Katz Daniel Katz
Darcie Cimarusti Mother Crusader
David Chura Kids in the System
David Cohen InterACT:  Accomplished California Teacher
David Ellison A Teacher’s Mark’s
Debbie Forward PFF Faculty Lounge
Deborah McCallum Big Ideas in Education
Deborah Meier Deborah Meier
Demian Godon Reconsidering TFA
Derek Black Education Law Prof Blog
Diane Aoki The Teacher I Want to Be
Diane Ravitch Diane Ravitch
DOE Nutes DOE Nuts Blog
Don Russell Lifting The Curtain
Dora Taylor Seattle Education
Doug Martin Doug Martin 
Edward Berger Edward Berger
Elizabeth Rose Yo Miz
Francesco Portelos Educator Fights Back  or Don’t Tread on Educators or
Fred Klonsky Fred Klonsky
Gary Rubinstein Gary Rubinstein
Gene Glass Education in Two Words
George Schmidt Substance News
George Wood George Wood
Gerri Songer Gerri Song
Glen Brown Teacher Poet Musician
Good Morning Art Teacher Good Morning Art Teacher
Greg Mild Plumberbund
Guy Brandenburg Guy Brandenburg
Helen Gym Philadelphia Public School Notebook
Jack McKay Horace Mann League Blog
James Arnold Dr. James Arnold
James Avington Miller, Jr The War Report on Public Education and
James Boutin An Urban Teachers Education
James Chascherrie Stop Common Core in Washington State
James Hamric Hammy’s Education Blog
Jan Resseger Jan Resseger
Jane Nixon Willis Staying Strong in School
Jason France Crazy Crawfish
Jason L. Endacott EduSanity
Jason Stanford Jason Stanford
Jeff Bryant Jeff Bryant
Jen Hogue V.A.M. It!
Jennifer Berkshire EduShyster
Jesse Hagopian Jesse Hagopian
Jessie Ramey Yinzercation
Jill Conroy The Indignant Teacher
Jo Lieb Poetic Justice
Joe Bower For the love of learning
John J. Viall A Teacher on Teaching
John Kuhn EdGator
John Young Transparent Christina
Jonathan Lovell Jonathan Lovell’s Blog
Jonathan Pelto Wait, What?
Jose Vilson Jose Vilson
Joshua Block Joshua Block
Julian Vasquez Heilig Cloaking Inquity
Justin Aion Relearning to Teach
Karren Harper Royal Edutalknola
Katie Lapham Critical Classrooms
Ken Derstine Defend Public Education
Ken Previti Reclaim Reform
Kenneth Bernstein Teacher Ken
Kevin Welner Kevin Welner and
Lani Cox The Missing Teacher
Larry Cuban Larry Cuban
Larry Feinberg Keystone State Education Coalition
Lee Barrios Geauxteacher
Leonard Isenberg Perdaily
Leonie Haimson Class Size Matters
Levi B Cavener Idahospromise
Linda Thomas Restore Reason
Lisa Guisbond Fairtest
Lloyd Lofthouse Crazy Normal the classroom expose  or
Lucianna Sanson The War Report on Public Education
M. Shannon Hernandez My Final 40 Days
Marie Corfield Marie Corfield
Marion Brady Marion Brady
Mark Naison With a Brooklyn Accent and Dump Duncan and
Mark Weber Jersey Jazzman
Martha Infante Martha Infante
Matt Farmer Matt Farmer
Mel Katz The Education Activist: From Student to Teacher
Melissa Westbrook Seattle Schools Community Forum
Mercedes Schneider Deutsch29
Michael Klonsky Michael Klonsky and
Michelle Gunderson Education Matters
Mike Deshotels Louisiana Educator
Mike Rose Mike Rose’s Blog
Mike Warner Education Under Attack
Minnsanity Minnsanity
Morna McDermott Education Alchemy
Mrs. Fanning LA Woman
Ms Kate Ms Katie’s Ramblings
Nancy Bailey Nancy Bailey’s Education Website
Nancy Flanagan Teacher in a Strange Land
Nicholas Tampio Nicholas Tampio
Nikhil Goyal Nikhil Goyal
Norm Scott Ed Notes Online
Ogo Okoye-Johnson Ogo Okoye-Johnson
OK Education Truth okeducationtruths
Outside The Box Outside the Box 
Patrick Walsh
Paul Horton Education News
Paul Thomas The becoming radical
Peggy Robertson Peg with Pen
Perdido St School Perdido St School
Peter DeWitt Peter DeWitt
Peter Goodman Ed in the Apple
Peter Greene Curmudgucation
Phillip Cantor Sustainable Education Transformation
Rachael Stickland Student Privacy Matters
Rachel Levy All Things Education
Ralph Ratto Opine I will
Ray Salazar The White Rino
Rob Miller View From the Edge
Rob Panning-Miller Public Education Justice Alliance of Minnesota
Robert Cotto Jr. The Cities, Suburbs & Schools Project
Robert D. Skeels Solidaridad
Russ Walsh Russ on Reading
Ruth Conniff Public School Shakedown
Sam Chaltain Sam Chaltain
Sara Roos Sara Roos
Sarah Blaine Parenting the core
Sarah Darer Littman Sarah Darer Littman
Sarah Lahm Sarah Lahm
Save Public Education Save Public Education
Sharon Higgins Charter School Scandals
Shaun Johnson Chalk Face
Sherman Dorn Sherman Dorn
South Bronx School South Bronx School
Stephanie Rivera Teacher Under Construction
Stephen Dyer 10th Period
Stephen Krashen Stephen Krashen and
Steve Hinnefeld Steve Hinnefeld
Steve O’Donoghue Steve O’Donogue
Steve Strieker One Teachers Perspective
Steven Singer Gad Fly On the Wall Blog
Stu Bloom Live Long and Prsoper
Sullio The Pen is Mightier than the Person
Susan DuFresne Educating the Gates Foundation
Susan DuFresne and Katie Lapham Teachers Letters to Bill Gates
Susan Ohanian Susan Ohanian
TB Furman tbfurman
TC Dad Gone Wild
Teacher Reality Teacher Reality
Teacher Tom Teacher Tom
Ted Cohen Newark Schools For Sale
The Assailed Teacher
The Teaching Nomad The Teaching Nomad 
Tim Slekar Busted Pencils 
Tom Aswell Louisiana Voice
Tracy Novick Who-cester Blog
Ty Alper Ty Alper (SF School Board candidate) or
Urban Ed Urban Ed
Vanessa Vaile Precarious Faculty Blog or
Wag the Dog Wag the Dog
Walt Gardner Walt Garnder
Wayne Gersen Network Schools
Wendy Lecker Wendy Lecker
Xian Barrett Xian Barrett
Yohuru Williams Yohuru Williams
Yong Zhao Education in the Age of Globalization

Has Educational Rhee-form succeeded or failed in Washington DC Public Schools?

Bottom line conclusion from my last bunch of posts (see #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6)

Mayoral control of schools in DC, aka Educational Deform à la Rhee, has been an expensive failure, and it was foisted on us under false pretenses.

How can I make that conclusion?

Very simple.

This Rhee-form has fulfilled none of its promises, even on its own terms.

Its backers (Gray, Rhee, Henderson, Duncan, Bloomberg et al) claim that it’s been a great success.

But if you look at the graphs, it is clear that if the regime of Rhee and Henderson is going in the right direction, then so was the previous DCPS regime under superintendents Janey and his predecessors.

Any good trends have continued mostly unchanged.

Remember that we were promised incredible gains in test scores? Compared with the ‘bad old days’ when teachers actually had the right to due process before being fired? And back when poor DC students still had recess and PE and art and music libraries? And compared to the evil era when their teachers weren’t required to waste nearly the entire year on scripted test-prep lessons?

None of those incredible gains show up in the data, any more than they did when Michelle Rhee wrote all those lies in her resume. (I mean, why does ANYBODY listen to a liar like that, or to Rob Ford, or to Michael Millken or Bernie Madoff or the CIA/EPA liar?)

Anybody claiming that the last six sets of NAEP  TUDA scores show brilliant success for educational Rhee-form is engaging in wishful thinking or lobbying.

What’s more, my previous posts (and those of several other researchers and commentators) have shown that there is essentially no correlation between Value-Added scores and anything else. So that’s a failure, even on its own terms: it predicts nothing, it doesn’t help teachers teach better, and is essentially a random-number generator that clearly has done nothing to improve educational outcomes in DCPS, even though it costs taxpayers many, many millions of dollars and consumes a tremendous amount of time – something teachers and other staff have far too little of.

Mayoral control  has lived up to exactly NONE of its promises of closing the achievement gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’, or of improved testing outcomes for the students of the District of Columbia any better than did the pre-Rhee superintendent-and-school-board system.

Trends are almost exactly the same now as they were before Mayor Fenty got control of the schools and appointed that serial self-promoter, liar and distorter of facts, Michelle Rhee, as chancellor of DC public schools, where she led an assault on the system which has fired or forced out many thousands of teachers, producing a revolving door of constantly churning teachers who are in turn forced out or fired. What’s more, Rhee-form has turned over half the public school system to private operators with no accountability (some of them brazen criminals) and track record of success except by exclusion and undemocratic practices. Rhee-form has also subjected all students in DCPS to a stultifying test-prep regime where arts, music, social studies and recess are banned and principals themselves can be canned at any time and are under incredible pressure to cheat and get rid of teachers.

From everything I have seen, it is not at all difficult to be doing your job as a teacher just fine, and end up with a mysterious numerical score known as IVA based on some unexplained formula that gets them fired. People have confessed to me that they were wholly unable to teach at all because kids were figuratively running wild in their classrooms, yet they got great “Value-Added” scores anyway. Teachers who became National Board Certified, a tremendous accomplishment, told me of some years (but not others) getting IVA scores so low that it would put their job at risk.

Anybody claiming that the data trends before 2008 look different from the ones after 2008 is engaging in wishful thinking.

So, if Kaya Henderson and Vincent Gray and Arne Duncan claim that the current policies are causing recent gains, then they logically must conclude that the previous policies were producing the same results, and should have been continued as well.

It’s a big, expensive lie that has had real consequences.

Students are wasting nearly an entire school year under stultifying, scripted lessons preparing for an ever-lengthening regime of utterly stupid and poorly-prepared but highly secret standardized tests whose manufacturers are responsible to no-one except their billionaire CEOs. In fact, for the high-stakes tests, it’s considered cheating for the teachers even to analyze the tests after they are given, and results aren’t available until the end of summer, even though it’s a machine-scoreable test which in theory could have a good part of it be graded and fully tabulated in mere seconds… that is if the publishers actually knew what they were doing and weren’t busy lobbying among themselves as to what mathematical and sleight of hand tricks they would play with the data to make it come out the way that the politicians they want…

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