Revised HS PARCC ‘pass’ rates in English and Math in DC public and charter schools

My original graphs on the ‘pass’ rates for all DC publicly-funded high schools were incomplete, because I was using OSSE data only (Office of the State Superintendent of Education). A reader showed me where the DC charter school board (DC PCSB) posted their PARCC statistics and that gave me the pass rates for a couple of additional schools (Maya Angelou and BASIS IIRC). So here are the revised graphs which you can click on to enlarge:

2015 Math PARCC 'pass' rates, both public and charter schools in DC

2015 Math PARCC ‘pass’ rates, both public and charter schools in DC

2015 'pass' rates, public and charter high school math, PARCC, DC, 2015

2015 ‘pass’ rates, public and charter high school math, PARCC, DC, 2015

Note how many fewer students passed the PARCC math test than the reading test in DC. I haven’t yet seen any of the actual questions on either of the tests. But if these were tests that I had written and was using as a teacher with my students, I would likely conclude that the one with the much-lower scores was simply a much harder test, and I would probably do one of the following:

(A) “scale” the scores so that more students would pass, or else

(B) throw out the test results and try teaching with a different approach altogether, or else

(C) throw out the test and make one that at least a majority of students could pass if they’ve been paying attention.

{At my last school, if f I failed 80 to 90% of my students, I would have gotten an unsatisfactory evaluation and probably have gotten fired.}

Of course, this being the era when multi-billionaires who hate the very idea of public schools are in charge of said public schools, neither A, B or C will happen. In fact, my understanding is that the ‘cut’ scores for each of the categories of grades (meets expectations and so on) were set AFTER the students took the test, not in advance. So it was very much a politico-social decision that the vast majority of students were SUPPOSED to fail the math test.

Let me note strongly that by far the most effective way to have really good test scores for your school is to let in ONLY students who already get strong test scores. That’s how Phillips Exeter or Andover Academies or Riverdale or Sidwell Friends or or the Chicago Lab or Lakeside private schools do it, and that’s how Banneker, School Without Walls, Washington Latin, and BASIS do it. (Partial disclosure: I and some of my immediate family either went to, or worked at, some of those schools.) Teachers who are successful at those elite schools have a MUCH easier time teaching those students than do those who try to teach at school with large numbers of at-risk students, like Washington Metropolitan, Ballou, Cardozo, Maya Angelou, or Options public or charter schools. Idealistic teachers from elite schools who do transfer to tough inner-city public schools generally crash and burn, and I would predict that one of the easiest ways to lose your teaching job these days is to volunteer to teach at any one of the five latter schools.

A Few PARCC Scores Have Been Released for DC Public Schools

If you would like to see how District of Columbia public high school students did on the PARCC, you can look here at a press release from DCPS administration. This test was on ELA (reading) and Geometry. The scores for grades 3-8 have not yet been released.

The disparities in ‘pass’ rates between the DCPS magnet schools (Banneker and Walls) and every other DC public high school are amazing, particularly in geometry. Notice that several schools had not a single student ‘pass’. This year’s test gives students scores from 1 to 5; only a score of 4 or 5 is considered ‘college and career ready’ — although no studies have actually been done to determine whether that statement is actually true. Banneker and Walls have the lowest rates of students labeled ‘at risk’.

Here are two graphs which I cut-and-pasted from the press release. Click on them to enlarge them.


HS-PARCC geometry

Given what I’ve seen of the convoluted questions asked on released sample PARCC questions, it is no wonder that ‘pass’ rates dropped a lot this year, compared with previous years. The DC-CAS wasn’t a very good test, but PARCC is terrible.

Please keep in mind that public education in the District of Columbia has been under the control of DEformers like Michelle Rhee, Kaya Henderson, and the Gates and Broad foundations, for over 8 years now. The students taking this test last spring have been under their rule since they were rising third graders. Every single teacher in DCPS was either hired by Rhee or by Henderson or else passed numerous strict evaluations with flying colors, year after year, and has been teaching just as they were directed to – or else.

And this is the best that the DEformers can do?

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:

Weekly Roundup of Educational Resistance by Bob Schaeffer

{As usual, this list is collected and distributed by Bob Schaeffer, not by me.}

The U.S. Senate has joined the House of Representatives in responding to growing, grassroots pressure by voting to overhaul “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB). The bills passed by both the Senate and House reflect widespread rejection of failed top-down, test-and-punish strategies as well as the “NCLB on steroids” waiver regime dictated by Arne Duncan. While neither version is close to perfect from an assessment reform perspective, each makes significant progress by rolling back federally mandated high-stakes, eliminating requirements to evaluate educators based on student test scores, and recognizing opt-out rights. FairTest and its allies will closely monitor the conference committee working on compromise language to make sure the gains remain in the final bill sent to President Obama — the alternative is to keep the yoke of NCLB-and-waivers in place for at least two more years, if not much longer. Meanwhile, organizers in many states are keeping the spotlight on the problems of test overuse and misuse, modeling better practices and winning additional policy victories.

Remember that back issues of these weekly updates are archived at:

National End High-Stakes Testing to Help Fix Public Education: Key Civil Rights Leader
National U.S. Senate Rejects Proposal to Give Federal Government More Say in Identifying “Failing” Schools
National Both House and Senate NCLB Overhaul Bills Allow for Penalty-Free Test Opt Out
National “Race to the Top:” Lofty Promises and Top-Down Regulation Brought Few Good Changes to America’s Schools

Exit Exam on Way Out

Two Small Districts Set Opt Out Records

Opposition Coalesces Against Smarter Balanced Tests

Governor Vetoes Opt-Out Bill; State PTA Pushed for Override Vote

More than 10,000 Young People Who Did Not Pass Grad. Test Recently Received Diplomas

Hawaii Teachers Fight Evaluations Based on Student Test Scores

Why Common Core Tests Are Harmful to Students

Third-Grade Promotion Test Pushes Reading Down Into Kindergarten

Fight to Make Charter School Disclose What Test It Uses for Kindergarten Entry

Test Cuts Came After Thorough Debate

Exam Scores Don’t Tell Full Story of Teacher Preparedness

Time Allocated to New State Tests Cut in Half

Nevada After Testing System Breakdown, State to Hire New Assessment Vendor

New Hampshire Schools Can Replace Smarter Balanced Tests with ACT or SAT

New Jersey
Be Wary of New State Teacher Ratings

New Mexico
Court Rejects Suit Seeking to Strip Pearson’s Common Core Testing Contract

New York
High School Models Authentic Assessment
New York Opt Out Movement Plans to Ratchet Up Actions Against Standardized Exam Overkill
New York Pending NCLB Overhaul Offers Hope to Reduce State’s Testing Obsession

North Carolina State’s Largest District Cuts Back Local Test Mandates
North Carolina Cautions About Test-Score-Based Teacher Pay

Students Can Meet Graduation Requirement with Work Samples in Their Home Language

Questions Mount About Using Volatile Test Results to Evaluate Teachers and Schools
Pennsylvania Teachers to School Board: Standardized Testing is Harming Students

Rhode Island
What Tests Like PARCC Do Not Measure

Teachers School Governor on Testing and Evaluations
Tennessee Local School Board to Take Up Opt Out Resolution

New Test Leading Fewer to Get GEDs

Washington State Testing Revolt Pushes State Into Uncharted Waters
Washington Over-Testing is a Flawed Strategy

“How Many Tests Can a Child Withstand?” — with apologies to Bob Dylan

The Beatings in Education Will Continue Until Morale Improves

Bob Schaeffer, Public Education Director
FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing
office-   (239) 395-6773   fax-  (239) 395-6779
mobile- (239) 699-0468

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

Bill Gates is Just as Inept at Public Health in the 3rd World as He is at Education in the US


Why do we let Bill Gates get away with this stuff?

Some beautiful questions from Myra Blackmon about the influence of Bill Gates on education, comparing it to the careful and time-consuming process we require drug companies to go through before they can bring a new drug to market.

 Gates is rich, he has purchased his bully pulpit and we are swallowing his “brilliance” hook, line and sinker.

Just because he has made a lot of money. Just because he is smart. Gates is suddenly the education expert, advising the president and secretary of education on what is “best” for America’s children. He funds the development and promotion of his idea of “good” education practice.
He has never taught nor studied education.

His own children went to private schools that wouldn’t touch his ideas with a 10-foot pole. But he is Bill Gates and we let him get away with it.

Gates decided, for example, that the Common Core State Standards are a great idea. And he proceeded to pour mountains of money into bringing it to market with little or no research, no clinical trials and absolutely no evidence of efficacy. He gives organizations big money to push the Common Core, which was developed in virtual secrecy, with almost no input from real teachers.
Gates also espouses “data-driven” education, in which numbers and data analysis take precedence over what teachers and parents believe is best for individual children. Their scores on high-stakes tests trump any firsthand knowledge or special circumstances that might determine the educational course for any given child.
There is no evidence that Gates’ big ideas work. We are allowing him to experiment on our children, absent even the simplest protections we would expect for a new medication or a new infant formula. We believe that because he is smart and rich, he knows what is best for our children.

Where is the moral outrage? Why on earth do we accept what Bill Gates says and deny the research that tells us not only that data-driven, test-based education doesn’t work, but tells us what can best help our children learn?

— thanks to Diane Ravitch for bringing this to my attention.

An Evaluation of Billionaire Gates

Anthony Cody has done a masterful evaluation of Billionaire Gates and the lousy results he’s been getting as he throws his unaccountable billions around in American education. I hope he won’t mind me re-publishing it in its entirety.

Accountability for Mr. Gates: The Billionaire Philanthropist Evaluation

By Anthony Cody on April 5, 2013 12:24 AM

Bill Gates, who is more responsible than anyone for the absurd evaluations by which teachers are now being held accountable, had the gall to write this week in a tone of exasperation about the results of his own advocacy for these very practices.

Yesterday I asked when Mr. Gates, the great enthusiast for accountability for others, might hold himself accountable for his own handiwork.

As wealth has concentrated in the accounts of individuals such as the Gates, Walton and Broad families, they have used this to wield unprecedented power over the lives of those of us without access to such resources. They pay for research that creates the very “facts” upon which public debate is based. They pay for their own media outlets, and heavily subsidize others. Their money redirects existing grassroots groups, and underwrites new ones. They work with ALEC to write legislation, and funnel money through PACs to buy off politicians to move it forward across the country. They are utterly insulated from any sort of accountability. They do not face voters in any election. Nobody “evaluates” them. They cannot be fired. They may on occasion choose to engage in a dialogue, but they are not obliged to respond to the substance of the criticisms raised. As my question indicated, this accountability they demand from teachers is a street that goes one way only.

But let’s imagine we could turn the tables on Mr. Gates and evaluate his performance as a philanthropist. Might we establish some goals to which we could hold our billionaires accountable? We do not have any measurable indicators such as test scores to use, but since I do not find these to be of great value in any case, I will offer a more qualitative metric, based on my knowledge of the subject’s work. Since he has spoken glowingly of the salutary effect of feedback on teachers, surely he will welcome this feedback, even though it is unsolicited.

In the tradition of the Danielson and Marzano teacher evaluation frameworks, I offer the Cody Billionaire Philanthropist Evaluation Model, as applied to Bill Gates.

Standard 1: Awareness of the Social Conditions Targeted by Philanthropy
RatingBelow Standard
Mr. Gates does not demonstrate an understanding of the social conditions that are the focus of his philanthropy. Actions and statements by him and his representatives indicate ignorance of the pervasive effects of poverty, and the overwhelming research that indicates the need to address these effects directly. Mr. Gates has not attended public schools, nor worked in an educational context, and thus he has no personal expertise. He primarily cites research he has paid for himself, which tends to conform to his views. His representatives claim their Foundation lacks the resources to address poverty, and insists that educators bear the burden for overcoming its effects with minimal support.

Recommendation for Professional Growth:

We recommend Mr. Gates take a year off from his work as a philanthropist, and work as a high school instructor in an urban setting. His students should include English learners, students who are homeless, and those designated as Special Education. He should work alongside a fully credentialed professional educator, who will provide him with feedback, and reflect with him as he gains an understanding of how we create effective learning conditions for students.

Standard 2: Understanding of how Learning is Measured
Rating: Below Standard
Mr. Gates has concluded that measurement is the primary means by which social progress can be made. He has determined that test scores are an adequate means of measuring learning, and promoted a wide variety of ways by which these scores are used to measure learning, and reward teachers and students accordingly. This is based on a fundamental error. In fact, test scores measure only a small part of what we value.

Recommendations for Professional Growth:

Mr. Gates should first read Stephen Jay Gould’s Mismeasure of Man, for an understanding of the history of testing. He should also read Daniel Koretz’ book, Measuring Up, What Educational Testing Really Tells Us.

Mr. Gates should, with the help of an experienced educator, design a series of rich PBL projects that allows each of his students to demonstrate their learning through authentic products in real-world contexts. He should compare the work they are capable of producing to their standardized test scores, and reflect on the things that each mode of measurement captures.

Standard 3: Understanding of How Teaching is Evaluated
Rating: Below Standard
Compounding the fundamental error regarding the measurement of learning described under Standard 2 above, Mr. Gates has promoted the use of teacher evaluations based in significant part on test scores and VAM systems. Research does not support this use of test scores, and raising the stakes on test scores has promoted widespread teaching to the test. Mr. Gates has made statements that indicate he is unaware of effective evaluation practices, such as the Peer Assistance and Review program and others.

Recommendations for Professional Growth:
Mr. Gates should spend a week shadowing PAR consulting teachers as they work with teachers in Toledo, Ohio. He should review the research on forms of effective evaluation practices.

As recommended above, he should serve as a classroom teacher for a full year, and have his performance rated based on VAM scores derived from standardized tests taken by his students. He should reflect with his colleagues on the validity of these ratings. He should also meet with a peer evaluator to set professional goals at the start of the year, and several times during the year meet with this person to reflect. At year’s end he should compare the models of evaluation he experienced, and reflect on which were of greater validity and value.

Standard 4: Understanding of Effective Instruction

Rating: Below Standard
Mr. Gates has repeatedly stated that he believes we ought to stop spending money on keeping class sizes small, and instead should use that money to provide performance bonuses for teachers. He has also indicated that we should “personalize” learning through the use of computers and videos that allow students to work at their own pace. This does not comport with what we know about child development, or the importance of personal relationships with students.

Recommendations for Professional Growth
Mr. Gates should spend a week shadowing children in elite schools such as the one attended by his own children, and study the way personalization is accomplished. He should then spend a week shadowing children at a Detroit school where class sizes have been significantly increased due to budget cuts, and the pressure of high stakes have focused instruction on test preparation.

In the year he teaches, he should be assigned at least one class no larger than 15, and another no smaller than 38, and reflect on the learning conditions in these two environments.

Summary of Evaluation Results and Recommendations: 
Mr. Gates falls below standards in all four of the areas that were observed. His philanthropic activities should be suspended immediately pending his completion of the recommended professional growth activities.

A panel of expert reviewers composed of students, parents and educators from communities that are the targets of his philanthropy should be convened to review his reflections at the end of his year of investigation and reflection. This panel should subsequently review and approve the re-initiation of philanthropic projects following this process.

This is the beginning of what might be a far more complex process of reflection for Mr. Gates. It might be seen as absurd, but my intention is sincere. His thinking is magnified in its effect by the billions he has to spend as he chooses. With such power comes a huge responsibility to learn from one’s mistakes. I do not know how Mr. Gates reflects on the successes and failures of his work – there is no evidence of thoughtful reflection in his public writing.

Fairness demands that accountability cannot be a one way street. If Mr. Gates demands that teachers be held accountable for their work, surely he must accept some accountability for his. What is good for the poor geese ought to be good for the billionaire gander, even if he does lay golden eggs.

What do you think of this feedback? Are there other standards we might use to judge the quality of the work of billionaire philanthropists? Have I been fair with Mr. Gates?

Published in: on April 6, 2013 at 10:52 am  Comments (1)  
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Problems With The Labor Movement

This column was prompted by an exchange on the ConcernedForDCPS list-serve. I’m going to quote a bit here:

(1) RN wrote: “Things are looking worse for Black male high school dropouts.”

(2) RL responded: “so what do you suggest?”

(3) HT responded, in part, and in his usual nearly-inscrutable prose:  

“RN,  There’s nothing to stop you from posting here, and regularly, on the efforts and increases in efforts to find more effective ones, by the metro-area labor council and of individual unions, all to make a bigger difference. Just as Rhee and Henderson, squat is what I see. (Let’s call it as it is, after Easter.) “

Me again:

To continue the digestive analogy, the only way to produce something worth “squat” is to have a “movement” — and in our case, the “movement” needs to be one in which there are LOTS of people who feel strongly enough about to join and march on the streets and go to meetings and boycott and donate and go on strike. And such a movement also needs a leadership willing to devote essentially all their time to it, to the detriment of the rest of their lives.

(It’s quite different if you ‘devote’ your life to the Dark Side: you can easily make 6 figures for showing up in business wear, attending well-catered meetings in comfort, manipulating suspect “data” on spreadsheets, and writing inane drivel using whatever the latest corporate jargon is required this week.  If you join the Dark Side, the side of the one-hundredth-of -one-percent, the side of the billionaires and the Global Corporate Edu DEformers like Michael Milken, Bill Gates, and Rupert Murdoch,  you can look forward to 7-, 8-, or 9-figure salaries even if you aren’t the most TV-pleasing face out there. But you will be rich, as Michelle Rhee once told me and my fellow-teachers from my school who came to see her to complain about our local situation, “Rich Beyond Your Wildest Dreams”. And she said it like it was the last line in a fairy-tale come true… )

And it was the last line of the meeting before we teachers were dismissed (to a towed car, in one case).

I just wish I had done enough research on her shady history in Baltimore at the time to call her on it at the meeting.

One of the big problems is that we keep getting sold out by our own union leadership, over and over. We here in DC’s WTU local have had a horrible experience for decades now: one disastrous leader, then another, then a thieving crook, then a complete and utter traitor, followed by a nice enough guy who doesn’t seem to quite have enough fire under him.

I hope he’s not a disaster, a crook, or a traitor, but when does the public ever find out about that stuff? When it’s too late and the wrong type of smelly ‘movement’ hits the fan! Obviously I’m not a very good judge of character, because I never thought that any of those @#$%^’s would go that far, and I feel like I’m utterly inept as a leader of anything larger than a classroom of math students (and not always even then).

We also have a national WTU leader who has never, ever taught in a classroom.  Despite her occasional militant rhetoric, she trained as a lawyer. She was instrumental in shepherding in the “cage-busting” contract between Chancellor Michelle Rhee and Local 6 of the WTU, which directly led to the current whirlwind of labor givebacks and union-busting all over the country, along with condemning millions of inner-city kids to a stupid year-long regime of test prep for stupid tests that don’t help anybody except the corporations who print and score them and make tons of cash. Weingarten also has co-sponsored a number of things with, and sits on boards with, people like Rhee and Gates…

This sort of sell-out, criminal leadership that doesn’t share the interests of the rank-and-file, or of the public, is not new in the labor movement. Look it up in any history thereof. But there have been others who were great and who never sold out and achieved great success. They and the millions who marched with them directly or indirectly bequeathed us the Weekend and the 40-hour week; Medicare, Social Security, integrated work places, unions, pensions, integrated schools, Worker’s Comp,  Unemployment Benefits and OSHA… and an end to Jim Crow, and eliminated child labor… mostly. All of which are under attack today.

Guy Brandenburg, Washington, DC

Published in: on April 1, 2013 at 4:21 pm  Comments (1)  
Tags: , , , , ,

What Will the Frontline Report on Michelle Rhee Be Like?

From: Marilyn Williams:
   In case you are interested, Frontline, Michelle Rhee’s Legacy will air on Tuesday, 1.08.2013 at 10pm PBS.
Spread the word.

GFB here:
This bears watching. My TV is set to record the parts I will miss. Thank you, Marilyn, for bringing this to attention or reminding us.
Sounded to me when I talked to John Merrow a couple of times, some months ago, that this version of Frontline won’t be kind and fawning to Michelle Rhee and the entire corporate educational DEform movement* as many  as many thought the original was.
Maybe the tide will turn against this nonsense sooner than I expected.
There have been many, many ridiculous “reforms” that have been foisted on public education since, say, the 1800s, and most of them have been pretty stupid, though well-intentioned. The current Corporate Educational Movement, with Michelle Rhee as its ‘poster girl’, looks like one of the most stupid *** fad or movement ever foisted on public school students and their teachers. In my opinion, the current fad is having the worst and most widespread pernicious effects of any that I can recall either from living and working through them, or from reading and hearing about them from my elders. It is actually having tremendous success in dismantling public education, especially since the a state Supreme Court just ruled that charter schools maybe are   or, according  to the NLRB,  are not in the public sector at all.
I don’t remember the original series well enough to recall exactly what I thought when I saw them, but I do remember the part where Rhee said something like this (as I recall it — someone else can look up the exact words and correct me where my memory twisted things – as does the memory of every other human being on earth):
Interviewer: Ms. Rhee, have you done anything you later on regretted doing?
 {with the implication that this was a softball, open-ended question that she could interpret any way she wanted and, say, described a case where she had made a mistake, and then follow up by explaining how she was able to fix it by working harder; obviously one area where there had been a lot of bitterly-opposed actions by her might be fair game, right? So she might decide to concede one error to show she’s human? Not Michelle Rhee.}
Rhee: [Serious, not joking at all.} You know, unlike anybody else I know, in my entire life I have never done a single thing that I regretted. Ever.
I don’t think she was joking.
If I am correct, and Rhee was dead serious, then what kind of crazy egomaniac are we dealing with anyway? Why has this crazy person apparently been anointed by the wealthiest people in the country to be in charge of determining the route that education in this country**? Why isn’t she a candidate for mental health treatment instead?
 Will this version of Frontline apologize and excuse and gloss over the complete and utter failures and very profitable frauds of Michelle Rhee and her corporate educational DEform* paymasters**? Or will Merrow point out a lot of those lies, failures, and frauds?
* (Also called GERM: Global Educational Reform Movement), by Pasi Sahlberg and others.
** Joel Klein, Michael Bloomberg, Bill Gates, the Koch Brothers, the people behind ALEC etc etc etc.
*** stupid in the sense that every single one of the centrally-written tests that this entire movement is based on, are, risibly and obviously, stupid. Yeah, that’s right. They are stupid tests written by overworked, underpaid, temporary workers while the company rakes in billions in state, local, and federal payments and fees. These tests, which bear almost no connection to concepts that are worth learning, are the ones that my colleagues remaining in the classroom are legally required to administer, and who are judged on some utterly arcane statistical formula that has never been explained to the public or even to any individual teacher who has questioned his or her own rating: a VAM of unbelievable and incomprehensible complexity.


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