Why A New Generation of Teachers is Angry at Self-Styled Education ‘Reformers’

This is an excellent essay at Medium that I learned about from Peter Greene of Curmudgucation. I copy and paste it in its entirety in case you don’t like signing into Medium.

Why New Educators Resent “Reformers”

Let’s consider why so many young educators today are in open rebellion.

How did we lose patience with politicians and policymakers who dominated nearly every education reform debate for more than a generation?

Recall first that both political parties called us “a nation at risk,” fretted endlessly that we “leave no child behind,” and required us to compete in their “race to the top.”

They told us our problems could be solved if we “teach for America,” introduce “disruptive technology,” and ditch the textbook to become “real world,” 21st century, “college and career ready.”

They condemned community public schools for not letting parents “choose,” but promptly mandated a top-down “common core” curriculum. They flooded us with standardized tests guaranteeing “accountability.” They fetishized choice, chopped up high schools, and re-stigmatized racial integration.

They blamed students who lacked “grit,” teachers who sought tenure, and parents who knew too much. They declared school funding isn’t the problem, an elected school board is an obstacle, and philanthropists know best.

They told us the same public schools that once inspired great poetry, art, and music, put us on the moon, and initiated several civil rights movements needed to be split, gutted, or shuttered.

They invented new school names like “Green Renaissance College-Prep Academy for Character, the Arts, and Scientific Careers” and “Hope-Horizon Enterprise Charter Preparatory School for New STEM Futures.” They replaced the district superintendent with the “Chief Educational Officer.”

They published self-fulfilling prophecies connecting zip-coded school ratings, teacher performance scores, and real estate values. They viewed Brown v. Board as skin-deep and sentimental, instead of an essential mandate for democracy.

They implied “critical thinking” was possible without the Humanities, that STEM alone makes us vocationally relevant, and that “coding” should replace recess time. They cut teacher pay, lowered employment qualifications, and peddled the myth anyone can teach.

They celebrated school recycling programs that left consumption unquestioned, gave lip-service to “student-centered civic engagement” while stifling protest, and talked up “multiple intelligences” while defunding the arts.

They instructed critics to look past poverty, inequality, residential segregation, mass incarceration, homelessness, and college debt to focus on a few heartwarming (and yes, legitimate) stories of student resilience and pluck.

They expected us to believe that a lazy public-school teacher whose students fail to make “adequate yearly progress” was endemic but that an administrator bilking an online academy or for-profit charter school was “one bad apple.”

They designed education conferences on “data-driven instruction,” “rigorous assessment,” and “differentiated learning” but showed little patience for studies that correlate student performance with poverty, trauma, a school-to-prison pipeline, and the decimation of community schools.

They promised new classroom technology to bridge the “digital divide” between rich, poor, urban, and rural, while consolidating corporate headquarters in a few elite cities. They advertised now-debunked “value-added” standardized testing for stockholder gain as teacher salaries stagnated.

They preached “cooperative learning” while sending their own kids to private schools. They saw alma mater endowments balloon while donating little to the places most Americans earn degrees. They published op-eds to end affirmative action but still checked the legacy box on college applications.

They were legitimately surprised when thousands of teachers in the reddest, least unionized states walked out of class last year.

Meanwhile……

The No Child Left Behind generation continues to bear the fullest weight of this malpractice, paying a steep price for today’s parallel rise in ignorance and intolerance.

We are the children of the education reformer’s empty promises. We watched the few decide for the many how schools should operate. We saw celebrated new technologies outpace civic capacity and moral imagination. We have reason to doubt.

We are are the inheritors of “alternative facts” and “fake news.” We have watched democratic institutions crumble, conspiracies normalized, and authoritarianism mainstreamed. We have seen climate change denied at the highest levels of government.

We still see too many of our black brothers and sisters targeted by law enforcement. We watched as our neighbor’s promised DACA protections were rescinded and saw the deporters break down their doors. We see basic human rights for our LGBTQ peers refused in the name of “science.”

We have seen the “Southern strategy” deprive rural red state voters of educational opportunity before dividing, exploiting, and dog whistling. We hear climate science mocked and watch women’s freedom erode. We hear mental health discussed only after school shootings.

We’ve seen two endless wars and watched deployed family members and friends miss out on college. Even the battles we don’t see remind us that that bombs inevitably fall on schools. And we know war imposes a deadly opportunity tax on the youngest of civilians and female teachers.

Against this backdrop we recall how reformers caricatured our teachers as overpaid, summer-loving, and entitled. We resent how our hard-working mentors were demoralized and forced into resignation or early retirement.

Our collective experience is precisely why we aren’t ideologues. We know the issues are complex. And unlike the reformers, we don’t claim to have the answers. We simply believe that education can and must be more humane than this. We plan to make it so.

We learned most from the warrior educators who saw through the reform facade. Our heroes breathed life into institutions, energized our classrooms, reminded us what we are worth, and pointed us in new directions. We plan to become these educators too.

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NATIONAL TEST SCORES IN DC WERE RISING FASTER UNDER THE ELECTED SCHOOL BOARD THAN THEY HAVE BEEN DOING UNDER THE APPOINTED CHANCELLORS

 

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, (gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com) which you can inspect if you like. I will give you two examples:

  • Black 4th grade students in DC in math (see https://bit.ly/2JbORad ):
    • 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: https://bit.ly/2HhSP0z )
    • 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: https://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2018/04/20/progress-or-not-for-dcs-8th-graders-on-the-math-naep/ or https://bit.ly/2K3UyZ1 .

 

Amazing.

 

Why isn’t there more outrage?

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*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 https://wapo.st/2qPRSGw or https://wapo.st/2qJn7Dh 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 https://wapo.st/2K28Vgy ).  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 https://wapo.st/2qNGxqB ); there were always acolytes like Richard Whitmire willing to cheer her on publicly (see https://wapo.st/2HC0zOj ), 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 https://bit.ly/2ngmemi ) 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 https://wapo.st/2HhbARS )
  • Less than half of the 2018 senior class is on track to graduate because of truancy, failed classes, and the like. ( see https://bit.ly/2K5DFx9 )
  • 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 https://wapo.st/2Hk3HLi )
  • 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 https://bit.ly/2HR4c0q )
  • 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 https://bit.ly/2JcxIx9 ).

 

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**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: https://bit.ly/2F5LHlS .
  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.

 

MORE THAN THREE HUNDRED MILLION AMERICANS NOW ENROLLED IN TRUMP UNIVERSITY

 

By Andy Borowitz   January 20, 2017

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—In an astonishing comeback for the scandal-scarred educational institution, Trump University enrolled more than three hundred million new students at noon on Friday.

“Congratulations,” the President of Trump University told the new students. “For the next four years, you are all in Trump University.”

Some Americans who supported the President of Trump University in his long-shot bid to reopen the school made the journey to Washington, D.C., to hear his welcome address.

“He said we’re all going to be rich!” Harland Dorrinson, a new Trump University student, said. “I just know that this is going to end really well.”

But even as students like Dorrinson celebrated, there were complaints from other students, millions of whom said they had been enrolled in Trump University against their will.

“I never signed up for Trump University,” Carol Foyler, who is one of those students, said. “The President of this school is some kind of a con man. And why are so many members of the faculty Russian? The whole thing seems fishy.”

“Not my University,” she said.

While the original program offered by Trump University had a price tag as high as thirty-five thousand dollars, the next four years are expected to be far more costly, experts say.

 

Andy Borowitz is a New York Times best-selling author and a comedian who has written for The New Yorker since 1998. He writes the Borowitz Report for newyorker.com

Compare ‘Education Reform’ to Ineffective but Profitable Quick-Weight-Loss Schemes

John Viall compares the past 15 years of education ‘reform’ to the past 30 or 40 years of completely counterproductive weight-loss schemes — in both cases, the results are exactly contrary to what they were promised to be. In one case, we can see that America’s obesity rates are some of the worst in the world. In the other, we have certainly not ‘raced to the top’ on TIMMS, PISA, or any other international test, despite all of promises by both the Bush and Obama administrations.

He concludes (I added some color):

“For a sixth time the PISA test was administered in 2015.

Now, 15-year-olds from seventy countries and educational systems took the test. How did U. S. students fare?
The envelope please.
In reading U. S. students scored 497. In other words, after fifteen years of school reform and tens of billions wasted, reading scores were still down seven points.
Fifteen years of listening to blowhard politicians—and U. S. students averaged 470 in math, a depressing 23-point skid.
Surely, all that meddling must have done some good? No. Science scores averaged 496, still down three points.
Fifteen years of diet plans that couldn’t possibly fail and, metaphorically, we were all just a little more fat.
PISA scores had been the foundation on which all school reform was built; and after all these years, America’s 15-year-olds were scoring 33 points worse.

Noam Chomsky on the 2016 Elections:

Chomsky is often right about things.

I reprint a couple of paragraphs from Chomsky’s recent interview which I found in Truthout, which says that Bernie Sanders’ positions on things like universal health care coverage and free public higher education are held by large majorities of the population, both right now and for many decades in the past.

On the remaining Republican candidates:

Q: Cruz and Rubio appear to me to be both far more dangerous than Trump. I see them as the real monsters, while Trump reminds me a bit of Silvio Berlusconi. Do you agree with any of these views?

A: (Chomsky) I agree – and as you know, the Trump-Berlusconi comparison is current in Europe. I would also add Paul Ryan to the list. He is portrayed as the deep thinker of the Republicans, the serious policy wonk, with spreadsheets and the other apparatus of the thoughtful analyst. The few attempts to analyze his programs, after dispensing with the magic that is regularly introduced, conclude that his actual policies are to virtually destroy every part of the federal government that serves the interests of the general population, while expanding the military and ensuring that the rich and the corporate sector will be well attended to – the core Republican ideology when the rhetorical trappings are drawn aside.

and on what we should do:

Q: Is America still a democracy and, if not, do elections really matter?

A: With all its flaws, America is still a very free and open society, by comparative standards. Elections surely matter. It would, in my opinion, be an utter disaster for the country, the world and future generations if any of the viable Republican candidates were to reach the White House, and if they continue to control Congress. Consideration of the overwhelmingly important questions we discussed earlier suffices to reach that conclusion, and it’s not all. For such reasons as those I alluded to earlier, American democracy, always limited, has been drifting substantially toward plutocracy. But these tendencies are not graven in stone. We enjoy an unusual legacy of freedom and rights left to us by predecessors who did not give up, often under far harsher conditions than we face now. And it provides ample opportunities for work that is badly needed, in many ways, in direct activism and pressures in support of significant policy choices, in building viable and effective community organizations, revitalizing the labor movement, and also in the political arena, from school boards to state legislatures and much more.

Published in: on March 10, 2016 at 3:53 pm  Comments (1)  
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Support Ras Baraka!!

I just heard a speech by Ras Baraka at Busboys And Poets at 14th and V Streets NW in DC.

Wow!! Ras Baraka is GREAT!! He’s someone saying what I’ve been trying to say for a long time! I have to admit that I have tears in my eyes as I write this. He’s running for mayor of Newark to succeed that member of the billionaire’s wing of the Democratic Party, Cory Booker.

nora ras baraka 002

My admission was comped as a blogger and the first glass of great Cabernet Sauvignon was free; I paid for the second glass of wine and donated $100 to his campaign. It’s important that people from the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party actually win, instead of candidates like Cory Booker, Arne Duncan, or Emanuel Rahm, who represent the 1/10 of 1% just as much as any Republican politician.

I recorded the speech (with permission) and will figure out how to disseminate it best. I may transcribe it.

A few inaccurate quotes that I attempted to write down in real time:

“The struggle for democracy in the USA had never been finished– our job is to finish it”

“As mayor of Newark my job is to protect and improve the public sector, not to sell it off”

“The problem in Newark is not about smart mayors; it’s something systemic”

” which side are you on? My grandma always said there’s nothing in the middle of the road except yellow lines and dead armadillos”

[paraphrasing]; It’s really weird when you get someone quoting my dad [the late Amiri Baraka, born Leroi Brown] or MLK or Nelson Mandela and then they say ‘I’m closing down your school and giving it away to some billionaire’

[paraphrasing] it’s fine to fix up the buildings and improve the surroundings in areas that used to  be horribly crime-ridden reas [like here on 14th street NW in DC]; but now that it’s actually improved, let people who look like me continue to live there!

James Meredith on the current civil rights struggle in our schools

Who’s he? Simply one of the heroes of the 1960’s civil rights movement. Here is his take on where we are going now in education:

Our schools are being destroyed by politics, profit, greed and lies. Instead of evidence-based practices, money has become the engine of education policy, and our schools are being hijacked by politicians, non-educators and for-profit operators. Parents, teachers, citizens and community elders must arm ourselves with the best evidence and take back control of our children’s public education before it is too late. We all must work together to improve our public schools, not on the basis of profit or politics, but on the basis of evidence, and on the basis of love for America’s children.

 

Read more at Anthony Cody’s blog.

Published in: on February 6, 2014 at 10:55 pm  Comments (3)  
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Bob Schaeffer’s Weekly Roundup of News on Resistance to Corporate EduTesting

Bob Schaeffer of FairTest has been compiling weekly summaries of news articles showing how folks all across the country are resisting the corporate agenda of test, test, test. Here is his latest one:

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The pushback against high-stakes testing continues to accelerate with more parents, teachers, students, administrators, and educational policy makers recognizing that the current approach has failed and an increased focus on the looming danger from Common Core assessments.

Virginia Supers Worry That School Grades Will Primarily Measure Student Poverty
http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/va-superintendents-worry-new-grading-scale-will-measures-poverty-not-instruction/2013/06/26/d7ad7566-de68-11e2-948c-d644453cf169_story.html

Editorial: New Florida School Grading Standards Are a Set-up for Failure
http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/06/30/3475969/new-standards-dont-make-the-grade.html

Students, Parents and Teachers Consider Appealing Delayed NYC Test Scores
http://gothamschools.org/2013/06/26/with-regents-exam-scores-coming-in-attention-turns-to-appeals/

NY State Senator: Instill Lifelong Learning, Not Test-Taking in Students
http://www.buffalonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20130621/OPINION/130629723/1074

Testing Has Reached Its Limits For Some Minnesota Parents
http://www.twincities.com/education/ci_23563367/some-minnesota-parents-testing-has-reached-its-limits

Oklahoma Teachers Ask State to Invalidate All 2013 Test Scores
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/26/oklahoma-standardized-tests_n_3504730.html

How Pizza Helped Garfield High Teachers Resist Standardized Testing Overkill
http://crosscut.com/2013/07/02/education/115232/arnold-garfield-high-teacherss-inspiration-strikin/

Students Who Take Tougher Grad Tests Are More Likely to End Up in Jail
http://www.businessinsider.com/jail-more-likely-for-students-who-take-hard-finals-2013-7

The Trouble with Common Core
http://www.rethinkingschools.org/archive/27_04/edit274.shtml

The Common Core Testing Nightmare That Awaits Us
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/randy-turner/the-common-core-nightmare_b_3521825.html

Will Common Core Assessment Focus Derail College and Career Readiness
http://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2013/06/25/fp_barnwell_career.html

Oklahoma Pulls Out of Common Core Testing Consortium: Cites Volume of New Assessments
http://www.tulsaworld.com/article.aspx/State_pulling_out_of_standardized_testing_through_consortium/20130701_19_0_StateS605337?subj=1

Union Worried Testing Will Cause More to Turn Against Common Core
http://stateimpact.npr.org/florida/2013/07/01/union-worried-testing-could-cause-public-to-turn-on-common-standards/

Common Core Assessment Consortium to Delay Some New Tests By a Year
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/2013/06/testing_group_delays_some_components_for_one_year.html

See FairTest Common Core Assessment Fact Sheet
http://www.fairtest.org/common-core-assessments-more-tests-not-much-better

Time for Education “Reform” Reset
http://educationopportunitynetwork.org/6252013-an-education-reset/

Connection Between Test Scores and College Performance is Tenuous
http://www.buffalonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20130630/OPINION/130639986
See FairTest’s List of More than 800 ACT/SAT Optional Schools
http://www.fairtest.org/university/optional

The Perils of Standardized Testing: Six Ways it Harms Learning
http://www.opencolleges.edu.au/informed/features/the-perils-of-standardized-testing/

Test-Driven System Stifles Creativity Says Survey of U.S. Parents and Teachers
https://www.edsurge.com/n/2013-06-24-education-system-stifles-creativity-say-teachers-parents

Careful What You Want and How You Measure Getting It
http://www.golocalprov.com/news/julia-steiny-careful-what-you-want-how-you-measure-getting-it/

Defining Students, Teachers and Schools By a Number Does Not Improve Learning
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/finding_common_ground/2013/06/i_was_once_defined_by_a_number.html

The Revolution Will Not Be Standardized
https://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/07/01-6

Finland’s Education Ambassador Spreads the Word About a Better Alternative
http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2013/jul/01/education-michael-gove-finland-gcse

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

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