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Posted at 6:00 AM ET, 08/ 4/2010

Ravitch: Mayoral control means zero accountability

By Valerie Strauss

My guest is Diane Ravitch, New York University education historian and author of the best-selling "The Death and Life of the Great American School System." Ravitch, once a supporter of No Child Left Behind and now a fierce critic of its impact, is traveling the country and meeting thousands of teachers as she blasts the Obama administration's education policies.

By Diane Ravitch
For the past five years, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel Klein have claimed that, due to their programs, New York City was a national model. They proclaimed that the city had made “historic gains” on state tests, all because of the mayor’s complete control of the policymaking apparatus. The mayor testified in congressional hearings that New York City had cut the achievement gap in half. Klein traveled to Australia to boast of the city’s gains, and the Australian minister of education intends to align that nation’s education system with the New York City model.

It was an exciting and wonderful ride while it lasted. But last week, with the release of the state test results for 2010, New York City’s claims came crashing to the ground. The national model went up in smoke. The miracle was no more. The belief that mayoral control was a panacea for urban ills was no longer sustainable.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has gone around the nation for the past 18 months singing the praises of mayoral control. But in light of the New York City fiasco, he will have to find a new example when he lectures urban audiences, because the New York model just lost its wheels.

What is that model? All decision-making power vested in the office of the mayor, who chooses the school leadership; testing and accountability; report cards for schools with a single letter grade; bonuses for principals whose schools have rising scores; closing schools whose scores do not rise; opening charter schools and small schools; devolving authority to principals to make decisions about spending and instructional programs.

When Mayor Bloomberg first ran for office, he said that the legislature should give him control of the school system with minimal checks or balances. He promised accountability. If anything went wrong, the public would know whom to hold accountable; not some faceless board, but he, the mayor, would be accountable.

The New York City version of mayoral control means that parents and the public have no voice. The shell of the central board is dominated by a majority of mayoral appointees, who approve whatever the mayor wants. On the one occasion when two of his appointees threatened to vote independently, they were fired on the spot.

Every year, the State Education Department reported that scores were going up across the state and in New York City. In 2007, based entirely on steadily rising state scores, the Broad Foundation awarded New York City its annual prize as the nation’s most improved urban school district. Mayor Bloomberg used the state scores to win re-election in 2005 and to bypass term limits and get re-elected for a third term in 2009.

When the mayoral control law expired a year ago, the mayor referred to the state scores as evidence that his reforms were working and the progress should not be interrupted.

The narrative ended on a sour note last week. The State Education Department accepted that the state tests had gotten so easy in recent years that the standards had become meaningless.

Students could advance from level 1 (where remediation was required in New York City) to level 2 by random guessing. Reaching level 3 (“proficiency”) did not mean that students were likely to graduate high school. Under new leadership, the state raised standards, and the proportion of New York City students who reached proficiency dramatically declined.

The pass rate on the reading test fell from 69 percent to only 42 percent, and on the math test, it dropped from 82% to 54%. In addition, the achievement gap among students of different racial and ethnic groups grew larger, as large as it was when the mayor took office.

The mayor and the chancellor responded to the new situation not by accepting responsibility and accountability, but by denying the facts. In news conferences, press briefings, and opinion articles, they and their surrogates insisted that the “historic gains” of the past five years were still intact.

They pointed to scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress to defend their claims, but this was a weak reed. New York City’s gains on NAEP were garden-variety. Atlanta, Boston and the District of Columbia made larger gains in fourth grade reading and math; Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, and San Diego made larger gains in eighth grade math; and New York City made zero gains in eighth grade reading from 2003-2009, while Atlanta, Houston, and Los Angeles did see significant improvement in that grade and subject.

So the larger story is this: Mayoral control did not turn New York City into a national model. Before promoting mayoral control as the answer to urban education, Secretary Duncan would do well to consider Cleveland, which has had mayoral control since 1995.

Like New York City, Cleveand has participated in national testing from the inception of urban district assessment. Cleveland has made no gains in fourth grade reading or eighth grade reading or fourth grade mathematics or eighth grade mathematics.

Mayoral control is not a panacea. Not in Cleveland or in New York City. Nor in Chicago, which has seen some gains, but is still one of the nation’s lowest performing urban districts after many years of mayoral control.

-0-

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By Valerie Strauss  | August 4, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Diane Ravitch, Education Secretary Duncan, Guest Bloggers, National Standards, Race to the Top  | Tags:  bloomberg and schools, diane ravitch, klein and schools, mayoral control, new york city schools, new york city test scores, new york state test results, ny test scores  
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Comments

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Posted by: litacecily03 | August 4, 2010 6:35 AM | Report abuse

I have read Diane's book and it is eye-opening. Thanks for speaking out, Diane! Those of us in places like DCPS can't speak out for fear of losing our jobs.

Urban public education is a mess and it's NOT the teachers and the answer is NOT mayoral control and disastrous people like Rhee.

Keep publishing the truth Valerie!!

Posted by: UrbanDweller | August 4, 2010 8:03 AM | Report abuse

Diane R makes some good points, but only some, UD. For such a strong teacher, your no-responsibility posture for educators is startling. Parents don't agree--in any ward in this city. And if you want to go back to a Board of Education, ours in DC is a trail of negligence, incompetence, politics, and tears. The B of E bears a lot of the guilt and shame for the state of DCPS since home rule began.

Posted by: axolotl | August 4, 2010 8:32 AM | Report abuse

I'm a DCPS parent. I agree with commenter UrbanDweller and wholeheartedly with Diane Ravitch.

DCPS needed reform. Michelle Rhee's brand of reform only managed to destroy the things that actually WERE working at my child's school.

axoloti, do you work for Rhee? Seriously, you do not speak for DCPS parents. Where do your children attend school?

It's convenient to use teachers as scapegoats, but the if the staff at my child's school are any example, these are heroic individuals who struggle with the horrific effects of poverty each day. They are loyal and devoted to the children they serve and Rhee and company have done nothing for these children or these teachers.

I'm an elementary school parent. Test scores (2008-2010) are now LOWER than when Rhee arrived.

I want Dr. Clifford Janey back.

Posted by: Title1SoccerMom | August 4, 2010 9:25 AM | Report abuse

AUSTRALIA is looking to Joel Klein for its education model?? Oh no!

Heh, Australia, if you follow his model you'll give new meaning to the term "Down Under!"

Don't do it! Step away from high stakes testing!

Posted by: rsolnet | August 4, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse

The scariest aspect of school "reform" is the fact that many citizens are being divested of their right to participate in the governance of their own schools. In regard to Race to the Top, it looks as though the Obama administration is being led (bribed?) by the Very Rich. That's scary.

Thank you, Ms. Strauss and Dr. Ravitch, for spreading the news of what is actually happening in education.

"Education is a journey, not a race."

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | August 4, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Valerie and Diane,

Does Bloomberg own stock in Pearson PLC? Do we know who (bigwigs) does within the polical/education arena? What about campaign contributions? Certainly, with mayoral control of education comes mayoral influence of educational related contracts, and some profiteers will reap handsome rewards.

Obama should be ashamed for appointing Duncan as Sec. of Ed. Duncan himself gives shame a face.

Smelling rats.....

http://online.wsj.com/article/NA_WSJ_PUB:SB10001424052748704754604575094751085387736.html

This site may prove interesting:
http://www.silobreaker.com/pearson-plc-11_1420331?q=Pearson+PLC+%5bCompany%5d&rd=true

Posted by: shadwell1 | August 4, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Every student in DCPS deserves a competent, certified, experienced and highly qualified Superintendent.

Rhee is not the solution and makes more money than Mayor Fenty.

Who is the real DC mayor? Vote for a new mayor on September 14, 2010.

Enough is Enough!!

Posted by: sheilahgill | August 4, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Ditto from another fed up DC parent. Enough is enough of this travesty.

Posted by: janetcamillebrown | August 4, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

@ Linda RT: "Education is a journey not a race," you quote. May I quote you? "School reform takes a long time and costs a lot of money." Unionista evermore. Let's just make another generation or two miss out on effective education.

@ Soccer M: You must live on a tiny island, and it does not matter whether you are east or west of the park, as the contra-reformists like to label things. Your school sounds truly exceptional, indeed part of a minute handful of our too-many schools. You are lucky.

Posted by: axolotl | August 4, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

@ Linda RT: "Education is a journey not a race," you quote. May I quote you? "School reform takes a long time and costs a lot of money." Unionista evermore. Let's just make another generation or two miss out on effective education.

@ Soccer M: Your school sounds truly exceptional, indeed part of a minute handful of our too-many schools. You are lucky. W
hen you learn what parents in the vast majority of the city observe, you will understand you are an outlier.

Posted by: axolotl | August 4, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

No axoloti, again, you are not the voice of DCPS parents. Title I parents are fed up because test scores have dropped under Rhee, good teachers and administrators have fled and morale has never been lower.

Parents east of the park are fed up because all Rhee offers is lots of promises and a curriculum that consists entirely of test prep. (Pssst, my kid can pass the test on the first day of school. So what does more test prep do for my child?)

If Rhee is such a genius, why couldn't she keep what WAS working and work to reform what was broken?

Wait, I know, I'll answer. Rhee doesn't have the education or experience to run a school system. She's relied strictly on the burning-the-village-to-save-it strategy of school reform. Teachers and administrators have been burned. And so have my kids--and I'm angry.

Posted by: Title1SoccerMom | August 4, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Confusion on Where City Students Stand
New York Times

Deciphering where the schools are now rests heavily, experts agreed, on a standardized test that is seen as a national gold standard, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP.

The proficiency percentages of New York City school children on that test are dauntingly low, as they are for the nation as a whole. Just 22 percent of the city’s eighth graders and just 29 percent of the city’s fourth graders are proficient in reading.

There have been improvements in the city’s NAEP scores since 2003, particularly in fourth-grade math, though eighth-grade reading has shown no improvement. But even with the significant fourth-grade gains, only 35 percent of city fourth-grade students are proficient in math, according to NAEP data.

By those standards, even the results of the new, tougher state test scores seem high. And by the same token, experts who were watching the state test said they were not surprised when it was revealed that there had been significant inflation on an exam that years ago parted ways with the national standard as a measure of performance.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 4, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Axolotl:

You may quote "Education is a journey, not a race" but I can't remember who said it first.

Concerned and involved parents never allow their children to miss out on a good education. They do not "wait."

I know I'm wasting my time, but let's look at another situation:

The pediatrician sees a patient and tells the parents what to do to help the asthmatic child . The parents fail to carry out the doctor's instructions and so the child continues to be quite ill. Whose fault is it? Who is most responsible for the child's care? If you answered "the parents," or "the doctor and the parents" you are correct. The doctor, by herself, does not have the capability of carrying out her own instructions. Well, it's the same for the dentist, teacher, preacher and whoever else works with your child. They can do only so much without your support.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | August 4, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

@ Linda -- you are ever the apologist for the subset of teachers who are ineffective, even though you, by your own account + the Harvard and Stanford kids, were a great success. I truly believe it, and parents owe you sincere thanks.
The unionistas here in the District are indeed asking the children to "wait," and that is disgraceful Gray will ask them to "wait" -- and cave in to the unions-- while Fenty tried, and has succeeded in part, in making some improvements.

Leave No Teacher Behind, eh?

@Soccer -- you use the well known public code for east/west of the park. Is that the big problem you have? You want Janey? You can move to Newark. Note he could get nothing done except curriculum. He could not get schools repaired, distribute books, or dare to evaluate teachers. He was afraid to close schools or terminate any teacher; he tolerated the subset who are ineffective or plain incompetent. He did nothing to nurture the many good teachers, which remains a continuing and legitimate complaint.

Posted by: axolotl | August 4, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

The D.C. claims of 2010 tests results of 32 percent and above being proficient are just as over inflated as the claims of New York City.

2009 D.C. National Tests Proficiency or above
math 4th grade 17 percent
math 8th grade 11 percent
reading 4th grade 17 percent
reading 8th grade 14 percent

The claims of Maryland as reported in the Washington Posts are also over inflated when compared to the National tests of 2010.

It was inevitable that any national policy based upon state standardized testing would simply be a race to the bottom.

The only surprising thing about the news from New York State is that the New York State Reagents took the steps to investigate and deal with this problem on their own.

It is interesting that the Department of Education is in the final stage of selecting states for their Race To The Top prize contest.

Race To The Top is totally dependent upon state and local standardized testing and computer system to use test results to evaluate teachers and school improvement.

The news from New York State, and the over inflated claims of D.C. of improvements in education based upon rigged D.C. standardized testing, indicate the waste of public funds that will occur if the Department of Education goes ahead with Race To The Top, since the policies of Race To The Top are so heavily dependent upon local standardized testing.

http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/states/

Posted by: bsallamack | August 4, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

axototl,
I emailed Miss Rhee and asked if DCPS had plans to move highly effective teachers to classrooms or schools that have ineffective teachers, especially those at the bottom.


She responded, No.
They might try incentives, but DCPS was not going to make anyone move.
So, hopefully, DCPS is hiring "highly effective" teachers to replace the ineffective ones just sacked.

Posted by: edlharris | August 4, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Note that AXOTOTL will say anything except anything in regard to the over inflation in local standardized testing of this article.

Ms. Rhee has used the D.C.standardized tests to proclaim evidence of improvement in education since she has been in charge of the school system.

It is apparent that these tests have been simply rigged to make claims of non existent educational improvement when a comparison is made to the test result of D.C. in national testing.

Those like Ms. Rhee and AXOTOTL can no longer make the false claims of evidence of D.C. improvements in education.

Instead they can only fall back to their claims that the teachers and the union are the problem.

Ms. Rhee in 3 years has fired many teachers but so far can not show any real evidence of improvement in the D.C. school system.

Time to accept that using teachers as scapegoats may be politically effective but does nothing to improve education.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 4, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Mayors are purely political. Superintendents are political, but their focus is less defuse and they have fewer competing constituencies. Why would moving schools into an arena of politics more competitive and complex increase the likelihood of improvement??

From the presidential level to the gubernatorial level to mayors, putting politicians, vs. political bureaucrats, in charge of educational policy and practice has no logical or historical bases for generating significant improvement.

I'm not suggesting that reversion to the status quo is a tasty solution, but like corporatizing schools, politicizing them has some obvious costs, which have been overlooked or diminished by advocates. One of the most evident is that the domain of political discourse and practice is morally bankrupt when it comes to spin and use of evidence. What happened in NYC is both foreseeable and inevitable.

Posted by: dsacken | August 4, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

I don't see how you can argue with a DC parent that says, "No axoloti, again, you are not the voice of DCPS parents."

Title1SoccerMom,

You're not the first to ask if Axolotl works for Rhee. I seriously think she does or that maybe she is actually Rhee herself. Remember, Rhee does have a PR firm on staff. I used to de PR and Axolotl stays on message well.

I find it amusing that Axolotl won't even acknowledge that your position may be accurate. No Axolotl says, you're wrong and I am right.

Axolotl says, "Note he [Janey] could get nothing done except curriculum." Curriculum? Oh that's truly not necessary for education Axolotl.

So what's this east/west side of the park stuff. Probably racial/socio-economic and no one has the guts to talk about it openly.

Axolotl wants all of the responsibility to be on teachers' backs. Zero accountability for mayors and DC chancellors, but maximum accountability for teachers based on test scores that are massaged by flat out bogus statistical models. Seems like a contradiction to me. Axolotl prefers any action over correct action.

Here's an analogy of how test scores are being used. Imagine if you took your car into the shop and they said that they have a diagnostic tool that will identify some problems but may also give some false positives which will result in replacing parts that may not need replacement. Further, the diagnostic scan will not guarantee that we have spotted all of your car's mechanical problems. It's flat out dumb to start replacing parts on your car that are not problematic just because you don't know the source of the problem.

Posted by: stevendphoto | August 4, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Title1SoccerMom has credibility. Her children attend a DC elementary school.

Title1SoccerMom asks,

"axoloti, do you work for Rhee? Seriously, you do not speak for DCPS parents. Where do your children attend school?"

Yeah Axolotl. Where do your kids go to school? Where do all of your informed insider insights come from? Seems like Title1SoccerMom wins based on credibility. That's what it's all about, right? Winning. Losing. Competition. Purge the teachers. Privatize the schools. Good luck.

Posted by: stevendphoto | August 4, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Standards Raised, More Students Fail Tests
New York Times

New York State said the tests had become too easy, with some questions varying little from year to year, making it simple for teachers to prepare students because each test is made publicly available after it is given.

...............................

Great to know that the Secretary of Education declared in public that he does not want "teach to the test" while he set up national educational policy with Race To The Top totally based upon the results of state and local standardized testing.

Remember states should not just make their standardized tests easy to avoid being beaten over the head by the Federal government, and teachers should not teach to the test to avoid being fired.

This could be considered the carrot of the Secretary of Education since it highlights for states how to avoid being beaten over the head, and it highlights for teachers how to avoid be firing.

The Secretary of Education must have greatly been pleased with his policies since he knew that he would be able to make claims for great improvement in education for years based upon the results of state and local standardized testing.

It will be interesting to see how the Secretary of Education will act with the admission of New York State that state standardized tests can be rigged to show non existent improvement in education.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 4, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

As a professor in higher education I partly agree with Dr. Ravitch's book and her subsequent comments about concerns in education. We have basically ruined our schools through standardized testing as joy, hope, energy and enthusiasm for knowledge are extricated from the institutions we love. The other issue that seems to be lost is the fact that the standardized tests don't really say much. If I take a standardized test in fourth grade and then in fifth I hardly have the same class in front of me, some have moved, some have been expelled, some of decided to be home schooled. We act as if this is the very same group. Not so. We continue to badger teachers about the test scores, we continue to badger parents about the test scores and we badger society about test scores as if they are a way of helping us to be accountable. The sense of accountability comes from within. Because of the relationships I create with my students, noticing both their abilities and their deficits I can challenge them to move along the continuum we call education. It is precisely this relationship that students of all ages talk about when remembering the great aspects of schooling. Mr. Duncan has used the business model in our schools as if we are creating tupper ware and are able to throw out those pieces that don't fit into the mold. Again not so. We need to assist students in developing their skills and abilities to create a society that can incorporate all that they have to offer. I've often thought that education should be under the Defense Department as our children/students will be the ones that direct our society in the future. From working with my own students at St. Xavier University, I am glad they will do so.
Dr. Eileen Quinn Knight, St. Xavier University

Posted by: knight2 | August 4, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

I don't see how you can argue with a DC parent that says, "No axoloti, again, you are not the voice of DCPS parents."

Title1SoccerMom,

You're not the first to ask if Axolotl works for Rhee. I seriously think she does or that maybe she is actually Rhee herself. Remember, Rhee does have a PR firm on staff. I used to do PR and Axolotl stays on message well.

Posted by: stevendphoto
...................................
I am in agreement with Title1SoccerMom and stevendphoto.

AXOLOT1 avoids anything that questions the validity of DC standardized tests.

Actually in PR it would be very inexpensive and effective to employ someone like AXOLOT1. I believe that Ms. Rhee is a big user of private contractors, and she could easily claim no knowledge of this use of public funds by the contractor.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 4, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

I hope that Valerie Strauss will have more articles on the New York State admission that lowering of standards on state standardized testing allowed for over inflated claims of improvement in education.

Since No Child Left Behind there were many that believed unrealistic goals in public education would only lead to the lowering of test standards.

The New York State admission is the smoking gun, and indicates that any claims of improvement in education since No Child Left Behind based upon local and state standardized tests are totally questionable.

Time to set aside No Child Left Behind and Race To The Top, and start to formulate national policies for public education that are realistic and that will actually make improvements in public education instead of policies that pretend at making improvements.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 4, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

If Rhee's PR firm, Squier Knapp Dunn, doesn't have somebody on these blogs then they're not worth their salt. See below. Axolotl's silence on the matter will (not) speak for itself.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/19/AR2010031904714.html

"Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee, whose image has been frayed by a series of high-profile news controversies, is turning to former White House communications director and veteran Democratic media consultant Anita Dunn for help.

"A D.C. schools spokeswoman confirmed Friday that the agency is negotiating a contract with Dunn's firm, Squier Knapp Dunn."

"McMullen added that Dunn's contract would be paid for with private donations."

"McMullen said the other key figure in the arrangement is Stefan Friedman, president of Squier Knapp Dunn's New York subsidiary, KnickerbockerSKD. Schools officials have met with Friedman, a former New York Post reporter and editorial writer, who has worked with the New York City school system on communications matters, McMullen said."

Posted by: stevendphoto | August 4, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

to LindaRT and SoccerMom and others who have responded to Ax: Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain! He is clueless when it comes to issues in urban education. His constant refrain is "ineffective teachers." He's also anti-union as you can tell from his posts but I don't really see where any of the 3 of us posted anything about the union in our comments, hmm.

It doesn't matter what you say, he will throw everything back on teachers regardless of what studies from reputable institutions such as Harvard and Columbia Teachers College say. There's no point in arguing with him and as one of you posted, I agree that I believe he's on Rhee's payroll.

None of us who teach in DCPS are shirking our responsibilities when we point out the correlation between home environment and a student's academic success. Not only are we not shirking our responsibility, but we are dealing in reality and being responsible professionals when we recognize the factors which influence a students academic achievement--factors far beyond our control. One of the hallmarks of a truly healthy person and professional integrity are recognizing one's limitations. That doesn't mean a student can't succeed, but it will take much more than an effective teacher and that's what we're saying. Our students need much more than just an effective teacher because they come to us with many, many social and emotional problems.

Ax and Rhee are living in a fantasy world where they think an "effective teacher" in the classroom solves all the problems in the world. It's ok, though, their world is beginning to crumble and I predict with certainty it will come crashing down sooner rather than later. Hopefully then, for both students and teachers sakes, we can get on with real education reform rather than these trial-and-error and slash-and-burn techniques of Rhee's.

Posted by: UrbanDweller | August 4, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

"He's [axolotl] also anti-union as you can tell from his posts but I don't really see where any of the 3 of us posted anything about the union in our comments, hmm."

That's the hallmark of a strategist. Don't address the oppositions assertions. Just reframe the argument and stay one message.

If Axoltl is not on the Rhee payroll, she should be. She's doing a job that I guarantee is being done by someone for tens of thousands of dollars.

Posted by: stevendphoto | August 4, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

It is so tiresome to read what politicians write when discussing education issues: the irony is painful to endure. I include Ms. Ravitch in that label. I would hope an educator would be clear in her writing, complete in her arguments, and not depend so much on innuendo to make a point.

If she's trying to make the point that mayoral control is not as effective as the other models in place outside NYC, then why does Ms. Ravitch never come out and state that NYC's progress was significantly less than the rest of the state's. Her argument seems to imply that, indeed seems to be her overall point, but she never actually says those words. Why?

If the traditional school board run districts actually did so much better than NYC, then why not say so instead of relying on innuendo? Did they?

Posted by: JDunning | August 4, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Thanks to Australia's Education Minister's casual meeting with Joel Klein at a function in New York, Australia now has a data-driven school system. It had a chance, with a change of government in 2007, to re-examine its confused inter-state systems and ,perhaps, enliven schooling with programs of learnacy [developing the natural love for learning that kids have]. Alas, our Minister went to New York instead of Finland or Singaore; came home and appointed plumbers to run the garage....measurers instead of schoolies. Pity you Yanks are such sweet-talkers.

Posted by: cphilcullen | August 4, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Duncan has used the business model in our schools as if we are creating tupper ware and are able to throw out those pieces that don't fit into the mold.
Dr. Eileen Quinn Knight, St. Xavier University
Posted by: knight2
.......................
I disagree.

Mr. Duncan and the President have not used the business model but simply the model of politicians.

Education policies that will in the long term improve public education are not effective for reelection.

Using teachers as scapegoats is effective for reelection.

Having states with high public educational standards adopt the available inferior standards of a private foundations are effective for reelection.

The use of policy based upon state standardized testing are effective for reelection.

It is not effective for reelection to have policies that would actually in the long term change public education.

It is effective for reelection to have policies that give American the impression that something is being done, even if the actions taken will never accomplish anything. Reelection is won by giving the illusion that problems are being dealt with. The illusion only has to be maintained until the date of the reelection.

In fact all of the policies of this administration are based upon policies that are effective for reelection.

Send more troops to Afghanistan based upon a faulty plan and draw them down before the reelection.

Accept any national health insurance legislation even if it is more expensive than a single model plan. The only thing that is important is to make the claim of enacting national health insurance for reelection.

In viewing the context of the policies of Mr. Duncan and the President, Dr. Eileen Quinn Knight needs to start with the concept of Apres moi le deluge.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 4, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Axolotl:

I will tell you once again: I am definitely NOT an apologist for ineffective teachers (You can be certain my kids never had one for long). So why do I appear to be against Rhee and her efforts to "sweep out" the bad teachers? It's because I don't trust her; I don't believe her. I don't believe her when she claims to have gotten rid of the least effective teachers.

My lack of trust in her is due to first-hand information from DC citizens (Yes, I have a good inside source) as well as information gleaned from the press. Also the cover of TIME gave us all the information we needed to know. Talk about a picture being worth a thousand words; that was it.

If Rhee was really interested in improving instruction for DC children, she could have done several things that would have brought immediate improvements for the children. She could have:

held on to her best teachers, such as that great biology teacher from Wilson;

insisted on a healthy working environment at every school;

treated her teachers with the greatest respect;

used Foundation money to lure highly-qualified and successful teachers to DC, as opposed to inexperienced college graduates;

placed partner teachers in the most chaotic classrooms;

provided high-quality mentorship, staff development and peer assistance to weak teachers;

dismissed ineffective teachers in a legal, ethical and compassionate way;

praised her best teachers so as to attract the "best and the brightest" to DC.

If I thought Rhee was strengthening the teaching staff, I would support her. But I don't. After this recession is over, and the baby boomers are gone, who will want to teach in the district?

To repeat:

I do not think Rhee is trying to improve learning for DC children. I believe her goal is to provide jobs for the teachers in her organization, and to help her rich friends get their hands on school tax money. I believe she has an illegal conflict of interest.

You are right in fighting for better education for DC children, Axolotl, but you are supporting the wrong person. ALL jobs in education require good intelligence, good education AND good character. Rhee does not possess all these qualities. In her ostensible effort to get rid of the bad educators in the district, she neglected to fire herself.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | August 4, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Sorry to deflect your collective wisdom and your well wishes. Have never claimed to speak for DCPS parents, but I do have an unusually broad view of how they feel; spotting outliers is easy. As a courtesy, fyi: I am not Rhee (!!), I've criticized her a lot on blogues and in other channels--and I see her strengths and accomplishments, am not on DC govt payroll or any ed. or PR consulants' payroll (thank goodness). Obviously, I am not a PR pro, and proud of it. I must live in a parallel universe, where widespread DCPS parent opinion is broadly and strongly at odds with the claims made here (parents just loving their schools and the teachers), largely by non-DCPS parents. Even Vinnie Gray does not think they are loving their teachers. One thing I have noticed: there are very few purported DCPS parents on WaPo comment boards Plenty of interloper teachers (like Linda trt) and parents from elsewhere, though. All this is to say, your views are hardly representative, and you'd be mistaken to say you speak for DCPS parents, or, heaven help us, the WTU members who are usually pushing their agenda of more bucks and ironclad job protection. Let's let the union lay claim to the vaunted quality of DC public education here over the decades. Their enduring motto: Leave No Teacher Behind.

Posted by: axolotl | August 4, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse

I would hope an educator would be clear in her writing, complete in her arguments, and not depend so much on innuendo to make a point.

If she's trying to make the point that mayoral control is not as effective as the other models in place outside NYC...

Her argument seems to imply that, indeed seems to be her overall point, but she never actually says those words. Why?
Posted by: JDunning
..................................
The claims of this article and of Ms. Ravitch

"They proclaimed that the city had made “historic gains” on state tests, all because of the mayor’s complete control of the policymaking apparatus."

The narrative ended on a sour note last week. The State Education Department accepted that the state tests had gotten so easy in recent years that the standards had become meaningless.

So the larger story is this: Mayoral control did not turn New York City into a national model.
...........................
The articles in the new York Times validates these point and I would suggest that you review these articles.

Articles in New York Times regarding the actions of the New York State Reagents.

Standards Raised, More Students Fail Tests
Confusion on Where City Students Stand
When 81% Passing Suddenly Becomes 18%

.........................
The phrasing of your comment are apparently an attempt to use distortion to refute the statements of Ms. Ravitch.

"If she's trying to make the point"

I doubt seriously that you will review the articles of the New York Times.

I could use phrasing that you have used to distort any statements of anyone. You show no actual quotes and your phrasing are complete distortion.

"If JDunning trying to make the point" that he can distort anything JDunning should .... not depend so much on innuendo to make a point.

JDunning argument seems to imply that, (add anything you want.)

Posted by: bsallamack | August 4, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

stevendphoto

Take a look at my response to the comment of JDunning.

I think that JDunning is suitable to PR.

"I would hope an educator would be clear in her writing, complete in her arguments,"

The above statement of JDunning indicates skills suitable for politics. Notice the attack based upon no evidence. Clearly could do things in politics.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 4, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

"Mr. Duncan has used the business model in our schools as if we are creating tupper ware and are able to throw out those pieces that don't fit into the mold. Again not so. We need to assist students in developing their skills and abilities to create a society that can incorporate all that they have to offer."
-------------------------------------------------
"Obama should be ashamed for appointing Duncan as Sec. of Ed. Duncan himself gives shame a face."
-------------------------------------------------
"Mr. Duncan and the President have not used the business model but simply the model of politicians."
-------------------------------------------------It's nice to see people waking up at last and taking notice to the destruction of public education in this country. President Obama appointed someone for Secretary of Education who holds a BA degree in Sociology! Mr. Duncan is not even qualified to be the CEO of a large business. WHY WAS DUNCAN APPOINTED? Was the decision made by Bill and Melinda Gates and other weathly "reformers?"

Posted by: lacy41 | August 4, 2010 5:28 PM | Report abuse

The many superintendents and educators who have played a measurable and large role in bringing US public education to its knees mainly had/have educational degrees and other ed. credentials. The deans of our finest schools of ed. agreed a couple of years ago that their institutions were doing a lousy job. So, if you want to make ed. degrees and experience a must for everyone, you, too, can contribute to asking a generation or two of our children to "wait" longer for the good education that they deserve.

Posted by: axolotl | August 4, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: axolotl | August 4, 2010 4:42 PM

Poor AXOLOTL.

"I am not Rhee (!!), I've criticized her a lot on blogues"

Even though AXOLOTL has never stated any specific criticism of Ms. Rhee. Perhaps one of AXOLOTL's specific complaints about Ms. Rhee is she has not bashed enough teachers.

"there are very few purported DCPS parents on WaPo comment boards"

And AXOLOTL will disparage any DCPS parent that is opposition to bashing teachers and the union.

"am not on DC govt payroll or any ed."

Nice to know AXOLOTL has no actual public educational experience. Apparently not a necessary requirement for bashing teachers.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 4, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse

"Mr. Duncan and the President have not used the business model but simply the model of politicians."
-------------------------------------------------It's nice to see people waking up at last and taking notice to the destruction of public education in this country.
Posted by: lacy41
...........................
It was obvious to me last year that the policies of this President and his administration were only concerned with reelection.

I hope that enough Democrats wake up and start the process of selecting a different Presidential candidate for election in 2012.

By the way I could see when No Child Left Behind was first introduced that this was a policy would only harm public education.

The gullibility of most Americans really amazes me.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 4, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Good news for everyone.
the New York Times report has passed the bill to save 140,000 teaching jobs.

I say this is good news for everyone. Without teachers the teacher bashers would have to find some other group to attack.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 4, 2010 6:07 PM | Report abuse

Good news for everyone.
the New York Times report the Senate has passed the bill to save 140,000 teaching jobs.

I say this is good news for everyone. Without teachers the teacher bashers would have to find some other group to attack.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 4, 2010 6:08 PM | Report abuse

I had a strong suspicion that Congress would vote to make sure children would have their teachers this fall. Fortunately, the teacher-bashers are a minority of citizens. According to Gallup, teachers are still well-respected by most Americans.

Axototl:

I am a retired teacher from CA who is passionate about education for ALL children. I never pretended to represent DC parents, but I do have a message for them. The gist of my message is borrowed from Geoffrey Canada, but the words are not his:

Parents:

No one is coming to rescue your children. There is no superman or superwoman.

No doctor can make Junior take his medicine. Only you can.

No dentist can supervise Susie's brushing. Only you can.

No hairstylist can keep Junior's hair combed. Only you can.

No teacher can read to Susie at night. Only you can.

Is your child's school low-performing? Take him out. Is your child's teacher ineffective? Move your child to another room.

Don't wait for someone to rescue your child. It might be too late. Act now!

YOU are your child's first teacher and his most important one. If someone tries to tell you that "the school alone" or the "teacher alone" can educate your child, she is lying. 99% of educated people know this so you should know it too. Good luck. You have the most important job in the world!

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | August 4, 2010 6:33 PM | Report abuse

bsall: we are all experts about public education--if we went to public schools/have/had kids/pay taxes. No degree is required. Just observation and input and thought and reading and listening.

Why would you make the most common of institutional experiences in this nation something we all are not qualified to comment on?? We want everyone involved, not just teachers and bureaucrats and unionist cheerleaders. Let's especially hear from the people with a specific stake in successful urban school systems. That's anyone in an urban area.

BTW, we need some kids commenting here in order to clear the foul odor of all the bloviating by all the great "experts" in public schools.

Why dontcha write 500 words or so on this "issue"? No, basall., for you, make it 5 thousand words in, say, six consecutive posts.

Posted by: axolotl | August 4, 2010 6:34 PM | Report abuse

Linda -- nice words from Mr. Canada. But give your message to a single mom who may be without job or working two, with other kids. Or a struggling unmarried couple. Or an immigrant family. Or one just getting by. Many are not likely to hear or understand or be able to carry out Canada's smooth advice. The kids involved in these Title 1 families are our most challenging problem, and your advice is, for many if not most of them, just a bunch of words. It makes me wonder what kind of "inner city" you say you taught in for much of your career.

Posted by: axolotl | August 4, 2010 6:42 PM | Report abuse

That’s right lacy41! Gates’ money and his mega foundation are behind the curtain with the Duncan appointment. Without credentials, background knowledge, or an hour as teacher, Gates uses his position and money to control classrooms across America and use students and their teachers as lab rats.

I voted for Obama. I will not make the same mistake twice. Linda Darling Hammond is too competent and too respected by educators for an appointment in this administration.

AX, since you are so focused on blaming teachers and unions – follow the money! Follow the national and state testing contracts with open records and make a list of corporate profiteers. Make a list of insiders including state agencies and universities that receive kickbacks from certain corporations based on the misuse of the Bayh-Dole Act. Make a list of unethical university “researchers” in Texas and Oregon who receive corporate kickbacks from testing scams without financial disclosure.

PK-12 test fraud, research fraud, cooking the books, and financial conflicts in education by phony chancellors, conflict-ridden researchers, urban mayors, charter operators, etc. will DEMOTE Wall Street’s insiders and Enron’s insiders' scam on California as the “smartest guys in the room.”


Posted by: nfsbrrpkk | August 4, 2010 7:10 PM | Report abuse

Just the other day, axolotl was boasting of herself as one of Rhee's critics.

What a joke!

axolotl is so bent on this "responsibilities" that she all but admitted that she'd go ask a priest if he abuses children.

And if you click on axolotl's name on story comments, you'll see that "she" lives in Ward 9 of DC>

Posted by: phillipmarlowe | August 4, 2010 7:44 PM | Report abuse

Pardon me, that should have been one of Rhee's GREATEST critics

Posted by: phillipmarlowe | August 4, 2010 7:45 PM | Report abuse

bsall: we are all experts about public education--if we went to public schools/have/had kids/pay taxes. No degree is required. Just observation and input and thought and reading and listening.

Why would you make the most common of institutional experiences in this nation something we all are not qualified to comment on?

Posted by: axolotl
.............................
Because your comments are simply repetitions of bashing teachers and their union.

I have never seen one of your comments that provided proof that explained why the problem was caused by teachers instead of say principals or the head of the school system.

You may be enamored with Ms. Rhee but I simply see her as a charlatan.

Any leader that comes in blaming the lowest level for the problems in a charlatan.

In the military when a commander even starting talking about the morale of the troops that is the time to look for a new commander.

Your admitted lack of education experience indicates that you have never taught. This does not appear to be much of a qualification for accusations that the teachers are responsible for the problem.

Your comments are simply repetitions of blame others of charlatan leaders like Ms. Rhee.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 4, 2010 8:31 PM | Report abuse

Linda -- nice words from Mr. Canada. But give your message to a single mom who may be without job or working two, with other kids. Or a struggling unmarried couple.
Posted by: axolotl
.............................
AXOLOTL can always criticize others since AXOLOTL is secure in the ideas of Ms. Rhee of bashing teachers and the union of teachers.

AXOLOTL finds no fault with Ms. Rhee who after 3 years has still not made the public schools safe or with classrooms where teachers can teach or children can learn.

Of course this is not her responsibility and the problems are the teachers who have allowed the public schools to be unsafe and classroom where a teacher has to be constantly on guard preventing unruly students from ruling in the classroom.

These teachers simply need better skills in class room management and school safety management and these are not the responsibilities of the head of the school system in any way.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 4, 2010 8:43 PM | Report abuse

AX – I’m curious about your extreme positions. Are you involved with the Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) scam? - http://www.dfer.org/

I'm a Democrat, voted for Obama, and I do not support DFER’s propaganda! DEFR's insiders do not speak for all Democrats about education! The DFER/Gates/charter rhetoric will fail. Obama will not be re-elected thanks to misguided influence, conflicts of interest, hedge-fund managers' profits, and artificial testing nonsense. Ethical educators will vote against Obama.

Posted by: nfsbrrpkk | August 4, 2010 8:48 PM | Report abuse

And if you click on axolotl's name on story comments, you'll see that "she" lives in Ward 9 of DC>

Posted by: phillipmarlowe
................................
Ah the Ward with all the children of the politicians and white students that always lead the nation with the highest average scores on national tests.

phillipmarlowe you are living up to reputation with this bit of detective work.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 4, 2010 8:49 PM | Report abuse

Axolotl:

I taught in the poorest areas of Cleveland and Los Angeles county.

I didn't say it was easy; I said it was the truth and all parents need to hear it. The majority of poor parents are good parents and want the best for their children. Many would, and do, seek better schools for their sons and daughters but others believe the lies told to them by the likes of Ms. Rhee. The Big Lie right now is that "schools alone" can close the education gap. This is not true.

The bottom line is this: If a child is in a low-performing school and has an ineffective teacher, the only person who can make a change for that child is the parent. Rhee is firing the "ineffective" teachers and replacing them with inexperienced grads. Well, parents need to know that.

These parents live in cities and often have many school options. All they need to do is ask for some help. Why don't you help these individuals by letting them know they must speak up for their own children. As you yourself seem to know, no one is coming to do the work for them. Remember my idea is for government to get really poor children out of these impoverished areas by offering subsidized housing, public school vouchers, private school scholarships (given by private individuals) and magnets. I advocate for highly-qualified teachers in the most challenging schools. But first all parents need to know how much they count because little can be done for their children without their involvement.

Yes, it is very difficult for a single mom with six children to find the best education for them, but there is usually no one else to seek it out for her. Once she asks, she can often find someone to help her, but first must come the critical recognition that she is the most important person in her childrens' education. Improving education, as with most things, begins with the truth.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | August 4, 2010 8:50 PM | Report abuse

I continue to disagree with most people here about Axototl.

I think Ax is a freelancer.

Someone who worked for Rhee would be more sophisticated.

Posted by: efavorite | August 4, 2010 8:59 PM | Report abuse

And if you click on axolotl's name on story comments, you'll see that "she" lives in Ward 9 of DC>

Posted by: phillipmarlowe
..................................
axolotl does give Ward 9 but there is not a Ward 9 in D.C.

Perhaps axolotl will clarify this up.

Ward 3 is the white ward of D.C.

I see that Ward 9 is sometimes used as joke for Prince George's "PG" County, Maryland.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 4, 2010 9:06 PM | Report abuse

efavorite: thanks. I agree completely. If I worked for Rhee I would be a lot more sophisticated--and medicated!!

philly: you can still get the help you need and deserve.

I have lived in the District for a long time. (Did not know until recently that "Ward 9" refers to PGC. With my lack of sophistication and all, please give me a pass.)

Posted by: axolotl | August 4, 2010 10:33 PM | Report abuse

Ward 3 is predominately white and residential. There are lots of white folks in other wards, such as ward 2, with includes Georgetown and Ward 6 which includes Capitol Hill and ward 4 which includes parts of Chevy Chase that used to be in ward 3.

Posted by: efavorite | August 4, 2010 11:12 PM | Report abuse

Efavorite. What's this east/west of the park mentalities that Axolotl refers to?


Axolotl says, "@Soccer -- you use the well known public code for east/west of the park. Is that the big problem you have? "
"@ Soccer M: You must live on a tiny island, and it does not matter whether you are east or west of the park, as the contra-reformists like to label things"

Posted by: stevendphoto | August 4, 2010 11:30 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone here remember Roland Emmerich's film Independence Day? There is a scene in it where the fictional president gives the controversial order to launch nuclear missiles at the alien ship as it hovers in the sky. The missiles are launched and the command center officials wait with sweaty anticipation as the air clears, only to see that the ship remains; unchanged, undamaged.

Our current educational "reforms" are like those nuclear missiles. The order has been given: we are firing the teachers and replacing them with enthusiastic rookies; converting schools to semi-private charters; distributing vouchers; holding teachers to super-human expectations; paying them based on test scores, all while completely denying the effects of poverty, social injustice and post-modern dysfunction. The problem is, after all is said and done, the target is still there... the achievement gap has not significantly narrowed with these largely political "reforms".

Even if every union teacher is fired and every school is charterminated, the achievement gap will still remain. If in some strange future of purely privatized education there is no achievement gap, it won't be because all citizens will be equally well-educated, it will be because those who are at the bottom end of the spectrum will simply be cut off, and the idea of a free public education for all will be a thing of the past. Illiteracy will no longer be the fault of underperforming teachers or schools, but the acceptable by-product of selective, limited schooling.

Posted by: Incidentally | August 4, 2010 11:31 PM | Report abuse

I have lived in the District for a long time.

Posted by: axolotl
....................................
Nice try at avoiding the question but remember you are the one that put down ward 9 on your profile.

From some outdated info on the internet I see that the black population of Ward 3 is 6.2 percent.

Other data also indicates that this looks like one of the most affluent Wards in the D.C.

I could understand someone living in this ward as seeing others as outliers in regard to Title 1 poverty public schools since there probably none of these type of public schools in the ward.

Living in a segregated environment has this affect on people.

So if you live in Ward 3 we can understand your use of the term outliers.

My betting is that you do live in Ward 3 and this would explain a great deal in regard to your comments.

Let us know.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 5, 2010 12:23 AM | Report abuse

Here's the link to axolotl's profile:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/community/mypost/index.html?newspaperUserId=axolotl&plckUserId=axolotl

She originally claimed she lived in Ohio.
Read through her comments (if you want to punish yourself) and you'll see patterns emerge, patterns that are obsessed with efavorite and me, and with this notion that people must tell her their responsibilities to their job.
As I have snarked, it is as though she'd go upto a priest and demand that he tell her whether or not he abuses kids,
or she'd ask the McDonald's clerk: "what responsibility do you take to ensure this hamburger is properly cooked?"


Sad.


Equal disclosure:
My profile is here:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/community/mypost/index.html?plckPersonaPage=PersonaHome&plckUserId=phillipmarlowe&newspaperUserId=phillipmarlowe

Be prepared to be dazzled by my piquant wit.

Posted by: phillipmarlowe | August 5, 2010 12:26 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: Incidentally

I saw the movie. Great movie.

I disagree with your analysis though.

The attack is really on the Title 1 poverty public school in urban areas. This is causing collateral damage to the public schools that are not Title 1 poverty public school in urban areas.

There will always be public education in this country but the costs of Title 1 poverty public school in urban areas will be greatly reduced based upon the premise that these inferior schools now are too expensive.

Firing qualified teachers at these schools reduces costs and also benefits. If all the teachers are unqualified under 3 year contracts, the costs will be tremendously reduced especially in benefits.

The ultimate will be two tiers of teachers and public schools in this country. The expensive qualified teachers for school systems where expenses are totally met by property taxes, and the cheap inexpensive non qualified teachers for the inferior Title 1 poverty public school in urban areas.

Public charter schools will be used in the neighborhoods of the inferior Title 1 poverty public school in urban areas to prevent rioting. The teachers of these schools will be the same as the cheap inexpensive non qualified teachers of the inferior Title 1 poverty public school in urban areas.

Of course this will produce some of the results that you mention since the inferior Title 1 poverty public school in urban areas will not actually be schools but simply holding pens.

Of course the poverty or achievement gap will not disappear, but will simply be seen as a trait of reducing costs in public education.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 5, 2010 1:00 AM | Report abuse

bsallamack @ 1:00AM: Your point is well taken. I agree that it is mainly the urban and rural Title 1 schools that are bearing the brunt of the current "reform" effort. However, there are rumblings among the middle-class as well, particularly with regard to what many perceive as fuzzy (constructivist) curriculum, and the imperative for differentiated instruction. There are many suburban schools serving mixed SES populations that have also come under the "reform" microscope, and in their attempts to meet test-score goals, are suffering from a crisis of conscience.

Check out this blog: http://kitchentablemath.blogspot.com/
You will find a lot of participants expressing deep disgruntlement with their local middle-class schools around curriculum issues and the intense focus on high-need students.

I wish I were more optimistic about public education, but right now, very little is giving me cause to feel so. Fair disclosure: I am a public school educator, and I have deep reservations about the validity of standardized test scores as the reductive measure of school and teacher effectiveness. I maintain that standardized tests routinely undervalue student learning.

Posted by: Incidentally | August 5, 2010 2:02 AM | Report abuse

The pace of the desperate search for some race-based subtext is picking up. Some outside force must be found to blame for the District's self-inflicted education wounds.

The union and its members would be the most inviting target, but because of its gross mismanagement and history of major felonies, it has been temporarily disabled. That, of course, explains its current problems. The fact that about half the committed professionals who are teachers didn't move themselves to vote on the recent contract will be forgotten. As will their lack of energy to even read the document in the many weeks since it was passed.

Remember we have had home rule and a very large majority dominating the governance of the schools for its entire history. It would kind of hard for someone, wouldn't it?, to blame the minority of white folks for DCPS, or even for Michelle Rhee, as hard as some try. (In the District it is essential to find someone else to blame, and to posture oneself as a victim; that is how we citizens are brought up, and that is how Congress, other jurisdictions, Americans in general expect us to act.) All of this with efavorite, basall, and philly not even living in the District.

Our president would not be proud of this self-inflicted mess--that's obvious--but all of the public education anti-changers are not gonna vote for him anyway. They have their eyes on the opposition, Sara Palin, whose smarts and dictatorial style hold a certain attraction for them. While Mr. Gray has a different style, his vague ideas about education, except when scripted by unionistas, are about as deep as Ms. Palin's. Maybe he can pull in her endorsement.

Posted by: axolotl | August 5, 2010 7:46 AM | Report abuse

"The pace of the desperate search for some race-based subtext is picking up. Some outside force must be found to blame for the District's self-inflicted education wounds. "

Wise words???

To read axolotl, one would conclude that she belives DCPOS is in such a state of woe due to the failure of teachers to state for what do they take responsibility. She would have us blame the teachers and their union for this sad state of affairs.


Make the teachers take a Responsibility Oath and every single child in DCPS will be scoring in the 90th percentile, axolotl urges.

But such simplistic analysis does not take into consideration anything else, so she hides behind her smugness of middle school name calling:
philly, evie, ballsy, eddie , lindy etc.

I imagine if she was to pop over to the New Carrollton Public library after Charles Carroll Middle School lets out, she'd blame the oafish, immature and rowdy behaviour on the teachers of CCMS- not the parents, not even the kids themselves.

Now when such facts such as the success of Montgomery and Fairfax school systems with their unionised teacher force are presented, axxie, (if I may write in her tone), closes her eyes, gets silent,, then comes out with more name calling.

There is a study, linked over at Guy Brandenburg's website, that analyzes Massachusetts version of DC-CAS.
One point that jumps out is that a low economic status white child scores the same low score whether in a low performing school or a high performing school.
Why?
Doesn't that sound like DCPS, in a way?

(Watch as axolotl ignores or name calls.
Hey, I'll beat you to it axxie,
Call me a marxist or a racist-(against whites).)

Posted by: phillipmarlowe | August 5, 2010 9:02 AM | Report abuse

Philly, as you needlessly and energetically grasp for race-based bludgeons, I am afraid you have your labels, targets and plotters confused, badly as to type, but that's all part of playing the victim.

I agree completely with your point about the low-scoring white student. What is the application of this to DCPS? Time to haul in the parents for a little slapping around by the school staff?

And ya wanna lock up the rowdies at CCMS? Is that it? Do you think the US Attorney for the D of C is going to allow that, for one minute if used as a general disciplinary method (as opposed to prosecuting for a felony, such as assault)? Is this your approach? Separate out the baddies who don't do well in school? Do you know where you live? Do you know the standards of our society? Do you have any feel for case law? Is this the Philly Reform? Divide and conquer. Read your history, beginning with Brown vs. Board of Ed. You are headed in the wrong direction!!

Posted by: axolotl | August 5, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

axolotl,
Posting rules forbid the use of hallucinogens before posting here.

Posted by: phillipmarlowe | August 5, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

BUT accountability is the key...one of the key components of KIPP is accountability...all the way round...including caregivers and teachers...and btw, more time in school...period...we do great work in a lot of cases in DC but its not magic, you have to put the time in...I will give you one symbol of accountability...Kumon, Sylvan, etc. take a drive around northern virginia and see how many of these centers there are...lots...because if a kid is not getting it, you hire a tutor not blame the system...i have been fortunate to work with a great set of parents, but we must realize that if your child is struggling and you do not feel it is important enough to hire a tutor????? Kids who are grades below level not getting tutoring year round and even more intensively during the summer...

Posted by: mathteachdc | August 5, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Amen, I say. Unfortunately, Diane Ravitch is just one sane voice crying out in a wilderness of educational confusion. Based on the highly questionable accountability mantra based on the "wisdom"of: LET THE FLOGGINGS CONTINUE UNTIL MORALE IMPROVES.

Hire insprational teachers and provide an environment where they can teach successfully and not be burned out or held in check by control freak administrators but supported by school leaders who know what works.

Posted by: GeorgePeternel | August 6, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Hey folks. I think you are really wasting your time with axolotl. She's a Rush wanna-be on these blogs - throw flames with no regard to reality or respect for anybody else's opinion.

"My mind is already made up. Don't try to confuse me with the facts".

Posted by: 1bnthrdntht | August 6, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

The United States of America-our Government is the true reason why our schools are in such bad shape. Get as much education as you can children, because the jobs are not in American-they are overseas.

Posted by: fivetogo | August 9, 2010 6:56 PM | Report abuse

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