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Posted at 6:00 AM ET, 07/30/2010

Obama, education, Snooki, civil rights and Bryan Bass

By Valerie Strauss

It's a little hard to make sense of what happened this week in the world of education, but, let's give it a fast try:

*President Obama gave a speech to the Urban League convention in which he joked about the Jersey Shore’s Snooki and also said the following: “Now, over the past 18 months ... I think the single most important thing we’ve done is to launch an initiative called Race to the Top.”

Yes, that’s what he said: His terribly misguided $4.35 billion competitive grant program is, apparently, more important than health care reform, the economic recovery program, improving the student loan program, increasing Pell Grant payouts, and, well, anything else he has accomplished since becoming president.

Does he read this stuff carefully before he says it?

*The administration did its best to mute the power of a scathing critique of Obama’s education policies issued by a coalition of civil rights organizations, who also offered presciptive ways out of the mess.

According to several sources involved in the drama, the “Framework for Providing All Students an Opportunity to Learn” was actually ready to be released about a month ago, but the administration has been holding meetings with civil rights leaders in an effort to ease the criticism.

A decision was made to finally release it on Monday, the same week as the Urban League convention, and a press conference was scheduled for leaders of the groups to discuss it publicly. The groups were: Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Rainbow PUSH Coalition, Schott Foundation for Public Education, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, National Coalition for Educating Black Children, National Urban League, and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.

But pressure from the administration -- including, apparently, a threat that Obama would not speak, as scheduled, to the convention -- prompted the cancellation of the press conference and a hastily scheduled meeting between the civil rights leaders and Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Monday.

That became news in our education world, along with a few statements released by some of the civil rights groups that talked about working cooperatively with Duncan.

What was missed in the coverage is that none of the civil rights leaders walked away from the powerful framework, except, that is, Rev. Al Sharpton, who was expected to sign onto the framework, but then didn’t at the last minute. He did sign onto a statement released on Tuesday that talked about “broad areas of agreement” between the administration and the civil rights leaders (which I confess escape me). This is, just to be clear, the same Rev. Al Sharpton who traveled the country last year with Duncan and Newt Gingrich as a friendly team to talk about education reform.

*Duncan announced in his own major speech at the Urban League convention, on Wednesday, that he had heard the civil rights leaders and was creating a commission to look into the issue of equity of resources in public schools. The critics got a commission.

*Communities for Excellent Public Schools, a new coalition of a few dozen community groups, released its own report, “Our Communities Left Behind: An Analysis of the Administration’s School Turnaround Policies," criticizing the administration’s restrictive turnaround strategies for failing schools under the federal School Improvement Grants program.

It said they were educationally and structurally “flawed” and it offered a different way of helping troubled schools that involves including community members and taking health, demographics and other issues into account.

What a concept.

A theme for real education reform ran through both reports -- that fixing schools also requires dealing with health and social and other issues -- rather than standardized test scores which permeate key education policies of Obama and Duncan.

Hmm. This was supposed to be a quick news review. Sorry, but stay with me. Here’s what I really want you to read.

The following story is part of the community group’s report. It is a case study of a school that was forced to undergo restructuring under the administration’s education rules, with their emphasis on standardized test scores to determine teacher and school progress. It reveals, think, how misguided Obama's school transformation policy,

CASE STUDY: BROOKLYN CENTER HIGH SCHOOL —Brooklyn Center, Minnesota

In June, 2010, Bryan Bass, the principal of Brooklyn Center High School in suburban Minneapolis, was fired.

Brooklyn Center is one of 34 schools on Minnesota’s list of “persistently lowest achieving” schools. The state education commissioner says that the federal School Improvement Grants (SIG) program will give the state the opportunity to “really dig deep and try to solve the educational issues” in their failing schools.

For Brooklyn Center, like all schools targeted under the SIG program, receiving federal funding for reform efforts required firing the current principal.

Brooklyn Center High School enrolls about 800 students, three-quarters of whom are low-income and children of color. Roughly 14% of the students have learning disabilities, and about 20% are English Language Learners. The school offers a strong arts magnet program, and an International Baccalaureate program, making it a popular open-enrollment school. Though 82% of students who enroll, graduate, the school has some of the lowest assessment scores in the state.

Bryan Bass has been principal at Brooklyn Center for four years. Under his leadership, the number of suspensions each month fell from 45 to about 10. The number of graduates who went on to college doubled from 35% to 70%. Student mobility dropped from 33% to 26%.

Bass and Superintendent Keith Lester also worked tirelessly on meeting another need of the school community. One wing of the school was recently turned into a one-stop medical and social service center. The center is equipped to care for any student or school-age resident in the area.

With or without health insurance, students have access to dental, vision, mental health and medical services right in the building. The need for wrap-around supports for students immediately became apparent: In the first year, 70% of students who were tested were found to have untreated vision problems. By building a network of existing providers and agencies, identified needs were met. Children who needed glasses were given them. The clinic offers a therapist to help students work through emotional issues.

A social service agency has an office in the clinic that helps students’ families find health insurance.

“Overnight — overnight, it absolutely decreased the amount of behavioral issues,” principal Bass told a local reporter about the new school-based center. “By eliminating barriers, you start to really understand what’s in the way of students getting to learn.”

The future of Brooklyn Center High School’s health and social services center is not guaranteed under the federal grant program. One thing was guaranteed, though. The school’s energetic principal had to go, as a condition for participation in the SIG program.

Superintendent Lester is frustrated with the rigidity of the federal grants program: “I think that’s the dumbest thing I’ve seen coming out of education in my years in education,” he said.

-0-

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By Valerie Strauss  | July 30, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Equity, Race to the Top  | Tags:  al sharpton, arne duncan and urban league, civil rights leaders and obama, obama and snooki, obama and urban league, obama mentions snooki, obama's education speech, obama's speech to urban league, snooki, snooki and jersey shore, urban league convention  
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Comments


You guys should stop complaining cuz one the health care we have now isnt as good as it was supposed to be. also the law has just been signed give it a try u guys are too hard on democrats they went to college and we voted for most of these people.so if u want to say u have the right to choose tell that to ur congress men or state official. as for obama people are just tryin to make it look like america made a mistake he has done things to help us and we had a full 8 years of a terrible president and i will be so as happy as ever when a obama fixes bush's mistakes. You can find full medical coverage at the lowest price from http://bit.ly/chE6zp . obama has to put up with the world judging his every move and trying to fix the mess we are in we are lucky anyone wants to be our president. STOP COMPLAINING AND GIVE HIM A BREAK. i wanna see one of yall do what he has done. some people are just so ignorant.

Posted by: whitney29 | July 30, 2010 6:13 AM | Report abuse

ALERT TO READERS: Please also read and comment on the Ruth Marcus editorial today titled “Civil rights groups are picking the wrong fight with President Obama” http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/29/AR2010072905663.html

She is clueless on this subject and needs to be set straight. Comment here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/29/AR2010072905663_Comments.html

And write to her directly at marcusr@washpost.com

Marcus is a smart, insightful, usually thoughtful columnist who clearly has not done her research on this issue.

Let’s help her out. You too Valerie.

Posted by: efavorite | July 30, 2010 7:55 AM | Report abuse

What's interesting is how much Race to the Top gets overplayed by proponents and by enemies. Obama says it's important. Enemies (like the civil rights groups) claim that it's going to "leave behind" most minority students and keep the US from being a "global leader."

What silliness. At most, Race to the Top amounted to a one-time expenditure of less than ONE percent of the money our nation spends on K-12 education every single year. That's going to have such a transformative effect?

Posted by: educationobserver | July 30, 2010 8:25 AM | Report abuse

"That's going to have such a transformative effect?"

Yes, educationobserver, because states are changing laws and practices to vie for the money.

Posted by: efavorite | July 30, 2010 8:32 AM | Report abuse

I think he meant that Race to the Top was the single most important education initiative the Administration has done this year. Context, people, context.

Posted by: edadvocate | July 30, 2010 8:38 AM | Report abuse

Valerie,

This information about the Minnesota school is fascinating. It sounds like this principal and his staff have truly tried to really help those students.
I think Superintendent Lester should be held up as an example nationwide of how to do school reform.

Excellent, excellent job!

Posted by: celestun100 | July 30, 2010 9:49 AM | Report abuse

It is just horrendous that Principal Bass would be asked to go. I am sure that had he stayed there longer he would have helped those kids to a good education even faster. Hopefully, what he has put in place will continue, although it sounds like his are big shoes to fill.

Arne Duncan praised Alverno College's (Milwaukee)teacher education program because their teaching graduates have an 85% retention rate. That is because Alverno doesn't do any "quick-fixes". Please take a look at Alverno College's program Valerie.

Posted by: celestun100 | July 30, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

To: efavorite
Re: ALERT TO READERS

Thank you for the heads-up! Your positive engagement on this and other items is greatly appreciated.

Posted by: AGAAIA | July 30, 2010 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Valerie, I eagerly await your article each morning and forward them to other public education employees and advocates. Your research and thoughtful approach is providing water to the thirsty. Thank you!

Posted by: lacy41 | July 30, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Can't you feel the love behind the knee-jerk recommendation to push back on and complain about the Marcus column today.

The column is great for defending the president's general direction, which no one should deny also needs progressive improvement.

By opposing his educational thrust, you, too can play a role in shutting SES kids off from decent schools and good teaching.

And, yes, spend freely, as long as it is for teacher pay and benefits.

Leave no teacher behind is what these anti-changers want. Do not let teachers be evaluated, disciplined, or shown the door because they are not up to the job. That is the A-1 mission of a public school system, isn't it? Drive out our good teachers by fighting hard to keep the others, yup.

Read the Marcus column if you have time.

Posted by: axolotl | July 30, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

So the Civil Rights Groups have caved in to President Obama, huh?
Does anyone have the power to enlighten him on educational reform? I think it's a lost cause. Why are we even blogging? What does it matter?

In his speech he stated that as a parent, blah blah blah.. . .Something about his concerns for the status quo.

I have heard of NO ONE who is happy with the status quo, but testing is not the answer.

How about we start a postcard campaign to him stating that we expect his children to be tested just as much as all other children will be tested under his plan. Let's see how much they enjoy taking this idiotic, time consuming, and wasteful tests. Let's see if they like doing them instead of learning what they need to know in today's world.

Let's see how the teachers at Sidwell like to be compared to each other based on a test score.

Posted by: tutucker | July 30, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Yes, that’s what he said: His terribly misguided $4.35 billion competitive grant program is, apparently, more important than health care reform, the economic recovery program, improving the student loan program, increasing Pell Grant payouts, and, well, anything else he has accomplished since becoming president
*******

Don't forget, more important than food stamps.

Oh, and it appears Obama lied.
He lied about hearing of Snooki:

"I don't know who Snooki is," Barack Obama said on "The View" this morning. He even repeated this claim in his speech to the National Urban League.

In May, Barack Obama made a joke about how tan Snooki is, at the White House Correspondents Dinner, which proves that he has heard of the famous tiny woman from television.


http://www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2010/07/29/snookigate


Posted by: edlharris | July 30, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Valerie left off yesterday.

Obama Takes On Critics of Education Program - New York Times

"Surely we can agree that even as we applaud teachers for their hard work, we need to make sure they’re delivering results in the classroom."

Apparently the President has decided to openly court the beer drinking crowd ,and that we need to watch teachers constantly, else they will be shirking their job, or stealing the silver.

Americans know their own local teachers, and I believe most Americans will see this as an attempt to make teachers the scapegoats.

This is especially true at a time when Americans know that many teachers have been let go simply because of the economy.

Great to be a teacher and lose your job because of the economy, while being called by the President a shirker that needs constant watching.

Once does have to admire the skill of the President to talk out of both sides of his mouth at the same time. It is a gift.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 30, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Let's see how the teachers at Sidwell like to be compared to each other based on a test score.

Posted by: tutucker
**********

They will love it.
They don't take kids way below grade level and/or with behavioral problems.

Posted by: edlharris | July 30, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Tutucker - good idea

AGAAIA - you're welcome - and same to you -- and so many others here.

Posted by: efavorite | July 30, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

What silliness. At most, Race to the Top amounted to a one-time expenditure of less than ONE percent of the money our nation spends on K-12 education every single year. That's going to have such a transformative effect?

Posted by: educationobserver | July 30, 2010 8:25 AM | Report abuse


Educationobserver,

RTTT makes the states that apply for it change their education laws that will impact educations for years to come. Many people feel these changes to the educational laws will be detrimental to education.

Posted by: educationlover54 | July 30, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

axolotl, as usual you are way off base, despite being one of Miss Rhee's greatest critics.
Hah!
You need to read this:

Edward Moscovitch shares some views on the subject of school reform in the summer issue of Commonwealth in Teachers are not to blame. His intro to an article filled with graphs and statistics has some real gems:

In the past few months, President Obama, Gov. Deval Patrick, and the press have practically made “education reform” synonymous with “firing teachers.”

What all these so-called reform initiatives have in common is the assumption that teachers in low-performing schools have the tools they need to turn their schools around but, for some reason, are refusing to use them.

The implications of this finding are enormous: It suggests that the policies we are pursuing are un likely to make much of a difference, because they don’t address the real problem.

What’s the point of getting rid of half the teachers at an inner-city school if the ones who replace them also lack the necessary tools? Similarly, replacing a public school with a charter school won’t by itself make any difference; either way, teachers need help, not blame.

They need help not because they do a poor job of teaching, but because they work with very needy children.

http://www.commonwealthmagazine.org/Voices/Perspective/2010/Summer/Teachers-are-not-to-blame.aspx

Posted by: edlharris | July 30, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

There was a similar story of Brooklyn Center, Minnesota regarding a school in Vermont.

A Popular Principal, Wounded by Government’s Good Intentions New York Times

Apparently states that actually have public schools that are attempting programs to deal with the poor do not fit in with the absurd national policies of the Federal government.

If you review national test score both Minnesota and Vermont are leaders in public education with high standards and state tests that are not rigged.

More absurdity of the ideas of Race To The Top where states that had very high standards, had to agree to accept the lower standard of the Common Core State Standards in order to even apply for Race To The Top.

Minnesota application for Race To The Top was rejected.

I guess this should not be a surprise when those setting educational policy speak of "high need" schools instead of poverty schools.

It is no wonder the policies of the Federal government are so absurd when they are afraid to even use the term poverty.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 30, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

edharris,
I realize Sidwell only takes top students who could possibly score well on these tests. But I would guess Sidwell teachers would not enjoy high stakes testing.


I think they would get sick of the restraints testing has on learning, they'd start to compete with each other for better scores, and they would have to narrow their curriculum to teach what's exactly on the test.

Or they would rebel and state that teaching is much more than a test score.

Posted by: tutucker | July 30, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Valerie - you and Bill Turque are the only ones at WaPo who do their homework on education issues. None of the other writers here do.

Posted by: aby1 | July 30, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

What's interesting is how much Race to the Top gets overplayed by proponents and by enemies. Obama says it's important. Enemies (like the civil rights groups) claim that it's going to "leave behind" most minority students and keep the US from being a "global leader."
Posted by: educationobserver
................................
A view of the civil rights letter indicates that these groups want safety in the public schools.

There is not a single mention, regarding the problem of safety in public schools which is a such large problem in urban areas, in national educational policy or Race To The Top.

Instead of addressing the problems of the Title 1 poverty public schools, this administration has used Race To The Top to divert attention and responsibilities from the problems of the Title 1 poverty public schools.

According to the administration Title 1 poverty public schools in urban areas are not unsafe, and do not have classrooms in mayhem. Instead these schools have teachers that have to be constantly monitored by standardized tests to insure that they do their job.

States that are desperate for funds for public schools have had to buy into this pretense.

4 billion is not a great deal but it enough for states that have high standards to agree in their application for Race To The Top to accept the lower standards of the Common Core State Standards.

At the conclusion of Race To The Top this administration will claim that have put in place policies to address the problems of public schools.

I can see the press releases now.

Yes 4 billion is not much, but it appears to be enough for this administration in their attempt to pretend that they have addressed the problems of public education.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 30, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

My Mom broke her arm in December of 2009. The Arizona doctor 6 weeks later declared it healed and that it would never break in the same place again. She just had surgery on it this week in Rochestor MN. They said it has been broken since Dec. of 2009.
Thinking it was healed she has been doing physical therapy on it as my parents trusted this doctor. Can you imagine the pain? But they thought it was from not using the arm as much.

Anyways, when RttT is proven to be successful, or before that, maybe they should apply it to the medical profession. I mean had my mom taken a multiple choice test, (someone else would have had to fill in the bubbles. . . after all her arm was broken) we probably could have determined that this doctor was ineffective.

I mean heaven forbid that we actually look at the xray that tells us that he was wrong. And yet, in education we are so busy looking at data that we miss the actual work the kids are doing. They are doing a lot of things right, and a lot of things that can't be measured on a multiple choice test.

So when all the teachers are fired, what profession will be next?

I have no problem looking at performance, but a multiple choice test cannot determine a child's performance.

"Inspiration, hunger: these are the qualities that drive good schools. The best we educational planners can do is to create the most likely conditions for them to flourish, and then get out of their way.

— Ted Sizer

The late Ted Sizer, a life-long progressive educator and public school advocate, believed that the ultimate
purpose of schooling is to teach students to “learn to use their mind well.”

We need to pay attention to students' performance in the classroom and collect evidence in the classroom. Student driven!!

Posted by: tutucker | July 30, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

tutucker,
On further thought about testing and Sidwell, you're right.
The teachers, nor the parents, would want Shakespeare, Tennyson, Wilde, Faulkner, Chandler Fitzgerald et al reduced to A,B, C, or D.

Posted by: edlharris | July 30, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

President Forces States To Lower Their Standards To Improve Public Education

The Race To The Top program of the President requires states to adopt the Common Core State Standards of a private organization in their application for funds from Race To The Top.

States such as Massachusetts, Minnesota, Maryland, and other states with very high standards have to lower their standards and accept the inferior standards of the Common Core State Standards if they want to apply for funding from Race To The Top.

States with very high standards have agreed to accept inferior and lower standards since these states are disparate for funding for public education.

Neither the President or his administration have offered any explanation of how forcing states to lower standards will improve public education.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 30, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Valerie,

Your blog should be a regular column in the print version of the Post.

Posted by: Nemessis | July 30, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

"Duncan announced in his own major speech at the Urban League convention, on Wednesday, that he had heard the civil rights leaders and was creating a commission to look into the issue of equity of resources in public schools. The critics got a commission."

Curious about this commission....Valerie, can you keep us posted? Seems like a silencing tactic with predictable findings, the script of which could be written already.

Posted by: shadwell1 | July 30, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

I think it is time to actually try to do something.

I am not a member of either party and would consider myself a despised liberal.

I think individuals need to email their members of Congress and newspapers.

Ask the Democrats and Republicans how lowering the standards in states that have high standards will improve public education in those states?

We have lived with No Child Left Behind for almost 10 years and simply seen public education being damaged.

Do we really need the policies of Race To The Top that will also simply damage public education?

This nation does not need anymore policies that are simply political expediency and will damage public education.

Political leaders should either address the problems or do nothing. This is far better than policies of political expediency that damage public education.

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Posted by: bsallamack | July 30, 2010 1:46 PM | Report abuse

All the discussion over good teachers and bad teachers is overlooking a few facts. For most of the 180 days in the school years, some of us were told by our algebra teacher that he had already explained the problem once and didn't have time to explain it again for those of us who were too lazy to listen. If you tell someone for 180 days that he is stupid or lazy, how soon does he begin to believe it and stop asking questions? (For some of us it was 360 days--after tormenting us in 8th grade math he then taught freshman algebra the next year. After a few years the school kicked him upstairs and made him bus superintendent--either bus drivers don't mind being told their stupid or most of them were burly enough that he didn't dare try it.)


But for several years this teacher had 25 to 30 students per period for at least 4 periods a day. Do the math. It's not that there are so many incompetent teachers; it's that one teacher can do an awful lot of damage before he's stopped.

Posted by: sideswiththekids | July 30, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

sideswiththekids,

The big problem with teaching is not that there are lazy teachers, its that there are some that are impatient. That's what needs to be dealt with.

Journalists love to attack teachers are saying they are either lazy or bad teachers. But there are very few that fit into either category. The real problem is helping teachers to watch what comes out of their mouths so that they are not disacouraging students.

But of course the jouralists (who like to make up their own reality) never deal with this.

Posted by: jlp19 | July 30, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

"And instead of a culture where we're always idolizing sports stars or celebrities, I want us to build a culture where we idolize the people who are shaping our children's future." 26:59 into video - President Obama today during a speech to the Urban League.

http://www.fitness.gov/about-us/who-we-are/council-members/index.html Here is the list of members serving on his council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. Nothing but professional athletes, celebrities and his personal trainer!

If you want to start building that culture Mr. President, add a Physical Education teacher to this council. Urge your wife to include Physical Education teachers in her Let's Move initiative. Actions speak louder then words.

Posted by: ultimatewarrior | July 30, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

‎http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCHMyFU6aEU

"And instead of a culture where we're always idolizing sports stars or celebrities, I want us to build a culture where we idolize the people who are shaping our children's future." 26:59 into video - President Obama yesterdat during a speech to the Urban League.

http://www.fitness.gov/about-us/who-we-are/council-members/ind...ex.html Here is the list of members serving on his council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. Nothing but professional athletes, celebrities and his personal trainer!

If you want to start building that culture Mr. President, add a Physical Education teacher to this council. Urge your wife to include Physical Education teachers in her Let's Move initiative. Actions speak louder then words.

Posted by: ultimatewarrior | July 30, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

But for several years this teacher had 25 to 30 students per period for at least 4 periods a day. Do the math. It's not that there are so many incompetent teachers; it's that one teacher can do an awful lot of damage before he's stopped.

Posted by: sideswiththekids
..................................
One tires of these anecdotes.

How many children in a public school can be affected if the Principal is incompetent?

How many children in a public school system can be affected if the head of the school system is incompetent?

How many children in a public school through out the nation can be affected if the Secretary of Education is incompetent?

I do not see anyone stating that the problem of education is the fault of the principals, the heads of school systems, or the Secretary of Education. The reality is that in actuality their actions and policies affect more children than any one teacher.

Even in the case that you have given the principal had the responsibility for knowing what was going on in the class room. This was once the reality of public schools in this country and principals were expected to know what was going on in the class rooms.

The school on their own were able to recognize and correct the problem. Apparently in the old days there was no need for billions of dollars for tests and computer systems to deal with teachers that were problems.

Based on your anecdotes the billions should not be spent and we simply need to revert back to the idea that principals should know what is going on in their schools and fix the problem.

In fact in Washington D.C. in June of 2009 about 200 teachers were dismissed from the public schools. No need for new and expensive methods since contrary to the propaganda of Ms. Rhee she had the means last year to deal with problem teachers.

.........................
Oh and sideswiththekids can we stop with the gimmicks. Most courses have multiple classes per week. The teachers you had at most 120 students per year if the course ran for a year as many courses do.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 30, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

sideswiththekids

Most courses have multiple classes per week. The teachers you had at most 120 students per year if the course ran for a year as many courses do.
..........................
Now consider an elementary school where one disruptive student will interfere with the education of 20 to 25 for a year.

Consider also that since nothing is done in regard to this problem, this same one disruptive student will be passed on to the next grade and will be responsible for interfering with the education of 20 to 25 for perhaps up to 5 year.

There are far more disruptive students in the Title 1 poverty public schools than even the wildest claims regarding incompetent teachers.

Disruptive student affect the education of children far worse than incompetent teachers and they significantly make other teachers less effective.

Yet no one is yelling to get the disruptive students out of normal classrooms and allow teachers to teach and children to learn.

If you really side with the kids it is time to stop pretending it is the teachers, and instead see that the problems is school systems that do not allow teachers to teach and children to learn.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 30, 2010 4:19 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.
..........................

This articles indicates that state standardized test can not be used as indication of improvements in education since the test results may simply be from the lowering of standards.

The D.C. standardized test results are in total contradiction to national tests and indicate no improvement in education but simply lowering of standards.

Race To The Top is based upon local standardized tests while it is already evident that these tests can not be used to justify claims of improvement in education. The encouraging by the Federal government of states to spend billions for these test are simply a waste of public funds. Billions will be wasted with the effect of simply lowering standards and having meaningless test results.

Yes the characteristics of a top notch public school system are high standards and the use of standardized tests as these are the characteristics of the states that have top scores on the national tests.

But these characteristics developed over time as these states improved public education, and are now simply the outcome of these school systems that worked to improve public education.

Imposing these characteristics on a school system will not in themselves improve education in that school system. Simply dressing up Title 1 poverty public school systems in the clothes of top notch state school systems will not improve education in these school systems.

This is the flaw of Race To The Top. Race To The Top does not contain a single idea to deal with the problems of Title 1 poverty public schools, and Race To The Top will simply waste public funds.

Might as well paint a dilapidated house white and dress it up with styrofoam pillars and call it the White House.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 30, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

"There are far more disruptive students in the Title 1 poverty public schools than even the wildest claims regarding incompetent teachers."

The problem is that the public never gets to see the disruption these children cause. It's not like a CNN or Fox news crew is going to go into a Title 1 school and film disruptive students.

I do wish the public could see what bsallamack and I have seen - the massive disruptive by having (generally anywhere from 1 to 5) disruptive students in the class.

I wish the politicians would spend our money on helping teachers and schools learn how to handle these children instead of wasting it on unproductive standardized testing.

Posted by: educationlover54 | July 30, 2010 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Eddy Harris:

Thanks. I hear ya. I agree with a few points.

But my standard is not: Leave No Teacher Behind.

Of course we want to keep effective/good and better teachers, and save some ineffectives with a reasonable, not excessive, amount of remedial work. (Remedial should not be confused with PD, which every keeper should get; we need far more of it than has been the DCPS norm.)

But the more the viral unionistas and some other teachers cling to every last teacher, the more they bring down the whole system and extend the damage done to our children.

I know you know this, but I will say it again: DCPS is run primarily for the children, not the teachers.

Posted by: axolotl | July 30, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Maryland’s primary RTTT reforms will:

Revise the PreK-12 Maryland State Curriculum, assessments, and accountability system based on the Common Core Standards to assure that all graduates are college- and career-ready. The State Board last week endorsed the draft Common Core Standards.


Build a statewide technology infrastructure that links all data elements with analytic and instructional tools to monitor and promote student achievement.


Redesign the model for preparation, development, retention, and evaluation of teachers and principals.


Fully implement the innovative Breakthrough Center approach for transforming low-performing schools and districts.

Maryland developed its RTTT proposal with unprecedented collaboration and transparency. A draft application was placed on the MSDE website in January inviting commentary, and state officials held more than 80 meetings with local systems, organizations, and teacher’s associations over the past six months. In addition, the State held 40 focus groups with teachers and principals.

To help frame Maryland’s proposal, MSDE called on a top-level committee of educators and leaders. In addition to Dr. Grasmick, Steering Committee members were: James H. DeGraffenreidt, Jr., president, Maryland State Board of Education, and steering committee co-chair; John Ratliff, director of policy, Office of the Governor; Edward Shirley, president, Public School Superintendents of Maryland; Cathy Allen, president, Maryland Association of Boards of Education; Sam Macer, president, Maryland PTA; William E. Kirwan, chancellor, University System of Maryland; June E. Streckfus, Executive Director, Maryland Business Roundtable for Education; Clara B. Floyd, president, Maryland State Education Association.

Also on the committee was Marietta English, president, Baltimore Teachers’ Union; Loretta Johnson, executive vice president, American Federation of Teachers; Judith Walker, president, Maryland Association of Elementary School Principals; Christine Handy-Collins, president, Maryland Association of Secondary School Principals; Tina M. Bjarekull, president, Maryland Independent College and University Association; and H. Clay Whitlow, executive director, Maryland Association of Community Colleges.

Maryland's RTTT appl. creation included those mentioned

***

MSDE will measure educator effectiveness:

For Teachers: 30% of the evaluation based on growth determined by the State and 20% on sutdent growth determined by local school system. Remaining 50% planning, preparation, classroom envionment, instruction and professional responsibilities

Principals: 30% of the evaluation based on student growth determened by the State and 20% on student growth determined by local school system...remaining 50% is determined by 25% based Maryland Instructional Leadership Framework and 25% determined by local school system.

Basically, in Maryland, teacher evaluations are NOT JUST based on test scores.

Posted by: TwoSons | July 30, 2010 5:16 PM | Report abuse

***REPEAT***

Maryland developed its RTTT proposal with unprecedented collaboration and transparency ----------> A draft application was placed on the MSDE website in January inviting commentary, and state officials held more than 80 meetings with local systems, organizations, and teacher’s associations over the past six months. In addition, the State held 40 focus groups with teachers and principals. <---------------------

SO...teachers, principals, and teacher unions are involved in the development and process toward finalization of the RTTT applications...hmmmmmmmm

_________________

Posted by: TwoSons | July 30, 2010 5:24 PM | Report abuse

TwoSons,
Could you provide a link to that information.
I haven't seen it yet.
What you have read sounds like what Maryland will be doing; it is not doing it now.
I also wondered how does the test score component work for non classroom based teachers and those who teach a non tested subject-art, music, PE etc.

Posted by: phillipmarlowe | July 30, 2010 5:28 PM | Report abuse

All information is available on MSDE website.

help yourself...

"MSDE WILL measure educator effectiveness"
is what I typed.

but I didn't type MSDE IS measur[ing] educator effectiveness.

The whole point is that professionals within the education community which include teachers, principals, teacher unions, and educations experts by state (of Maryland anyway) are strong contributors of the submitted RtTT applications by state.

Posted by: TwoSons | July 30, 2010 5:40 PM | Report abuse

Obama blamed teachers for being resistant to his educational plan. Obama has shown his true colors as an elitist. I have lost faith in the president. It is easy to pile on Duncan since he never was a good CEO in Chicago. Duncan never had the requisites to run a school system much less run the federal department of education. Duncan, Mayor Daley and the Chicago Civic Committee came up with a dirty plan to privatize the public school system. It is literally a hatchet job. Duncan never supported the teachers in the classroom. Initiatives to reform education fell for many reasons. The biggest reason is because Duncan never intended to support and help build strong professional in each school. He has no idea what true school reform looks like since he has never been a part of it. Follow the money folks. Follow the money. The RTTT money will not be going into the classrooms to support teachers. The money will be going into computer systems, online web services connected to those computer systems and into online assessment products. You get the picture. All the states give out the same BS about all the things they are doing. They talk about how class sizes are getting bigger. To this folks it is ok to cut teachers as long it as their own children are in either private school sor in a some nice suburban schools. We don't need another Commission to waste time! Obama and Duncan are trying to buy time. Obama and Duncan are actually using the Mayor Daley playbook of threatening and bullying people to get their way. It is unethical and unAmerican. Sorry President Obama, you have lost my vote! Third party anyone?

Posted by: edtechlab | July 30, 2010 5:45 PM | Report abuse

It seems President Obama identified there are "some" teachers that are resistent to change. He also identified and shared appreciation of the hard work that teachers do and the importance of community and parental involvment.

But again, the RtTT applications are primarily developed/designed by members of the professional education community so I'm unsure why some within the same educational community are so displeased.

Posted by: TwoSons | July 30, 2010 5:53 PM | Report abuse

I wish the politicians would spend our money on helping teachers and schools learn how to handle these children instead of wasting it on unproductive standardized testing.

Posted by: educationlover54
..............................
The President yesterday was blasting the leaders of civil rights as lovers of the status quo because they had the effrontery to want safe schools.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 30, 2010 6:09 PM | Report abuse

The whole point is that professionals within the education community which include teachers, principals, teacher unions, and educations experts by state (of Maryland anyway) are strong contributors of the submitted RtTT applications by state.

Posted by: TwoSons
............................
Yes, and those that are so desperate for money that they go to loan sharks are in favor of high interest rates.

And yes Maryland which already has high standards really wants to take the time, effort, and expense of adopting the inferior Common Core State Standards.

Can we stop this pretense that Race To The Top is not "do what we say" and "we might give you some money"?

Posted by: bsallamack | July 30, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Eddy Harris:

Thanks. I hear ya. I agree with a few points.


Posted by: axolotl
........................
We all know your views and your attempts to pretend that you share non mentioned views of others is comical.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 30, 2010 6:25 PM | Report abuse

TwoSons is posting partial applications for Race To The Top money.

This is supposedly proof of the worthiness of the educational ideas of Race To The Top.

By this logic every begging letter sent to a charity is evidence of the worthiness of the charity even if the charity is used for money laundering.

If the Federal government had a grant program for growing oranges in Alaska, based upon the logic of TwoSons, applications for the money of this program would be evidence of the worthiness of the idea of growing oranges in Alaska.

Applications from states for Race To The Top only indicate that states are desperate for funds for public education.

In fact money is the only reason states apply for grants from the Federal government.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 30, 2010 6:39 PM | Report abuse

It seems President Obama identified there are "some" teachers that are resistent to change. He also identified and shared appreciation of the hard work that teachers do and the importance of community and parental involvment.

Posted by: Two Sons
.............................
I can only guess that this is the interpretation of the President's
"Surely we can agree that even as we applaud teachers for their hard work, we need to make sure they’re delivering results in the classroom."

I will repeat that I do admire the skill of the President to talk out of both sides of his mouth at the same time. It is a gift.

And people believe I do not appreciate the obvious skills of the President.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 30, 2010 6:46 PM | Report abuse

Actually, the Maryland State Department of Education will implement the RtTT application directives with or without winning financial reward of the same.

A great deal of time, financial resources, effort, etc. contributed by educational professionals will not just sit on the shelf. That's just not Dr. Grasmick MO.

This language is also within the MSDE website...help yourself

Posted by: TwoSons | July 30, 2010 6:54 PM | Report abuse

I am really impressed by President.
"Surely we can agree that even as we applaud teachers for their hard work, we need to make sure they’re delivering results in the classroom."

I remember a top salesman and the need to prevent bursting out laughing in anything you tell a customer.

I do not know about intellect and all the other supposed traits of the President, but he can certainly keep a straight face.

I would be bursting out with uncontrollable laughing if I had to give this line of the President in a sales pitch.

A real gift.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 30, 2010 6:58 PM | Report abuse

I am really impressed by President.
"Surely we can agree that even as we applaud teachers for their hard work, we need to make sure they’re delivering results in the classroom."

I remember a top salesman and the need to prevent bursting out laughing in anything you tell a customer.

I do not know about intellect and all the other supposed traits of the President, but he can certainly keep a straight face.

I would be bursting out with uncontrollable laughing if I had to give this line of the President in a sales pitch.

A real gift.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 30, 2010 6:59 PM | Report abuse

Do the math...although RtTT total allocation is a very large figure, once allocated to the states that win, it actually isn't.

That is why Dr. Grasmick et al designed the MSDE RtTT with education professionals from diverse ares within the education community and from diverse areas of the state of Maryland.

With or without RtTT award, MSDE will move forward.

Have a great weekend BSall

Posted by: TwoSons | July 30, 2010 7:00 PM | Report abuse

Actually, the Maryland State Department of Education will implement the RtTT application directives with or without winning financial reward of the same.

Posted by: TwoSons
.................................
It cost a great deal of time, effort, and money to implement a new standard. I do not believe that Maryland which already has high standards are going to spend the money to adopt the inferior Common Core State Standards if they do not win money from Race To The Top.

Do you really see a state that is desperate for money for public education wasting it on an inferior standard?

Posted by: bsallamack | July 30, 2010 7:18 PM | Report abuse

Do the math...although RtTT total allocation is a very large figure, once allocated to the states that win, it actually isn't.

Have a great weekend BSall

Posted by: TwoSons
...........................
For each state that wins there will be probably be 50 percent of the amount that the state will have full discretion in spending.

No state applies if there is not an amount of full discretion in spending unless the money is earmarked for an expense that the state would normally pay.

Applying for these grants is expensive and states do not apply unless there is something to gain.

A state would apply for a grant to study at a public university the mating ritual of the Amoeba which do not mate if it meant Federal dollars. Just the lab equipment that would be covered by the grant could be used elsewhere.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 30, 2010 7:31 PM | Report abuse

Twosons,
However, over in Indiana, Mr. Tony Bennett (not the renowned one), state superintendent of education, wanted the teachers and their unions to sign onto his RTTT application WITHOUT seeing it. He didn't want other states to see and copy what he wanted to do.

The teachers said NO, so he refused to submit an application.

And here's the link to MD RTTT:
http://www.marylandpublicschools.org/MSDE/programs/race_to_the_top

There is no mention of how non classroom teachers of non tested subjects will be evaluated by student test scores.

I've contacted MSDE, but no one has an answer to that question.

Posted by: phillipmarlowe | July 30, 2010 8:39 PM | Report abuse

However, over in Indiana, Mr. Tony Bennett (not the renowned one), state superintendent of education, wanted the teachers and their unions to sign onto his RTTT application WITHOUT seeing it. He didn't want other states to see and copy what he wanted to do.

The teachers said NO, so he refused to submit an application.
Posted by: phillipmarlowe
...........................
I can not show you my plan as others may copy it and win the prize instead of me.

Since you will not sign without me showing the you my plan I will not submit an application even though this means that now there is no possibility I can win the prize and I have nothing to do with my great plan and others will win the prize instead of me.

Sounds like the superintendent has strange logic.

Of course there are probably some Americans that believe that people should agree and sign documents that they can not see. I hope that these Americans will post their emails here since I have a sure fire money making plan that I can not show you but would like you to sign your agreement with my sure bet winning plan.

Please include your telephone number and the amount of money in your bank account.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 30, 2010 9:10 PM | Report abuse

@twosons--Not all MD jurisdictions signed on to the state's RTTT application. Both Montgomery County and Frederick County refused. Montgomery Co. is the largest jurisdiction in the state and their complaint dealt mainly with the state's evaluation system. MCPS has a comprehensive evaluation system which you can read about here: www.gse.harvard.edu/~ngt/par/

@phillipmarlowe--As a music teacher, I share the same concerns about evaluation for teachers of non tested subjects. We were told sometime during the application process that the state would be developing tests for ALL content areas. This concerns me greatly as there is no consistency across the state regarding access to students for teachers in these areas. For example--I teach elementary general music in Montgomery County and I see my classes once a week for 45 minutes. The next county over (where I live), elementary students have music 2 or 3 times a week for a total of 90 minutes. Standardized tests for me would basically take away most of my teaching time for some classes whereas my colleague in the next county would have much more time. As it is, my Monday classes miss 25% of their instruction simply because of the school calendar. I assess my students regularly but the majority of my assessments are performance based as that is what is more appropriate for my content area. Since state tests would have to be graded outside of the school setting (by a testing company) they would be of the written variety which means more time would be spent preparing for them rather than teacher students to actually make music. The students would basically be deprived of the type of instruction that makes music so valuable to begin with.

That possibility that this might actually happen is incredibly disheartening to someone who has spent the last 34 years working on how best to educate my students effectively. To move away from what I know to be effective teaching methods to teaching test prep would definitely move this National Board Certified educator right to retirement.

Posted by: musiclady | July 30, 2010 9:33 PM | Report abuse

We were told sometime during the application process that the state would be developing tests for ALL content areas.

Since state tests would have to be graded outside of the school setting (by a testing company)

Posted by: musiclady
............................
These comments are for Maryland which scores fairly high on national tests and indicates the insanity that is being proposed by Race To The Top.

Yes, there are significant problems in reading and math in the Title 1 poverty public schools but instead of simply addressing these problems, the Federal government wants states to use expensive standardized testing in all subjects.

There are no intentions of the Federal government to enact legislation to bear the yearly costs while the Federal government is simply burdening states with non essential costs in public education when states are having problems in meeting essential costs such as the salary of teachers.

Standardized testing by states have already been discredited in New York and Washington D.C. where test results vary greatly from the valid national tests that are considered the only true measure of public education in the nation. Will any purpose be served by expensive state test that have already been shown to be a Race To The Bottom?

The national policies that the Federal government are trying to set with Race To The Top are not the policies of states that lead the nation in public education based upon the national tests, but rather the policies of the Washington D.C. which is ranked as the worse school district based upon national tests.

The President may be able to use Race To The Top for reelection in 2012, if he is a candidate, just as George W. Bush was able to use No Child Left Behind in 2004.

It is apparent now though that No Child Left Behind has only damaged public education in this nation, and it is also apparent that Race To The Top will only damage public education in this nation.

This President in the past has criticized No Child Left Behind for forcing additional costs on states that should have been borne by the Federal government.

Currently with Race To The Top this President is now forcing additional costs on states that should be borne by the Federal government.

There is no proposed legislation for the Federal government to bear the yearly costs of extensive and expensive state standardized tests and the computer systems to evaluate teachers on the results of these test.

There is no proposed legislation for the Federal government to bear the considerable costs of implementing the Common Core State Standards.

This President with Race To The Top is simply doing what he once accused the former President of doing by forcing national education policies on states without having the Federal government being required to pay the yearly costs of these policies.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 30, 2010 11:16 PM | Report abuse

(In 2-3 parts)
Valerie, you began: “It's a little hard to make sense of what happened this week in the world of education, but, let's give it a fast try:

You’re right…it is hard to make sense of it… but unfortunately your “try” failed. And it’s not your fault.

So I hope you’ll allow me the extra space to try to make sense of that same week and your sense-making “try” by offering what I continue to see as the missing sense-making frame for the Race-to-the-Top.

For me, it starts, as sense-making usually does, by asking some “Why” questions.

• Why does it seem to make so little sense to experienced observers of the conditions of schooling like you that you wonder if he really “reads this stuff carefully before he says it?”

• Why do you think that his belief that “the single most important thing we’ve done is to launch an initiative called Race to the Top” is “terribly misguided?”

• Why when he says “school's problems run so deep" that “something needs to be done differently”… “that better assessments and the higher standards and a more challenging curriculum are not enough…” do those who hear that think he’s just talking about “urban” schools?

• Why do you think it’s not similar to his health care and economic reforms?

My own “answers:”

• As a national strategy that in the end must impact the quality of learning and teaching in ALL classrooms, the Race-to-the-Top makes total sense … but right now only for those who have no choice but to keep that strategic scope as the frame that gives meaning to it’s tactics.

Obama and Duncan are failing to communicate that connection. That’s why the words seem to have different meanings for them… and that difference makes all the difference.

• From that perspective, it makes sense to start with states because their policies and practices create the “structures” and “processes” that in the end must support the development of the learning capacities of EACH child regardless of what classroom, in what school, in what district they are in.
It also makes sense of their unstated belief that the only “vehicle” that can win the Race-to-the-Top is the school system or district.

That’s because the fundamental unit of “turnaround” is not the “school”… but the school “system” … one that has the sustained capacity to develop EACH child’s learning capacity through a collaboration of adults who share responsibility for that development, and who have the information and support to fulfill their personal accountabilities in doing it.

• So why is it so hard to communicate the nature of a strategy that in Obama/Duncan’s minds addresses how to fix both the “Forest” and the “Trees?” That will make it possible to address “results,” and development of the “capacity to produce those results,” at the same time.
( see next posting)

Posted by: lewrhodes | July 31, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

(2nd part)
A clue for me was Obama’s words when he said " school's problems run so deep" that “something needs to be done differently”….that better assessments and the higher standards and a more challenging curriculum are not enough.” And then how those who heard him thought he was just talking about “urban” schools.

The civil rights critics who titled their report “Framework for Providing All Students an Opportunity to Learn" had the idea right, but unfortunately were seeing it as a need only for “some” children, not “all.”

What Obama actually was addressing is the truth of Peter Senge’s observation:

“…Many confronting the deeper nature of our problems cry out that the solution lies in “fixing education.” But you cannot “fix” a structure that was never designed for learning in the first place.”

The Race-to-the-Top represents a way to go to the “deep” roots of the current structures that are not addressing the unique needs of EACH child, and change those structures using external rewards to make the internal changes that sustained transformation requires. We know it works because the “will” and the “way” are already in the schools, but untapped by the structures we’ve accepted as the “work” of schools.

• I could go on to point out how the elements of the current strategy actually do make sense when viewed in the actual social and economic context that is the starting point for the “race,” but I’m not sure this is what you want your blog used for.

I’ll just close with what I see as its connection to the other “systemic” reforms he undertook in the first year against the advice of just about every pundit and policymaker.

He identified at least three urgent Crisis areas where the underlying scope and nature of “felt pain” suggested the only alternative was a systemic solution. A “solution” that could match the scope and nature of that “crisis.” These were Health Care, the economy, and education. And, in each, they launched an approach to getting started now driven by the urgency of the moment.

How are these three “urgent crises” similar, and/or different?

(see post 3)

Posted by: lewrhodes | July 31, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

(part 3)
• At the federal level, major initiatives were launched to deal with each through the political system. The approaches to health care and the economy, gave us a clearer picture of the complexities involved in that policy making process. In education though, the process has been focused through the Race-to-the-Top strategy that bypassed policymaking.
• In each, academics and some policymakers had long acknowledged their systemic problems, but now they were causing pain and anxiety for citizens who up till now had been satisfied with the ways the present systems seemed to meet their needs before. They had adequate health care, or their kids went to “good” schools. But now it was becoming increasingly apparent that the old ways of “doing business” – and the thinking behind these “business models” -- no longer seemed to work. Dealing with the “whole “system” seemed to be the only alternative left—although it seemed like a long-range, and “impractical,” goal.
• But for some, at the other end of each system, there was Urgency. A “do something now” imperative, based on real “data” and felt pain, by the people (in education, parents and teachers) whose measure was an individual child, that reduced the range of “possible someday“ choices to what can be done with the resources and time available to them today… and before things get worse.
In two of the systems there was a dual press. Pressure at the “top” when leaders recognize the scope and connected nature of the problem, and at the “bottom” when people experience its effects today in no, or inadequate, health care, loss of jobs, foreclosed homes, etc.
And here the similarities stop. For although Education seems similar, it has several surface differences -- and one “deep” critical one -- that influence understanding of the urgency of today’s crisis, and therefore potentially can doom any hope of dealing with it.
• Systemic causes outside the school are blamed for the crisis conditions – e.g., preparation programs, parents, policies. Some well-meaning attempts to fix schools apply their resources there….with no sustainable effects.
• Systemic causes inside the school also are blamed for the crisis conditions -- teachers-as-unions, administrators-as-bureaucracies. Some “seemingly-logical” attempts to fix schools aim there… again with no sustainable effects.
• Moreover, since the “felt pain” is seen primarily in “urban education,” that becomes the natural priority for attention and resources. This too fragments attempts at “systemic” reform since the only “sustainable system” in public education is the school district.
• But now the scope of urgency is changing because of the economic crisis. The “pain” is being felt not just in “urban” schools, but in all communities, and especially by those most concerned with the individual children whose lives they directly touch – parents and teachers.

{Running out of space again but hope it added a perspective of value for your sense-making)

Posted by: lewrhodes | July 31, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse

I think... Ive got it!

Teach for America. President for America.

Obama IS Teach for America! He is like a TFA whatchamacallit - recruit? corps member?

What with all the fluffing of his "community organizer" stint (flogged throughout the campaign to rope in more progressive, activist voters), he is, at bottom, another corporate-tilting elitist politician who knows how to use his smarts and smooth talk to climb that ladder (skipping quite a few rungs, I might add). And that includes using his community organizer time in da hood, to move on up, just as most TFAers use their pop-in-drop-out stints in da classroom (in da hood) to fluff their resumes and skip-dee-do up that ladder.

Stepping stone.

Despite his lofty "deep thinker" words, his serious cadence and tone, he is as clueless as are many of those ed debs... and as unfit to do the job he is now doing, despite all the "good" he did for 3 years - guess 3 is good for a TFAer! - South Side.

Although I voted for him, it was with reservations. When he became president, I soured on him more, due to his sell-outs/dealings on many issues - healthcare, drilling, appointments - and now this RttT mess in overdrive. There were hints during the campaign that he'd be a risk for teachers, eg, his support of merit pay. As I have come to say: I knew he wasnt that good, I just didnt think he would be THIS bad! (I see now that during one debate w/McCain he said Rhee was a "wonderful new superintendent!")

That vote is solely past tense, that's it: I voted for him. I will not vote for him. He hasnt met "value-added" criteria. His approval ratings are lower than last year. Fired.

Teach for America. President for America.

PS - TFA people: Apologies to the decent ones amongst you. I speak in generalities here, and I know some of you are much better than that.

Posted by: NYCee | July 31, 2010 10:20 PM | Report abuse

One more thing re TFA, now that Ive had this brain-spark -- perhaps shared by me, myself, and I alone -- that Obama is very TFA...

Although many eduwonks here may already have read this, I just came across it yesterday and ... WOW.

For those who havent, or would like a refresher, I'm talking about The Daily Howler's scathing observations of a Charlie Rose interview of Teach for America founder and CEO, Wendy Kopp.

It features her stunning black hole of solutions for, oh, just what she's become rich and famous for - how to successfully get low-performing kids in low socio-economic neighborhoods to excel in school. You know, the HUGE and ABUNDANT success stories (like Ms Rhee's - whoops! no paper trail!) born of her uniquely superior recipe for success...

Stunning.

The title: "Special report: Worst ever?"

http://www.dailyhowler.com/dh071008.shtml

(In 4 parts of worst!)


Posted by: NYCee | July 31, 2010 10:39 PM | Report abuse

• As a national strategy that in the end must impact the quality of learning and teaching in ALL classrooms, the Race-to-the-Top makes total sense … but right now only for those who have no choice but to keep that strategic scope as the frame that gives meaning to it’s tactics.
Posted by: lewrhodes
...............................
The old they are fixing something that others are not aware of argument, and if only others could see this they would understand.

I am one who simply sees Race To The Top as political expediency for reelection in 2012.

Let us assume that there is a grand design in Race To The Top.

This design is based upon standardized testing and supposedly improving public education by evaluating teachers based upon test results.

Currently this is impossible and will always be impossible given the diverse elements of skills and capabilities in classroom.

If classrooms had only one level of students for a teacher, the effect of the teacher could be measured. But one would not require expensive tests or computer systems. This could be viewed as the Chinese approach.

Even the Chinese are seeing the problem of students and test that measure the ability to memorize facts, since students that can perform very well on these tests but not think. One winds up with educated parrots.

Race To The Top contains no new ideas. The lack of new ideas does not indicate a grand design but usually simply the cobbling together of rather common place ideas.

One does not claim the design of a building is revolutionary when it is simply a cobbling of rather common place ideas.

lewrhodes has simply stated there is a grand design but has not given any element to show this grand design.

Yes he has told us we should see the forest and the trees.

Is is argument any different from one up on the Emperors clothes. There is a grand design that others can not see, but those who can see it understand how great it is?

If lewrhodes wants us to see this mythical grand design of Race To The Top he should start enumerating and describing the elements of this grand design instead of keeping on insisting that it is there.

Race To The Top to my mind is simply political expediency as was NCLB.

I do not believe in the tooth fairy and I do not believe in grand designs that can not be described. Sound like charlatans to me.

Posted by: bsallamack | July 31, 2010 11:39 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: lewrhodes
..............................
One other thing that goes against Race To The Top is that it is proposed by the President and Duncan.

Anything proposed by these two requires close scrutiny.

As far as Duncan I remember the "class room management", "teach to the test" and "data driven" nonsense.

With the President there was his the decision to send 30,000 troops to Afghanistan and do nation building.

I read the strategy of the General that brought about this change in policy. The strategy was totally flawed. The President should have taken the simple out of listening to Vice President Biden to continue our role as fighting terrorists.

Last year I was finally able to understand this President where strange decisions were being made, while obvious steps were not taken.

Finally it dawned on me that the puzzle fitted when one viewed all the actions of this President and his administration as simply the campaign for reelection in 2012.

There is no mystical design in Race To The Top, and this President is only concerned with reelection in 2012.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 1, 2010 12:09 AM | Report abuse

When 81% Passing Suddenly Becomes 18%
New York Times

At some schools, the drop was breathtaking. At Public School 85 in the Bronx, known as the Great Expectations School, there was a literal reversal in fortune, with proficiency on the third-grade math test flipping from 81 percent to 18 percent. At the main campus of the Harlem Promise Academy, one of the city’s top-ranked charter schools, proficiency in third-grade math dropped from 100 percent to 56 percent.

In New York City, charter schools, a touchstone of school reform, had been outperforming traditional schools on state tests. But due to steep losses, they are now even with traditional schools on the English test, though they maintained an advantage in math. Statewide, the proficiency rate for charter schools is now one point lower in math and 10 points lower in English than at traditional schools.

Much of the city’s progress in reducing the achievement gap between minority and white students was eroded by the new numbers, revealing that more black and Hispanic students had been barely passing under the old standards.
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Recalibrate scoring of state tests in New York to reality, and suddenly the evidence of the effectiveness of all of the "reform" elements of Race To The Top vanish into the air.

Public charter schools are no more effective in improving education than public schools.

State standardized tests are not effective in either evaluating improvements in education or evaluating teachers.

The common state standard that New York has had for decades is not sufficient to improve public education.

Time to start looking at what hinders education in the Title 1 poverty public schools in urban areas and develop targeted policies and ideas regarding the real problems instead of the pie in the sky ideas of Race To The Top that have already been shown to be ineffective.

Posted by: bsallamack | August 1, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

When I read the two specific responses to my suggestion that the Race-to-the-Top was part of larger, but poorly clarified, strategy I felt like the boy in the old story who when asked why he stayed in a room surrounded by rising levels of manure responded –“Because I know there’s a pony in here somewhere.”

That’s because I saw indicators that both NYCee and bsallamack were not “BS”-ing, but were looking at the same conditions I was. The difference was that I was talking about an underlying strategy and they were talking about the visible tactical ways it was being implemented. That’s a natural response when those are the only “dots,” and they aren’t strategically connected in a way that makes sense of them.

Here’s what they said:
...“Race To The Top contains no new ideas. The lack of new ideas does not indicate a grand design but usually simply the cobbling together of rather common place ideas. ….One does not claim the design of a building is revolutionary when it is simply a cobbling of rather common place ideas.”

...lewrhodes has simply stated there is a grand design but has not given any element to show this grand design.”
...Yet he has told us we should see the forest and the trees.
...Is his argument any different from one up on the Emperors clothes. There is a grand design that others can not see, but those who can see it understand how great it is?

...If lewrhodes wants us to see this mythical grand design of Race To The Top he should start enumerating and describing the elements of this grand design instead of keeping on insisting that it is there.”

I’m really glad they brought up those specific metaphors because I’ve used them to help make my point (see “Right Clothes, Wrong Emperor” -
http://www.sabusense.com/?p=425

…and for the Forest/Trees see “New Understanding: The Complementarity of Policy and Practice”
http://www.sabusense.com/?page_id=146

Both these postings can be found on my metaphor-driven web site -www.sabusense.com- which attempts to make fundamental sense of the diverse “answers” to the issues and problems of schooling today that the “Answer Sheet” generates each day. It does this by offering a way to rethink the core “question” we’re all trying to “answer.”

And it’s through this “lens” that I suggest one can see a “grand design” of the Race-to-the-Top that “makes sense.”

I welcome anyone who, after checking these out, wants to join me in this sense-making journey… or wants to hear more about the “grand design” I see underlying Race-to-the-Top.

Posted by: lewrhodes | August 4, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

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