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Posted at 2:55 PM ET, 10/ 9/2010

The bankrupt 'school reform manifesto' of Rhee, Klein, etc.

By Valerie Strauss

There are so many things wrong with the new “school reform manifesto” signed by 16 school district chiefs -- including New York’s Joel Klein and Washington’s Michelle Rhee -- and published in The Washington Post that it is hard to know where to start.

There’s the intellectual dishonesty and scapegoating: It starts by saying that everybody is responsible for improving schools but then proceeds to bash teachers, and doesn’t say a single thing about the responsibility of superintendents.

After eight years as the czar of New York City’s public schools, Klein might want to stop blaming other people for his failures.

There's historical myopia: The document says kids are just sitting around waiting for adults to do something, without noting that adults have been pushing eight years for test-centric reform favored by many of these superintendents with disastrous results.

There’s misinformation:

As President Obama has emphasized, the single most important factor determining whether students succeed in school is not the color of their skin or their ZIP code or even their parents’ income -- it is the quality of their teacher.
Wrong. Research actually shows that the home life of students is the single biggest determinant of school achievement. School chiefs can ignore it all they want, but that doesn’t change the facts. (Of course this is no excuse for leaving lousy teachers in schools, but there is equally no excuse for ignoring outside factors and blaming good teachers for things beyond their control.)


The document, published in The Post's Outlook section and available here, makes the same tired call for more charter schools, the end of teacher tenure, etc., etc. -- all change initiatives guaranteed not to work.

We’ve heard it before, but, apparently, these superintendents felt the need to repeat it now, apparently to piggyback on the publicity of the wrong-headed education film “Waiting for Superman,” and the defeat in D.C.'s primary of Rhee’s political patron, Mayor Adrian Fenty.

The manifesto was initiated by Klein and Rhee, who gave it to Michael Casserly, executive director of the nonprofit Council of the Great City Schools. He then worked to persuade other schools bosses to sign on, according to a knowledgeable source.

The Washington-based council is a coalition of 65 of the nation’s largest urban public school systems and the only national organization exclusively representing the needs of these schools. Its mission, according to the Web site, is to promote the cause of urban schools and to advocate for inner-city students through legislation, research and media relations.

The organization also provides a network for school districts sharing common problems to exchange information, and to collectively address new challenges as they emerge in order to deliver the best possible education for urban youths.

Casserly, who has led the organization since 1992, is well-known in school reform circles, if not to the general public. I asked Casserly why he helped Klein win support for the document, and he responded by e-mail: “Part of the job.”

The document uses jargon that effectively calls for linking standardized test scores to teacher evaluation, a scheme that several recent studies concluded is ineffective in improving student achievement.

That doesn’t stop today’s reformers, who are obsessed with “data” and with using business practices to run schools, which are really civic institutions that should be operated on a civic model. Says the document:

“Let’s stop ignoring basic economic principles of supply and demand and focus on how we can establish a performance-driven culture in every American school.”

Um, don’t most businesses fail?

One of the signatories, Andres Alonso, the chief executive of the Baltimore City Public Schools, just signed an important agreement with the teachers union that calls for multiple measures to evaluate teachers, though this wasn’t acknowledged in the manifesto, leaving it a mystery as to why Alonso signed on.

You can read the rest of the nonsense here and come to your own conclusion.

Follow my blog every day by bookmarking washingtonpost.com/answersheet. And for admissions advice, college news and links to campus papers, please check out our Higher Education page at washingtonpost.com/higher-ed. Bookmark it!

By Valerie Strauss  | October 9, 2010; 2:55 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. Schools, School turnarounds/reform  | Tags:  baltimore contract, baltimore schools, council of great city schools, joel klein, klein and rhee, michael casserly, michelle rhee, reform document, reform manifesto, school manifesto, teachers, teachers and assessment, washington post  
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Comments

There is a considerable field of research that points to teacher quality as the most important factor in closing the achievement gap. As a teacher, we've got to believe this whether its true or not. Otherwise, we'd just as well handout a photocopy and sit up front and read the paper (I only had one or two of those teachers growing up). I'm not sure why you are so confident in concluding that Obama's statement is flat out wrong.

Posted by: mmccabe4724 | October 9, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Wow, someone intelligent at the Post! What's Fred Hiatt and the rest of the Rhee-Rhee gang going to do with you?

Posted by: klondie30 | October 9, 2010 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Hogwash. Klein, Rhee, Gates, and all these other so-called reformers are pathetic.

Yeah... there needs to be some changes but they are so off base it is shameful. If I could and knew how and was smart enough I'd sue 'em for perpetrating a lie which has and will lead to educational negligence for hundreds of thousands of current and future students.

Let me give 2 simple examples so far this year:

The second day of school a little first grader in the class next to mine took the wrong backpack home. When the girl, whose backpack was mistakenly taken home realized it, told the teacher, the teacher called the mother of the girl who had taken the wrong backpack as the 2nd mother wanted to go pick up her daughter's backpack...so they could work on their first homework assignment together.

The mother of the first girl said she didn't know anything about it, wouldn't get home until after 9:00 p.m., and her daughter never checked her backpack anyway.
Nice start to first grade.

Second example: This week, a 5th grader arrived late to my class because he had been held back in his class for acting out. He started acting out in my class and one of his peer's said he was trying to get suspended.

The parents of these kids are totally disconnected from their child's education. What are these children's potential for success? In both examples, the parents are not accepting responsibility for learning.

In neither of these examples is any teacher at fault. What is Klein's, Rhee's, or Gates' solution to the problem of non-supporting, disengaged parents? Where do they fit into their model for public education?

Posted by: ilcn | October 9, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

I hope Vince Gray will rehire all the lazy teachers Michelle Rhee has laid off, that he will skip all efforts introducing merit pay and that he will just reverse everything Michelle Rhee has ever done. This will definitely open new horizons for the American school system and the American people.

Posted by: serenade88 | October 9, 2010 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Valerie, I'm a teacher, so I would like to ask these "reform" superintendents what actions they really have taken to put teachers into the classrooms with students in those 65 of the largest urban school districts.

The "Council of Great City Schools" is nothing but a marketing association of for-profit vendors of "education reform". The Washington Post Corporation is a major player among those for-profit vendors, and does a profitable business with Michelle Rhee's district.

Please look at the role of public superintendents in this virtual charter school chain scam:

http://www.kaplanonlineschools.com/district/solutions

Open the link! This is important. A shadowy for-profit edubusiness promises corrupt superintendents it will assign an accountant to help them "capture the per-diem payments" of public findin, for students "who never even walk trough the door."

It promises to open an instant virtual charter school, with the "look and feel of a district school", concealing its whole for-profit operation from the taxpayers it is bilking.

The corporate liars are your employers, the Washington Post Corporation. "Kaplan K12" is a separate arm from the "Kaplan Higher Education" for-profit. The Washington Post editors have disclosed their interest in Kaplan Higher Education, and hired a majot lobbying firm to fight federal regulation of its fraudulent practices.

They have never disclosed their financial interests in for-profit education reform.

Over three weeks ago, I challenged Jay Mathews to discuss or defend the Post Corporation's for-profit expansion in the education services it promotes through its editorial and reporting activities.

I sent Jay links to the Kaplan K12 venture expansion last summer. I sent him a link to my Daily Kos blog on the topic. Mathews said he had been unaware of these activities.

He didn't want to address the question himself, but said he had turned it over to Howard Kurtz. As you know, Kurtz has now quit the Post to "pursue entrepreneurial interests" on the emerging Daily Beast media corporation.

instead of speaking out, Jay invited me to write a guest blog. I did. Jay promised to publish it (a couple of times), but has not done so.

Please, Valerie, respond one way or the other. If Post education reporters think there is no conflicy, I ask you to say so oout loud, so the people at least know who the players are in this sorry drama.

Posted by: mport84 | October 9, 2010 6:09 PM | Report abuse

Here's Obama's full quote:

"The whole premise of Race to the Top is that teachers are the single most important factor in a child's education from the moment they step into the classroom."

http://m.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/07/29/president-obama-education-status-quo-morally-inexcusable

Get that? The writers of this manifesto, supposedly educational leaders and honorable people, left out part of the quote that significantly changes the meaning: “FROM THE MOMENT THEY STEP INTO THE CLASSROOM.”

In other words, once the kids are in school, classroom teachers are more important than other factors in the school (e.g., principals, books, equipment.) The President didn’t address factors outside of school and didn’t imply that teachers are more important than all other factors in children’s lives (e.g., home life, socio-economic factors, health safety)

These educational experts, instead of trying to inform readers, are actively trying to mislead them and give people false information.

They should be made to publicly apologize.

Posted by: efavorite | October 9, 2010 6:17 PM | Report abuse

I mean really, didn’t any of the Manifesto signers ever write a term paper?

Here are three more references to research on the importance of having high-quality teachers. All are from respected academic research organizations and all make it abundantly clear they are referring to “in school” effects only.

“An increasing preponderance of educational research has reached the conclusion that teacher effectiveness is the most important in-school factor influencing student achievement” http://www.brookings.edu/opinions/2009/0515_obama_budget_berube.aspx ..

“Educational research continues to give us clear and convincing proof that the single most powerful in-school factor for student achievement gains is the quality of the teacher.” http://www.temple.edu/lss/fs_midad&snetwork.htm

“Teacher quality matters. In fact, it is the most important school-related factor influencing student achievement” http://www.epi.org/publications/entry/books_teacher_quality_execsum_intro/

Posted by: efavorite | October 9, 2010 6:50 PM | Report abuse

Preach it, Valerie! Keep singing out the truth, loud and strong. I appreciate your work!

Posted by: willoughbyspit | October 9, 2010 7:26 PM | Report abuse

I've been reading your blog on a regular basis for a while, and also following what the reformers have to say as well. My conclusion: they're clearly on the right path, you've been on the wrong one for quite a while.

Posted by: frankb1 | October 9, 2010 7:44 PM | Report abuse

One chancellor down, one to go.

New York City Chancellor Joel Klink*, I sincerely want you to enjoy your warm fuzzy delusions about "Waiting For Superman" and the power of your "manifesto" because they may not last very long. I mean, did you hear what happened to Michelle Rhee? She's plays a "chancellor" just like you right? And she was one of the stars of your movie right?

Excuse my French, but damn Joel, she didn't even make to the big movie premier, before she was turned into a quivering bowl of jello standing next to the man who will fire her soon in DC. If you haven't heard about Sept. 14th in Washington, that mayor that Bill Gates put in charge of the public school system, Adrian Fenty, got stomped in a re-election bid. I mean he got beat like a hedge fund manager trying to steal something from Sen. Perkins there in the Big Apple! Go figure. Rhee, the "warrior woman", campaigned for him and everything.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't she like to mouth the same hypocritical blather you do about education being "the Civil Rights struggle of our generation" while overseeing a thoroughly racist public school system. You may want to retool that Newt Gingrich-ish slogan, paragon of the Civil Rights Movement that he is. It looks like people may be on to you folks. Rhee kind of made it easy. Just before the election she entertained her new teachers with a story about taping the mouths of Black children shut to keep them quiet. According to her, there was blood when the tape came off, but for some reason she wasn't arrested. Would have been off to the rubber room under your leadership right? And I know you are slicker than Michelle, all that CEO training, and you don't have any classroom stories to tell, because you've never set foot in a classroom, except to visit one of your precious charter schools and say hello to Eva (Moskowitz) or Geoff (Canada).

But I digress, because I just have to tell you the most startling thing of all. As a civil rights crusader, you need to really put your ear up close to this essay now. D.C. is broken up into eight or nine wards for purposes of voting. In the wards where white voters are concentrated, four out of five supported Adrian Fenty. I mean Joel, those people love themselves some Bill Gates, some quisling mayor, and a chancellor who will tape those Black kids mouths shut and take a broom to the teachers. But listen, in the African-American wards, where parents actually have their children in the DC public schools, and where the Black teachers replaced by white Teach For America missionaries live, they voted four out of five to run Michelle Rhee out of town!

Joel, you do know that Superman is fictional character? Ironically, he was a D.C. Comics creation. Seems like an omen maybe. You might want to check and see if there's a seat for you on Bloomberg's plane to Bermuda when Superman doesn't show up.

Posted by: natturner | October 9, 2010 8:52 PM | Report abuse

Interesting that they consider "seat time" to be archaic. They would prefer students to take courses on line. That might work for some students in some subjects in the higher grades. I don't think it would resolve anything in grades K-10.

When I taught foreign language, every single day the students were learning something new and practicing in class. If the students missed a class it was very hard for them to understand the concepts we went over.

In my opinion, the online courses would not work for music, foreign language, math or science, because those courses all require students to practice daily and build up their knowledge base and skills in the subject. They need teacher interaction to guide and correct them and keep them focused on what is important.

If the teachers don't need any academic credentials, then why have school at all?

This article has conflicting ideas. One is that teachers are important. Then, we are told that teacher experience and academic credentials are "archaic". The idea seems to be that experienced teachers are bad and that life long learning for teachers is wrong.

Posted by: celestun100 | October 9, 2010 9:27 PM | Report abuse

I agree that ineffective teachers of any age should not be in the classroom. On the other hand, it is difficult to be "effective" with every student, every year.

I also agree that new teachers need to be able to get in to have a chance and that there should be incentives for teachers to stay in schools. Usually administrative support is crucial.

It appears that these superintendents do not respect teachers and want to blame teachers for all urban problems.

It does appear that they need to cut their budgets and have to let the really good teachers go, so they are going to try on line courses and inexperienced, non-credentialed teachers instead. Too bad they cannot just be honest about the money saving aspects of what they are doing. Instead they have to bad-mouth teachers.

I think I would like their proposals if they weren't bad mouthing experienced teachers. It just makes me angry to hear that. Teachers who are experienced are the ones who have been saving kids for all these years and now they are being disrespected by a bunch of millionaires.

Posted by: celestun100 | October 9, 2010 9:39 PM | Report abuse

How do you keep your job considering how the wapo has become the the new textbook example of yellow journalism?

Posted by: mamoore1 | October 9, 2010 9:45 PM | Report abuse

I clicked on the link about Casserly. Would someone smarter than me explain why the state department pays this guy to do a job that has nothing to do with foreign affairs? This guy need to be fired asap!!!!

Posted by: mamoore1 | October 9, 2010 10:01 PM | Report abuse

Valerie is my HERO!!!!
The Washington Post has really gone down the tubes.
But I will keep going to my DCPS school, doing the best I can each day, to educate THE WHOLE CHILD. Even though they try to intimidate me almost daily -- and I'm HIGHLY EFFECTIVE.
The truth will out.

Posted by: wakeupfolks99 | October 9, 2010 10:20 PM | Report abuse

Valerie, you are so right. This "reform" will fail because it's based on a false premise and does not have the support of the American people. And when it does (fail) I hope you will be recognized as the first journalist to report the truth.

I don't mean to imply that other journalists were lying, but I do think many of them were just passing along the same misinformation without checking the facts. For example, many of them have been repeating the false claim that the teacher is the most important factor in a child's education. Actually she is the most important factor in a child's SCHOOLING. That is very different from saying she's the most important factor in a child's education. That honor still belongs to Mom and Dad. This critical difference has important implications for the kinds of approaches we take in our efforts to help low-achieving children. What would help more: Offering the child high-quality child care and preschool for his first five years of life, or giving his teachers merit pay in grade school?

Thanks again for doing a great job.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | October 9, 2010 10:28 PM | Report abuse

I find what Klein had written the beginning of desperation. He, and Rhee both realize that the curtain has been pulled back and all we see is a little person with no power at the controls.

One more thing. All this talk about the needs of the inner city is staring to bore me. Why isn't anyone looking at Appalachia?

Anyway, please read my response to Klein's drivel in my blog;
http://southbronxschool.blogspot.com/2010/10/joel-klein-writes-manifesto-for-our.html

And my Internet radio show anytime;

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/bronx-teacher

Posted by: sobronxschool1 | October 9, 2010 11:25 PM | Report abuse

As a teacher I can believe that yes, good teachers are important. But as "icln" pointed out, there are so many factors that are outside of teacher's control. Should a teacher be blamed for a student's poor test performance when said student missed over 60 days of school and came late most days and missed reading instruction many, many days? This was one of my students. When I asked for help getting this child to school there was no support from my district. I counseled repeatedly with the parents to no avail. My last year's class as a whole had poor attendance. I only had 25 days when every single student was present. I can't teach students who aren't there. When are we going to start holding parents accountable for their children?

The other thing that many people don't realize is that these people who are "reforming" education have never spent even one day teaching in a K12 classroom. Even Rhee has very little actual teaching experience, two or three years in a primary classroom. I don't think anyone should be allowed to become an administrator until they've taught for at least 10 years and have a TRUE understanding of the challenges of the classroom. I think all adminstrators should have to spend a semester back in the classroom every five or so years so they remain in touch with the classroom.

Posted by: Jutti | October 10, 2010 1:09 AM | Report abuse

There is a disconnect between the actual policies enacted and enforced by Rhee and Klein, and any effort to improve the education of the children in public schools they run. Klein shuts schools to drive displaced children into the for-profit marketplace, where they have no standing to demand a teacher. The lotteries for hyped window-show-charters, as Valerie pointed out, are a cruel hoax to create a public display, and fuel more desperation. Free-market reformers destroy the public school entrusted to them, and accuse the real teachers of being responsible for for the despair they inflict.

The political power and media control of the for-profit education movement is so great, it can propel us past reason and truth, and into another historic collapse, as it did in banking and finance two years ago.

This leaves us in the position of expending our energy arguing about their dishonest arguments, however, instead of talking about education. What is it children really need in their schools, that isn't even on the menu of this gang of crooks?

Of course teachers are important! Real teachers (I am one) have made progress in classroom practices that can raise children and families from poverty, and they are nothing like the assault of proprietary "response to intervention" programs.

Teaching is what Rhee and Klein have outlawed for our children. A teacher loooks at the low-wealth children in front of her, and the body of knowledge they need to master. She designs learning experiences for them that put the whole wealth of human culture within their reach.
1. She increases the clarity and comprehensibility of each resource, to meet their particular needs. She closes the experience gap with rich experiences.
2. She raises the cognitive level of the actual activities they do, instead of decreasing it to rote drill.
3. She increases interaction among her students, and with her. No mouths are taped shut. Eyes learn to follow galvanized attention, and minds learn to focus themselves.

That's what we "agents of change" learned to do during our teaching careers. We can show younger teachers how to do it, too. We are relics, maybe, of the real civil rights era, which came close to CLOSING the college access gap for black children by 1980. We still believe in the power of education to transform lives, because it transformed ours. Help us pass the torch.

Posted by: mport84 | October 10, 2010 6:34 AM | Report abuse

Thank you, Valerie. I'm a D.C. taxpayer, not a teacher, and I agree with you wholeheartedly.

The current "school reform" movement's true motives and agenda need to be exposed. Isn't it always about "following the money" when something doesn't pass the smell test?

These "reformers" also need to stop claiming that they're using a business model. The line workers (in this case, teachers) aren't the people who get blamed for poor performance at a manufacturing plant; it's the managers who get the blame.

Posted by: Kathy8 | October 10, 2010 8:20 AM | Report abuse

mmccabe4724 says, "There is a considerable field of research that points to teacher quality as the most important factor in closing the achievement gap. As a teacher, we've got to believe this whether its true or not."

As a teacher, you don't decide to believe something whether or not it's true - you find out if it's really true before you act as if it is and you teach your students to do the same thing.

As a start, read the quotes in my posts above, then check the references I provided to make sure they are accurate and are not taken out of context.

Then take that information to your colleagues and your principal so that they will have accurate information to act on as well.

Remember, you are a teacher with a responsibility to acquire and teach accurate information. You are doing yourself,your colleagues and the students a great disservice when you blindly act on and pass on information.

Posted by: efavorite | October 10, 2010 8:32 AM | Report abuse

"The document, published in The Post's Outlook section and available here, makes the same tired call for more charter schools, the end of teacher tenure, etc., etc. -- all change initiatives guaranteed not to work"

It amazes me that someone could be so stupid as to say that anything is "guaranteed not to work," but especially reforms with as much evidence as these.

Posted by: educationobserver | October 10, 2010 8:39 AM | Report abuse

educationobserver

The evidence has shown that these reforms are not working.

It is stupid to say these reforms are working.

Posted by: guylady201001 | October 10, 2010 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Valerie Strauss, yet once again nailed it. First, I can't believe that such a deal is made out of only 16 of over 200 urban superintendents signing the manifesto. Out of over 13,000 superintendents in the country, only 16!!! And then amazed at who did sign on such as Dr. Alonso from Baltimore who has led a much effective change agenda than cities such as DC and NY. Second, how can a manifesto be legitimate without parents, community, equity, poverty, and race being being even marginally mentioned. Remember the Alamo, oh excuse me, remember the Washington DC vote several weeks ago I meant to say. Third, the testing, teacher bashing, tenure rhetoric sounds familiar, perhaps from the US Department of Education? Sounds as though some superintendents decided to join the bandwagon, instead of stand up to it so their federal funding is not jeoprodized. And all in the name of kids. I hope I am wrong.
See More

Posted by: ArnoldFFege | October 10, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, ArnoldFFege - it would be good to know how many superintendents were approached to sign the Manifesto and what their various reactions were, e.g., just said no, felt strong-armed, protested after reading it, etc. (Valerie - here's a good follow-up article for you)

It will be interesting to see if there will be a counter-manifesto -- school leaders who go public refuting this flawed point of view.

Posted by: efavorite | October 10, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Teachers don't just magically will themselves to appear in front of a classroom of children on their own volition! They're hired by principals. They're not hired by colleagues. Yet, colleagues (as represented by their unions) are somehow supposed to be responsible for disciplining and policing personnel they had no say in hiring? That's just one of the intellectually dishonest underpinnings of Rhee's screed. This "manifesto" amounts to Rhee's version of Palin's "Don't retreat, RELOAD" philosophy of doubling down when your philosophy and methodology are so thoroughly repudiated as was Rhee's in the defeat of Mayor Fenty. Shameless!

Posted by: buckbuck11 | October 10, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Ms. Strauss, You miss the most fundamental aspect of what the heart of America is. Education is supposed to be the equalizer to those who are born to poor families or with other societal disadvantages. The premise is that a child who goes to school every day with a positive school culture, great teachers, 3 healthy meals a day and the development of values and critical thinking skills that all students have a shot at the American dream. This isn't just rhetoric. There are thousands of examples of every success story that are supported by a successful education. There are so many who grew up poor and without means who made it because of their education. In DC it's just the opposite- students actually are going backwards because of their education and your justification of this is sickening!

There are so many examples throughout history of successful men and women who cite their education as the difference in the success of their lives that your editorial is insulting to an intelligent person. My father was born poor in a single household and frequently cites the quality of his education in public school as the difference maker. He came home every day to an empty home, no dinner and no one who read to him. He had no health insurance and no supportive family to develop him. But, he did have teachers who cared, nurtured him, taught him and inspired him. They came in early to school and left late. They didn't cite contractual constraints around their work hours and they didn't blame my dad for not having supportive parents or mental health options. They helped him with his homework, coached him after school in sports, and taught him how to financially plan. He became a successful businessman because of a great, public school education. His story inspired me to be a teacher.

Your emphasis on the importance of parenting is legitimate but your dismissal of education as the equalizer to bad parenting and economics is not only wrong it is disingenuous and unfortunate. There are many a student who have 2 parent households but just a dysfunctional a life as those in single parent households. Yet, their teachers don't use that as an excuse because the expectations are different for those kids.

This is the difference between you and the Chancellor. You are an excuse maker with a loser mentality. We are very fortunate that you are writing about our schools instead of leading them!

Posted by: teacher6402 | October 10, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

guylady201001

If you depend on people like Valerie Strauss for information, you might think that. If you think for yourself, you'd know that tenure reform hasn't even been tried, so why should you believe a reactionary like Strauss who says that it's "guaranteed not to work"? In what other field are people given lifetime jobs without being able to be fired for incompetence?

As for charters, again Strauss and her ilk are dishonest. The CREDO study from Stanford showed that students do better in charter schools after 2 and 3 years.

Posted by: educationobserver | October 10, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

I say charge Michelle Rhee with child abuse
for taping childrens mouths and thinking its funny because their mouths were bleeding. Glad I wasn't one of those parents.I would have charged her. She's sick and its easy to see why they call her the fixer in the allegations of child misconduct by the guy she is going to marry Kevin Johnson even though she has 2 small girls Plus she wants to crusify alleged ineffective teachers when she is one of the worst. What about in the same presentation she said she took 4 children on a after school event and didn't take the personal contact infor in case of an emergency.One child did not know his address and the school was close. She did not know what to do. And you think she is a superwoman. You'll nuts if you are one of her supporters. If it had been one of your children you wouldn't be praisng her but sueing her and Balt.schools. Yes the country needs education reform but less take a hard look at whose promoting it. Education is the new cash COW now that the war maybe coming to an end.

Posted by: frankiesimmons1 | October 10, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

I say charge Michelle Rhee with child abuse
for taping childrens mouths and thinking its funny because their mouths were bleeding. Glad I wasn't one of those parents.I would have charged her. She's sick and its easy to see why they call her the fixer in the allegations of child misconduct by the guy she is going to marry Kevin Johnson even though she has 2 small girls Plus she wants to crusify alleged ineffective teachers when she is one of the worst. What about in the same presentation she said she took 4 children on a after school event and didn't take the personal contact infor in case of an emergency.One child did not know his address and the school was close. She did not know what to do. And you think she is a superwoman. You'll nuts if you are one of her supporters. If it had been one of your children you wouldn't be praisng her but sueing her and Balt.schools. Yes the country needs education reform but less take a hard look at whose promoting it. Education is the new cash COW now that the war maybe coming to an end.

Posted by: frankiesimmons1 | October 10, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Klein's willingness to distort or flat-out misrepresent data and his utter lack of concern for parents (non-charter, in particular) is frightening.

I'm reminded of an episode involving NYC deputy chancellor Eric Nadelstern, who appeared at a conference of educators hosted by Teachers First. He polled the audience during one of his talks, asking who there had children in NYC public schools. A small number of people raised their hands. Then Nadelstern asked whether those parents would be comfortable having their children randomly assigned to any NYC public school, and no one raised a hand.

Nadelstern's interpretation of this was that it meant one-third to two-third of NYC public school teachers are ineffective (?). Not that the respondents were happy with their local neighborhood school, or that the parent didn't want to make their child commute from Throgs Neck to Tottenville, but that the teachers were ineffective.

Crazy stuff, but a true story:
http://beta.wnyc.org/articles/wnyc-news/2010/may/07/deputy-chancellor-two-thirds-of-city-teachers-may-need-improvement/

Posted by: District10 | October 10, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

If any readers are confused about the situation, find out who Michelle Rhee hired to replace the fired teachers. Did she replace them with fully qualified, experienced teachers with proven track records of success? If not, why not?

Whom did she hire? Did the agencies that supplied these teachers get a fee for doing so? How much? Who received this money?

As another poster said, If it doesn't smell right, follow the money.

Teacher6402: A teacher can make a huge difference for children who lack support at home. I agree with you that we must place an effective teacher in every classroom, especially in the rooms of our most disadvantaged students, so let's all join together in making certain only fully qualified, experienced and successful teachers are placed in our lowest-performing schools. Let's stop the shameful practice of placing the least experienced (and least expensive) teachers in the most challenging schools. Nothing has hurt poor children more than this unconscienable practice.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | October 10, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Here we go again!

Now with this wretched "manifesto"...

... yet more tons of toxic misinformation, the same relentless waves of propaganda, rolled out courtesy of the corporate controlled media, in concert with the bipartisan political establishment, hand in hand with "concerned" millionaires and billionaires, all of whom keep inundating us with these fraudulent and damaging "fixes" for education.

I'm oversaturated, filled to the gills and then some. I cant get a break. It's breathtaking - the breadth and depth of this neoliberal assault on education. (Thanks, Obama!)

I am so bloated with it, I'm inKLEINed to vomit. I'm DUNCAN my head toward the toilet. RHEE-lly!

Pardon the punning, but this is indeed the silly season for education reform (only the damage it's doing is very serious).

I'm dropping down a few links I just recently came upon, within these toxic waters, into which those of us who care must dive in order to uncover what lies beneath, to TRY to spread the word and raise awareness.

If you havent seen these, and have managed to squeeze out a few drops from your school deform-soaked brain, if you have a bit of space left, here they are (Sorry! I'll start with a victory):

Black Chicago Teachers Win Discrimination Lawsuit Against Arne Duncan's Mass Firings

http://blackagendareport.com/?q=content/black-chicago-teachers-win-lawsuit-against-arne-duncans-mass-firing-black-teachers

Cory Booker: A Clear and Present Threat to Public Education

http://blackagendareport.com/?q=content/cory-booker-clear-and-present-threat-public-education

Education: The Neoliberal Project To Re-Imagine America For Them, Not Us

http://blackagendareport.com/?q=content/privatizing-education-neoliberal-project-re-imagine-america-them-not-us

Last link summary:

"In this 55 minute audio by U of Illinois scholar and activist Pauline Lippman, she explains how the bipartisan push to privatize education by starving existing public schools, introducing charter schools in the name of “choice” and destroying teacher unions is key to a radical re-fashioning of American society by our wealthy corporate elite, one that is disastrous for the rest of us, our communities and our children."

I also found The Daily Howler has a very good, in most parts, multi-part series attacking and refuting the idiocy and fraudulence that was served up by NBC's/MSNBC's Education Nation, a week-long propagandafest in union bashing, teacher bashing, and the promotion of corporate control of our public education system... Waiting for Superman and its creator, Davis Guggenheim, are also given a well-deserved drubbing...

Start here: "No More Teachers' Dirty Looks"

http://www.dailyhowler.com/dh092810.shtml#LOOKS

.. and keep clicking "next" after each page to get the full offering...


Posted by: NYCee | October 10, 2010 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Responding to: District10 | October 10, 2010 1:13 PM

Lol-my-head-hurts!

Now there's a classic case of this "reform" du jour, if ever there was one - reform as in rework the truth to mangle its meaning to serve your own interests.

And as we can see, that which interests "reformers" like Klein+minions has nothing to do with serving the education community well. So much for all the lip-service about "community" and listening to the parents.

Posted by: NYCee | October 10, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Valerie hit the nail on the head with: "Research actually shows that the home life of students is the single biggest determinant of school achievement."

As I like to say: it takes two to tango. The best teachers cannot achieve much when dealing with severely disturbed students from chaotic homes. There is no hope for education as long as the dogma of the heterogeneous classroom and its attendant radical egalitarianism reigns supreme.

An intelligent approach to improving the disastrous state of education would at least have to acknowledge the triad that forms the basis for quality education: the quality of the student/parent body, the quality of the teacher body and the quality of curriculum and instruction. All three legs of the triad must work in concert. But the reformers can only think of teacher bashing.

Posted by: realist9 | October 10, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Thank God for Valerie Strauss' courage and integrity to call it not only as she sees it, but as it really is! As always, Mrs. Strauss is spot on accurate in describing all the things wrong with that nonsensical and so-called Manifesto of Joel Klein.

Four years of Latin for me--I can't help breaking down words. Manifesto, manifestum, means "clarity" or "conspicuousness."

The only clarity I saw in that "Manifesto" was that Klein clearly demonstrated how little he knows about the world of education.

Valerie did a great job dissecting this Manifesto and all its salient, or lack thereof, points. Teacher, Anthony Cody wrote on a few more points in his smackdown today. I'd like to dissect the rationale behind this published nahrishkeit.

Let's see, who creates a manifesto anyways? They are always politically motivated and usually the author is in desperate need of swaying public opinion.

The last Manifestos I read were, I suppose, the Unabomber's Manifesto! And, then, there was Andrew Stack who crashed his plane into an Austin IRS building-yes, he had a Manifesto on him! And then, there was Ron Paul in 2008 while running for President, he wrote an ambitious Revolution Manifesto. And, of course Mein Kampf Manifesto by Adolf Hitler.

Sounds official though doesn't it?--A MANIFESTO! Like it should be trumpeted in grandly or read while being carried in on an elephant.

To me, Klein, Rhee and the superintendents who are primarily backed by and/or trained by, the Broad Foundation just entered the Jeopardy category MANIFESTO AUTHORS. They have become trivia game answers just like, Adolf Hitler, Ted Kazcynski, Andrew Stark, etc. This will be a tough question to answer a year or two from now as nobody will remember the names. It may fall under the Double Jeopardy category. It does for me!

A manifesto is always politically motivated. So, what's the motivation one needs to ask? Big foundations love this gobbledeygook on paper--makes them think this is the official word--and oh, wait, let's obtain some signatures to it and emphasize its worth even more.

More empty rhetoric trying to be shoved down the throats of hedge fund managers to buy into this privatization scheme, more nothingness, no concrete solutions.

Manifesto, Manifesto, how do I renounce thee? Let me count the ways!!

Valerie Strauss is my hero!

Posted by: rsolnet | October 10, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Valerie is my hero too!

Posted by: jlp19 | October 10, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Thank you Valerie for daring to criticize the current reformers (Teacher-Bashing- Score-Driven-Charter-School-Lovers)! I wish there were more voices like yours!

Many charter schools selectively admit students and kick out students who don't meet their standards. Parent involvement and student motivation are therefore high.
Public schools can't, and don't want to, pick and choose who gets in or who gets booted. We educate all children. But parents also contribute greatly to a child's success or failure at school.

In my own classroom there are a number of students who are absent about once a week. Others are tardy almost every day. One year, I had a student who was absent from school for 60 days and came back right before testing. The scores of students who are literally not in school become part of the teacher's average. Some students have been to 4 schools in 4 years. Each move is a devastating disruption from which they are never able to bounce back completely. There is no Parent Involvement score on the standardized tests. There is no box to bubble that shows the child was chronically absent or tardy. No box to bubble showing how many different schools the child has gone to. No box to bubble showing that the student had chronic untreated medical or dental problems. Or had vision problems but never got glasses. Or that the parents never once helped the child with her/his homework. The teacher is the only adult "scored". But it's hard to learn if you are not at school, if your are in pain all day, or can't see. Yes, quality teaching is important, but we must also shine the spotlight on parents who are not taking responsibility for helping their children succeed at, or even get to, school.

Posted by: teacher619 | October 10, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Where is the "accountability" for...
/> the CIA and other corrupt
govt. & Wall Street-affiliated players
being involved with international drug smuggling
& distribution for decades (!)
-- deliberately inundating
communities & specific neighborhoods with heroin,
cocaine, meth, pills (MDMA/ecstacy), etc.
It is a documented fact that the CIA
& corrupt elements of the U.S. govt.
& freemasons have been involved in large-scale
heroin distribution operations and also
involved in the deliberately induced
crack cocaine epidemic targeting black neighborhoods (for the purposes of social undermining & political-economic control).

Where is the "accountability" for...
/> The 'entertainment' industry
flooding our youth with heinously toxic
& cognitively poisonous VIOLENT VIDEO GAMES
and GANGSTER-THUG GLORIFYING music/videos
that promote
crime, substance abuse, disgusting conduct,
mistreatment & violence against women,
anti-educational achievement,
anti-positive values, anti-professional careers,
anti-healthy, responsible behaviors !

Where is the "accountability" for
self-proclaimed edu-profiteer BILL GATES & MICROSOFT
in producing, promoting VIOLENT, PATHOLOGICAL
VIDEO GAMES, including first-person shooter games,
such as HALO !!!??? --
which, unfortunately, too many of our country's
children, our country's students
heinously waste too much time messing
around with, messing themselves up with --
instead of healthfully, smartly & beneficially using that time
for...
productive experiences, studying, exploring/learning, participating in sports, teamwork, creative arts + music,
outdoor activities & nature, significant time
with friends & family, or engaging in community service !!!

Where is the accountability for VIACOM
& other media corporations
(eg. instead of the "BET" channel being utilized for positive, inspirational, educational or meaningful programming --
it has mostly
broadcast the worst sociopathic, demeaning,
undermining junk -- promoting
gangsterism & exploiting our vulnerable youth
with pernicious mind-killing crap.

FACT! --
Where is the "accountability" for Wall Street
& elite financiers,
such as MERRILL LYNCH and OPPENHEIMER,
previously the MAIN INVESTORS & SHAREHOLDERS
owning majority stock in the company
that produced the 'GRAND THEFT AUTO' video game
as its main product !!!

Also, what about the corporate soda-pop
& junk food pushers targeting children ?!

The reality is that ethical, caring, and dedicated
public school teachers have been the
'good samaritans' courageously
teaching with tremendous effort daily
to educate & constructively help chidren --
to transcend, overcome hardship,
to cultivate wellbeing & achievement --
despite the grotesque obstacles
& destruction foisted on us by
irresponsible, unscrupulous, rapacious and
duplicitous corporate execs. & financial elites,
(societally-sabotaging/damaging,
corrupt oligarchs, such as Goldman Sachs et. al.
who've caused millions of chidren & families to be homeless.

Posted by: newmanagement2 | October 10, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

"The last Manifestos I read were, I suppose, the Unabomber's Manifesto! And, then, there was Andrew Stack who crashed his plane into an Austin IRS building-yes, he had a Manifesto on him! And then, there was Ron Paul in 2008 while running for President, he wrote an ambitious Revolution Manifesto. And, of course Mein Kampf Manifesto by Adolf Hitler."

rsolnet,

Don't forget that the Discovery Channel gunman James Lee also had a manifesto in which he declared mankind the enemy of the planet.

Posted by: realist9 | October 10, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Thank God for Valerie Strauss' courage and integrity to call it not only as she sees it, but as it really is! As always, Mrs. Strauss is spot on accurate in describing all the things wrong with that nonsensical and so-called Manifesto of Joel Klein.

Four years of Latin for me--I can't help breaking down words. Manifesto, manifestum, means "clarity" or "conspicuousness."

The only clarity I saw in that "Manifesto" was that Klein clearly demonstrated how little he knows about the world of education.

Valerie did a great job dissecting this Manifesto and all its salient, or lack thereof, points. Teacher, Anthony Cody wrote on a few more points in his smackdown today. I'd like to dissect the rationale behind this published nahrishkeit.

Let's see, who creates a manifesto anyways? They are always politically motivated and usually the author is in desperate need of swaying public opinion.

The last Manifestos I read were, I suppose, the Unabomber's Manifesto! And, then, there was Andrew Stack who crashed his plane into an Austin IRS building-yes, he had a Manifesto on him! And then, there was Ron Paul in 2008 while running for President, he wrote an ambitious Revolution Manifesto. And, of course Mein Kampf Manifesto by Adolf Hitler.

Sounds official though doesn't it?--A MANIFESTO! Like it should be trumpeted in grandly or read while being carried in on an elephant.

To me, Klein, Rhee and the superintendents who are primarily backed by and/or trained by, the Broad Foundation just entered the Jeopardy category MANIFESTO AUTHORS. They have become trivia game answers just like, Adolf Hitler, Ted Kazcynski, Andrew Stark, etc. This will be a tough question to answer a year or two from now as nobody will remember the names. It may fall under the Double Jeopardy category. It does for me!

A manifesto is always politically motivated. So, what's the motivation one needs to ask? Big foundations love this gobbledeygook on paper--makes them think this is the official word--and oh, wait, let's obtain some signatures to it and emphasize its worth even more.

More empty rhetoric trying to be shoved down the throats of hedge fund managers to buy into this privatization scheme, more nothingness, no concrete solutions.

Manifesto, Manifesto, how do I renounce thee? Let me count the ways!!

Valerie Strauss is my hero!

Posted by: rsolnet

Posted by: newmanagement2 | October 10, 2010 6:05 PM | Report abuse

Two things, Valerie.

1) Your 1st link doesnt go where it's supposed to go - to the "manifesto." Instead, it goes to the Alonso article.

2) You ask why Alonso signed onto the manifesto, since he is for multiple measures for tchr evaluations. Doesnt matter since he is still buying into value added and buying heavily into merit pay. Looks like he belongs with that crowd, from what I can gather. Looks like he is moving forward the same neoliberal agenda, with a friendlier face, a bit more "due process"... (If the union ratifies merit pay, shame on them.)

Posted by: NYCee | October 10, 2010 9:25 PM | Report abuse

Ugh! RANDI WEINGARTEN strikes again!

From the article linked in Valerie's post, about the Alonso/Baltimore teachers' deal:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/06/AR2010100606288.html

"Moreover, Weingarten, who as head of the American Federation of Teachers helped oversee more than two years of contentious negotiations with Rhee over the new D.C. teachers contract, has just agreed with Alonso on a groundbreaking proposed contract in Baltimore that in some ways goes further than the historic pact approved this year in Washington. That adds fresh evidence that Weingarten, despite being cast as the Wicked Witch neglecting students on behalf of greedy teachers, is open to moving reform forward."

Why is it that Randi Weingarten ALONE is trotted out by the mainstream media, time after time, to represent the "other side"? (Shall we gag or laugh?)

That's an easy one, two plus two!

They tap Weingarten and only Weingarten because she doesnt represent the other side, ie, the teachers/workers/union members. She is therefore, quite SAFE for the corporatist side. She is ONE of THEM. But her presence allows the reformers, who are ubiquitous in the msm landscape (in the most tightly controlled propaganda roll-out since the lead up to the Iraq War) to APPEAR fair and balanced. (lol)

It's bad enough that Randi plays both sides of the street, but worse, she increasingly delivers for ONLY one side... that of the corporate education reformers.

In her capacity as powerful (but weak) union leader, she is racing around the country, manipulating beleaguered unions into caving to RttT pressures, like LA teachers (who were singled out for punishment by the LA Times, with its odious witch hunt where it published 6000 teachers' names next to bogus ratings) See, they had to be whacked b/c they were "spoilers" in CA's attempt to win RttT, because they stood firm against the reformers (awful) demands. Thus, CA lost RttT. (That's a win, in my book) Randi is currently meddling in their affairs, trying to "help" deliver them from their "intransigence" (strength).

Her protege, Michael Mulgrew, who heads the UFT, her former post, sold out NYC teachers for a RttT win. Value added and a huge charter increase were what he gave Albany, which was made law, toute suite, which got dashed off to DC and gave NY the RttT win, 2nd round. He did a 180 in this backroom deal, going against his prior stances. I'm sure his mentor, Randi, had a heavy hand to play here, and was quite pleased.

Randi no longer gets what is good for teachers... When true progressive Dem lawmakers wept over Colorado passage of (yet another) rightwing education reform law, Randi applauded the outcome.

I can only imagine she is positioning herself for Dem office in the not-so-distant future...

What's not for Obama/Duncan to love?

Posted by: NYCee | October 10, 2010 10:11 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: celestun100: "Teachers who are experienced are the ones who have been saving kids for all these years and now they are being disrespected by a bunch of millionaires."

You nailed it!

Posted by: rglass23 | October 10, 2010 10:43 PM | Report abuse

There are many educators and education pundits who criticize those labeled as 'reformers.' It seems nothing's that's done to change our sorry state of public education satisfies them. While much of their critique may be valid, I rarely hear them offer a counter to what these 'reformers' propose. What we've been doing hasn't worked clearly for our neediest children, but I don't hear the 'anti-reformers' proposing a 'research-based' or 'peer-reviewed' alternatives. As opposed to critiquing what others propose, create an alternative that can attract the same public and $$ support that these 'reformers' seem to generate.
After Rhee leaves D.C., and 5 years later children are no better, or worse, than they are now, upon whom will the 'anti-reformers' lay the blame? Will they attempt to hang that failure around Rhee's neck the way Democrats try to blame their failures on Bush?

All of those who critique the reformers, roll up your sleeves, put yourself or your ideas into a school/school district, and prove your ideas work. Find some deep-pocketed, like-minded folks to support what you think works, and make it happen.

Posted by: pdexiii | October 10, 2010 11:03 PM | Report abuse

RESEARCH Michelle Rhee’s ongoing
CONFLICTS OF INTEREST machinations, financial gaming the system, and legal violations ---
in Washington, DC and also in Sacramento.

Did you know that every time she brings in a new inexperienced, unqualified “Teach for America” intern that she pays her ex-husband’s organization
(he’s the “TFA” Communications Director) a fee of several thousand dollars for each recruit —
which goes toward his salary and he then
repays back to her as child support ! ---
that’s self-dealing. ======= Investigate the rattling skeletons in both Michelle Rhee’s and Kevin Johnson’s closets, while they’ve been protected from consequences by their big-money financier and corporate backers [eg. deliberate prevarication, budgetary machinations & financial scandals (including misappropriation of over $400,000
in federal grants), sexual misconduct with students (teen minors) and staff subordinates, cover-ups
and ‘hush money’ deals
behind-the-scenes).
——————————————
Must-read important
news article:
http://www.sacbee.com/2009/11/20/2338165/kevin-johnsons-accuser-says-he.html


See website:
http://sacchartergate.blogspot.com/

===========================

Posted by: newmanagement2 | October 10, 2010 11:53 PM | Report abuse

Thank you for this compelling rebuttal of that garbage. Joel Klein must go! He is one of the most dishonest and destructive forces in American education today.
Rhee is a disgrace.

Posted by: Nicnamibia | October 11, 2010 1:28 AM | Report abuse

Is anyone else bothered by the fact that not one of the sixteen education leaders who signed on seems to know that "criteria" is a plural?

Posted by: berniehorn | October 11, 2010 1:35 AM | Report abuse

It is obvious that certain areas of the city are redlined. Nothing good is supposed to come into these areas. And anything good leaves i.e. top students, great teachers, equipment and resources. Therefore, it was not a suprise to recently learn that our school library did not receive the Library Legacy Grant proposed by the DOE. However, it was still disappointing.

Presently we are without a computer terminal in the Library. In fact, there are no computers in the Library.Therefore the books can neither be scanned nor cataloged. Our encyclopedias are outdated and therefore useless. Futhermore weeding the Library of the remaining books would leave the Library without enough book to even consider it a library.
The question is …what school deserves a grant more and why?

It seems that in New York City Public School System the neighborhood school is virtually as poor as the neighborhhood. Therefore it is no surprise to see falling plaster, crumbling walls, leaks, puddles, loose or missing tiles, and sanitation concerns.The ceilings may leak, flake, and peel. A layer of white debris is all over the floor and shelves, daily. Thus, teachers feel that their respiratory system is aggravated by these conditions as they clean up a mess each day because the budget cuts have impacted minor maintenance. Yet relief seems to be nowhere in sight…only promises.

These are only a few of the problems that plague inner-city schools. Next, we must compound this with inadequate supplies of toilet paper, soap, paper towels and disposable waste containers. Futhermore, lest we forget, there is an upsurge in student violence. Finally, as we add it all up, we are looking at hazards in our workplace and very sick schools.
Surely, our students deserve something better. In fact, no member of our great nation should have to “live” under these horrific conditions. Passing the buck and making excuses, in the tough economic times especially, this fiscal year, has to stop somewhere. Fortunately, the union is still the best advocate for children because teachers do want what children need. We are not waiting for Superman

Posted by: pmur75 | October 11, 2010 6:40 AM | Report abuse

While I agree to a point that "There is a considerable field of research that points to teacher quality as [a] factor in closing the achievement gap," the author of this statement fails to realize that there are other "important factors" as well. Looking at the research itself, a meta-analysis shows who students choose to associate with is even a stronger factor in determining student success in school. However, I find it interesting that this factor, perhaps the one that is the cornerstone for predicting positive student achievement, is routinely ignored by a new set of educational philosopher stone seekers.

The problem with relying solely on teachers to fix education is that summer eventually comes; students eventually leave for home when the bell rings; there are no teachers on the weekends; and teachers cannot tell students who they "should" hang out with.

I also find it interesting that more students are graduating high school than ever before. More students are taking advanced placement classes than they did before. And more students are attending and graduating from colleges than has ever happened in the past. Yet, according to this new breed of educrats, we are in a dire situation. I find it interesting is all.

Posted by: DHume1 | October 11, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Ms. Strauss-

You are the best. We, as urban teachers, can always improve as anybody doing anything can always improve. But pretending that we are the only thing that matters is simply dishonest and unfair.

Please don't let feel-good political posturing define my job or the need of administrators to demonstrate that you are tough and have a "program" get in the way of teachers teaching.

You want to know what's going on in education? Talk to teachers.

Mr. Teachbad
teachbad.com

Posted by: mrteachbad | October 11, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Multiple measures to evaluate a teacher is wonderful news and way to go Baltimore !Support and insructional feedback is critical and so are the state laws to reinforce that with principles and they don't want to be in violation of state laws.
Link standardized tests to teacher evaluations ? What's the big fuss on that ? An operationally stable school building being run effectively,resources and support in place ? Does the principle and teacher in the school building have what they need to teach the children ? Has each school within a numbered district been allowed to select the curriculum they want ? The law is 15 students per classroom for better individualized attention and every teacher has an asst.as well as parents helping.Dream on that one ! If they want to come in with Merit pay then teacher's and principle's select the curriculum as a team and that should not be left to anyone but them.Change happens from the bottom up and not the top down. If not, then that turns into a bad wreck for merit pay.Bring on the Standardized Test ! An effective teacher and his or her students will ace the test.Your child doesn't need to be in school all year round to be successful and go enjo matter what neighborhood you're teaching in or environment and see instructional accountability. Now let's look at who's running the standardized testing corporations and allow competition.Don't put the horse before the cart and let's get the school buildings stabalized with support and resources in this economic crisis. American tax dollar education checks will be mailed to the principle of the school buildings and her staff.Elected officials are no longer in charge of how to distribute this money or will the influence of politics play a part of an American citizens child's education.American citizens can't afford to pay for the bureaucracy or political rhetoric on a state or federal level.Less policy pusher's and more money for the schools that benefit the children.Teacher's and principles's can handle it and that's where the check is delivered.The less bureaucracy the better !I see a split and Charter may go their own way and so will traditional education but this split will be seperate and those signals are being sent to Washington. Fenty lost and that's a huge blow to educational reform and how these reformers are making changes. Public Education does not say privatization and get your hands off the children's pie $ and American tax dollars.Stop closing our American Public School buildings !

Posted by: jbatman | October 11, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Even in analysis financial returns to alternative investments, good advisors consider multiple functions and parameters of $ return: Short term or long term? What is the risk? What is the liquidity? What else does the client have going on, so she can absorb risks from this investment?

Without those considerationst, promises of high returns -- nothing else -- is what has been behind all bubbles and ponzi schemes. Honest banks, companies and financial analysts have always needed protection from regulation against exclusive attention to whatever single parameter those who capture public attention would tout. When the single paramter --average recent adjusted gain -- is all that matters, money flows to where the promise of that return is highest. So, too it seems with invested attention in teacher quality.

Yes, it is a different set of economists focusing on mean gains in student test scores than the one which would point to past performance of mutual funds as indicative of future quality. [Lots of luck with that, eh?] But, the same risk holds with investing in teachers with high recent student test score gains. The absense of much correlation between purposes of mutual funds and returns over the last decade, year after year ought to be constructive about what a useless game it is to take this prediction seriously.

Posted by: incredulous | October 11, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Even in analysis financial returns to alternative investments, good advisors consider multiple functions and parameters of $ return: Short term or long term? What is the risk? What is the liquidity? What else does the client have going on, so she can absorb risks from this investment?

Without those considerationst, promises of high returns -- nothing else -- is what has been behind all bubbles and ponzi schemes. Honest banks, companies and financial analysts have always needed protection from regulation against exclusive attention to whatever single parameter those who capture public attention would tout. When the single paramter --average recent adjusted gain -- is all that matters, money flows to where the promise of that return is highest. So, too it seems with invested attention in teacher quality.

Yes, it is a different set of economists focusing on mean gains in student test scores than the one which would point to past performance of mutual funds as indicative of future quality. [Lots of luck with that, eh?] But, the same risk holds with investing in teachers with high recent student test score gains. The absense of much correlation between purposes of mutual funds and returns over the last decade, year after year ought to be instructive about what a useless game it is to take these predictions seriously.

Posted by: incredulous | October 11, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Metaphors are tricky things. Sometimes people only see what they want to see and not what's behind the screen. They forget that if we treat education like the stock market or if we treat educating children like an assembly line or if we treat education like a business, then we are objectifying a very human process of learning.

Sadly, not everyone learns at the same rate. And in a capitalistic metaphor/model of education, everyone cannot succeed. Certain groups will succeed for a while, and then certain groups will fail. Think of Blockbuster, for instance. At one time, it was a powerhouse, but now, the whole company is in the toilet. I do not think we want to make our educational judgments following the whims of the prediction stock market model.

Teachers deal with children, potential adult human beings. And if literature has taught me anything, it is that humanity is a jumbled mess. Good teachers are those who know how to deal with that mess. They may or may not have the highest test scores. Their scores may or may not go up year after year. But one thing is for sure, the students in their classes remember them.

Posted by: DHume1 | October 11, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

"Research actually shows that the home life of students is the single biggest determinant of school achievement." What research is that? And even if that were true, does that mean that teachers are off the hook? I'm an 8th-grade teacher in a Title I school, and I am sick to death of whiny, wimpy teachers knocking themselves out trying to pass the buck. My kids, many of whom have lousy home lives, achieve nonetheless, and when they don't, I am accountable. Teachers, either be the warriors our children and our country need, or find another career. I will caution you, though: most other jobs come with performance standards.

Posted by: mdodaro1 | October 11, 2010 8:24 PM | Report abuse

Thank you for showing support for teachers and talking about how to close the achievement gap, we need to address the entire child.

Posted by: MrsE | October 11, 2010 11:35 PM | Report abuse

Let's take a look at rhetorical questions in writing and argumentation.

When a rhetorical question is posed in writing no actual point is proved. The questioner thinks there is movement in argumentation without any true movement happening.

Let's use this one from "mdodaro1" as an example: "What research is that? And even if that were true, does that mean that teachers are off the hook?" Technically there are two questions here but both are rhetorical in nature. So let's just focus on the first one for now. Although the speaker does not explicitly state it, he/she is intimating that there is no research to back up a position held by this writer of this article. We can also note that because the speaker does not know about the research he/she is arguing from the argument of incredulity: Because the speaker does not know about the research, the speaker denies it. It contradicts his worldview, so it is easier to deny its existence. The second question posed here is the strawman argument. We end up following this argument and forget the validity of his original question.

And by the way,"mdodaro1," all children achieve for a myriad of reasons. It is pure arrogance to think that you, a single 8th grade teacher in a Title I school, play the sole learning God with your students. This type of argumentation tells me that you know nothing about about what true learning is.

Words to the wise: Always be wary of people who ask questions in vacuums because both the space and their heads are truly empty.

Posted by: DHume1 | October 12, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

I find it interesting that DHume1 argues that more students are graduating and electing in to advanced classes than ever before, but then discredits the "educrats." Could it be that the educrats and the competition in education that has occurred in the last 15 to 20 years has something to do with that.

Teachers are not the end all be all, but they are the ones that are with children for a majority of a year. A good teacher will target those students who "hang out" with the wrong people and who will notice that "summer" can be a huge detriment. A good teacher will work tirelessly with those parents to help them recognize the importance of what is happening during school hours. A good teacher will not divorce him/herself from that duty because of a union contract. But I'm sure that my seven years of teaching in urban schools will be discredited like the rest, I will check my head.

Posted by: delray | October 13, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

NYCee,

Thank so much for the info and links. |

Posted by: GoldCoast | October 13, 2010 8:15 PM | Report abuse

delray,

Certainly the two ideas are NOT mutually exclusive. It is very possible that I attribute a separate reason for the rise in students taking advanced placement classes and the rise in graduation rates. And I do.

Although I do not know the true causes for the increases (but I am willing to guess), the evidence that you provide does not support your proposition. Here's why: Looking at the research, graduation rates and student populations in AP classes have been increasing since they've been taking data on it. They've been collecting that data for more than "15 to 20 years." There have been a few dips but the trend is always increasing. The last batch of data I looked at showed a steady increase since 1940. Hmmm. And the most significant gains occurred in the 1950s and 1990s. I do not think the educrats were around then to push their educational ideologies, but perhaps I am wrong.

By the way, perhaps you are right that some teachers just are not cut out for teaching students. In fact, I just found out about a teacher who has taught for seven years and forgot to put a question mark at the end of an interrogative sentence.

Posted by: DHume1 | October 18, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

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