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Rating Md., Va. and D.C. schools--a puzzle

My colleage Nick Anderson nicely dissects a new assessment of education state-by-state. His story exposes the confusion that can result when you try to toss many different measures into the same pot. Maryland looks bad compared to Virginia in this study for reasons that seem to be associated with Maryland having stronger teacher unions, but in most ways that parents care about, Maryland and Virginia schools in the D.C. suburbs are usually quite good.

By Jay Mathews  | November 10, 2009; 5:45 PM ET
Categories:  Jay on the Web  | Tags:  Maryland schools, Virginia schools  
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Next: Extra Credit--Why your commute is like algebra

Comments

Well, if you look at NAEP 2009 math scores, Maryland is slightly ahead of Virginia.
Are we to take it that if MD got rid of the unions (formerly associations) Maryland would shoot ahead of VA even more??

And this bit from the report is priceless:
"Other states that received an A for policies facilitating the removal of bad teachers were Mississippi, North Dakota, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Vermont, New Jersey, Georgia and Texas."

Interesting about PA, considering a good number of PA teacher graduates come to MD, especially PG County to get their experience and further education, then go back to PA to get hired into their system with great benefits.

Posted by: edlharris | November 10, 2009 11:47 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to know who gets the most educational bang for the buck.

When I read about schools where it is difficult to remove teachers I have to wonder whether they are dealing with the deadwood by hiring more staff.

Posted by: RedBird27 | November 11, 2009 8:30 AM | Report abuse

for Redbird27--great question that many have tried to answer but none that I know have succeeded.

Posted by: Jay Mathews | November 11, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Report: Too hard to dismiss bad teachers in D.C., Md.

A new national report card...
..............
It appears that you can develop a web site and then the Washington Post will call your press releases national and expect the reader to understand that this is not from the government.

Image the headlines and national reports this allows.

Report: Too hard to get rid of bad heads of school in D.C., Md.
A new national report card...

Report: Too hard to get rid of bad newspaper writers in D.C., Md.
A new national report card...

Report: Population Too dumb in D.C., Md.
A new national report card...

Report: Newspapers Too dumb in D.C., Md.
A new national report card...

.......................
A now we have a Washington Post columnist shilling the article about a press release web site.

Is this better than worse than his previous article based upon rumors of Ms. Rhee possibly moving to California to get married?

Posted by: bsallamack | November 11, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

A now we have a Washington Post columnist shilling the article about a press release web site.

Is this better than worse than his previous article based upon rumors of Ms. Rhee possibly moving to California to get married?
...........................
And now we have a Washington Post columnist shilling the Washington Post article based upon a press release from a web site.

Is this better or worse than his previous article based upon rumors of Ms. Rhee possibly moving to California to get married?
.................................
Please excuse my errors.

Posted by: bsallamack | November 11, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Teacher union's Randi Weingarten for next D.C. schools chief

picking Weingarten, a member of the Democratic National Committee, a lesbian
..................................
for bsallamack---No rumors involved. I made it clear no one has ever suggested to me that Weingarten would be the next chancellor. It was a thought experiment, which columnists are allowed to do, and which I think shine light in interesting places. I suspect a few people back in 2003 had similarly wild thoughts about the possibility of an experienced state senator in Illinois being elected US President in five years.

Posted by: Jay Mathews
......................................
Would it be a thought experiment if you suggested that Ms. Rhee and Ms. Weingarten should have an affair and that might improve the school system?

Posted by: bsallamack
..............................
I am sure the columnist will now offer another explanation of how as a columnist he is allowed to act as a shill for dubious other Washington Post articles.

These explanations of the columnist certainly shine light in the interesting places regarding the professional standards of this columnist.

Posted by: bsallamack | November 11, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Well at least we have the usual suspects to show up and display the requisite distress at the notion that a mythical creature like a lousy teacher exists.

I love the report. Properly using computer technology to display large amounts of information in a manner which makes the data accessible, meaningful and allows complex interrelationships to be easily understood. Sweet. So sweet in fact that one is tempted to wonder why technology like this isn't used in teaching but in that direction lies madness or at least pathological frustration.

The problem with the report is that it focuses on the symptoms and not the disease.

Unions and their uncritical defense of teachers is a symptom. Ed schools that graduate teachers who a familiar with the latest political postures but can't teach their way out of a paper bag are a symptom. Five-pound, seventy dollar elementary school text books that are almost free of content to make room for political indoctrination is a symptom.

There are lots of symptoms but if you follow the symptoms back to their causes they all come together at the fact that the people who are most concerned with the education of an individual child, that kid's parents, have almost no say in their education. The people who do have a say, who in fact have almost complete control over each individual child's education, have essentially nothing at stake.

Whether any given kid learns or, indeed, if a large percentage of the kids learn, is of no particular importance. It's not just teachers who don't get canned for running lousy classrooms. Principals can run lousy schools without much worry and lousy superintendents come at and go with little regard to their impact on how many kids learn and how much.

And then there's the school board. Is anyone so insulated from reality that they believe educational results carry much weight in a school board election?

So there you have it. No one associated with or employed by public education is dependent on demonstrating that they can improve the education kids are getting. With that in mind the wonder isn't that that there are so many lousy schools but there are as many good schools as there are. That is a tribute to the pride so many professional educators take in their job because there's nothing intrinsic to the public education system to reward them professionally.

Posted by: allenm1 | November 11, 2009 5:39 PM | Report abuse

For bsallamack: I don't think I am shilling. I think I am following the good example of the bloggers I admire by linking to pieces that I think readers who come to my blog might also like to read. Some are at the Post. Some are not. It would not be helpful for readers for me to fail to point out a good piece, or take issue with a dubious point (as I occasionally do with my fellow blogger Valerie Strauss)just because the writer was a Post person.

Posted by: Jay Mathews | November 11, 2009 6:27 PM | Report abuse

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