Friday, May 14, 2010

A message from Liv Finne

This blog post comes from Liv Finne, the director of the Center for Education at the Washington Policy Center.

As an education policy analyst, I am very concerned about the quality of education our children are receiving. My research has led me to conclude that the key impediment to improving public education is not lack of money, but the organizational structure of public schools. Private schools in Washington and public charter schools in other states are given the advantage of operating free of public education's centralized and highly regulated superstructure. As a result, private and public charter schools can better direct resources to the classroom, more reliably place effective teachers in every classroom, and offer better life prospects to children through higher-quality education. Cutting central bureaucracies and putting qualified principals in charge of their schools would help make sure that education dollars actually reach the classroom.

Recently, I turned my attention to a restrictive policy that applies to public schools but not to private or public charter schools: mandatory collective bargaining agreements. Here is a link to our full study of Seattle’s current collective bargaining agreement, and below is a summary of our findings.


School district salaries and benefits

• Teachers in Seattle receive an average of $70,850 in total salary (base pay and other pay), plus average insurance benefits of $9,855. These figures apply to a ten-month work year.

• Teachers in Seattle public schools can earn up to $88,463 in total base and other pay for a ten-month work year, or $98,318 including benefits.

• Seattle Schools employ 371 people as "educational staff associates," who receive an average of $76,339 for a ten-month year, or $86,194 including benefits.

• Seattle Schools employs 193 non-teachers, mostly senior administrators, who each receive more than $100,000 in total pay.


The school year – State law entitles public school students to 180 days of instruction. Due to a waiver, Seattle students receive 177 days of instruction.

Paid time off and leave - The ten-month work year includes nine paid holidays, and a total of four paid weeks off. In addition Seattle teachers receive ten days of paid sick leave, two days of personal leave and days for professional development. Teachers in Seattle public schools use an average of 16 leave days per school year, or about 9% of the school year, not counting holidays and vacations.

Teacher assignments – Principals have some control over hiring, but seniority often overrules the decisions of principals. Teachers with full contracts must be given priority over younger teachers with provisional contracts. Some teachers have "super-seniority" transfer rights.

Teacher evaluations – The collective bargaining agreement defines the criteria used when evaluating teachers. Assessing teachers based on improved student learning is not permitted.

Layoffs – A layoff must be made based on seniority, with younger teachers being let go first. The collective bargaining agreement expressly bars officials from using teacher performance evaluations in making lay-off decisions: "The performance ratings (evaluation) of employees shall not be a factor in determining the order of layoff under this Section" (page 106 of the agreement).

Mandatory union membership – As a condition of employment, teachers must join the Seattle Education Association and pay dues, or pay a fee equal to the amount of the dues.

Monthly dues transfers – The Seattle School District collects money from employee paychecks as dues and deposits them into union bank accounts. For example, in May 2008, the district transferred $286,181 to the Seattle Education Association. Between May 2007 and May 2008, the district forwarded a total of $3.29 million to the union.

Dues payments to other unions – District officials also collect dues for 18 other unions. From May 2007 to May 2008, District officials transferred a total of $509,811 in dues to these unions.

Paid leave for union officials – Education funds are used to pay for union members to work on union business. Each year Seattle education funds pay for up to 320 substitute teaching days to cover for teachers who spend the day on union-related activities. Statewide this practice reduces school budgets by about $3 million per year.

Policy Recommendations
The full study includes three recommended policy changes that would improve learning for children in Seattle Public Schools:

1. End the "seniority-only" rule in teacher assignments and layoffs – Local principals should control the assignment of teachers in their own schools, regardless of seniority, so they can assemble a teaching team that best serves the needs of students and the community.

2. Allow performance pay – School District officials should be allowed to reward the best teachers based on measurable performance standards, particularly the ability to raise the academic achievement of students.

3. End the automatic transfer of education funds to union accounts as monthly dues – About $290,000 a month is transferred as dues to union accounts. Discarding automatic withholding lets the union, as a private organization, be responsible for collection of its own dues, and would save the District bookkeeping and other costs.

Conclusion
On the whole teachers in Seattle schools work hard, and deserve support from policymakers, parents and the public. Most teachers are deeply concerned about the children entrusted to their care, and they should receive the classroom resources needed to carry out their educational mission. A new collective bargaining agreement that liberates the best in teachers and encourages bold community leadership in principals would provide vital support to fulfilling the District's vision of "every student achieving, everyone accountable."

184 comments:

Charlie Mas said...

Ms Finne contacted me and I offered to upload her post. She sent it; I posted it (formatted, but unedited). I welcome her voice to the discussion.

That said, I disagree with much that she has written.

Let me begin with her whole fundamental frame of reference. The Washington Policy Center's slogan is "Improving lives through market solutions". Market solutions, frankly have no place in universal public K-12 education because there is no market. This bizarre belief that private sector solutions can be applied to the public sector is simple madness. The fundamental force that drives commerce - the profit motive - is absent. It's like trying to swim in an empty pool.

I'm also a bit troubled that she holds up private schools and public charter schools as the benchmark for offering better life prospects to children and providing higher quality education. Those facts simply are not in evidence. Charter schools do not out-perform public schools, and it would be extraordinarily difficult to compare the apple of private schools (with their highly engaged families and selective enrollment) with the orange of public schools with their universal enrollment - including the ill-prepared, the unsupported, the disabled and the aggressively unmotivated.

To speak more directly to the points that Ms Finne wrote in this post, she concludes her introduction by advocating for "Cutting central bureaucracies and putting qualified principals in charge of their schools". So why, then, is nothing that follows on those topics? Why is everything that follows about the teacher contract and harassing the union? How does that cut central bureaucracy or improve principal quality?

The fact is that Ms Finnes knows and states that the sickness is in management, but she wants the front-line workers to take the medicine.

Why is she afraid to prescribe any cure for the central bureaucracies or the ineffective principals? Why is she afraid to address the root causes of the problem? Ah! Because she doesn't have to. Her market-based worldview dictates that she blame the unions - they are the drag on the free market. Everything would be great if it weren't for them. It must be nice to have a whipping boy you can always blame for everything.

I've taken up the practice of blaming everything that goes wrong on Global Climate Change. Everything that goes wrong. Hit a lot of red lights while driving? Global Climate Change. Shoelace breaks? Global Climate Change. Out of peanut butter? It's that damn Global Climate Change again. When I get tired of this I'm going back to blaming everything on anti-semitism.

seattle citizen said...

Dare I research Ms Finne and the Washington Policy Center's "market solutions," or will I be seen as "always bringing up that danged Gates/Broad stuff?"

Given the dichotomy between what she claims is the problem and her proposed solutions (the dichotomy illustrated by Charlie and obvious to all), all sorts of alarm bells are ringing. Yet here I go, off to depress myself by finding yet another place, and another cheerleader, who compares apples (market schools: private and charter) and oranges (public schools, as Charlie says with universal enrollment)in order to sell either her product, the product of her think tank, or the product desired by those funding her work.

seattle citizen said...

http://www.desmogblog.com/washington-policy-center-background-and-history

Background and History

The Washington Policy Center (WPC) is a free-market think tank based in Seattle, Washington with annual revenue of approx. $1.3 million.

The WPC was originally founded as the "Washington Institute for Policy Studies." In 1997 the Washington Institute for Policy Studies (WIPS) created a new organization, the Washington Institute Foundation. Eventually, in 1998, the Washington Institute Foundation replaced WIPS.

In 2001 the Washington Institute Foundation was renamed the Washington Policy Center.

WPC's mission is to "promote limited government and free market solutions for state and local issues, and be Washington state's premier public policy institute providing high qulity analysis and research for our state's citizens, policymakers and media." Washington Policy Center has been referred to as the "Heritage Foundation of the Northwest."

In 2007 WPC raised $3.8 million to fund eight research centers focused on: small business issues, the environment, health care, transportation, government reform, and a legislative information website, WashingtonVotes.org.

Funding
The Washington Policy Center chooses not to disclose its donors. However, according Media Transparency, $387,500 have been donated cumulatively to the WPC, WIF, and WIPS. The largest donor is The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Inc.; it has provided the WPC with just under half its funding--$178,500.

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation is considered the "largest and most influential right-wing foundation" in the United States. As of 2005, the Bradley Foundation had $706 million in assets, and was giving away more than $34 million a year to organizations and institutions. The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Inc. states its mission is "to support limited, competent government; a dynamic marketplace for economic, intellectual, and cultural activity; and a vigorous defense of American ideas and institutions."

To satisfy this objective the Bradley Foundation supports organizations and individuals that promote the deregulation of business, the rollback of most social welfare programs, and the privatization of government services. Since 1985, The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Inc. has donated $564,992,276 in grant money. Conservative organizations that have received funding from the Bradley Foundation include: the American Enterprise Institute (17,137,797), the Heritage Foundation ($14,293,702), the Hudson Institute ($6,760,560), the George C. Marshall Institute ($3,535,303), the Hoover Institution ($2,501,000), the Competitive Enterprise Institute ($765,040), the Reason Foundation ($957,500), the Cato Institute ($862,500), and the Heartland Institute ($548,000).

seattle citizen said...

So who funds Ms Finne's work? WPC has revenues, we can assume it contracts "studies"; who paid for this one?

grousefinder said...

So there was this maintenance guy at our school today and we were talking about the downtown offices, which he spends a great deal of time in servicing equipment.

After the usual hobnobbing about petty bureaucrats he told me this anecdote:

"One day I was servicing the ***** [deleted to protect the source] equipment downtown and decided to count the number of people on computers playing solitaire or surfing the net. I stopped at 20 after I watched one employee place an eBay bid," he exclaimed. "You wouldn't believe the number of people up there that do nothing...all day long."

Having once been on the facilities side of education construction and maintenance, I concurred with the gentleman.

I think Liv Finne misses the target, as Charlie so eloquently points out. The waste and sloth in SPS is downtown as it has been for years. The teachers don't have time for solitaire...ever!

livfinne said...

The free market offers many ideas for breaking up the monopoly that is the public school system. Our 8 recommendations for reforming schools include these ideas:
1) Put the principal in charge; 2)Give parents choice among public schools; 3) Let teachers teach; 4) Double teacher pay; 5) Replace the WASL with another standard; 6) Create no-excuses schools; 7) Transparency-put school budgets and teacher qualifications online; 8) Make the Superintendent of Public Instruction an appointed office. If you read our study, Eight Practical Ways to Reverse the Decline of Public Education, you will find that we recommend that Seattle return to the weighted student formula, open enrollment, and allow principals to control their budgets in actual dollars, choose the teaching team they have at their school, and have control over the educational program for their school. The collective bargaining agreement treats teachers as interchangeable cogs in a machine, and undermines the ability of principals to increase instructional time, choose their staff and reward teachers on the basis of their ability to raise student achievement. The way to achieve excellence in every unit, every school, is to transfer power over spending, staff and instructional program from the central bureaucracy to the local school principal, and then to hold him or her accountable for raising student performance.

Patrick said...

Eight practical ways? You think it's practical to double teacher pay?

Even if we could afford to pay twice as much in teacher salaries, we would probably get a better result by cutting class size in half. Teachers I've encountered have been dedicated and wouldn't be working any harder at twice the pay.

reader said...

Replace the WASL with a better standard. Now there's an idea.

You mean find a better WASL? Is that practical? The state spent years and years on developing the WASL. And now, another year on developing a replacement. Voilla! We've now got MSP instead of WASL... along with MAP standard testing 4 times a year. We should be all set! Cross thing #5 off the list. After doubling the teacher salaries, we're almost done.

And... to top things off. Let's just put those wonderful principals in charge. They've all got 5 years experience.... good to go. Send the check!

Fixing schools, at your fingertips. It's as easy as typing!

dan dempsey said...

When a problem exists do not expect a change to be a solution.

Race to the Top is largely about control not improvement.

Check the world economy. Where will OSPI, SPS, and FED ED get the bucks?

Gregoire dumped I-728 costing districts around $400+ per kid.... so now the fight is for RttT and a possible payout of $30 per kid if lucky.

RttT is incredibly flawed and only the very ill informed would push it.... unless it is a control issue.

Read this first
then this.

Where do Liv Finne's suggestions lay in all this?

Sahila said...

For once, reader, you and I are in complete agreement... ;-)

I havent trusted myself to respond to the contents of LivFinne's contribution... I think if I started I might get kicked off the blog...

Central Mom said...

Glad you posted Liv. Interesting to see a detailed proposal and also to see others' counterpoints.

I am interested in the point about giving parents choice among public schools, which Seattle forcefully pulled back from this year with its return to neighborhood schools. Can you define your idea of "choice" and what it looks like to you?

There are a whole lot of folks in Seattle pointing out that what our superintendent calls "option" schools need to be expanded, not contracted, now that Seattle has baseline assignments. However, this seems to be at the bottom of the superintendent's barrel on her terms of priorities, as Standardization is the name of her game.

Charlie Mas said...

I say again that I welcome Ms Finne's voice to this discussion.

Here is a link to the Washington Policy Center's Education Reform Plan authored by Ms Finne.

I encourage you all to read it.

It is a valuable document. While it contains much that I would dispute, I believe that it is a sincere effort to improve academic outcomes for Washington's students, and I support that desire wholeheartedly.

I don't share the believe that education is in decline, but I am delighted that they give a loud voice to some truths about Washington public education:

School funding is higher than ever

School administrators are not accountable

We need practical ways to improve student learning

Then, I'm afraid, I have to reject nearly every solution they offer.

Charlie Mas said...

Here's the first.

1)Put the principal in charge

Let me begin by saying that I like this idea in theory. In theory it is a dream. In practice, however, it is a nightmare.

While many of our principals are absolutely brilliant, the majority of them are simply mediocre and some are aggressively destructive. Ms Finne may not realize this, but this idea was tried here in Seattle and it was a disaster. Bad principals were allowed to drive schools, like Rainier Beach High School, right into the ground. Bad teachers - about which we hear so much - are the direct result of bad principals who are incapable or unwilling to do the work necessary to fire them. Behind every bad teacher there stands a bad principal. Ms Finne, herself, writes: "Teachers widely report they feel unsupported by ineffective school administrators" Her faith in them is unfounded.

She writes: "Local principals should be freed to act as instructional leaders, rather
than just building managers.
", but then she proposes the opposite. Principals already have too many administrative duties on their plate to devote adequate time to being the instructional leader in their schools, yet the WPC would add to their duties by giving them responsibility for budgeting and selecting materials.

I do think that principals should be allowed greater control over hiring and firing within their buiilding, but there is a practical consideration here. Teachers are contracted by the District, not the schools. So a teacher with a District contract would get paid by the District for at least a year even if they could not secure a position at a school.

This idea includes the idea of having the funding follow the child. This was also tried here in Seattle. While it had some success, it was, overall, a failure. There was no assurance that the money that followed students with special needs to their schools was actually spent to provide for those special needs. Also, schools with low enrollments were starved for resources and became even less attractive to families, losing more resources and losing more families in a downward spiral. It wasn't good for students.
Ms Finne writes: "Failure to gain the approval of parents and to attract their children would signal to principals that something is wrong at their school, and give them the opportunity to correct it." Opportunity, yes. Incentive, no. The staff at schools with low enrollment under school choice did not respond by working to improve their school's attractiveness. Without a market force at work, they had no incentive to do so. Besides, after the attractive schools filled up, the District assigned students to the schools that couldn't attract students on their own.

continued...

Charlie Mas said...

...continued

Ms Finne does note that: "To insure accountability, school districts should hold principals answerable for teacher performance and yearly student progress at their schools." I would have more confidence in this suggestion if she were to develop this element of the plan more fully and put it at the top. It appears, instead, at the bottom as a sort of afterthought. From my observation, however, I have not seen central administration demonstrate much willingness to hold principals accountable. I do not share her confidence that they would suddenly begin to do so if her proposed reforms were enacted.

The other elements of the proposal are all about throwing out all of the rules about teacher and principal certification and all of the collectively bargained work rules. Good idea. Let's get rid of all that bureacratic tangle that prevents us from hiring the most talented people regardless of their licensing or training and making them work as long as we need them to. Not just in education, but in all fields. Hospitals should be allowed to hire as doctors and nurses the people they think are most talented, regardless of their licensing or training. Let's stop licensing dentists, lawyers, and stock brokers as well. Heck, let's stop licensing truck drivers and ship's pilots. These regulations are just keeping talented people from the opportuntiy to serve us better.

Hmmmm. No. I don't think so. I think I'm going to continue to support requisite training and licensing for teachers - as well as those other professions. Anyone who wants to teach will earn the certificate.

This idea, to make the principal the CEO of the school, was tried here in Seattle and it failed. It failed due to the unwillingness or inability of central administration to hold principals accountable. I cannot support this proposal until it addresses the causes of failure in the earlier trial.

Charlie Mas said...

WPC recommendation #2: Give parents choice among public schools

Yeah. This was also tried in Seattle and it didn't work. Here's why:

School capacity is finite.

While businesses are designed to grow and are able to grow, schools are not. If a school is popular it will fill up. At that point it cannot enroll any more students. At that point school choice starts to break down.

First, the good school loses all incentive to improve and loses all incentive to serve its students and families well. Don't like it? Leave. We have a waitlist of people who want to enroll here.

Second, since the students have to be enrolled somewhere, the unlucky ones are assigned to unpopular schools. So the unpopular schools get filled up too. Consequently they have no incentive to improve. Don't like it? Tough. There's no space available anywhere else.

In the end, the families don't really have a choice.

See the problem with imposing private sector solutions in the public sector? The fundamental incentive in the private sector is missing.

Ms Finne believes that with choice, "Accountability is built in. Low enrollment would provide an early warning to the superintendent, the school board and the community that the principal of the failing school needs to change direction or be replaced." Yeah, but they don't heed that warning. They don't care because they get paid the same either way. Their loyalty is to the principal, not to the community.

Without some way of creating elastic capacities at our schools, this idea is impractical, unworkable, and ineffective. We know that because we've tried it.

Without some way of actually rewarding the schools that are popular (instead of overcrowding them), this idea won't work.

Without some way of actually spurring change at the schools that are unpopular, this idea won't work.

Instead of having a real mechanism, the WPC relies on the magic of the market to drive change, only there is no market here, no market forces, no market incentives. This market solution won't work.

spedvocate said...

Re: money follows the student
There was no assurance that the money that followed students with special needs to their schools was actually spent to provide for those special needs.

But you fail to mention, there still is no provision to ensure that money is spent on special needs students under the new "Weighted Staffing Standards". In fact, under the WSS, we systematically remove funding from students with disabilities by NOT counting them, or only very marginally counting them.

Having the money follow the student, is the one part of Ms. Finne's proposal that was good.

--------------

I always wonder why we think market forces apply to goverment services which aren't markets? If schools were a business, they would be out of business. Are private schools really better at providing services? Given the same amount of money, and the same students... there's is absolutely no evidence (one way or the other) that they provide something better. They never have the same amount of money, they get a lot more. They never take the same type of students, they discriminate. No disabilities, no poor, no unmotivated, few minorities, etc. Given the same parameters, could private schools do better? Nobody knows.

Toni said...

Thanks Liv for posting. It's great to hear your ideas. I don't agree with all of them, and some have already been tried (and failed), but I appreciate you taking the time to share.

I hope that everyone can stay civil and if they feel inclined to( respectfully ) make counterpoints.

People shouldn't have to be brave to post on this blog.

Charlie Mas said...

WPC recommendation #3: Let Teachers Teach

Here Ms Finne proposes that Districts be allowed to hire whomever they want to teach and to quickly and easily fire senior teachers if they prove ineffective.

Here, again, we see how private sector and market solutions will not work in the public sector.

A great teacher occupies a class of thirty students. So does a mediocre one. They provide the exact same economic benefit to the school, the district, and the principal. Great teachers bring no economic benefit to anyone in the system.

The school and district staff don't make more money if the teachers are better and the school and district staff do not make less money if the teachers are worse. They have no incentive to quality.

Consequently, the market forces that Ms Finne relies upon would not create a drive to quality. Not at all. It would, however, create a drive to cut pay.

Imagine you go into a store to buy a doorstop and there are two doorstops on the shelf. They each will stop doors just the same. One costs $3 and the other costs $6. The $6 one doesn't do anything different for you, but if buy it the company that makes it will donate $2 to a charity of their choice. Which do you buy?

Most folks would buy the $3 one.

That's the choice that Ms Finne proposes for hiring teachers. In a free market, why in the world would a public school - with no profit motive, with no incentive to increase its client base, and with no ability to increase its client base (after the school is fully subscribed) - hire a teacher at $90,000 when they could hire a teacher to fill the same role at $45,000?

From the school's perspective and the district's perspective they each plug the same gap equally effectively. They occupy a class of 30. It would be a waste of public resources to hire the more expensive teacher. The job goes to the low bidder.

This is not a recipe for higher quality teachers, it is a recipe for lower paid teachers.

spedvocate said...

The other problem with school choice. Who is actually doing the choosing? Fmailies with disabilities learned very quickly. The school is choosing the students... not the other way around. In my journey of school choice, principals told me, point blank, they wouldn't serve my student because of the child's disability. "You should go that other school over there. They are a lot better. We don't do disabilities here." Of course they were conspicuously conscientious not to put anything in writing.

People with disabilities weren't the only ones herded off with school choice. Don't like black people? That's fine. Choose a school without any. It is going to take a lot of undoing to get rid of the segregation that happened under school choice. I for one, am glad they finally started.

Toni said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Toni said...

"First, the good school loses all incentive to improve and loses all incentive to serve its students and families well. Don't like it? Leave"

I don't necessarily agree with this. If a "good" school doesn't serve its students and families well they will not be considered a "good" school for very long.

I've seen one bad kindergarten teacher drive droves of families away from a "very good" school.

Charlie Mas said...

Ms Finne suggests that Districts "Double teacher pay"

She does point out a number of problems with the current pay schedule, but her recommendation doesn't actually solve any of them.

The more talented, effective, and experienced teachers will still choose better working conditions.

While she writes that teacher pay should be increased, she goes on to say that "All teacher salaries should be set without restriction by the on-site
manager: the principal.
"

And why should the principal pay teachers any more than they are making now? There's no incentive at all. To get better quality staff? Really? Why should the principal care about that? The principal has no incentive to improve the quality of his staff beyond the point that the complaints stop.

Great teachers are often the source of complaints and administrative headaches. Great teachers, like all really talented people, are both a boon and a burden. The wise principal would seek a staff of teachers who are just good enough, but not great. The market, the one who is the idol of the Washington Policy Center, doesn't provide financial incentives for the principal to seek greatness, just working condition incentives to avoid complaints or disruptions.

Charlie Mas said...

Toni, it takes years for a school to build a reputation and it takes years for a school to lose one.

When the school no longer has a waitlist, then, and maybe then, it will take steps to improve. Maybe not. Why should they? As the enrollment numbers show, there are not many more seats than students. Someone will be forced to sit in many of the seats at even the most unpopular school.

There were years when no one - literally zero students - named MLK Elementary as their first choice for assignment and yet the school had a full kindergarten class. With all of the other schools full, families had to accept assignment there.

Charlie Mas said...

I'll admit that I just don't get the fifth recommendation: "Replace the WASL with another standard"

I think the idea here is that the WASL (now the HSPE) isn't tough enough to pass. The idea seems to be that if we made the graduation test really hard to pass then Washington state high school diplomas would mean more than other state's high school diplomas to recruiters at colleges and companies.

Yeah, I just don't see that happening. Instead, I see a lot more students failing to graduate.

There seems to be this idea out there that the schools are holding back the lowest performing students. I haven't seen evidence of this. I see a lot of other things holding back the lowest performing students. So none of the changes proposed here will significantly alter the performance of these students as a group. So this proposal would just make it so that even fewer of them would graduate. I don't see how that's a good thing.

I know that the idea is to make the high school diploma more meaningful, I just don't see the point of that. Why aren't we working to make the middle school diploma more meaningful? Why are we working to make the kindergarten diploma more meaningful? Because they aren't meaningful. And neither is the high school diploma. There aren't many jobs that a person can't get without one that the same person could get if they had one. And if the person is capable of doing the work, then the person is capable of either getting the high school diploma or the G.E.D.

Speaking of that, we already have a test that confirms that a person has the knowledge and skills we expect from a high school graduate: the G.E.D. Why don't we just replace the WASL with that?

seattle citizen said...

@Toni-
"I hope that everyone can stay civil and if they feel inclined to( respectfully ) make counterpoints. People shouldn't have to be brave to post on this blog."

Uh, thanks for the admonishment. We get SO uncivil sometimes, we forget that we should check is with Ms Manners for the proper etiquette in discourse each time we sit down at the keyboard...

C'mon, Toni, this sort of complaining about the horribleness of some comments is getting old. This is a venue for the free expression of ideas. Sometimes it gets boisterous, sometimes people say dumb things, sometimes in the heat of argument or for rhetorical flourish they say things that seem like and attack but are really just anger rising to the surface...

What do you mean by "civil"? According to whose civilization? People from around the world, and in our very own city, have their own ways of arguing and expressing, their own cultural and individual ways of making thier points...I've been at meetings that were mayhem, but good ideas and good arguments were being posited, just not in ways that make me "comfortable." If I were to stand up in one of the meetings and ask, "please, can't we talk quietly, respect each other, be nice," I'd be laughed out of the room and rightfully so.

What I ask for this forum is that people speak their minds in whatever way allows them to speak from their heart. If you feel you have to be "brave" to read things here, then, well, maybe you need to check your assumptions about "proper" etiquette.

I find requests for people to be "civil" to nbe arrogant and condescending: Who died and made YOUR style of debate God?

As has been said many times, if you don't like the opinions or words of a commenter, just scroll down. If it's too late, if their words have already burned your eyes, maybe you need thicker corneas.

Can we get back to the thread now without chastising each other for our unruliness? Thank you!

Charlie Mas said...

Let me say here that I do think that there are things that schools and districts can and should do to make a difference for low-performing students. I have written about it a number of times.

We need early and effective intervention that will quickly bring those students up to grade level and keep them there.

Making a new, harder WASL is no substitute.

Eleuterio said...

A quick read suggests: more anti-union, anti-teacher rhetoric posturing as "pro-teacher".

Our union provides (mostly) a clear coherent counterpoint to well-organized, well funded anti-teacher, anti-student initiatives.

Good working conditions for teachers are good working conditions for students.

Ms. Finne should back to her fancy office and watch Fox News.

Signed, An actual teacher.

Toni said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melissa Westbrook said...

"I'm also a bit troubled that she holds up private schools and public charter schools as the benchmark for offering better life prospects to children and providing higher quality education. Those facts simply are not in evidence."

Exactly what I thought as I read that.

Ms. Finne, we do have some choice in SPS (the new SAP has narrowed that but compared to other districts, we do), the WASL is being replaced, pay teachers more (great but where's the money and how does merit pay fit in this), and ALL school district staff should have their qualifications online, not just teachers.

I will have to read the whole document and I do welcome the conversation. Thank you, Ms. Finne.

Toni said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sahila said...

I find much of what Ms Finne says to be a one-sided point of view, with, contrary to her assertions, very little study to support it...

I found this stuff when I was looking for info to confirm something I have known for ages... that when privately-schooled kids go to University, they perform worse than their public school classmates... the reason being that public school kids have had to learn for themselves more, whereas private schools 'spoon feed' their students...

I dont have time right now to find the docs with specifics in them (I know they exist cos I did this research about 15 years ago when deciding about public/private secondary education for my older children), but below are references to performance at both school and college level...

I dont have time now to convert them to live links, sorry...

http://education-portal.com/articles/Public_Schools_vs._Private_Schools:_New_Study_Says_There_is_No_Difference.html

http://www.projectappleseed.org/public-private.html

http://web.bsu.edu/cob/econ/research/papers/horowitz2005eer.pdf

http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~content=a915819995&db=all

http://www.schoolsmatter.info/2009/03/public-schools-outperform-private.html

http://www.epi.org/publications/entry/books_privatepublic/

http://www.voxeu.org/index.php?q=node/559

http://www.questia.com/googleScholar.qst;jsessionid=LnSDPT0pJsDbyJG6gYwQtRlp2Kg6RTGLHwFvhN1l2kpcqTDn71bL!1809081570!-1807481064?docId=96245029

http://www.hks.harvard.edu/pepg/PDF/events/MPSPE/PEPG-05- 13bellei.pdf

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/edison/etc/private.html

http://muse.jhu.edu/login?uri=/journals/brookings-wharton_papers_on_urban_affairs/v2003/2003.1nechyba.html

http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/stop-bagging-public-education-20091202-k4y4.html

http://ideas.repec.org/p/ces/ceswps/_1662.html

http://mjperry.blogspot.com/2009/03/educational-outcomes-prviate-vs-govt.html

Only two of the papers say that privately-educated children do better, but those papers come from right-wing, free market/competition oriented groups/people... which is what Ms Finne's organisation is...

And one of those papers states quite bluntly that that's because public funding of private operation of schools is the better, most efficient method of educating children...most efficient, meaning the least costly, most profitable

Toni said...

Sahila maybe you could look at some local Seattle statistics.

Take a look at how Bush, Lakeside, Northwest, and Blanchet graduates do compared to SPS high school graduates.

While national studies and trends are important to consider, Seattle is a unique city, and I'd be much more interested in seeing local comparisons and statistics in this case.

Toni said...

And, how may drop outs do private schools have.

I'd guess that Bush and Lakeside have zero drop outs per year, while SPS has over 40%.

Do those studies factor in the public school kids that drop out? Or only the graduates?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Toni, those schools are self-selecting. That should tell you why they have few drop-outs.

Sahila said...

Actually, Toni - many of the sources I've listed look at the performance of children in private and public schools, not just what happens to them when they go to college...

And the conclusion is that kids in private schools do no better academically than kids in public schools...

As to drop outs... private schools dont advertising how many of their students leave and how many perform poorly - ITS BAD PR! And one of my daughters went to a private girls high school and there were just as many children there who were not performing well academically, DESPITE THE ADVANTAGES MONEY GAVE THEM...

Its just hidden better in private school...

Toni said...

I understand that private schools self select and that's why they have fewer drop outs. All I'm saying is that if you are going to use statistics then you have to look at all factors.

Sahila said...

I wonder what Ms Finne gets paid? More or less than a teacher?

How many conferences she gets to go to, on full pay with all attendance and travel/accommodation/meal expenses paid by her employer? Does she get health insurance, holidays?

I wonder if she gets paid for her performance? How is that performance measured?

Sahila said...

@Toni - that should apply to Ms Finne's contribution too, dont you think?

I'm saying she's using stats selectively to paint the picture she wants and there are other stats that repudiate her 'findings'...

WenD said...

@Toni: The most inflammatory remark I've read on this thread comes from your corner. I don't think anyone has to be brave to post here. I rarely read flaming on this blog, but rather intelligent debate, and more information than we'll normally read from a news source. Scolding casts a negative tone where one doesn't exist. I don't recall that you have been flamed, but rather that you participate, which is the goal. It's good here, really it is! (I'm not mocking you. Tone is challenging in this means of communication.)

Ms Finne: I'm glad you posted. I agree with what others have pointed out. Much of what you suggest has been tried. One of your proposals is one I strongly agree with, that principals are the educational leads for their schools. With this in mind, rather than focus on teachers and their bargaining power, we need to start at the top. That means the sup, the board, and central administration. When the focus is on teachers, given the actions of the administration, it immediately makes me suspect that the call to action is dishonest.

Also, you were a party in the Monorail lawsuit. I would rather see your energies spent working for things the public at large wants (in the case of the monorail, 3 "Yes" votes) than working for the parties that are indeed holding schools hostage.

You fought for a monorail recall based on preserving views, which was very disingenuous of you, since the recall was funded by one very wealthy downtown property owner.

Your record of promoting the greater good isn't good, so I question the sincerity of the solutions you offer.

livfinne said...

The Obama administration supports these free market reforms for education:
1) charter schools which allow principals to control actual dollars in their budgets, choose their team of teachers, and with their team of teachers design the instructional program (including additional instructional time) best suited to the needs of students;
2) evaluating teachers and principals on their ability to raise student achievement;
3) removing ineffective teachers and principals from schools;
4) offering performance pay to effective teachers and principals'
5) school choice for parents;
6) closing failing schools.

The Obama administration supports these reforms as the research is in. These reforms raise student achievement.

Seattle's experiment in putting the principals in charge, allowing the money to follow the child and parents to choose schools (brought here by John Stanford) did not fail because these are poor ideas, but because they were poorly implemented. They are working elsewhere, across the country and abroad.

Private schools serve economically and racially diverse student populations, and, contrary to common opinion, achieve better results for these students than public schools. Ninety percent of private school students graduate from high school.

The attack on this research and on me personally is revealing. Raising student achievement does not appear to be as important a value as protecting the failing status quo.

WenD said...

@Finne: I disagree. No one has attacked you here. This comment alone is revealing about your disingenuous stance.

You're not defending, nor are you illuminating, the research you speak of. If we can start by focusing on one point, charters, the stats on charters vs public are mixed. The numbers I've read state that charters don't excel in comparison to public, state to state, across the board. Why is this so?

Comparing public to private is also full of variables that you're not covering here: income, and beyond that, the one-on-one instruction needed to mitigate it and help children learn in an increasing demanding school climate i.e. Harlem Children's Zone. They are remarkable in the help they offer their students. Nothing in Seattle, or most other cities, comes close.

Focusing on gutting teacher contracts doesn't even approach what they've done, nor does it make sense as a promising starting point. If we're going to look at contracts, let's start by looking at the incredible compensation Maria Goodloe-Johnson enjoys, more than Chris Gregoire. Truly, this is an incredible statistic on it's own. For that price, I want more than I've seen, and I want a roadmap that veers from where we're going. Can we possibly agree on that point as a start?

You have a past, and it involves the monorail and your fight against it. Until I hear more from you, I must base your current activity on your previous campaign.

Sahila said...

The Obama administration - at least the part working on education reform - is made up of Broad and Gates Foundation plants... All these lovely little Broad/Gates voices whispering in his ears...

These include Arnie Duncan, and Carl Harris, deputy assistant Secretary of Education for policy and strategic initiatives within the US Department of Education.

Harris is a graduate of the Broad Foundation's program for urban superintendents, and Harris -- under whose leadership DPS has accepted grants from the also-reform-minded Gates Foundation for the Performance Learning Center at Northgate -- is politically well-aligned with Arne Duncan, the Obama administration's Secretary of Education, a key supporter of educational reform and data-driven assessment with a strong reliance on testing.

http://www.bullcityrising.com/2009/11/dps-harris-leaves-district-to-work-in-obama-administrations-dept-of-education.html

Kwasi Asare (Broad current year resident) is special assistant to Jim Shelton, Assistant Deputy Secretary for innovation and improvement at the U.S. Department of Education, where he drives strategy and policy for learning technology programs.
http://www.nationaltechcenter.org/index.php/2009/09/24/conf09-speakers/

"It appears that another official with strong ties to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is headed for a key post at the education department.

Flypaper reports that Jim Shelton, a program director with the foundation, will be leading innovation efforts with the education department.

Certainly, the Gates Foundation has a very broad reach, so it would be difficult to staff an office with powerful people in the ed policy world without picking those who are involved with the foundation. But it's worth pointing out the Gates connections since the foundation doles out a significant amount of money to influential organizations that are helping shape education reform. One of the foundation's key pillars now, for instance, is pushing high, common academic standards—which mirrors a priority of the Obama administration and Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

So, in addition to Shelton, there's Carmel Martin, the pick for assistant secretary for planning, evaluation, and policy development. She had just gotten hired at the Gates Foundation when she was lured away to the education department.

And Education Secretary Arne Duncan's new senior counselor, Margot Rogers, was the deputy director of education programs at the Gates Foundation. In this 2006 Catalyst Chicago magazine article, Rogers praises the guy who is now her boss: “We really see Arne as one of a few leaders in the country who is really thoughtful and groundbreaking in making sure students are prepared for college, work and life.” Gates had just awarded Chicago Public Schools, where Arne Duncan was then the superintendent, a four-year $21 million grant, according to the article."


http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2009/03/do_all_ed_dept_roads_lead_to_g.html

See here for more Broadies warming their feet under the Dept of Ed table:
http://www.broadresidency.org/news/newsletters/1q2010/index.html#1

see here for the faces of school reform:
http://www.indypendent.org/2010/01/29/faces-of-school-reform/

hschinske said...

Bush, Lakeside, and other private schools have a few drop-outs. Not a ton, but it happens. But typically those who are at risk of dropping out of private high schools (or who get expelled) first transfer to a public high school, then drop out from there. I suppose some transfer to schools for students with substance abuse problems or whatever, too.

Helen Schinske

livfinne said...

Here is a recent letter to the editor in the New York Times that answers your question about charter schools.

How Successful Are Charter Schools?

By Jeanne Allen
The New York Times
May 6,2010

The state of education data in the United States makes it impossible to issue sweeping conclusions about the condition of charter schools.


The idea that a research organization's conclusions regarding student achievement can be definitive in the absence of national, longitudinal data is folly. Yet your article highlights the deeply flawed research released last summer by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes.


In contrast to the methodology of that study, the only way to determine charter school success is to compare the achievement of students in a charter school with the achievement of students in the public school they would have otherwise attended.


As your article noted, Caroline Hoxby, an economist, conducted such a study. The conclusions were profoundly positive for charter school students in both reading and math. Additional data show that the longer a child is in a charter school, the better he or she performs.


The students on the waiting lists of the nation's 5,000 charter schools would fill another 5,000 charter schools. This is why many school districts and policy makers look to charter schools today as models for curricular, operational and technological innovation, despite funding that is typically 65 to 80 percent of that of conventional public schools.


Charter schools that fail get closed, as is the case with more than 650 to date, and thus accountability is in full force.

LA Teacher's Warehouse said...

As a teacher, I highly recommend "The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education" by Diane Ravitch.

It is the best critique I've found of "market-based reforms" in education. I wonder if Ms. Finne has read it and has a response to it.

Toni said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sahila said...

From Wikipedia:

"One of Hoxby's most-cited papers, "Does Competition among Public Schools Benefit Students and Taxpayers?" (American Economic Review, 2000), argues that increased school choice improves educational outcomes for all students. Her methods in the paper have attracted serious criticism: Jesse Rothstein (at the time, a graduate student at UC Berkeley under Professor David Card) published a paper claiming that he was unable to replicate her results.[5] Hoxby published a response in defense of her original work a few months later"

And here's an indepth description of that debate...
http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2005/7/8/star-ec-prof-caught-in-academic/

and here's another reference to Hoxby, noting her conservative, free market affiliations and other debates she's been embroiled in...
http://ednotesonline.blogspot.com/2009/09/caroline-hoxby-has-dog-in-race.html

Charlie Mas said...

Ms Finne is right. While Seattle tried giving principals autonomy in their schools, and tried school choice, and tried the Weighted Student Formula, their execution of all three was faulty.

That tells me that we need to address the factors that make for that faulty execution last time before we take a second try at these "reforms". Where is the focus on correcting those factors? I'm not seeing it.

The principals were given autonomy, but there was no one holding them accountable for the outcomes. John Stanford was notoriously lax about conducting peformance reviews of principals. How can Ms Finne assure us that principals will be held accountable if they are given that autonomy again? Why weren't they held accountable that time? Why aren't they being held accountable right now? Address this failing and then maybe we'll have something to talk about.

School choice was poorly implemented because, once again, there was no accountability. Schools that did not attract students were supposed to be closed, re-invented, and re-opened. That didn't happen. How can we be assured that it will happen if school choice is tried again?

Instead of schools competing for students, school choice resulted in students competing for schools. How would it be different next time?

Mixing school choice and principal autonomy is to invite every school to become an Option School, with its own focus, curriculum and style. Not much in the way of equitable access to programs that way, not unless we started paying a lot more for transportation. Would there still be neighborhood schools? How would Ms Finne choose which students get into the over-subscribed schools?

The Weighted Student Formula didn't work because the money followed the student but it wasn't spent on the student. What accountability measure would Ms Finne impose that wouldn't step on the principal's autonomy? And what if some principals decided not to serve bilingual or special education students students as part of an intentional effort to drive them off?

I just don't see these ideas as well-thought out or practical.

Toni said...

I don't think we need charters in Seattle. I think the need for different learning environments can be met by our option/alt schools.

However, I think the district as a whole, including the capacity at option/alt schools, is being mismanaged.

Families options have been limited with the new SAP and the limiting of transportation.

Clearly there is not enough space in our options/alt schools, as is evident by the fact that almost every one of them has a large waitlist.

Further, accessibility to specific programs is not balanced. Schools that offer unique, one of a kind pedagogies or offerings, such as IB, Montessori, and language immersion are considered neighborhood schools and only available to families that live in those neighborhoods.

On top of all of this our true alternative schools are being watered down and have become a mere shell of what they used to be. They are victims of standardization, which is counter to their culture considering that most of our alts were created specifically to avoid standardization.

With visionary and innovative leadership, coupled with the ability and willingness to engage the families of this district we could easily avoid charters. Unfortunately that leadership doesn't exist. Under the current administration, and looking at the state of our district, I fear that if charters come up for a vote again, they may pass. As well, a city takeover be welcomed.

Things will have to change, one way or the other.

Sahila said...

And if you want to see who else is shaping the debate here's a link to a webinar held in early May, in which they were trying to justify the narrowing of the curriculum by comparing how much different subjects cots to teach...

http://www.urban.org/events/firsttuesdays/big-disconnect.cfm

All the presenters had links to Broad or charters or right wing, free market-oriented think tanks...

One presenter was Russlynn Ali, the assistant secretary for civil rights at the U.S. Department of Education, is responsible for ensuring that schools, colleges, and universities receiving federal funding do not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, disability, or age. Previously, Ali was a vice president of the Education Trust in Washington, D.C., and the founding executive director of the Education Trust–West in Oakland, California. Ali, who has been a teacher, attorney, and law professor, was assistant director of policy and research at the Broad Foundation and chief of staff to the president of the Los Angeles Unified School District's Board of Education.

seattle citizen said...

Thank you, Helene, for mentioning that private school students don't drop out of private schools, they merely fall back (lack of parent support? Issues?) to a public school and then drop out from there. And, as you say, this could be the case with students that face more serious issues, such as drug abuse or pregnancy as well.

This illustrates the basic difference that is ofte repeated here and elsewhere: Apples and oranges. Two different animals, and comparing them so easily, as Ms Finne does, is absurd on its face.

WenD said...

@Sahila: Agreed. Hoxby isn't impartial. She has her own agenda, and it skews her results.

@Finne: Obama's ed choices are typical of what presidents do during their first term. They bring in provincial leadership i.e. Arne Duncan and his cohort.

We can keep throwing dollars at studies that back up the motives of the people who fund the study. So many in the so-called reform movement want to focus on teacher quality. The stats on charters, like private schools, spin on who selects them, far more than who runs them. Selection drives public school outcomes as much as anything else. Nothing has changed.

As someone already said, principals are supposed to hold teachers to account. SPS has the power to do this. There actions are inconsistent. One thing that is consistent is the trajectory of an incompetent principal, from school to central administration. I'd want to look at this practice, and the growth of central admin in general, before I look at examining teachers under a microscope. If a school is failing, first go to the top.

Perhaps the cheapest, easiest, most direct way of achieving equity and better results is to enforce the policies that are already the books. This is unglamorous work, and Gates, Broad, and others in Ed Inc. don't benefit from this kind of activity or have a controlling stake.

I don't want outside foundations and consultants controlling my kids' school experience. That's what the sup and board and teachers are for. What am I missing?

seattle citizen said...

Ms Finne, you are an academic: Why would you think posting a letter to the editor of the New York Times, by the President of the Center for Education Reform Jeanne Allen, be a proper "answer," citation or rebuttal to requests for data?
Ms Allen is in charge of an "organization" ("company"?) dedicated to turning schools into charter schools. How is this data or information that "answers" our questions?

So Allen is rebutting some article in the NYT (how 'bout a link to THAT? It eviedntly pooh-poohs charters) and brings up HOXLY, who, as Sahila was kind enough to pint out, is seomwhat disputed. Sahila, not incidentally, posted numerous links, including a couple pro-charter research pieces, that seem to further discedit charters and other "reform" talking points.

You are an esteemed member of a tank that purportedly thinks: Can you supply us with a plathora (love that word) of links to actual peer-reviewed research instead of letters to the editor?

seattle citizen said...

And I hate to harp, but I'm angry:

Ms Finne, you write that "The attack on this research and on me personally is revealing. Raising student achievement does not appear to be as important a value as protecting the failing status quo."

1) there was no research - what were people purportedly attacking?
2) No one attacked you personally
3) The declaration that "the others" or "you bad people" do not value achievement but rather the status quo is one of the most tired cliches of politics and history, and when it's used over and over by "reformed" regarding education it is absolutely disrespectful of the knowledge and experience of those who actually hold their children dear(their own and those of the city), but it is the same old transparent tactic of acting victimized and calling on others to see the cruelty and stupidity of those who you have no real response to.

Please provide research and let it stand on its own, even against ue soul-less status-quo mongers.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"These reforms raise student achievement."

You're going to need some evidence to back that one up. There is no evidence so far, in any state, to show merit pay works. If there is, let us know because I know it didn't in Texas and they are just starting one in Denver.

"Private schools serve economically and racially diverse student populations..."

Really? C'mon, except for Catholic schools that's a hard one to swallow. Much of the diversity in Seattle private schools comes from them offering scholarships to those groups.

I'm not sure you were attacked; you were challenged on other public issue you took on. As someone who has stood up publicly for some not-so-popular stances, I know I have to take what comes.

And the letter in the NY Times comes from a guy who runs charter schools, not exactly an objective opinion.

I'm not saying that some reform isn't necessary. I"m saying that I won't throw it all on teachers' backs. I'm saying I'm not turning public education over to an experiment. And I'm really saying I'm not letting a couple of rich guys with huge foundations take over public education in this country.

Sahila said...

Just for a bit of fun... watch this, and think about how we're being scared into thinking our kids are going to end up on the bottom of the heap if we stand in the way of education 'reform'...

http://www.brasschecktv.com/page/812.html

livfinne said...

Charlie,
It can be done. Here is a link https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http://www.bcps.k12.md.us/news/PDF/ByTheNumbers.pdf
I invite you to look at this page from the Baltimore School District. This district is one example of a district achieving success for students by putting principals in charge. Baltimore's superintendent Alonso has given principals control over 70% of their budgets, replaced under- performing principals, opened new school options for students, allowed 97% of 8th graders to choose their high school, raised graduation rates, raised scores on standardized tests, and cut over 489 central office positions. This district has about 82,000 students, 88% African American, many of them poor.

I see agreement in the other posts. Toni and WenD agree with Charlie that we need better principals. That is the job of the superintendent, and she has her hands tied by principal tenure, but she still has tools at her disposal. Reuven Carlyle achieved a good first step this last legislative session by lowering the bar from requiring "probable cause" to "valid reason" for removing poor principals. Then give good principals the authority and flexibility they need to run the school. Parents should have more choices of alternative schools with real autonomy from the district, not fewer choices. Require schools to meet the standards, but allow them to find their own individual, creative solutions for doing so.

As for research supporting charter schools, take a look at this new book by Herbert Walberg, Advancing Student Achievement. It is available here: http://www.hoover.org/bios/walberg.html. He cites the research done in whole countries abroad which demonstrate that charters and vouchers and private schools perform substantially better than their traditional public school counterparts, for all kinds of kids. See page 46, the chapter on Families.

As for Diane Ravitch, she is mistaken about the effects of the market on schools. See page 46 of Walberg's book.

I apologize for not giving the cite to the New York Times article---I had to get outside and get some sun.

dan dempsey said...

I have greatly appreciated the offerings and view points expressed by the Washington Policy Institute as they give me things to thoughtfully consider.

However Liv said:
"The Obama administration supports these reforms as the research is in. These reforms raise student achievement.

I find this statement preposterous. Please cite the research.

Having spent the last few years investigating "research shows" that ...

I find "These reforms raise student achievement." too be incorrect.
================
Please ....
Less tribalism and more independent analysis of each issue on its merits.

RttT has huge defects and should be rejected by all.

dan dempsey said...

Note the recent grant of $2 million to Seattle's three failing schools...an i3 School Improvement Grant .... I think.

What basis leads anyone to believe that the evidence given to and by OSPI indicated this money would be well spent?

Perhaps those on the Board of KnowledgeWorks Foundation making big big money would be pleased that they could extract $800,000 from Seattle with delivery of a sub standard product.

RttT is an open invitation for the Billionaire Boys Club to loot the RttT cashbox. The race to the Bank has already begun.

Sahila said...

@ Finne... your assertions are skating on thin ice... I wish you had bothered to check out some of the links to research I provided in my earlier post...

I am going to quote from just one:

The Chilean experience -
charter/voucher/private schools do no better than public schools and in fact, exacerbate the rich-poor divide:

from:http://www.hks.harvard.edu/pepg/PDF/events/MPSPE/PEPG-05-13bellei.pdf

"The competition among schools have not caused an improvement of educational quality, because schools (mainly the private ones) have competed to attract the best students, rather than to increase the value-added to their educational service. In this “zero-sum game”, the increments of some schools are annulled by the decreases of others. Additionally, parents’ choices have not necessarily been oriented by indicators of educational quality (because of information deficiencies and parents’ use of non-academic criteria). As a consequence, schools have not received signals towards the educational improvement from their customers, but towards the use of status symbols and social segregation. Finally, deregulation and free competition have also tended to increase school segregation through a process of mutual reinforcement between schools (supply side) and families (demand side). From the supply side, schools have responded to the incentives of the competence, by distorting the indicators of quality by rejecting students who are less likely to succeed in school (applying admissions tests), and those who have demonstrated low capacities (expelling them). These sorting and re-sorting mechanisms, massively applied for two decades, have shaped the Chilean school system in its current segregated features. From the demand point of view, middle and high social-class families have found that schools’ social and academic selectivity provide them a large profit of “peer effects” within schools: given the high correlation between learning outcomes and student’s social background, when Chilean families aim at social selectivity, they obtain academic selectivity by extension."

As for Herbert Walberg and the Hoover Institute..

Did you know he is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Heartland Institute?

The Heartland Institute - Discovering, developing, and promoting free-market solutions to public policy problems.
http://www.heartland.org/

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Heartland_Institute


Just one little item from the Heartland Institute webpage:
Tea Party Tool Box

Heartland Institute offers tools for Tea Party activists

This summer, millions of Americans will attend Tea Party events and march in the streets to take their country back. To support their efforts, The Heartland Institute is making available free copies of booklets that present in plain English what needs to be done to reform health care, state budgets, schools, environmental policy, and more. You can read these booklets online, download, them, or ask for free copies. (read more)


and finally, Baltimore and its Superintendent Alonso...
Alonso came to Baltimore from NYC, where he served under Joel Klein, another corporatist education reformer...

http://www.freebase.com/view/en/baltimore_city_public_school_system

Michael Rice said...

Hello

Ms. Finne writes: Double teacher pay.

I support that!!! :-)

I find everything else to be just reheated "blame the teacher."

One thing Ms. Finne does not mention is the role of the parents in the education of the child. So many parents have punted their responsibilities to the schools, that the schools are are expected to raise the child in addition to educating the child.

LA Teacher's Warehouse said...

Ms. Finne--have you read Diane Ravitch's book?

The reason I like her book so much is that it corroborates my experience as a teacher. Most of all, I'm struck by the deep irrationality of so-called "reformers" who imagine that teacher performance can be captured by student test scores.

livfinne said...

Dan,
The evidence on charter schools is in---many are providing much better learning environments for poor and minority students than traditional public schools, as principals there have the tools they need to succeed. Look at Geoffrey Canada's Harlem Children's Zone, KIPP Academies, Green Dot charters.

As for performance pay, evidence from the private sector shows that providing performance incentives to employees improves performance. Clearly performance pay in education is relatively new, so there is not a lot of long-term evidence about it.

Here is a mixed-method study of Denver's Pro-comp performance pay program which shows that it is too early to statistically connect Procomp teachers with improved student achievement. However, the study shows that the majority of teachers in Pro-comp in Denver believe that the pay incentives of that program have increased their engagement in professional development activities aimed at increasing their ability to help raise their students' achievement:https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http://static.dpsk12.org/gems/newprocomp/ProCompEvaluation200607.pdf

Although generally I share your skepticism about federal efforts to run our schools, I support the Race to the Top reforms because these reforms stress the use of student achievement data to drive reform. And who else has the power to take on entrenched interests opposing reform? Because of RTTT, Colorado has just passed a bill which makes it tougher for teachers to earn tenure and easier for them to lose it: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703950804575242483164677818.html

owlhouse said...

I read the opening of this post with much excitement, "My research has led me to conclude that the key impediment to improving public education is not lack of money, but the organizational structure of public schools."

Silly me. I thought we might talk about the failures of single-age, single-subject classes, of hierarchical school systems, punitive actions in the name of education. I thought we might be opening a conversation on the importance of student-initiated learning, of teaching for democracy and empowerment, of building CTE to address practical human needs or inspirations, of community schools embracing and extending community skills and interests.

Instead, we're staying in the box- but outfitting the corners a little differently. Rounding out the teacher's unions with some fresh market-driven perspective.

The "education market" welcomes private schools. The ed-speculators can invest their money there, generate school and textbook advertising dollars to allow for no-tuition private schools. Give principals the power, structure better tests, implement pay-for -performance teaching scales, close schools that fail. Then, let the parents choose.

It seems counter intuitive that a free-market approach would include public funding.

spedvocate said...

Miss Finne,

Let's examine the notion that there's diversity in private schools.

What about kids with disabilities? Are you saying that private schools accept a student body which is 14% disabled like the public schools do? Does 1% of the private school student body have autism at age 8? Or are you simply punting on that whole issue, and sweeping it under the rug? Private schools do not accept students with disabilities. They politely slam the door shut in your face. The KIPP schools are widely known for kicking out students who they discover have autism. KIPP can't make students or families conform to their contract when they have disabilities. You can't contract away a disability.

Next is the claim of racial diversity. The Lakesides and Bush's of the world claim diversity. A closer look reveals that most of their diversity is the so-called "mixed race" category. Well, if you look back far enough, everybody has an ancestor of a different race. By their measure, we're all a speck of diversity, so they might as well claim 100% mixed race. But go take a look at that, it looks pretty darn white.

Should public schools get to choose NOT to serve students with disabilities? Should they get to do such a bad job, that they would really un-choose the student? What about poor students? ...or black students. Lots of people really don't care if other groups aren't well served, or are excluded from the discourse. That's what choice and often, private school, is all about.

Perhaps, you're saying that students with disabilities should find fine private schools that only serve them. That flies directly in the face of least restrictive environment requirements of the federal government.

Sahila said...

where is Dora when we need her...

all those in favour of finding out what really goes on at KIPP and Green Dot schools, follow me to http://seattle-ed.blogspot.com/

especially here:
http://www.schoolsmatter.info/2010/03/dc-charter-report-takes-shots-at-kipp.html

http://www.examiner.com/x-356-SF-Education-Examiner~y2008m9d17-Bay-Area-KIPP-schools-lose-60-of-their-students-study-confirms

http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/atlanta/stories/2009/03/22/kipp_school_withdrawals.html?cxntlid=homepage_tab_newstab

and remember that piece about about eliminating recess here on the blog last week?
http://www.examiner.com/x-356-SF-Education-Examiner~y2008m12d26-Recess-Happy-playtime-or-hellhole-of-fighting-and-bullying

and this about links between Teach for America and KIPP:
http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=389x8158882

And this about the Harlem Miracle:
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/Bridging-Differences/2009/05/what_the_harlem_miracle_really.html

I cant be bothered going to find all the Green Dot stuff, (spent enough time on this lovely afternoon countering Ms Finne's mis/disinformation) but its more of the same...

Josh Hayes said...

LA Teacher's Warehouse writes:

"I'm struck by the deep irrationality of so-called "reformers" who imagine that teacher performance can be captured by student test scores."

I've been thinking about this for some time, and the problem here is that it is, for the reformers, essential to have objective measures of student "achievement", because they want to scale all the market-based responses to that number.

Everyone knows this is preposterous. There ain't no such animal. Student "achievement" would have to incorporate literally dozens of items, day by day, month by month, year by year, along with the OUTSIDE of school factors which contribute to those items --

Obviously, it's extremely difficult and complicated.

Standardized test scores, no matter how cunningly crafted the test(s) is/are, cannot capture a significant fraction of real achievement. But they're easy. You can take big tables of actual numbers, run all sorts of robust statistical models on them, and confidently make assertions based on the data. But since the data are essentially meaningless to begin with, you can probably prove whatever case you want with the same set of data ("Charter schools are a great success!" "Charter schools are a dismal failure!" "Hey, you got your success in my failure!").

But test results are simple and inexpensive, whereas real, empirical, meaningful data are difficult and expensive. I fear that policy will be driven by what is cheap, rather than what is true.

LA Teacher's Warehouse said...

"As for performance pay, evidence from the private sector shows that providing performance incentives to employees improves performance."

You mean as in all those bonuses for executives at AIG and Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers?

livfinne said...

This is how Seattle school officials describe student achievement in the district:

"One out of three students begins sixth grade unable to meet grade-level reading standards. Nearly half our seventh graders are unable to meet grade-level math standards. Nearly four out of ten students do not graduate from high school. And students of color and those in poverty continue to lag behind other students---as much as 50 percent in some schools."

This comes from the district's Excellence for All report. Citation is in my full report on our website, here:https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http://www.washingtonpolicy.org/Centers/education/policybrief/SeattleCollectiveBargainingPB.pdf

Let's talk about evaluating teachers for performance and giving them additional pay to work at the most challenging schools, like Denver's Pro-comp (performance pay) model does.

Right now the system places the weakest teachers in the classrooms of the neediest students. Don't you think it is essentially unfair to further handicap poor and minority students in this way.

And what about throwing away the seniority assignment rules, so that principals can determine who will be on their teaching teams?

LA Teacher's Warehouse said...

Good points, Josh.

Let me add that in science, there are two types of data: quantitative and qualitative.

"Reformers" seem to prefer quantitative data for "measuring" academic achievement--data that are, in my view, unreliable for many reasons.

But beyond that, the most important learning objectives cannot be captured quantitatively. For example, I would regard dispositional goals as the most important in the long run. I've yet to see a way to represent student progress toward these goals in quantitative terms. It has to be done in qualitative terms.

The entire effort to link student test data with teacher and school performance is driving us toward a reductionism that will do untold damage to the young people of this country and to democracy itself.

That's why I'm a humanist when it comes to education.

LA Teacher's Warehouse said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LA Teacher's Warehouse said...

Ms. Finne,

I do not consider myself one of the weakest teachers, thank you very much.

Do you really think that you can gain the trust of teachers by insulting them?

You have all the answers, don't you. I, however, have actually taught struggling readers. It's an enormously complex job--and a deeply satisfying one. There is nothing quite like helping students to catch up and make it to college, with scholarships.

Why don't you ask me what the impediments are in my job?

Sahila said...

As to Teacher Effectiveness and Seniority:

See here:
http://www.ncate.org/documents/EdNews/StanfordTeacherCertificationReport.pdf


ABSTRACT: "Recent debates about the utility of teacher education have raised questions about whether certified teachers are, in general, more effective than those who have not met the testing and training requirements for certification, and whether some candidates with strong liberal arts backgrounds might be at least as effective as teacher education graduates. This study examines these questions with a large student-level data set from Houston, Texas that links student characteristics and achievement with data about their teachers’ certification status, experience, and degree levels from 1995-2002.

The data set also allows an examination of whether Teach for America (TFA) candidates – recruits from selective universities who receive a few weeks of training before they begin teaching – are as effective as similarly experienced certified teachers.

In a series of regression analyses looking at 4th and 5th grade student achievement gains on six different reading and mathematics tests over a six-year period, we find that certified teachers consistently produce significantly stronger student achievement gains than do uncertified teachers.

Alternatively certified teachers are also generally less effective than certified teachers. These findings hold for TFA recruits as well as others.

Controlling for teacher experience, degrees, and student characteristics, uncertified TFA recruits are less effective than certified teachers, and perform about as well as other uncertified teachers.

TFA recruits who become certified after 2 or 3 years do about as well as other certified teachers in supporting student achievement gains; however, nearly all of them leave within three years. Teachers’ effectiveness appears strongly related to the preparation they have received for teaching."

Sahila said...

PART TWO

As to seniority:
from here:
http://www.ncsl.org/portals/1/documents/Educ/2010EdFinMtgBerry-Daughtrey-Wieder.pdf

Debate 3: Does experience – and what type of experience – matter to teacher effectiveness?

Some researchers have not found that teaching experience beyond the initial three years results in
improved student test scores.53 However, not all teachers, even with the same number of years in the classroom, have the same teacher preparation and professional development experiences over time.

Other researchers have shown that more experienced, expert teachers know more than novices and
organize the knowledge of content, teaching strategies, and students differently, retrieve it more readily, and can apply it in novel and creative ways. Still others have shown that more seasoned experts are more able to overcome some of the stressful working conditions found in many in high-needs schools.

Teachers do not gain from their experience in a vacuum. Teaching experience may matter for student achievement when teachers have access to their more expert, seasoned colleagues. Researchers have shown that the main reason American students do not perform as well as many of their international peers on achievement measures in math and science is that their teachers are not give the kinds of opportunities to learn from each other. In this investigation it was the collective experience of teachers,
as they learned from each other, that seemed to matter most for improving student achievement. (In
addition as noted in this policy brief, recent research has found that peer learning among small groups of teachers seems to be the most powerful predictor of student achievement over time.)

As part of our own investigations into working conditions, teacher retention and student achievement,
one science teacher with 10 years’ experience told us:

"I remember those early stages of feeling so overwhelmed as a novice teacher. I was trying to
prepare everything one day ahead of where the kids were. And then I went through a stage where
I was a little bit more comfortable. I had plenty of content knowledge. That has never been a problem. The problem has been how to teach it. If it was not for the mentor who helped me, and now my professional learning community, I would not be as effective as I am. I would have to
honestly say that it’s just in the last couple of years that I really feel good about my teaching and
the results I am getting. I think that it really takes five years, with support, to become an effective teacher."

spedvocate said...

Again Ms Finne, where is the private sector in educating students with disabilities?

seattle citizen said...

Ms Finne, I don't know how to say this but thusly:
Your comments on this thread have done more to illustrate the entire facade that is the modern education reform movement than possibly any other thing I've seen.

Your suggested goals of reform do not align with your first stated opinion, that administration be reconfigured: You merely list the usual boilerplate talking points about charters and merit and teacher quality. Perhaps you are unaware, but this blog and people all over the city have been discussing these obviously canned talking points that emerge from the coordinated reform movement. What we hear over and over again, relentlessly, are these same stock phrases, and here in your comments you fall instinctively back to that rote repitition, time and again, with no real substance to back it up.

All around you (like, apparently, around all reformers of this current bent) there is conversation about deep and meaningful issues of education, of community, of individual needs and aspirations...Yet again and again, into this conversation rises "charter schools!" and "merit pay!" and "data driven!" from the chorus of Evangelical Education Reformers.

Thank you, Ms Finne, for injecting just a wee bit of actual research into your comments. Apparently you've noted Seattle's existing fine Alternative and other option schools, you've seen how they serve...That you at least support THEM shows you have still a connection to this city, and have kep an eye open to its unique schools.

But the rest of your comments seem very much like all the other clamorous reform mantra we've heard so often lately, all seemingly in unison, all seemingly connected in chorus by a few big players (including, it turns out, hedge fund managers who are capitalizing on the profit to be made, the millions, no billions, from the federal tax credit on "opening" a school in an under-served neighborhood.)

You sing the tune well, Ms Finne, but there's little substance in it. Those that spend their days down in the community know the REAL song, yours is increasingly discordant with theirs. Theirs is backed by years of real experience working with all sorts of people in all sorts of neighborhoods, with all their myraid issues. It's not some quantity of "achievement" to be injected, detected...it's not little numbers on the WASL chart: It's real little human beans, each sruggling in different ways in a world which would number the little child, categorize this wonderful uniqueness, and file what's quantifiably and "it" into a neat little drawer "college and work."
TRUE education is NOT quantifiable, it's quality, it's wondrously intangible.

We are so past numbering our chidren.

LA Teacher's Warehouse said...

Again, Ms. Finne, I ask you a direct question: have you read Diane Ravitch's book?

You disagree with her view of charters, but have you actually read her book?

With regard to seniority, you don't know what you're talking about. "A layoff must be made based on seniority, with younger teachers being let go first." No, layoffs (RIFs) are not based on age. They are not even based on experience. They are based on years of experience within categories. In other words, it's a lot more complex and nuanced than you realize.

Sahila said...

We've already had that discussion about 'last on,first off' on this blog...

It is not strictly last on, first off... just as in the private sector here and in many other countries, seniority becomes a factor in redundancy (RIFing) decisions once needs within a specific job category have been assessed...

Sahila said...

I want to know why Ms Finne is suddenly so interested in having a say on this blog?

I mean we've been talking about this stuff for around a year now... and here she is, on the eve of the SEA making its decision as to whether or not to sign onto the MOU for the RttT application...

Has the Alliance for Education, or the League of Education Voters or Stand for Children been whispering in her ear?

Or maybe someone from the Broad or Gates Foundations?

Or maybe MGJ and the Board (who already have indicated their intention to sign on, despite parents/community wishes to the contrary) have asked her to have a go at persuading us/turning us against teachers...

MathTeacher42 said...

yawn ... back to the "free market".

What a great job you have. Your ideological opponents at the level to really affect things - the "leader" level - those "leaders" are either incompetent or sold out, and have been for decades.

What "free market" are you talking about? The day laborers outside Home Depot and Lowe's underbidding each other for daily crumbs? The completely rigged for the powerful markets of large government contracting, such as:
Bechtel & the Big Dig?
KBR & Halliburton in GWB's GWOT in Iraq?
Halliburton & BP in the Gulf of Mexico's unregulated economic disaster dumped on taxpayers?
Weyerhauser's free land?
Boeing's mail contracts from Uncle Sugar in the 30's?

Are you talking about the rigged for the powerful cartels in Energy, in Transportation, in ha ha ha Finance & "Investment", in Autos, in software?

ALL markets have rules, even illegal markets. If you don't believe me, try messing with the rules of the illegal markets when dealing with the Mafia or Russian or Colombian or Mexican drug & crime cartels! Interestingly, if you're powerful enough in those illegal markets you can rig the rules and rip off people ... as long as your private army is trustworthy!

Speaking of cartels & mobs & legalized rips offs of the public by the powerful, for the powerful ...

"We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob."

Google "I welcome their hatred FDR 1936"

You've got a good job - your side has been winning, and winning big, for 30 years on uncle milte's university of chicago fantasies sold by raygun & his merry band of thieves.

Speaking of 1 of the GREATEST disasters to ever befall America's promise -

http://firedoglake.com/2010/05/15/fdl-book-salon-welcomes-william-kleinknecht-the-man-who-sold-the-world-ronald-reagan-and-the-betrayal-of-main-street-america/#comment-2138859

FDL Book Salon Welcomes William Kleinknecht, The Man Who Sold the World: Ronald Reagan and the Betrayal of Main Street America
By: Rick Perlstein Saturday May 15, 2010 2:00 pm

"William Kleinknecht May 15th, 2010 at 2:48 pm
58
In response to Rayne @ 40
I think a lot of blue-collar workers were losing their jobs in the 1970s, looking for scapegoats, and were highly susceptible to a demagogue stoking their anger about their tax dollars going to welfare queens and other malingerers. It was highly effective politics. What the blue-collar types didn’t realize was that the resulting policies were geared toward empowering corporations and lining the pockets of the rich, not helping people like themselves. They were duped."

Now you want to sell your snake oil to education, and those who aren't buying are defending the status quo?

YAWN.

Robert Murphy

Charlie Mas said...

How can we work to achieve those goals that are shared by both the education reform movement and by student families?

Both sides agree that we should re-direct funding from central administration and into classrooms.

Are there state laws that prohibit the superintendent from doing that? I don't think so.

Are there collective bargaining agreements that prohibit the superintendent from doing that? I don't think so.

Are there market forces that prohibit the superintendent from doing that? I don't think so.

So what is keeping the superintendent from doing it?

Both sides agree that principals should remove ineffective teachers.

Here, the education reformers say that the teachers' collective bargaining agreement makes it unduly difficult. A lot of us lay the failure at the feet of ineffective principals. Either way, there is some room for improvement here.

Both sides agree that the superintendent should remove ineffective principals. Again, there is reason to believe that the principals' collective bargaining agreement makes that unduly difficult. There is also reason to believe that the superintendent simply lacks the will to do it.

Both sides oppose mindless standardization, but our superintendent marches to that drumbeat. How can market forces stop her? She doesn't respond to market forces. She isn't accountable to the public.

Both sides support greater access to alternative education, but our superintendent is suppressing it. How can market forces stop her?

Both sides want the Board to hold the superintendent accountable, for the superintendent to hold the principals accountable and for the principals to hold the teachers accountable, but no one can find any evidence of accountability anywhere in the whole dysfunctional organization. How can market forces help us to insert some accountability - starting at the top?

owlhouse said...

Again, why would public funding be a variable in a free-market education system? Since private schools seem to have better outcomes, let the venture capitalists have at it. Take "reform" to the next level, apply all that research to creating a parallel tuition-free system and let the parents choose. If successful, public ed and all it's preventable failings will be exposed, students will acquire stronger skill sets, next gen workers will be more productive... Seriously. Have at it. Have this been tried on a large scale that I'm not aware of? I'm genuinely curious...

LA Teacher's Warehouse said...

Charlie,

You know what my principal told me? He said that this year, for the first time, principals were given a document on how to put teachers on probation. In the past, principals have had to do their own legal research, which was an impediment to them rooting out ineffective teachers.

So what took them so long?

With regard to principals: large schools are managed by a principal and a variable number of assistant principals. The assistant principals are the equivalent of middle managers. A spotlight needs to be shined on this level of middle management. Some assistant principals are highly effective. Others are not. I know of one case of a demoted principal, now assistant principal, who has been passed around the district from school to school. There is a story here that isn't being told.

LA Teacher's Warehouse said...

owlhouse,

I've worked at both public and private schools. My wife currently works for a private school. One of the attractions of private schools is that they're not overrun with "reformers."

owlhouse said...

LA TW @ 7:04,
I know, and lucky for them. I have experience teaching and parenting in both systems as well. My point is, a free market advocate doesn't need to target a public system in search of public seed and operational money. With all the resources of the edu-philanthropists and the bravado of the reformers, why mess around with the cumbersome public system?

Put all that capitol and intention into a competitive system. I'm asking Liv and others to rise to the challenge with out depending on pubic resources. Build it out of pocket and let parents and students choose. Then, once we have qualitative, quantitative, longitudinal data that supports these reforms, along with positive student/family/teacher narratives, we can consider public funding.

Chris said...

Charlie, as usual I am impressed by your even-handedness and analytical clarity. I have a house you can rent if you want to run again in '11

No, really what I wanted to point out that this thread is a microcosm of history: think tank comes out proposing something we just got done trying (albeit badly) and we're supposed to turn around. Superintendents last an average of 3 years, board members 4. We never get anywhere because were too busy executing u-turns multiple times per decade. Parents, who can be stakeholders for 15-25 years, depending on resources, patience, and family size, just have to put up with this "leadership."

Maureen said...

Liv Finne quotes Jeanne Allen, who says: the only way to determine charter school success is to compare the achievement of students in a charter school with the achievement of students in the public school they would have otherwise attended.


NO.

Stop and really read that.

IN FACT, the only way to truly determine charter school success is to compare the achievement of students in a charter school with the achievement of THOSE EXACT STUDENTS in the public school they would have otherwise attended.


That, of course, is not possible.

The point is that it is not possible to truly measure the impact of charter schools because students are not randomly assigned to those schools. The BEST studies compare kids who applied for the lottery for a charter but did not win a spot to those who did get a spot.

Can Ms. Finne provide links to those studies?

Toni said...

"You know what my principal told me? He said that this year, for the first time, principals were given a document on how to put teachers on probation."

For all the complaining we do about MGJ, sometimes I have to wonder. We always focus on her faults, but actually she has done many things to progress the district during her tenure, including this small step of providing this document to principals.

She's responsible for Sealth becoming an IB school, Kimball becoming an international school, STEM, and the new QA tech elementary school. And though the elementary APP split didn't work out so fine, the middle school split did. The north end finally has APP in the north end.

This is not to diminish all of MGJ's follies, her dismissive attitude toward parents, and some grave mistakes like closing then re-opening schools.

But we should acknowledge when something is done well too.

Sahila said...

Public versus Private... which is better?

from:
http://www.epi.org/publications/entry/books_privatepublic/

"In Can Public Schools Learn From Private Schools? (co-published with The Aspen Institute's Nonprofit Sector Research Fund), EPI Research Associate Richard Rothstein, Stanford University Professor Martin Carnoy, and Luis Benveniste of the World Bank, report on case studies of eight public and eight private elementary schools in California to determine whether there are any identifiable and transferable private school practices that public schools can adopt to improve student outcomes.

The private school practices examined in the report include accountability to parents, outcome expectations, clarity of emphasis on both academic and moral objectives, and teacher selection and retention policies. The report finds that the inner-city private schools shared more in common with public schools in low-income communities than with affluent suburban private schools. Suburban public schools shared more characteristics with suburban private schools than with urban public schools.

Despite commonly held generalizations about the superiority of nonprofit, private school practices, the authors made the following discoveries among public and private schools surveyed within the same community:

· Private elementary school personnel are not necessarily more accountable to parents than are public elementary school personnel.

· Private school outcome expectations for students are not more clearly defined than are public school outcome expectations.

· Private elementary schools do not necessarily aim to produce higher nonachievement outputs - behavior and values, for example - than do public elementary schools. Moreover, private schools do not always allocate a higher proportion of resources to these nonacademic objectives than do public schools.

· The report found no school, public or private, where formal evaluation, supervision, or mentoring of teachers was a meaningful indicator of variation.

· Private school innovations do not in every case stimulate improved practices at the public schools with which they compete.

These observations could have important implications for those who champion "choice" in public education as the basis for improving academic achievement. The authors find that a much greater complexity of factors must be considered when developing "fixes" for our nation's schools.

"We found both public and private schools that had greater or lesser parent accountability, more or less well-defined expectations and student outcome goals, more or less emphasis on nonacademic goals, traditional or less traditional curricular materials, more or less rigorous teacher selection and retention policies," according to the report. "Schools learn from each other, whether they are public or private."

The Economic Policy Institute is a nonprofit, non-partisan think tank founded in 1986. "

Sahila said...

Public school children score better on standardised math testing than their private school counterparts... here's the research and some of the reasons why...

http://www.schoolsmatter.info/2009/03/public-schools-outperform-private.html


"ScienceDaily (Mar. 3, 2009) — In another “Freakonomics”-style study that turns conventional wisdom about public- versus private-school education on its head, a team of University of Illinois education professors has found that public-school students outperform their private-school classmates on standardized math tests, thanks to two key factors: certified math teachers, and a modern, reform-oriented math curriculum.

Sarah Lubienski, a professor of curriculum and instruction in the U. of I. College of Education, says teacher certification and reform-oriented teaching practices correlated positively with higher achievement on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) exam for public-school students.

“According to our results, schools that hired more certified teachers and had a curriculum that de-emphasized learning by rote tended to do better on standardized math tests,” Lubienski said. “And public schools had more of both.”

To account for the difference in test scores, Lubienski and her co-authors, education professor Christopher Lubienski (her husband) and doctoral student Corinna Crane, looked at five critical factors: school size, class size, parental involvement, teacher certification and instructional practices.

In previous research, the Lubienskis discovered that after holding demographic factors constant, public school students performed just as well if not better than private schools students on standardized math tests.

“There are so many reasons why you would think that the results should be reversed – that private schools would outscore public schools in standardized math test scores,” she said. “This study looks at the underlying reasons why that’s not necessarily the case.”

Of the five factors, school size and parental involvement “didn’t seem to matter all that much,” Lubienski said, citing a weak correlation between the two factors as “mixed or marginally significant predictors” of student achievement.

They also discovered that smaller class sizes, which are more prevalent in private schools than in public schools, significantly correlate with achievement.

“Smaller class size correlated with higher achievement and occurred more frequently in private schools,” Lubienski said. “But that doesn’t help explain why private schools were being outscored by public schools.”

Lubienski said one reason private schools show poorly in this study could be their lack of accountability to a public body.

“There’s been this assumption that private schools are more effective because they’re autonomous and don’t have all the bureaucracy that public schools have,” Lubienski said. “But one thing this study suggests is that autonomy isn’t necessarily a good thing for schools.”

Another reason could be private schools’ anachronistic approach to math.

“Private schools are increasingly ignoring curricular trends in education, and it shows,” Lubienski said. “They’re not using up-to-date methods, and they’re not hiring teachers who employ up-to-date lesson plans in the classroom. When you do that, you aren’t really taking advantage of the expertise in math education that’s out there.”

Lubienski thinks one of the reasons that private schools don’t adopt a more reform-minded math curriculum is because some parents are more attracted to a “back-to-basics” approach to math instruction. The end result, however, is students who are “prepared for the tests of 40 years ago, and not the tests of today,” she said. ..."

read more at the link...

Sahila said...

http://education-portal.com/articles/Public_Schools_vs._Private_Schools:_New_Study_Says_There_is_No_Difference.html


"Public Schools Vs. Private Schools: New Study Says There Is No Difference

Oct 12, 2007

Many people assume that students enrolled in private schools perform better academically than do students attending public schools. The Center on Education Policy (CEP), however, disagrees. According to a new CEP study released this week, private school students and public school students perform equally on achievement tests in math, reading, science, and history.

Public Schools Versus Private Schools

Achievement Advantage
Reading Equal
Mathematics Equal
Science Equal
History Equal
SAT Math Private Schools
SAT Verbal Private Schools
College Enrollment Equal

Source: Center for Education Policy

To determine whether or not family involvement or background characteristics impacted the difference in academic performance between private schools and public schools, the Center for Education Policy (CEP) did a special study based on analysis of the National Educational Longitudinal Study (1988-2000).

They found that there is no real difference between the academic performance given by public and private school students from the same low-income bracket and background, suggesting that family involvement has more of an impact than the school setting.

Summary of CEP Findings

* Low-income students attending public high schools performed just as well academically as low-income students attending private high schools.
* Neither private school students nor public school students with similar background characteristics were more likely to attend college.
* Young adults at age 26 who attended private school are no more likely to be engaged in civic activities than young adults who attended a public school.
* Private school graduates aren't any more satisfied with the jobs they hold at age 26 than are public school graduates.

'Contrary to popular belief, we can find no evidence that private schools actually increase student performance,' stated Jack Jennings, the president and CEO of CEP. 'Instead, it appears that private schools simply have higher percentages of students who would perform well in any environment based on their previous performance and background.'

What sets the CEP study apart from other studies that have compared private school students to public school students is that the CEP study used an additional range of factors, including earlier test scores, parental expectations, parental involvement, and the effects of income. Other studies have typically relied on academic test scores alone.

The one difference that CEP found between private schools and public schools involves SAT scores. According to the study, private school students have the edge on the SAT. The CEP notes that this could be because private schools tend to offer more test prep resources than do public schools."

Toni said...

"Public school children score better on standardised math testing than their private school counterparts"

Sahila you've always posted that you do not like student achievement measured by test scores.

Why would you choose to cite test scores now?

Sahila said...

Toni - I was countering Ms Finne's push about private schools doing better than public schools academically...

She said:
"As a result, private and public charter schools can better direct resources to the classroom, more reliably place effective teachers in every classroom, and offer better life prospects to children through higher-quality education.

THE RESEARCH DOES NOT SUPPORT HER CLAIM....

Seattle-Ed2010 said...

Good discussion. But these statements by Liv Finne are simply inaccurate.

Livefinne said... Dan,
The evidence on charter schools is in---many are providing much better learning environments for poor and minority students than traditional public schools, as principals there have the tools they need to succeed. Look at Geoffrey Canada's Harlem Children's Zone, KIPP Academies, Green Dot charters.


Actually, the evidence that is in shows that charters by and large do not do better than regular public schools. As the June 15, 2009 CREDO (the Center for Research on Education Outcomes) Report out of Stanford University showed, the majority of charter schools (46 percent) perform no better than public schools. What's more 37 percent of charter schools perform worse than public schools.

(This study, by the way, was funded by pro-charter types like the Dells and Waltons. The press release headline was: NEW STANFORD REPORT FINDS SERIOUS
QUALITY CHALLENGE IN NATIONAL
CHARTER SCHOOL SECTOR.)

Also, KIPP has many controversial elements, such as its selection and exclusion of certain students and high attrition rates, and the 'boot camp' facets of its program -- extra long days for the kids, including Saturdays, uniforms, long hours for teachers, who are not part of a union by the way, and therefore cheaper and easier to control.

It's not a coincidence that KIPP is pushed by many ed reformers without genuine objective analysis -- the charter franchise has direct ties to the Broad Foundation (KIPP CEO Richard Barth and his wife, Teach for America's CEO Wendy Kopp are on Broad's board of directors along with Seattle School Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson).

The Harlem Children's Zone is actually a good example of how much is needed to help some of the most disadvantaged kids do well in school. HCZ provides an enormous amount of long-term support services for these kids -- and costs millions to maintain. This ironically makes HCZ a good example of what the rest of us are saying about ed reform -- there are no shortcuts and it can't be done on the cheap. Blaming teachers will not solve the ills of poverty. Most ed reformers are pushing much cheaper "fixes" than this.

"As for performance pay, evidence from the private sector shows that providing performance incentives to employees improves performance. Clearly performance pay in education is relatively new, so there is not a lot of long-term evidence about it."

But public education is NOT the private, corporate sector and good teachers are not motivated by the same, dare I say, shallow motivators like increased pay, or competition against their colleagues instead of collaboration with them. There is an altruism and humanism to the teaching profession that ed reformers seem utterly unable to comprehend.

There are in fact studies already available that prove this, one in particular by the National Center on Performance Incentives at Vanderbilt University from August 2009 that showed that a three-year experiment with merit pay for teachers in Texas found that merit pay doesn't work. (See: Study: Texas' teacher merit pay program hasn't boosted student performance)

Here's the study itself.

(continued on next post)

Seattle-Ed2010 said...

(continued)

(I wrote an article about this on our 2010 blog: "The Pillars of 'Education Reform' are Toppling")

I found this line most bizarre:
"The free market offers many ideas for breaking up the monopoly that is the public school system."

Free public schools are a "monopoly"? On what?

That's like saying that Medicare has a monopoly on elderly sick people.

Or libraries have a monopoly on free book lending.

I find that a very revealing remark. It indicates how the free marketeers view our public schools -- not as a public trust whose purpose is educating and inspiring all children regardless of socioeconomic background. No, apparently they see our schools only through the lens of profit and economics. Apparently they are frustrated that they cannot get control of one more of our integral public institutions (though they are certainly trying). So they are crying "No fair! Monopoly!" ?

I should think the various monopolies and corporate controls on everything in our culture from health insurance to our own various branches of government should be enough for this greedy lot.

Public education is a public trust. It should not be subject to the vagaries of the market, it should not be a cash cow for private entrepreneurs, nor the playground of ed reform billionaire dilettantes and conservative think tanks. It should serve our children -- all our children. Free public education is a pillar of our democracy, as is an educated electorate.

We have a declaration on our site to that effect, if anyone is interested to read or sign on to a non-corporate view of what public education should be: Declaration of Support for Public Schools

Perhaps Ms. Finne can explain what she meant by that remark. I may be misunderstanding her intent.

As for reform, I agree with those who say it should begin in the John Stanford Center itself, the overstaffed central office that seems to interfere with our schools more than help them.

As for the comment that Obama supports charters therefore, well, I'm not sure what the conclusion is. But to that I say, yes and Obama also supports offshore oil-drilling, government spying on citizens and immunity for telecoms (see his 2008 vote on FISA), and apparently supports ongoing war in Afghanistan and Iraq. His poor judgment in supporting charters and the privatizing ed reformers (who infest his administration) is just more bad judgment on his part, and certainly not a stamp of any kind of sound reasoning or integrity, I am truly sorry to say.

--sue p.

wseadawg said...

Toni: MGJ did not bring IB to Sealth. That preceded her.

Otherwise, yawn...Hey Liv, how's that "drill baby drill" thing workin' out for ya?

Sahila said...

This is my last counter to the very slanted, highly inaccurate and misleading post from Liv Finne

As to her statement that:
"...private and public charter schools can better direct resources to the classroom, more reliably place effective teachers in every classroom, and offer better life prospects to children through higher-quality education."

I'll refer you back to the paper I quoted earlier...


http://www.schoolsmatter.info/2009/03/public-schools-outperform-private.html


"...Lubienski thinks one of the reasons that private schools don’t adopt a more reform-minded math curriculum is because some parents are more attracted to a “back-to-basics” approach to math instruction. The end result, however, is students who are “prepared for the tests of 40 years ago, and not the tests of today,” she said.

Tests like NAEP, Lubienski said, have realigned themselves with the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics standards for math instruction, which have moved away from the brute-force memorization of numbers to an emphasis on “geometry, measurement and algebra – things that private school teachers reported they spent less time teaching,” Lubienski said.

“The results do seem to suggest that private schools are doing their own thing, and that they’re less likely to have paid attention to curricular trends and the fact that math instruction and math tests have changed,” she said.

Lubienski cautioned that the relationships found between the two factors and public-school performance might not be directly causal.

“The correlations might be a result, for example, of having the type of administrator who makes teacher credentials and academics the priority over other things, such as religious education,” she said. “That's often not the case for private religious schools, where parents are obviously committed to things beside academic achievement.”

The schools with the smallest percentage of certified teachers – conservative Christian schools, where less than half of teachers were certified – were, not coincidentally, the schools with the lowest aggregate math test scores.

“Those schools certainly have the prerogative to set different priorities when hiring, but it just doesn’t help them on NAEP,” Lubienski said.

Lubienski also noted that public schools tend to set aside money for teacher development and periodic curriculum improvements.

“Private schools don’t invest as much in the professional development of their teachers and don’t do enough to keep their curriculum current,” she said. “That appears to be less of a priority for them, and they don’t have money designated for that kind of thing in the way public schools do.”

Lubienski hopes that politicians who favor more privatization would realize that the invisible hand of the market doesn’t necessarily apply to education.

“You can give schools greater autonomy, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to use that autonomy to implement an innovative curriculum or improve the academics of the students,”she said.

Instead, some private schools try to attract parents by offering a basic skills curriculum, or non-academic requirements, such as students wearing uniforms.

Seattle Parent said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charlie Mas said...

I like to think that I do give Dr. Goodloe-Johnson credit for the things that she has accomplished.

I believe that I have expressed, on multiple occassions and in louder venues than this blog, how delighted I am by her attempts to bring management to a district that had been left unmanaged by (at least) the three superintendents who preceded her.

Providing principals with a resource for dismissing under-performing teachers would be an excellent example of that.

Her "inside" game is outstanding. I'm sure she was stunned to discover, upon taking the job, the depth and extent of the total absence of management at Seattle Public Schools. Imagine - no performance evaluations, no job descriptions, no management training, no reporting, no sense of accountability up and no sense of license to demand accountability down. Not one management tool in place and every single decision driven exclusively by internal politics.

No wonder she found the job bigger than she could do herself. She had to bring in consultants to build a performance management system because, until she did, she was the only person in the whole institution speaking that language.

Even still, the introduction of management is taking too long. I'm losing patience waiting for it. Where are any examples of the accountability we have been promised for the past three years?

As good as her "inside" game may be, however, her "outside" game is abysmal.

Yes, the middle school APP split is good and is working. It was based on good sense and the real needs of students and families - both inside and outside the program. But all of the reasons that the middle school APP split was necessary and is working are all of the same reasons that the elementary school APP split is NOT working. The split isn't even, the north-end school isn't in the north-end, the populations are not well-matched with their general education schoolmates. Elementary APP wasn't put at Thurgood Marshall for any reason other than to fill the building (and maybe mask low test scores). That is not a legitimate reason for a program placement. A north-end location needs to be found. The District claimed that opening McDonald was out of the question, then they did it themselves the next year.

Her interactions with the public have been horrible.

Her insistance on standardization is mindless. It is NOT a necessary tool in the introduction of management. It's a cheap shortcut that harms students and alienates teachers.

The new student assignment plan is a failure. It's a failure because it does not achieve the stated purpose of improving equitable access to quality programs. The language immersion schools and Montessori programs should have been made Option Schools. She didn't dare to do it because it would have added an additional variable to the calculation when right-sizing the attendance areas. I understand that, but over and over again operational preferences outweigh academic priorities and it has to stop.

Again and again I see that she is working to do some good on the "inside" but she is a serial disaster on the "outside".

Charlie Mas said...

Chris at 5/15/10 8:34 PM wrote something worth note (no, not that bit about how wonderful I am)

"Superintendents last an average of 3 years, board members 4. We never get anywhere because were too busy executing u-turns multiple times per decade"

Accountability starts at the top. The public has to hold the Board accountable and the Board has to hold the Superintendent accountable. Then the superintendent holds the principals accountable.

But there is only one Board Director who has been re-elected and all six of the others replaced an incumbent in the last election. They turnover so fast that no one feels any need to respect their authority - an authority that none of them, acting alone, really has.

Superintendents turnover quickly too. Let's do the math. If a superintendent only lasts three years and it takes at least a year to conclude that a principal is no good and it takes two years to get rid of an ineffective one, then the ineffective principal just needs to keep a low profile for a couple years to escape any accountability. Even if the bad performance reviews start coming, there won't be two years' worth before the superintendent is gone and cycle starts all over again.

We cannot impose accountability from the top if there is too much turnover at the top.

The solution, of course, is to reverse things. Instead of an elected Board and an appointed superintendent, we should have an elected superintendent - with a four-year term - and an appointed Board.

That way the superintendent will be accountable to the public and the Board will be more likely to fulfill its audit and oversight responsibilities.

A superintendent will be onboard for at least four years (longer than the national average for an urban superintendent) and, if we have a good one, for eight years or more. That's the kind of consistent leadership that can make stuff happen.

The public can hold the Board accountable, but not very effectively under the current election cycle. But the real authority in the District is with the superintendent and the public has no hope of holding that person accountable.

As for the Board, it could be five people or remain seven. They could be appointed by the mayor, the city council, the ESD, the state BOE, and a couple could be elected.

I'd be curious to know what Ms Finne thinks of that idea.

livfinne said...

Charlie's analysis is awesome. I also agree with him that the public schools completely lack accountability, from the top on down.

I will read Diane Ravitch's book on one condition: Charlie agrees to read Professor Ouchi's book, The Secret of TSL (Total Student Load): The Revolutionary Discovery that Raises School Performance.

This book shows that principals who are allowed to control the actual dollars in their budgets will dramatically lower the number of students high school teachers must teach. Instead of having 150-175 students, these high school teachers have an average of 88 students. At Manual High in Denver, the load on teachers in this Innovation School is 75 students.

The principal does this by adding classroom teachers, cutting non-teaching staff, rearranging the school schedule and sometimes collapsing two subjects into one.

Professor Ouchi's study of over 400 schools showed that this reform, lowering total student load on teachers, was the only factor among a dozen studied which improved student performance, and the effect was dramatic: 9 percentile points upward.

No wonder. Teachers at these schools are much better able to teach. They are better able to form bonds with the students, motivate them to learn, and have half the number of tests and essays to grade.

I'll try to address some of the other points people have raised a little later today.

emeraldkity said...

Tests like NAEP, Lubienski said, have realigned themselves with the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics standards for math instruction, which have moved away from the brute-force memorization of numbers to an emphasis on “geometry, measurement and algebra – things that private school teachers reported they spent less time teaching,” Lubienski said.

Interesting findings- so if public schools are better than/at least equal to private institutions, the argument for more money for public seems to have lost some steam.

However re math in my own household-both my daughters took through precalculus in high school- both received B's.

Daughter who attended private- completed calculus at Reed college ( their lowest level math course)- public school daughter did not test into a college level math course- so I have been looking for tutors to help her get to the algebra stage at least for her degree at Western.

Math not withstanding- I did find the article about the student who wasn't expected to walk or talk graduating from UPS inspiring.

"The kid who was never supposed to walk or talk, he's about to graduate from one of the fine liberal-arts colleges in the country," Tom Leavitt said last week. "I keep telling everybody it's going to be a two-handkerchief day."

Unfortunately, expectations for students with learning challenges in SPS are low & support is often lower.

Charlie Mas said...

A critical key to good instruction is differentiation - the individuation of instruction so each student is taught lessons at the frontier of their knowledge and skills. This represents a paradigm shift away from the industrial model of education (everyone gets the same lesson at the same time), and moves us forward into a post-industrial model in which each student gets the lesson they need. It can be made possible by reducing class size to the point that the teacher has the time to customize lessons for each student (a pre-industrial model - the one-room schoolhouse with eight students in the room) or it can be done through the use of technology (in the way that the MAP test that changes the questions for each student based on that student's answers). Unfortunately the first method is unduly expensive and the second method lacks the necessary spark of humanity.

The practice at Manual High in Denver appears most promising by using a bit of both. The teacher gets to know students better and can better tailor instruction by having fewer students (75 instead of 150) and we can make it affordable and academically beneficial by integrating curriculum through combined language arts and social studies classes and combined math and science classes. Then, on top of that, some technology can be brought to bear to assist the teacher in differentiation.

The key is that the teacher is focused on differentiating instruction and is provided with the time and tools to do it.

I think this is a brilliant solution.

There's an added benefit. If the class is LA/SS or Math/Science then the class period is twice as long. That gives time for more involved projects or labs.

seattle citizen said...

Smaller class size. Something most of us advoacte (seems like a no-brainer, eh?) but our superintendent has siad that "class size doesn't matter."

But cutting other staff in order to reduce the load on teacher 50% from 150 to 75 by getting rid of other staff?

At Manual, they don't offer bilingual classes (must have cut those teachers) so ELL students don't got there. This is one example of selectivity: By reducing class size by cutting the "extra" staff that might, by necessity, have smaller classes or "more expensive students," a school might instruct on the basic WASL cores ("teach to the test") but all the peripherals, such as special ed, bilingual, art, etc get tossed out.

UNLESS there is a lot of money to support it. In today's Seattle Times, there is an op-ed by Neal Peirce that is a rah-rah piece for charters (what a surprise, Times! You're so predictable....but you ARE the free market's newsletter...)
Peirce says that "Making Waves [charter]has extraordinarily high per-pupil costs (roughly $21,000 child per year). But by forming its own charter school — overcoming bitter opposition of the Richmond School Board — the program has been able to get some government funding to supplement its high, philanthropy-provided costs."

Soooo....that particular charter costs twice as much as public ed to do its support (ala HCZ)

This is the unsoken bugaboo in Charters and privatization - education cosdt money. You get what you pay for. Services are expensive (no matter how they come to us: Anti union? Unions cost to much? Is it better to use the free market where the top admins get 400 times as much pay as the labor? How does it help children to have CEOs make these massive piles of profit?)

Charter advocates seem to think they can get education on the cheap, they can cut costs, deregulate, contract out the services necessary to educate a child. But as far as I can tell, in ANY school one must either pay big bucks to provide a quality education, or short-shrift children by cutting back to "the basics" (say, WASL prep and/or cuting services for SpEd, ELL, ALO, art etc)

Charlie Mas said...

livfinne wrote:

"I will read Diane Ravitch's book on one condition: Charlie agrees to read Professor Ouchi's book, The Secret of TSL (Total Student Load): The Revolutionary Discovery that Raises School Performance."

I'm not involved in the back-and-forth of asking other folks to read books. The only books that I EVER suggest people read are You Just Don't Understand by Deborah Tannen and Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman.

Any other book recommedation from me would be one-to-one and based on a knowledge of the reader's tastes. I certainly don't think everyone should read my favorite books, such as The White Goddess, The Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep, or Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.

Anyway, it appears that I already agree with Professor Ouchi.

Charlie Mas said...

Let's get back to Ms Finne's theme. At least her theme before she left it: "Cutting central bureaucracies and putting qualified principals in charge of their schools would help make sure that education dollars actually reach the classroom."

How can we cut central bureaucracy and improve the principal corps?

seattle citizen said...

"Making Waves [charter]has extraordinarily high per-pupil costs (roughly $21,000 child per year). But by forming its own charter school — overcoming bitter opposition of the Richmond School Board — the program has been able to get some government funding to supplement its high, philanthropy-provided costs."

So the obvious question is: Will charter supporters (philanthropists) bring their experiments to scale by providing the extra $10,000 per child (see above) for EVERY child in the country? For SpEd, ELL, AP, "Regular ol'" student...

If the Making Waves Charter is so great at 21k per kid, why aren't philanthropists giving this money to ALL schools? Or are they saying that we tax payers should give 21k per kid? I'd go along with that, tax me for it and send the money to the publics. If Seattle Publics had an extra ten grand per kid, wondrous things would happen.

So I guess ol' Neal is dsaying we need 20k per kid (yes!) while Ms Finne, by citing Manual, is saying we should reuce extraneous work force and focus on just the standards, not on ELL or SpEd, we need to cut those extra (expensive) staff to allow block scheduling and a smaller student load...

I opt for spending more, twice as much if necessary, to provide a rich and deep education to every child in our public schools.

emeraldkity said...

I have been on several principal hiring commitees as I mentioned- prescreened by district apparently in order to find those who profess to adhere to the district priorities.

As teachers apply directly to the schools ( at least at that point) and it is up to the schools to decide who to interview- I would like to suggest that if a principal candidate has met the basic qualifications for the district ( clean legal record- appropriate education), that they allow the schools to decide which ones to interview- although the district could reserve the final hiring decision as they do now.

seattle citizen said...

Speaking of schools in the papers, the New York Times today has an op-ed called "Plan B: Skip College" which makes a cogent argument for providing alternatives for the "everone ready for college and work" mantra.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/16/weekinreview/16steinberg.html

seattle citizen said...

Maureen, you asked for a link to studies comparing "lottery in" charters to regular students - the op-ed I referred to by Neal Pearce, the rah-rah piece on charters in today's Times, mentions such a study by Harvard:

"But a rigorous Harvard-MIT study of Boston-area students, sponsored by the Boston Foundation, has shown otherwise. Massachusetts uses lotteries to decide which children get admitted to charter schools — and which don't. So the researchers were able to compare the subsequent academic performance of the lottery "winners" and "losers."

So I looked up that study and here it is:

http://www.tbf.org/
UtilityNavigation/
MultimediaLibrary/
ReportsDetail.aspx?id=14246&parentId=354

I would caution that lottery students are not the same as general public ed students: Lottery students have parent/guardians who enroll them in the lottery, so they are pushing. That said, if the study compares JUST students who entered the lottery (those that "won" and those that did not and stayed in publics) there might be some validity to the results.

seattle citizen said...

The New York Times today also had a pertinent editorial cartoon from the pen of John Heller of the Green Bay Gazette:

There's a Wall Street derivatives manager giving the commencement speech (a grad is asking why they invited him) and he says:
"In conclusion, get out there and fail!"

Given the push by big business to give them our schools, this is quite apt. They've provided such a fine model of failure lately, we would, of course, do well to emulate their dishonest, greedy, self-serving business models.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I will note that Ms. Finne is more than willing to make huge blanket statements and yet when questioned on them, then decides which ones she will and will not answer. Fine, but I'm always a bit suspicious of people who make sweeping statements and then, when challenged, go silent.

Toni said...

"Smaller class size. Something most of us advoacte (seems like a no-brainer, eh?) but our superintendent has siad that "class size doesn't matter."

Abd that, Seattle Citizen, is exactly why some people will welcome in charters if the chance presents itself again. The charter that Liv points out made the trade off to reduce non teaching staff, and combine classes in order to reduce a teachers student load by 50%. Charters have that flexibility.

seattle citizen said...

Yes, the flexibility to fire ELL and SpEd teachers, librarians, counselors, PE, Art and Music teachers, lunch room staff (an underapprecaited staff if there ever was one), security, grounds maintainence, transportation, nurses, truancy officers....

Pretty flexible!

If people are being convinced by smoke and mirrors to beleive that this elimination of non-core staff is to the benefit of their chidlren...well, in my opinion they are being misled.

seattle citizen said...

The New York Times scores the trifecta today by reviewing Diane Ravitch's book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System (which, as we know, chronicles her transformation from a free-market cheerleader to a person with deep concerns about charter schools, merit pay and the standardized testing culture.)

http://www.nytimes.com/
2010/05/16/books/
review/Wolfe-t.html

Not only does the review have a great photo, of a teacher teaching a bubble sheet to her students, but it includes pertinent information such this:

"she casts a skeptical eye on the results claimed by such often-praised school reformers as New York’s Anthony Alvarado and San Diego’s Alan Bersin, reviews a sheaf of academic studies of school effectiveness and delivers the most damning criticism I have ever read of the role philanthropic institutions sometimes play in our society. “Never before,” she writes of the Gates Foundation, was there an entity “that gave grants to almost every major think tank and advocacy group in the field of education, leaving no one willing to criticize its vast power and unchecked influence.”

Sounbd familiar? Everywhere we turn, the Gates (and Broad, and Walton...) Foundation has poured money into various think tanks, "alliances" and "coalitions" in order to make sure that everybody with a voice is singing their tune.

seattle citizen said...

Ms Finne, please tell us who the major contributors to your organization are, particularly contributors to the education division of your organization.

Please provide a list of funders of your organization.

hschinske said...

"...Lubienski thinks one of the reasons that private schools don’t adopt a more reform-minded math curriculum is because some parents are more attracted to a “back-to-basics” approach to math instruction. The end result, however, is students who are “prepared for the tests of 40 years ago, and not the tests of today,” she said.

You say that like it's a bad thing.

Helen Schinske

Toni said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Toni said...

SC, Some schools might choose some of the trade offs that you listed in order to have a smaller class size. While PUBLIC schools are not free to make these choices, charters are, and that's part of their appeal.

A charter may opt to eliminate lunch staff, and have kids bring their own lunch - like most private schools do. Or they may opt to grow a garden and have a parent volunteer serve a hot vegetarian lunch to students every day (NOVA did something like this for awhile I think). If the families involved agree with that, what's the problem?

A charter may choose to have parent volunteers man the library, and cut the cost of a librarian. That wouldn't be my choice, but again, if families agree to that I don't really see the issue?

A charter may not need security? Our public elementary school certainly didn't, so why force that on a school that doesn't need it? Let them put the funding where it is more needed.

Grounds maintenance? Have you looked at our school grounds lately? They are in shambles and it's embarrasing. The only schools that have gardens or even mowed lawns are those that parent volunteers take care of. If a charter wanted to opt out of grounds maintenance and parents agree to do the work, what's wrong with that? I'd do it for 15 kid classroom.

Truancy officers - I don't think we have them as is.

Councellors - Our PUBLIC schools have cut Career councelors and elementary councelors. So that's kinda moot at this point.

Nurses - most schools get a nurse one day a week for a few hours. If families agree that smaller class sizes were worth the trade of of a nurse for 4 hours a week , well then, so be it. Some communities absolutely need a full time nurse, others don't need a nurse at all. Shouldn't the school and families have some say in that decision?

Arts and PE: What if they were offered before and after school by parent or community volunteers? It wouldn't be my choice to do this, but if a group of families agreed that this was a worthwhile trade off for smaller class size, who are we to say it's wrong?

I'm not advocating for cutting any of the above. I'm just saying that charters have the autonomy to make choices that best suit their own community and PUBLICS don't. That's appealing to many families. It's why alt schools were born (unfortunately most alt schools in SPS have been standardized to death and are shells of what they were intended to be). Charters fill that void in many ways.

As for charters cutting or not serving ELL or special ed students, of course I don't advocate that in any way. By the same token though we need to look at how our PUBLIC schools are serving these populations too. Think about the BOC fiasco, mainstreaming, moving programs from building to building, etc. Talk to any special ed parent and ask them how SPS is working for them? You won't get much praise.

I guess what I'm saying is that I like schools to have some autonomy to pick and choose what will work for their community. SPS does not allow this. Charters do. That is part of their appeal.

Charlie Mas said...

I honestly believe that there is more that unites the corporate education reform folks with kitchen table education activists than divides us.

Let's set aside, for the moment, the contention around charter schools (a moot point in Washington State) and focus instead on our mutual support for alternative schools. That should come first anyway.

Let's set aside, for the moment, the contention around the teacher contract and focus instead on our mutual interest on injecting accountability higher up the chain. That has to come first anyway.

Let's set aside, for the moment, the contention around autonomy for principals and focus instead on our mutual interest in fighting mindless standardization. That the more urgent matter.

Let's set aside, for the moment, the contention around assessments and focus instead on our mutual interest in reducing central administration and driving resources into classrooms. That will help students.

We have other mutual areas of agreement: adequate and effective support for struggling students, for students with IEPs, for English Language Learners, for advanced learners, and for the teachers, principals and staffs in our schools. We both want accountability. We both want a district that is responsive to the needs of the community.

We have more in common than we have separating us. We would both be more effective if we worked together on the areas of agreement than we can be working in our areas of difference.

I would gladly work with the Gates Foundation, the Broad Foundation, the District, or the Alliance to achieve those ends that I support than to see that work left undone.

Now, if we could only get them to shift away from their pet issues to work instead on the points of agreement, then we'd really see some progress.

zb said...

The link isn't working at the tBf (the Boston foundation), but the title of the charter study that found benefits to charters is "informing the debate: comparing boston's charter, pilot and traditional schools."

The study did compare students who "succeeded" in a lottery against those who did not. The main caveat (detailed in the report) is that this design means that they compare only those students at over-subscribed charter schools compared to where students in alternative assignments who didn't get into those schools. In an analogy with our option schools, I guess that would be like comparing students who won the lottery for TOPS against students who didn't, while ignoring those student who attended another option (charter in the Boston study) school (AAA? Summit? that was not over subscribed).

Compared to the other charter studies, what this might allow one to do is to pick the "best" charter schools to compare them against the average public school (other charter studies have also shown that some proportion of charters, usually ones from states with high degrees of regulation) might out perform public schools (on standardizing testing).

The "Out of the debate" report details the ways in which those charters were different from the public schools (I noted a longer school day for students & longer work day for teachers being a significant difference).

Both are interesting reads.

zb said...

I'll note also (I haven't yet completely read the report), that the proportion of ELL students (2 v 20) and special ed students is substantially different in the charter v public schools in the Boston report. The study corrects (as is usually done in this type of study) for the backgrounds of the students whose achievement is being measured, but I don't know how it corrects for the potential effect of having a class of 20% ELL students, v having 2% such students.

I don't know what the impact of presence of these populations is on the learning of the other students in the classroom, but my guess is that it would be non-negligible.

Mind you, that doesn't mean that I'm advocating for segregating those subgroups of students, merely noting that even if you correct for the populations the way one does in epidemiological studies, you may still leave the impacts of peer effects, depending on how you've corrected.

Ultimately I find these reports informative not for the purpose of supporting charters, but for understanding what forms of education might be useful to draw into our system more generally. They are experiments, and experiments that might yield information that can be applied elsewhere. As with any experimental treatment, though, there's a potential of harm as well as benefit, and we have to figure that out pretty fast so that we can stop the clinical trials that are going poorly, and use the information when they're going well.

To me, that means that charters are an experiment, but not a final state -- I am pretty unconvinced that the presence of choice, or the free market, or any of those things improves opportunity. What I do believe might be the value is that it might give us experimental proof of better practices in education.

(a concrete example being the longer school day).

Toni said...

ZB, very good points. And thanks for reminding us that is important to really analyze statistics and not just take them at face value.

livfinne said...

Melissa,
I am trying my best to respond to questions that pertain to policy matters. I did not anticipate 118 comments on this post!

So, Charlie asks that we get back to "how do we cut the bureaucracy and improve the principal corps?"

Fifteen large districts across the country have done both by allowing the dollars to follow the child to the school of the parents' choice---known here as weighted student funding. That model has an in-built accountability system in it: principals must attract funding for their school by convincing parents to enroll their child at that school. If principals are unable to do so, this is a strong signal to the superintendent that the principal has not won the confidence of the community.

This reform also transfers power over school funding from the central bureaucracy to the schools. Principals would control spending at the school. In Atlanta, principals have an assistant principal in charge of the budget.

Professor Ouchi identified two key mistakes made by Superintendents Stanford and Olchesfke when they tried to do this here: they didn't train the principals for this new role AND they didn't reorganize the central district bureaucracy to support the schools. The first chance it got, the bureaucracy grabbed back power over spending.

I agree with Charlie that we need a better accountability system. Charlie asks what I think about electing a superintendent. I have not thought about this idea, but will find out if this has been successful elsewhere.

I have been told that newly elected school board members are told by the Washington Association of School Board Directors not to challenge existing practices. This seems very broken to me, as school board members are supposed to be holding superintendents and schools accountable.

Now, today's article in the Seattle Times has this title: "Well-run charters proving their worth."

As for the discussion about private schools---if private schools didn't win the confidence of parents, they would not exist. Not so with public schools. They receive funding year after year even though parents are not satisfied. Giving parents control over funding through weighted student funding would change the dynamic and force schools to respond to their customers and improve.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Toni, it's one thing to have the kids bring their own lunches and it's another to have parents coming in to cook. Getting past the unions (in a charter system), you still have health code issues to deal with. It's not a simple thing.

Yes, you could have parents "man" the library if all you want are people to check books in and out and shelve the books. There is a benefit to having a qualified person.

Again, you are right; it's all a trade-off but some of what librarian does - teaching computer research skills, finding the right books for a project, etc. would now have to be done by the teacher.

I agree about the grounds maintenance but then the district would have liability waivers signed by all who do the work as well as worry about the equipment being used.

The issue is, though, schools DO have some control over what they support. A school can decide to have a half-time librarian or counselor. (And by the way, just because the district did away with the elementary counselors and career counselors, I wouldn't say it's a moot point. There are those of us working to get them back.)

"I would gladly work with the Gates Foundation, the Broad Foundation, the District, or the Alliance to achieve those ends that I support than to see that work left undone."

Ditto. Maybe it's worth asking them Charlie. I'll look into it.

spedvocate said...

Toni says:
Talk to any special ed parent and ask them how SPS is working for them? You won't get much praise.


Talk to any special ed parent and ask how that private school is working for them.... Oh yeah. They never get that chance to have them work. However poorly the public school works, the private schools can and do slam that door, in all but the mildest disabilities.

My proposal? Remove 501c3 tax exempt status from private schools that don't accept students with disabilities, of every sort. Discrimination is fine, but you shouldn't get a tax break for it.

spedvocate said...

A critical key to good instruction is differentiation - the individuation of instruction so each student is taught lessons at the frontier of their knowledge and skills. This represents a paradigm shift away from the industrial model of education (everyone gets the same lesson at the same time)[]It can be made possible by reducing class size to the point that the teacher has the time to customize lessons for each student [] Unfortunately the first method is unduly expensive...

This idea of "differentiation" doesn't really capture what good,or good modern differentiated, classrooms look like. That is, the idea that a teacher, somehow goes around and gives a lesson to each individual or to a small group of like-abled individuals that happen to occupy the same real estate. That really simply describes a bunch of little sesssions of undifferentiated teaching and learning. It also gives the false impression that differentiation can only be accomplished in a small group of students, rendering it "unduly expensive." The reality is, when you have huge class sizes, you have to differentiate. The larger the class, the less suitable a single, level-unified lesson will be, for anybody. It will always be a compromise at best. Differentiation is really the provision of instruction and materials that can be accessed at many levels, and by many different students. Sure, teachers do have to provide some reduced group instruction, to monitor progress, give encouragement, and to maximize growth, but that is something they always should have been doing anyway. Project based instruction is an example of instruction that is highly differentiable. That type of learning also has the added benefit that it encourages much more independence and intellectual risk taking in all students. Those qualities are usually absent in the more traditional "stand and deliver" classrooms. The idea that all students are working on something completely different in a differentiated classroom ... is really the opposite of differentiation.

seattle citizen said...

Liv, you make three points I would like clarified (in addition to my request for information about your funding sources):
First, you write: "I have been told that newly elected school board members are told by the Washington Association of School Board Directors not to challenge existing practices. This seems very broken to me, as school board members are supposed to be holding superintendents and schools accountable."
Please tell us where you got this information. It is an outrageous claim, and would need to be collaborated to be believeable.

Second, you then write: " Now, today's article in the Seattle Times has this title: "Well-run charters proving their worth."

Ms Finne, it was not an article, it was an opinion piece by Neal Pearce, giving his opinion about how groovy charter schools were, which, knowing Mr. Pearce, is not surprise. As I indicated in my earlier comment (which I guess you haven't read, along with my request for information about your funding source), Mr. Pearce also informed us that the cost to educate a child at one of his favorite charters was $21,000, perhaps double the cost of a public school. Can you comment on Mr. Pearce's opinion (as opposed to the factual statement he would have made had his words been in an actual article, as you seem to believe, rather than in an opinion) regading this doubled cost? Pearce suggests that the charter has succeeded in getting some money back from "the government," but we, sorry, I am wondering if the philanthropists are going to cough up the extra ten thousand dollars to ALL students, or merely enough to where they can procure some government funds (or HEDGE funds, as has apparently been the practice in the investment industry lately as it profits off the education business by sucking tax credits into its maw)

Lastly, you write that "Giving parents control over funding through weighted student funding..."
Oh, you mean vouchers?

seattle citizen said...

There is a another relevant piece in today's New York Times. It's on the Way We Live Now page of the magazine, and is entitled Metric Mania

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/
05/16/magazine/16FOB-WWLN-t.html

It suggests that the "age of numbers" is pushing people to look at various aspects of life in very narrow fashion, often lesding to statistical and analytical crazyness that impacts, among other things, education.
Metric Mania is below in two parts.

"In the realm of public policy, we live in an age of numbers. To hold teachers accountable, we examine their students’ test scores. To improve medical care, we quantify the effectiveness of different treatments. There is much to be said for such efforts, which are often backed by cutting-edge reformers. But do wehold an outsize belief in our ability to gauge complex phenomena, measure outcomes and come up with compelling numerical evidence? A well-known quotation usually attributed to Einstein is “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” I’d amend it to a less eloquent, more prosaic statement: Unless we know how things are counted, we don’t know if it’s wise to count on the numbers.

The problem isn’t with statistical tests themselves but with what we do before and after we run them. First, we count if we can, but counting depends a great deal on previous assumptions about categorization. Consider, for example, the number of homeless people in Philadelphia, or the number of battered women in Atlanta, or the number of suicides in Denver. Is someone homeless if he’s unemployed and living with his brother’s family temporarily? Do we require that a women self-identify as battered to count her as such? If a person starts drinking day in and day out after a cancer diagnosis and dies from acute cirrhosis, did he kill himself? The answers to such questions significantly affect the count.

Second, after we’ve gathered some numbers relating to a phenomenon, we must reasonably aggregate them into some sort of recommendation or ranking. This is not easy. By appropriate choices of criteria, measurement protocols and weights, almost any desired outcome can be reached. Consider those ubiquitous articles with titles like “The 10 Friendliest Colleges” or “The 20 Most Lovable Neighborhoods.” Such articles would be more than fluff if they answered critical questions. Are there good reasons the authors picked the criteria they did? Why did they weigh the criteria in the way they did? If changes in the criteria were made, would the rankings of the friendliest colleges or most lovable neighborhoods be vastly different?

Since the answer to the last question is usually yes, the problem of reasonable aggregation is no idle matter. Recently released e-mail from employees at the credit-rating agency Standard & Poor’s indicated a wish to “discuss adjusting criteria” for rating securities and “massage the subprime and alt-A numbers to preserve market share.” The criteria adjustments were analogous to the adjustments that would put an area of abandoned buildings onto the list of the most lovable neighborhoods."

seattle citizen said...

Part II of Metric Mania, by John Allen Paulos in the NYT 5/16/10

"These two basic procedures — counting and aggregating — have important implications for public policy. Consider the plan to evaluate the progress of New York City public schools inaugurated by the city a few years ago. While several criteria were used, much of a school’s grade was determined by whether students’ performance on standardized state tests showed annual improvement. This approach risked putting too much weight on essentially random fluctuations and induced schools to focus primarily on the topics on the tests. It also meant that the better schools could receive mediocre grades becausethey were already performing well and had little room for improvement. Conversely, poor schools could receive high grades by improving just a bit.

Medical researchers face similar problems when it comes to measuring effectiveness. Consider the temptation to use the five-year survival rate as the primary measure of a treatment for a particular disease. This seems quite reasonable, and yet it’s possible for the five-year survival rate for a disease in one region to be 100 percent and in a second region to be 0 percent, even if the latter region has an equally effective and cheaper approach.

This is an extreme and hypothetical situation, but it has real-world analogues. Suppose that whenever people contract the disease, they always get it in their mid-60s and live to the age of 75. In the first region, an early screening program detects such people in their 60s. Because these people live to age 75, the five-year survival rate is 100 percent. People in the second region are not screened and thus do not receive their diagnoses until symptoms develop in their early 70s, but they, too, die at 75, so their five-year survival rate is 0 percent. The laissez-faire approach thus yields the same results as the universal screening program, yet if five-year survival were the criterion for effectiveness, universal screening would be deemed the best practice.

Because so many criteria can be used to assess effectiveness — median or mean survival times, side effects, quality of life and the like — there is a case to be made against mandating that doctors follow what seems at any given time to be the best practice. Perhaps, as some have suggested, we should merely nudge them with gentle incentives. A comparable tentativeness may be appropriate when devising criteria for effective schools.

Arrow’s Theorem, a famous result in mathematical economics, essentially states that no voting system satisfying certain minimal conditions can be guaranteed to always yield a fair or reasonable aggregation of the voters’ rankings of several candidates. A squishier analogue for the field of social measurement would say something like this: No method of measuring a societal phenomenon satisfying certain minimal conditions exists that can’t be second-guessed, deconstructed, cheated, rejected or replaced. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be counting — but it does mean we should do so with as much care and wisdom as we can muster."

John Allen Paulos, a professor of mathematics at Temple University, is the author most recently of “Irreligion.”

Melissa Westbrook said...

Liv, I asked my questions way before Charlie and yet no answers. When you sow the wind, you should expect the whirlwind.

About the "mistakes" Stanford and Olchefske made - "The first chance it got, the bureaucracy grabbed back power over spending."

One, Superintendent Stanford died during his tenure and so there is no knowing what he did or did not do. He wasn't there long enough to have send principal training into motion. I think it somewhat disrespectful to say he made a mistake. As for Olchefske, the Moss-Adams report made it pretty clear that you can put all the changes in place you want but if you don't change the culture of bureaucracy, you change nothing. Clearly, he didn't learn that lesson.

I'm not interested in a school as a business model. I don't want principals deciding what goes into a school based on a competitive business model. We tried that and it did not work. Now all the reformers are saying, "well, it wasn't done right the first time." Not buying it.

"As for the discussion about private schools---if private schools didn't win the confidence of parents, they would not exist." Well, that's up for debate. I know many people who went to a religious school and/or homeschool for religious reasons. The quality of the schooling is sometimes secondary to what people perceive as important in the first place.

livfinne said...

Melissa,
I am sorry. I thought I had answered your questions, which were 1)what was your source for the statement that private schools serve socially and economically diverse children. I said that Herbert Walberg's book, page 46, is my source; and 2) you asked a question about the evidence supporting performance pay, as did Dan Dempsey, so I responded to the two of you at the same time.

As for who funds the Washington Policy Center, please call my boss, Dann Mead Smith at 206-937-9691.

Here is a link to an article about Professor Ouchi's research, which I invite you to read: http://www.today.ucla.edu/portal/ut/lesson-from-new-york-city-let-94665.aspx.

Also, take a look at what Baltimore is achieving by putting the principals in charge: https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http://www.bcps.k12.md.us/news/PDF/ByTheNumb

Also, I meant no disrespect to Superintendent Stanford or Olchefske. Stanford was a genius---he understood the promise of the weighted student formula and allowing principals to control their budgets.

Must run.

Maureen said...

Excellent overview zb!

You say (regarding peer impacts): I don't know what the impact of presence of these populations is on the learning of the other students in the classroom, but my guess is that it would be non-negligible.

On a more basic level, in the sampled charter schools, 100% of the students have, by definition, applied for the lottery to be there. (So, come from families which are different in some way than those that did not apply.) In the public schools, some number of students in any classroom may have applied for a space in a charter and not won the lottery. So the peer groups could be very different.

I would like to know if achievement was significantly higher in public school classrooms that contained more students who applied for the lottery than in classrooms where fewer students applied for the lottery. It seems to me that that analsis should be relatively easy to do given the data they seem to be using. (Although it may be that the '% lottery applicants per class' number is either 100% (in the charter schools) or generally very close to 1/30 in the public schools (so not sufficiently variable.).

seattle citizen said...

Ms Finne, why would we need to call your boss to find out your funding source? Is not your organization a 501c? Is it not transparent?

This seems odd.

Can you just ask your boss if it's okay to tell us? What could there possibly be to hide? All I'm interested in knowing is who pays your bills: You ask to post on this blog some information, purportedly from your research, and any organization doing research would understand that if there are biases those biases should noted and explanations given to verify the biases have not influenced the research. You posted a number of suggested fixes to public schools, we must assume you are involved in researching it (or are you merely an interested citizen?), so I would like to know who foots the bill. Because of course that donor organization has its own perspectives and agendas, asn we need to know what those are so we can properly understand YOUR perspective.

Please ask your boss to tell us who funds your work. Otherwise we might just as well assume you work for NWEA, Gates, Broad...
If you work for the Seattle Education Association, that would be pertinent also. Maybe you work for a hedge fund?

Sahila said...

Ms Finne points as to Herbert Walberg as the source for some of her ideas... and repeats her praise of what's happening in Baltimore...

I'll repost details about Herbert Walberg:

Did you know he is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Heartland Institute?

The Heartland Institute - Discovering, developing, and promoting free-market solutions to public policy problems.
http://www.heartland.org/

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Heartland_Institute

Just one little item from the Heartland Institute webpage:

Tea Party Tool Box

Heartland Institute offers tools for Tea Party activists

This summer, millions of Americans will attend Tea Party events and march in the streets to take their country back. To support their efforts, The Heartland Institute is making available free copies of booklets that present in plain English what needs to be done to reform health care, state budgets, schools, environmental policy, and more. You can read these booklets online, download, them, or ask for free copies.
(read more at the link)

Yes, a fine fellow, aligning himself with racist Tea Partyers who question Obama's parentage and nationality... I am sure he has the best interests of our children at heart...

and finally, Baltimore and its Superintendent Alonso...
Alonso came to Baltimore from NYC, where he served under Joel Klein, another corporatist education reformer...

http://www.freebase.com/view/en/baltimore_city_public_school_system

and go here for an insight into Alonso's attitude to reform http://www.citypaper.com/news/story.asp?id=20056

"Commissioner George Vanhook Sr. offered that the school system, with its endless reforms and ill-defined ends, can set kids up for failure. The school board, in its however well-intentioned social engineering, was practicing a form of "neo-slavery," he offered dramatically.

Andrés Alonso, the schools chief brought in to shake things up in Baltimore once again, responded with equal drama that the "only thing that matters is outcomes for kids." To get those enigmatic "outcomes," he assured, "there cannot be simply a democratic process."

That statement is completely indicative of the attitude of "reformers" - we, the people, dont matter. The warning bells are deafening - how can you not hear them?

seattle citizen said...

Ah, I see what "coalition" you are working WITH, Liv, as Director of the Washington Policy Center Center for Education:

"Washington Policy Center Joins Our Schools Coalition"

http://www.washingtonpolicy.org/Centers/education/index.html

So now we know (hey, Charlie, did you know this?) that you are affiliating with the new-hatched iteration of the Alliance for Education...And their Gates/Broad connections...

But who FUNDS you? Did you get a grant from OSC, which got a grnat from A4E, which got a grant from Gates?

Are we to suppose that your comments are research-based, or are merely the boilerplate we've heard already, first from Gates Foundation, then from their Alliance's Our Schools Coalition's Strategies 360?

Ms Finne, who funds the Center for Education (and/or its parent company (this IS the free market, right?) Washington Policy Center? Who pays your bills?

seattle citizen said...

If you don't want to share where you get your funding, I guess I'll have to get a ticket to this and find out (I'll ask Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post and FOX News, your guest speaker - he's always got the answers to my free market question) Mark your calendars, people, there's gonna be a big party in Bellevue!:

Washington Policy Center's 2010 Annual Dinner
Wednesday, October 6th | 6:00 pm | Hyatt Regency Bellevue
900 Bellevue Way NE, Bellevue, 98004
Tables from $3,000 - $15,000 | $1,000 VIP Couples | $300 Individual


Featuring 2010 Columbia Award Recipient Charles Krauthammer from The Washington Post and FOX News
and honoring 2010 Stanley O. McNaughton Champion of Freedom Award Recipient State Auditor Brian Sonntag.

Sahila said...

Thanks SC... always connect the dots and follow the money... makes the picture so much more transparent...

I still wonder about Ms Finne's timing...

Knowing that dividing and conquering is an age-old (and very effective) strategy for pushing through unwanted change, I wonder if the Alliance asked her to post with her suggestions about what should be included/changed in teacher contracts to further alienate parents and teachers.

The new contract bargaining round is set to start soon and the SEA this Monday (tomorrow) will vote whether or not to sign onto the RttT MOU...

Many of us parents are going to go to that meeting to tell teachers we're not falling for this attempt to to drive a wedge between us, to demonise teachers and break the unions. We're going to tell them we value and support them and we dont want RttT for our children...

Why dont you join us:

The meeting will be at Washington Middle School at 4:00 PM.

If you can make it, please come and show your support for our teachers. Many of them feel alienated due to the pressure that has been put on the union through organizations such as the Alliance backed by Gates and Broad.

There will be flyers to hand out. We, of course, cannot sit in on the meeting but as we did before, we can stand outside the door as the teachers are walking in, hand out flyers and let the teachers know that we support them.

We would suggest getting there at 3:30 PM.

If you know of other parents who would want to participate in this show of support, please let them know.

seattle citizen said...

Ah, NOW I've figured it out, Liv. You're on TVW, that tv show (a very biased on itself, it seems, no contrary viewpoints)and you say regarding certification:
"we have 5000 microsoft employees laid off recently, they can't teach [because they don't have certificates]"

So because teachers need training and certification, 5000 RIFFED Microsofties can't teach!

You're not working for ol' Bill, are you, you're working for his laid-off employees who are now facing free market mortgages without an income!

It's all so clear now. You want to take THOSE free marketly laid off people, and use the free market to get them the jobs of teachers! It's brilliant! Bill doesn't have to worry his head over lay-offs and unemployment when he drops the hatchet, he can just secure jobs for his idled workforce over the public sector!

And as middle-person, you can work the PR magic and get a cut! Brilliant, I tell you, brilliant!

Sahila said...

http://ithoughtathink.blogspot.com/2009/08/liv-finne-school-wouldnt-be-much-of.html

These are some of Live Finnes thoughts on education, via Ryan at his I Thought a Think blog:

"A Liv Finne School Wouldn't Be Much of a School At All

Over at Washington Policy Blog from the Washington Policy Center they've got a blogger by the name of Liv Finne. She runs their education policy center and has a ton of ideas that I don't agree with, which is fine because hey, diff'rent strokes and all.

Today, though, her post tied into the Kent teacher's strike is just asinine.

Today, the Seattle Times reports that Lisa Brackin Johnson, president of the Kent teachers' union, has led Kent teachers into striking against their students.

As a local president, I'll personally attest that on something like this the president is more of a follower than a leader. When 86% of the members vote to do something, it's because they want to do it, not because of prompting from their leadership. Liv's attempt to personalize it by calling out Brackin-Johnson by name is silly.

If principals were in charge of their school budget and staffing decisions, teachers would feel that they are connected to, and part of, the important budget decisions that affect them, including the number of students assigned to their classrooms.

This simply must be true, because there has never been a teacher--ever, in all of history--who has disagreed with their principal. Similarly, there has never been a bad principal. The solution is obviously to give them more power, because that's what teachers are clammoring for.

This strike is not only illegal, but entirely unnecessary. Washington's schools receive over $10,000 per student from all state, federal and local sources. Each class of 20 students receives $200,000, which should allow their principals, not a statewide single salary scale, to determine teacher pay, to pay the best teachers up to $100,000, and to take the rest to run the school.

This is a math fail of such magnitude that it's hard to even know where to begin.

Firstly, I wish that she had linked to a source for her $10,000 figure, because the most recent data from OSPI puts the figure at $9,344.

Secondly, as any small school advocate will tell you, if those 20 kids are high schoolers who require an english teacher, a science teacher, and a social studies teacher, you've suddenly spent this mythical $200,000 without even paying the electric bill.

CONTINUED IN NEXT POST

Sahila said...

Contd>

..."But the real heart of dumbness is in the next paragraph (emphasis mine):

As for the class size complaint so often heard in these strikes, this link from the OSPI website shows that the state funds enough certificated instructors to provide class sizes of 18 students. Too many teachers are simply not teaching, instead drawing salary by reviewing curriculum, administrating, or fulfilling some other less essential function. This link from the OSPI website shows that out of a total of 103,614 public school employees, less than half, or 49,146, are actual elementary or secondary school teachers.

OH MY GOD, ONLY HALF OF SCHOOL EMPLOYEES ARE TEACHERS?!?! SOMEONE CONVENE A TEA PARTY, STAT!

But wait a minute....if it sounds too weird too be true, it just might be. Follow her second link and take a look at that second chart, and look at who Liv says is just "simply not teaching" and "fulfilling some other less essential function":

* 1,240 Librarians
* 2,122 Counselors
* 989 Speech-Language Pathologists
* 888 School Psychologists
* 436 School Nurses
* 325 Occupational Therapists
* 116 Physical Therapists
* 5,211 "Other Teachers", which the OSPI defines as "Instructs students in ungraded classes, special education, gifted, disadvantaged, early childhood, home/hospital, and adult education."
* 3,339 "Operators", which is the fancy way that OSPI categorizes bus drivers.

....and a host of others, including all of the principals that she wants to give more power to. The numbers above add up to another 14,666 employees who I'd consider pretty important to the operation of a school, not "less essential."


In Liv's world, the Air Force should only have pilots, not mechanics, because it's the pilots who fly the plane, so clearly they're the only resource that matters.

Similarly, Hollywood should fire all the foley artists and FX professionals because it's the actors and the actors alone who make movies what they are. "Lights!" and "Camera!" are only preludes to "Action!", after all.

A hospital can be made up of only general practitioners, because really, that should be enough--who ever needs to see a specialist? Any teacher should be able to handle any reading difficulty, because aren't all learning disabilities pretty much the same?

You're going to walk to the Liv Finne school, because the bus drivers are clearly unimportant. You're not going to get any music, art, or PE at the Liv Finne school, because those aren't classroom teachers. Don't you dare be disabled at the Liv Finne school, because there are no OT or PT specialists to help you, much less the special ed support staff to help make sure that you're acquiring the skills you need. If your dad is an alcoholic and you're thinking of ending your life, you keep that to yourself at the Liv Finne school, because counselors are not teaching.

If you'll excuse me, I'm off to watch the video for "Another Brick in the Wall", because it totally fits what I'm envisioning the Liv Finne school to be."

Sahila said...

And Liv Finne doesnt only have the public school system in her sights as being ripe for privatisation via charters and vouchers... she also thinks that early childhood education ought to be privatised...

see here:
http://www.king5.com/news/learning-for-life/Learning-for-Life-Interview-with-Liv-Finne-critic-of-state-early-education-plan-80946102.html

And Liv Finne herself is closely associated with the Heartland Institute...

She's written on health savings accounts
http://www.heartland.org/policybot/results/17849/The_HowTo_Guide_to_Health_Savings_Accounts.html

and she's done a piece on education funding in Washington
http://www.heartland.org/infotech-news.org/article/20011/An_Overview_of_Public_School_Funding_in_Washington.html

http://www.heartland.org/schoolreform-news.org/about.html

Notice how the Heartland Institute organises itself...

Charlie Mas said...

Ms Finne, your confidence in the "in-built accountability system" of school choice.

Just because the superintendent gets a strong signal that the principal has not won the confidence of the community doesn't mean that the superintendent will do anything about it.

The accountability is NOT built in, it must be provided by the superintendent. And if the superintendent doesn't provide it... then you have a lot of schools that don't serve their communities. And that's exactly what we got here in Seattle when these ideas were tried here.

There were a number of schools that simply weren't being chosen by families. Some attracted no more than ten students, many less. Yet the central administration demanded no changes. Instead, the administration gave students mandatory assignments to those schools to fill them up with unwilling students and families. The central administration made it very clear that they were perfectly sanguine with the schools' failure to attract students.

The mistake wasn't failing to train the principals, the mistake was failing to hold them accountable. The failure was at the top, with the superintendents. The failure is still there.

Want proof? Where is TOPS 2? Where is South Shore 2? Where is Salmon Bay 2? Nowhere. Where, for that matter, is Roosevelt 2 or Garfield 2 or Ballard 2?

Want more proof? Other than Dr. Drake, what other principal has been dismissed in the past three years? Are we to believe that they are all effective? Would Dr. Drake have been dismissed if the Seattle Times hadn't reported on him? All of his performance reviews - conducted by his friend Ammon McWashington - were good. We have to pay Dr. Drake for a year in central administration and then give him two years' pay for nothing to dismiss him. We also had to give the former principal of the AAA (who also had strong performance reviews) two years' pay as severence, and he got a job the next month.

No, Ms Finne. There is no in-built accountability. Your belief in it reveals your lack of practical experience. Come down from academia and see how people really respond to these incentives and what people really do with autonomy. Some do wonderful amazing things. Some indulge their pettiness.

Think of Ben Wright, the former principal of Thurgood Marshall. He was making enormous changes there. That school was rapidly improving with the revolutionary change he was bringing to it. The District asked him to serve as principal of a second school as well - for no additional pay. He took a job in Philadelphia instead. But not before reporting how poorly he was treated by Seattle Public Schools.

Think of what Pat Hunter has been doing at Maple. Think of how four other schools in the Mercer Service Area are improving by leaps and bounds.

Then think of Joe Drake and what he did with his autonomy. Think of what Gayle Everly did at West Seattle Elementary - nothing. Think of what Sumiko Huff was doing at Hawthorne. What has Ann Gray been doing at Highland Park? Think of all the principals who haven't done anything at all with their autonomy.

No, before I rely on accountability from the same people who have proven - time and time again - either unable or unwilling to provide any kind of accountability at all, I'd like to see them provide some sample of it.

I went to one of the "Coffee with the Superintendent" meetings last year and asked the superintendent to name even a single instance of accountability from the two years she had been at the head of the District. She replied that there would be accountability only after the performance management system was in place. It had been two years and it would be another two years until that system was scheduled to be up and running. Forgive me if I don't have much confidence in her appetite to impose accountability.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Mr. Walberg and his book? He's at the Hoover Institution, a really well-known and well-connected right-wing think tank. His book, what chapters I read at the Hoover Institution site, were pretty funny. He makes some huge sweeping statements (usually with NO research/citations to back it up) like:

"More broadly, how can schooling help parents to help their chil-
dren’s learning? Letting parents choose their children’s schools is
one of the best solutions to America’s K–12 achievement problem.
When parents select schools, they feel more pleased with the school,
and their children achieve more than their traditional public school peers."

What? What research or study shows that children achieve more when their parents get to select their school? Versus public schools?

And:

“In the first eighteen years of life, children spend only about 8 percent of their time in school. Therefore, psychological conditions in the 92 percent of the time for which parents are chiefly responsible greatly influence what students learn.”

So it's about families and not education?

Ms. Finne's statement of "These reforms raise student achievement." that she claims is in his book on page 46? (and I note, one page to support such a sweeping statement?) are first of all not really on the page. You are referred to yet another writing, School Choice: The Findings that was done on research in other countries' education systems. The footnote reads:

"Much of the most rigorous research, often carried out in whole nations, took place in Sweden, Eastern Europe, and Latin America. With
national systems of education, many of which financially support public, parochial, and independent schools, investigators in these countries have been able to carry out
nationwide studies. By comparison, U.S. voucher programs are tiny and usually con- fined to a single city. U.S. public, independent, and parochial schools are usually diffi-
cult to compare because they employ different examinations."

what the page itself actually says is:

"Perhaps the most interesting results are the positive effects of
‘‘geopolitical choice’’ or private provision of schooling within a
community, state, or nation: the greater the degree of privatization,
that is, percentage of students in parochial, independent, and char-
ter schools and being home schooled, the higher the average
achievement of all students in the area. This finding may be attrib-
utable to the generally positive effect of competition for consumers."

Sorry, Ms. Finne, that's not enough to support your statement. It might be for you but not for me.

spedvocate said...

More comments on Liv Finne, and the lack of research or logical thinking. More like an educational Rush Limbaugh.

Sahila said...

From Herbert Walberg via Melissa:

"Much of the most rigorous research, often carried out in whole nations, took place in Sweden, Eastern Europe, and Latin America. With national systems of education, many of which financially support public, parochial, and independent schools, investigators in these countries have been able to carry out nationwide studies...Perhaps the most interesting results are the positive effects of
‘‘geopolitical choice’’ or private provision of schooling within a
community, state, or nation: the greater the degree of privatization, that is, percentage of students in parochial, independent, and charter schools and being home schooled, the higher the average achievement of all students in the area. This finding may be attributable to the generally positive effect of competition for consumers."

Earlier in this thread, I quoted a study coming out of Harvard on Chile's system, which has had privatisation of schools for 20 years, via a charter system...

I'll repost it, to save you going back to find it:

The Chilean experience -
charter/voucher/private schools do no better than public schools and in fact, exacerbate the rich-poor divide:

http//www.hks.harvard.edu/pepg/PDF/events/MPSPE/PEPG-05-13bellei.pdf

"The competition among schools have not caused an improvement of educational quality, because schools (mainly the private ones) have competed to attract the best students, rather than to increase the value-added to their educational service. In this “zero-sum game”, the increments of some schools are annulled by the decreases of others.

Additionally, parents’ choices have not necessarily been oriented by indicators of educational quality (because of information deficiencies and parents’ use of non-academic criteria).

As a consequence, schools have not received signals towards the educational improvement from their customers, but towards the use of status symbols and social segregation.

Finally, deregulation and free competition have also tended to increase school segregation through a process of mutual reinforcement between schools (supply side) and families (demand side).

From the supply side, schools have responded to the incentives of the competence, by distorting the indicators of quality by rejecting students who are less likely to succeed in school (applying admissions tests), and those who have demonstrated low capacities (expelling them).

These sorting and re-sorting mechanisms, massively applied for two decades, have shaped the Chilean school system in its current segregated features.

From the demand point of view, middle and high social-class families have found that schools’ social and academic selectivity provide them a large profit of “peer effects” within schools: given the high correlation between learning outcomes and student’s social background, when Chilean families aim at social selectivity, they obtain academic selectivity by extension.
"

knmerlo said...

Let's get back to the real issue:

This is how Seattle school officials describe student achievement in the district:

"One out of three students begins sixth grade unable to meet grade-level reading standards. Nearly half our seventh graders are unable to meet grade-level math standards. Nearly four out of ten students do not graduate from high school. And students of color and those in poverty continue to lag behind other students---as much as 50 percent in some schools."

The current system is clearly not working for the students. Let's put kids at the center of our debate. Let's put principals in charge of schools. Let's train them and support them and then hold them accountable. And let's allow principals to evaluate teachers based on student learning.

Steve said...

According to the 2008 Washington Policy Center Annual Report:

Annual revenues in 2008 were $1,333,864, with 40% coming from an annual dinner, 26% coming from the "Research Centers," 24% coming from "General" (??), and the rest in-kind. The annual dinner that year attracted 1,100 people.

Between 2006 and 2008, they successfully raised a total of $4.26 million to fund at least 7 "research centers," with one focused on education. Major Campaign Contributors for this capital campaign included:

• Bill & Marilyn Conner / Campaign Co-Chair
• Doug & Janet True / Gull Industries / Campaign Co-Chair
• The Charles Simonyi Fund for Arts and Sciences / Center for
the Environment Benefactor
• James E. & CK Coles Foundation / Center for Transportation
Benefactor
• John & Kathy Connors Foundation
• Kemper Development Company
• Rick & Nancy Alvord
• Apex Foundation / Center for Education Benefactor
• Dabney Point Fund
• John & Kathy Hennessy
• M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust / Center for Education Benefactor
• Vic & Mary Odermat
• Peterson Family Foundation
• Charles M. Pigott
• Jim & Roberta Weymouth

Steve

seattle citizen said...

knmerlo, those are very broad statements, both the statements about student achievement and your suggested remediation.

Can you be more specific: WHY are 6th graders behind (and according to what measures are they behind);
WHY do high school students drop out; WHY do students of color and low income lag?

HOW MUCH autonomy would you give principals? Would you include other data in teacher evaluation? Which data?

Your comment seems born of frustration (if you are a parent/guardian) or agenda (if you are a Broad/Gates plant) - I understand both perspectives, but it's really not that simple and I'm afraid I disagree with these simplistic, boilerplate comments when they have no research behind them and provide no blueprint.

seattle citizen said...

Thanks for that research, Steve. Interesting. It doesn't appear that any of the "usual suspects" are on the list, so I wonder why WPC has a new Ed center, and why it is mouthing the same platitudes as the other major reform groups?

I still wonder if they were commissioned to put out this report, and to get media/blog access to "share the news"

The donor list does contain the big-name free-marketers around here...I wonder who is talking to who?

seattle citizen said...

Ms Merlo, I note that you testified, along with Liv Finne and others, during the SB 6696 hearings at state.

Can you provide us your testimony? Were you in favor? Against? What were some of the rationales for your testimony?

http://apps.leg.wa.gov/
documents/billdocs/2009-10/
Pdf/Bill%20Reports/Senate/
6696%20SBA%20EDU%2010.pdf

Sahila said...

From:
http://www.deltadentalwa.com/Guest/Public/AboutUs/We%20Are%20WDS/Leadership.aspx

Kristin Merlo
Vice President, Sales and Marketing, and Chief Marketing Officer, Washington Dental Service

Kristin Merlo is vice president, sales and marketing, and chief marketing officer of Washington Dental Service. She is responsible for Washington Dental Service’s sales, client and broker management, marketing research and communications, public relations, corporate advertising, the corporate Web site, product management and development, government relations and corporate compliance.

Prior to joining WDS, Ms. Merlo held a variety of sales and marketing management positions with Eli Lilly and Company, a major pharmaceutical company. As brand manager she led the first consumer advertising program for Lilly’s blockbuster drug, Prozac®. She also managed the global market development for Lilly’s first insulin analog.

Ms. Merlo earned an MBA from the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration at the University of Virginia. She received a bachelor of arts degree in history from the University of Virginia. Ms. Merlo completed a certificate in executive leadership at Seattle University. She is active in education reform efforts and serves as vice chair of Seattle Girls’ School.

ttln said...

I have been off line for several days, so, I haven't had the time to read this entire thread to see if anyone has corrected this misperception. However, I don't want to let one piece of the analysis go uncorrected. Teachers’ contracts are for 180 days of instruction, annualized into 12 payments distributed evenly throughout the year. In practicality, or according to the state department of labor law, this means that the "four weeks off" are not paid, neither are the holidays. We do not get paid vacation or holiday pay. It just looks as if we do because of the annualized nature of our contracts.

Interestingly enough, if a non-teacher works an annualized contract where there are weeks off that are not "days" calculated into the annualized contract, those non-teacher workers can receive unemployment for those weeks even though their monthly salary stays the same. They can also claim it for the summers between contract years.

We cannot. It is against the law. So, keep that in mind as you consider our "fat checks" and "loads of paid vacation time."

This is my own "pet peeve" issue, which I want non-teachers to be absolutely clear on. Our time off is NOT paid. We do NOT get any paid vacation days. We are paid only for the days we work at 7.5 hours/day. That is why extending the school year or contact time costs so much. Even if the vacations are eliminated, our salaries do not change. 180 days is a 180 days no matter how they are scheduled.

Lori said...

This is tangentially related, I suppose. The film Waiting for Superman will be playing at SIFF soon:

http://www.siff.net/festival/film/detail.aspx?id=41543&FID=166

Here's the description from the SIFF website. The film should spark some interesting discussion here:

In Waiting for "Superman", Academy Award®-winning documentarian Davis Guggenheim tackles another inconvenient truth: the failure of the public education system in the wealthiest country in the world. The film pulls no punches in its investigation of everything from the problem of poor test scores to low graduation rates by surveying “drop-out factories” and “academic sinkholes” around the country. But it also explores some of the innovative approaches taken by education reformers and charter schools that are producing surprising results. Waiting for "Superman" features several outspoken leaders in the field of education, including philanthropist Bill Gates of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Geoffrey Canada, president and CEO of the Harlem Children's Zone; and Michelle Rhee, chancellor of the Washington, D.C. public schools. But just so we never lose sight of what’s really at stake, Guggenheim also follows five young students, Anthony, Francisco, Bianca, Daisy, and Emily, and their families’ desperate efforts to find them quality education.

seattle citizen said...

"[Waiting for Superman]also explores some of the innovative approaches taken by education reformers and charter schools that are producing surprising results. Waiting for "Superman" features several outspoken leaders in the field of education, including philanthropist Bill Gates of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Geoffrey Canada, president and CEO of the Harlem Children's Zone; and Michelle Rhee, chancellor of the Washington, D.C. public schools."

Are we to assume there are other voices in the film, balancing it? Given the above list, I can guess what THEY have to say.

seattle citizen said...

So here's a review on the Sundance Film Festival website, and it tends to confirm my suspicions that this is another "bash the teacher" or "bash the union" propaganda:

A quote from the review of the film:
"We meet Washington D.C. Education Chief Michelle Rhee, who has some revolutionary new ideas on how to keep teachers happy and inspired ... but the teachers' union doesn't like them"

Yep. So it goes. Gates and Rhees have the answers, if it weren't for that pesky union (OF teachers)

Charlie Mas said...

knmerlo wrote: "The current system is clearly not working for the students. Let's put kids at the center of our debate. Let's put principals in charge of schools. Let's train them and support them and then hold them accountable. And let's allow principals to evaluate teachers based on student learning."

I don't dispute the diagnosis, but I'm curious about the cure.

What makes you think that putting the principals in charge will fix things? What is the reason for your confidence in them? As a group they have not much impressed.

What makes you think that our school districts are capable of training them, supporting them or holding them accountable? None of those abilities have been demonstrated. On the contrary, our districts have shown - time and time again - that they are either incapable or unwilling to train staff, support staff, or hold anyone accountable. What's going to change this story?

Finally, what makes you think that principals are capable of evaluating teachers? Is there a record of success here that I'm not aware of?

Sahila said...

Ms Merlo, according to records I found, does not live or have children within SPS ... her address is listed in several places as Mercer Island... why is she meddling in SPS business, when she is in no way affected by what goes on in the District?

Please note she is on the Board of a PRIVATE girls' school...
http://www.seattlegirlsschool.org/board.php

Interestingly, Trish Millines Dziko sits on the Advisory Board of the same school...
http://www.seattlegirlsschool.org/advisory-board.php

Some details (from the website)

* SGS enrolls 129 girls in grades 5-8 from all around the greater Seattle area.
* Over 40% of SGS students are girls of color, and 20% of students identify themselves as multi-racial.

Faculty
* There are 13 full-time faculty members, maintaining a student-to-teacher ratio of 10:1.
* 73% of our faculty members hold advanced degrees.

Curriculum

* SGS employs an original, integrated curriculum based on the latest brain research.
* Teaching is geared towards multiple learning styles and features hands-on projects highlighting science, math, and technology.
* SGS also offers active Adventure and Wellness, Spanish, and Studio Art programs.

Auxiliary Programs
* SGS fields cross country and soccer teams in the fall, basketball and snowboarding in the winter, and lacrosse and ultimate frisbee in the spring.
* Internships are offered on Wednesday afternoons for seven weeks each, and in the past have included diverse classes such as dance, gardening, microbiology, self-defense, and songwriting.
* Each SGS 6th grader is matched with a local woman who serves as a mentor and attends school-sponsored events with her mentee.

Tuition and Fees
* Tuition for the 2008-2009 school year is $18,650.
* The materials fee for the 2008-2009 school year is $700.

Financial Aid:

* SGS has committed to providing a minimum of 30% of its students with need-based financial aid.
* Typical financial aid awards range from 10% to 90% of tuition.
* In 2008-2009 the average financial aid grant size was $13,027.
* SGS has awarded over $3 million dollars in aid since inception.


IMAGINE... in public schools, if teacher student ratios were 1:10, if 3/4 of the teachers had post grad qualifications, if there was $19,000+/year to spend on each child (the most recent data from OSPI puts the figure at $9,344), if the school had only 129 students... what do you think would happen to the achievement gap?

But reformers dont want to spend $20K per year on each and every child in education... and they dont even want to put certified teachers in front of our children...

Such hypocrisy...

hschinske said...

IMAGINE... in public schools, if teacher student ratios were 1:10, if 3/4 of the teachers had post grad qualifications, if there was $19,000+/year to spend on each child (the most recent data from OSPI puts the figure at $9,344), if the school had only 129 students... what do you think would happen to the achievement gap?

But, Sahila, didn't you just say

I found this stuff when I was looking for info to confirm something I have known for ages... that when privately-schooled kids go to University, they perform worse than their public school classmates... the reason being that public school kids have had to learn for themselves more, whereas private schools 'spoon feed' their students...

Which is it?

Helen Schinske

none1111 said...

Helen asked Sahila:

"Which is it?"


Ha ha ha! Best laugh I've had today, thanks!

I see this as a side effect of commenters here (and Sahila isn't the only one) getting stuck in the bash, bash, bash mode. The "opponent" can do no right, and nothing they say has any value.

These folks may not agree with you (us), but I don't believe for a minute that they are evil people intent on destroying our educational system. They have different views about how to help the system, and we disagree on the strategies. As Charlie has mentioned, what would be great is to work together in the areas where there is common agreement.

(Now watch, someone will start bashing me and calling me a Broad shill. Yeah, right.)

Sahila said...

So, Helen - you subscribe to the idea that we should only feed our kids a minimal diet because studies have shown that lab rats fed just above starvation levels are healthier and live longer than rats that are fed well, then?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calorie_restriction

My point is that public education is woefully underfunded - to the point of starvation - and it would be nice if reformers were actually wanting to address that...

Rather, they tell us we can do more, better with less... while at the same time putting their own kids in schools that are (comparatively) extravagantly resourced... rather like Marie Antoinette's "let them eat cake" and the comments other bloggers have made about MGJ - she shops at Nordstroms while we shop at Goodwill... she puts her child in South Shore, while many of us have to take schools that are definitely the poor relation...

KG said...

Coal Miners?

Oil rig workers?

Need I say more?

seattle citizen said...

none1111, I myself might get into the "opponent can do no right" mode sometimes, and I regret it when it's inadvertant, but the way I see it, there are some groups out there that are doing the full-court press (and I mean press, including the Seattle media - see Seattle Times, see TVW...) to spread propaganda hither and yon. So rather than accomodate the propaganda, I prefer to "hold it acountable" by challenging it every way I can. I have no newspaper, I have no tens of thousands of dollars to buy "surveys," I have no advertising dollars to feed to media in exchange for relentless opinions pieces and articles that might give my side a voice.

I feel that if I engage some of these groups (and you know who I mean) in debate on the merit of their recycled edu-prop, I am merely giving them validity, validity I don't think many of their representatives deserve.

It's quite obvious that there is this full-court press (Gates -> Alliance/SPS -> Our Schools (including Washington Policy Center - I wonder if any of the minority communities that signed on with OSC realize who they're in bed with? "free market" indeed) -> push polls, op-eds, injection of Liv Finne's poorly articulated "research" into discussion on this blog...

It's Edu-prop, and I'll take pot shots at it anytime I get a chance.

If Ms Finne was not affiliated with the group she's affiliated with, a group that is injecting itself into local education because it beleives in a free market and will support union-busting at contract time to get it, then I'd be happy to debate the merits of these somewhat worn cliches ("merit pay!" "charter schools!" "principal autonomy!") but as they are merely mouthed by her organization, and by affiliation all the organizations that are buying that koolaide, I'd rather just see how many holes I can knock in their flimsy and repetitive talking points than debate them, thereby givnig them credence I don't beleive they deserve.

I think Ms Merlo has every right to debate her points here, and hope she does (she's a citizen, and private school or no, Mercer Island or no, debate is healthy: her perspectives might be illuminating) But from the get-go I sensed the same old cliches, and immediately found out that her name is next to Ms Finne's on the minutes of the State debate on SB 6696. NOw, whether she knows or is collaborating with Ms Finne is important: It's apparent that Ms Finne is serving as a mouthpiece for the free-marketeers who would just LOVE to get a piece of that yummy education pie, just a wee slice o' that green...So if she and Merlo are pals, that's relevant, no?

Toni said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
seattle citizen said...

Very succinct, KG. Thank you.

Toni said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Toni said...

SC, I'm beginning to think you are a union plant being paid to post on local blogs.

KG said...

Lets just have peivate firms that know so much about education and Lobbying the government make 30% off of every education dollar. It works for health care, right?

Let's just shovel more money to the rich as it has helped us immensely? What's up?

365 Porsches is not enough for one
rich person, they need an additional one for leap year.

KG said...

Toni,

Atleast SC is not a FOX plant

Toni said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Toni said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Toni said...

"Ms Merlo, according to records I found, does not live or have children within SPS ... her address is listed in several places as Mercer Island... why is she meddling in SPS business, when she is in no way affected by what goes on in the District?"

Sahila, for you to attack Ms. Merlo on this point is absolutely absurd considering that your kid goes to a Shoreline school. Why are you meddling in SPS buisiness Sahila?

seattle citizen said...

Toni, rest assured that I am not a "union plant," nor do I "get paid to post on local blogs"

Unlike some of the groups, local and national, that pay people large sums of money to "spread the word."

This is exactly what I was talking about in my last post: Many of these groups have turned into lobbying organizations, paid by "foundations" and others to insert "the talking points" into whichever media will have them. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent on this effort - look at the hedge-funders paying for lobbyists to convince the New York State government to support charters in underserved areas because the hedge funds can make money off the tax credits.

Thank you for helping illustrate my point, and be assured I am not paid union plant.

Rob said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rob said...

It is you Seattle Cit that seems like you get paid to insert "the talking points". You repeat yourself over and over - no matter the thread, no matter the topic.

wv: I'm tired of this whole taing discussion.

Rob said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
seattle citizen said...

Rob, I insert repetive "talking points" to counterweight the repetitive boilerplate we seem to hear from groups (and individuals) associated with reform. As we've seen often on this blog, there is so much to discuss, and I feel that I weigh in with all sorts of comments. Lately, of course, as contract talks start up, we are deluged with reformers in the newspaper, here, everywhere. If people want to discuss issues, great, but when they are merely parroting the party line, I'll gladly stand in opposition, even if I repeat myself. It seems they are chanting the same mantra over and over again, without a whole lot to back it up (where's Ms Finne's research? A newspaper opinion piece by Neal Pearce?), so I'll just chant right back, "show us the data" and "who do you work for" and "why do you believe this"

It's rare, in my opinion, that there is a cogent response. But I'll keep asking if it counters their persistent push to place their unproven agendas into public schools.

WV agrees that the messinge often repeats itself, and so singes the ear. Can't be helped.

Sahila said...

Toni - I live within Seattle city boundaries and my child goes to a Shoreline public alternative school BECAUSE THERE IS NO ROOM FOR HIM IN AN ALTERNATIVE PROGRAMME WITHIN SPS... and AS#1 is no longer alternative, in my book...

I had in fact applied for an alternative school place for my child for the coming year (Bagley's Montessori (I considedr Montessori to be an alternative programme), TC and Salmon Bay)... I got notification that he has been assigned to Broadview Thompson and is waitlisted at Bagley...

If a place becomes available for him in an acceptable alternative programme, I shall consider bringing him back into SPS...

Maureen said...

Sahila, I would invite you to reread the Save Seattle Schools blog guidelines

Blog authors are invited by the blog owners (Mel, Charlie and Beth).

Blog authorship rights can be revoked at the discretion of the blog owners if they judge that blog guidelines have been violated.

Anyone can comment.

Comments can be deleted at the discretion of the blog owners if they judge that blog guidelines have been violated.

In general, when commenting, pick and use a name consistently so that the thread of conversation can be followed more easily.

People are welcome to use their real names or make up names when commenting.

"Outing" a commenter by suggesting the real name for a pseudonym is prohibited. Everyone has the right to comment anonymously if desired for any reason.

Disagreement on issues is welcome. Personal attacks are not.


It seems to me that your posts from 11:07 and 12:59 violate the bolded guideline.

Maureen said...

Sahila, you may want to reread the Save Seattle Schools blog guidelines

Blog authors are invited by the blog owners (Mel, Charlie and Beth).

Blog authorship rights can be revoked at the discretion of the blog owners if they judge that blog guidelines have been violated.
Anyone can comment.

Comments can be deleted at the discretion of the blog owners if they judge that blog guidelines have been violated.

In general, when commenting, pick and use a name consistently so that the thread of conversation can be followed more easily.
People are welcome to use their real names or make up names when commenting.

"Outing" a commenter by suggesting the real name for a pseudonym is prohibited. Everyone has the right to comment anonymously if desired for any reason.

Disagreement on issues is welcome. Personal attacks are not.


It seems to me that your posts of 11:07 and 12:59 violate the bolded guideline.

Danny K said...

The ideas about merit pay and seniority are good. Some of the other proposals are no more than union-bashing. Keeping unions from collecting dues is petty harassment. WPC would be more effective if it weren't so obviously a front organization.

Sahila said...

For Toni and all others who think that seniority is the first and/or only factor considered in RIFing...

Layoff is done by category
and then by seniority...

The certificated teacher contract is on the SEA website.
http://www.seattlewea.org/static_content/certfinal.pdf

Its a very interesting document, and reading it will dispel some of the current myths around RIFing and teacher evaluation and salary - such as Liv Finne's assertion that teachers get paid for 12 months while only doing 10 months work...

Details re evaluation and RIFing start at page 106 of the certificated contract... there are also salary scales listed - you'll see that teachers are not exactly being handed bags of gold for the work they do and for the qualifications they hold....

DRCb said...

This from a facilities management meeting:

"xxxxx has been turned on and is in testing mode. Seven managers will travel to Myrtle Beach for training beginning March 20"

Wow..., the district is drowning in red ink yet money was found to fly seven managers to Florida for training on a new software program that probably could have been created (or purchased) here in the land of Microsoft...?

That's seven round trip airline tickets, seven rooms at a hotel for who knows how long - hmmm... with the "district budget crisis" always in the news (or on blogs), this sounds like piss poor economic "management" to me…

So, instead of bashing "the unions" maybe MGJ should be fired and a committee appointed from now on to run the school district instead of just one "leader"...?

Dorothy said...

Wall Street Article on Reading Scores Stalling in middle school for Urban kids.

"Only Atlanta and Los Angeles, two of the 11 urban centers that took the reading exam, showed growth in eighth-grade reading from 2007 and 2009. They also were the only two to show growth since 2002.

The District of Columbia posted a slight gain if charter schools are removed from the equation. The D.C. public school system doesn't have direct control of its charter schools."