Ask the President

NBC news is doing a weeklong series dedicated to public education.

Tomorrow night, Matt Lauer will interview President Obama about education. It will be at 8 p.m. ET (5 p.m. our time). From the Education Nation website:

The interview will kick off the two-day Education Nation Summit that will bring together some of the country's greatest thinkers to discuss topics such as how prepared our children are for the workforce, developing great teachers, technology and innovation in our schools and more.

The panel discussions will be carried on MSNBC and streamed online, live and on demand, at and at

You can also submit a question to the President here.


Sahila said…
Melissa - are you aware of the controversy around this event... all reformist sponsors and reformist speakers... no non-charter teachers and no parents....

the blogosphere has been full of it for the past week-10 days....
suep. said…
And some of the nation's greatest thinkers on education, like Diane Ravitch and Yong Zhao, have been apparently intentionally uninvited or de-invited.

In fact, here's Zhao's article about how he was treated by NBC and what he would have said, had he been included:
Who will invent the next Apple or Google: My (imaginary) speech at NBC’s Education Summit

(Professor Zhao by the way, warns that while China is moving away from its education tradition of high-stakes testing and narrow learning in order to emulate America's traditionally more creative education style, America is heading backward in the direction of China's old system, thanks to the ed reformers who are pushing testing, standardization, centralization and a one-size-fits all approach to learning -- all of which stifle creativity and independent thinking.)

-- sue p.
suep. said…
p.s. Meanwhile, here in Seattle, we welcome Diane Ravitch (live via Skype) to a forum on Oct. 5 at Seattle University:

“Race to Where?”

A forum on the (mis)direction of education reform -- with Diane Ravitch, Wayne Au, Jesse Hagopian & Dora Taylor

WHERE: Pigott Auditorium, Seattle University campus

WHEN: 7-8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2010. (Doors open at 6:30 p.m.)

ADMISSION: Free. Two clock hours will be available for teachers. Limited seating; guests are advised to arrive early.

WHY: Is Seattle the next battleground in the debate over education reform? Seattle Public Schools, under its current superintendent, has fast-tracked a series of reforms in the school district these past three years, most recently a new teachers’ contract that ties teacher pay and evaluations to student test scores. Seattle is also the headquarters to one of the biggest players in ed reform, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which supports RTTT -- merit pay, charter schools and high-stakes testing. So far, Washington has failed to qualify for RTTT funding and state voters have repeatedly opposed charter schools. Meanwhile, a growing number of Seattle parents and teachers are asking: Why should we adopt reforms that research shows are detrimental to our schools and kids? Ravitch, who once supported these reforms as a member of the Bush I administration, agrees, and now warns against them.

For more info contact:

-- sue p.
Thanks for sharing the Yong Zhao link. I fully agree that the focus on testing is a big concern. Most (if not all) parents & students don't want teaching to the test and they don't want to harm creativity, arts, and inspiration in the classroom. Students, parents, and teachers should be strongly aligned on this issue. So, as Yong Zhao asks: Why aren't more people pushing back?

I believe the answer is that too many parents and students have had bad experiences with at least one weak teacher. And, the Reformist party line on exiting weak teachers is luring people in.

Perhaps if the Teachers Unions offered up a reliable alternative for identifying and addressing weak teachers (e.g. a peer review system) rather than just dismissing the problem as insignificant or unsolvable or pointing fingers elsewhere, then it would be easier to rally parents to their side on the testing & standardization issue. Perhaps my perceptions are inaccurate, but hearing statements like "seniority alone is an appropriate way to judge teachers" or "the current system already has ways to remove teachers" plays right into the Reformist movements strengths.

Just a thought...
Sahila said…
Andrew - you misrepresent the facts and the teachers union position on this...

there are mechanisms in place to get rid of bad/poor teachers already... its up to administrators to use them... and you can get rid of bad teachers in as little as three months (or you could under the last contract - havent read the new one cover to cover yet...)

and all the teachers I talk to want to bad teachers gone cos they cast an (exaggeratedly) bad light on all the rest...

that old marketing adage - one bad customer experience can ruin a business' reputation - its the same for teachers - one bad teacher can lead to all teachers being labelled bad...

You're with CPPS, right? Will CPPS please step away from the astro turf groups and stop pushing for ed deform as espoused by Gates and Broad et al... our kids deserve better...
seattle citizen said…
Andrew, you said you are "hearing statements like 'seniority alone is an appropriate way to judge teachers'"

Please cite the source of this statement you heard. It's absurd. Teachers are judged all the time by some sort of evaluation, and exited as needed. THEN, when the unfortunate time comes to RIF teachers (and what's up with that? Why aren't we hiring MORE teachers?) THEN seniority comes into play, because the assumption is that all teachers have already been fairly evaluated and thus are still in the system. Teacher evals and RIFs are two different animals.

Again, please cite the source for what you "heard," otherwise you're merely misinforming people.
Moose said…
In turn, I would ask Sahila to provide evidence that "you can get rid of bad teachers in as little as 3 months". That has not been what I have seen at my child's school, where a bad teacher has hung on for years. (The quickest I have ever seen was at least one year and even then the teacher is moved to a different school.) I have always thought it was b/c the principal was not doing the job and now I am really curious about that 3 month figure in the previous contract.
suep. said…
Andrew Kwatinetz said...So, as Yong Zhao asks: Why aren't more people pushing back?

I believe the answer is that too many parents and students have had bad experiences with at least one weak teacher. And, the Reformist party line on exiting weak teachers is luring people in.

Andrew, you have lost me here. Are you saying that parents 'aren't pushing back' against the stifling ed deform agenda of Obama/Duncan/Gates/Broad because they are being 'lured in' by the Reformista agenda of teacher- bashing?

Perhaps you are speaking for yourself, but on what do you base this generalization of the sentiments of others?

Have you read the news out of LA this weekend, by the way? A teacher who was publicly humiliated by the LA Times in its highly questionable witch hunt of a "report" that evaluated 6,000 teachers, has apparently committed suicide.

Rigoberto Ruelas was deemed "less effective" by the L.A. Times, while other reports say he was well regarded in his school. Ruelas was apparently and understandably distraught by this accusation.

See: Enough Is Enough LA Times, NBC, Arne Duncan, Eli Broad, Bill Gates…

And: Does the L.A. Times Have Blood on Its Hands?


Have you read the news out of D.C. lately?

The Queen of the Teacher Quillotine, DC Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, may have cost Mayor Fenty his job. He went down in the primary to the candidate Rhee opposed. Rhee may be on her way out too. It's widely held that Rhee's draconian approach to "ed reform" in D.C., including mass firings of (mostly African American) teachers, in the name of "teacher quality" and "effectiveness," did not sit well with the voters.

Who did you say is "lured" by this?

If parents aren't fighting back it's more likely because they don't realize all that is going on or are overwhelmed by it all -- it is pretty unbelievable that "venture philanthropists" like Eli Broad and Bill Gates are actually running our nation's Dept. of Education, and have more of say of what happens in our kids' classrooms than we do.

Zhao, meanwhile, is talking about the bigger picture of American public ed -- our nation's whole philosophy and approach to it and what it is for. I'm not sure how or why you segued from his thoughtful column to a narrow focus on teachers.

Anyway, hope to see you at the forum on Oct. 5.

-- sue p.
seattle said…
I agree with Andrew 100%
"Perhaps my perceptions are inaccurate,.."

Andrew used the word perhaps twice in his piece. He used the word perception as well.

I would ask that we give a little credit for a nuanced view. I think there was some harshness in some of the comments that followed his.
Sahila -- yes, I'm with CPPS (which is not beholden to anyone's agenda despite your attempts to place every group into your neat "you're either with me or against me" buckets), but I'm speaking as an individual and will not step away.
As Moose points out, there's a huge gap between what is possible & what is reality -- that is definitely the perception out there. If you're not hearing that, then you're not listening.
And Seattle Citizen -- You ask for the source for my statement. Can you cite the source for your statement: "Teachers are judged all the time by some sort of evaluation, and exited as needed." I know that is supposed to be happening, but is it? Very few teachers have been exited in Seattle, the evaluation system is often not followed (I've been told by teachers), and students & parents (and many teachers) still believe weak teachers remain. I fully agree that we need more (not fewer) teachers, but your response defending seniority during layoffs -- even though the evaluations & exiting have not been happening for all -- is the source of my statement. My wording could use tweaking, but not acknowledging that these perceptions exist is a lost opportunity for teachers & parents to work together against the "teacher quality" reform agenda that resonates with many parents despite the testing concerns. That is the point I was trying to make rather than rehashing the seniority layoff debate.
CCM said…
How many teachers in your child's educational past/present would you truly qualify as weak enough to fire based on test scores? We have had teachers that I didn't "love" - but looking back was it a fire-able offense? Definitely not.

I believe that maybe 2-3% of teachers are truly bad -- we're talking about a complete overhaul of a system to "get rid of" 2-3%?
Talking with our kids about it - it seems ridiculous to them that the teacher would be held 100% accountable for their test scores. When do kids and parents take some personal responsibility?

When you look at who is behind ed reform on the national level - I resent that the majority of ed reformers have placed their children in private schools that are not being overhauled - so how can they possibly know what is needed in public education when they have self-selected a different path for their own children? Easy to make decisions for other people's kids when yours are not directly affected.
Anonymous said…

Apparently you are not aware of the tiered system that was ratified by the SEA last month.

Read it first before you start going on again about "weak" or "ineffective" teachers.

I can tell you right now that there was a situation in a school last year that did not work out for the teacher or the students.
Because of a strong, skilled and experienced principal, he was able to remove the teacher from that school.

It does happen Andrew.

Particularly with the loss of a teacher yesterday due to a suicide, a teacher who the Times had called out as being one of those "ineffective teachers", I think that you need to reconsider what you are saying and how you present it.

See: Enough Is Enough
Sue -- let me try to respond as clearly as possible. The majority of parents I know do not spend a lot of time on this blog or at meetings and are not informed on many of the issues at stake. But, they do care about teachers a great deal. As per the marketing adage that Sahila mentioned, it only takes one bad experience... So, when the Seattle Times and Waiting for Superman and all of the Reformist PR channels focus in on greater accountability for teachers, it resonates loudly & broadly. What I'm suggesting is that anyone who wants to fight against testing, standardization and the loss of arts & creativity, needs to start by acknowledging -- not fighting -- the issue with teachers. You can't fight effective sound-bytes with nuanced positions. That's the unfortunate reality of politics and PR today.
And just to be clear for CCM, Dora & others -- I personally am AGAINST using test scores to exit teachers. And I know the system works sometimes. But I stand strong on my assertion that most parents perceive that the system doesn't work well.
I hope to make it on Oct 5 as I'm very interested in Diane Ravich, but unfortunately I'm spread very thin with kid activities so evenings are tough.
CCM, good points. Obama, Gates, Guggenheim - all with kids in private schools (and Obama said this morning to Matt Lauer that no, his kids couldn't get the same education in D.C. schools as in the private school they attend.)

I also like your point about how many "bad" teachers there could actually be. I think what is more likely, as in ALL other professions, you have a middle that ranges from good to burned out to bored to lazy to mediocre. None of that a dismissible offense.
Anonymous said…
he was able to remove the teacher from that school.

Gee Dora. Phone the neighbors. Your principal probably just tossed that lemon to the next school down the road. Bad teachers I know of get "paid leaves" for many months, infinite chances to improve, with no real accountability. And sure, maybe it looks good when your 1 child doesn't have to have the lemon anymore. But, isn't that a little short-sighted? Anybody who decries that we are "running it like a business", should think about how far teachers are from any private sector employee. There aren't infinite chances for improvement in the private sector. A tiered approach to teaching is a great idea. It offers a carrot. You can be a master teacher. You can take more responsibility. You can share your expertise and craft. And, it doesn't mean that a huge percentage are lemons. Like most professions, some people are leaps and bounds above the others. Pay for breathing longer just doesn't cut it.

How many "weak teachers" have we had? About 25%. Perhaps they haven't had fireable offenses, but they definitely some incentive to improve. One of the "good teachers" at my child's school said she hated summer continuing ed classes she needed to take. Why? Because she said so many of her colleagues were unbelievably incompetent. She hated sitting around with them in her class. And that was a report from a teacher!

CCM said…

I hear you that it only takes one experience with a "bad" teacher to make the "teachers need to be held accountable" position resonate with parents.

However, I assert that part of living life is letting our children deal with the less than ideal teacher and then evaluating what was learned in the process. How valuable later in life when they have to deal with the "less than ideal" colleague or boss.

One year of an ineffective teacher will not permanently damage a child if they have the support that they need at home. Continual years - then yes - there is a problem - but I don't think that is the norm. We are talking about that "one" experience with a bad teacher.

I understand that additional problems are likely when support at home doesn't exist -- but again - is the solution to get rid of the teacher or put a system in place to help the child?

For the small percentage (1-2%?) of teachers that may be truly damaging to the children (resulting in damage to self-esteem etc.), of course there should be measures to remove them from the classroom. Is that via test scores? - not sure that it is.

I do believe that some education reform is needed in this country. I do not believe that it should be focused primarily on the backs of teachers.

Early education - following the child through school with programs that assist with home environment and success in school. Working WITH their teachers every year - showing that we care about the child - not just about how well they can complete a computer test.
Dorothy Neville said…
" But I stand strong on my assertion that most parents perceive that the system doesn't work well."

I completely agree with Andrew here. Many parents can speak of one or more teachers that they felt were damaging to their kids. That's why the reform movement resonates.

Yes the truth is more nuanced, yes the SEA and district worked together to create PG&E, yes using student test scores is an ineffective or damaging method of measuring teachers. But for most people, especially the less educated who are struggling to ensure their kids get better educations, their experience with one or two teachers or principals trumps everything else.

Someone here recommended reading Red Families vs Blue Families. I am about half way through and I am gaining more nuanced thoughtful perspective in the Red v Blue political and cultural issues. I would second the recommendation wholeheartedly.

The response that is least likely to win converts among those feeling left out is to come back with money trails to Broad and Gates and a conspiracy theory of doom. Frankly, I can imagine that some of the families struggling and not seeing anything better for education would embrace the notion of a conspiracy. Why would they automatically think such a conspiracy wouldn't benefit them?
Anonymous said…
More useful than improving individual teachers, would be improving teams of teachers, and improving teamwork. When your child has a bad teacher, there's really little that can be done except write off the year or hire the tutor. And then, take it as a "life-lesson". Wouldn't it be great if the effects of bad teachers were mitigated? EG. Other teachers pick up where the bad one failed? Team teaching? If the bad one was working in a group, there would be good models, teacher creativity, and much more potential.

Dorothy Neville said…
Damage happens and it is more than just hurting someone's self esteem.

Example: There was a child in my son's preschool class who was very behind in gross and fine motor skills. The teacher identified it and got intervention from the school district. An OT came to the preschool and I could see much improvement over the year. He was still behind the rest of the kids, but not as much. (Co-op preschool).

Well, then this boy ended up in the same kindergarten class as my son. This WAS a damaging teacher. I pulled my son out after she was cruel to him -- she admitted it and thought it was a wise way to handle him. However, she was widely known for never identifying someone for intervention, she hates kids leaving her class for any reason, disrupting her schedule. So this other boy, who still needed intervention, would have benefited from continued early intervention, was denied it for a year. (Yes, I know this for a fact, from talking with other parents from that class.) That's damaging, lifelong damaging. And preventable.
Josh Hayes said…
Here's a question: with the emphasis on "exiting" poor teachers, surely there's a strategy to recruit excellent teachers to replace them, right? What's that strategy? Where are the skilled, experienced teachers going to come from, since they're not exactly thick on the ground now?

And no, "Teach for America" doesn't count. WV agrees: it's simply paltrid.
CCM said…

I don't doubt that there are teachers that do long-life damage to some children - I just believe that it isn't the majority.

The question is - with the current reform effort structured as it is right now - would it have helped with your situation?
Bird said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dorothy Neville said…
CCM, absolutely, I agree that the current reform effort, the measuring teachers on student test results would NOT affect the teachers I have known that were damaging or just plain mediocre or burned out.

What I am agreeing with Andrew on is that there are MANY people who do feel left out, who know their kids' educations were damaged by teachers and are therefore embracing the rhetoric of the reform movement. It's a real and legitimate issue and those fighting the ed-reform/deform movement should not ignore it and need to acknowledge it.

I mentioned this particular example because of your comments that sound dismissive of the reality of damage some kids face. It's not just self esteem and it is not just a "life lesson" for kids to deal with a less than ideal teacher.
Bird said…
Dorothy's example is a good one. There are damaging teachers. There are bad teachers. Almost everyone has had experiences with them.

It's important to note, however, that I don't see how MGJ's plan for using MAP testing in evaluations would help one whit with ridding schools of teachers like the one in Dorothy's example.

My kid hit a bad teacher the first year of school. I don't think it did any damage to my kid's test scores though.

I seriously doubt she would have been removed based on test scores for the class.

If you asked parents, however, nearly all would agree that the teacher wasn't really doing much more than showing up each day and that she needed to be moved along. And indeed she didn't last out the year.

Admittedly, I don't think the reform agenda is really directed at my kid.

It's directed at kids who are in schools that are filled with kids working well below standard.

Oddly enough, schools in our district like this (take Hawthorne, for example) already have a high rate of teacher turnover. Looking at Hawthorne's stats, the teaching staff looks like it skews heavily toward rookies. I suspect the the last thing this school needs is more turnover.
CCM said…
Sorry Dorothy - didn't mean to sound dismissive.

I can only relate what I have seen and experienced and appreciate your insight.

From what I have experienced during our eight years of public school in three different districts is that I have seen amazing teachers, good teachers, ineffective teachers and teachers that probably shouldn't be teaching anymore (and our our kids have attended high FRL% "failing" schools that most would say are targeted by the current reform effort)

The issues that made the schools "failing" in the reform movements eyes will not be "fixed" by the current reform effort to target the "bad" teachers because that is not the MAJOR problem in these schools.

Certainly I hope that all children get the interventions that they need when they are faced with a truly "bad" teacher -- or a "bad" parent, relative or stranger for that matter.

The current school reform that is being delivered is not going to give them that assistance.
Dorothy Neville said…
"It's important to note, however, that I don't see how MGJ's plan for using MAP testing in evaluations would help one whit with ridding schools of teachers like the one in Dorothy's example."

Absolutely. And that is a big reason I am fighting the levy. The levy, and now the TIF grant, validates the move to measure teachers using student test scores. The Central administration will GROW! At least three positions (from the SERVE proposal) and now that they have TIF grant, perhaps even a larger department, just devoted to creating the TBD algorithm of "value-added measure."

Yes, the CBA reduces the impact of the Value-added measure on teachers evaluations, but it still embraces the notion and accepts that the district will move in that direction. But studies show that it is junk science and my experience with the district, with a couple of truly damaging teachers and several mediocre ones are anecdotal evidence that using test scores to measure teachers is the wrong path.

"...Oddly enough, schools in our district like this (take Hawthorne, for example) already have a high rate of teacher turnover. Looking at Hawthorne's stats, the teaching staff looks like it skews heavily toward rookies. I suspect the the last thing this school needs is more turnover."

Bingo. Another thoughtful and nuanced take on why the reform movement is on the wrong path. But again, I am not someone that needs convincing. I am just agreeing with Andrew that there are many many families out there who are embracing reform because they haven't the fuller picture and they are desperate for something to change.

(BTW, I think reader's comment on teachers working together is an idea worth pursuing. I believe there have been several examples of this in the national media, where instead of asking experienced and highly regarded teachers individually to move to a school that desperately needs them, getting a group of such teachers agreeing in a group to move and giving them as a group more autonomy and decision-making ability. That is intriguing.)
Dorothy Neville said…
"The current school reform that is being delivered is not going to give them that assistance."

Yup, and for me, that's the heartbreak. So much money and so much effort going into something that is not promising and will in fact make things worse.

I can't do much, but I can do what I can. That's why I am working so hard to defeat the Seattle Schools Supplemental Levy, Seattle Proposition 1. Say No. For the kids' sake.
Chris S. said…
Good comments. They bring to mind the idea that parents and/or students evaluations of a teacher should be considered. I always have trouble envisioning this, though, because I know there are some wacko parents out there, ranging from those who don't support their child's education at all to those who pester teachers who are doing fine job.

So, if each classroom (parents or students, depending on age) took a simple survey rating the teacher as very bad to very good on a 5 point scale, and you got a 50% response rate, would the median/mean/standard deviation have any meaning? Would it be fair? It would be an interesting pilot.

One concern I have is that students, and to a lesser extent parents talk to each other and their opinions may not be very independent. Does that matter?

From another angle, what can be the role of parents & students in exiting a teacher under the current system? I also know of a school where a teacher was exited in less than a year but I don't have any idea how it happened.
I just watched a good chunk of Arne Duncan interviewed by Tom Brokaw as part of the NBC coverage. Sec. Duncan is articulate and persuasive. The reform engine is gaining momentum... I don't think any of us are going have any luck trying to jump in front of that train to stop it. But, if we act together, maybe we can offer an alternative track that we try to redirect this train onto. In other words, I'd love to see parents and teachers come together and agree that we need reforms and agree with much of what Sec. Duncan states. But we need to offer a specific alternative to evaluating teachers based on tests. We don't want our kids taught to a test. We don't think test results reflect teaching skill. And, as Sec. Duncan says himself, it's not even the case that financial incentives are a top priority for the best teachers anyway. I think a better alternative would be a combination of peer feedback (teachers working in teams want their peers to be strong) and student & parent feedback (a la eBay feedback model). And lets have great teachers (like the English teacher that inspired Arne Duncan) tell us what would best help them. I doubt being held accountable to test results will be top of their list.
suep. said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
suep. said…
Oh, Andrew, just when I'm ready to walk away from the blog and have a cup of coffee, you say something like this:

"The reform engine is gaining momentum... I don't think any of us are going have any luck trying to jump in front of that train to stop it."

That comes across as a sadly defeatist attitude that I am not willing to share. Nor would I advise anyone else embrace it, for a number of reasons.

First, if those of us on this blog, who are probably more informed than many other parents, don't fight the destructive forces of ed reform, who will?

(Hence our Oct. 5 forum with Diane Ravitch, by the way.)

Second, I would add that the ed reform "train" has already hit major obstacles on its tracks and will derail sooner or later because ed reform is proving to be political poison (DC), and study after study is providing DATA that prove that the ed reformers' platform (keeping with train metaphor) is rotten to the core (curriculum -- sorry, couldn't resist!).

See Vanderbilt University's TWO different studies that show that merit pay DOES NOT WORK. See Stanford University's CREDO report that shows that 83 percent of charter schools are no better, or are worse, than regular public schools.

The ed reformers are pushing snake oil.

The facts -- the data -- are on our side.

So I'm not willing to give up.

And actually, I wouldn't even call the ed reformers' effort a train. It's more of a boondoggle.

--sue p.
Jet City mom said…
We hear how we don't have enough parents involved- involved enough to come to district board meetings, to board member community meetings, to other education forums in the area.

True, it is often the same parents, unless a program is going to be cut.

But I have to ask- where are the teachers?
I have been involved in many things in the district and even when the teachers are getting stipends to attend committees, it is the same teachers who attend & this is their professional career. ( I can say the same thing about the principals & you can't tell me they are all grading papers, because some of them take longer vacations than I ever have)
suep. said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
suep. said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
suep. said…
Andrew, first of all, what's nuanced about asking if the Los Angeles Times has blood on its hands for conducting a witch hunt on teachers?

Second off, I strongly disagree with your implication that the fact that the national ed reform dialogue has been skewed to be focused on "bad teachers" reflects genuine and organic public sentiment.

Don't take my word for it though -- check out this recent Gallup poll that shows that a majority of Americans oppose the direction of President Obama's education policy. Another poll (by Time Magazine, I believe -- I need to track it down) found that most Americans believe that teachers are underpaid and under-appreciated.

Again I point to the ousting of Fenty and Rhee in DC as a prime example of what the American people think of the reformers' treatment of teachers.

Do you honestly believe that the fact that the national dialogue on ed reform is harpooning teachers (just trying to some more images out there so I don't come across as too bland or overly "nuanced"…!) has nothing to do with the fact that the main financiers of ed reform -- the Gates Foundation, Broad, and Walton Family -- support privatizing public schools by turning them over to charter enterprises, and want to staff these schools with cheaper, non-union teachers, and are also pushing for non-credentialed, non-union Teach for America, Inc. recruits -- are also embedded in the Obama administration and has pretty easy access to the national media?

They may have the loudest voices at the moment simply because they have the most money and political and media ties and influence. (Have you seen our Ed Reform Lines of Influence chart about this?)

But that doesn't make them right.

Look, yes there are poor teachers out there. Even bad ones. But is a truly an epidemic that requires such draconian solutions as these reformers are so keen to mete out? (On the playground this kind of behavior would be called bullying.) Yes, it is hard for principals to find the time and resources to sit in the classrooms of these teachers, write up an evaluation and make the case for them to be replaced. But it can be done. As Dora mentioned, and I can add more examples, it has been done. It’s the principals' job to do this. So why aren't principals part of this discussion?

I personally believe it should NOT be super easy to fire a teacher, or anyone for that matter, unless you have evidence of egregious or dangerous behavior. I believe in giving a fair hearing, and a fair chance to people.

I'm not a teacher or a member of a union, by the way. I just believe that by and large this nation's workers -- teachers included -- are decent, hard-working people who don't deserve to be demonized by the media, politicians, the media or the billionaire boys club of "venture philanthropists" who happen to have more power than they do.

suep. said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
suep. said…
I believe that the corporate reformers -- and they are the ones driving the Obama ed policies and framing the national dialogue on ed reform, not us parents -- have tapped into a genuine concern that people like you and arguably all of us parents have about wanting consistently good teachers for our kids.

But I am telling you that they are using this genuine concern to push their own agenda, which includes union-busting and profiting from public education.

And they are doing it dishonestly. Here for example is how NBC framed its forum:
"Research and school-based evidence around the country now confirms that the most important variable affecting the success of the student is the effectiveness of the teacher, and the second most important variable is the effectiveness of the principal. Those two factors far outweigh the socioeconomic status, the impact of parental involvement or class size."

This statement is a lie. Research shows that socioeconomic background is indeed the key factor in determining a child's success in school. Poverty and instability at home bring so many more obstacles to a child's life. Even teachers at NBC's "Town Hall" stated this.

It defies commonsense to say that a teacher, however brilliant, can transcend all challenges a child brings to school, can navigate a classroom of any size and any needs, and if the child does not succeed in school (in ed reformspeak that only means doing well on standardized tests) it is clearly unfair and inaccurate to lay the blame entirely on the teachers.

But that is what the ed reformers are doing. And it is creating a poisonous and dangerous atmosphere in our nation right now with regard to teachers. It is leading to Michelle Rhee's mass firings of teachers without cause (she even slandered some of them, accusing them -- wrongly -- of sexual misconduct) and the LA Times' Inquisition against teachers.

After the reformers are done crucifying teachers (I'm still avoiding those nuances), you know what I think they will find? Teachers aren't the cause of all of public school's ills after all. Some kids will still struggle. The achievement gap will still be there. So who will the reformers blame next?

I'll finish with a quote from a recent Diane Ravitch post:

(from: Why Michelle Rhee and Adrian Fenty Lost)

These electoral losses and the recent Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup poll suggest that the "reform" movement led by the Gates Foundation, the Broad Foundation, DFER, hedge-fund managers, and the Obama administration lacks a base of popular support. But now begins the next phase of the movement, as its public relations campaign goes into high gear with the release this week of "Waiting for Superman." Now, the public will be immersed in the "reform" narrative: Our public schools are rotten; low test scores are caused by bad teachers; high-stakes testing works; merit pay works; charters work; the unions that represent teachers are the main obstacle to "reform."

To which I can only add: "Four legs good, two legs bad."

--sue p.
Jet City mom said…
I gotta say- we do need more balanced discussion
some parents like charters
Chris S. said…
Great post, Sue. Sure, lots of families have experienced a sub-par teacher. However, most of those same families have experienced several teachers they like and several more that they adore. Sure they want to get rid of the bad ones. What they don't realize is that reform is NOT nuanced and in the process of eliminating the bad few they will eliminate/frustrate/demoralize ALL and their child's education will be reduced to tests.

Now that I write that, I think someone else said the same thing previously. Still, I guess Andrew didn't get it. Also, I had the opportunity to hear Mr. Duncan speak extemporaneously this summer and he's not nearly so articulate when he doesn't have lines. Andrew, what do you hear from teachers?

And it was clever of the reformistas to tap in to that multigenerational-anecdotal-gut-baggage that is the "bad teacher."
The First Arnold said…
@ Andrew:

"The reform engine is gaining momentum... I don't think any of us are going have any luck trying to jump in front of that train to stop it. But, if we act together, maybe we can offer an alternative track that we try to redirect this train onto"

I disagree. Vote NO on the Levy. We are a small group, but I am certain we are being heard. We can stop this train by stopping the flow of funds. Talk to your PTA, talk to your neighbors, support NO on the Levy. Now is the time to act. If the Levy is passed, we will have missed our opportunity to act. I believe the reform agenda can be altered in a more positive way. However, voting NO on the Levy will be the only way we are heard. Remember MGJ sits on the Broad Board of Directors and has a political agenda. I believe, this is the only way we will be heard.
Chris S. said…
SEA, with the new contract, seems to be trying out the kind of incrementalism Andrew suggests. We'll see how that goes.

(Yes, I know that reformistas mock incrementalism and here I am doing the same thing.)
MathTeacher42 said…
The reformistas have done an OUTSTANDING job framing the debate.

I'm 50. I do NOT know any teachers or principals in charge of how hundreds of millions of education dollars are spent, or billions of dollars, or tens of billions, or hundreds of billions.

BUT - THE PROBLEM in the system is the teachers - NOT the people running the system! ha ha ha.

Isn't it interesting how in the Democratic Party, no one can defeat right wing lies about tax cuts and tax credits, no one can defeat right wing scare mongering about terrorists under your bed, no can defeat right wing lies about what constitutes the "middle" and the "independent" and the "center" ...

AND Democrats are all singing from the same page about blaming the teacher!

About that reform train - they're either the really mislead, or they're the misleading liars. Period.

IF the reformistas have their way, we'll have another economic plantation of poorly paid peee-ons and high living bosses -

and, by the way, the top 5 to 10% of students, by SES, who currently get everything anyway, they'll NEVER have any competition after crony capitalism rots public educatoin!

I guess the train is gonna run me over, cuz this ex-cook current teacher ain't getting outta the way.

Robert Murphy
Unknown said…
Josh Hayes @ 10:33 said "And no, "Teach for America" doesn't count. WV agrees: it's simply paltrid." I'm not sure I know what paltrid means, and assume it's a typo. Can you clarify so I can understand what you're trying to say?
seattle citizen said…
Matt Lauer asked the president about how we hold parents accountable (a teacher had asked the question, saying that teachers are being held accountable, how about the parents?)

The president explained what parents should do, tell students they need to be studying, doing homework, etc, but not a word about how to hold parents accountable. He then continued, off on a tangent, saying that not just inner city schools but all sorts of schools were experiencing declined in math and science scores (as measured by what, he didn't say), and then, wait for it, he blamed the teachers:

He said we need to focus on math and science...he is launching a new initiative to train 10,000 math and science teachers..."part of that means getting better teachers and part of that means parents understanding that their children need to excel in those asubjects in particular."

So we need better math and science teachers. All you MA/SCI teachers better find other jobs, because Obama is going to train 10,000 "better teachers," and ask, like he says he does every year, that parents have some "understanding that their children need to excel in those asubjects in particular."

THAT'S parent accountability: 10,000 better teachers and another request for parents to understand their children need to learn.
seattle citizen said…
Rosie, "WV" is "Word Verifier," the letters you enter to post a comment. Some of use make little jokes at the end of a comment, if word verifier "says" something funny or apropos...

I.e. "WV says [Teach for America] is paltrid." Josh saw "paltrid" on WV and added it to his comment. I think he meant, and I agree, that TFA is a bizarre "answer" to union teachers making living wages. It's the strangest thing, and I've said this before, that many "reformers" speak about how we need "quality teachers" and then, in the next breath, suggest we use TFA, uh, teachers. So TFA, not interested in teaching but looking for a job out of college for a couple of years, then trained for six weeks, are these "quality" teachers the reformers are looking for? Very strange.
Unknown said…
"But I am telling you that they are using this genuine concern to push their own agenda, which includes union-busting and profiting from public education."

This is where you lose me, and frankly, I think a lot of folks. First, there's no evidence for this -- can you show me that every, or even most or some, education reform organizations has either of these things on their agenda?

It's simply not believable to think that Bill and Melinda Gates and Eli and Edyth Broad sit together in sound proof rooms somewhere admitting that this is there agenda. It's equally incredible to think that there's some sort of massive conspiracy that has occurred over the past what, 10-15 years, involving hundreds and hundreds of people, and yet which has managed to be completely and utterly under-cover, so there's no real evidence that it exists.

I've met many of the people who are committed to public education and who happen to work in corporate America and who sit on at least our local education reform boards. They're good people.

Andrew K is right -- they've got the microphones. If you want to have any chance of having your ideas win, you have to at least join in the conversation they're having. Repetitively saying that the conversation is wrong, their ideas are bad, and they're all part of some vast conspiracy might feel good to some, but it never and won't lead to victory.
seattle said…
Amen, Rosie.
seattle citizen said…
Rosie, there is plenty of evidence of collaboration on "reform" agenda items, and many of these items point directly towards busting unions and breaking schools out of the public system (charters, vouchers, et al)

Here's two questions to think about that get one thinking about who would benefit:

Question: IF public schools were super-dooper successful, where all students could get their needs met, what industry would suffer? Private schools or private "education management" companies.

Conversely, if the schools were "bad," or made out to be bad, which industry would benefit? Those same companies.

Regarding curriculum: IF teachers were allowed to design their own curriculum, providing all sorts of innovative add-ons, which industry would suffer?
Curriculum suppliers: text-based and the newer digital formats.

Conversely, if teachers were made out to be not good, failing students, and part of this was attributed to bad individualized curriculum, which industry would benefit?
Curriculum companies. And, as an adjunct, testing companies like our superintendent's NWEA, which is looking to grow the market.

There are plenty of people who stand to benefit from "reform," many already have, some going as far as to profit from hedge-fund derivitives on tax breaks given on investment in inner cities.

In addition, we see many "educators" steering policy while profiting handsomely - the CEO of NWEA pulls in half a million, and there are many charter school CEOs who make hundreds of thousands. So beyond the enticement for profit from corporations (with lots of money to steer the media) we also have the profit motive for individuals.
Sahila said…
I posted the contract when the teacher - SPS negotiations were on, in its entirety...

here it is again:

there is an entire section dedicated to dealing with ineffective teachers... it's a three stage process, spread over as little as three months ... it includes a warning, mentoring and a kind of probation over that time, and if there is no improvement during that process, the teacher can be fired...
The First Arnold said…
Rosie, Private business stand to from privatization of public ed. Think of the billions of dollars floating around for reform. Banks endorse Charter Schools-
Why? Charter schools need to be built- which in turn means loans frombanks. NWEA profits from MAP testing. Believe me, there are planty of folks looking for those dollars. Don't think this is good for our educational system
seattle citizen said…
Rosie, they have the microphones because they've bought the microphones:
Crosscut is given 400,000 by Gates;
The Our Schools Coalition is "purchased" through backroom deals between Burgess, some business leaders, and many minority communities;
Gates buys the Alliance, which publishes crappy anti-teacher surveys; (The Alliance then creates OSC); Arne Duncan pays for more "performance management" to take over where Gates left off...

Yes, you're right, they have the microphones they've purchased, but luckily there are other venues for discussion, such as here. And the tide is turning: Once some of the more egregious stuff gets out, like the superintendent's seat on the board of a company making millions in a sole-source contract with SPS, well, more people will take note. The "reform" momvement, President Obama's support not-with-standing, is on its way out. People are catching on through other mediums besides the Seattle Times and Crosscut.

to which WV says, "hourigh"!
Sahila said…
this is why ed reform is so enticing...

I posted this stuff six months ago... many of you thought I was being hysterical and paranoid...

and yes... they have been sitting in back rooms for the past 10 years planning and making this happen... Eli Broad said so himself in his 2009 Broad Foundation annual report - Dora and Sue's blog has the quote...

Another piece from Dora was quoted on another blog:

"Then there is the Gates$3.5M to the Broad Foundation’s Center for the Management of School Systems in June of this year. (Doesn’t Broad have enough money?) In the Gates’ statement they say "to build capacity in Hillsborough, Memphis, Pittsburgh, and the College Ready Promise, we are partnering with The Broad Residency to place each IPS organization to directly support teacher effectiveness initiatives, while leveraging our accelerator grant to Tulsa and secure a multi-year investment from local Tulsa foundations."

and they dont just sit in backrooms... they meet with and through their plants in the various districts... see this outline of DC's Broad plant Chancellor contacts with the reformers:

"there are none so blind as those who will not see"....
Jan said…
I agree with Andrew, and Dorothy, and Rosie. If we want to make progress, we need to stop worrying about whether people agree 100 percent with our position, figure out where we HAVE agreement -- and where the reform movement has (incorrectly, I think) convinced them that it has answers, and move on from there.

My impression is that some people (many?) believe that unions protect "work rules" in instances where those rules benefit the teachers AT THE EXPENSE of students. Right or wrong, the unions have not been able to dispel this impression -- and I think that some (many?) people who want only good things for students are willing to sign onto ed reform because they remember their OWN experience learning geometry (or not) from the bored wresting coach (that would be me), or having to suffer with a child taking French 3 from Mme. Whomever (who shows every sign of being burned out, apathetic, and hostile to anything that makes her job more difficult -- including struggling students) but who appears firmly entrenched in her job. I don't concede this ground to the ed reformers, because I think their "reforms" will not help this issue. But saying "these people can be removed under the current rules" is no help -- when they obviously are NOT gone under the current rules.

Frankly, I think teacher evaluation/retention issues are very difficult. I know of no system (including private schools and universities) that I think has it nailed down. But huge amounts of very BAD ed reform are being (wrongly) leveraged off this issue. To continue to repeat "the current system works just fine," "the current system works just fine" is not sufficient to expose the deceptive use of this issue by the ed reform crowd. I think that Andrew's suggestions are good. I think we will make more headway if we work with teachers and parents to pull good well-meaning folks back from the brink of the ed reform pool by conceding that teacher evaluation/retention policies are NOT working adequately, and that we start talking about improvements in teacher evaluation/retention that involve teacher input into what works and does not work -- and does not involve harmful high stakes testing (in EVERY subject -- including art, etc., which is what Dorn and Duncan want), top-down curriculum standardization (to make comparisons based on high stakes testing more valid), etc.
Jan said…
Alas, he was a wrestling coach, not a "wresting" coach. But bored (and bad at teaching geometry) he certainly was.
dan dempsey said…

Paltrid had me as well. Here is what I found.

Paltrid - Otherwise known as the “Shadowy Figure” is the last and strongest boss within the Rotting Caverns storyline. He unleashes various attacks from each of his preceding bosses. Paltrid will surprise players by using signature abilities such as an enrage ability, and performing a damaging effect around him. Paltrid drops plenty of incredibly powerful gear that would please any adventurer no matter what playing style that he or she prefers.
Unknown said…
I like both versions of paltrid
seattle citizen said…
Dan, I had no idea Paltrid was a fictonal character (from a game?)

I merely thought it a combination of "paltry" and "putrid" tho' I admit calling TFA teachers putrid would be way too much.

Six weeks training and little desire to continue in teaching is paltry indeed, tho', and not of the highest "quality."
Mr. Edelman said…
Much of what the reform movement advocates is not reality-based; it's faith-based. Reformistas are no more susceptible to being persuaded to change their positions than Bush Republicans were through much of the last decade.

The reformistas are, as I keep saying, deeply irrational.

All, however, is not lost. All is not doom and gloom. There is no one way that the reformistas can be countered. However, one key way of countering them is for teachers to get out in front of their unions and take action. When teachers do that, there will be plenty of parents to join them.

We need more teachers to be politically active. The political culture has to change; teachers, whether they like it or not, can't expect their union to do their political activism for them.

There are lots of places to start. Teachers should become PCOs and gain influence in their district organizations. One of the best kept secrets of the Democratic Party is how much influence party activists have. You don't need money to be influential.

Teachers should be picking elective campaigns and supporting them. Teachers need to go where people live--literally. They should be doorbelling for pro-education candidates and influencing elections.

Teachers need to know who their enemies are; but more importantly they need to know who their true allies are. They need to stand with their allies and demonstrate the kind of political power that comes with having teachers on your side.

This won't happen quickly. But it's important to make a start and build organization and momentum. I realize that things look grim to some people. My experience tells me that with tenacious determination a lot more can be accomplished than many people realize.
The First Arnold said…
Rosie-I believe Bill and Melinda Gates have best intentions for our educational system. However,do the research- MAP testing is a social experiment intended to measure teacher effectiveness/ student progress. Bill Gates is working with educational researchers at the U of W. My problem, Bill Gates, Broad etc. want the tax payers to finance this research- at the expense of our classroom dollars. Again, please do the research. At first it sounds crazy, but it is true. Our children will suffer by lack of classroom dollars.
Chris, the exiting of a teacher could happen in several ways (or in tandem). The principal could hear from several parents who accurate and valid proof of their claims. The principal could see proof in sitting in a teacher's classroom (either in his/her role as instructional leader at the school and/or as part of a teacher review triggered by complaints). Other teachers could express concerns.

I don't know the precise process once a principal has been asked to do something but I know that much. I have never seen a teacher exited sooner than a year's process unless it was for criminal behavior.

Andrew, my belief is that Arne Duncan is a lost cause. He can be very sincere (and indeed I think he is) but I am so disappointed in his "one way" to reform education. That said, all politics is local and all education (for now) is local so we can't give up fighting locally.

Rosie said:

"It's simply not believable to think that Bill and Melinda Gates and Eli and Edyth Broad sit together in sound proof rooms somewhere admitting that this is there agenda."

Show of hands because yes, I absolutely believe this. There is too much going on in concert. But I don't think it's quite as Death Star to education as some. I think that Mr. Gates and Mr. Broad believe that public education in this country is terrible and also believed little to no progress was being made. (Never mind that Mr. Gates has seen very little success with his own educational forays.)

So they said, "We are going to take our dough and our power and our influence and spread a net far and wide." I think Mr. Broad is the far more dangerous one because he so hardily believes in charters and is backing up charter entrepreneurs as a business. I think Gates just wants more "innovation" and more high-tech workers.
Mr. Edelman said…
Meanwhile, as many already know, there's an interesting event coming up:

"Democrats for Education Reform invites you to a conversation with education reformer and former NBA All-Star, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and Democrats for Education Reform National Executive Director Joe Williams

a. Where: The LeVines House: 1535 9th Ave W. Seattle
b. When: 5-6:30PM [October 7]
c. Who: Anyone interested in improving education in this country
d. What: Please join local education leaders and reformers for a conversation on education reform.
e. How much: THIS IS NOT A FUNDRAISER just a chance to discuss education reform efforts across the country and here in Washington
f.RSVP to or 415-690-5401"

Kevin Johnson is, of course, Michelle Rhee's sweetie. (So what is it about basketball players and education, anyway?)

So, if you don't have anything to do on October 7th, you might show up at Suzi LeVine's house.

And what does Suzi LeVine do for a living? . . . She's Director of Communications for Microsoft's Education business division. (Google it.)
Sahila said…
and Kevin Johnson has been accused of having sex with under age girls and misappropriating federal money which he used to try to "hush" one of the complainants...

Interesting company Ms Rhee keeps... apparently she also felt impelled to attempt a little 'damage control'
Sahila said…
and more ed reform "rah, rah" here in Seattle this week:

There is a Seattle Education Nation MeetUp happening tomorrow (Tuesday 9/28) at the Bell Harbor Conference Center. Hosted by the MeetUp will review discussions happening around Education Nation this week and what we can do here in Seattle to help all of our kids get a great education. Learn more here: ...

and the propaganda extravaganza continues...

and the pragmatist in me is whispering in my ear.... how many millions of dollars is this costing to put on? How many millions of dollars are being spent to perpetuate a myth and justify one of the biggest swindles of all time, that could have gone direct into classrooms - more teachers and aides, into after school programmes, into libraries, into nurses and counsellors, into resources, into music and drama and art and good playgrounds....
Sahila said…
maybe someone could ask the president why he doesnt want all kids to get the education his daughters are getting at Sidwell, at $60K per year....

Dont all kids deserve that?
wsnorth said…
I must say my kids have mostly had really great teachers, and only one who I thought needed a lot of improvement.

Does anyone know how many teachers actually have been forced out due to poor performance in, say, the last 5 years? Probably not a statistic the district tracks...
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jan said…
Anonymous said:

You know, forget it, obviously the School Board is part of the whole cabal. They must be aware of what a stupid, inaccurate test the MAP is and yet still support it. Isn't it obvious they want students to fail this test to justify Charter Schools. They asked my second grade son what book would be next to the book on Herbert Hoover--a book on WIlly WOnka, the Titans, or Eisenhower. What does this have to do with reading at a second grade level? Isn't that question just thrown out so he will fail? He would have to know that Hoover is not a made-up name like WOnka. ! Asking first graders about antonyms and third grades if the word lance is a verb. !

First, Anonymous -- PLEASE sign SOMETHING -- even xxxx at the bottom of your comments -- or pick a name under the Name/URL option --so your comments don't get deleted per policy.

As for the substance -- in my opinion, at least SOME school board members have no idea how inane MAP is or may be (I certainly didn't, though I generally dislike testing if it is used for high stakes consequences). Remember, we have good evidence that the board members who approved MAP don't read everything (they certainly didn't read the STEM contract before they voted to approve it!) - and who knows what efforts they went to in reviewing the MAP contract -- especially if the "staff recommended it" -- which they seem to think sufficient (and for some of the Board, alarmingly, it may be that they may think that staff recommendation means they HAVE to approve things!) MAP is published by a well connected ed-reform company, and I am sure had/has lots of glossy pr materials that the board got that make it look like the cats' meow. Go to the board meeting. Testify as to the inanity of the questions. My kid is too old for MAP, so people like me rely on people like you to daylight this stuff!

Uh oh -- WV says "rantrag" -- so I must be either ranting, or ragging, or maybe both. I will stop here.
seattle citizen said…
Jan, I repeat myself (what a surprise!) but we can't leave out that the school board approved the MAP test as sole-source, no-bid (admin said it was the only company that made an adaptive test) AND that the superintendent sits on the board of the company that makes millions selling MAP to SPS, a fact she did not reveal until after the deal was done, and even then there was no response by the board (I think they did say that because she wasn't paid to be on NWEA's board, there was no conflict of if!)
seattle citizen said…
whoa, Jan's comment (which I commented on) disappeared...I think the spam filter is in hyperdrive again, blog administrators...
StepJ said…
I have not read through all of the posts on this thread, so this may have already been posted...

I heard a good portion of the speech given by Michael Bloomberg this morning as a part of the lauch for 'Education Nation.'

Several times he mentioned, "Innovation Schools." Per his defintion a school that used, "The Technology" to deliver curriculum on a timeline in accord with the student.

The example he gave is if Maria has mastered Biology by April, using "The Technology" she could start her Chemistry course work in April vs. waiting until the start of the next school year.

He never provided a definition or description of "The Technology."

It made me wonder if this is one of the long term intents for MAP? To determine when little Maria might be able to segway from Biology to Chemistry?

Or, is "The Technology" something completely and totally different?
Josh Hayes said…
Wow, you make a little joke about the word verifier and see what happens!

Yes, everyone's interpretation was correct - and I had no idea that "paltrid" actually WAS a word! I'll be trying that one out in my next web boggle game for sure!

But I think my original point stands, to wit: if "the problem" is that there are a bunch of crappy teachers, then, the reformists say, let's REMOVE those teachers, and replace them with--

Well... with what? Where do we get the shiny new non-crappy teachers?

I fear that reformistas regard the teaching corps much as big corporations regard their fleet of corporate vehicles. Some of them are just crappy, so you get rid of them and turn to the assembly line to get shiny new ones. The trouble is, of course, that teaching professionals, and indeed professionals of ANY stripe, don't come tumbling off an assembly line. If you discard teachers you've decided are sub-par, there's no GM teacher dealership to call on for replacements.

The solution, of course, is to put the ol' sub-par vehicles up on the rack and figure out how to fix them, but of course, that doesn't fit in with the "Shiny And New! Ooh, Look At The Man With The Balloons!" approach of Mr. Duncan and Dr. Goodloe-Johnson.

Just as fixing up cars is dirty, gunky, HARD work, fixing up our school paradigm is the same - but none of the "Name" people want to dirty their hands with that.
suep. said…
Rosie, I'm sad to say that all the evidence behind what I said about ed reform does indeed exist, and much of it can be found here: Seattle Education 2010 and here.

As for the ed reformer's policies being failures, by all means don't take my word for it. Instead why don't you check out the National Center for Performance Initiatives at Vanderbilt University that has now conducted TWO studies that show that merit pay does not work -- one in Texas, the latest in Tennessee.

And Stanford University's Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) report about the failure and success rate of charters was damning enough to make Arne Duncan even acknowledge that charters have a very mixed record.

Or how about reading Diane Ravitch's latest book, "The Death and Life of the Great American Education System -- How Testing and Choice are Undermining Education."

-- sue p.
In response to LA Warehouse:
This won't show up in your google search, but Suzi is a friend of mine, a mother of kids in public school, and deeply cares about education just as much as anyone else here -- that is why she took the job she has at Microsoft and that is why it is totally reasonable for her to speak with Democrats for Education Reform. Suzi is one of your many potential allies -- not your enemy. People have the right to educate themselves and reach their own conclusions. I find it distasteful that someone hiding behind a cloak of anonymity would make implications about a specific person & then call on others to show up to a private event at their home in protest. Sue compared the LA Times attack of teachers (which I fully agree was inappropriate and misguided) to a "witch hunt." Is it not also a witch hunt when anybody with a relationship to reform efforts is assumed to be irrational and the enemy?
Sahila said…
Democrats for Eduction Reform are for charter schools, merit pay, union busting, TFA recruits etc....

There's lots of info out there, but here's a good place to start:

Follow the money, connect the dots...

Here are DFER's funders 2007-2010:
The Achelis and Bodman Foundations

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation

The Broad Foundation

The Brookhill Foundation

The Louis Calder Foundation

The Challenge Foundation

Doris and Donald Fisher Fund

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace

The Joyce Foundation

The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

The Koret Foundation

The Kovner Foundation

Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation

The Robertson Foundation

Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation

Searle Freedom Trust

The William E. Simon Foundation

The Spencer Foundation

The John Templeton Foundation

The Walton Family Foundation

and here is its Board:
Board of Directors
The DFER Board

Kevin Chavous (chair) - Former Washington, DC, City Council member and chair of the Education Committee.

Tony Davis - Anchorage Capital, board chair for Achievement First East New York, in Brooklyn.

Charles Ledley - Cornwall Capital, NYC, board member and treasurer of Harlem Village Academy and Leadership Village Academy Charter Schools.

Rafael Mayer - Co-founder and managing partner, Khronos LLC, board member for Planned Parenthood of NYC, KIPP AMP, and The Dalton School.

Sara Mead - New America Foundation, former analyst for Education Sector and the Progressive Policy Institute, Washington, D.C.

John Petry - Gotham Capital, co-founder of Harlem Success Academy Charter School, NYC.

Andrew Rotherham - Co-Founder and Publisher, Education Sector, former White House education advisor to President Clinton, author of the blog,

Whitney Tilson - T2 Partners and Tilson Funds, vice chairman of KIPP Academy Charter Schools in NYC, co-founder of the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City.

(Note - Organizations listed here are for identification purposes only and do not imply an endorsement or affiliation.)

The DFER Board of Advisors

William Ackman - Founder, Pershing Square Capital.

Steve Barr - Founder and CEO, Green Dot Public Schools.

Cory Booker - Mayor of Newark, N.J.

David Einhorn - Founder of Greenlight Capital, LLC.

Joel Greenblatt - Founder and Managing Partner of Gotham Capital.

Vincent Mai - Chairman of AEA Investors, LP.

Michael Novogratz - President of Fortress Investment Group.

Tom Vander Ark - Partner, Revolution Learning.
hschinske said…
They asked my second grade son what book would be next to the book on Herbert Hoover--a book on WIlly WOnka, the Titans, or Eisenhower. What does this have to do with reading at a second grade level? Isn't that question just thrown out so he will fail? He would have to know that Hoover is not a made-up name like WOnka. ! Asking first graders about antonyms and third grades if the word lance is a verb.

The MAP is *supposed* to go beyond grade level as necessary, either below or above as needed to assess where that student is. That's a feature, not a bug. How else are they supposed to determine if a student is performing far above or below level?

There are a lot of reasonable things to complain about where the MAP is concerned, but the asking of out-of-level questions as needed isn't one of them.

Incidentally, performing at the 50th percentile (absolutely average for grade) on an old-fashioned grade-level test such as the ITBS *also* means missing a large proportion of questions.

Helen Schinske
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ds said…
StepJ said: I heard a good portion of the speech given by Michael Bloomberg this morning as a part of the lauch for 'Education Nation.' Several times he mentioned, "Innovation Schools." Per his defintion a school that used, "The Technology" to deliver curriculum on a timeline in accord with the student....It made me wonder if this is one of the long term intents for MAP? To determine when little Maria might be able to segway from Biology to Chemistry?Or, is "The Technology" something completely and totally different?

I think Bloomberg was referring, at least in part, to NYC's School of One program, which is exploring the use of technology to individualize teaching methods and instruction levels.

It is still just in the piloting stage, having only been used for middle school math and at summer school and after school programs. But it looks like they are currently (fall 2010) piloting it as part of a regular school day in 3 NYC schools. (see the brochure)

Implementing this type of program on a large scale would likely require a major paradigm shift, but I am intrigued by some of the ideas.
Anonymous said…

And it is weird responding to the name "Anonymous", I did not ask what happened to the teacher. That was between the principal and the teacher.

Let's turn the tables for a minute on this conversation. Do you want charter schools where the school can "toss out" the student if they don't perform up to a certain standard that has been set by the school? That's what charter schools do. The worst part of it is that they receive public money through district funds.

Do you want half of the teaching staff "tossed out" of a school because the students do not perform up to a certain level? Do you want the school closed or the principal fired because the students are not performing at a certain level?

What you and others have been arguing for are the edicts of RTTT and they are very harsh and unfair to the least of us.

About this event that is occurring on October 7th. I had heard about this previously and had planned to go, still do,notebook in hand.

It should be an interesting meeting.
MathTeacher42 said…
Andrew at 9/27/10 11:04 PM

I know who Suzie is - I'm on 1 of her email lists.

When you pass around the DLC / DNC rahm - 0-$ell-0ut version of "reality" that is your choice and your right. When people call b.s. on your "reality" that is their choice and their right.

IF you want to have the husband of Michelle Rhee at your house, AND call it a private event, especially in light of the train wreck of reform lies barreling into our living rooms since Oprah's marketing of "Waiting for Stupor-man" last Monday -

(Yesterday, Oprah, AKA EXPERT IN CHIEF on Education, had Jenny McCarthy on to talk about Jenny's break up from Jim Carey! Wow! How multi talented is Oprah!)

- ummmmm ... you're from the branch of the Democratic Party where we're all supposed to get in step with the White House's betrayals and lies du jour, AND

not question authority?

I did understand Obama's reform baloney yesterday - the liar in chief let the thieves of Goldman & AIG keep stealing, he's let the mercenaries of the pentagon keep stealing, his "health care" fiasco was a complete handout to the insurance companies who've wrecked "health" care, Ivy con$ultant$ have done great making powerpoints of excuses ...

and it is now time to blame the teachers!

Robert Murphy
StepJ said…

Thanks for the info. The links in your post did not work for me - but a quick search on School Of One brought up the brochure.

From the Mayor's description I believe he was referencing the "School of One."

Some interesting ideas. As a student I would have LOVED something like this. But, I wonder how a teacher could adjust individual lesson plans on a daily basis for 23 - 35 students?

I remember back in 4th grade I had read every single book in the classroom and completed every single SRA in the box -- before Christmas! My teacher suggested I write a four page essay on the topic of my choice. On page 1 I wrote - "I", on page 2 I wrote, "am", on page 3 I wrote, "so", on page 4 I wrote, "bored."

My teacher was not amused so I was on her *S* list from that point forward.

The remaining years until graduation from high school were a long slog.
Jan said…
StepJ: Great story. I have similar memories from elementary school, though I think I must have been a slower reader, because I didn't finish ALL the books.

I must say, though -- pretty lame suggestion from your teacher. (And a great response from you). Barring any ability to actually teach you something, she should have just turned you loose on the fifth grade library.
StepJ said…
This comment has been removed by the author.

Popular posts from this blog

Tuesday Open Thread

Anaylsis of Seattle School Board Decision to Bring "Student Outcome Focused Governance"

Who Is A. J. Crabill (and why should you care)?