Paul Hill Guest Column in the Times

Paul Hill, director of the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington, Bothell, wrote a guest column for the Seattle Times, Other cities might help Seattle close achievement gaps among black students

I've met Dr. Hill and we've had some interesting conversations. He is well-known as a charter school advocate. I strenuously oppose charter schools. So you might be surprised to learn that we actually had gotten along very well - we agree on nearly everything. We share the same set of facts. We both follow them down the same line of reasoning. But then, at the very end, we reach opposite conclusions.

In the end, we both see that schools need to change. We agree on many of the needed changes. We both see that the resistance to that change is not in the classroom or even, in most cases, in the principal's office, but primarily in the district offices (and, in some cases, in state laws). His solution is to create schools that are free from the district's control (and some state laws): charter schools. My solution is to fix the dysfunction in the district culture. I don't see anything that a charter school could do that a public school could not do if the district would allow it.

For a man who has little hope of changing the culture of school district bureaucrats, his guest column in the Times appears to over-rely on attitude change.


Jon said…
The most reliable way to create schools free from the district's control is reduce the ability of the district to control the schools.

Significant reductions in the size of the administration would do that well. It would force administration to focus on what should be the core functions of administration (capacity planning, metrics, and auditing) and eliminate central admin's ability to micromanage the schools.

Regardless of our positions on charter schools, and especially in this time of tight budgets, maybe we all can rally around cutting centralized administration control and administrative overhead.
Anonymous said…
What happens if your school is not ready for prime time, building autonomy? I'm all for cutting downtown admin, but would not say all our schools are ready for decentralizaton. The dysfunction over these years has percolated down and there are some very bad habits out there.

10 years + in SPS
Anonymous said…
My comment about this so-called column:

Marty McLaren has actually taught the students about whom Paul Hill claims expertise. Marty McLaren has done the hard work and has gotten results.

Some paper pusher and Gates Foundation sycophant like Paul Hill should have interviewed Marty McLaren and other effective people in the trenches for this article.

Marty McLaren was stating a fact about our society when she made her comment about the high intelligence and desire to learn that she (and I and other experience teachers) have experienced when working with struggling students.

She did not have a chance to offer her prescription--which surely would have been more specific than this pathetic puff piece.

--enough already
Anonymous said…
correction: "experienced" teachers--although the Jimi Hendrix "experience" isn't so bad.

--enough already
Jon said…
'10 years + in SPS' wrote, "What happens if your school is not ready for prime time, building autonomy?"

Under the model of reduced central administration, the principal would be responsible for fixing dysfunction in their own school. If it wasn't fixed in 2-3 years, the principal would be fired and a new principal hired.
StopTFA said…
enough already,

As another McLaren backer, I agree with you wholeheartedly. I liked your Freudian typo "sycho-phant" indeed! : )
StopTFA said…
My last comment was regarding your comment on the ST article. And "experience" teachers...woohoo, we're all starting our celebrating early, it seems.
Anonymous said…
There could be worse cocktails than Hitchcock and Hendrix, Stop TFA. Thanks for your amen.

--enough already
lassen said…
Here we go again -- the district releases a premature, unvetted set of statistics showing how we are failing and surprise, surprise -- it is right up the alley of the ed reformers, resulting in guest editorials in the Times. Exactly like the 17% debacle. Remember the ed reformers coming out in droves to say the 17% proves schools are failing and so we need charters and TFA?

So, regarding the recent data the district released on the achievement gap: Here are the pertinent questions any analyst would want to know before drawing conclusions:
1. How many students were in the sample for each group?
2. How many students are there who are not in ELL but who speak Amharic at home? I would think very few, which skews the report hugely.
3. How many of those students have IEP's?
4. Of the students who "failed" the test, how many actually took it and failed or how many were absent the day of the test? Absent is still not good, but it points to a very different cause than if they were present.
5. How many of these students are new to Seattle versus how many have spent several years in our system?
6. How many of these students are making gains either on the test or in other ways such as earning credit? Meaning, examining the trend of each student rather than broad generalities.

Data is not sacrosanct. It can be skewed by small sample size, inaccurate definitions.

It is amazing to me how we continue to allow the district to release unvetted data that the ed reformers can then use as fuel. It is so transparent and predictable. The old one-two punch.
Paul Hill used all kinds of code words in his piece. What's interesting is he seems to have truly not been paying attention to SPS. If he had been, he would know about our alternative schools that DID start out as hotbeds of innovation. And that some of their best practices have trickled down to other schools. And that the state legislature signed not one but two bills last session to support innovation. And that Mercer went off script and did well. And that the district and the SEA are working on a plan to give schools more flexibility.

We have a lot of good things going on and coming but Hill just wants charters. Being myopic doesn't help his argument.
Charlie Mas said…
I think we should give Dr. Hill some credit here. At least in this column, he keeps his focus on the innovation, not the structure. He doesn't specifically call for charter schools in this column, no matter how we read his code. He calls for flexibility, experimentation, and, as much as anything else, a willingness to admit failure and try something else when an experiment doesn't pan out.
Anonymous said…
"...And that the district and the SEA are working on a plan to give schools more flexibility..."

Sorry, Melissa, but that plan is so flawed in the eyes of any teacher who has been successful in this District. Teachers are so distrustful of SEA leadership's role in this that at the last Rep Assembly meeting a motion to table the MOU for "Creative Choice Schools" passed by a wide margin. Why the pushback? 1) Virtually no Cert who voted on the CBA was aware of Article II Section B paragraph 9: "Innovation Schools – SEA and SPS will develop and negotiate a process, approved by both
parties, that will allow agreed upon schools to be able to apply for broad exceptions from SPS
policies and collective bargaining agreements..."
2) Virtually no Cert knew that SEA leadership and the District had been developing an MOU until a couple days before the Rep Assembly.
In both instances we were told that time was critical and if we didn't vote on it now worse was to come. Does that sound familiar to anyone who attends School Board meetings?
Melissa, Charlie, et al: it's pretty clear that innovation has been happening very successfully in a number of schools without having to waive any Collective Bargaining Agreements. Virtually all success has happened by ignoring Downtown directives.

And, lassen, I'm with you...Gerald Bracey for so many years punched so many holes through the EdReformers who are "driven by data," that I'm nonplussed by anyone who listens to Paul Hill or any of his ilk.

ken berry sp ed ia VA @AAA
dan dempsey said…
Lassen is on the mark. The way to "win" a two group comparison is to remove some low performers from only one group.

So break the Black Africans into two groups .... ESL and non-ESL.

Select only the non-ESL and compare them with all African Americans.

The comparison while interesting is not of much use.

Of more interest to me is pg xxiii paragraph 27 of the NMAP report.... Foundations for Success

Explicit instruction with students who have mathematical difficulties has shown consistently positive effects on performance with word problems and computation. Results are consistent for students with learning disabilities, as well as other students who perform in the lowest third of a typical class. By the term explicit instruction, the Panel means that teachers provide clear models for solving a problem type using an array of examples, that students receive extensive practice in use of newly learned strategies and skills, that students are provided with opportunities to think aloud (i.e., talk through the decisions they make and the steps they take), and that students are provided with extensive feedback.

So WHY has the SPS been so adamant about NOT doing what is known to work?

wv has the answer "crackman"
Anonymous said…
Hill's background is exemplary - he epitomizes what is WRONG with the upper reaches of academe & the consultant-ocracy ---

In their fields, do ANY of these people EVER do the equivalent of make a better mousetrap? EVER invent something useful - like a reliable valve system for rubber tires?

we the nobodies have decades of managers ripping "health" insurance blind, managers wrecking the auto and manufacturing industries, managers stealing our retirements, managers turning our house payments to gambles at crooked casino games --

all the while these highly paid jokers at the rands and the hoovers and the brookings and the gates and edu waltons ... have provided the 'intellectual' justifications for management thievery.

Remember Ronald Reagan & Bush Jr? They ALL talk great moderate, bipartisan, community chatter, and they ALL turn the keys over to their thieving paymasters.

Charlie - you haven't spent decades peddling snake oil to the noboides so the paymasters can rip us nobodies off - you're earnestly seeking answers, he's seeking the slickest lies that will earn the fattest paychecks.

Hill isn't a friend, he isn't an enemy - he is an antagonist, a foe and a villain.

Anonymous said…
LiesNeverStops and lassen are 100% correct. If there's a bigger a**kissing Ed Reform Think Tank, I don't know what it is. Without Sugar-Daddy Gates, they'd have to get real jobs, if they could.

I think the Center for Reinventing Ed's name says it all: These people can't cut it in the real world, so they advocate to "reinvent" the real world to suit them. Time to leave the sandbox, children. You don't always get your way in life and facts are stubborn things. Deal with it.

Sorry, Charlie, but I have no respect at all for that propaganda clearinghouse, which lassen & LiesNeverStop so aptly unmask.

Snit said…
Charlie, as a teacher with 25 years of experience I find it very sad that you "agree with Mr Hill on nearly everything". Do you agree with his endless teacher and union bashing ? His blind and misleading advocacy for charter schools and privatization schemes? Last month the Times prints his CRPE colleague , Robin Lakes inane and thoughtess article, the month before Chris Eide's letter. (Eide is a former TFA teacher and QUITTER who cut and ran for Gates money to create a Union bashing outfit). Bree Dusseault, a former CRPE staffer and current SSD regional director is a charter school reform zealot and Eide's wife. Bree worked very briefly as a Principal of a charter in New Orleants, and is the the genius who attempted to ruin Martin Floe's career. It is horrifying to know she actually supervises and evaluates experienced Principals. This whole crowd of Bill Gates a**kissers make me gag. It is simply obnoxious for hard working and dedicated teachers to have to listen to such drivel.
Merry Christmas !
anonymous said…
"I think we should give Dr. Hill some credit here. At least in this column, he keeps his focus on the innovation, not the structure. He doesn't specifically call for charter schools in this column, no matter how we read his code. He calls for flexibility, experimentation, and, as much as anything else, a willingness to admit failure and try something else when an experiment doesn't pan out."

Totally agree with Charlie here. We do need to admit failure, and we do need to be flexible and try something new.

dan dempsey said…
Sounder wrote:

we do need to be flexible and try something new.


YUP ... we do need to try something new.

Using materials and practices that have proven to be successful on an extremely large scale elsewhere .... would be something new for the SPS.
Sahila said…
more on why charter schools are not the solution... from people who do really know... albert-shanker's widow-blasts-reformers
Sahila said…
more on charter schools siphoning money out of poor neighbourhoods: winning-charter-school-strategy-protect-wealthy-towns?
Sahila said…
Corporate ed reform turns kids into commodities:
Sahila said…
and what would the corporate ed deformers reply to these economists?

renegade economists call for degrowth economy
Sahila said…
beginnings of a Muckety relationship map for TFA:

TFA links
dan dempsey said…

Thanks for the above link to the Val Strauss column on TfA.

"TFA is, at best, another chimerical attempt in a long history of chimerical attempts to sell educational reform as a solution to class inequality. At worst, it’s a Trojan horse for all that is unseemly about the contemporary education reform movement."

... A big BINGO to that in Seattle.

Tomorrow at 10 AM a group of us are sending an "open letter" to the Board about ..... the dishonesty used to perform an illegal action "bringing in TfA" and that TfA is a harmful plan for students in Seattle's high poverty / high minority schools.

"The new Seattle School Board need not perform like the Reform Bloc School Board of the last four years. It is time to intelligently apply the relevant data. An excellent starting place to restore public confidence will be to withdraw from the Teach for America agreement on or before February 1, 2012."

The District can make this Seattle's only year in TfA by notifying TfA in writing on or before Feb. 15, 2012 that the SPS is ending the TfA agreement.

If you would like your name added to the open letter send me an email before 9:00 AM 12-27-2011 and I will add your name to the letter.

The 11-17-2010 "TfA 6-1 vote" was more of the usual Board nonsense.

Bringing in TfA was absurd.... much of the environment that contributes to such large achievement gaps was produced by Board actions.

I doubt the current board is even aware of some of the test score deficiencies for various groups of "educationally disadvantaged learners" because the Superintendent does such a poor job of reporting.

The old 17% lie. .... and how MGJ should have apologized. .... and my advice.: Statistics that one makes up to mislead others to follow an agenda are not relevant.
Fraud and Forgery are often found to be Class C Felonies.

Let me add that once again Sherry gave an incredibly misleading "cherry-picked" statement when she said the results are mixed in presenting her approval for the original TfA vote.

The Big TfA report by Mathematica used a non-TfA comparison group that was far inferior to Seattle's abundant supply of Fully certificated teachers. The usual deception ... supplied this time by the District and TfA.

Here is a link to the Dec 15, 2011 District reporting on Cleveland's success .... and what the actual figures really show.

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