Archives for category: Administrators, superintendents

Connecticut’s Governor Dannel Malloy vetoed legislation requiring the state education commissioner to have educational experience and qualifications.

 

He said it encroached on the governor’s authority to name anyone he wanted, regardless of qualifications.

 

Mayor Bloomberg took that path when he appointed publisher Cathie Black as schools chancellor. She lasted three months.

 

Will Governor Malloy be comfortable if the pilot of his next flight has no experience? Will he go to a hospital where his surgeons are fresh from college with no training or experience?

Knox County, Tennessee, has a superintendent, Jim McIntyre, who is a graduate of the unaccredited Broad Superintendent’s Academy. McIntyre accepted a grant from Broad to hire another Broadie as director of planning and improvement. McIntyre didn’t seek approval from either the Knox County Board of Education or County Commission for the grant, which was partially underwritten by the Broad Foundation.

On Monday, the Knox County Commission rejected the grant, which has already been spent. perhaps Superintendent McIntyre should replace the taxpayer funds expended on this illegal hire. Was it patronage to his benefactor?

As we have seen in many districts, Broadies tend to hire other Broadies (and TFA). This is a rate rebuke to the Broad Foundation, which is a strong supporter of top-down management, high-stakes testing, charter schools, and school closings (to make way for charter schools.)

Thanks to reader Ellen Lubic for bringing this story to my attention.

Phil Lanoue, the superintendent of schools in Athens, Georgia, offered his teachers a reward: those with perfect attendance would get a day off. Some teachers resisted the offer because they didn’t want to miss their classes.

 

He and other administrators became substitute teachers for those who accepted the day off. He taught a class in life science.

 

He wrote:

 

 

While the original idea was to reward teachers, I know it ended up making far more of an impact on those of us who walked in their shoes for a day.

 

 

At the end of the day, he had new respect for his teachers:

 

 

I made it through the day, exhausted, and having developed an even deeper understanding and appreciation for our teachers. I tried to make my teaching interesting, interactive and relevant, but I could see that there was something that only the regular classroom teacher could offer: the foundation of strong relationships.

 
Teachers connect with students in many ways and are so familiar with their strengths and areas of growth. They know the struggles they are facing, what gets them excited and how to say just what a student needs to hear — and when they need to hear it. They know when to push and when to hold back. Knowing that our students walk into our classrooms and are met by such caring individuals is everything — our teachers go the distance to ensure that students receive what they need — academically, social/emotionally and more.

 
I left Hilsman Middle School that day with a lot more than tired, achy feet from being in a teacher’s shoes. I left seeing firsthand that our students can truly receive no better education than in the Clarke County School District because of the tireless work of our teachers. The design of the lessons, the relationships that are built, the digital learning, the International Baccalaureate framework, the opportunities available through our partnerships — I am truly humbled. I am humbled to work with an incredible community of individuals who are committed to the wellbeing of our students.

 
I encourage all interested community members to consider volunteering at one of our schools next year so that they, too, can be a part of this incredible Clarke County School District community. Spend time in our classrooms, and gain a renewed sense of why Athens-Clarke County has every reason to be “Proud To Be CCSD.”

 

 

Mike Klonsky speculates on who might replace Barbara Byrd-Bennett, who resigned in the midst of a federal investigation of a $20 million np-bid contract to SUPES, a principal training program that BBB once worked for.

Will it be the return of Paul Vallas? A businessman?

MIke says it doesn’t matter.

“Meanwhile, the media debate is all about whether Rahm should appoint another career educator like BBB or J.C Brizard, or another non-educator business guy? I don’t think it makes a damn bit of difference so long as either one, along with the hand-picked school board, are mere puppy dogs. It’s mayoral control of the schools that’s the real issue here. The fact that Rahm is shopping for Chicago’s 6th CEO in 6 years following Huberman, Mazany, Brizard, Byrd-Bennett, and Ruiz, makes my point. Instability is the name of the game and when things go south, like a major scandal or a teachers strike, they are all easily replaceable.

“We need an elected school board and an end to autocratic rule over the schools.”

A regular commenter on the blog who calls him/herself “Democracy” posted these insightful thoughts about the state of “leadership” and its willingness to follow the corporate reform script instead of standing up for sound policies and practices that promote good education:

 

 

 

Part 1

 

I’ve been commenting on this blog for a while, lamenting the state of “leadership” in pubic education.

 

The fate of Joshua Starr in Montgomery County, MD is a good example. Starr was actually trying to bring more equity to the system, he wanted to de-emphasize testing, he opposed merit pay, and he was collaborative, generally. A teacher rep said Starr made sure teachers were “included in the decision-making process for most major decisions.” Still, Starr seemed to favor the Common Core, and in an interview with NPR he bragged about the county’s “SAT and AP scores.” Sigh.

 

Starr’s replacement was to have been Andrew Houlihan of Houston, who later withdrew his name from consideration.

 

Houlihan’s dissertation was on the use of data. He has described himself as “a big data person. I love using data to make decisions.” Except, apparently, Houlihan never really understood what the “data” said. He bragged about an Arnold Foundation grant that, he said, was “transforming” the recruitment of teachers. And he bragged about Houston’s merit pay program – ASPIRE – that, he said, rewarded “our most effective educators” for “accelerating student progress.”

 

The Arnold Foundation is a right-wing organization founded by a hedge-funder who resists accountability and transparency in derivatives markets but calls for them in education. Its executive director, Denis Cabrese was former chief of staff to DIck Armey, the Texas conservative who now heads up FreedomWorks, the group that helps to pull the Tea Party strings and gets funding from the billionaire arch-conservative Koch brothers.

 

Fairfax County recently hired Karen Garza, who was also in Houston. Garza led the ASPIRE program, a pay plan that was funded (in part) by the Broad, Gates and Dell foundations, the very same groups that fund corporate-style “reform” and that support the Common Core. And while researchers point out the dangers of value-added models, noting that they “cannot disentangle the many influences on student progress,” Garza said they were “proven methodology” that are both “valid and reliable.”

 

Fairfax and Montgomery, by the way, are considered two of the better school systems, nationally.

 

Part 2

 

Meanwhile, in the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Virginia Association of School Superintendents (VASS) recently concluded its Spring conference, titled “Inspiring Leadership for Innovation.” The conference was focused on “college and career readiness,” “leadership skills essential to changing school cultures,” and “superintendent success stories.” The featured speakers were Jean Claude Brizard and Marc Tucker.

 

Brizard has been a failure as a superintendent in Rochester and Chicago. According to a columnist who followed him closely, Brizard “engaged in gross misrepresentations of data and sometimes outright lied. He made promises he didn’t keep. He did one thing while saying another.” As to his two failed superintendencies, Brizard admits that “there were some mistakes made.”

 

Marc Tucker says that he wants high-stakes tests in grades 4, 8 and 10, and “the last exams would be set at an empirically determined college- and work-ready standard.” Additionally, “every other off year, the state would administer tests in English and mathematics beginning in grade 2, and, starting in middle school, in science too, on a sampling basis. Vulnerable groups would be oversampled to make sure that populations of such students in the schools would be accurately measured.” Tucker wants all schools systems to take PISA, because he thinks that the test scores of 15-year-olds are somehow tied tightly to economic growth and competitiveness. You know, jobs.

 

Sigh. Tucker just keeps regurgitating the same-old song, all over again: college and career “readiness.” To Tucker, that’s why public education exists. He says nary a word about citizenship.

 

And what about those jobs? The Bureau of Labor Statistics points out that most new jobs created in the United States over the next decade will NOT require postsecondary education. These are jobs like personal care aides, retail clerks, nursing assistants, janitors and maids, construction laborers, freight and stock movers, secretaries, carpenters, and fast food preparers.

 

http://www.bls.gov/ooh/most-new-jobs.htm

 

In addition to its Spring fling, VASS selected its 2016 superintendent of the year. While the award comes from VASS, a VASS-selected panel –– comprised of the state superintendent of instruction, and the heads of the Virginia Education Association, state PTA and state school boards association, the state ASCD, and the directors of the state associations of secondary and elementary school principals –– picked the winner. In other words, the top education “leaders” in the state –– those who should be familiar with research and evidence –– were responsible for choosing the state’s “best” superintendent.

 

A few years back, this recently-named “superintendent of the year” forced a test-score-tracking software program called SchoolNet on teachers. She was advised against it because of its problems, but she went ahead anyway. It ended up being a $2 million-plus failure. SchoolNet was later bought by Pearson. The superintendent is still withholding 268 SchoolNet-related emails from public scrutiny, claiming they are “exempt” from the Freedom of Information Act.

 

 

Part 3

 

This VASS-award-winner’s school division sent out what it called a “leadership” survey several years back. It was a skewed-question survey designed to produce pre-determined results. But it did allow for comments. And they were instructive. They included comments such as “..this is the worst leadership the county has ever had,” and “Honesty, integrity and fairness are lacking,” and “…teachers have very little voice, and “…the system does not care about me or most other employees as individuals, and “county schools leaders seem to be increasingly inept and far-removed from the day-to-day realities of public education.” Again and again and again, commenters said these things about the top “leadership:”

 

“does not listen to teachers…”
“does not ask what people think before it accepts major policies…”
* “…teachers are not listened to…our opinions have been requested and ignored…”
* “…when I offer my opinion, i has been dismissed.”
* “l..leaders seek input, but then usually, disregard the opinions of those not in agreement with the administration…decisions are made top-down before input is received.”
* “decision making is so top-down — stakeholders are seldom consulted…”
* “…decisions have already been made…”
* “…teachers feel that their professional judgment is not valued…”
* “most administrator are arrogant…and remove themselves with any type of collaborative dialogue with teachers.”
* “…they do not want to hear complaints, or you are labeled as a troublemaker…”
* “the county asks its employees for input but these requests are superficial…the decision have already been made by the people ‘downtown’…”
* “you ask people to think critically but we must toe the party line…”
* “We are not asked what we think…it is common knowledge here that you are not allowed to address concerns that may be negative…”
“I see few examples of teachers being involved in decision making.”

 

A blue ribbon resources utilization committee recommended a climate survey of the schools years earlier, noting that one had been done repeatedly in county government. Teachers asked for a climate survey in the schools too, and even offered to help write one. A climate survey still hasn’t been offered.

 

This “superintendent of the year” forced STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) “academies” on all of the county high schools. The original claim was that research showed a STEM “crisis” in America, and that this move was “visionary.” Norm Augustine, former CEO of Lockheed Martin – which has laid of thousands of STEM workers – was invited to the schools to make his STEM spiel. When asked for the “research,” the superintendent couldn’t produce any. There’s a reason for that. The research shows there is no “crisis,” no “shortage.” In fact, there’s a glut.

For example, Beryl Lieff Benderly wrote this stunning statement recently in the Columbia Journalism Review (see: http://www.cjr.org/reports/what_scientist_shortage.php?page=all ):

“Leading experts on the STEM workforce, have said for years that the US produces ample numbers of excellent science students. In fact, according to the National Science Board’s authoritative publication Science and Engineering Indicators 2008, the country turns out three times as many STEM degrees as the economy can absorb into jobs related to their majors.”

 

When VASS selected this “superintendent of the year” for 2016, it noted certain “indicators of success.” What were they? It cited an increase in the “number of students enrolled in AP courses” and SAT scores that were higher than the state average. Never mind that the SAT is not tied to the school curriculum and that this school division is one of the most affluent in the state. There is no better predictor of SAT score than family income.

 

The research on SAT – and ACT – and AP courses finds that they are mostly hype. The SAT and ACT just don’t do a good job of predicting success in college or life. Moreover, research finds that when demographic characteristics are controlled for, the oft-made claims made for AP disappear. In the ‘ToolBox Revisited’ (2006), a statistical analysis of the factors contributing to the earning of a bachelor’s degree, Adelman found that Advanced Placement did not reach the “threshold level of significance.” Other research finds that while “students see AP courses on their transcripts as the ticket ensuring entry into the college of their choice…there is a shortage of evidence about the efficacy, cost, and value of these programs.”

 

This is the current state of public education’s “leadership.”

 

Unlike the Allstate commercial, I don’t think we’re in ‘good hands.’

Scott Walker has a plan. It is called “reform,” but in reality it is destruction. He (acting through the legislature) is holding funding for public schools flat (he wanted to cut it); he is increasing funding for charter schools and vouchers; he is imposing draconian budget cuts on the University of Wisconsin system; and he is lowering standards for entry into teaching. One analysis says the voucher expansion proposal would drain $800 million from public schools over a 10-year period.

Tony Evers, the veteran educator who was elected twice as state superintendent of education, says Wisconsin is in a “race to the bottom.”

Wisconsin has decided to reform its teacher licensing standards—by eliminating them! Anyone with any bachlor’s degree can teach any subject, a change inserted into the state budget without hearings.

Even those without a bachelor’s degree are eligible to teach, as Valerie Strauss notes: “That’s not all. The proposal would require the education department to issue a teaching permit to people who have not — repeat have not — earned a bachelor’s degree, or potentially a high school diploma, to teach in any subject area, excluding the core subjects of mathematics, English, science, and social studies. “The only requirement would be that the public school or district or private voucher school determines that the individual is proficient and has relevant experience in the subject they intend to teach. And, the department would not be permitted to add requirements.”

Politico.com says that high school dropouts moght be eligible to teach middle school and high school under the legislative plan to drop standards.

The state Department of Public Instruction released this critique of the latest assault on the teaching profession.

Governor Scott Walker and his allies in the Legislature are working full-time to privatize public education and destroys he teaching profession. State Superintendent Tony Evers made these statements. He is a hero for standing up fearlessly to the know-nothings, joins the blog’s honor roll as a champion of education.

His office issued this blast:

“Legislative action slides teacher licensing standards toward the bottom”

“MADISON — Major changes to teacher licensing voted into the 2015-17 state budget, without a hearing, puts Wisconsin on a path toward the bottom, compared to the nation, for standards required of those who teach at the middle and high school level.

“Adopted as a K-12 omnibus motion by the Joint Committee on Finance (JFC), the education package deregulates licensing standards for middle and high school teachers across the state. The legislation being rolled into the biennial budget would require the Department of Public Instruction to license anyone with a bachelor’s degree in any subject to teach English, social studies, mathematics, and science. The only requirement is that a public school or school district or a private choice school determines that the individual is proficient and has relevant experience in each subject they teach. Traditional licensure requires educators in middle and high school to have a bachelor’s degree and a major or minor in the subject they teach, plus completion of intensive training on skills required to be a teacher, and successful passage of skills and subject content assessments.

“Additionally, the JFC motion would require the DPI to issue a teaching permit for individuals who have not earned a bachelor’s degree, or potentially a high school diploma, to teach in any subject area, excluding the core subjects of mathematics, English, science, and social studies. The only requirement would be that the public school or district or private voucher school determines that the individual is proficient and has relevant experience in the subject they intend to teach. For both provisions in the JFC motion, the DPI would not be able to impose any additional requirements. This may preclude the fingerprinting and background checks required of all other licensed school staff. The standard also is lower than that currently required for teachers in choice and charter schools, who must have at least a bachelor’s degree.

“We are sliding toward the bottom in standards for those who teach our students,” said State Superintendent Tony Evers. “It doesn’t make sense. We have spent years developing licensing standards to improve the quality of the teacher in the classroom, which is the most important school-based factor in improving student achievement. Now we’re throwing out those standards.”

“Currently, all 50 states require a beginning teacher to have a bachelor’s degree for traditional licensure, with a narrow exception for career and technical education teachers (Georgia). The states have differing standards for alternative routes to licensure, generally requiring major content coursework or a test in lieu of coursework for individuals to be eligible for an alternate route to earn a teaching license.

“Wisconsin has several routes for career changers, who want to teach our elementary and secondary school students, to earn a teaching license through alternative programs,” Evers noted. “Emergency permits allow them to work under supervision while completing educator preparation program requirements. Each alternative route program ensures that candidates are supported and are ready to do the job independently when they complete alternative licensing requirements.”
Under provisions of the omnibus motion, the leaders of 424 public school districts, 23 independent public charter schools (2R charters), and potentially hundreds of private choice schools would determine who is qualified to teach in their schools. Current provisions of the JFC motion would restrict these licenses to teaching at the district or school that recommended the individual for licensure.

“Learning about how children develop, managing a classroom and diffusing conflict among students, working with parents, and developing engaging lessons and assessments that inform instruction — these are the skills our aspiring educators learn in their training programs,” Evers said. “Teaching is much more than being smart in a subject area.

“This motion presents a race to the bottom,” Evers said. “It completely disregards the value of the skills young men and women develop in our educator training programs and the life-changing experiences they gain through classroom observation and student teaching. This JFC action is taking Wisconsin in the wrong direction. You don’t close gaps and improve quality by lowering standards.”

It makes you wonder if the “reformers” in Wisconsin plan to deregulate other professions, so anyone can be a doctor or a lawyer or whatever they want, without professional education.

Three years ago, the Dallas Independent School District hired Mike Miles as its superintendent. Miles, a military man, had been trained by the unaccredited Broad Superintendents Academy. When he arrived, he set a series of targets that he expected to reach as a result of his  leadership. One was to see a significant increase in test scores in three years. He declared that he would drive change by bold leadership.

 

The test scores were just released for Dallas. They are flat. Some declined.

 

Miles has removed many principals; teacher turnover has soared under his leadership.

 

STAAR test results released Friday by Dallas ISD offer little evidence of systemic progress under the leadership of Superintendent Mike Miles.

 

Compared with last year, the passing rate dropped for eight of 11 exams in grades three through eight. On three exams, passing rates increased by 1 or 2 percentage points. The results are for tests taken in English.

 

Similarly, compared with results from 2012 — the school year before Miles arrived — a higher percentage of students failed this year in eight of 11 exams.

 

Miles and his supporters had promised broad academic gains and said that this year’s results — the third State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness exams under his leadership — would prove his reform efforts had taken hold. But if STAAR is a good measure of achievement, those gains haven’t materialized despite numerous changes in the district.

 

Miles, however, expressed optimism about the latest scores in a written statement Friday.

 

“The results indicate progress and stability in most of the exams compared with the previous year. … The modest gains of our STAAR results this year confirm how I have been describing our last three years of work: That our staff has been focused on establishing the foundation on which we can build,” said Miles, who came to DISD in July 2012.

 

Well, this is a new definition of progress. It is called “progress and stability” and “establishing the foundation.” Of course, there is always next year. Or the one after that one.

 

 

Josh Starr, as superintendent of Montgomery County, took a strong stand against high-stakes testing. He won national acclaim, including being named to the honor roll of this blog. Montgomery County has been a national model for its Peer Assistance and Review program for teacher evaluation, which does not include test scores. Despite all this, the Board did not renew his contract. Josh Starr recently became leader of Phi Delta Kappa International.

The school board has chosen Larry Bowers, the school system’s business manager, as its interim superintendent.

Meanwhile, Maryland–long a Democratic stronghold–elected a Republican governor, who recently appointed two people to the state board. They are, of course, supporters of charters and reformsters.

This comes from Michael Hynes, one of the best superintendents on Long Island, Néw York, epicenter of the Opt Out movement:

Public Schools Work- We Need to Focus Below the Iceberg

Everyone in American education hears the relentless and consistent criticism of our schools: Compared to schools in other nations, we come up short. But the evidence on which that judgment rests is narrow and very thin.

A January study released by the Horace Mann League and the National Superintendents Roundtable, “School Performance in Context: The Iceberg Effect,” challenges the practice of ranking nations by educational test scores and questions conventional wisdom that the U.S. educational system has fallen badly behind school systems abroad.

The study compared six dimensions related to student performance—equity, social stress, support for families, support for schools, student outcomes, and system outcomes—in the G-7 nations (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States) plus Finland and China. They then examined 24 “indicators” within those dimensions.
Of the nine nations, the United States remains the wealthiest with the most highly educated workforce, based on the number of years of school completed, and the proportion of adults with high school diplomas and bachelor’s degrees.

“Many policymakers and business leaders fret that America has fallen behind Europe and China, but our research does not bear that out,” said James Harvey, executive director of the National Superintendents Roundtable.
Despite high educational levels, the United States also reflects high levels of economic inequity and social stress compared to the other nations. All are related to student performance. For example, in American public schools today, the rate of childhood poverty is five times greater than it is in Finland. Rates of violent death are 13 times greater than the average for the other nations, with children in some communities reporting they have witnessed shootings, knifings, and beatings as “ordinary, everyday events.”

Some key findings:

• Economic Equity: The United States and China demonstrate the greatest gaps between rich and poor. The U.S. also contends with remarkably high rates of income inequality and childhood poverty.

• Social Stress: The U.S.reported the highest rates of violent death and teen pregnancy, and came in second for death rates from drug abuse. The U.S.is also one of the most diverse nations with many immigrant students, suggesting English may not be their first language.

• Support for Families: The U.S. performed in the lowest third on public spending for services that benefit children and families, including preschool.

• Support for Schools: Americans seem willing to invest in education: The U.S. leads the nine-nation group in spending per student, but the national estimates may not be truly comparable. U.S. teachers spend about 40 percent more time in the classroom than their peers in the comparison countries.

• Student Outcomes: Performance in American elementary schools is promising, while middle school performance can be improved. U.S. students excel in 4th grade reading and high school graduation rates, but perform less well in reading at age 15. There are no current studies comparing the performance of high school graduates across countries. All nations demonstrate an achievement gap based on students’ family income and socio-economic status.

• System Outcomes: The U.S. leads these nations in educational levels of its adult workforce. Measures included years of schooling completed and the proportion of adults with high-school diplomas and bachelor’s degrees. American students also make up 25 percent of the world’s top students in science at age 15, followed by Japan at 13 percent.

“Too often, we narrow our focus to a few things that can be easily tested. Treating education as a horse race doesn’t work,” said HML President Gary Marx.

American policymakers from both political parties have a history of relying on large, international assessments to judge United States’ school performance. In 2013, the press reported that American students were falling behind when compared to 61 other countries and a few cities including Shanghai. In that comparative assessment—called the Program for International Student Assessment—PISA controversially reported superior scores for Shanghai.

The study doesn’t oppose international assessments as one measure of performance. But it argues for the need to compare American schools with similar nations and on more than a single number from an international test. In a striking metaphor, the study defines test scores as just “tip of the school iceberg.”

A fair conclusion to reach from the study is that while all is not well in the American classroom, our schools are far from being the failure they are painted to be. Addressing serious school problems will require policymakers to do something about the huge part of the iceberg that lies below the waterline in terms of poverty and economic inequity, community stress, and support for families and schools. We must stop blaming public schools and demonizing educators. The problem is not at the tip of the iceberg, it is well below the surface.
**************************

Michael Hynes is the superintendent of the Patchogue-Medford School District and member of the National Superintendent’s Roundtable

Governor Mike Pence signed the bill to permit the state board to elect its own chair, which currently is the state superintendent Glenda Ritz. This nonsense is billed as a “reform.” The children of the state will learn more now that the board appoints the chair.

Of course, this is nothing more than a continuation of Pence’s vendetta against Ritz, who won more votes than he did in 2012.

Given that history, she is a natural candidate to run against him in 2016.

Go, Glenda!

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