Archives for category: Education Reform

Jeannie Kaplan decides it is time to rename “reform.” She thinks it should be called “Dataism,” as in a religious faith or political ideology connected to the worship of Data. She lives in Denver, where she served on the school board for two terse. She has seen corporate reform up close, and it was not pretty. It smelled of Data-ism.

She writes:

We all know education reform is all about DATA. Data is used to fire employees, data is used to rank and rate schools, data is used to close schools, data is used to open charter schools and other non-union schools, data is used to make budgetary decisions, data is used to produce chaos and churn, data is used to outsource and privatize. Data is everywhere. Education reform is all about DATA. DATA is the driving force of education “reform.” It has become the be-all and end-all of public education, the king and queen, prince and princess of public education. DATA and education “reform” are often synonymous but only when the actual DATA can be Ignored, Spun, Manipulated if it doesn’t show “reform” success (which is most of the time). DATAISM: where data is IGNORED, SPUN, or MANIPULATED to give false results to the public. DATAISM. What do you think?

Open the post to see which terms are highlighted or linked.

Sarah Karp, deputy editor of Catalyst, the invaluable magazine that covers education without fear or favor in Chicago, recently took a close look at the Chicago Public Education Fund. What she discovered is alarming.


She begins by looking at the federal investigation of the $20.5 million no-bid contract to a for-profit organization called SUPES to train leaders in the school system. Former CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett resigned because of the investigation, because she had some prior involvement with SUPES.


The relationship between the district and SUPES began when the Chicago Public Education Fund gave SUPES a contract for $380,000 to train network chiefs and their deputies. CPEF is not a target of the FBI investigation. Karp writes that the “larger question…isn’t about SUPES. It’s about the role of a privately financed foundation that is deeply entwined with a public school system.” As Karp writes, “No one outside The Fund’s staff and board of directors know how it decide which programs to support, what the results have been and how or whether the results are communicated to CPS.”


“It is worth noting that The Fund’s board is made up of some of the richest, most powerful people in Chicago—people with strong and definite opinions about the direction of CPS and including some of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s staunch supporters and campaign donors. “It would be difficult to assemble a board that screams 1 percent louder than (The Fund)—from the schools its members attended to jobs held to marriages made,” as Chicago Magazine’s Carol Felsenthal wrote in a column.


Gov. Bruce Rauner is a former board president. Current board members are billionaire Kenneth Griffin, Penny Pritzker and Susan Crown of the Crown family.


The only way to make sure that the voices of the well-connected don’t drown out the voices of parents and the general public is to have complete transparency in decision-making about public schools. The public has the right to know the costs and the results of initiatives taking place in our schools, with our children, teachers and principals.”


In recent years, The Fund has paid consultants to search for high-level positions in CPS. One consultant was paid $100,000 to find a Chief Financial Officer, who stayed only two years.


“In 2011, The Fund paid a consultant $100,000 to search for a chief financial officer; the man hired, Peter Rogers, only stayed for about two years. In 2012, The Fund paid three consulting companies — McKinsey & Company, Parthenon Group and Global Strategy Group — to do planning and marketing work for CPS.


The $1.5 million paid to Parthenon and McKinsey is particularly interesting. Parthenon helped CPS write the 2013 Request for Proposals for new schools.


McKinsey got the largest cut and was paid to provide data analytics and management support for the district’s 10-year master facilities plan—which was criticized for lacking detail—and to design the structure and duties for a new Office of Strategic Management, which analyzes trends, establishes school attendance areas and does long-term capital planning.


Todd Babbitz of McKinsey was hired to run the new office that McKinsey proposed; Babbitz “spearheaded the mass school closings in 2013.” Parents and community members complained bitterly about the school closings. But their voices were never heard. The CPS board, appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, listened to the consultants hired by the Chicago Public Education Fund.”


This is NOT democracy at work.





Paul Farhi, a veteran reporter at the Washington Post, wrote an article recently about Campbell Brown’s new “news site” called “The 74,” which is a vehicle for her ongoing campaign against teachers’ unions and tenure and for charters and vouchers. Brown, who has no experience as a teacher, scholar, or researcher, who attended a private high school (her own children attend a private religious school), has become the new face of the corporate reform movement since Michelle Rhee stepped out of the limelight. Last year, Farhi wrote about Brown’s transition from TV talking head to advocate for vouchers, charters, and the elimination of teacher tenure. (You will notice in the earlier article that Brown takes great umbrage to my having described her as telegenic and pretty; well, she IS telegenic and pretty, and I would be happy if anyone said that about me! I consider it a compliment.)

Farhi reports the funding behind “The 74″:

As it happens, Brown raised the funds for the Seventy Four from some of the biggest and wealthiest advocates of the restructuring that the Seventy Four appears to be espousing. The funders include the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies, all of which have opposed teachers unions and supported various school-privatization initiatives. (Her co-founder, Romy Drucker, was an education adviser to billionaire and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.)

This would be just another garden-variety profile of a controversial figure, but blogger Alexander Russo blasted Farhi as biased against Brown. Although Farhi does not quote another corporate reformer, he quotes Brown herself extensively. Russo questioned Farhi’s objectivity as a journalist. He complained that there was no outside voice supporting Brown, and that Farhi ended the article with skeptical quotes from Washington insider Jack Jennings and AFT President Randi Weingarten. Russo says that Farhi should have allowed Brown to respond to the critics, and he should have found “another outside voice — a journalist, academic, or education leader of some kind — to express support” for Brown. He also wrote that “the overview was inaccurate or misleading” by stating that Brown’s views are supported by conservative politicians and business interests.

In an earlier post, Russo candidly disclosed that he had hoped to join Campbell Brown’s “team,” but didn’t make the cut:

Disclosures: This blog is funded in part by Education Post, which shares several funders with The Seventy-Four. Last summer and Fall, I spoke with Brown and others on the team about partnering with them but nothing came of it.

The curious aspect of this particular flap is that Russo’s blog is jointly funded by the American Federation of Teachers and Education Post (which is funded by the Broad Foundation, the Bloomberg Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation).

Randi Weingarten tweeted:

Randi Weingarten (@rweingarten)
7/26/15, 1:14 PM
Russo’s criticism of Farhi is off base. Farhi’s piece is smart, effective journalism:…


Randi Weingarten (@rweingarten)
7/26/15, 3:27 PM
@alexanderrusso do u really believe Campbell Brown is no longer ideological or are u acting this way b/c of funding…

This article contains a wonderful video of the effect of music on elephants. As the article says, this is not the first time that elephants have shown reactions to music. It seems to calm them, to make them happy. Elephants are born to live in the wild, not cooped up in tiny spaces.



I saw this video the day after seeing a CNN special about men who were incarcerated and kept in solitary confinement, sometimes for years. All of them eventually began mutilating themselves and exhibiting behaviors that were defiant, aggressive, and almost animal-like. I would not suggest that classical music is the answer for those trapped in isolation cells. But there must be a better way to deal with people who have committed terrible crimes, other than to treat them the way we treat animals. Even animals deserve better treatment. We are inhumane to both.

The superintendents of the Philadelphia public schools, William Hite, is a graduate of the unaccredited Broad Superintendents Academy. The BSA is a major proponent of charter schools, and a major critic of public schools, which it considers to be failing, failing, failing.


Superintendent Hite has filled up the top administrative jobs of the public school system with veterans of the charter school movement.


Guess that is what he learned as a Broadie.

Professor Janet D. Johnson and Brittany A. Richer of Rhode Island College surveyed teachers in the state about their reactions to PARCC, the federally funded test of Common Core standards. Their goal was to allow teachers to voice their assessment of the assessments.

The study can be found here.

Teachers are the experts when it comes to teaching and learning. See what they say.

New York State Commissioner MaryEllen Elia–only two weeks on the job–took a hard line with Buffalo public schools. She warned that the district had a year to “fix” their schools or she would take them over and put them in receivership.

“If there was any question how serious the state is about taking control of Buffalo’s schools, new Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia made clear her intentions to Buffalo School Board members late last week.

“Rest assured,” she told them in a meeting in Buffalo,“that if the schools do not show demonstrable improvement, someone will come in under my authority and fix those schools.”

“The state Education Department already is taking steps to do just that.

“A year from now, five Buffalo schools are headed for a takeover by someone outside the district.

“Twenty more city schools are on the same path for the following year.

“At that point, the state has within its power to place any city school it deems failing in the hands of someone outside the district. And as it stands now, just 15 of the district’s 56 schools are in good standing with the state.

“That means, unless significant improvement is made in student performance, someone other than the Buffalo superintendent or School Board will be in charge of nearly half of Buffalo’s public schools in just a couple of years.

“When Elia demanded that the School Board fix the city schools or she would act, she was referring to a new state law that allows for the appointment of receivers who would have unprecedented powers to make sweeping changes at failing schools.”

New York State has a bad record taking over schools. In 2002, the state took over the segregated Roosevelt School District. It failed to improve the schools or reduce their deficit.

The Network for Public Education will hold its third annual conference in Raleigh, North Carolina.


We chose Raleigh to highlight the tremendous activist movement that is flourishing in North Carolina. No one exemplifies that movement better than the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, who will be the conference keynote speaker. Rev. Barber is the current president of the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP, the National NAACP chair of the Legislative Political Action Committee, and the founder of Moral Mondays.

You can read about the history of Moral Mondays in this great piece in the Nation.

The Moral Monday protests transformed North Carolina politics in 2013, building a multiracial, multi-issue movement centered around social justice such as the South hadn’t seen since the 1960s. “We have come to say to the extremists, who ignore the common good and have chosen the low road, your actions have worked in reverse,” said Reverend William Barber II, president of the North Carolina NAACP and the leader of the Moral Monday movement, in his boisterous keynote speech. “You may have thought you were going to discourage us, but instead you have encouraged us. The more you push us back, the more we will fight to go forward. The more you try to oppress us, the more you will inspire us.”

Please save the date and plan to join us as we bring together activists from across the nation to build resistance to privatization and punitive, high-stakes testing.

A reader called NY Educator has analyzed the list of “failing schools,” assembled in response to Governor Cuomo’s budget mandates.

He or she writes as a comment:

“I’ve worked up a lot of data on the 178 schools on Cuomo’s “hit list” of “failing schools.” They are, on average 93% minority, in contrast to 54% statewide minority.

“They enroll on average 86% economically disadvantaged students, in comparison to 53% statewide.

“On average 16% of their students are English language learners. State average is 8% (charter average is 5%).

“On average, 23% of their students have disabilities, compared to an average of 16% statewide and only 14% in the state’s charter schools.

“These schools are intensely segregated and, in dozens of cases reflect “apartheid segregation” (99%-100% minority). [I am uncertain of the origin of the term apartheid segregation–I know Jonathan Kozol uses it, but it may have been initiated by Gary Orfield.]

“The schools serve tens of thousands of very high need students, including high school students who just can’t finish 22 credits and five exams in four years because they are enrolled in non-credit bearing classes like beginning English and Resource Room. When they graduate in 5 or 6 years it doesn’t matter . . . because only the four year graduation rate counts.

The state assessments in 3-8 ELA and math discriminate against these students. The number and percent of minority, economically disadvantaged, ELL and SWD students scoring at level 1 and 2 are disproportionate and the most recent changes in tests and scoring (beginning in 2013) profoundly exacerbated these gaps.

“I would argue that the explosion of achievement gaps is in fact discriminatory and unconstitutional. Are there any good lawyers out that who can help me put together an argument that it is unconstitutional to 1) perpetuate intense and apartheid segregation in NY schools 2) assess children and hold schools accountable according to measures that can be demonstrated to have discriminatory impact 3) having isolated and targeted these schools and communities in a discriminatory fashion, now subject the schools to harsh measures including (if they are converted to charters) removing them from the democratic control of their communities? And making the institution of “school” itself nothing but a grand money laundering scheme to convert public, taxpayer dollars into private profit???

“It is unconscionable that children, families, educators and communities must now suffer the “beating” that will come with the “carrot and stick” part of state intervention.”

Just to demonstrate how strange the politics of education are these days, one of the key amendments to the Senate “Every Child Achieves Act” was called the Murphy amendment. It failed. It would have revived or worsened the punishments of NCLB. It main supporters were Democrats. Mercedes Schneider describes this amendment (and others) in this post. Schneider writes: “Senator Murphy’s (D-CT) amendment 2241 (which Warren co-sponsored) went up for a vote and was rejected 43-54. The 12-page text of Murphy’s SA 2241 reads more like No Child Left Behind (NCLB), with its detailed prescription for reporting on student test results, for “meaningfully differentiating among all public schools” (i.e., grading schools), including publicly identifying the lowest five percent, and, among interventions, potentially firing staff and offering students the option to transfer to other schools and using part of the budget to pay for the transportation.”

This amendment would have enacted tough, federal-mandated accountability, akin to setting up an “achievement school district” in every state.

Here is the roll call vote. Almost every Democrat voted yes, almost every Republican voted no. The amendment failed by 54-43.

See how your senators voted.

U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 114th Congress – 1st Session
as compiled through Senate LIS by the Senate Bill Clerk under the direction of the Secretary of the Senate
Vote Summary
Question: On the Amendment (Murphy Amdt. No. 2241 )
Vote Number: 241 Vote Date: July 15, 2015, 04:29 PM
Required For Majority: 3/5 Vote Result: Amendment Rejected
Amendment Number: S.Amdt. 2241 to S.Amdt. 2089 to S. 1177 (Every Child Achieves Act of 2015)
Statement of Purpose: To amend the accountability provisions.
Vote Counts: YEAs 43
NAYs 54
Not Voting 3
Vote Summary By Senator Name By Vote Position By Home State
Alphabetical by Senator Name
Alexander (R-TN), Nay
Ayotte (R-NH), Nay
Baldwin (D-WI), Yea
Barrasso (R-WY), Nay
Bennet (D-CO), Yea
Blumenthal (D-CT), Yea
Blunt (R-MO), Nay
Booker (D-NJ), Yea
Boozman (R-AR), Nay
Boxer (D-CA), Yea
Brown (D-OH), Yea
Burr (R-NC), Nay
Cantwell (D-WA), Yea
Capito (R-WV), Nay
Cardin (D-MD), Yea
Carper (D-DE), Yea
Casey (D-PA), Yea
Cassidy (R-LA), Nay
Coats (R-IN), Nay
Cochran (R-MS), Nay
Collins (R-ME), Nay
Coons (D-DE), Yea
Corker (R-TN), Nay
Cornyn (R-TX), Nay
Cotton (R-AR), Nay
Crapo (R-ID), Nay
Cruz (R-TX), Not Voting
Daines (R-MT), Nay
Donnelly (D-IN), Yea
Durbin (D-IL), Yea
Enzi (R-WY), Nay
Ernst (R-IA), Nay
Feinstein (D-CA), Yea
Fischer (R-NE), Nay
Flake (R-AZ), Nay
Franken (D-MN), Yea
Gardner (R-CO), Nay
Gillibrand (D-NY), Yea
Graham (R-SC), Not Voting
Grassley (R-IA), Nay
Hatch (R-UT), Nay
Heinrich (D-NM), Yea
Heitkamp (D-ND), Yea
Heller (R-NV), Nay
Hirono (D-HI), Yea
Hoeven (R-ND), Nay
Inhofe (R-OK), Nay
Isakson (R-GA), Nay
Johnson (R-WI), Nay
Kaine (D-VA), Yea
King (I-ME), Nay
Kirk (R-IL), Nay
Klobuchar (D-MN), Yea
Lankford (R-OK), Nay
Leahy (D-VT), Yea
Lee (R-UT), Nay
Manchin (D-WV), Yea
Markey (D-MA), Yea
McCain (R-AZ), Nay
McCaskill (D-MO), Yea
McConnell (R-KY), Nay
Menendez (D-NJ), Yea
Merkley (D-OR), Yea
Mikulski (D-MD), Yea
Moran (R-KS), Nay
Murkowski (R-AK), Nay
Murphy (D-CT), Yea
Murray (D-WA), Yea
Nelson (D-FL), Not Voting
Paul (R-KY), Nay
Perdue (R-GA), Nay
Peters (D-MI), Yea
Portman (R-OH), Yea
Reed (D-RI), Yea
Reid (D-NV), Yea
Risch (R-ID), Nay
Roberts (R-KS), Nay
Rounds (R-SD), Nay
Rubio (R-FL), Nay
Sanders (I-VT), Yea
Sasse (R-NE), Nay
Schatz (D-HI), Yea
Schumer (D-NY), Yea
Scott (R-SC), Nay
Sessions (R-AL), Nay
Shaheen (D-NH), Nay
Shelby (R-AL), Nay
Stabenow (D-MI), Yea
Sullivan (R-AK), Nay
Tester (D-MT), Nay
Thune (R-SD), Nay
Tillis (R-NC), Nay
Toomey (R-PA), Nay
Udall (D-NM), Yea
Vitter (R-LA), Nay
Warner (D-VA), Yea
Warren (D-MA), Yea
Whitehouse (D-RI), Yea
Wicker (R-MS), Nay
Wyden (D-OR), Yea
Vote Summary By Senator Name By Vote Position By Home State
Grouped By Vote Position
YEAs —43
Baldwin (D-WI)
Bennet (D-CO)
Blumenthal (D-CT)
Booker (D-NJ)
Boxer (D-CA)
Brown (D-OH)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Cardin (D-MD)
Carper (D-DE)
Casey (D-PA)
Coons (D-DE)
Donnelly (D-IN)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Franken (D-MN)
Gillibrand (D-NY)
Heinrich (D-NM)
Heitkamp (D-ND)
Hirono (D-HI)
Kaine (D-VA)
Klobuchar (D-MN)
Leahy (D-VT)
Manchin (D-WV)
Markey (D-MA)
McCaskill (D-MO)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Merkley (D-OR)
Mikulski (D-MD)
Murphy (D-CT)
Murray (D-WA)
Peters (D-MI)
Portman (R-OH)
Reed (D-RI)
Reid (D-NV)
Sanders (I-VT)
Schatz (D-HI)
Schumer (D-NY)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Udall (D-NM)
Warner (D-VA)
Warren (D-MA)
Whitehouse (D-RI)
Wyden (D-OR)
NAYs —54
Alexander (R-TN)
Ayotte (R-NH)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Blunt (R-MO)
Boozman (R-AR)
Burr (R-NC)
Capito (R-WV)
Cassidy (R-LA)
Coats (R-IN)
Cochran (R-MS)
Collins (R-ME)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Cotton (R-AR)
Crapo (R-ID)
Daines (R-MT)
Enzi (R-WY)
Ernst (R-IA)
Fischer (R-NE)
Flake (R-AZ)
Gardner (R-CO)
Grassley (R-IA)
Hatch (R-UT)
Heller (R-NV)
Hoeven (R-ND)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johnson (R-WI)
King (I-ME)
Kirk (R-IL)
Lankford (R-OK)
Lee (R-UT)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Moran (R-KS)
Murkowski (R-AK)
Paul (R-KY)
Perdue (R-GA)
Risch (R-ID)
Roberts (R-KS)
Rounds (R-SD)
Rubio (R-FL)
Sasse (R-NE)
Scott (R-SC)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shaheen (D-NH)
Shelby (R-AL)
Sullivan (R-AK)
Tester (D-MT)
Thune (R-SD)
Tillis (R-NC)
Toomey (R-PA)
Vitter (R-LA)
Wicker (R-MS)
Not Voting – 3
Cruz (R-TX)
Graham (R-SC)
Nelson (D-FL)
Vote Summary By Senator Name By Vote Position By Home State
Grouped by Home State
Alabama: Sessions (R-AL), Nay Shelby (R-AL), Nay
Alaska: Murkowski (R-AK), Nay Sullivan (R-AK), Nay
Arizona: Flake (R-AZ), Nay McCain (R-AZ), Nay
Arkansas: Boozman (R-AR), Nay Cotton (R-AR), Nay
California: Boxer (D-CA), Yea Feinstein (D-CA), Yea
Colorado: Bennet (D-CO), Yea Gardner (R-CO), Nay
Connecticut: Blumenthal (D-CT), Yea Murphy (D-CT), Yea
Delaware: Carper (D-DE), Yea Coons (D-DE), Yea
Florida: Nelson (D-FL), Not Voting Rubio (R-FL), Nay
Georgia: Isakson (R-GA), Nay Perdue (R-GA), Nay
Hawaii: Hirono (D-HI), Yea Schatz (D-HI), Yea
Idaho: Crapo (R-ID), Nay Risch (R-ID), Nay
Illinois: Durbin (D-IL), Yea Kirk (R-IL), Nay
Indiana: Coats (R-IN), Nay Donnelly (D-IN), Yea
Iowa: Ernst (R-IA), Nay Grassley (R-IA), Nay
Kansas: Moran (R-KS), Nay Roberts (R-KS), Nay
Kentucky: McConnell (R-KY), Nay Paul (R-KY), Nay
Louisiana: Cassidy (R-LA), Nay Vitter (R-LA), Nay
Maine: Collins (R-ME), Nay King (I-ME), Nay
Maryland: Cardin (D-MD), Yea Mikulski (D-MD), Yea
Massachusetts: Markey (D-MA), Yea Warren (D-MA), Yea
Michigan: Peters (D-MI), Yea Stabenow (D-MI), Yea
Minnesota: Franken (D-MN), Yea Klobuchar (D-MN), Yea
Mississippi: Cochran (R-MS), Nay Wicker (R-MS), Nay
Missouri: Blunt (R-MO), Nay McCaskill (D-MO), Yea
Montana: Daines (R-MT), Nay Tester (D-MT), Nay
Nebraska: Fischer (R-NE), Nay Sasse (R-NE), Nay
Nevada: Heller (R-NV), Nay Reid (D-NV), Yea
New Hampshire: Ayotte (R-NH), Nay Shaheen (D-NH), Nay
New Jersey: Booker (D-NJ), Yea Menendez (D-NJ), Yea
New Mexico: Heinrich (D-NM), Yea Udall (D-NM), Yea
New York: Gillibrand (D-NY), Yea Schumer (D-NY), Yea
North Carolina: Burr (R-NC), Nay Tillis (R-NC), Nay
North Dakota: Heitkamp (D-ND), Yea Hoeven (R-ND), Nay
Ohio: Brown (D-OH), Yea Portman (R-OH), Yea
Oklahoma: Inhofe (R-OK), Nay Lankford (R-OK), Nay
Oregon: Merkley (D-OR), Yea Wyden (D-OR), Yea
Pennsylvania: Casey (D-PA), Yea Toomey (R-PA), Nay
Rhode Island: Reed (D-RI), Yea Whitehouse (D-RI), Yea
South Carolina: Graham (R-SC), Not Voting Scott (R-SC), Nay
South Dakota: Rounds (R-SD), Nay Thune (R-SD), Nay
Tennessee: Alexander (R-TN), Nay Corker (R-TN), Nay
Texas: Cornyn (R-TX), Nay Cruz (R-TX), Not Voting
Utah: Hatch (R-UT), Nay Lee (R-UT), Nay
Vermont: Leahy (D-VT), Yea Sanders (I-VT), Yea
Virginia: Kaine (D-VA), Yea Warner (D-VA), Yea
Washington: Cantwell (D-WA), Yea Murray (D-WA), Yea
West Virginia: Capito (R-WV), Nay Manchin (D-WV), Yea
Wisconsin: Baldwin (D-WI), Yea Johnson (R-WI), Nay
Wyoming: Barrasso (R-WY), Nay Enzi (R-WY), Nay
Vote Summary By Senator Name By Vote Position By Home State


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