Archives for category: Klein, Joel

Phil Cullen writes The Treehorn Express in Australia. He regularly reports on that nation’s slavish copying of the worst American ideas, especially testing and accountability. The Australian national testing program is called NAPLAN.

FELLOW EDUCATORS : Please send this along to people in schools as extensively as you can. Those who already do…..thanks from Treehorn and the other kids.

The Treehorn Express

http://treehornexpress.wordpress.com

Teacher Proofing

USA has a penchant for branding and packaging things as neatly as possible. As far as schooling is concerned, a canny money-hungry educator can extract bits from the regular school curriculum, invent a catchy vogue-word to describe what-ever-it-is that needs attention, then wrap the contents up and peddle it to the gullible. Bingo! Legs 11 ! Holidays at Waikiki. If it cannot be wrapped up, it is branded and sold in bulk…. as ‘Models’….. by sweet-talking peddlers at conferences and seminars;…. and cocktail parties..

This comes as little surprise when it is a fact of life that schooling in America is owned and dominated by well-heeled corporate plutocrats., whose political influence in the other three English-speaking GERM countries is becoming as extensive as it is in the old US of A. The teacher-proofing edubusiness is big time and is exercised in many forms. Its enormity and influence is far, far more extensive than the ordinary Michael Dundee Aussie would believe.

Sage educators in the UK and in NZ don’t usually do this. Despite the heavy hand of neoconservatism that all countries share, they have always tended to treat teaching as a noble profession that actually pupils [aka teaches] children according to each child’s frame of reference. The child is the package. The teacher’s role in the act of teaching and evaluating and moving ahead is total. Unsubstantiated, untested, unprofessional, gimmicky quackery stops at the classroom door of their lively learning centres, where the child is treated as the centre of the universe and its performance is judged by its interest in learning. Diagnosis and evaluation is part of each activity. A school’s reputation is based on the way it treats children. If parents want to know about the best school around, they go to a reliable source…..the shopping centre…get the real deal……certainly not to unreliable, crooked test results, used by the unwitty for comparative purposes..

Of the four English-speaking, politically-controlled education systems – the GERM countries – Australia religiously follows what the USA does; no matter what… blindly as a rule. It’s all high stakes data-laden emotion-free performance-testing stuff which Americans love. Aussie unemotional, couldn’t-care-less, morally corrupt testucators now use it without second thought. Bugger the feelings of kids. Obediently, we followed the ‘Kleinist Model’ holus-bolus, called it NAPLAN, and continue to maintain its demonic philosophies with the sternest controls possible…. Iraq-like.

How many of us teachers have tried and become enthused – for a while – by some such package, only to find that the package takes over the teaching? Precious school time is devoted to completion times and corrections while our own professional judgement and modes of evaluating take a back seat? In ancient times, I was an SRA structured reading and IMP specialist. Mea culpa. I hope such indiscretions are forgivable.

How often have we been seduced by brand names for special movements and innovations; and have crossed swords with colleagues until things settled down and the next craze came along? We have discoursed about…. open and traditional…. phonics and whole-word….new maths and maths…persuasive and traditional…..child-centred and subject centred….composite and multi-aged….charter and mainstream…..education and testucation….child-based and didactic….?

There is a new list on the way from up-above…..data-driven instruction, blended learning, differential learning, closing the achievement and talent gap, student-centric instruction, yap, yap. Makes one ever wonder what ever happened to classroom teaching as a descriptor?

In America it is said: “Schools nationwide continue to adopt student-centric instructional models that use data to empower teachers and engage learners. Data-driven instruction has moved beyond the education-buzzword sphere to educators’ daily lexicon.” So, Kleinism aka Naplanism is now permanently embedded in many of that nation’s schools…..more so in ours. The article continues : “In this ASCD Smartbrief Special Report, we provide a round-up of news about recent trends in data-driven instruction, blended learning and stories about how some schools are preparing the next generation of data scientists.” Getting everybody ready to be rocket scientists! Thinkers and learners?

Read this? ……some schools in Utah have lengthened the school day from six-and-a-half hours to eight to cope with data collection and marking. There is a national lobby for longer school hours. “The National Center on Time & Learning (NCTL) is dedicated to expanding learning time to improve student achievement and enable a well-rounded education. Through research, public policy and technical assistance, we support national, state and local initiatives that add significantly more school time for academic and enrichment opportunities to help children meet the demands of the 21st century.” [Using didactic instruction for eight hours per day shouldn’t be very exhausting, compared to three or four hours of serious teaching, should it? Good idea?]

Whatever happened to test-free composite-strategy teaching ? [That’s a new vogue word that I just invented to keep up with the Yanks]

The sorts of initiatives that we have imported [e.g. charter schools] and embedded in the data-laden environment of NAPLAN and its hellfire cobbers are a serious threat to our future. Such restrictions to serious school learning will continue (“The whippings will continue until morale increases” policy. ) in Australia while we continue to adopt the American mind-set. Schools in Australia are not run by teachers any more, but by remote control.

Political control of national testing programs is the most successful method of isolating teachers from effective teaching known to mankind; and that kind of conditioning suits the package-deal spirit of teacher-proofing.

Coercion always induces low level acceptance of a profession as a profession, so the outcome is that better teachers are quitting; neophytes with potential don’t last long; and better-quality applicants don’t want to join the profession because of our leaders’ grossly unprofessional attitude to children and their teachers. Make no mistake. This is a critical issue.

The Deseret News of Salt Lake City makes this point following an America of the future conference: “The level of despondency within the profession is too high for our future to be safe. A fairly dispiriting conversation, to be sure, but the response to the host’s penultimate question left me feeling downright sad at first, and, then, upon reflection, a bit confused. Replying to the query ‘Do you think the quality of teaching will decline in the years to come?’ each panellist explained her sense that the profession and, thus, the state of education were in decline. To paraphrase the veteran teacher of the group, ‘I’ve encountered many great teachers in my years in the profession, but it’s getting harder and harder for these folks to hold on. At the same time, it’s getting more difficult to attract new people into teaching.’ Listening to that assessment about a core element —the core element?— of our public education system, how can you not become despondent?”

With the teacher-proofing of Australian schools based on the American MODEL, how can we not feel even more despondent down under? Let’s bring the child back into the equation, get rid of the rubbish and start TEACHING. {PLEASE NOTE. Those teachers who fly in the face of the coercion and teach without reliance on data…..please hang in there. The kids need you.}
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cphilcullen@bigpond.com

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Phil Cullen {…..kids and their teachers first} 41 Cominan Avenue Banora Point 2486 Australia 07 5524 6443 0407865999 cphilcullen@bigpond.com
http://primaryschooling.net/ http://kelleyandcullen.net/ http://qldpriaryprincipals.wordpress.com

Over the past dozen years, former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his schools’ chancellor Joel Klein had total control of the New York City school system. The Mayor controlled the “school board,” which dared not ever vote no. They could do whatever they wanted, and their PR team cranked out press release after press release. The news of the “New York City miracle” spread around the world, buoyed by phenomenal test score gains every year. Australia and other nations swallowed the story whole.

When the New York State Education Department admitted that the test scores had been manipulated by lowering the passing mark, the city switched its success story: now the “miracle” was soaring graduation rates.

But all the while, the Department of Education was closing schools with low scores, opening new schools, and warehousing low-scoring students in schools that sooner or later would also be closed. Schools opened, schools closed. She’ll game.

Now the New York Post tells the story of what was once a well-regarded high school that was turned into a dumping ground. After the Post wrote about Murray Bergtraum High School as a failure factory–a school that is within sight of the New York City Department of Education headquarters, at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge–students at the school wrote letters of complaint to the Post. The letters were filled with errors of grammar and syntax. The Post took this as evidence of a failed school system. The letters are indeed evidence of the quality of the school system where these students spent 11 or 12 years.

If they graduate, it will be a triumph of “credit recovery,” which the DOE encouraged to boost the graduation rate.

Conclusions: there was no New York City miracle. Judging school quality by graduation rates encourages credit recovery and fraud. What’s needed most now is a Truth Commission to sweep away false claims and to establish a record unsullied by boasting and pretense. It is not likely to happen, unfortunately, given that the de Blasio administration wants to ease quietly into a new and better world, without publicly airing the dirty laundry left behind. More revelations like this one, however, and the truth will out.

The principal of PS 106 in Far Rockaway, now in the news for its lack of curriculum or books, is a graduate of New York City’s vaunted Leadership Academy.

When Joel Klein took charge of the New York City schools in 2002, one of his earliest “reforms” was the creation of the Leadership Academy, a fast-track program for new principals. Originally, it was funded for three years with $75 million from the business community. Its inspiration was Jack Welch, the legendary tough guy from GE, who sometimes gave speeches to LA recruits and imbued them with his philosophy of stack-ranking and firing the bottom 10% of workers.

In the “bad old days,” pre-Klein and Bloomberg, educators became principal by first spending several years as classroom teachers, then several years as assistant principal. Only after they had deep experience were they eligible to apply for the important job of principal.

Klein had no regard for experience in education; he possibly thought it was a handicap that locked educators into old ways of thinking. It was innovation he wanted, so the Leadership Academy was created. Its first CEO was a businessman from Colorado who brought his large staff with him and commuted to Denver on weekends. When he left after a few years, the program was handed over to a professor at Baruch College who taught leadership classes but had never been a principal. Joel Klein was chairman of the board of the Leadership Academy.

After the three years were over, the Department of Education had a competitive bidding process for an organization to run leadership training, and–wonder of wonders–the Leadership Academy won $50 million for five years.

Meanwhile, the pre-Klein educators scoffed at graduates of the Leadership Academy. Some schools and districts were told they had to hire them. To career educators, their lack of experience was a minus, not a plus. Imagine how assistant principals with a dozen or more years in the system reacted when they learned that their new principal had been a teacher for only one or two or three years.

Yet, outside of New York City, the Bloomberg PR machine told about the amazing principals its Leadership Academy created in only one year. Other districts and states began copycat programs.

In the dying days of the Bloomberg administration, the Leadership Academy got a new contract for $45 million.

Marc Epstein taught at Jamaica High School in Queens, New York City, for many years. The school is under a death sentence, which means the end of many programs that served children with different needs. Here he makes a plea to Mayor de Blasio to save some of the doomed schools.

A De Blasio Clemency?

 

 

This is the time of year that governors and the president issue pardons and clemencies.  They are issued to prisoners who have either been exemplary citizens during their incarceration or set free because extenuating circumstances indicate that their punishment didn’t fit the crime.

 

Mayors aren’t granted this kind of executive power, but this year Bill De Blasio does have the executive power to call a halt to the systematic elimination of several of New York’s comprehensive high schools that have had their fate sealed by Michael Bloomberg’s school closing policy.

 

Ostensibly, these school closings were to result in improved student performance in small schools that were placed within buildings occupied by the traditional high schools. It was an idea hatched by Bill Gates, an idea that he abandoned long ago.

 

In the waning days of his mayoralty, Bloomberg has embarked on a citywide tour, touting his legacy.  The papers have dutifully transmitted City Hall’s talking points, with hardly a demurral finding its way onto the printed page.

 

The Wall Street Journal’s 3,000 word “Bloomberg Reshaped The City” article credited the record high 60% high school graduation to Bloomberg’s stewardship of the schools and politely left out the inconvenient statistic that shows a record high number of New York’s high school graduates are unprepared for college and require remedial courses in math and English.

 

In an interview with Joel Klein, Bloomberg’s schools chancellor for over 10 years, that appeared in the Scholastic Administrator, Klein expressed his hope that the next schools chancellor will continue Bloomberg’s education legacy.

 

If only Mayor De Blasio will pick “someone who is committed to building on the progress of the last 11- plus years,” Klein’s tenure won’t have been in vain, at least according to Klein.

 

If that should be the case, we should prepare for record numbers of meaningless diplomas, more school closings, an unstable teacher work force, and a school system where academic apartheid defines education opportunity.

 

Record numbers of students now use mass transportation to get to the “school of their choice.” Why have 250,000 students using mass transit when many of them could walk to school instead, is a question that has gone unasked and unanswered by reporters and politicians for over a decade.

 

The community has been de-coupled from the neighborhood high school, because hardly a neighborhood high school exists anymore. The result is that parental participation suffers, after-school activities suffer, and the community suffers.

 

A record number of students attend boutique schools that screen their applicants.  I estimate that close to 10% of the seats available to high school students are now reserved for these students.  Most of these students used to help make up the population of the traditional high schools.

 

When Jamaica High School was handed its death warrant, the Department of Education, fearing a backlash from parents who simply didn’t buy the line that Jamaica was a failed school, cleverly carved a Gateway School out of the Gateway program that had existed in Jamaica for about 20 years.

And then, miracle of miracles, the new Gateway High School received an “A” on its report card!

 

Is there a serious argument that can be made for a public policy that is perpetually closing and reopening school houses because they are “failed”?

We’ve all heard of the Amityville Horror, but does that mean we should treat the schoolhouse as we would a haunted house?  But if closing and opening hundreds of schools is the new normal, we’d do better to hire Shinto priests to exorcise the evil spirits in these buildings rather than renaming and re-staffing them.

 

Our lowest performing students usually carry baggage that includes unstable home life, poor to no healthcare, limited language skills, and physical impoverishment. 

 

If instead of further destabilizing their school environment, Mayor Bloomberg had thrown his energy and resources into creating schools along the “Comer Model,” he might actually have had something to show to the public. 

 

The Comer school model developed by Dr. James P. Comer at the Yale Child Study Center has been around for close to fifty years and has a proven track record in addressing the problems of low achieving students in the inner city. But the lure of the well-meaning philanthropist with no expertise proved irresistible.

 

Instead, we are left with the tired litany of the teachers and union as villains, and the mayor and his minions as heroic for taking them on. But beneath the surface Bloomberg has created a highly segregated school system that keeps the disadvantaged far away from the middle classes and the upwardly mobile.

 

If Mayor De Blasio wants to reverse this death spiral, he’d do well to grant clemency to schools like Jamaica High School and Beach Channel High School and give them the resources they need to make them work for the children and their communities.

 

In their heyday comprehensive high schools included students who were on multiple career paths. There were differentiated diplomas and a multiplicity of choices. The students might not have attended all the same classes together, but they played on the same teams, shared the same teachers, and developed mutual respect for one another.

 

Inexplicably that has been destroyed, and instead of these students existing side by side with each other in the same community, they live and learn as peoples apart.

 

When this consideration is no longer a part of our education system we all become impoverished.  Clemency is one way to begin turning this around.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In an article in the New York Times magazine, Joel Klein asserted that his company’s products were needed because spending on education had doubled in recent decades had doubled but achievement remained flat. This assertion was wrong but went unchallenged.

In this article, Richard Rothstein of the Economic Policy Institute sets the record straight.

The New York Times magazine has a long article by Carlo Rotella about the first trial of the Amplify tablet in the schools of Guilford County, North Carolina. Amplify is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation and run by Joel Klein, the former chancellor of the NewYork City public schools.

Klein is certain that public education in America is a disaster and the only things that can save it are disruptive technology and the Common Core. Those are the same recommendations made by the task force Klein co-chaired for the Council on Foreign Relations last year.

Happily for Murdoch, Klein, and other apostles of saving the schools by selling technology to them, they have a friend in Arne Duncan. He is quoted as follows:

“To keep doing the same thing we’ve been doing for the past hundred years — everybody working on the same thing at the same time, not based on competency. . . .” He sighed and let the thought trail off, then added his standard reminder that we must equip our students to compete with counterparts in India and China. He did acknowledge, though, that the fear of falling behind puts added pressure on school systems to do something, anything, which then makes them more vulnerable to rushed decisions and to peddlers of magic bullets. “There are a lot of hucksters out there,” he said.

“Duncan, whose longtime allies include Joel Klein, Bill Gates and other apostles of disruption, has a record of supporting reforms that increase the role of market forces — choice, competition, the profit motive — in education. He wants private enterprises vying to make money by providing innovative educational products and services, and sees his role as “taking to scale the best practices” that emerge from this contest.”

One of the trainers of teachers uses a phrase that we have now heard about a million times , meaning that we are experimenting on you and don’t know how things will turn out: “Another PLEF, Wenalyn Bell, told her group, “It’s like building a plane while it’s flying.”

Rotella retains a healthy skepticism. He knows that Los Angeles laid off teachers while it spent big bucks to buy iPads.

He ends with these observations from his last interview with Klein.

“Take Finland,” Klein continued, citing everyone’s favorite example of a country that puts its money on excellent teachers, not technology, and routinely finishes at the top in international assessments. “There’s a high barrier for entry into the teaching profession,” the kind that lets in the Robin Britts and keeps out weaker aspirants. Teachers there are also well paid, held in high esteem and trusted to get results without being forced to teach to the test. But America’s educational system is a lot bigger, messier, less centralized and more focused on market-based solutions than Finland’s. Also, our greater income inequality and thinner social safety net make for much wider variation in student performance, and a toxic political climate has encouraged our traditional low regard for teachers to flower into outright contempt.

“Still, if everyone agrees that good teachers make all the difference, wouldn’t it make more sense to devote our resources to strengthening the teaching profession with better recruitment, training, support and pay? It seems misguided to try to improve the process of learning by putting an expensive tool in the hands of teachers we otherwise treat like the poor relations of the high-tech whiz kids who design the tool.

“Are our overwhelmed, besieged, haphazardly recruited, variably trained, underpaid, not-so-elite teachers, in fact, the potential weak link in Amplify’s bid to disrupt American schooling? Klein said that we have 3.5 million elementary- and middle-school teachers. “We have to put the work of the most brilliant people in their hands,” he said. “If we don’t empower them, it won’t work.” Behind the talking points and buzz words, what I heard him saying was Yes.”

Aaron Pallas is one of the wisest education scholars in New York, and therefore (as we New Yorkers all believe) in the world.

He consistently brings a fresh perspective to the unfolding drama and spectacle that is now U.S. education.

And he is one of the few academics willing to enter the arena and engage with current events.

That is one of the clear benefits of tenure.

In this post, Pallas says that he predicted--with uncanny accuracy–how proficiency rates would change as a result of the Common Core tests.

He also notes the incomprehensible glee with which Joel Klein and Mayor Bloomberg reacted to the news that only one in five students of color are considered “proficient” after a full decade of their policies.

As he observes, Mayor Bloomberg sees everything on his watch as good news, whether scores go up, stay the same, or go down.

Pallas writes:

Here’s the dirty little secret: no one truly understands the numbers. We are behaving as though the sorting of students into four proficiency categories based on a couple of days of tests tells us something profound about our schools, our teachers and our children. There are many links in the chain of inference that can carry us from those few days in April to claims about the health of our school system or the effectiveness of our teachers. And many of those links have yet to be scrutinized.

Does Mayor Bloomberg understand the numbers? Perhaps he’d care to share with us the percentage of children in each grade who ran out of time and didn’t attempt all of the test items, and the consequences of that for students’ scores. Or how well the pattern of students’ answers fit the complex psychometric models used to estimate a student’s proficiency. Or how precisely a child’s scale score measures his or her performance. Or how many test items had to be discarded because they didn’t work the way they were intended. Or what fraction of the Common Core standards was included on this year’s English and math tests—and what was left out.

These are just some of the factors in the production of the proficiency rates that have been the subject of so much attention. And the properties of the test are just one link in the chain.

Hmmm. When no one understands the numbers, not the Mayor who is in charge of the schools, not the scholars who study the schools, not the State Education Department, no one: What does that mean?

 

This morning the New York Times published a lengthy defense of the Common Core standards by Bill Keller, previously executive editor of the paper.

Keller asserts that opposition to the Common Core comes from extremists on the far-right fringe. (He does say that there are critics on the left, and adds a link to my blog, but not to the post explaining my reasons for not supporting the Common Core.  My main reason: They have never been field tested and we have no evidence how they will work and whether they will do what they claim, and what their effects will be on real children in real classrooms).

Please take the time to read Keller’s article and add a comment, if you are so moved.

Susan Ohanian went postal when she read Keller’s article.

She titles her response: “Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire: War on the New York Times Embrace of the Common Core.”

She begins thus:

“Well, at least New York Times editorial remains consistent, proving once again that you can lead a reporter to evidence but can’t make him think. Keller was executive editor at the New York Times from 2003–2011, where he was a leading supporter of the Iraq invasion. Although he has since returned to his status as writer, he remains infected by the Times editorial bias on education policy. It seems significant that Keller’s father was chairman and chief executive of the Chevron Corporation. 

Keller employs a deliberate strategy of welding opponents of the Common Core with the lunatic fringe. Note that no progressive who opposes the Common Core is mentioned. No superintendent of schools opposing the Common Core is mentioned. No researcher opposing the Common Core is mentioned. No parent opposing the Common Core is mentioned.”

Keller says that the Common Core implies no curriculum, just standards. He quotes E.D. Hirsch, Jr., whose K-3 curriculum has been adopted by New York state as its official Common Core curriculum. Keller obviously didn’t know that Rupert Murdoch’s Amplify division (run by Joel Klein) bought the rights to the Core Knowledge curriculum for 20 years, meaning that every school in the state will pay a royalty to Rupert Murdoch whenever they buy the resources to teach the state curriculum.  Amplify and Core Knowledge plan to expand the curriculum to cover grades four and five. So this is quite a goldmine!

Arthur Goldstein, a New York City high school teacher, has a great article in today’s Daily News lambasting the Common Core and the tests based on the Common Core.

Goldstein writes that if he gave a test and 70% of his kids failed it, his principal would be outraged at him.

He wonders why state officials predicted high failing rates and then–voila!–the failing rates were as high as they predicted.

He scoffs at those who say that Common Core is the salvation:

“Are our kids failures? Have schools and teachers failed? Have parents failed?

If there is failure, it’s on the part of those who set the curriculum. It’s those who hired teachers and ran schools. It’s those who boasted of the very successes they now paint as worthless.

If anyone has failed, it’s the very people who now tell us Common Core is the answer to all our problems.”

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/education/common-core-tests-answer-article-1.1420940#ixzz2bOfM4eu0

In this article, Joel Klein acknowledges that scores across New York state, obviously including New York City, will be devastatingly low.

He was in charge of the New York City public schools from 2002, when he was selected by Mayor Bloomberg, until January 2011, when he was succeeded by the ill-fated publisher Cathie Black.

During his tenure, Klein boasted every year of “historic gains.”

The mayor was twice re-elected because of those alleged “historic gains.”

Klein traveled to Australia and persuaded the Minister of Education Julia Gillard that there was a New York City miracle, and she fell for it. Now Australia is copying the New York City model of test, test, test, test.

Now, Klein tells us that the students for whom he was responsible didn’t learn much at all, and that the new test scores will show just how terribly they are doing.

Australians might well ask if they can abandon the Klein plan now that its failure is evident even to Klein.

Having failed to improve achievement in New York City over his long tenure in office, he has found the answer that eluded him: the Common Core standards.

This is the miracle cure we have all been waiting for.

Is there any evidence that the Common Core standards will improve test scores?

No, the evidence is that they cause test scores to plummet, as they did in Kentucky–by 30 points–and as they have in New York.

Will they lead to higher achievement in the future? No one knows.

 

 

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