Jersey Jazzman writes that we know what Campbell Brown is against: bad teachers. She says teachers should have due process protections. So does Arne Duncan. Unions would agree with them that termination hearings should not be expensive and endless.

So what does she want?

Jersey Jazzman writes:

“Campbell, I’d be a lot less inclined to question your motivations if you would just do us all a favor and tell us what it is you want.

“I went to your website and tried to find a proposal for a system of teacher workplace protections — it wasn’t there. There were, of course, plenty of reformy talking points gussied up with research that show illustrations of the importance of teacher quality. But there wasn’t anything that resembled evidence that shows tenure suppresses overall teacher quality, and there wasn’t anything even remotely resembling a concrete proposal to “fix” a tenure and seniority system that still hasn’t been shown to be a drag in student achievement.

“If you want to have a serious debate about tenure and seniority, Campbell, the very least you should do is present some sort of alternative system of teacher, student, and taxpayer protections. If you think you can come up with something that will work better than tenure and seniority, by all means let’s hear it.

“But unless and until you do, your complaints are little better than whining. And no teacher worth his or her chalk puts up with that. – See more at: http://jerseyjazzman.blogspot.com/2014/07/what-exactly-does-campbell-brown-want.html#sthash.uqNKOiP2.dpuf”

Gary Rubinstein, former TFA but now veteran high school math teacher wrote this article in Education Week about the failure of Race to the Top. I wish I didn’t have to delete any part of it but Internet or copyright protocols require me to. Subscribe to Edweek so you can read it all. And be sure to follow Gary’s blog.

“Years from now, I hope we will look back at Race To The Top as the time we allowed the rich and powerful to conduct reckless experimentation on our nation’s schoolchildren. And they would have gotten away with it too — to paraphrase every Scooby Doo villain ever — if it wasn’t for those meddling educators. Race To The Top is an example of how reform in any field will fail if it is based on an invalid premise. That premise, in this case, is that teachers cannot be trusted.

“We need the Common Core, the argument goes, because when teachers set what they consider to be an appropriate level of ‘rigor’ in their classes, they will usually choose to make it too easy. They do this because either because they are lazy or because they simply believe that students are not capable of challenging work or, most likely, both.

“Teachers are so devious, it must be, that they have figured out ways to get satisfactory evaluations from their supervisors despite all their ‘inputs’ going in one ear of their students and out the other. Administrators are also either incompetent for thinking they are witnessing learning, or they are giving positive evaluations to ineffective teachers for other reasons that only they could know….

“When teachers complain that they don’t want to have this inaccurate component as 50% or 40% or 35%, depending on what state they’re in, they are reassured that ‘multiple measures’ are being used so that, on average, it should all work out. Couldn’t this ‘multiple measures’ argument be used to justify having shoe size as a component of the evaluation score?

“By starting with a bad premise, the ‘reformers’ have been given the power to start destroying public education in this country. Fortunately the momentum is slowing down on Race To The Top since if it were permitted to continue to grow the result would be a massive teacher shortage as the only people dumb enough to become teachers would also be too dumb to do the difficult job of teaching. Without teachers willing to teach, ‘reformers’ would learn that it truly is lonely at The Top.”

Teachers, time to make your voices heard!

Parents, help your children’s teachers get fair treatment!

Students, you need teachers who can speak truth without fear!

Teachers should not be fired for teaching “The Invisible Man.” Teachers should not be fired for opposing war. Teachers should not be fired for allowing students to express controversial views. Teachers should have due process, the right to a fair hearing.

Time to speak up!

There’s an important conversation happening Thursday night, and we need your help—and your tweets—to make sure the right questions are asked.

Former journalist Campbell Brown is going on “The Colbert Report” to spin a new lawsuit she’s pushing in New York state. It’s a copycat of Vergara v. California, and it would strip New York’s teachers of key job protections like due process.

Brown’s organization—ironically named the Partnership for Educational Justice—has hired some of the fanciest PR firms in the country, including the firm that ran Mitt Romney’s online program in 2012, to sell its snake oil. This will be her first big media appearance to sell it.

Brown is hoping to get softball questions and spin them to blame teachers. But there’s one big question she doesn’t want to get: Who’s funding these attacks?

Brown refuses to disclose her donors, but we know she’s deeply connected in the corporate “reform” crowd. Her husband even sits on the board of StudentsFirstNY!

We need to make sure Campbell Brown doesn’t get a free pass from the press. We’re launching #Questions4Campbell to make sure our voices are heard every time she makes an appearance.

Will you ask Stephen Colbert to make Campbell Brown answer the right questions? You can just click any of the suggested tweets below, or write your own using #Questions4Campbell and tagging @StephenAtHome.

Why won’t @campbell_brown disclose her funders? Afraid Americans might not like what they see? #questions4campbell @StephenAtHome

The usual anti-teacher funders: Walton. Koch. Wall St. Silicon Valley. Who’s funding @campbell_brown? #questions4campbell @StephenAtHome

Just “holding the coats” or pulling the strings? @campbell_brown doesnt speak for this NY parent. #questions4campbell for @StephenAtHome

One of your “student plaintiffs” has a parent who’s paid by StudentsFirstNY. Conflict of interest? #questions4campbell for @StephenAtHome

You’re against due process for teachers. Who else shouldn’t have rights, @campbell_brown? #questions4campbell on @StephenAtHome

Campbell Brown and her friends want to sell you the same “blame teachers” line we’ve seen from Michelle Rhee and right-wing politicians for years. They’ll tell you tenure means a job for life and that due process makes it impossible to dismiss ineffective teachers. Now, emboldened by a radical ruling in California, they’re spreading this misinformation across the country, starting in New York.

Their claims couldn’t be further from the truth. In New York, teachers are granted tenure—and due process protections—after three years of success in the classroom. Once your boss grants you tenure, due process simply means he or she must produce just cause to discipline or terminate you. Due process gives teachers the protections to speak up for their students, stop cronyism and innovate in the classroom.

Campbell Brown is hoping to cruise through her media appearances unchallenged. But news shows and the media are paying more and more attention to social media.

Your tweets can be a powerful force in the fight to reclaim the promise of a high-quality public education for every child. Help us challenge the “blame teachers” crowd by adding your voice on Twitter right now.

In unity,

Randi Weingarten
AFT President

This is a must-read article.

One of the best education writers in New York State is Gary Stern of lohud.com, which covers the Lower Hudson region. This article shows how the passing marks (“cut scores”) were set for the state’s Common Core tests. It is a story that should have appeared in the New York Times. The State Education Department likes to boast that the cut scores are set by teachers. This is supposed to make them legitimate, on the assumption that the teachers have reasonable expectations and know the students’ capacity. All 95 teachers who participated in the process of setting cut scores were required to sign a confidentiality agreement, but Gary Stern persisted and found 18 who were willing to talk about the process without violating the agreement.

What Gary Stern found was that Pearson called the shots, not the teachers.

Here are some quotes.

“How does the state determine the crucial break between a 2, which means that a student is not quite proficient in, say, fifth-grade math, and a 3, which signifies that he or she is on track for college?

“These scoring scales were set last summer by a group of 95 educators that the state gathered at a hotel in Troy for several days. Teachers, administrators and college professors from across New York signed confidentiality agreements and were given the task of setting the cuts between 1 and 2, 2 and 3, and 3 and 4 for the new tests. But the scores would be widely questioned and even ridiculed after one-third of New York students were deemed to be on pace……”

“To most parents, passing a test means earning 65 out of 100 points. Cut and dried.

“The process of setting a scoring “scale” and cut scores for an annual test, based on all-important, predetermined goals, is an entirely different animal that is not easily described. In fact, the panelists met to set the 1-4 cut scores after students took the first new tests in spring 2013 and the raw data was in.

“It’s like you’re jumping over a hurdle that’s 2 feet high, but after you jump they say it was 3 feet and you missed,” said Cary Grimm, another panelist who is math chairman for the Longwood school district on Long Island.

“In brief, panelists were assigned to small groups that looked at several grades’ exams in math or English language arts. They were given detailed descriptions of what students should know in each grade — prepared by state officials and experts from Pearson Inc., the mega-corporation signed to create New York’s tests…..”

“Panelists were told whether various cut scores would jibe with research on what it supposedly takes to succeed in college.

“Jane Arnold, an English professor at SUNY Adirondack, said the Pearson people provided confusing data that didn’t seem to apply to grades 3-5, her group’s focus.

“Then they gave us a chance to change our minds,” she wrote in a statement. “In other words, we all knew that most of the student scores would be substandard…..”

“Maria Baldassarre Hopkins, assistant professor of education at Nazareth College in Rochester, said the process was driven by the introduction of outside research about student success.

“I question how much flexibility and freedom the committee really had,” she said. “The process was based solely on empirical data, on numbers. … There are ways to make the numbers do what you want them to do.”

“Tina Good, coordinator of the Writing Center at Suffolk County Community College, said her group produced the best possible cut scores for ELA tests in grades 3 to 6 — playing by the rules they were given.

“We worked within the paradigm Pearson gave us,” she said. “It’s not like we could go, ‘This is what we think third-graders should know,’ or, ‘This will completely stress out our third-graders.’ Many of us had concerns about the pedagogy behind all of this, but we did reach a consensus about the cut scores.”

“Eva Demyen, superintendent of the Deer Park district on Long Island, said she still doesn’t grasp how the state determined that two-thirds of students were not proficient in English and math.

“How they got the 33 percent (passing) was beyond us,” she wrote. “It just seemed very strange to me … and I’m a mathematician!….”

“Another panelist, Karen DeMoss, a professor of education at Wagner College on Staten Island, said she is increasingly convinced that standardized testing is “scarring” students and not promoting achievement.

“Our process was perfectly fine, and the Common Core standards may be the best thing the country has ever had in education,” DeMoss said. “The problem is the underlying assumption that these tests are helping us. They’re not. Pearson’s tests were unbelievably bad, the worst I’ve seen, and the reality of using tests designed to rank students is something we haven’t gotten our heads around.”

There are at least three lessons are to be learned from this fiasco: one, it was Pearson, not the educators, that decided what students should know; two, Pearson’s standards will cause massive failure wherever they are used; three, as many panelists noted, teachers did not have the training to teach the standards.

And there is one more lesson: if the standards themselves are developmentally inappropriate–if the tests expect fifth-graders to learn material that is appropriate for seventh graders, failure is inevitable. Unless, that is, Pearson and the State Education Department decide to lower the cut scores to give the illusion of progress.

As Gary Stern wrote: “A 2006 primer on cut scores prepared by the Educational Testing Service found that cut scores can be reliable, but are based on a group’s opinions.

“It is impossible to prove that a cut score is correct,” the report said.

Remember that the cut score is NOT an objective measure. It is a judgment call, a matter of group opinion, shaped by assumptions, and it can be manipulated to make scores appear higher or lower, depending on what the state wants. If New York’s scores go up, it means that the State Education Department decided to reduce parent anger by lowering the failure rate.

This is what happened in New York. It is wrong, it is cynical, it is misguided. Thousands of children were falsely labeled as failures. This is not good education. This is not about the needs of children. This is institutional incompetence.

If your state plans to use Pearson and PARCC for Common Core testing, consider this a cautionary tale. As Peter Greene writes in his blog,

“In fact, among the CCSS supporters who spoke (and really– did you think NYS would fill this committee with people who didn’t love the Core), there was a recognition that the implementation is a hash and the tests are a bogus joke. Yes, they haven’t figured out that what we’ve got is exactly what the Core were designed to give us, but at least they recognize some of the suckage, and not simply from a practical political calculus angle (and remember– everyone must take calculus now). This is undoubtedly part of the reason that CCSS enjoys the kind of support in NYS usually reserved for politicians who cannot keep their private parts off the internet.

“It’s an illuminating batch of reportage, well worth your time to read. Because you may not live in New York, but wherever you are in America, you’re still living in the United States of Pearson.”

Fred Klonsky writes that in 2007, the Chicago Tribune praised CEO Arne Duncan because he would not be content with principals drawn from the ranks. not Arne! He was looking for superstar principals. Duncan was CEO because he lacked the experience as a teacher or a principal to be a superintendent.

The Tribune singled out one of Duncan’s “superstars”: Terrence P. Carter.

““Used to be, as long as the lights were on and the heat was working and teachers reported to school, your job as principal was basically done,” said Terrence Carter, principal of Clara Barton Elementary School in Chicago’s Auburn-Gresham neighborhood. “Now, in the age of more accountability, there’s a paradigm shift for what skills principals need to have.”

“For Carter, who also attended that day, the training reviewed skills he already knew. Carter represents a new breed of principal, many of whom recently entered the profession from the business world through a selective principal training program called New Leaders for New Schools. In that program, prospective principals focus on becoming academic leaders and conducting rigorous evaluations of teachers, students and curricula.

“That’s the challenge and the opportunity for Chicago: to draw dozens more leaders like Terrence Carter into the most challenging public schools and to help them thrive.”

Klonsky writes:

“Carter is now the center of controversy in New London, Connecticut where his application for school superintendent is on hold while the board investigates his claims of a doctorate from among other universities, Stanford University in California.

“Stanford denies he received a doctorate from them.

“Prior to applying for the job in New London, Carter worked as a principal for CPS and as an executive director for the Academy for Urban School Leadership. AUSL is responsible for managing most of CPS turnaround schools.

“CPS board president David Vitale and chief administrative officer Tim Cawley both come from the ranks of AUSL.”

Yet, Klonsky writes, the Chicago Tribune has not seen fit to report about Arne Duncan’s superstar, and Duncan has no comment.

The Day reports that the language in the cover letter submitted by Terrence Carter to be superintendent in New London contained language identical to a cover letter written by another job applicant in Michigan in 2011. When will this charade end? If he fabricated his résumé and plagiarized his job application and cover letter, what more evidence is needed?

Here is an excerpt from The Day:

“New London — The cover letter Terrence P. Carter submitted with his application to be the city’s next superintendent bears a resemblance to a cover letter submitted by a different candidate seeking a Michigan superintendent job in 2011.
Carter’s cover letter, submitted on March 11 along with his application and resume, shares a similar structure and, in some cases, identical sentences.

“I bring an unbridled passion for educating children and adults, a track record of launching and directing critical educational programs, and exceptional leadership credentials,” Carter wrote in his letter. “If you are looking for a dynamic educational leader who has continually succeeded in the classroom, in academic programs, in the central office, and in corporate America, then my credentials will be of great value to you, your students, and your community.”

A cover letter submitted in 2011 by Frederick Charles Clarke, then a candidate for the superintendent job in Rochester, Mich., contains a similar passage.

“…I bring to your academic institution an unbridled passion for educating America’s youth, a track record of launching and directing critical educational programs, and exceptional leadership credentials,” Clarke wrote. “If you are looking for a dynamic educational leader who has continually succeeded in the classroom, in academic programs, and in the central office, perhaps my credentials will be of great value to you, your students and your community.”

After reading Mark Naison’s account of the BAT’s meeting with DOE staff and the Duncan himself, Peter Green was delighted that staff at the U.S. Department of Education finally had to listen to teachers that were not hand-picked to be deferential.

He noted two important points that inadvertently emerged from the talk.

“First, Marla Kilfoyle expressed her concerns about the Department’s new policy of testing students with disabilities into a magical state of Not Having Disabilities.

Secretary Duncan deflected her remarks by saying that the Department was concerned that too many children of color were being inappropriately diagnosed as being Special Needs children and that once they were put in that category they were permanently marginalized. He then said “We want to make sure that all student are exposed to a rigorous curriculum.”

So… we’re afraid that too many children of color are being mislabeled as having special needs, so rather than fix that, we’re just going to operate on a new assumption that students labeled special needs don’t actually have special needs. This is perhaps not the most direct way to attack that particular problem (we might start by checking to see how big a problem it is).

Then this, in a discussion of VAM and school closings, leading to the subject of teacher evaluation.

They two officials [one communications guy and an intern] had no real answer to what Dr Wiliams was saying and deflected attention from his critique by insisting that we needed to hold teachers accountable by student test scores because there was no other way of making sure teachers took every student seriously and helped all of them reach their full potential.

It’s not that we didn’t deduce this already, but there’s your statement. Teachers are the problem. We don’t want to do our jobs and the only way we can be made to do our jobs is with threats, because that’s the only thing we will possibly respond to.”

There you have it. Teachers won’t do their job unless D.C. Is threatening them. Please understand that most of the staff at the U.S. Department of Education have never taught. They are bureaucrats or clerks or very nice people who landed a good job in government.

How dare they tell teachers how to teach and threaten their jobs?

Lindsay Wagner reports in NC Watch that a judge in North Carolina said it was okay to dispense $10 million for private school vouchers before the courts rule on whether vouchers are constitutional. The far-right legislative leader Thom Tilles said the budget for vouchers would grow by another $800,000.

Do you think President Obama or Secretary Duncan will speak out against this diversion of public funds to private and religious schools?

We all know, or should know, about Campbell’s Law. That is a social science axiom that says:

“The more any quantitative social indicator (or even some qualitative indicator) is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor.”

The short translation: the more you measure people and tie high-stakes to the measurement, the more likely they are to make the measurement the point of their activity, which distorts the activity. Campbell’s Law explains why teachers teach to the test or even cheat, because so much is riding on achieving high test scores. So teachers forget about everything other than test scores, such as citizenship, character, ethics, and so on.

Arthur Goldstein, who teaches high school ESL in New York City, here explains how Campbell’s Law has been replaced by Campbell Brown’s Law. Campbell Brown is the media figure who is leading a lawsuit to eliminate tenure in New York State.

Here is Campbell Brown’s Law:

“Campbell Brown’s Law says whatever goes wrong in school is the fault of the tenured teachers. If you fail, it’s because the teacher had tenure and therefore failed you. Absolutely everyone is a great parent, so that has nothing to do with how children behave. Campbell Brown’s Law says parents have no influence whatsoever on their children. If parents have to work multiple jobs to make ends meet, that will have no effect. If they provide no supervision because they aren’t around, that won’t affect kids either.

“Campbell Brown’s Law says kids themselves are not responsible either. If they don’t study, that isn’t their fault. The teacher should have made them study. If they fail tests because they didn’t study, it’s a crime and the teacher should be fired. Under Campbell Brown’s Law the only obstacle to studying is if the teacher has tenure. This is unacceptable and it is therefore the reason that the parents work 200 hours a week. It’s also the reason the kids didn’t study. The kids figured they didn’t have to study because their teachers had tenure.

“Campbell Brown’s Law is demonstrated in charter schools, where teachers don’t have tenure. All kids excel in charter schools, except for those who don’t. That explains why, in some charter schools, that all the students who graduate are accepted to four-year colleges. It’s neither here nor there if two-thirds of the students who began ended up getting insufficient standardized test scores and getting dumped back into public schools. That’s not the fault of the charter teachers, because they don’t have tenure and are therefore blameless. Campbell Brown’s Law says so.”

It is an excellent post, and how brilliant to connect Campbell’s Law to Campbell Brown ‘s Law.

Goldstein concludes:

“In short, if you’re a tenured teacher, you are an impediment to Excellence. The only way you can help children is by getting rid of your tenure, standing up straight and walking to Arne Duncan in Washington DC and saying, “Please sir, I want to be fired for any reason. Or for no reason. I want to take personal responsibility for all the ills of society. Neither you, society, poverty, parents, nor children themselves are responsible. I’m ready to be dismissed at the whim of Bill Gates or the Walmart family and I agree with you that Katrina was the bestest thing to happen to the New Orleans education system.”

“Me, I’m still a tenured teacher. And as terrible as that may be, I’m still relieved to never have had students so hopelessly stupid as Arne Duncan or Campbell Brown.”

As for me, I took a lot of hostile comments on Twitter for saying to a Washington Post reporter recently that Campbell Brown was pretty but didn’t know much about teaching. Outraged people, many of whom seemed to work for Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst or similar organizations, called me sexist for saying she was pretty but didn’t object when I said she was clueless about education. Anyone who wants to call me pretty (at the ripe old age of 76), you have my permission. Have at it. I wonder what the enraged Brownians will think about Campbell Brown’s Law.

Among the conservatives who comment on education, Rick Hess is consistently the most thoughtful. I often disagree with him, for example, about choice and for-profit schooling. But I am often impressed by his thoughtfulness and pleasantly surprised by his willingness to question “reform” dogma.

Here is a column that is a great example of Rick’s insight. In it, he essentially concludes that Race to the Top failed because it told the states what to do instead of asking for their best ideas. He is not the first conservative to question this strategy. States are good at promising to comply with mandates but if their hearts are not in it, don’t expect much.

Rick wisely points out that Race to the Top imposed the Common Core standards and by doing so, fomented the eventual pushback and controversy. Because of Arne Duncan’s eagerness to boast of fast results, he created problems that he could not control. Rick says the same thing about teacher evaluation. Race to the Top forced all states eager for federal funds to adopt a new teacher evaluation program without knowing how to do it. Early returns show that 95% or more of teachers are rated “effective” or higher, so what was the point of the hundreds of millions spent to create those systems.

One might say much the same about Duncan’s beloved turnarounds. They have not produced much in the way of lasting, positive results.

Rick’s conclusion about the $4.35 billion spent on Race to the Top?

“The result: the sugar high that Race to the Top used to fuel reform in 2009 is likely to be undone, and then some, by the legacy of half-baked, federal compulsion.

“What President Obama termed “the most meaningful education reform in a generation” has proven, for my money, to be more a cautionary tale than a model.”

This has been a period of unprecedented turmoil in American schooling. Unless you are in love with the idea of disruption, as many reformers are, there is not much to celebrate.

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