The October 2014 Phi Delta Kappan/Gallup Poll says the following about what the public thinks about teachers. The big news here, in my view, is the dramatic shift in public opinion from favoring to opposing the use of standardized test scores to evaluate teachers. Only 1% was undecided on this question. Those favoring such a policy dropped from 61% to 38%. The public, if this poll is right, understands that value-added measurement is not working and is hurting the teachers in their community’s public schools. The bad news for Teach for America is that the public wants well-prepared, highly-trained teachers in their schools, not inexperienced young college graduates who have not passed through rigorous preparation and screening.



Only 38% of Americans favor using student performance on standardized tests to evaluate teachers, with parents even less supportive (31%). [My comment: Only two years ago, 52% approved using test scores to evaluate teachers; this is a big change in public opinion. The 61% who oppose using student performance on standardized test has increased from 47% in 2012.]


Of three reasons proposed for evaluating a teacher’s performance in the classroom, 77% of Americans said helping teachers improve their ability to teach is a very important reason for evaluating them. But fewer Americans (65%)
said documenting ineffectiveness that can lead to dismissal is a very important reason to evaluate their performance, and 46% said using teacher performance to determine salaries and bonuses is very important.


More than 70% of Americans said new teachers should spend at least a year practice teaching under the guidance of a certified teacher before assuming responsibility for their own classrooms.


More than 80% of Americans said teachers should pass board certification in addition to being licensed to practice, similar to professions like medicine and law.


60% of Americans said entrance requirements into teacher preparation programs should be more rigorous.


64% of public school parents have trust and confidence in the men and women who are teaching children in the public schools, but this percentage declined from 72% in 2013.


57% of Americans would like their child to take up teaching in the public schools as a career. This proportion was lower than when the question was last asked in 2005, when 62% supported teaching as a profession for their child.





Lloyd Lofthouse, a frequent commenter, offers advice about how to beat the SAT and ACT: Apply to a college or university that does not require applicants to present scores from either examination as a part of the admission process. There are good reasons to do this: First, it is unfair

Here is Lloyd Lofthouse’s advice:

All is not lost to the SAT/ACT profit monger machine.

There are colleges and universities that do not use the SAT/ACT scores for admitting substantial numbers of students into Bachelor degree programs.

Pull Quote from site: “More than 800 four-year colleges and universities (almost 28 percent of total) do not use the SAT or ACT to admit substantial numbers of … applicants.”

In 2010, there were 2,870 4-year colleges in the US.

There’s still hope.

Frank Breslin, retired teacher of foreign languages and history, calls for Congressional hearings about the cost and misuse of testing.

He points out that test scores are used to close public schools, fire teachers, and privatize schools, even though charters do not get better results than public schools.

He warns that the federal government has used testing to impose its failed ideas on schools, eviscerating local control. Breslin concludes that the best way to end federal intrusion is to abolish the Department of Education.

Peter Goodman, long-time observer of Néw York politics, predicts that local and state politics will play a large role in the anti-tenure case that was recently filed in Staten Island. Why Staten Island? It was chosen because it is the most conservative borough in Nee York City. But it is also home to large numbers of public employees.

Follow Goodman as he goes through the politics of Vergara East.

He ultimately concludes that the California decision will be overruled, and the Néw York case will be dismissed. I hope he is right.

San Diego’s Superintendent of Schools Cindy Marten announced that the district would return the armored vehicle that the Pentagon had given the district.

“Superintendent Cindy Marten announced the decision in a statement Thursday night.

“Some members of our community are not comfortable with the district having this vehicle,” Marten said. “If any part of our community is not comfortable with it, we cannot be comfortable with it.”

“The decision to return the vehicle, valued at more than $700,000, was praised by school board trustee Scott Barnett, who last week announced his opposition to the idea.”

After the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, following the killing of Michael Brown, the public became aware that the military was giving weaponry and armored vehicles to police departments and school police. Public revulsion to militarization of civilian authorities and police has caused some, like San Diego, to return these “gifts.”

The North Carolina Policy Watch reports on the latest turn in the battle over vouchers, which were declared unconstitutional in August by a Supreme Court judge.

“The N.C. Court of Appeals ruled today that the 1,878 students who have already been granted school vouchers can now use those taxpayer dollars at private schools while the fate of the program is decided.

“Students enrolled at private schools this fall expecting to have the vouchers, worth $4,200 annually, in hand – but an August ruling by Superior Court Judge Robert H. Hobgood found the school voucher law to be unconstitutional, halting a program that, as Judge Hobgood said, “appropriates taxpayer funds to educational institutions that have no standards, curriculum and requirements for teachers and principals to be certified.

“As a result, voucher recipients either returned to public schools or paid the full cost of attendance at private schools. Some private schools also indicated they would temporarily subsidize voucher students with the hope that the final court ruling would turn out in their favor.

“While the Court of Appeals’ ruling obligates the state to disburse taxpayer funds to the private schools of those students who were awarded vouchers no later than August 21, 2014, it also blocks the state from awarding any additional vouchers until the final merits of the case are decided.

“State lawmakers passed a 2013 budget that tagged $10 million to be used for the school vouchers, or “Opportunity Scholarships,” beginning this fall. The vouchers funnel taxpayer funds to largely unaccountable private schools–70 percent of which are affiliated with religious institutions…..”

Judge Robert Hobgood, who ruled against vouchers in August, said at that time:

““The General Assembly fails the children of North Carolina when they are sent with public taxpayer money to private schools that have no legal obligation to teach them anything.”

This farce, which transfers public money from public schools to mostly religious schools, has nothing to do with education reform, and everything to do with extremist ideology and the ALEC agenda. It is a betrayal of the state’s obligation to its children.

The Greater Florida Consortium of School Boards unanimously passed a resolution calling for a suspension of high-stakes testing.

“The Greater Florida Consortium of School Boards is comprised of 11 of Florida’s coastal school districts — Collier, Lee, Broward, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, Monroe, Charlotte, Sarasota, Pinellas, Indian River and St. Lucie. Together, the districts represent more than 42 percent of the state’s public school students, 55 percent of the state’s property tax base and 51 percent of Florida’s legislative members, according to the School District of Palm Beach County website.”

Will the Florida legislature listen to parents, educators, and elected school boards, or will they continue to pile on more tests and unfunded mandates? All of the state’s districts are required–under present law–to create hundreds of new tests for every student in every subject in every grade, for before and after, to evaluate students, teachers, principals, and schools and to award merit pay to some and fire others. No money comes with the mandate.

It is payday for the testing and tech industries but mayday for education in Florida.

On September 4, I posted two things about Marc Tucker’s latest accountability proposals. One was a brief summary of his ideas. I was especially impressed by the point he made that no other advanced nation tests as much as we do.

The second was a critique of Tucker’s accountability plan by Anthony Cody.

Cody wrote the following:

““We need to learn (and teach) the real lesson of NCLB – and now the Common Core. The problem with NCLB was not with the *number* of tests, nor with when the tests were given, nor with the subject matter on the tests, or the format of the tests, or the standards to which the tests were aligned.

“The problem with NCLB was that it was based on a false premise, that somehow tests can be used to pressure schools into delivering equitable outcomes for students. This approach did not work, and as we are seeing with Common Core, will not work, no matter how many ways you tinker with the tests.

“The idea that our education system holds the key to our economic future is a seductive one for educators. It makes us seem so important, and can be used to argue for investments in our schools. But this idea carries a price, because if we accept that our economic future depends on our schools, real action to address fundamental economic problems can be deferred. We can pretend that somehow we are securing the future of the middle class by sending everyone to preschool – meanwhile the actual middle class is in a shambles, and college students are graduating in debt and insecure.

“The entire exercise is a monumental distraction, and anyone who engages in this sort of tinkering has bought into a shell game, a manipulation of public attention away from real sources of inequity.

“We need some accountability for children’s lives, for their bellies being full, for safe homes and neighborhoods, and for their futures when they graduate. Once there is a healthy ecosystem for them to grow in, and graduate into, the inequities we see in education will shrink dramatically. But that requires much broader economic and social change — change that neither policymakers or central planners like Tucker are prepared to call for.”

For some reason, Tucker decided that Cody and I are one and the same person, apparently using different names when it suits our purpose. Cody wrote the second piece, and I quoted it.

I actually think that Tucker agrees with Cody, and I agree with them both, on the main issues at hand. We all agree that our schools would have higher test scores if there were less poverty. I think I can safely say that we believe that more testing and higher stakes won’t reduce poverty. I think I can say we agree that teachers should have better preparation for their work, more mentoring and support, and higher salaries. (Marc, correct me if I am wrong.)

Maybe where we diverge is on the value of high-stakes standardized tests. I don’t think they are necessary to improve teaching and learning. If they were, we would surely see them used at Sidwell Friends, Lakeside Academy, Groton, Dalton, Exeter, and Deerfield Academy. Instead, these institutions have small classes, respect their experienced teachers, have extensive programs in the arts, a well-stocked library, and assure that all students have a full and balanced curriculum. These schools do not judge their teachers by value-added metrics based on test scores. They are not faced annually with the threat of budget cuts and layoffs.

That’s what I want for all children. Marc, let me know where we disagree.

Peter Greene was offended by the graceless attack on Carol Burris, published by billionaire-funded Edpost, which loudly proclaimed its intention to elevate the tone of the discussion, and now this. Burris is a respected principal in New York, admired by her peers as an inspirational leader. Yet here is a woman who worked at the U.S. Department of Education on Arne Duncan’s team, with nerve enough to call out Burris as misinformed about the Common Core, or even a liar. Let’s just say this embarrassing hit piece did not elevate the tone of the conversation, nor was it informative. If this is what $12 million produces, the billionaires should get their money back.

Greene writes:

“Headliner Ann Whalen wins the Well That Didn’t Take Long Prize. She tosses out EdPost’s highflying promises about raising the conversational tone in education discussions and goes straight to calling Burris a liar. Well, she uses a nifty construction to do it (“When you can’t make an honest case against something, there is always rhetoric, exaggeration or falsehoods, but it’s disheartening when it comes from an award-winning principal and educator like Carol Burris”) but for those of us who can read English, yeah, Whalen just called Burris a liar.

“And the she tries to refute Burris’s arguements by lying. (Hey– I never made any hollow promises about elevating the conversation).”

A warning to the world: If you try to make the case for the Common Core Standards, and your evidence is flawed or non-existent, you will be called out by Mercedes Schneider.Here’s the thing: If you plan to go into the ring with Mercedes Schneider, you better be fully prepared. In this case, someone named Ann Whalen, who is a former assistant to Arne Duncan decided she would attack Carol Burris for having criticized the CCSS. Burris, an experienced high school principal and a skilled writer, has written often about the defects of the CCSS and she organized nearly 40% of the principals in New York state to oppose the state’s test-based ratings of teachers and principals.


When Whalen went after Burris, Mercedes Schneider, who teaches English in Louisiana, took apart Whalen’s critique of Burris. Whalen, it should be noted, responded to Burris on the website of Education Post, a blog funded with $12 million from the far-right Walton Family Foundation, the anti-public school Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, and the Bloomberg Foundation. Schneider, whose blog is funded by Schneider, proceeded to take Whalen apart, argument by argument, claim by claim, in a deft fashion that she may soon have to copyright, it is so fully Mercedes.


Whalen’s biggest mistake, the same one made by Carmel Martin in the “great debate” about CCSS, was to insist that states were free to change CCSS and that many have done so. Not true. The CCSS are copyrighted by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. States agree to change nothing but may add up to 15% of their own content. For defenders not to know that is indefensible.


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