In recent days, you have read posts about the program in Lawrence, Massachusetts, called NNN (No Nonsense Nurturing), a for-profit program in which coaches sit in the back of the room and tell teachers what to do and say via a wireless earbud. EduShyster wrote the original post. Others did research on google and connected NNN to the Gates Foundation and KIPP. It is a behaviorist approach to classroom discipline.

One reader points out that NNN was tried out first in Memphis.

Some wired-for-sound city school teachers are testing the value of real-time coaching that the NFL has made as common as a Sunday in the park.

Through earbud headphones, the teachers hear cues from experts observing from the back of the room.

“Once a teacher understands what it feels like to be successful, it takes root immediately,” said Monica Jordan, coordinator of teacher professional development in Memphis City Schools.

“The teachers get training first. It’s not like someone walks in and shoves an (earbud) in your ear and starts rattling in your ear,” she said.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is funding the work in Memphis, Tampa and New York, hoping to prove that tailoring professional development raises the needle on test scores….

Teach for America in Memphis sees so much promise it is spending $15,000 to conduct its own earbud research next year.

“Essentially we are looking at a control group that doesn’t get coaching to see to what extent coaching and real-time feedback enhances the process,” said Athena Turner, TFA executive director.

“We want to know, does it speed up the timeline in which a teacher develops?”

The back-and-forth between the coach and teacher is happening through walkie-talkies now. As early as March 2, the coach could be anywhere in the world, coaching with digital video feeds from Memphis classrooms….

“I think this new approach gives you an opportunity to differentiate professional development based on teachers’ own strengths and weaknesses,” said Thomas Kane, a Harvard University researching working with the Gates Foundation.

Kane’s hypothesis is that teachers who can watch themselves work will see places to improve.

“Next year, we would hope to have enough classrooms so we can start to answer that question,” Kane said.

Memphis ordered 11 180-degree cameras at $4,500 each. When parent permission slips are returned, the cameras will be set up in classroom corners.

“We’re asking teachers to watch themselves and reflect,” Jordan said. “What does it feel like to be your own observer? … What would you tell yourself if you had to give yourself feedback?”

The technology is so new that the cameras, which also record audio, are being built as they’re ordered.

“Memphis is right behind Harvard’s order,” Jordan said.

Question: Did Harvard get its order? Is it videotaping professors? Who is being videotaped and given earbud instructions at Harvard?

Next question: Is Lakeside Academy in Seattle, where Bill Gates’ children are students, putting earbuds in their teachers’ ears?

Next question: Four years have passed since the experiment was launched in Memphis: What are the results? Was there an experimental group of teachers with earbuds and a control group without earbuds? What happened to the test scores of their students?

Last question: Was the experiment worthwhile? O should the money have been spent on reducing class sizes and tutors?

Parents can be hard to please. Read the correspondence from the parents of “scholars” who don’t like the new uniforms or the new vendor.

For example, why do we have to buy a new L.L. Bean backpack when last year’s backpack is still in good shape?

Please read this tweet.

Rick Hess directs education studies at the conservative, free-market American Enterprise Institute. We often disagree but I am often impressed that he doesn’t follow “the party line” of free-marketeers. This article is a good example of Hess demonstrating his sharp intellect and his willingness to stray from the rightwing corral.

When it comes to the Common Core, Hess has always been skeptical, though not opposed. In the linked article he explains that the Common Core went wrong because Washington insiders convinced themselves that the nation needed rigorous common standards. Those standards were being developed as the Race to the Top was announced. States couldn’t be eligible for a slice of the federal billions unless they adopted “common college-and-career-ready standards,” shorthand for the Common Core standards. Consequently, dozens of states signed on without even reading the CCSS.

The bottom line is that the D.C. insiders thought they could pull a fast one. They thought the public might not catch on that their state had surrendered its power over its own curriculum and testing. They thought that people might be swayed by a massive propaganda campaign to fall quietly in line.

They were wrong.

Carole Marshall is a retired teacher who taught in the schools of Providence, Rhode Island. She was invited to participate in shaping Rhode Island “strategic plan” for 2015-2020, but soon became disillusioned when she realized that the designers of the strategic plan were going through the motions, pretending to listen to the public. Before they even started the process, they knew exactly what they wanted. They surveyed parents but ignored their strong wishes for schools that emphasized student creativity and self-motivation. The ultimate plan proclaimed what the planners wanted all along: blended learning, where students spend hours on a computer and fewer teachers are needed.

The strategic plan was produced by a California organization called “the Learning Accelerator.” The leaders wrote recently that the state’s plan for 2015-2020 was created by thousands of Rhode Islanders “through a process that is built upon the principles of transparency, engagement, empowerment and respect.” But in reality the public has been kept in the dark about what is really happening and why. The process was not at all transparent, and what looked like engagement was really a dog and pony show with a completely different agenda.

The “sole method” of this organization, Marshall writes, is to sell blended learning through disruptive innovation.

Marshall warns that the plan sounds good but it is not. Who will benefit? Not teachers or students, but venture capitalists and vendors of technology products.

In recent weeks, as Congress debated different issues in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, a dozen or more of the national civil rights organizations issued statements supporting annual testing and opposing opting out of the tests.

But some city and state locals disagree with their national representatives. In Seattle, the NAACP local took issue with the pro-testing statement and issued its own strongly critical statement about the damage done by standardized testing. The Seattle chapter opposes high-stakes testing and supports opting out.

In Texas, the largest group affiliated with LULAC, the Latino organization, opposed the national organization’s stance.

The national League of United Latin American Citizens supports high-stakes testing, but their Texas chapter does not.

“LULAC began in Texas, and Texas LULAC has consistently been against high-stakes testing,” says University of Texas professor Angela Valenzuela. “The national organizations do not at all reflect the studied opinion of LULAC in our state.”

Valenzuela is a former education committee chair for the group’s Texas chapter and was also part of the Latino-led resistance to standardized testing in the 1990s, when the state first began denying high school diplomas to students for failing state tests. That policy prompted a lawsuit from Dr. Hector P. Garcia’s American GI Forum on behalf of poor students of color almost 20 years before affluent Anglo parents rallied state lawmakers to their cause.

Valenzuela’s own children opted out of tests in the early 2000s, and she knows of other Latino students who avoided the tests out of protest, without a large movement behind them, and graduated anyway. But challenging schools and facing threats from officials is a lot to ask of parents who may be poor or don’t speak English.

Anecdotally, opt-out activists say their growing movement is getting less white, but it will always be easier for affluent parents to take part.

[Ruth] Kravetz, who helped organize this year’s opt-out drive in Houston, says black or Latino parents account for about 70 percent of those she knows opted out this year. It’s “crazy talk,” she says, to call the testing in Houston’s schools today a civil right; she expects next year’s opt-out effort will draw even more working-class parents as more people realize it’s their best chance at change.

In June, Community Voices for Public Education joined dozens of civil rights and education groups in a letter highlighting the broad local support for opting out. “High-stakes standardized tests, rather than reducing the opportunity gap, have been used to rank, sort, label, and punish Black and Latino students, and recent immigrants to this country,” they wrote.

“Had you talked to me three years ago, I would’ve said there’s no way that opting out is something that can make things better. I would say we have to change minds and change laws. But at this point, it looks like they’re going to be over-testing our children until all our schools are closed,” Kravetz says. “You can’t operate like testing people is going to make them not be poor.”

Our regular reader and contributor Laura H. Chapman researched No Nonsense Nurturing pedagogy and shares what she found:


“Here are some noteworthy facts about the Lawrence MA school district as of the 2014-2015 school year, where the No-Nonsense-Nurture program and methodology from the Center for Transformative Teacher Training is being used to control teacher and student performance in the service of raising test scores and graduation rates.


“LPS serves roughly 13,900 students and their families. The demographic breakdown is as follows:


1.5% African American
1.6% Asian
91.3% Hispanic
5.2% White
0.4% Multi-racial, Non-Hispanic


“English Language Learners:
70.0% First language not English
29.9% English Language Learners (ELLs)


“Special Education:
16.9% Students with Disabilities


“Low Income:
88.9% Qualify for free lunch
3.5% Qualify for reduced-price lunch
91.3% Total low-income


“So in Lawrence, MA this is a program of choice for poor Hispanic kids, many still learning English.


“The current marketers of NNN is CTTT or C3T short for the Center for Transformative Teacher Training. The website lists as CLIENTS a curious list of large metro school districts, many charter franchise schools, TFA and really weird—the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as a CLIENT. Here is the sales pitch information:


“Our work has had a transformative impact on educators from a wide range of school districts, CMO’s, and educational organizations, including:
Achievement First Achievement School District
 Alain Locke Project 
Apple Academy Public Charter Schools 
Aspire Public Schools
 Academy for Urban School Leadership- Chicago
 Beecher Community School District 
Center City Public Charter Schools 
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools
 Chicago International Charters Cleveland Metropolitan School District 
DC Bilingual Charter School 
Denver Public Schools
 Alice Deal Middle School
 Friendship Public Schools
 KIPP Schools 
Leadership Public Schools 
Lighthouse Potomac Charter School 
MATCH Schools 
Mastery Schools
 NewSchools Venture Fund
 New Schools for New Orleans 
New Teacher Center
 Princeton City Schools 
Rocketship Public Schools
 Roosevelt School District San Francisco Unified School District
 St. Hope Leadership Academy 
Success Academy Charter Schools
 Syracuse City Schools
 Teach for America
 Uncommon Schools
 Urban Teacher Center
 Winton Woods Schools


“Also listed as clients with logos attached are :The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Selby County Schools, District of Columbia Public Schools


“So, Bill and Melinda Gates are CLIENTS?


“I snooped around on the Internet. The general method of Assertive Discipline has been around since 1976 marketed by Lee Canter and Associates (Lee is one of the originators). That work was purchased by Sylvan in 1998 and resurrected in 2009 as CTT with NNN as one of the products. The co-founders, include Lee Canter and Kristyn Klei Borrero, who completed an ED.D in 2008 (educational administration). Prior to that Kristyn was CEO of Aspire charter schools, and key leader in developing the Reading Partner’s program with community volunteers paired with students. Her bio says she received a $60 million grant from the Gates Foundation but what that was for is not clear.


“The website has a brief on “research.” It cites one study of NNN arranged by New Schools Venture Fund. The claim is that NNN was implemented in grades 3-12, with “urban students, 99.1% African Americans, 83% qualified for free/reduce priced lunches.


“Result: “reduced off task behavior up to 55%.” This not a peer reviewed study. I have requested a copy of the study per the website invitation.


“I have concluded that the promoters of this program think that “urban” schools should function as boot camps where strict compliance with rules is job one, along with on-task and on-time compliance with assigned tasks. The school has one major purpose–transmitting text-based knowledge with teachers functioning as task-masters.


“The program assumes that teachers are incompetent, even if well-intentioned. Precisely because teachers are most likely to be white, female, from suburban and privileged backgrounds, they need to learn how to treat students who attend schools in urban settings where self-discipline is in short supply, and students must be told what to do, when, how, and so on.


“The stereotyping is thick and deep. The “nurture” in this program is designed to make critical and independent thinking unlikely. It is perfect prep for troop training. The teacher training program is bizarre but attractive to TFA amateurs.”

Peter Goodman is a close observer of city and state education policy in Néw York. In this post, he describes how Governor Andrew Cuomo bypassed the state Constitution to impose his own ideas on nearly 200 struggling schools across the state.

Since the state Constitution gives the governor no role in education policy, Cuomo used the budget process for his coup.

“True to his word the Governor attached a number of proposals to the budget: extending tenure for new teachers from three to four years, another principal-teacher evaluation plan (the third in four years) and receivership, a system to deal with low performing schools.

“From April through June the Board of Regents grappled with the dense, new, teacher evaluation law: an Education Learning Summit, two lengthy and contentious public Regents meetings, thousands upon thousands of emails, faxes, letters and phone calls to the Governor and Regents members all protesting elements of the new law. Eventually the Regents approved a set of regulations that will require the 700 school districts in New York State to negotiate the implementation of the new law.

“What received virtually no discussion was receivership – a system by which “struggling” schools are given two years to improve before they are removed from their school district and placed under the supervision of a receiver, who has sweeping powers including the ability to change sections of collective bargaining agreements. The Lawrence Massachusetts receivership district is frequently referenced as a successful example of the receivership model (See discussion here and the Mt Holyoke School District is in the process of entering receivership, with strong opposition from the community and teachers (Read discussion here).

“The New York State model is directed at schools rather than school districts.

[The new law says:] “In a district with a “Persistently Struggling School,” the superintendent is given an initial one-year period to use the enhanced authority of a Receiver to make demonstrable improvement in student performance or the Commissioner will direct that the school board appoint an Independent Receiver and submit the appointment for approval by the Commissioner. Additionally, the school will be eligible for a portion of $75 million in state aid to support and implement its turnaround efforts over a two-year period.”

“In the first year the superintendent, with “enhanced authority” has to show that the school has made “demonstrable improvement in student performance” or the school board, with the approval of the Commissioner will appoint an Independent Receiver.”

New York City recently started a 3-year turnaround program, but most of them are now targeted for receivership.

What is receivership? It means the school is handed over to an outsider with sweeping powers, “including requiring that all teachers reapply for their positions.”

Cuomo has no experience or knowledge about schools, other than having gone to schools. But he is threatening scores of schools either to improve or get taken over. This is a continuation of his vendetta against public schools and their teachers. In his way of thinking, the best way to bring about change is by threatening to beat up the other. Improve or die.

Regular readers may have noticed a flurry–one might say–a deluge of comments by a reader who signs as “Virginiasgp.” SGP stands for “student growth percentiles.” He believes with a religious fervor in student growth measures for evaluating teachers. He also says that he has worked in the U.S. Navy on a submarine. Another reader who signs as “NY Teacher” offered Virginiasgp some ideas about the deficiencies of test scores for teacher evaluation:


Apparently you think it’s a great idea to run public schools like the Navy runs its nuclear submarine fleet. Well thanks for the inspiration man. You really are a hoot-n-a-half on this. Shear genius. Now let’s take your fantabulous idea and put it to work for the Navy.
Don’t worry, I am highly qualified to help the US Navy mainly because I have zero experience with nuclear submarines. At least we’re square on the experience piece. Well, here goes – my suggestion . . . no, make that my insistence!


We must run the Navy’s nuclear submarine fleet just like a high needs, impoverished urban, Title 1 public school. As chief submarine Officer, please understand that there will be a few simple changes to protocol.


1) Your evaluation will be based on the ability of you and your crew to navigate a detailed, three dimensional attack course. You evaluation will be based on precision of tracking , speed and acceleration control, and stealth. Numerical data will be assigned to each of these three variables. I’ll even give you one of the newly commissioned, Virginia class ( SSN-774) nuclear-powered fast attack submarines. Seems appropriate Virginia.


2) Your crew will consist, instead of the usual adult Navy volunteers, 7th and 8th grade students from the worst performing middle school in the Bronx. Don’t worry, we will give them the same 5 week crash course that a TFAer would get and – you get to teach them! The U.S. Naval Submarine School New London in Groton CT works for me.
As the chief submarine Officer you must ensure that all systems run smoothly. That means you are responsible for your crew of youngsters and their jobs:


1) Operating a nuclear reactor and nuclear propulsion system
2) Maintaining on board weapons systems
3) Managing atmosphere control and fire control
4) Driving the vessel and charting its position
5) Operating communications and intelligence equipment


FYI/Heads Up:
On any given day or at any given moment, any one or more of your teenage crew may . . .
Be highly distracted and completely inattentive
Refuse to follow orders
Give you the one finger salute
Text and snap chat incessantly while on duty
Be very loud and boisterous
Ask permission to go to the bathroom – every 40 min.
Fight and argue with each other
Argue with you
Sleep on the job
Be absent from duty – some chronically
Disrupt crew meetings
Report for duty under the influence of illegal substances
Express their inner drama queen
Hang out in small groups and completely ignore you
Frequently exhibit silly, irrational, or bizarre behaviors
Forget most of what you taught them in the 5 week’r
Laugh when you yell at them
Stick chewing gum into electronic ports
Complain incessantly


Kind of tickles your innards knowing that your Naval career rests on the whims of a crew of mostly dysfunctional adolescents, doesn’t it?

From a reader:

“Florida VAM formula … from the DOE website. This is a terrible joke.

y_i=μ+∑_(g=1)^M▒〖δ_g x_g 〗+∑_(j=1)^K▒〖β_j x_j+θ_(k)i+ω_(mk)i+ε_i; 〗

“VAM is a SCAM and my children will be no part of it.”


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