Archives for the month of: March, 2013

Here’s more about the Tennessee proposal to cut the welfare benefits of families if their children don’t make progress on state tests.

155,000 families will be affected if the bill passes.

Is this value-added right-to-eat?

The main sponsor of the bill has no children.

I knew it was Ebenezer Scrooge.

Governor Bobby Jindal is one our most notable reformers.

He wants to reform Louisiana’s tax code by abolishing income taxes and corporate taxes and replace them with an increase in the sales tax. This will shift the burden of taxation to poor and middle-income people. How clever to shelter the income of the rich.

But wait, there is more.

Jindal and his faithful liege John White want standards, accountability, and letter grades for pre-kindergarten. That way, every child will start school ready to learn. Watch those test scores soar!

So put it all together and what do you get? Higher taxes for poor people and the state’s threat to close down their kids’ preschools if the kids don’t perform.

Maybe Jindal should repeal the child labor laws and let the little tykes get a job after their nursery school is shut down by the state.

And if the parents can’t afford to buy food, there is always Jonathan Swift’s”Modest Proposal.” Google it.

Here are the names and contact number for the committee in the Tennessee legislature that will decide whether to cut the welfare benefits of families whose children get low test scores.

Please contact them, in the name of decency.

Just when you think that things couldn’t get any worse, some legislator comes up with the meanest, cruelest, dumbest idea yet.

Tennessee is considering legislation to cut the welfare benefits to families if their children get low test scores.

Some exceptions are carved out, but the basic idea is that the kids need a carrot and stick approach. Or more likely, a whip. The kids need to be afraid that their family won’t eat.

That’ll fix education.

Who are these people?

Do they have an ounce of charity in their hearts?

Do they have any religion? Any sense of humanity?

Will they sleep well at night knowing that someone went to bed hungry because of a law they passed?

A reader in Cleveland comments on today’s post about vouchers in Cleveland. He is responding to a comment by another reader, who defended vouchers:

“I’m from Cleveland. The vouchers worked! They raised the cost of per-pupil expenditures in our public schools and resulted in cuts to funding for arts and enrichment programs, making public schools a less desirable “choice.” See Freakenomics for their take on vouchers. That voucher students at best do more or less the same than their peers in public schools misses what I think is the most important point. The fragmenting of public funds through vouchers/charters compromises the opportunities of public school.”

Jose Banda, the Seattle superintendent of schools, will not discipline the Garfield High School teachers who boycotted the MAP tests as a waste of time and resources. He urged them to resume work as usual. They were heard, he said.

This was a wise decision.

Congratulations to the Garfield teachers for your courage and unity!

For a full copy of Superintendent Banda’s statement, and a critical assessment of the story, see the report here.

Arthur Camins has written numerous thoughtful essays about the current ruinous trends in American education.

Here he reflects on some important lessons from the Atlanta cheating scandal.

He writes:

“I’m waiting for the national editorials, leading policy makers and major foundations to speak out honestly about the lessons learned from the Atlanta cheating scandal. I’m waiting for them to change course. But, I am not holding my breath.

“From Enron to Arthur Anderson to the sub-prime lending debacle we have unambiguous evidence of a lethal combination. Unquestioned hierarchy, the arrogance of power and a singular focus on short-term metrics yield no integrity and subsequent cheating. When fear and financial rewards are combined honesty is lost.

“Cheating, especially of the erasure kind, is not new and was certainly known to Beverly Hall. Back in the 1990’s, when she was rising through the ranks, I worked as a District Science Coordinator in New York City. One day during the annual spring testing period we were summoned to the District Office and sent out to proctor testing in the classrooms of teachers who had been identified by the Central Board’s testing division as having an unusually high percentage of erasure marks on previous tests. The pressure was high then even without the threat of job loss or the promise of bonuses. Even then, there was no “speaking truth to power.”

“I was struck in the reporting this morning that Beverly Hall’s reign in Atlanta was characterized by fear. In the end, it is the absence of democracy, the primacy of bureaucracies over learning organizations that allows and encourages cheating. To paraphrase Isaac Asimov from one of his Foundation Trilogy novels, “Despotism is the last refuge of the incompetent.” I think some people rise to power for many reasons and at a certain point realize they really don’t have answers, but do not have the courage to admit it either to themselves or others. That’s when the cover up and self-righteousness take over.”


This video by David Sirota of Denver gives a clear and concise explanation of how school reform became big bu$ine$$.

Bedford Central Superintendent Jere Hochman poses the inevitable questions:

How did we let this happen?

Could we have stopped it?

What can we do now?

It must end. It will end. What is happening in education today is nothing less than educational malpractice. It is not education. It is bad for students.

Hochman writes:
Absolutely no excuse for cheating, threatening teachers, and the culture of lying.

But where were we in 2002 when NCLB was passed unnoticed under the shadow of 9/11? Why did those of us writing and criticizing the testing movement not press harder? Where were the professional organizations (NCTE, NCSS, NCTM …)? Why did we allow Mr. Obama to drink the Kool-aid left on the DOE table? Why didn’t we expose the Michelle Rhee’s, the quick fix reformers, and charter scammers when we saw what was happening Why did we allow our state legislators to fall into line so they could get re-elected based on test score results (or criticize the other guy for not getting them)?

Atrocities in history raise two questions: 1) How in the world could anyone be so evil, so toxic, so driven that such atrocities occurred? 2) Where were the bystanders and how could they let it occur?

Occupy DOE, keep writing, and then let us all make 2013-2014 be the year the professionals and parents took back public education.

Three cities have had vouchers in recent years. Milwaukee, Cleveland, and DC.

As I pointed out in an earlier post, vouchers did not improve test scores in either Milwaukee or DC.

They also failed to make a difference in Cleveland. See here also.

Voucher advocates should stop lying to poor parents.

Vouchers do not increase test scores.

They just serve to undermine public education.

Isn’t it time to pay attention to evidence?

Why so much faith-based policy?