Archives for the month of: June, 2013

When the trial was conducted of whether Paul Vallas had the necessary credentials to serve as superintendent of schools in Bridgeport, the attorney for the plaintiffs said he was a “drive-by superintendent.” The state commissioner of education Stefan Pryor, who picked Vallas, said he was impressed by his work in New Orleans, where he oversaw the near total privatization of the public schools.

The linked article describes testimony taken during the trial, which culminated in the judge’s decision that Vallas did not have the legally required credentials and should be removed.

A teacher responds to the rankings by the NCTQ:

Ok. I have a degree in accounting. I was an accountant for 15 years. I switched to teaching in 2008 and was thoroughly shocked that teaching was so different than I imagined and also that it was so difficult. When I was an accountant, I remembered thinking that getting off at 4pm sounded like a dream since I worked until 6pm as a general rule. However, on the first day of being an instructional assistant I looked up at the clock at 3pm and wondered how it could only be 3pm. I was exhausted. Teachers have no down time. I was lucky to get to use the restroom let alone have a real lunch. Since then, I have acknowledged that I am just “on” from 7:30am until 4:00pm. There isn’t any leisurely talk at the coffee pot, or walk around the building to wake up, or even personal phone calls to set an appointment. There isn’t any “zoning out” at your desk like so many other professionals do. It is exhausting. I love working with the kids and teaching gives me so much more than I ever thought that it would, but it is VERY different than the non-teaching public will understand. My first year was a wake-up call. I wouldn’t go through that again for anything and I went through Indiana University (one of the schools that made decent marks in this sham of a study).

The forces advocating privatization of public schools are well-funded and relentless. They cloak their goals in high-flown rhetoric about “saving kids from failing schools.” Or they cynically claim the mantle of the civil rights movement as they seek to disrupt communities and replace public control with private ownership. As the public gets wise, resistance grows.

This comment came from a reader:

I have been researching this whole privitatization of public services since Parent Revolution has targeted my school. Ben and his like are interested in taking publuc services like schools and even libraries to privateers. Always promoted as being able to provide better services. With dwindling tax dollars public entities can unburden themselves of unions, costly health care, and underfunded pensions. Under eleaborate PR campaigns boards and councils are sold on the ideas.

Next, is to convince the public needing the services. The gray area of being ethical is where the privateers work in. Their campaign is well groomed. A student looked at the Parent Revolution web site. He said ( a 5th grader) that it was well written to appeal to parents. Just what parents would want to hear. He researched those opposed to PR and found explicit examples of not doing what they promised. He said “bait and switch”.

Privitization is just another way for the 1% of America to mine new monies for profit to line their pockets. Their desire to help students is only if there is profit to be made. Besides if things don’t work out well and these kids hit the street being undesirables there are privitized psychiatric hospitals and private prisons these people can be warehoused with tax dollars and at a profit.

Satire alert!

Diana Senechal tries her hand at satirizing the Danielson rubric, which seems to have taken the nation’s schools by storm.

Join her as she ventures into the Low Inference Room.

A reader from Los Angeles raises questions about Dr. Deasy’s credentials and his backers. I cannot verify all his claims but could verify this and thisand this:

The reader writes:

“In Los Angeles, “Dr.” (a term L.A. teachers sneer at) John Deasy got his PhD from the University of Louisville after six months attendance and nine units of coursework from a “Professor” (another loose term) Felner whom Deasy had previously awarded $375,000 in consulting contracts while Superintendent of Santa Monica. Felner later received a vote of no confidence first from the University and then the U.S. Justice Department which sentenced him to five years in federal prison for defrauding the US Government and urban school districts of $2.3 million. Deasy lied on his resume, claiming to have taught at Loyola and was “installed” by Eli Broad (he’s a Broad Graduate), Bill Gates, and Mayor Villariagosa. Not only did LAUSD not conduct a national search, they didn’t even interview him. When I say “installed,” I mean, “INSTALLED!” He is now busy wrecking the careers of hundreds, soon to be thousands of dedicated teaching professionals using false allegations, many related to child abuse. Does anyone truly believe we suddenly have thousands of child-abusing teachers in L.A., or has an unqualified, vindictive, malicious Superintendent launched an unprecedented McCarthyistic witch hunt against primarily senior teachers to cover his own behind for mishandling other legitimate sex scandals (including a previous Superintendent’s) and solve his budget problems by riding himself of highly skilled (relatively expensive) veteran teachers while simultaneously robbing them of district-paid lifetime retirement health benefits –a quarter of a million dollars or more these veterans have spent decades earning while serving to LAUSD students?”

Six months and nine units got Deasy a PhD. Oh and by the way, his dissertation is dated months before he even enrolled at Louisville. How many ways can you spell “Quid Pro Quo?” What is the plural? Is it “Quids,” “Pros,” or “Quos”? All three? It can’t be “Pros.” Deasy is anything but a “pro.”

Deasy is literally skinning teachers alive with false allegations. And after paying accused child molester Mark Brendt $40,000 to resign, he did not notify the State’s Teacher Credential Commission for more than a year, the penalty for which is the revocation of your (meaning Deasy’s) administrative credential. Why does a man who admittedly broke the law still have an administrative credential? Why is he still an administrator? Why is his butchering of teachers being allowed to continue? Two reasons. The first is “Eli” and the second is “Broad.”

In this post, Jonathan Pelto assembles a timeline of the stunning court decision to remove Paul Vallas as superintendent of schools of Bridgeport, Connecticut. He includes Vallas’ tenure as superintendent of schools in Chicago, where he was hailed for “saving” the schools and in Philadelphia, where he installed the nation’s most sweeping privatization plan (to that point). Philadelphia and Chicago are now in crisis. Vallas then went on to New Orleans, where he oversaw the almost total privatization of that city’s schools after Hurricane Katrina. New Orleans is hailed by the media as a success but the Recovery School District is the lowest performing district in the state of Louisiana, its top schools skim, and it is propped up by infusions of millions of philanthropic dollars.

Oklahoma education leaders proposed that the state should invalidate the state tests because of computer breakdowns.

“The Oklahoma Education Association stated in a release on their website that CTB/McGraw-Hill was “grossly deficient in its ability to meet the needs of Oklahoma schools and students.” This was after schools reported numerous issues with standardized tests this past spring.”

Will State Superintendent Janet Barresi have the courage to do what Indiana’s Glenda Ritz did? Ritz is suing CTB/McGraw-Hill because of the computer glitches that marred state testing.

Remember the days when teachers wrote their own tests, knowing what their students had been taught? Remember when teachers were trusted as professionals? Now, we put our faith in big corporations and their computers. Better to put our faith in well-prepared professionals.


The New York Daily News found another of those “miracle” schools that, on examination, isn’t.

Gary Rubinstein is a master debunker of miracle schools, and his antennae went up when he read about a charter school in the South Bronx where almost every student graduates. The Daily News wrote: “Of the 66 12th graders at Hyde Leadership Charter School, 62 graduated — a 95% rate that crushes the citywide average of 64.7%.”

Time for mathematics. Gary knew that the citywide rate was the “cohort rate,” the percentage who made it through high school to graduation. The 95% rate represents those who made it to 12th grade and graduated.

When the data were made comparable, the graduation rate at the “miracle school” was lower than the citywide average.

As Gary concludes, the Daily News could really use a fact-checker.

More than anyone else other than the plaintiffs, Jonathan Pelto has been a persistent critic of Paul Vallas, Stefan Pryor, and their indifference to “legalities,” I.e. the law.

Pelto’s blog has the full story.

From Linda Hall, Connecticut resident:

The latest from the CT Mirror:

In April, the state board approved an independent study created for Vallas by the University of Connecticut as a valid program. But the judge said Friday that the short, independent study he completed in May at UConn was merely a simultation.

“There is no doubt that Vallas received preferential treatment,” the judge wrote in her 27-page decision.

Vallas is in his 17th month of leading the 21,000-student school system.

The judge also noted that Vallas lacked the required prerequisites to enroll in the regular UConn program in the first place, and that such an independent study hadn’t been approved for anyone else in the last decade. Additionally, the university’s governing board had never approved an independent study program.

“Ultimately, the course standards were reduced,” the judge wrote. “The court accepts Vallas’ testimony that the work, although done over the course of 10 weeks while fulfilling his employment as acting superintendent, could have been completed in a week.”

The judge also ruled that Pryor, the state’s education commissioner, improperly waived the certification requirements.

“The evidence submitted at trial established that Pryor did not adequately vet Vallas when evaluating whether he was ‘exceptionally qualified’ because Pryor was unable to provide specific details of that process in his testimony,” the judge wrote.

It is unclear what the ruling means for Vallas’ three-year contract with the Bridgeport school board. Vallas, who is being paid $234,000 a year, has led the Chicago, Philadelphia and New Orleans school systems.

Carmen Lopez, a Bridgeport resident and former judge who filed the lawsuit, called the decision a “triumph.”

“We are still a nation of laws, and not of men, which I am sure comes as a shock to Paul Vallas and Stefan Pryor. The message of this decision is simple — no one is above the law,” she said.

“Fortunately, when the executive branch is arrogant and unresponsive, citizens can still have redress in the courts in order to check unrestrained abuses of power,” Lopez said.

This is the second time in the last two school years that the state’s involvement in the governance of a school district has been overturned by a judge. After the state ousted the former, locally elected Bridgeport Board of Education, the state Supreme Court ruled that that takeover was illegal because the proper steps were not followed.