Archives for the month of: June, 2013

Faculty and graduate students of education denounced a plan by the University of Minnesota by the university to create a partnership with Teach for America.

To put it mildly, the statement they issued was blistering.

They said, in part,

“Teach for America contributes to creating more exploitative and precarious working conditions for teachers, often displacing career educators and decreasing job opportunities for our Initial Licensure Program teacher candidates and all preservice teachers who seriously study pedagogy and curriculum before heading into the classroom. Further, TFA creates harmful environments for its own recruits, placing them in complicated classroom situations with no real knowledge of pedagogy, let alone the community or the issues of poverty and racism their students often face. In fact, a national ‘resistance to TFA’ summit organized by TFA alums will be taking place later this summer. TFA supports a political agenda that undercuts teacher unions, and that reduces teacher preparation to a quick and dirty “training” program. TFA contributes to shrinking tenure-track professorships in education in exchange for TFA coordinators and adjunct instructor positions. We view the increasing prevalence of TFA-influence in colleges of education as, in the long term, a reckless contribution to the de-skilling and de-professionalizing of us and our fellow public school teachers and faculty.”

They said, “TFA contributes to school inequity more than resisting it…We know that experience and preparedness, strong and meaningful relationships, supportive and well-resourced work and learning conditions, and a serious commitment to students’ lives contributes more to educational equity than inexperienced and underprepared (however well-meaning) TFA recruits who have a high turnover rate after their two years of “service” are completed.

And more:

TFA works against our visions of education.

“Coming from different areas and perspectives within the field of education, we all have various ideas about what education should look like. However, we can agree that TFA is not it. We desire an educational system in which teachers have a long-term stake in their students’ and communities’ futures, in which teachers have the time and support to profoundly develop and refine their teaching and facilitation skills, and in which teachers possess the experience, support, and knowledge to cultivate meaningful pedagogical philosophies. We also recognize that our role is to support these emergent teachers as they transition into the classroom. We recognize that partnering with TFA has the potential to bring more financial resources that could be used to fund our education in the short term. In the long term, we do not think it is worth sacrificing the integrity of our programs, our future aspirations as teacher educators, and our communities and classrooms in aligning with what we believe is an opportunistic, trendy, and short-sighted education “reform” that does not have the education of youth as its top priority.”

The letter was signed by a long list of faculty and graduate students at the College of Education and Human Development, University of Minnesota. Read it.


John White is an alumnus of Teach for America. He wants more money to hire more TFA for the state’s lowest performing schools. Despite the poor performance of the state Recovery School District, which has been staffed with large numbers of TFA for almost 25 years, White wants more of the same.

White got into a heated debate with state board member Lottie Beebe. White insists that hiring TFA means the “willingness to try something different.” Since Louisiana has hired TFA for nearly a quarter century without seeing the promised “excellence,” White seems to be defending the status quo, not trying “something different.”

Now that billionaire Penny Pritzker has been confirmed as Secretary of Commerce, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has selected her replacement.

Is it an educator? No.

Is it someone who has a deep understanding of the needs of Chicago’s children and families?

How about an investment banker?

Today the federal government released the NAEP 2012 “Trends in Academic Progress.” This is known as the Long-Term Trend report. These tests seldom change in content. They are given every four years to national–not state–samples of students at ages 9-13-17.

The reports say that achievement is stagnant, but it is not true. What is truly stagnant are the scores for the past four years.

There were big achievement gains from 1971-2008 for whites, blacks, and Hispanics, and big achievement gains for students at every age level tested–ages 9, 13, and 17.

From 1971-2008, in reading, black students at age 9 gained 34 points; at age 13, 25 points; at 17, 28 points.

From 1971-2008, white students at age 9 made gains of 14 points; at 13 points, 7 points; at 17, 4 points.

From 1971-2008, Hispanic students at age 9 gained 25 points; at 13, 10 points; at 17, 17 points.

However, for the past four years, from 2008-2012, the scores have been stagnant for every racial and ethnic group and for every age group with the singular exception of Hispanic 13-year-olds and female 13-year-olds.

From 2008-2012, the acme of the high-stakes testing era, there were no gains for black students at ages 9 or 13 or 17.

From 2008-2012, there were no gains for white students at ages 9 or 13 or 17.

From 2008-2012, there no gains for Hispanic students at ages 9 or 17. At 13, Hispanic students gained 7 points.

From 2008-2012, there were no gains for males in any age group.

From 2008-2012, there were no gains for females at ages 9 or 17. At age 13, females gained 3 points.

The lesson of the new report: billions spent on high-stakes testing have had minimal to no effect on test scores.

High-stakes testing has failed.

We need to take a new course.

Yesterday I posted a story from North Carolina about tweaks to the charter bill SB 337.

This is a correction sent to me by the reporter.

Originally the bill said that those who teach in charter schools did not need any certification.

At present, 75 percent of charter teachers in grades K-5 must be certified teachers, but the revised bill will drop that proportion to 50 percent, not zero.

One of those who was critical of certification requirements was Rep. Larry Pittman. He said he was misquoted in the original post, so the reporter dutifully printed his remarks in full.

Rep. Larry Pittman and his wife were disappointed in the public schools, so they home-schooled their children, who are doing well in college, which apparently goes to prove that no training or preparation or certification is necessary for teachers. Anyone can teach, right?

The link reminds me of the adage attributed to Abraham Lincoln: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.”


A reader explains why the Philadelphia All-City High School Orchestra is being closed and who should rescue it:

“Actually, philanthropy wouldn’t help. The orchestra is endangered because classroom instrumental music instruction has been eliminated from the budget (hence, no musicians to play in it). The cut was among those made to close a $300 million budget deficit caused largely by state cuts that fell particularly hard on the poorest districts. This is precisely the kind of problem that does not have a private solution but requires a public commitment to public education. (Though I wouldn’t be surprised if there isn’t a raft of charter applications for schools specializing in instrumental music).”

Blogger Arthur Goldstein lacerates the New York Daily News for its latest assault on teachers.

One teacher was accused of having attended meetings of an organization called NAMBLA (the North American Man-Boy Love Association). Was it true? Who knows? Did he do anything illegal? No investigation.

Goldstein, who recently received the coveted Skinny Award for excellence as a teacher-blogger, wrote:

“The Daily News, no longer content to have its editorial section lecture us on the perfidy of teachers, has now taken to the pages of its “reporting” to do so. In fact, to save time, they appear to be simply writing the same story every day. Teachers are a bunch of perverts, legal expert Campbell Brown says they are right, and that’s pretty much it.

And, of course, paragon of fairness Dennis Walcott says anyone charged with sexual misconduct ought to be terminated. If the puppet of the city’s richest man says you’re guilty, that ought to be good enough for anyone. Right, Daily News?”

(Campbell Brown used to work for CNN. She has written previously about her contempt for teachers unions. Her husband is on the board of Michelle Rhee’s NY-based StudentsFirst.)

I remember when I lived in DC in the early ’90s: a teacher was accused by half a dozen teenagers of inappropriate touching. The man’s name was dragged through the mud. The evidence seemed clear. So many students making the same complaint! But when the teens were interviewed individually by the police, each one recanted and said they agreed to make a false accusation because the teacher was a hard grader.

That is why, in American law, there is a presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

By the way, the publisher of the New York Daily News is Mort Zuckerman, a good friend of Mayor Bloomberg and a fellow billionaire. Zuckerman is also publisher of U.S. News & World Report, which released the Ed-school bashing report of the National Council on Teacher Quality.

Carol Corbett Burris, principal of South Side High School in Rockville Center, Long Island, New York, runs a good school. She wants to protect her staff and her students from ill-advised state interference. She wants to keep morale high. She has led the principals’ rebellion against the state evaluation plan. In this post, she reviews the evaluation plan that John King, our state commissioner of education (who has minimal experience as a teacher or a principal) imposed on the New York City public schools:


Recently Commissioner John King imposed a high stakes evaluation plan on New York City teachers. When you look at the plan, you see that the scoring bands for the first two categories, (student growth based on test scores and other achievement measures), are dramatically different from those used this year to evaluate all of NYS teachers with APPR evaluation plans. For example, this year’s scoring band range for Ineffective is 0-2 in the first two categories. Yet NYC teachers will have an Ineffective range of 0-12 in the first two. Likewise, this year Effective starts at 9, but for NYC teachers it will start at 15.

Why? Because the score band that is being used for our APPR scores has serious problems that cannot be addressed through negotiations.  For example, if you get the rating of ‘developing’ in all three categories and the scores are on the low end of developing, you will be rated INEFFECTIVE overall. 

Here is the arithmetic:  3 + 3 + 58 = 64

Because word problems are all the rage with the common core, let me turn it into a word problem: Developing + Developing + Developing = Ineffective

The 3s come right off the 3012C score band. So where does the 58 come from? Teacher unions negotiate the final 60 points, known as “other points”. So let’s say they negotiated 60 points for highly effective.  And they negotiated a plan so that all effective teachers get 59 points. That would leave 58 points for developing teachers, and 0-57 points for ineffective. Bizarre, but the best you could do.

Once again…..

3+ 3 + 58 = 64, D+D+ D = IE because 64 means you are Ineffective.

 Now, I wrote about these ridiculous and very unfair bands in February of 2012.  But Mr. Leo Casey, then of the UFT, took me to task. And he took Diane Ravitch to task for supporting me. He said that I did not understand.  From that EdWize blog…

“Is it really necessary to note that teacher union leaders with substantial experience in collective bargaining know how to do simple math, and would not agree in collective bargaining to scoring bands for teacher performance that would produce such an incongruous and unfair result?”

Well, Mr. Casey, take a look at the plans that have been negotiated around New York State, and do the simple math in all of the plans.  Diane and I will be happy to accept your apology.

Despite the fact that this problem is known to SED, they have yet to honestly address it or speak about it. What is the right thing to do? Have this year’s APPR scores not count, and certainly not have them shared with parents. Instead they are hiding their math mistake.

And now we have the Commissioner’s NYC fix.  Yes, it fixes the D+D+D= IE.  But he solved a problem with a problem. Here are the new bands below.

Commissioner Imposed Cut Scores for New York City

  Growth or ComparableMeasures Locally-selected Measures of growth orachievement Other Measures of Effectiveness(60 points)   Overall CompositeScore
Ineffective 0-12 0-12 0-38   0-64
Developing 13-14 13-14 39-44   65-74
Effective 15-17 15-17 45-54   75-90
Highly Effective 18-20 18-20 55-60   91-100


Notice how the “points” shift over to the Ineffective rows… So let’s run some scenarios. A teacher gets 12 points in growth, 12 in the locally selected measures and their principal is very impressed with their teaching and professionalism and gives them 60/60 points in other measures. WOW!  84 points! That is an effective teacher.  Umm, not so fast.  Both the NYC plan and the law say that if your scores are in the Ineffective range in the first two columns you must be Ineffective overall.  In this case, 84 = Ineffective.

But suppose you get 12 + 13 + 40 = 65. You are a Developing teacher.

Yes, in this score band, the arithmetic is quite creative….

84 can be < 65 in a world where test scores must trump all.





Robert Mann, a professor of communications at Louisiana State University, recognizes that the point of charters and vouchers is to withdraw into gated communities.

He writes: “Private schools have long flourished in America for reasons legitimate (religious and scholastic), and some not so legitimate (race). But now many parents and taxpayers – manipulated by politicians who argue that the only way to fix public education is to weaken it with privatization – are giving up on the very idea of public schools.

“A strong component of Louisiana’s education “reform” agenda – led by Gov. Bobby Jindal and state education Superintendent John White – is abandoning public schools in favor of private educational enclaves.”

Vouchers do not fulfill their promise. Voucher students fare poorly. Only 40% perform at or above grade level.

And more: “Then there are the 80 schools in Louisiana’s Recovery School District (RSD), beset with allegations of mismanagement, wasteful spending and millions in lost or stolen property. Last year, New Orleans’ RSD schools – mostly charters – were the worst performing in the city.”

The truth is beginning to break through the myths about the glories of privatization.

EduShyster has a hilarious post about Kevin Huffman’s plan to “crush” the achievement gap in Tennessee:

Pay teachers less.

It starts with a photo of a young woman standing by the side of the road holding a sign that says, “Will Teach 4 Food.”

No extra pay for experience.

No extra pay for degrees.

Best of all, Huffman himself demonstrated that he could teach a great high school lesson without any prior experience or education or preparation. Or so the principal said who evaluated him.