Jeannie Kaplan discovers that Denver ranks #1 on a scorecard compiled by the Center for Reinventing Public Education, an outpost of corporate reform.

 

Denver has faithfully complied with most elements of the reformster agenda, but what has its compliance done for Denver students, she asks.

 

And she answers: nothing.

She writes:

“Way back in 1972 there was a committee whose acronym was CRP. CRP stood for Committee to Re-elect the President, who at the time was Richard M. Nixon. Because CRP became integrally involved in some creepy activities including Watergate, its acronym morphed into CREEP. A creepy committee funding some CREEPy goings on. (On a personal note, I worked at CBS News in Washington, D.C. during this time. While I thought some of the activities were CREEPy, I loved the political intrigue).

“Fast forward to 2015 and my continuing involvement with Denver Public Schools. Another creepy organization has touched my life: Center on Reinventing Public Education or (another) CRPE, a University of Washington research center funded in part by Bill and Melinda Gates. It turns out this creepy organization has provided the blueprint for all that is happening and has happened in DPS over the last ten years.

“This creepy CRPE has tried to lead us to believe that a business portfolio strategy can somehow be successful in the public education world. Strategies and phrases such as “risk management,” “assets,” “portfolio rebalancing and managing,” “ridding yourself of portfolio low performers,” “monoploy” dominate the conversations with these folks. And because DPS has been so successful and diligent in adopting these elements it has finally, finally, reached the top of a reformy chart. The problem with this achievement is that it only represents success as it relates to implementation of some convoluted business strategy.

“Remember, a portfolio strategy requires constant churn, for the investor is always ridding his portfolio of low-performing stocks while looking for higher performing ones. This may be a good strategy for business, but schools, children, families and teachers are not stocks and bonds. They should not be treated as such.

“And so far implementation of this strategy has had virtually no impact on improving educational opportunities or outcomes for Denver’s children. So after being national exemplars for choice (or as I like to call it chaos), funding, talent (see here and here for Chalkbeat’s take) and accountability, Denver Public Schools still shows no growth in 2014 standardized tests. Proficiencies across the district slog along at 57% for reading, 47% for math, and 44% for writing with achievement gaps increasing in each subject. Even with a slight increase ACT scores are still only 18.4 (a 26 is needed to enter the University of Colorado) and the overall graduation rate is still at only 62.8%. Sadly, even after ten years, DPS has failed to transfer implementation into outcomes.”