John Thompson has been researching the tenures of Broadie Superintendents, who sem to have been trained to be tough top down administrators.

Here is his latest report:

Researching failed Broad Academy superintendents has been “déjà vu, all over again.” When No Child Left Behind promised 100% proficiency by 2014, education researchers accurately predicted that efforts would be diverted from teaching and learning to statistical gamesmanship. Being fairly new to education policy, I kept asking myself what reformers were thinking: Had they never heard of Campbell’s Law? If they hadn’t read Catch 22, had they not seen the movie, and its portrayal of the real world effects of imposing absurd, unreachable, quantitative growth targets?

Rightly or wrongly, my summary of Mike Miles’ “reign of error” in Dallas emphasized the dismal results he produced, as well as the human costs of his Broad mandates. I should have given more emphasis to Miles’ surrealistic display of hubris, and his weird dance performance, when he announced the new day he was bringing to Dallas schools. Miles seemed like a caricature of Bob Newhart’s performance of “Major Major” in Mike Nichols’ Catch 22 movie. Miles obviously failed to learn from Major Major being told, “You’re the new squadron commander. … But don’t think it means anything, because it doesn’t. All it means is that you’re the new squadron commander.”

Among the meaningless things that Miles told Dallas was that, by 2020, 90% students would graduate on time, 40% would attain a 21 or higher composite score on the ACT exam or a SAT of 990 on Reading/Math, 75% would be proficient on the “Year 2020 workplace readiness assessments,” and 80% would enter college, the military, or a “career-ready job” straight from high school.

Perhaps the sub-goals were even more illustrative of Miles’ autocratic disconnection from reality. Buy-in would be so great that students in targeted low-performing schools would receive at least 90 minutes of homework every night. By August 2015, he said that 75% of the staff and 70% of the community would “agree or strongly agree with the direction of the district.” At least 60% of teachers on his pay-for-performance evaluation system and 75% of principals would agree that the system is “fair, accurate and rigorous.”

In the real world of 2015, Miles resigned. The Dallas Morning News explained that “in Texas, superintendents are graded by state STAAR results, and DISD scores have stayed flat or dropped under him.” So, what sort of victories could Miles proclaim?

As he left office, Miles claimed victory in putting the critical pieces needed to transform Dallas into place. Instead of quantifiable gains, he bragged about continued implementation of a rigorous principal evaluation system that uses both performance and student results to measure principal effectiveness; the implementation of the Teacher Excellence Initiative, and fundamentally changing how highly effective teachers are identified and assessed; kicking off an initiative to create 35 choice schools; and increasing the focus on early childhood programs.

In other words, Miles claimed to have produced gains in implementation, innovation, identification, assessment, focus, and kicking things off, but not even he could pretend to have produced concrete, much less measurable, improvements in student learning.

And that leads to the question of whether corporate reformers, especially Broad superintendents, will ever learn the folly of demanding impossible, quantifiable accountability targets. Shouldn’t Philadelphia and its Broad trained leader, William Hite, recall the city’s cheating scandal from 2009 to 2011, when at least 140 educators engaged in improprieties?

I’d say that Philly is another case of déjà vu all over again but – at least for now – Hite seems to be getting away with it. His goals are even more incredible. The goals of his 2015 Action Plan 3.0 are:

• 100% of students will graduate, ready for college and career

• 100% of 8-year-olds will read on grade level

• 100% of schools will have great principals and teachers

• 100% of the funding we need for great schools, and zero deficit

Philadelphia may be on track to meet its 2018 goal of a 66% graduation rate, but those numbers are easily fabricated. They say nothing about the target of 100% college and career readiness. So, what do the reliable NAEP scores say about the district’s student performance?

In 2011, Philadelphia 4th graders scored 8 points lower than other urban districts in math, but in 2017, they scored 17 points lower. During the same period, Philadelphia 4th graders dropped another four points in reading in comparison to other urban schools. In 2011, Philly’s 8th graders scored 9 points lower in math. By 2017, the gap grew to 14 points. The reading score gap increased by 2 points for 8th graders.

And while we’re at it, where is Philadelphia in terms of 100% school funding and zero deficit?

Just last month, Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said:

The Philadelphia School District needs to spend $150 million on repairs to its 300 buildings, including money for an expansion of a lead paint abatement program. To do so, the district is banking on almost $700 million in additional funding from the city proposed in Kenney’s budget.

Council, however, has publicly expressed qualms about fulfilling the mayor’s full request for schools, which would almost certainly be tied to a property-tax hike.

Of course, that leads to the next logical conclusion. Perhaps Mayor Jim Kenney should take a page from the Broad playbook. He should tell voters that passing the tax increase will solve 100% of the city’s as well as the schools’ problems.