Archives for category: Duncan, Arne

This is a fascinating interview of Bill Gates in 2014 by Washington Post reporter Lyndsey Layton.

Layton wrote a comprehensive account of how the Common Core was funded single-handed by Gates. Gates engineered a “swift revolution,” a near coup, by subsidizing and promulgating the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), with cheerleading by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

CCSS may have been the biggest policy disaster in the history of U.S. education. States and districts spent billions of dollars to implement new standards, new tests, new teacher training, new software, new textbooks, new professional development, all in pursuit of illusory standardization.

The U.S. Department of Education paid $360 million for two consortia to develop tests (PARCC and the Smarter Balanced Consortium). The consortia started life with almost every state but most have now dropped out. Gates paid for everything else. By some estimates, he invested as much as $2 billion subsidizing the writing, development, evaluation, and promotion of CCSS.

The Common Core was adopted by almost every state because states had to adopt common standards if they wanted to be eligible to compete for a portion of nearly $5 billion in Race to the Top funding. Arne Duncan worked closely with the Gates Foundation, and several former Gates officials worked for Duncan. States, still staggering from the 2008 recession, needed the money. Race to the Top and CCSS were a package deal meant to standardize American education.

If the goal was to raise test scores (it was) and to close or narrow achievement gaps (it was), both Race to the Top and Common Core failed. Neither happened. Read my book SLAYING GOLIATH, which contains the data.

The Center for American Progress is identified by the mainstream media as a “liberal think tank” and as the think tank of the Democratic establishment. It protects the Obama legacy, including the toxic legacy of Arne Duncan’s failed Race to the Top. Billions were squandered for a program that was built on the foundation of George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind. Twenty years have been wasted by investing in high-stakes testing and charter schools. CAP refuses to acknowledge this education disaster and continues to peddle the same tired Bush-Obama remedies.

Our reader Laura Chapman writes here about CAP’s May 27 event, featuring charter school leaders, even the executive director of the hedge funders’ charter advocacy lobby, DFER.

Please read! Take her advice and send in your questions. Ask them why they support the DeVos agenda. Let’s hope that CAP and its neonservative allies do not influence Joe Biden.

Laura writes:

“DeVos has a long and notorious record of using agency guidance and regulatory action to undermine equity.”

Yes. And this power is why, in addition to getting rid of Trump and DeVos, voters who care about public education must pay attention to Biden and who he is courting for advice. We need to let him know that more attention must be paid to public schools, not charter schools

Charter schools have a non-stop campaign for money, with a major pitch that they are the only schools that care about black and brown children. That is non-sense. Charter schools originated in and perpetuate racially segregated schools.

Here is an example of that campaign pitch, from Center for American Progress, founded by Hillary Clinton’s John Podesta, and an outfit that also gets money from both teacher unions. It is not a supporter of public schools. It is an apologist and promoter of them,

If you have nothing better to do, submit some questions for CAP’s May 27 event, staged with speakers who love charter schools. The title is “Beyond the Talking Points: Charter School Policy and Equity. Ensuring a Quality Education for Every Child Web Series.”

Here is the pitch
“Charter schools have been the source of some contentious debates in the education policy space, often centered on the growth of charters and their impact on traditional public school systems. Yet beyond these debates are a number of issues and policy choices that have deep impacts on the equity effects of charter schools.”

“This interactive conversation will cover a range of issues, with a focus on less commonly discussed topics in charter school policy such as
–enrollment issues around student backfill policies,
–lottery systems, and
–the perceived notion that charters are able to self-select students for attendance.”(This in not merely a perception. )

“Additionally, the discussion will explore operations issues that affect equity in charter schools, such as
–transportation for students to and from school,
–participation in meal programs, and
–how schools receive and use funding for facilities and resources.
(Operations issues are those wherein charter schools want to raid public schools fund even though they are supported by billionaires and have been gifted special federal funds from ten-yacht Betsy DeVos).

Finally, the panelists will discuss the ability of charters to serve all populations of students, particularly those who need additional services such as students with disabilities, English learners, and foster or homeless youth.” (This is just shy of an admission that charter schools, unlike public schools, may choose not to serve students with special needs).

“Please join the Center for American Progress to discuss charter policy in a broader context than the often debated talking points. This discussion aims to step back and examine the current state of the charter debate and where we might go from here, with an emphasis on how equity can be infused more holistically into charter policy.

“We would love to hear your questions.
Please submit any questions you have for our panelists using the hashtag #QualityEdChat on Twitter or via email to CAPeventquestions@americanprogress.org.

There certainly are issues with charter schools, a whole bunch. The CAP sponsors seem to think those listed above are “less commonly discussed.” If so, the sponsors are too much involved in cheerleading for charters and repeating talking points from the billionaire-funded 74Million news. They may also be indifferent to scholarship about charter schools especially the evidence-based criticisms in Diane Ravitch’s latest book Slaying Goliath: The Passionate Resistance to Privatization and the Fight to Save America’s Public Schools, or her earlier Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement, the Danger to America’s Public Schools, and then another, The Death and Life of the Great American School System.

The discussants in this affair are cheerleaders for charter schools who seem to have some mental inventory of criticisms of charter schools, are floundering, and also pondering “how equity can be infused more holistically into charter policy.” Informed critics will see through this promotional exercise with participants who claim to be MORE concerned with “equity” and in greater measure than supporters of traditional public schools.

Panelists:
Sharhonda Bossier. Deputy Director, Education Leaders of Color (EdLoc), prior work with Education Cities, a national promoter of charter schools
Laina Cox. Principal, Capital City Public Charter Middle School (for about 8 years). Holds a Master in Education in Teaching and Curriculum from Harvard University.
Shavar Jeffries. National President, Democrats for Education Reform, a PAC that promotes charter schools and stricter teacher evaluations. Lawyer, board member fro KIPP, ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Newark, NJ.
Joshua P. Starr. CEO of PDK International former Superintendent of Schools in Montgomery County, MD; Stamford CN. Also worked briefly for NYC Department of Education, served one month on Board of Directors, Center for Teacher Quality.
Moderator:
Neil Campbell, Director of Innovation, K-12 Education Policy, Center for American Progress, former director of Jeb Bush’s FEE–Foundation for Excellence in Education, Broad resident 2009-2011 while serving as Education Program Analyst with USDE.

Beyond the Talking Points: Charter School Policy and Equity

I hope that readers of this blog will submit a generous supply of questions. I will submit one: Why is there so much documented fraud, waste, and abuse in the charter school industry?

When Arne Duncan was Secretary of Education, he touted the idea that every student should be college ready. There has been considerable debate about which was Arne’s most memorable utterance. Some say it was his claim that Hurricane Katrina “was the best thing that ever happened to the schools of New Orleans,” despite the deaths of over 1,000 people. Others think it was his crack that the reason suburban moms hated Common Core was because it showed that their child was “not as brilliant” as they thought. The Common Core, he believed, was the key to “College and Career” readiness, and it was never to soon to start.

My favorite line is his statement when he visited a New York City public elementary school and said, “I want to be able to look into the eyes of a second-grader and know that he was on track to go to college.” It seemed to me that the typical second grader would have more immediate concerns and dreams (a cowboy? A fireman? An astronaut? A doctor?  A prince or princess?).

Our blog poet, SomeDAM Poet, wrote here:

College Ready in Kindergarten

College Ready in Kindergarten
Bachelor’s in First
PhD in Second grade
A life that’s well rehearsed

Jeff Bryant attended the Presidential Forum for Democratic candidates in Pittsburgh, and he watched to see how the candidates reacted to the Bush-Obama-Duncan agenda.

Michael Bennett was the only one to endorse it, and he got a tepid reception.

The others spoke of their love for public schools, their desire to raise funding, etc, but barely mentioned charters or testing unless pushed.

Duncan’s name was never mentioned.

Evaluating teachers by test scores never came up.

Everything that Bush and Obama had promoted was absent.

Of course, everything they promoted has failed, and the moderator kept referring to flat NAEP scores to challenge the candidates, without recognizing that the stagnant scores are the results of 20 years of No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, and Common Core.

But Jeff is not convinced that the change is more than cosmetic.

He thinks that the candidates will gravitate to where the money is: Wall Street; hedge fund managers; billionaires.

Warren and Sanders have not.

But he is right about this: Bad habits and bad ideas die slowly. If at all.

Not one candidate said simply and candidly, “everything that the federal government has imposed since passage of NCLB has failed. We need a fresh vision.”

 

 

A group of scholars collaborated to write a paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research that studies how teachers affect student height. It is a wonderful and humorous takedown of the Raj Chetty et al thesis that the effects of a single teacher in the early grades may determine a student’s future lifetime earnings, her likelihood graduating from college, live in higher SES neighborhoods, as well as avoid teen pregnancy.

When the Chetty study was announced in 2011, a front-page article in the New York Times said:

WASHINGTON — Elementary- and middle-school teachers who help raise their students’ standardized-test scores seem to have a wide-ranging, lasting positive effect on those students’ lives beyond academics, including lower teenage-pregnancy rates and greater college matriculation and adult earnings, according to a new study that tracked 2.5 million students over 20 years.

The paper, by Raj Chetty and John N. Friedman of Harvard and Jonah E. Rockoff of Columbia, all economists, examines a larger number of students over a longer period of time with more in-depth data than many earlier studies, allowing for a deeper look at how much the quality of individual teachers matters over the long term.

“That test scores help you get more education, and that more education has an earnings effect — that makes sense to a lot of people,” said Robert H. Meyer, director of the Value-Added Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, which studies teacher measurement but was not involved in this study. “This study skips the stages, and shows differences in teachers mean differences in earnings.”

The study, which the economics professors have presented to colleagues in more than a dozen seminars over the past year and plan to submit to a journal, is the largest look yet at the controversial “value-added ratings,” which measure the impact individual teachers have on student test scores. It is likely to influence the roiling national debates about the importance of quality teachers and how best to measure that quality.

Many school districts, including those in Washington and Houston, have begun to use value-added metrics to influence decisions on hiring, pay and even firing….

Replacing a poor teacher with an average one would raise a single classroom’s lifetime earnings by about $266,000, the economists estimate. Multiply that by a career’s worth of classrooms.

“If you leave a low value-added teacher in your school for 10 years, rather than replacing him with an average teacher, you are hypothetically talking about $2.5 million in lost income,” said Professor Friedman, one of the coauthors…

The authors argue that school districts should use value-added measures in evaluations, and to remove the lowest performers, despite the disruption and uncertainty involved.

“The message is to fire people sooner rather than later,” Professor Friedman said.

Professor Chetty acknowledged, “Of course there are going to be mistakes — teachers who get fired who do not deserve to get fired.” But he said that using value-added scores would lead to fewer mistakes, not more.

President Obama hailed the  Chetty study in his 2012 State of the Union address.

Value-added teacher evaluation, that is, basing the evaluation of teachers on the rise or fall of their students’ test scores, was a central feature of Arne Duncan’s Race to the Top when it was unveiled in 2010. States had to agree to adopt it if they wanted to be eligible for Race to the Top funding.

When the Los Angeles Times published a value-added ranking of thousands of teachers, teachers said the rankings were filled with error, but Duncan said those who complained were afraid to learn the truth. In Florida, teacher evaluations may be based on the rise or fall of the scores of students that the teachers had never taught, in subjects they had never taught. (About 70% of teachers do not teach subjects that are tested annually to provide fodder for these ratings.) When this nutty process was challenged inn court by Florida teachers, the judge ruled that the practice might be unfair but it was not unconstitutional.

The fundamental claim of VAM (value-added modeling or measurement) has been repeatedly challenged, most notably by economist Moshe Adler. When put into law, as it was in most states, it was found to be useless, because only tiny percentages of teachers were identified as ineffective, and even the validity of the ratings of that 1-3% was dubious. The use of VAM was frozen by a judge in New Mexico, then tossed out earlier this year by a new Democratic governor. It was banned by a judge in Houston.  A large experiment funded by the Gates Foundation intended to demonstrate the value of VAM produced negative results.

Now comes economic research to test the validity of linking teacher evaluation and student height.

 

Marianne Bitler, Sean  Corcoran, Thurston Domina, and Emily Penner wrote:

NBER Working Paper No. 26480
Issued in November 2019
NBER Program(s):Program on Children, Economics of Education Program

Estimates of teacher “value-added” suggest teachers vary substantially in their ability to promote student learning. Prompted by this finding, many states and school districts have adopted value-added measures as indicators of teacher job performance. In this paper, we conduct a new test of the validity of value-added models. Using administrative student data from New York City, we apply commonly estimated value-added models to an outcome teachers cannot plausibly affect: student height. We find the standard deviation of teacher effects on height is nearly as large as that for math and reading achievement, raising obvious questions about validity. Subsequent analysis finds these “effects” are largely spurious variation (noise), rather than bias resulting from sorting on unobserved factors related to achievement. Given the difficulty of differentiating signal from noise in real-world teacher effect estimates, this paper serves as a cautionary tale for their use in practice.

 

Last night there was a grand event at the Kennedy Center where veterans of the Bush and Obama education world joined together to wring their hands about the crisis at hand. The crisis is not the mess they made of American education for the past 20 years. The crisis is that the tests are not hard enough, the punishments are not tough enough, and the nation needs to buckle down and keep on testing and firing and demanding more from everyone. Except them. Of course.

Our reader Laura Chapman explains what was behind the big party:

“I wanted to look past the PR for this one event. The event is a launch for a new campaign capitalizing on “stagnating” NAEP scores and persistent gaps among students “who have been underserved.”

“The reformists are calling for “evidence based” methods of teaching using only “high quality, standards-aligned, content-rich curriculum.” Suddenly these reformists think “deficits in content-knowledge” matter. But these reformists are really fans of the Common Core and have a lonh history of ignoring much else worthy of study, content in the arts and humanities for example.

“In addition to being sponsored by the Collaborative for Student Success, this “new literacy campaign” is sponsored by Achieve, The Alliance for Excellent Education, The Thomas B. Fordham Institute, Learning Heroes, Literacy Now, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Council on Teacher Quality, National Urban Alliance, National Urban League, Military Child Coalition, and The Education Trust. These have been supporters of the Common Core, and many love high-stakes tests.

“The Collaborative for Student Success is a multi-faced project of the New Venture Fund. It is supported by: Bloomberg Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, ExxonMobil, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. The website markets three of the Collaborative’s favorite math programs, but it also features “campaigns” of the Collaborative. Each campaign has a separate website. All campaigns are based on the premise that states are not living up to the requirements of ESSA. Truly, the sponsors of the Literacy Initiative are die-hard defenders of the Common Core and ESSA. Here are the camaigns in progress.

“A web-based “Assessment HQ” offers test scores and demographic breakouts for test scores “for more than half of states in grades 3-8.” This campaign is designed to claim that state assessments are not tough enough or fully reported to parents. The Collaborative scoops up state assessment results in math and ELA and puts these together in an interactive map. The Assessment HQ is actually sluggish and out of date. It is presenting data from the 2014-15 school year and it was designed to push PARCC and Smarter Balanced tests.

“The “Check State Plans” campaign offers ratings of the state plans for ESSA based on their strict conformity to ESSA. The Collaborative asked 45 reviewers to judge state plans, back in 2017, at about the same time that Bellwether Education Partners also put together a panel to review state ESSA plans. The Collaborative wanted to see “the following principles” honored in state plans. “Set the bar high for what students need to know and understand; Focus on closing the achievement gap in math and English; Ensure that parents and communities have access to meaningful data; Have a real plan for helping those schools that have been historically failing.”

“The “Educators for High Standards” campaign has offered about 12 fellowships to teachers willing to voice enthusiasm for ESSA, along with “partners” from the following groups, all known to push for high-stakes tests and the Common Core: The National Network of State Teachers of the Year, Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, PARCC, Teach Plus, Student Achievement Partners (Achieve the Core), National Board of Professional Teaching Standards, Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), Hope Street Group, The New Teacher Project (TNTP), Teach for America, Center for Teacher Quality, and Educators4Excellece.
The” Military Families for High Standards” campaign features the work of advocates for schools serving military families. Among the resources is an article from the Center for American Progress titled “How the Common Core Improves Education for Military-Connected Children.”

“The Honesty Gap” campaign asserts that states must take NAEP’s definition of “proficiency” as the standard for judging the “honesty” in state tests. State tests that claim students are “proficient “are dishonest unless the state standard is the same as for NAEP tests. The “honesty gaps” for each state are shown on an interactive map. The explicit message is that schools are often lying to parents about student achievement. The website should be called Arne Duncan’s BS. https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=246201831
The “Understanding ESSA” campaign provides news about USDE activities (up-to-date) and links to state actions that comply with ESSA.

The whole website is devoted to belligerent judgments of states, districts, and schools while bolstering advocacy groups who will insist on “strict fidelity” to ESSA in state plans.

These birds of a feather intent on repeating the misery of two decades of top down reform.

 

 

I am not sure that I agree with Steven Singer’s point here, that NAEP scores tell us nothing other than that students from affluent homes have higher test scores than students who live in poverty. 

His main point is undeniable. All standardized test scores are highly correlated with family income.

We could use income and poverty data to learn what the test scores tell us, without wasting billions on standardized tests and corrupting instruction.

But I think that NAEP does tell us something we need official confirmation for: the utter failure of Disruptive Corporate Reform.

The Disrupters have promised since No Child Left Behind was proposed in 2001 that they knew how to raise test scores and close achievement gaps: Test every child every year and hold schools accountable for rising or falling scores. That will do it, said George W. Bush, Margaret Spellings, Rod Paige and Sandy Kress. They rode the wave of the “Texas miracle,” which turned out to be non-existent. Texas in 2019 is stuck right in the middle of the distribution of states.

Then came Jeb Bush, with his fantastical claims of a “Florida miracle,” which are now repeated by Betsy DeVos. Look at the NAEP scores: Florida is right in the middle of the states. No miracle there.

Arne Duncan has been promoting Tennessee, which as one of the first Race to the Top states, which is also ensconced in the middle of the distribution.

Look for yourself.

Two states that were firmly under the control of Reform heroes, Louisiana and New Mexico, are at the tail end of the distribution.

What do the NAEP scores tell us?

Don’t look for miracles.

Don’t believe propaganda spun by snake-oil salesman.

Look to states and districts that are economically developed and that fund their schools adequately and fairly.

The scores in states may go up or down a few points, but the bottom line is that the basics matter most. That is, a state willing and able to support education and families able to support their children.

 

Craig’s Chicago Business acknowledges that the children in Chicago public schools need what the Chicago Teachers Union won in their contract negotiations. But still, they wonder, are taxpayers willing to pay the price? 

Now that financial details of the pact are starting to trickle out, it’s clear that the mayor was telling the truth—that is, for the teachers. And that truth raises a very significant question of whether the unprecedented, potentially $1.5 billion mayoral bet will be worth the cost to already struggling Chicago taxpayers.

That $1.5 billion figure comes from the Chicago Public Schools’ budget office. It’s at the high range of what officials say the new CTU deal will cost over the next five years cumulatively…

“The union won the strike. They absolutely won,” says Paul Vallas, a former CPS CEO who was one of Lightfoot’s rivals in the February mayoral election. “It’s going to be impossible for them to come up with that much dough without major tax increases if (Gov. J.B.) Pritzker does not fully fund the state’s new school-aid formula.”

Pritzker is working on that. But as Vallas noted, doing so likely depends on voters next year enacting the governor’s proposed graduated income tax amendment, and that’s no sure thing.

Overall, there is little dissent that putting increased staff resources into particularly needy schools—as the contract requires—is the right thing to do. Eventually, that should result in higher graduation rates and kids better prepared to enter the job market.

It is always good to get Vallas’ views, since he privatized schools in Philadelphia and New Orleans as his budget solution and ran unsuccessfully for mayor, governor, and lieutenant governor.

Are the voters in Illinois willing to pay higher taxes to improve conditions of learning, to assure smaller class sizes, and to get better prepared youth?

The Chicago teachers’ strike represents a change in Chicago, for sure. The harsh policies of Daley, Duncan, and Emanuel are over. A new day has dawned, with national implications.

It’s a definitive shift in the entire landscape, not just in Chicago, but throughout the U.S., away from privatization, school closures, charter schools, and the kind of Koch Brother-funding of private schools instead of public schools, a threat we’ve been fending off for the last 30 years,” said Jackson Potter, a high school teacher and union bargaining member in Chicago.

Potter continued, “This contract really represents advances—and not just trying to preserve what we had or prevent the annihilation of the public system—but how to expand it, fortify it, and have a considerable [investment] in low income students of color and their communities that starts to look more [like] what we see in wealthy white suburbs.”

The contract dealt a blow to the charter industry, with “hard caps on charter school expansion and enrollment growth.” The rightwing Heartland Institute called the settlement “a death blow to charter schools in the Windy City.”

Alas, the sustained efforts of the Disrupters foiled by one powerful teachers’ strike, joined by Chicago’s progressive new mayor!  Their policies of austerity and privatization undone. Calling the world’s smallest violin.

Thanks to the invaluable organization “In the Public Interest” for assembling these sources in one place.

Gary Rubinstein, math teacher at Stuyvesant High School, is a skilled myth buster. He frequently unmasks “miracle” stories.

In this post, he demolishes the claim that Louisiana has improved faster in 8th grade math than other states.

This is the last gasp of the Disruption movement, which has controlled federal and state policy for 20 years but has little to show for it.

As Rubinstein shows, Arne Duncan and John White are leading the effort to find the “bright side” of the latest NAEP results, which were stagnant In 2019 and have been stagnant for a decade.

Duncan says the nation should look to Louisiana for inspiration. Louisiana ranked among the bottom  states on NAEP, 44th to 49th, depending on the grade and the subject. But how creative to point to one of the lowest performing states as a national model! Do what Louisiana did and your state too can rank among the bottom five states in the nation!

Gary points out that Louisiana has indeed improved, but its 2019 scores on 8th grade math were actually a point lower than its scores were in 2007! In other words, Louisiana hasn’t gained at all for the past dozen years!.

Wouldn’t it be refreshing if the leaders of the Disruption movement admitted that their 20-year-long policy of test-and-punish is both stale and failed?

Wouldn’t it be great if they said, “Whoa! We’re on the wrong track. We’ve inflicted nonstop testing on the nation’s children since 2002. We have spent billions on testing and test-prep. Scores went up for a few years but leveled off in 2007. Enough! Our answers are wrong. Time for fresh thinking.”

 

 

 

Mike Klonsky writes here about the advice of former Duncan aide Peter Cunningham to Chicago: When trying to revive devastated black communities, bring in “new people.”

Klonsky begins:

Just when you think we’ve heard the last from the disastrous duo of Arne Duncan and Peter Cunningham, they become media go-to guys on (of all things) gun violence and community development.

Remember, this was the pair that ran the Chicago Public Schools and the U.S. Dept. of Education for years, promoting austerity, mass school closings, privatization and uncapped expansion of privately-run charter schools in black communities. Their policies helped lead to the devastation of urban school districts and contributed to school re-segregation and the push-out of thousands of black and poor families from cities like Chicago.

Why media would turn to them for meaningful solutions to the problems they helped create is beyond me. But here we are.

Cunningham’s Sun-Times commentary yesterday (To revive declining South and West Side neighborhoods, import people) was the most egregious. The headline says it all. Now that 300,000 African-Americans have been pushed out of Chicago over the past few decades, Cunningham sees their replacement with thousands of “new, middle-class people” as the city’s salvation.

How unoriginal. I have referred to it as the whitenization of the cities. But it’s deeper than that.

Read on.