Archives for category: Failure

Reader Christine Langhoff sent a warning that the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is poised to take control of the Boston Public Schools. This would be a mistake. No state takeover has ever led to better education. The state is not wiser than the city. If anything, the state education department is far removed from daily practice, as it is simply another bureaucracy. The current board is dominated by advocates of choice. Apparently they are unaware that the root cause of low test scores is poverty. The best the board could do would be to reduce class sizes and to promote the creation of community schools, which makes the school the hub of valuable services for children and families. Such proven strategies are unfamiliar to choice advocates. They prefer a failed approach.

Christine Langhoff wrote:

It seems that MA DESE is poised to place Boston’s public schools under receivership, perhaps by a vote as soon as May 24. Doing so would fulfill the Waltons’ wet dream which has been frustrated since the defeat of ballot Question 2 in 2016, which would have eliminated the charter cap.

The board is appointed by Governor Charlie Baker, whose donors are, of course, the Waltons and the Kochs. Four members of the board have day jobs tied to the Waltons: Amanda Fernández, Latinos for Education; Martin West, Education Next; Paymon Rouhanifard, Propel America; and Jim Peyser, New Schools Venture Fund and the Pioneer Institute. Baker is a lame duck, which may explain the haste to pull this off.

No state takeover has yet been successful, and once a system enters receivership, there is no exit. BESE has pointed to low MCAS scores to say our schools are failures, but Boston’s scores, invalid as they may be during the covid pandemic, are higher that in the three districts the state runs: Lawrence, Holyoke and Southbridge.

The Boston Teachers Union has an action letter if anyone is so inclined to support public education in the city where it originated:

Lisa Pelling wrote this article, which appeared in the Swedish publication Social Europe. She directs Arena Ide, a progressive think tank in Stockholm, Sweden.

Lisa Pelling explains how ‘freedom of choice’ has wrought a vicious circle of inequality and underperformance.

Think of a caricature of a capitalist couple and you can picture the front page of the leading Swedish daily, Dagens Nyheter, earlier this year. A man with a tailormade suit and an 80s style attaché portfolio. Next to him, a woman in high heels, silk skirt and large, silver fur coat. Big confident smiles.

Sadly, the portrait of Hans and Barbara Bergström was not a cartoon but an illustration of the current Swedish school system. The photo accompanied an article on what was once a cherished social institution and a source of national pride, which has become a profitable playing field for corporate interests and the creation of immense private wealth.

Barbara Bergström, founder of one of Sweden’s largest school corporations, with 48 schools across Sweden, and her husband, former editor-in-chief of Dagens Nyheter—and a long-time lobbyist for the privatisation of schools—are two of the people who have made a fortune running publicly funded schools in Sweden. When Barbara sold shares in her school empire to American investors a few years ago, she earned 918 million krona (almost €90 million). Her remaining shares are now worth another €30 million.

Voucher system

This is money made entirely from public funds. Private schools in Sweden are funded not by tuition fees, but by a ‘free choice’ voucher system introduced by a conservative government in 1992.

This year, that radical reform of Sweden’s school system turns 30. Ideologically conceivedby Milton Friedman, the system is under increasing criticism. Not only because no other country in the world has chosen to copy it, but also because the downsides have become so evident. In particular, school boards across the country are increasingly aware that the owners of private schools treat them as profitable businesses—at the expense of the public schools.

A controversial social-democrat governance reform in 1991 abolished the state-run schooling system. Since then, municipalities have been in charge of public schools in Sweden and all municipalities are by law obliged to hand out school vouchers (equivalent to the cost of municipal schools) to private schools for each pupil they accept.

Picking the most profitable

It sounds fair: all pupils get a voucher (‘a backpack full of cash’) and all get to choose. Yet individual pupils’ needs are different and, while the municipal school has to cater for all children’s needs, private schools can pick the most profitable pupils—and still receive the same funding.

Municipalities have a legal responsibility to provide children with access to education close to where they live, be that in a small town or remote village. For-profit schools do not have such an obligation and can establish themselves in the city centre.

Nor can municipalities turn pupils down. For-profit schools do this all the time: they put pupils on a waiting list and accept only a profitable quota. Since the largest costs in schools—teachers and classrooms—are more or less fixed, maximum profits stem from maximising the number of pupils per teacher and per classroom. Waiting lists allow pupils to be queued (while attending the default municipal school) until a full (in other words, profitable) classroom can be opened.

Vicious circle

This creates a vicious circle. While private for-profit schools operate classrooms with 32 pupils (with the funding from 32 vouchers), municipalities have to run schools where classrooms have one, two or maybe five pupils fewer. Less money per teacher and per classroom mathematically increases the average cost per pupil.

If the cost per pupil for the municipality rises in its schools, the private schools are legally entitled to matching support—even if their costs have not risen. Public schools lose pupils, and so funding, to for-profit schools, while their consequently rising cost per pupil delivers a further funding boon to the private schools—which, with the help of this additional support, become even more attractive. All the while public schools are drained of much-needed resources and so the downward spiral continues.

Inevitably, it is mostly privileged kids who are able to exercise their right to attend private schools, so socially-disadvantaged pupils are left in the public schools. This not only favours inequality of performance between schools but also lowers the overall average—high-performing Finland, by contrast, has very low performance gaps between its schools.

Andreas Schleicher, head of the directorate for education and skills at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, used to ‘look to Sweden as the gold standard for education’. Now, he writes, ‘the Swedish school system seems to have lost its soul’. No other country has experienced such a rapid fall in performance in the OECD’s Programme for International Assessment (PISA) league table as Sweden, paired with increasing knowledge gaps between schools. And all the while school segregation is increasing, not only in big cities, but in mid-sized towns as well.

In her seminal The Death and Life of the great American School System, Diane Ravitch describes how making ‘freedom of choice’ the ‘overarching religion’ benefits few and harms many, destroying the public school system. What should be a public service is abused by parents who seek a (white, non-working class) segregated refuge for their children.

Huge funds to spend

It might seem unlikely that the Swedish school system would be an inspiration to anyone anywhere. But Swedish private schools are highly profitable, their owners have huge funds to spend and they are eager to meet upper- and middle-class demands for social segregation by expanding their corporations abroad.

Academedia, the largest private education provider in Sweden, is established in Norway and has 65 preschools in Germany. It recently reported to investors that it was preparing to launch an apprenticeship programme in the United Kingdom and expand its preschools into the Netherlands. Barbara Bergström’s Internationella Engelska Skolan already owns seven schools in Spain.

The Bergströms’ foundation, meanwhile, has donated SEK60 million to establish a ‘professorship in educational organization and leadership’ at the Stockholm School of Economics. Friedman would have been impressed.

Bill Phillis, retired state education official, is campaigning relentlessly to block the expansion of the state’s voucher program. He is a staunch opponent of privatization. He frequently writes about the low academic quality of the state’s charter schools, their fiscal irresponsibility, and their drain on the state’s public schools. If you live in Ohio, you should join his organization to support public schools.

He writes:

EdChoice Voucher Scheme Does Not Align with the Intentions of the Delegates of Ohio’s 1850/1851 and 1873/1874 Constitutional Conventions Regarding the Public Common School System—Part 1*

The EdChoice voucher scheme is contrary to the intention of the Delegates’ vision of the state system of common schools. During the 1873/1874 Constitutional Convention, when a delegate proposed to alter the 1851 constitutional provision for education to fund private schools, Delegate Asher Cook stated:

Here the children of a district, and often those of an entire village, are united in one school, where all cause of strife and contention is removed, and their minds, true to the instincts with which they are endued, rich and poor, mingle together, for a loving group of little friends, who, hand in hand, march bravely up the rugged hill of science, making the ascent easy by each other’s aid, and smoothing its rugged surface by glad peals of laughter, which ring out merrily and clear over hill top, across valley and up the mountain side, until their echoes wake up a joyous community to thank God for the common schools.

The Delegates to the 1850/1851 Constitutional Convention were intentional in selecting the word “common”. Delegate Archibold expressed that the meaning of “common” at that time might change and thus, suggested the word “useful” to replace “common”. An 1828 dictionary defines “common” as “belonging equally to more than one or to many indefinitely.” Delegate Humphreville stated his belief that “common” as they intended it to function in the clause would never be misinterpreted, and thus, responded to Delegate Archibold’s concern by stating “[C]ommon schools in the future will be common schools—that is to say they will not be uncommon schools.” The inclusion of the word common was intentional.

During the 1874 debates, a discussion ensued regarding the meaning of “a system of common schools.” The discussion led to the question of whether public school funds should be provided to private religious schools. Delegate Root informed the discussion, saying, “Common schools to be successful must be the union of schools. The 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language defines “union” as, [c]oncord; agreement and conjunction of mind, with affections or interest.” Delegate Root asked:

What kind of a common school system would you have but for uniform rules and uniformity of discipline, and by whom are these prescribed? By the legislative power– the highest power in the State. They may relegate the details to certain officers, but it must come from them.

Regarding the same issue, Delegate Miner stated:

I am utterly opposed to a constitutional provision, or to any legislation, having in view the allotment of anypart of the common school fund to any schools except those established, maintained and controlled by, or under the authority of the state. The moment we consent to do so, we deal with a death blow to the system of common schools, upon which, expanded and improved by increasing experience and wisdom, more than upon anything else, it is my profoundest conviction, depends on the perpetuity and efficiency of our American institutions and government.

It is clear that those who established the Constitution language for a system of schools meant that only one system of common schools was to receive public funding for the support thereof.

*Research for this post and much of the content of it is credited to Ohio State University Moritz College of Law Juris Doctor Candidate, Kira Sharp.

Learn more about the EdChoice voucher litigation

Like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OhioEandA

VOUCHERS HURT OHIO

William L. Phillis | Ohio Coalition for Equity & Adequacy of School Funding | 614.228.6540 |ohioeanda@sbcglobal.nethttp://ohiocoalition.org

Choice advocates lure new customers by making false promises, writes Peter Greene in The Progressive.

Say this for Jeb Bush: he is not dissuaded by failure. No matter how many studies show the failure of vouchers, he doesn’t care. No matter how many studies show that charter schools do not get better results than public schools, he doesn’t care. No matter how many grifters have drained millions through privatization of schools, he doesn’t care. No matter how little evidence he has for any of his proposals, he still pushes them.

His ideas are old and tired and incoherent. But count on him to package them as fresh and innovative, which they are not.

He is the male counterpart to Betsy DeVos.

He just cares about destroying public schools.

He wrote recently in The Miami Herald:

Last month marked two years since the pandemic swept across the country, causing the largest disruption to our nation’s education system in modern history. But at last, this spring brings an academic revival of sorts. Schools are remaining open, mask mandates are disappearing and plexiglass dividers between students in their classrooms are coming down.

In the rush to return to normal, we owe it to our nation’s children to emerge from this pandemic transformed, not by going backwards, but ready to forge a better future for them with all we’ve learned.

Our starting point is challenging. Prior to the pandemic, America’s public schools were struggling to serve the needs of students, and since the pandemic, a study by McKinsey found students have fallen months behind as a result of school closures and disruptions. There were severe impacts on student mental health, too. Pew Charitable Trusts found students are reporting significantly increased levels of grief, anxiety and depression.

It’s also no surprise that there’s a growing distrust in public education. A survey by Ipsos found trust in teachers declined during the pandemic, and there’s been a subsequent decrease in the number of students enrolling in public school.

Those are serious setbacks, but there are reasons for optimism. The pandemic put a spotlight on a myriad of possibilities for the future of education. Notably, it illustrated a desperate need by families for a broadened ecosystem of options for their children, with funding flexibility to create more equity in choice. And it elevated the power of parents to blaze new educational pathways for their children.

The Associated Press recently reported that homeschooling remains a popular choice for parents, despite schools reopening. And, private schools and public charter schools have witnessed increased enrollment. But choice, in and of itself, isn’t enough. Policymakers must continue to seek new ways to unbundle education systems, transforming old approaches into new and better learning options.

In Indiana, lawmakers, led by House Speaker Todd Huston, took the first step toward creating the nation’s first “parent-teacher compact” law. This innovative policy would allow parents to directly hire teachers. Educators would continue to be paid by the state and receive their health and retirement benefits, but this policy would enable parents and educators to enter into a peer-to-peer relationship to benefit individual students, without the hurdle of a district middleman. This individualized approach to education would give educators more freedom, families more flexibility and individual students the personalized experience they may need.

As we unbundle education, we need to reimagine all aspects of how education is delivered to students. One approach is enacting new part-time enrollment policies. Right now, students are defined by the school in which they’re enrolled.

Lawmakers can improve the education experience by allowing students to have more flexibility, whereby a student can enroll in their local public school and easily access a portion of their education funding to also enroll part-time in a private school, with an online provider, or engage in another learning experience that benefits the child’s education.

Another approach that complements unbundling is rethinking education transportation options. Last year, Gov. Doug Ducey awarded $18 million in grants to modernize Arizona’s K-12 transportation system, including direct-to-family grants to help close transportation gaps. In Oklahoma this year, Gov. Kevin Stitt proposed changing Oklahoma’s school transportation funding formula to expand how public school buses can serve students. And Florida’s Legislature recently passed legislation to create a new $15 million transportation grant program that encourages districts to create innovate approaches to school transportation, including carpooling and ride sharing apps, for both school-of-choice families and traditional school students.

Those are just a few examples, and we must continually look for more ways to unbundle and reimagine education. The pandemic saw an explosion of families, in all communities and from all demographics, embrace micro schools, homeschooling and customized learning pods. Rather than trying to limit these families, we should give them access to direct funds to further personalize and benefit their child’s out-of-school learning experience.

That’s what Gov. Brad Little has championed in Idaho. In response to school closures in 2020, Little used federal emergency COVID relief funds to provide direct grants to families to support students who were no longer learning in school. And this year, Little signed the Empowering Parents Grant Program into law, giving qualifying families up to $3,000 to use for tutoring, educational material, digital devices or internet connectivity….

Transforming our nation’s education system and ensuring students receive the individualized experience to unlock potential and lifelong success require continual forward momentum, especially after two years of disruptions. We have to keep moving, keep reimagining, keep transforming. This commitment to excellence is a point of pride for Florida.

Last year, Florida’s Legislature passed some of the most significant improvements and expansions to the state’s school-choice programs. And this year, lawmakers strengthened the charter school law, expanded the Florida Empowerment scholarship program, created a new financial literacy requirement for high school graduates and ensured parents are better informed of their child’s progress through online diagnostic progress monitoring and end-of-year summative tests.

This Pied Piper plays a tune meant to deceive. Ignore him.

Billy Townsend is an acerbic critic of Florida charter scandals and the state commissioner Richard Corcoran, whose wife runs a charter school. He never runs out of material.

In this post, he tells the story of a politician, Manny Diaz, who works for a charter chain, blaming a struggling community for the failure of his employer’s charter school, which was launched with much razzle-dazzle.

#BustEDPencils Live tonight at 8pm EST.

Michigan Public Schools Under Attack!

Mitchell Robinson for State Board of Education

CALL! 844.967.2789

Listen Live: https://www.devilradio927.com/listen-live/

What can you say when a state decides to adopt a policy that has failed again and again and has been conclusively discredited? I call such proposals “zombie policies,” because they fail and fail but never die.

Justin Parmenter, a National Board Certified Teacher in North Carolina, writes here about a plan in his state to eliminate experienced-based pay and replace it with the obsolete practice of tying teacher pay to student test scores. The leaders in North Carolina call it ”merit pay.” It is also called value-added evaluation and test-based compensation.

Whatever it is called, it is ineffective and demoralizing to tie teacher pay to test scores. Those who teach in affluent districts will be paid more than those who teach in low-income schools or who teach students with disabilities. Presumably, the folks in North Carolina never heard of the POINT study in Nashville, Tennessee, a three-year study of whether teachers would produce higher test scores if offered a big bonus. The conclusion was that the bonus (merit pay) did not make a difference.

The final evaluation concluded:

While the general trend in middle school mathematics performance was upward over the period of the project, students of teachers ran- domly assigned to the treatment group (eligible for bonuses) did not outperform students whose teachers were assigned to the control group (not eligible for bonuses). The brightest spot was a positive effect of incentives detected in fifth grade during the second and third years of the experi- ment. This finding, which is robust to a variety of alternative estimation methods, is nonetheless of limited policy significance, for this effect does not appear to persist after students leave fifth grade. Students whose fifth grade teacher was in the treatment group performed no better by the end of sixth grade than did sixth graders whose teacher the year before was in the control group.

Have the North Carolina policymakers heard about the Gates-funded program to evaluate and pay teachers based on test scores and peer evaluations, which was tried in seven sites, including Hillsborough County, Florida, Memphis, Pittsburgh, and four charter chains? The program cost hundreds of millions of dollars, and it was evaluated by the RAND Corporation and AIR. The cost of the program was shared between Gates and the local districts.

The evaluation report of the Gates program was released in 2018. It concluded that the program did not improve student achievement, did not raise graduation rates or dropout rates, and did not change the quality of teachers. In some sites, teacher turnover increased. The neediest students did not get the best teachers because teachers angled to get students who would produce higher test scores. The program planners expected that as many as 20% of the site’s teachers would be fired but only 1% were.

Furthermore, in 2017, a federal judge in Houston threw out precisely the same evaluation system that North Carolina plans to use because teachers were judged by a “secret algorithm” and had “no meaningful way” to ensure that their scores were correctly calculated. The judge wrote: “The [teacher’s] score might be erroneously calculated for any number of reasons, ranging from data-entry mistakes to glitches in the computer code itself. Algorithms are human creations, and subject to error like any other human endeavor.”

Parmenter writes:

A draft proposal coming before the State Board of Education next week (April 6) would transition all North Carolina teachers to a system of “merit pay” as soon as 2023.

The proposal represents the culmination of the work of the Professional Educator Preparation and Standards Commission, which was directed by state legislators to make recommendations on licensure reform.

The proposed change would make North Carolina the first state in the country to stop paying teachers on an experience-based scale that, at least in theory, rewards long-term commitment to a career in education and recognizes the importance of veteran educators (if adequately funded by the state–but that’s a topic for another post).

Instead, compensation would be based largely on teacher effectiveness as determined by EVAAS, a computer algorithm developed by the SAS corporation which analyzes standardized test scores. Teachers who do not have EVAAS scores would receive salaries based on principal observations, observations by colleagues, and student surveys.

This plan is problematic in a number of ways. It would increase “teaching to the test” by offering a handful of larger salaries to those educators whose students do well on tests. Competition over a limited number of larger salaries would lead to teachers working in silos rather than collaborating and sharing best practices as cohesive teams. Teachers of subjects with no standardized tests are raising concerns that observations and student surveys are highly subjective, and basing salaries on them would be unfair.

Dr. Tom Tomberlin, who serves as the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction’s Director of Educator Recruitment and Support, has justified moving away from an experience-based pay scale by claiming that teacher effectiveness plateaus after the first few years in the classroom.

It’s an argument which shows a major disconnect between DPI and those of us who actually work in schools and experience first hand how important veteran teachers are to overall school operations.

Veteran teachers often work as mentors, run athletic departments, coach sports and deliver professional development for peers.

They have long-standing relationships with school families and community members that position them to be excellent advocates for the needs of their schools.

None of that value is reflected in a veteran teacher’s EVAAS score.

Brenda Berg, CEO of pro-business education reform organization Best NC, has been a vocal proponent of scrapping the experience-based pay scale. Berg, who serves on the compensation subcommittee that helped develop the plan, said this week that it’s clear our current system isn’t working and it’s time to be “bold” about change even if it’s “scary.”

I’d like to note that anyone who claims educator pushback to this plan is centered in fear of change is completely out of touch with what it’s like to be a professional educator. We are the most flexible and resilient people on the planet, and the last two years have illustrated that fact like never before. We also know what it means to be treated fairly.

It’s true that North Carolina is facing a major pipeline crisis, with enrollment in UNC education programs down drastically over the past several years. It’s true that if we aren’t bold about change we will soon have nobody left who’s willing to work in our schools.

But we also need to be bold about acknowledging the reason for this crisis. It isn’t because the licensure process is too cumbersome. It isn’t because veteran teachers are ineffective and making too much money. It isn’t because our teachers lack accountability.

The reason North Carolina’s schools are suffering from a lack of qualified educators is because for the last 12 years our legislature’s policies have made it deeply unappealing to be a teacher in this state. Those policies include cutting master’s pay and longevity pay, taking away teacher assistants, eliminating retiree health benefits and many, many others.

The solution to North Carolina’s teacher pipeline crisis isn’t a system of merit pay which devalues long term commitment to public schools and ties salaries to standardized tests and subjective measures.

The solution to the problem is comprehensive policy change that makes a teaching career in North Carolina an attractive proposition. That’s the kind of change that will allow us to put an excellent teacher in every classroom.

This proposal ain’t it.

You can share feedback on the proposal with Dr. Thomas Tomberlin here: Thomas.Tomberlin@dpi.nc.gov

State Board of Education members will hear Dr. Tomberlin’s presentation at the April 6 board meeting. Their email addresses are:

eric.davis@dpi.nc.gov
alan.duncan@dpi.nc.gov
olivia.oxendine@dpi.nc.gov
reginald.kenan@dpi.nc.gov
amy.white@dpi.nc.gov
James.Ford@dpi.nc.gov
Jill.Camnitz@dpi.nc.gov
Donna.Tipton-Rogers@dpi.nc.gov
JWendell.Hall@dpi.nc.gov
john.blackburn@dpi.nc.gov
mark.robinson@dpi.nc.gov
dale.folwell@dpi.nc.gov

Writing in Slate, Dahlia Lithwick calls out Senate Democrats on the Judiciary Committee (excepting Senator Booker) for failing to support Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as Republicans pummeled her, berated her, distorted her record.

She writes:

I wrote earlier this week about the utter failure on the part of Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats to connect this hearing to what is going to be a catastrophic series of progressive losses at the Supreme Court this term, and the almost staggering inability to lay out any kind of theory for progressive jurisprudence, or even a coherent theory for the role of an unelected judiciary in a constitutional democracy. My colleague Mark Joseph Stern wrote today about a broadside attack on the whole idea of unenumerated rights, substantive due process, and the entire line of cases that protect Americans from forced sterilization, indoctrination of their children, and penalties for using birth control, and afford them the right to marry whom they want. More mysterious than this coordinated GOP project to undermine LGBTQ rights, marriage equality, contraception, and abortion—again, none of this is new or shocking—was the almost complete silence from Senate Democrats on these issues of substantive due process, privacy, and bodily autonomy. On the simplest level, the hearing might have been an opportunity to explain why Roe v. Wade is in fact the tip of the constitutional iceberg; that the same doctrinal underpinnings at risk in this term’s looming catastrophe of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization could lead to existential losses of countless other freedoms. But the hearings were framed as if Republicans stand to lose the court and the midterms, while the Democrats behaved as if the future of the courts, the Senate, and democracy itself has no bearing on what happened inside the Senate chamber.

I understand that the decision was taken to just get the nominee confirmed. Take the win. But for those of us watching and waiting to see Democrats support and back the nominee, there was an immense sense of underreaction. Jackson looked alone fending off the QAnon smear brigade for much of these hearings because she was alone, at least until Sen. Cory Booker took it upon himself in his last colloquy to offer up a powerful corrective to the hatred being leveled at her, and to remind us why love can be an equal and opposite reaction to fear.

If we can all agree that the purpose of this charade for Graham is to try to flip Sens. Susan Collins or Lisa Murkowski, and that for Sen. Ted Cruz the purpose of this charade is to goose his own Twitter mentions, and that for Sen. Josh Hawley the purpose is to take what was a fringe “endangering our children” smear campaign last week and push it to the GOP mainstream today, it’s manifestly clear who the real pornographers are this week. But if we can all agree what the GOP agenda has been, I remain utterly mystified by the Democrats. They have the votes to confirm. They are about to irrevocably alter the course of American history. So what are they afraid of?

Chairman Dick Durbin’s inability to control some of the most shocking bullying and abuse from Cruz, Graham, Tom Cotton, and Hawley left observers speechless. At some point, you need to just start gaveling. But there was also a pervasive sense of Democratic senators’ almost chilling unwillingness to go to the mat for their nominee, who was being savaged by Cotton, who called her “not credible,” and Graham, who berated her with the claim that he was sparing her from being bullied like Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

Take my word for this one thing: If you have been subject to abuse, bullying, and intimidation, what you really don’t need to hear from people in power is that they think you are “brave,” or that you’re modeling perseverance and grace. What you really want is for someone to stand beside you and take a punch—or throw one. Yet beyond a handful of such moments, and notably Booker’s final speech, virtually everything Democrats did felt insufficient to the moment. More than that, it felt inexplicable.

Billy Townsend reviews the tenure of Richard Corcoran as Florida’s State Commissioner of Education. His main qualification for the job, aside from his time as chair of the education committee in the state senate, is that he loathes public schools. He once said that he wanted to see every Florida student in a charter or voucher school.

Billy Townsend details his multiple failures. Be sure to open the link and read to the end. Watch the video, where Corcoran wrestles with his son on a brick floor, then throws him into the end of the pool, with the boy’s head barely missing the concrete coping. What an educator.

Townsend writes:

Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran’s general leadership incompetence defines him far more than his trolling.

The Department of Education’s corrupt, ongoing institutional collapse under his three-ish years of leadership testifies to what he would have done (or will do) to any college or university foolish enough to make him a president.

Any “business” he might start that doesn’t grift public money or collect and/or spend other people’s political donations is going to fail — if he runs it.

But Corcoran did have two great talents in his short, happy public life:

  • Convincing powerful people to breathe some of their power on him.
  • Getting the weird Florida media to confuse trolling and leant power with actual power and leadership and capability.

More of the same, just with more trolling

It’s difficult to evaluate Corcoran’s record as Speaker of the House and Education Commissioner because he had no real governing goals or ideology beyond self-interest and the perception of personal dominance in the moment.

Just mesmerizing the child-like DeSantis into paying him $276K for three years is a massive personal victory for Corcoran. One has to acknowledge that.

But under Corcoran’s “leadership,” Florida continued Jeb Bush’s catastrophic, longstanding failures of student test score growth, if that’s what you care about. He continued to shovel tax money and tax-sheltered corporate money into Florida’s “Endtimes Academy” style voucher schools, ignoring the 60 percent 2-year drop out rate of our signature voucher program. And he continued to worsen Florida’s teacher and education worker capacity shortages by making education work as miserable and poorly paid as possible.

But in all that, Corcoran’s not special. He’s just a mainstream Florida leader who talks a little more trash. All of that education failure is openly tolerated and/or celebrated quietly by the private interests that actually run Florida — your Disneys and Publixes and FPLs.

Anybody else DeSantis would have appointed would have indulged the same neglect and general grifting. It’s the institutional story of the last 25 years. Until that changes, you’ll get the same institutional results.

Perhaps the DoE organization and building itselfwon’t be a rotten, corrupt cesspool with a more competent Jebbie in charge; but the Florida state system as a whole is America’s worst because institutional and governing power wants it to be. Corcoran doesn’t have much to do with that. He just looks to scavenge that reality for himself and his buddies.