Archives for category: John King

As readers are well aware, the federal law called the Every Student Succeeds Act continued the mandated annual testing of students in grades 3-8 in reading and math (as well as one high school test) that was the heart of George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind law, enacted in 2002. The Secretary of Education is allowed to grant waivers to states that ask not to give the tests. Last year, as the pandemic closed most schools, Secretary Betsy DeVos offered a blanket waiver to all states. She vowed not to do it again.

During the campaign of 2020, candidate Joe Biden publicly and unequivocally pledged to abandon the tests. He seemed to understand that they were not producing useful information and were squeezing out valuable instruction and subjects that are not tested.

Education Trust, led by John King, who was Obama’s Secretary of Education in his last year in office, created a campaign to demand that the Biden administration refuse all waiver requests and demand that everyone be tested, despite the pandemic. Education Trust, and most of the organizations that signed its two letters, are heavily funded by the Gates and Walton foundations.

The decision not to allow waivers, bowing to the EdTrust campaign, was announced by Ian Rosenblum, a low-level political appointee who previously worked for Education Trust New York and was an advocate for high-stakes testing. His boss was John King, who sent the pro-testing letters. The decision was made before Secretary Cardinal was confirmed. My guess is that the decision was made by Carmel Martin, who was an influential testing advocate in the Obama administration, then worked for the neoliberal Center for American Progress. She now works in the Biden White House as a member of the Domestic Policy Council. If I am wrong, I hope she corrects me.

Laura Chapman reviews the chronology here.

Thank you for all who helped to produce this rapid response and effective use of only two of the many databases for tracking the role of money in shaping policy.

I think it may be useful to put a timeline around some these flows of money and federal policies.

MAY 2020. Guidance for ESEA section 8401(b)(3)(A) testing waivers were published in May 2020 and almost every state or comparable jurisdiction requested and received these waivers for the 2019-2020 school year, well before the full force of the pandemic required large scale changes in schools. https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/05/19/2020-10740/notice-of-waivers-granted-under-section-8401-of-the-elementary-and-secondary-education-act-of-1965.

FEBRUARY 3, 2021. The Education Trust sent a letter to Dr. Miguel Cardona. This was after his nomination but before his confirmation on March 1. This letter was signed by 18 organizations in addition to the Education Trust. Find the letter here. https://edtrust.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Joint-Letter-to-Dr.-Miguel-Cardona-Urging-Rejection-of-Waivers-to-Annual-State-Wide-Assessment-Requirements-for-the-2020-21-School-Year-February-3-2021.pdf

The February 3 letter ends with two footnotes. The first is for McKinsey & Co.’s data about achievement before schools closed and the transition to remote learning began. This analysis includes “epidemiological scenarios” for learning loss (in months) for students who are white, black, and Hispanic. As usual, Mc Kinsey & Co. cares about the economic value of test scores “We estimate that the average K–12 student in the United States could lose $61,000 to $82,000 in lifetime earnings (in constant 2020 dollars), or the equivalent of a year of full-time work, solely as a result of COVID-19–related learning losses…. This translates into an estimated impact of $110 billion annual earnings across the entire current K–12 cohort.” https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/public-and-social-sector/our-insights/covid-19-and-student-learning-in-the-united-states-the-hurt-could-last-a-lifetime

The second footnote refers to a Bellwether Education report justifying their use of “crisis” rhetoric about school attendance data. The report estimates that about three million school-age children had difficulty engaging in or accessing education in the spring and fall 2020. That estimate was based on data from multiple sources, including media reports.

I hope Dr. Cordona understands that McKinsey & Co and Bellwether Education are not great sources of trustworthy information about public schools. https://bellwethereducation.org/publication/missing-margins-estimating-scale-covid-19-attendance-crisis.

FEBRUARY 22. On this date Ian Rosenblum, “Delegated the Authority to Perform the Functions and Duties of the Assistant Secretary of Elementary Education” announced “guidance for state testing” with particular attention to the conditions required if waivers of any find were requested. Note that Dr, Cardona has not yet been confirmed as Secretary of Education. I have yet to discover how he was granted authority (or grabbed it) to assert national policy on testing for the 2020-2021 school year. It is worth noting that Rosenblum’s prior employer had been The Education Trust, (New York). Here is the Guidance letter.https://www2.ed.gov/policy/elsec/guid/stateletters/dcl-assessments-and-acct-022221.pdf

FEBRUARY 23. In no time flat, The Education Trust sent this second letter to the U.S. Department of Education, titled “Response From Civil Rights, Social Justice, Disability Rights, Immigration Policy, Business, and Education Organizations to the U.S. Department of Education’s Updated Guidance on Key ESSA Provisions in 2020–21.” This letter was signed by 30 organizations in addition to the Education Trust. This letter emphasized that local assessments were not suitable for accountability:

”We want to be clear: The Department must not, as part of its promised state-by-state “flexibility,” grant waivers to states that would allow them to substitute local assessments in place of statewide assessments or to only assess a subset of students. By design, these local assessments do not hold all students to the same standards and expectations. They do not offer appropriate accommodations for students with disabilities or English learners, as required under federal law for statewide assessments; they are not peer reviewed to ensure quality and prevent bias; and the results of these assessments will not be comparable from district to district.”

In effect, the only accountability measures that matter to The Education Trust and those who signed on to these letters are features of a factory model of education. Standardization is the ultimate criterion for data entering into decisions about federal policy. This factory model is also positioned as if the primary way to address equity and civils rights. We must “hold all students to the same standards and expectations.”

The February 23 letter also articulates a clear distain for assessments most likely to be meaningful to teachers, students, and parent caregivers; namely teacher and district developed evaluations of learning with these judgements student-specific, curriculum relevant, informed by face-to=face conversations and providing a meaningful pathway for guiding students.


Education Trust, led by former Secretary of Education John King, sent two letters to the Biden administration, urging the administration not to allow states to receive waivers from the mandated federal testing. The signers of the letters were not the same. As State Commissioner in New York, King was a fierce advocate for Common Core and standardized testing.

Leonie Haimson, leader of Class Size Matters, the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, and board member of the Network for Public Education, wrote this about the pro-testing coalition assembled by King:

I asked my assistant Michael Horwitz to figure out which organizations were on the first Ed Trust letter pushing against state testing waivers, but not the letter that just came out, advocating against allowing flexibility by using local assessments instead.  National PTA, NAN (Al Sharpton’s group), LULAC, KIPP and a few others did drop off the list. 

I then asked Leonie if she could add the amounts of funding to these organizations by the Gates Foundation and the Walton Foundation and she replied:

The largest beneficiary of their joint funding among these organizations has been KIPP at over $97M, then Ed Trust at nearly $58 million, who spearheaded both letters. Also TNTP at $54M, NACSA at $44M, Jeb Bush’s FEE at nearly $32 M and 50Can at $29M. [TNTP used to be called “The New Teachers Project,” and was created by Michelle Rhee.] Michael Horwitz did the research.

Signers on the first letter:

The following orgs were on the second letter, but not the first: many more obviously pro-charter, right-wing and more local organizations:

Leonie Haimson 
leoniehaimson@gmail.com

Follow on twitter @leoniehaimson 

Host of “Talk out of School” WBAI radio show and podcast at https://talk-out-of-school.simplecast.com/

A couple of days ago, Bill Gates said he has a new plan to reform education. As I pointed out in a post, Bill Gates is batting 0 for 3. He dropped $2 Billion into breaking up large high schools and turning them into small schools. He started in 2000, didn’t see a big jump in test scores, and backed out in 2008. Then, having decided that the answer to high test scores was to punish teachers whose student scores didn’t go up, he pushed value-added Assessment, partnering with Arne Duncan and Race to the Top. Thousands of educators were fired and many schools were closed based on Gates’s fancy. That lasted from 2008 until now, and it has been written into state law in many states, although it has distorted the purpose of education and created massive demoralization among teachers and a national teacher shortage. Then he funded the Common Core, in its entirety. It is his pedagogical Frankenstein, his personal belief that education should be completely standardized, from standards to curriculum to teacher education to teacher evaluation. Speaking to the National Board for Certified Teachers a few years ago, he praised standardization and talked about the beauty of standard electrical plugs. No matter where you live, you can plug in an appliance and it works! Clearly, that was his metaphor for education. What did he spend on the creation and promotion of the Common Core? No one knows for sure, but estimates range from $200 Million to $2 Billion.

There is one other massive Gates failure that I forgot to mention: inBloom. This was a $100million investment in data mining of students’ personally identifiable data. Several states and districts agreed to turn their data over to inBloom, which wipould use the data as its owners chose. Parents got wind of this and launched a campaign to stop in loom. Led by Leonie Haimson of New York and Rachel Stickland of Colorado, parents besieged their legislators, and one by one, the state’s and districts pulled out. InBloom collapsed.

We don’t know how much money Gates has poured into charter schools, but we imagine he must be disappointed that on average they don’t produce higher scores than the public schools he disdains. He bundled millions for a referendum in Washington State to allow charter schools, the fourth such referendum. Despite Gates’ swamping the election with money, the motion barely passed. Then the State’s highest court denied public funding to charter schools, declaring that they are not public schools because they are not governed by elected school boards. Gates and his friends tried to oust the Chief Judge when she ran for re-election, but she coasted to victory.

As you see, he is actually 0 for 5 in his determination to “reform” the nation’s public schools.

But he is not deterred by failure!

So what is the latest Gates’ idea?

Laura Chapman explains here:

“At the Meeting of the Council for Great City Schools October 19, 2017, Gates said:

“Today, I’d like to share what we have learned over the last 17 years and how those insights will change what we focus on over the next five years.”

“I think that Gates has learned very little about education in the last 17 years. He is still fixated on “the lagging performance” of our students on what he regards as “the key metrics of a quality education – math scores, English scores, international comparisons, and college completion.

“Gates wants his narrow definition of “quality education” to be accepted as if the proper doctrine for improving schools and also ensuring the “economic future and competitiveness of the United States.”

“Gates wants faster progress in raising test scores, and high school graduation rates. He seems to think that “constraints and other demands on state and local budget” actually justify his plans to “ increase high school graduation and college-readiness rates.”

“Gates takes credit for funding for the deeply flawed + Measures of Effective Teaching project (MET), claiming that it showed educators ”how to gather feedback from students on their engagement and classroom learning experiences . . . and about observing teachers at their craft, assessing their performance fairly, and providing actionable feedback.” The $64 million project in 2007 tried to make it legitimate for teachers to be judged by “multiple measures” including the discredited VAM, and dubious Danielson teacher observation protocol http://nepc.colorado.edu/newsletter/2013/01/review-MET-final-2013 Gates learned nothing from that micromanaging effort.

“Gates funded and promoted the Common Core. He says: “Teachers need better curricula and professional development aligned with the Common Core.”He remains committed to the ideas that “teacher evaluations and ratings” are useful ways “to improve instruction,” He thinks “data-driven continuous learning and evidence-based interventions,” will improve student achievement. This jargon is meaningless.

“Gates said: Overall, we expect to invest close to $1.7 billion in US public education over the next five years.“…“We anticipate that about 60 percent of this will eventually support the development of new curricula and networks of schools that work together to identify local problems and solutions . . . and use data to drive continuous improvement.

“Don’t be deceived by the “public education” comment. Gates wants to control public schools by dismantling their governance by and for the public. By “networks of schools” Gates means “innovation districts” where persons employed by private interests can control educational policy under the banner of “collaboration” or “partnership.”

“Gates offers several examples of networks. One is CORE, a so-called “partnership” of eight large urban school districts in California: Fresno, Garden Grove, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, San Francisco and Santa Ana,

“CORE stands for “California Office for Reform in Education CORE a non-governmental organization, based in San Francisco, funded by the Stuart Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation (Stephen Bechtel Fund); and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Here are some other things you should know about CORE.

“CORE was created in order to bypass the California State Board of Education and Race to the Top accountability, by marketing its new “School Quality Improvement Index.” This index includes social-emotional learning and school climate indicators in addition to California requirements—test scores, graduation rates, and the like.
Participating CORE Districts are bound to the terms of a memorandum of understanding, signed only by each district superintendent. This MOU specifies that the district will use: CORE-approved school improvement ratings based on existing and new indicators, a CORE-approved teacher and principal evaluation process with professional development plans, CORE-specific teacher and principal hiring and retention policies with cross-district sharing data—including results from teacher/student/parent surveys of school climate and student self-assessments of their social-emotional skills.

“The final rating for each school in a CORE district is a complex web of weightings and transformations of scores into performance and growth measures: 40% of the overall rating for school climate/social emotional indicators and 60% for academics.

“An autonomous “School Quality Oversight Panel” nullifies oversight of these districts by the State Board of Education. This “oversight” panel has CORE supporters recruited from The Association of California School Administrators, and California School Boards Association, California State PTA. The main monitors/promoters of this scheme are actually two panel members: Ed Trust West and the Policy Analysis for California Education. Bot of these organizations are sustained in large measure by private funding.

“Ed Trust West is funded by the Bloomberg Philanthropies, State Farm Companies, and these foundations: Bill & Melinda Gates, Joyce, Kresge, Lumina, Wallace Foundation, and the Walton Family. The Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE) is based at Stanford University, with participation by the University of California – Berkeley, and the University of Southern California. PACE is a conduit for grants from USDE and from the David and Lucille Packard Foundation; Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund; S. D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation; Walter and Elise Haas Fund; and The Walter S. Johnson Foundation.

“School ratings developed by the CORE Districts flow directly to GreatSchools.org —a marketing site for schools and education products. GreatSchools.org is funded by the Gates, Walton, Robertson, and Arnold Foundations. Add the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, the Bradley Foundation, Goldman Sachs Gives, New Schools Venture Fund. and 15 other foundations.“GreatSchools.org in a non-profit in name only. GreatSchools.org sells data from all states and districts. For a fee, it will push users of the website to particular schools. Buyers of the data include Zillow and Scholastic.

“I think that the CORE District model illustrates how the private takeover of education is happening. Policy formation and favored school practices are being determined by the wealth and the peculiar visions non governmental groups with deep pockets. In the CORE Districts, this work is aided and abetted by superintendents who are eager for the money and the illusion of prestige that comes from permitting private funders to determine educational policies and practices.

“Gates’ speech to members of the Council of the Great City Schools also includes the example of Tennessee’s LIFT Education as a “network” that is worth replicating.

“LIFT Education enlists educators from 12 rural and urban districts across the state to promote the Common Core agenda and Teach for America practices. Participants in LIFT Education are convened by the State Collaborative on Reforming Education —SCORE. The SCORE website says participants in LIFT have spent the last year and a half collaborating on high-quality early literacy instruction, focusing on building knowledge and vocabulary by piloting knowledge-rich read-alouds in early grades.

“The LIFT/SCORE alliance provides a governance structure for insisting that teachers follow the Gates-funded Common Core. Teachers are given an instructional practice guide that is also a teacher evaluation rubric from Student Achievement Partner, authors of the Common Core. https://lifteducationtn.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/LIFT-Instructional-Practice-Guide-K-5-Literacy.pdf

“This LIFT/SCORE non-governmental network is the result of private wealth channeled to superintendents who have outsourced the “coaching” and compliance monitoring for the Common Core literacy project to the Brooklyn-based The New Teachers Project (TNTP). In effect, TFA coaching and systems of data-gathering are present in all of the LIFT/SCORE districts.

“SCORE, the State Collaborative on Reforming Education has been funded since 2010 by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, so far $10,623,497 including multiple years for operating support. Add a 2012 grant to SCORE as sponsor of a Chiefs for Change Policy Forum for district leaders so they would be “ambassadors for education reform.” The bait for the LIFT/SCORE network thus came from Chiefs for Change–Jeb Bush’s baby, unfriendly to public education.

“Gates says: “Over the next several years, we will support about 30 of these networks (e.g.., CORE, LIFT) and will start initially with high needs schools and districts in 6 to 8 states. Each network will be backed by a team of education experts skilled in continuous improvement, coaching, and data collection and analysis.””

“Our goal is to work with the field to ensure that five years from now, teachers at every grade level in secondary schools have access to high-quality, aligned curriculum choices in English and math, as well as science curricula based on the Next Generation Science Standards.”

“What else is in the works from the many who would be king of American education?

“We expect that about 25 percent of our funding in the next five years will focus on big bets – innovations with the potential to change the trajectory of public education over the next 10 to 15 years.” What does Gates means by “big bets?” He expects to command the expertise and R&D to change the “trajectory” of education. He will fund translations of “developments in neuroscience, cognitive psychology, and behavioral economics” in addition to “technology-enabled” approaches in education.

“There is money left for more.

“We anticipate that the final 15 percent of our funding in the next five years will go to the charter sector. We will continue to help high-performing charters expand to serve more students. But our emphasis will be on efforts that improve outcomes for special needs students — especially kids with mild-to-moderate learning and behavioral disabilities.”

“This proposal sounds like Gates wants to cherry pick the students with “mild to moderate learning and behavioral disabilities,” send them to Gates-funded charter schools to bring their scores up, then claim success where everyone else has failed. This same strategy is being used in “pay-for performance” preschools. Gates sounds like he expects to have a free-hand in ignoring the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Evidently he wants the “flexibility” to ignore IDEA that he believes to be present in charter schools.

“Bill Gates is still fixated on the idea that his money and clout can and will attract other foundations and private investors. He still holds on to the mistaken idea that “what works” in one community or state can be “scaled up,” and REPLICATED, elsewhere. He is ignorant of the history of education and efforts to replicate programs. He is trapped in an industrial one-size-fits-all model of education.

“Gates ends with this: “Our role is to serve as a catalyst of good ideas, driven by the same guiding principle we started with: all students – but especially low-income students and students of color – must have equal access to a great public education that prepares them for adulthood. We will not stop until this has been achieved, and we look forward to continued partnership with you in this work in the years to come.”

“Beware of billionaires who want to partner with you.

“Gates still seems to think that students, especially low income students, can and will be successful if they have “ equal access to a great public education.” He remains ignorant of the abundant research that shows schools alone are not responsible for, or solutions to, institutionalized segregation and poverty–the main causes of serious disadvantage among low-income students and students of color.

“Gates has grandiose plans. All are focused on privatizing education and selling that snake oil as if it is authentic support for public education.“

Bruce Baker of Rutgers University shows in this post that the dream of cutting costs by replacing teachers with computers has been oversold and is a fantasy. It lures entrepreneurs and snake-oil salesmen into education but there is no evidence to support the claims.

Baker traces the latest iteration of the myth of cutting costs and achieving efficiency. Open the link to see the graph that promised huge savings:

“Modern edupreneurs and disrupters seem to have taken a narrow view of technological substitution and innovation, equating technology almost exclusively with laptop and tablet computers – screen time – as potential replacements for teachers – whether in the form of online schooling in its entirety, or on a course by course basis (unbundled schooling).[ii] For example, the often touted Rocketship model (a chain of charter schools), makes extensive use of learning lab time in which groups of 50 to 70 (or more) students work on laptops while supervised by uncertified “instructional lab specialists.”[iii] Fully online charter schools have expanded in many states often operated as for-profit entities.[iv] The overarching theme is that there must be some way to reduce the dependence on human resources to provide equal or better schooling, because human resources are an ongoing, inefficient expense.

“In 2011, on the invitation of New York State Commissioner of Education John King (later, replacement of Arne Duncan as U.S. Secretary of Education), Marguerite Roza, at the time a Senior Economic and Data Advisor to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,[v] presented the Productivity Curve illustration (Figure 11) at a research symposium of the New York State Board of Regents.[vi] Roza used her graph to assert that, for example, for $20,000 per pupil, tech-based learning systems could provide nearly 4x the bang for the buck as the status quo, and double the bang for the buck as merely investing in improved teacher effectiveness.

“The most significant shortcoming of this graph, however, was that it was entirely speculative[vii] (actually, totally made up! Fictional!) – a) not based on any actual empirical evidence that such affects could be or have anywhere been achieved, b) lacking any definition whatsoever as to what was meant by “tech-based learning systems” or “improve teacher effectiveness”, and c) lacking any information on the expenditures or costs which might be associated with either the status quo or the proposed innovations. That is, without any attention to the cost effectiveness frameworks I laid out in the previous chapter. The graph itself was then taken on the road by Commissioner King and used in his presentations to district superintendents throughout the state![viii]”

We now know from experience and evidence that fully online schools produce worse results with no savings in cost or efficiency (the cost savings are turned into profits for inferior education).

A very important post.

Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academy charter chain, known for its harsh discipline and cherryocking students, won the Broad Prize for Charter Schools.

http://mobile.edweek.org/c.jsp?cid=25920011&item=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.edweek.org%2Fv1%2Fblog%2F129%2F%3Fuuid%3D72531

In the past year, the New York Times ran stories about a “got to go” list, identifying students who were supposed to be pushed out because of their behavior or test scores.

There was also a prominent page-one story about a leaked video showing a teacher at SA humiliating a first-grade child and ripping her paper up in front of the class.

According to the press release, former Secretary of Education John King, a member of the selection committee for Broad, lauded the choice and said that Success Academy proved it was possible to give high-quality to “every child.” He meant “every child” except those with disabilities, English language learners, nonconformists, and others who can’t or won’t produce high test scores.

“Success Academy is intentional about delivering quality instruction and offering well-rounded, hands-on learning experiences to every child,” said former Education Secretary John B. King Jr., who’s now president of the nonprofit, The Education Trust, and a member of the Broad Prize’s review board.

“These charter schools understand the benefit of a diverse educational community, with children of different socioeconomic status, race, and background all learning together,” he said.”

The U.S. Department of Education may pull this off its website.

Click to access essaassessmentfactsheet1207.pdf

Download it now. These are John King’s accountability regulations, based on FLORIDA accountability, including A-F ratings for every school!

The Senate voted to revoke them by 50-49.

Farewell and good riddance!

Give credit where credit is due: Even though the Republican majority in the Senate seems eager to privatize public schools, for fun and credit and to satisfy their inner Ayn Rand, they did something right: they eliminated former Secretary of Education John King’s regulations to measure the effectiveness of teacher education. King wanted to judge teacher education institutions by student test scores. It was likely if not inevitable that teachers who went to affluent districts would get better results than those who taught in the neediest schools.

Teacher educators lambasted King’s effort to micromanage teacher education and warned that his demands would drive teachers away from high-needs schools.

This is one example where deregulation was necessary and didn’t make matters worse.

The Senate also voted to roll back an Obama administration rule to “hold schools accountable,” which passed by only 50-49, over vociferous Democratic opposition. Frankly, I don’t know which rule this is. If it was the Obama-Duncan-King test-based accountability, then I think its repeal or elimination is a step forward. As we saw again and again over the past eight years, the Obama Department of Education had an obsessive devotion to test-based accountability that harmed students, teachers, and schools. If this is what the Senate knocked down, count me in. Even the znational Academy of Sciences issued a report critical of test-based accountability, but Duncan was as smitten with standardized testing as DeVos is smitten with vouchers.

Thoughts on the recent events in education reform, by our blog Poet:

 

 

 

“The Maestro”

 
(A brief historical recap for those who have already forgotten — or perhaps never knew)

 

 

Chetty played the VAMdolin
At Nobel-chasing speed
Arne played the basket-rim
And Rhee, she played the rheed

 

Coleman played his Core-o-net
Eva played the lyre
Billy Gates played tete-a-tete
With Duncan and with higher

 

Sanders* beat his cattle drum
Devalue added model
Pseudo-science weighted sum
Mathturbated twaddle

 

John King played the slide VAMbone
But Maestro was Obama
Who hired the band and set the tone
For current grizzly drama

 

 

*William Sanders, who tweaked his algorithm for modeling cattle growth to model the intellectual growth of students and evaluate teachers.

 

A new advocacy group weighs in on the toxic efforts by John King to control teacher education and exacerbate the nation’s teacher shortage. King is acting in direct defiance of the letter and spirit of the new Every Student Succeeds Act, which specifically bars the Secretary of Education from attempting to control education.

Contact: Arnold F. Fege, President
Public Advocacy for Kids
+1 (202) 258-4044
Public-ed-afege@msn.com

Public Advocacy for Kids
Media Release
Public Advocacy for Kids Joins Broad Coalition with Major Concerns about Recent Teacher Preparation Regulations

Public Advocacy for Kids Cites Cost, Lack of Evidence, Costly Regulations as Major Problems

Washington, DC October 21, 2016: Joining over 30 organizations * including the governors, state legislators, civil rights, higher education, child advocacy and elementary and secondary education groups, Public Advocacy for Kids (PAK) cites major deficiencies of the new federal teacher-preparation regulations, despite some positive tweaks by made by the US Department of Education.

“The US Department seems not to learn,” says Arnold F. Fege, Public Advocacy for Kids president. It insists on imposing one-size fits all standards and policies on over 26,000 education institutions, this time on teacher preparation institutions. Rating schools of education effectiveness based on the standardized test scores of the student’s their graduates teach is costly, arbitrary and without evidence. This is a method not used to evaluate any other professional preparation program.”

Public Advocacy for Kids believes that with teacher shortages, the need to recruit more minority teachers reflecting the changing student demographics, challenges of increasing the number of STEM, ESL and special education teachers, and the importance of schools of education to adapt to the changing needs of students, clearly schools of education need not shy away from collecting that data leading to change and improvement. But these regulations, focusing on the same punitive test and punish measures that sunk No Child Left Behind, will actually discourage teachers from teaching in low income and special needs schools, and certainly create a major impediment to attracting minority teachers. In a nutshell, it will further the inequitable distribution of teachers which according to the US Education Office of Civil Rights is already increasing without these regulations.

But it gets worse. The cost of implementing the regulations will be borne by the state and local level institutions, many of which are already suffering from funding and resources shortages. While states are given some leeway in developing a teacher prep rating system, they have to adhere to four metrics, tying access to student financial aid, collecting the student test score data, and rating teacher prep programs on an annual basis. California has estimated that this regulation will cost them approximately $485 million dollars. Just imagine that each year, your state is required to track all of the teacher prep graduates, compile tests scores (in many cases from various states) based on standardized tests that may be different from state, and then know that all of this process does not have any evidence or research behind it?

Unfortunately, these rules are a lost opportunity to make deep, substantive and research based changes, but instead reflect a real lack of understanding by our top federal officials about how to lead sustained and systemic innovation, starting with those who are charged with the practice of teaching, parenting, supporting and caring. Parents do not want their students, nor their students teachers identified with a test score, but rather want teachers who are experienced, know how to engage their children, link home and schools, and individualize instruction. Teacher prep institutions need incentives, investment, deep teacher training such as urban residencies, mentoring, national board certification, but above all, they want to be an equal party in change and improvement, rather than being at the bottom of bureaucratic compliance. The story of the regulations are now to be found at the state level as state departments of education begin to grapple with issues of implementations and cost. Public Advocacy for Kids will continue to oppose the flawed regulations, and hopes there is a time when the regulations can be revisited, hopefully when the new Congress and Administration come into office.

*Find AACTE Coalition Statement https://secure.aacte.org/apps/rl/res_get.php?fid=3003&ref=rl

Public Advocacy for Kids is a national group devoted to federal and national education and child advocacy policy with a focus on low-income and special needs children and families. The group has deep involvement and knowledge in ESEA, IDEA, teacher preparation, parent information centers, integrated services, positive school climate, and the federal budget. You will find PAK working on the Hill, with federal agencies, school districts and community based organizations believing that policy must be shaped and crafted from the bottom-up including the community, families, and practitioners who often have no voice in the education of their children, in the United States and internationally.

21more

Sam Husseini of the Institute for Public Accuracy invited me and several others to submit questions for John King’s press conference at the National Press Club. I was interested in knowing what he thought about the NAACP’s call for a moratorium on new charter schools until there were assurances of accountability and unless they stopped diverting resources from public schools. You will note that Secretary King continued his full-throated advocacy for more charters and said that it was up to states to make the rules. Not only does he completely ignore the existence of the nation’s public schools, not only does he disregard the NAACP, he intends to keep shoveling hundreds of millions of federal dollars to new charter schools with no expectation of accountability or transparency.

Husseini wrote:


Some of the questions I got from folks were asked at the “news maker” event with Education Secretary John King at the National Press Club yesterday. Here are those questions — as asked by the moderator, which may be slightly different than how they were submitted — along with King’s responses. Here’s full PDF. Here’s full video. (Part of the first question here was from Diane Ravitch, as was the last question, below. The middle question was from my partner, Emily Prater, who is a third grade teacher at a Title I school in Washington, D.C.

MR. BALLOU: Charter Schools. You’ve said, “What I worry most about is we have some states that have done a really great job with charter authorizing and so have generally high quality charters and have been willing to close ones that are underperforming. On the other hand, you have states who’ve not done as good a job, 17 places like Michigan. We have a history of a low bar for getting a charter and an unwillingness to hold charters to high standards. What’s your view on where charter authorizing should be by the time you leave office, and how do you plan to get there? As someone who cites your own education in New York for saving your life and trajectory, and what of non-charter public schools? For some time, one of the arguments against charters was over resources about charters getting better resources than public education.

And there’s actually a second question sort of tied to this. A few days ago, the NAACP’s national; board called for a moratorium on new charter schools until laws are revised to make charters as accountable and as transparent as public schools. Do you agree with them, that charter schools should meet the same standards of accountability as public schools? And if you do, will you stop funding new charter schools as they recommend?

SECRETARY KING: So, let me start with this. We are fortunate, I think, as a country to have some high performing charters that are doing a great job and providing great opportunities to students. Charters that are helping students not only perform at higher levels academically, but go on to college at much higher rates than demographically similar students and succeed there. That’s good, we should have more schools like that and I think any arbitrary gap on the growth of high performing charters is a mistake in terms of our goal of trying to improve opportunity for all kids.

That said, where states are doing a bad job on charter authorizing, that has to change. You know, I’ve talked about the example of Michigan. We have states that have set a low bar for getting a charter, and then when charters perform poorly, they fail to take action to either improve them or close them, which is the essence of the charter school compact. Charter schools were supposed to be a compact, more autonomy in exchange for greater accountability. And yet, some states have not followed through on that compact. That is a problem.

Now, those decisions are made at the state level, they’re made based on state law. What we’ve done in the administration over the last eight years is two things. One is we’ve provided resources to improve charter authorizing in states and worked with states to strengthen their practices around reviewing the quality of charters, reviewing the quality of charter applications.

And two, we’ve invested in increasing the supply of great high performing charters. But, to the extent that what folks are saying is they want states to do a better job on charter authorizing, I agree. But where we have states that are doing a good job on charter authorizing and we have charters that are doing great jobs for kids that want to grow, they should be able to. And I think this is an issue where we’ve got to put kids first. We’ve got to ask what’s best for the students and parents.

As Arne would often point out, students and parents aren’t as concerned about the governance model as they are about is my child getting a quality education? We’ve got to be focused on that, which is one of the reasons why I think arbitrary caps don’t make sense, is we shouldn’t limit kids’ access to great opportunities.

MR. BALLOU: A lot of teachers have been writing. (Laughter) What do you propose to do about the equality of pay between teachers and administrators, for example, like yourself? One teacher says, “I worked 12 hours yesterday, I didn’t have time for lunch. Did you have time for lunch? I make $47,000 a year. How much do you make,” which of course is public record. “I can’t go to the bathroom when I need to. Can you go to the bathroom when you need to? And please don’t talk about how great teachers are. We don’t need empty rhetoric. We need resources, we need policies that actually help us teach, not help profiteers.” How do you– a pretty upset teacher there.

SECRETARY KING: Yeah, look. I think we see across the country, we see states that have not made the investment they should in their education system. We did a report earlier this year, the department, looking at the difference in state investment in prisons versus K-12 education. And what we found is that we see over the last 30 years rate of increase in investment spending on prisons that is three times as high as the rate of increase in spending on K-12 education.

That suggests to me that as a society, we haven’t put our resources where we should. So, are there states that should be spending significantly more on teacher salaries? Absolutely. And should we be paying more to teachers, especially teachers who are willing to serve in the highest needs communities and the highest needs fields where we have real demand? Absolutely. And the President’s proposed that. The President proposed a billion dollars for an initiative called Best Job in the World that would support professional development, incentives, career ladders for teachers who teach in the highest needs communities.

So we agree about the need for more resources and focusing those resources on teachers. One of the places I worry most about is in early leaning. We did a study on preK pay and found that in many communities around the country, pre-K teachers are making half what they would be making if they were working in an elementary school, which again suggests that our priorities are not right.

So this is a place where I agree with the questioner, we need to invest more resources in educators. We should pay our teachers very well because we know that teachers are essential to the future of our country. And we need to make sure the working conditions are good. It’s not just a question of teacher pay. I think of a place like Detroit, you know. If the water is leaking from the ceiling and there are rodents running across the floor, those working conditions are not ones that are going to make teaching a profession that people want or a profession people will want to stay in over the long term. And so we’ve got to make sure that working conditions are strong.

And the final point I’d make, is this is one of the reasons that supplement, not supplant, is so important because if you consistently under-resource the highest needs schools, the result will be poor working conditions in those schools and the inability to retain the great teachers that our highest needs students need.

MR. BALLOU: We’re running quickly out of time. Had an issue with one of your senior staff who had to resign over waste fraud and financial abuse. Have you been able to clean up the issues in the Inspector General’s office?

SECRETARY KING: So, this is about an employee in our IT department who made mistakes and was accountable for those mistakes, chose ultimately to resign. He’s no longer with the department. We have a very strong team around our IT and we are very focused, as folks are across the administration, on continuously strengthening cyber security. This is actually cyber security awareness month. Just came from a cyber security convening at the department this morning. We’re very focused on making sure that our IT systems are as strong as possible, that we protect the security of data. And that we insure that we’re providing good services.

So for example, Collegescorecard.ed.gov is a tool that we’ve built and through our investment in the strength of our IT systems, and work across the administration to leverage technology on behalf of taxpayers and students, Collegescorecad.ed.gov allows students to find information about every college, to find out about their graduation rates, how much people make who’ve graduated from that school, how able folks who’ve graduated from that school are able to repay their loans. It’s a great tool that we’ve made available and that is continuously evolving to try to provide services.

So IT is really a strength now of the department. But as is true across– for any employer, there are sometimes employees who make mistakes and we have systems in place to insure that that’s dealt with.