Archives for category: Teacher Evaluations

Mitchell Robinson, professor of music education at Michigan State University, writes here about the frightening new direction that is on the horizon for evaluating student teachers.

Here comes NOTE (National Observational Teaching Examination), created by ETS, in which student teachers are judged by their ability to instruct cartoon characters (“avatars”).

Robinson minces no words in chastising educators who have decided to join forces with the corporatization of teacher education-evaluation.

He writes:

Now, even some of these education experts, tempted by the prospect of previously unimaginable wealth and power, have sold out their profession for a shot at cashing in on the corporate reform gravy train. Witness Dr. Deborah Ball’s stepping down as Dean of the School of Education at the University of Michigan to concentrate on her work on NOTE: National Observational Teaching Examination for ETS, the Educational Testing Service.

As I’ve written about previously here, and here, and others have written about here, NOTE is a high-stakes student teacher evaluation test that requires pre-service teachers to “instruct” avatars–yes, avatars! And if their “teaching” of these cartoon characters isn’t deemed adequate, the student teacher is denied their certification or teaching license, in spite of the fact that the student teacher in question has just completed an accredited, rigorous 4 or 5 year teacher preparation program, regardless of the student teacher’s earned GPA or demonstrated capability to teach real, live children in hundreds of hours of field experiences in local school classrooms, or the intern’s exhibited knowledge, understanding or competence in their subject area.

(And, just to rub a little salt in the wound: the persons who are remotely-operating the avatars are not teachers themselves–they are unemployed actors who have been trained to manipulate the joy sticks and computer simulations that control the avatars’ voices and movements. The designers of the avatar system found that teachers thought too much about their responses to the interns’ teaching “moves”–the actors didn’t concern themselves with matters like content correctness or developmentally-appropriate responses; they just followed the provided script, and efficiently completed the task at hand.)

Schools Matter reported on this alarming new methodology here and here, and clarifies that the new technology-driven program is funded by….(no surprise)…the Gates Foundation, which gave $7 million to “remake teacher education in a corporate high tech image, one that can be turned into deep and fast-running revenue streams by the increasingly rapacious Silicon Valley data miners and dystopian isolationists who view democratic community as a threat to unbridled corporate greed.” It seems that Bill Gates will never abandon his goal of standardizing American education.

Our reader Jack Covey supplied this video.

Do you suppose that future teachers might master teaching cartoon avatars yet lack the skills and knowledge of a well-prepared teacher?

Jon Parker, a teacher in Pittsburgh, warns that the corporate reformers are trying to reverse the results of the school board election that they lost by attacking the board’s choice of a pro-public education superintendent. The reformers (Gates-funded and called “A+ Schools”) are abetted by the pro-privatization Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Reformers don’t like democracy unless they can buy it. The pro-public education board ended the Gates’ experiment with test-based evaluation and canceled a contract with Teach for America. That sort of thing makes reformers really angry. How dare they assert a vision different from the great Bill Gates! How dare they end his experiment in evaluating teachers! How dare they say no to TFA!

Parker outlines the scenario:

Chapter 1: Pittsburgh has a democratically elected school board.

Chapter 2: Pittsburgh’s citizens vote for pro-public education candidates.

Chapter 3: A+ Schools’ (a.k.a. Bill Gates’ employee) candidates lose.

Chapter 4: A+ Schools doesn’t know what it feels like to lose and becomes upset.

Chapter 5: Pittsburgh’s democratically elected school board selects a pro-public schools superintendent without allowing A+ Schools to railroad the process.

Chapter 6: A+ Schools becomes more upset and elicits the support of local media in a witch hunt against the new superintendent.

Peter Greene discovered that a bunch of alternative certification/charter school groups wrote a joint letter to Congress proposing that all teacher preparation programs be judged by the test scores of their students, which they call “outcome data.” He says this is one of the “Top Ten Dumbest Reform Ideas Ever.”

Yes, it’s one of the Top Ten Dumbest Reform Ideas Ever, back for another round of zombie policy debate. The same VAM-soaked high stakes test scores that has been debunked by everyone from principals to statisticians to teachers, the same sort of system that was called arbitrary and capricious by a New York judge, the same sort of system just thrown out by Houston– let’s use that not just to judge teachers, but to judge the colleges from which those teachers graduated.

Why would we do something so glaringly dumb? The signatores of the letter say that consumers need information.

Without the presence of concrete outcome measures, local education agencies and potential teacher candidates are hard-pressed to compare the quality of teacher preparation programs. Thus, it is a gamble for aspiring educators to select a teacher training program and a gamble for principals when hiring teachers for their schools

Yes, because everyone in the universe is dumb as a rock– except reformsters. Just as parents and teachers will have no idea how students are doing until they see Big Standardized Test results, nobody has any idea which teaching programs are any good. Except that, of course, virtually every program for teaching (or anything else, for that matter) has a well-developed and well-known reputation among professionals in the field….

This is just the first of a series of letters to the feds telling them what the people in charge of the nation’s shadow network of privatized faux teacher trainers. So there’s that to look forward to.

Look, it’s not just that this is a terrible terrible terrible TERRIBLE system for evaluating teacher programs, or that it’s a bald-faced attempt to grab money and power for this collection of education-flavored private businesses. These days, I suppose it’s just good business practice to lobby the feds to write the rules that help you keep raking it in. It’s that this proposal (and the other proposals like it which, sadly, often come from the USED) is about defining down what teaching even is.

It is one more back door attempt to redefine teaching as a job with just one purpose– get kids to score high on a narrow set of Big Standardized Tests. Ask a hundred people what they mean by “good teacher.” Write down the enormous list of traits you get from “knowledgeable” to “empathetic” to “uplifts children” to “creative” and on and on and on and, now that you’ve got that whole list, cross out every single item on it except “has students who get good test scores.”

It’s the fast foodifying of education. If I redefine “beautifully cooked meal” as “two pre-made patties cooked according to instructions, dressed with prescribed condiments, and slapped on the pre-made buns” then suddenly anyone can be a “great chef” (well, almost anyone– actual great chefs may have trouble adjusting). These are organizations that specialize in cranking out what non-teachers think teachers should be, and their thinking is neither deep nor complicated, because one of the things a teachers should be is easy to train and easy to replace.

Audrey Amrein-Beardsley reports here on new research by Steven Klees of the University of Maryland, which concludes that the contribution of individual teachers to student learning cannot be isolated or quantified as “value-added modeling” claims to do.

Accumulating evidence continues to demonstrate that the teacher evaluation systems imposed by Arne Duncan in the Race to the Top is invalid, inaccurate and unreliable. How many teachers and principals have been fired because of these flawed metrics?

VAMs Are Never “Accurate, Reliable, and Valid”

Open the article for her many links.

She writes:

The Educational Researcher (ER) journal is the highly esteemed, flagship journal of the American Educational Research Association. It may sound familiar in that what I view to be many of the best research articles published about value-added models (VAMs) were published in ER (see my full reading list on this topic here), but as more specific to this post, the recent “AERA Statement on Use of Value-Added Models (VAM) for the Evaluation of Educators and Educator Preparation Programs” was also published in this journal (see also a prior post about this position statement here).

After this position statement was published, however, many critiqued AERA and the authors of this piece for going too easy on VAMs, as well as VAM proponents and users, and for not taking a firmer stance against VAMs given the current research. The lightest of the critiques, for example, as authored by Brookings Institution affiliate Michael Hansen and University of Washington Bothell’s Dan Goldhaber was highlighted here, after which Boston College’s Dr. Henry Braun responded also here. Some even believed this response to also be too, let’s say, collegial or symbiotic.

Just this month, however, ER released a critique of this same position statement, as authored by Steven Klees, a Professor at the University of Maryland. Klees wrote, essentially, that the AERA Statement “only alludes to the principal problem with [VAMs]…misspecification.” To isolate the contributions of teachers to student learning is not only “very difficult,” but “it is impossible—even if all the technical requirements in the [AERA] Statement [see here] are met.”

Rather, Klees wrote, “[f]or proper specification of any form of regression analysis…All confounding variables must be in the equation, all must be measured correctly, and the correct functional form must be used. As the 40-year literature on input-output functions that use student test scores as the dependent variable make clear, we never even come close to meeting these conditions…[Hence, simply] adding relevant variables to the model, changing how you measure them, or using alternative functional forms will always yield significant differences in the rank ordering of teachers’…contributions.”

Therefore, Klees argues “that with any VAM process that made its data available to competent researchers, those researchers would find that reasonable alternative specifications would yield major differences in rank ordering. Misclassification is not simply a ‘significant risk’— major misclassification is rampant and inherent in the use of VAM.”

Klees concludes: “The bottom line is that regardless of technical sophistication, the use of VAM is never [and, perhaps never will be] ‘accurate, reliable, and valid’ and will never yield ‘rigorously supported inferences” as expected and desired.

Last week, the Houston Independent School Board deadlocked in a 3-3 tie vote on whether to renew its contract with the vendor supplying the teacher evaluation program.

Audrey Amrein-Beardsley explains their decision here.

At least three board members realized that five years of this program had not moved the needle by an inch. If performance matters, then EVAAS was a failure.

Beardsley is one of the nation’s leading researchers in the study of teacher evaluation.

She writes:

Seven teachers in the Houston Independent School District (HISD), with the support of the Houston Federation of Teachers (HFT), are taking HISD to federal court over how their value-added scores, derived via the Education Value-Added Assessment System (EVAAS), are being used, and allegedly abused, while this district that has tied more high-stakes consequences to value-added output than any other district/state in the nation. The case, Houston Federation of Teachers, et al. v. Houston ISD, is ongoing.

But just announced is that the HISD school board, in a 3:3 split vote late last Thursday night, elected to no longer pay an annual $680K to SAS Institute Inc. to calculate the district’s EVAAS value-added estimates. As per an HFT press release (below), HISD “will not be renewing the district’s seriously flawed teacher evaluation system, [which is] good news for students, teachers and the community, [although] the school board and incoming superintendent must work with educators and others to choose a more effective system.”

Open the link, read the full article, and read her links. This is excellent news.

The bad part of her post is the news that the federal government is still giving out grants that require districts to continue using this flawed methodology, despite the fact that it hasn’t worked anywhere.

Apparently, HISD was holding onto the EVAAS, despite the research surrounding the EVAAS in general and in Houston, in that they have received (and are still set to receive) over $4 million in federal grant funds that has required them to have value-added estimates as a component of their evaluation and accountability system(s).

So Houston will have to find a new vendor of a failed methodology.

The Boston Globe seems to be the Rip van Winkle of the mainstream media. It recently published an editorial that insists that teachers should be evaluated by the test scores of their students. Really. Apparently it is still 2010 in the offices of the Globe, when Arne Duncan claimed that this was the very best way to determine which teachers were effective or ineffective.


But it is no longer 2010. The U.S. Departnent of Education handed out $5 billion to states to promote test-based evaluation. The Gates Foundation gave away hundreds of millions of dollars to states to use test scores to evaluate teachers. This method has had negative results everywhere. It has demoralized teachers everywhere. It has contributed to a growing national teacher shortage and declining enrollments in education programs.


Scholarly groups like the American Educational Research Association and the American Statistical Association have warned against using test scores to rate individual teachers. There are too many uncontrolled variables, as well as individual differences among students. The American Statistical Association said that teachers affect 1-14% of test score variation. Surely the Boston Globe editorial board must be aware of that report by an impeccable nonpartisan authoritative source. Surely the Boston Globe editorial board must know that teachers in affluent districts are likely to produce high test scores, while teachers of children with disabilities, English language learners, impoverished children, and homeless children are likely to get low test scores. Even teachers of the gifted will receive low ratings because their students get small test score gains since they are already at the top of the scale.


The Boston Globe editorial board should learn about the disastrous experience with Gates-style test-based evaluation in Hillsborough County, Florida. The district accepted a $100 million award from the Gates Foundation to rate its teachers by test score gains and losses. It was an abject failure. The district drained its reserve funds. It concluded that it would cost the district $52 million a year to sustain the Gates program. The superintendent who led the effort, MaryEllen Elia, was fired. Gates cut its ties to the county and stopped the payout after wasting $80 million.


Should Massachusetts cling to a costly, expensive, failed way to evaluate teachers? Should it ignore evidence and experience?


Common sense and logic say no. Will someone send this post to the editorial board of the Boston Globe?










Our reader and amazing researcher draws a map of the covert networks that promote school choice, privatization, high-stakes testing, and the rest of the corporate reform agenda.

Chapman writes:

Third Wave is a new marketing package for ideas forged at the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE), aided by charter friendly Bellwether, field tested in Boston, New Orleans, and coming to other “Education Cities.” Third Wave is a planed tsunami intended to eliminate local school boards. Private foundations—the billionaire donor class—provides the impetus for the Third Wave. Themes in the pitch for donor-controlled education “seats” for kids, and nothing less than “great” schools.

Some remote links to this Third Wave brand can be traced to Alvin Toffler’s book with the same title, also “disruptive” narratives of many kinds in academe, with one example about “educational choice” in Great Britain: The ‘Third Wave’: Education and the Ideology of Parentocracy. Phillip Brown;Source: British Journal of Sociology of Education, Vol. 11, No. 1 (1990), pp. 65-85 Volume Information. (1990). British Journal of Sociology of Education, 11(1), 1-2. Retrieved from

A key feature of the Third Wave brand is getting “cross-sector universal student enrollment” installed as a new norm for thinking about education, with an ever diminishing role for elected school boards in policy making.

Here is a Gates foundation launch in Massachusetts: Grant to Boston Private Industry Council Inc. Date: September 2014, Purpose: to support the design and launch of a cross-sector universal student enrollment system for the city of Boston, Amount: $100,000 Term: 34 months.

That is one small grant. But the big push for Third Wave comes from the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE). This organization is really a multi-state policy/advocacy group funded by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Laura and John Arnold Foundation, Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, US Department of Education, Walton Family Foundation, and Anonymous. (Yes, USDE is a funder!).

The POLICY PARTNERS for the Center for Reinventing Pubic education are:

1. National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools funded by the Oak Foundation, Walton Family Foundation, Newark Charter School Fund, and Charter School Growth Fund.

2. Education Cities (100 of the largest cities, implicated in a rating scheme funded by the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and connected to the GreatSchools rating and marketing website), and the

3. Policy Innovation Network (PIE). Let’s look at the connection of PIE to CRPE to Third Wave.

The PIE Network connects 48 “education reform groups” in 31 states and the District of Columbia. In addition to feeding information to these groups, PIE asks the groups to commit to policies formulated by its “policy partners” and work with “advocacy partners” including many national organizations “often active in state capitols, working in collaboration with network members or providing strategic advice and assistance as invited by network members.” Think Superpac.

Here are the MEMBERS of PIE by state: ALABAMA, A+ Education Partnership; ARIZONA, Expect More Arizona, Stand for Children Arizona; CALIFORNIA, The Education Trust- West, EdVoice; COLORADO, Colorado Succeeds, Stand for Children Colorado; CONNECTICUT, ConnCAN, Connecticut Council for Education Reform; DELAWARE, Rodel Foundation of Delaware; DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, DC School Reform Now; FLORIDA, Foundation for Florida’s Future, GEORGIA, Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education; IDAHO, Idaho Business for Education; ILLINOIS, Advance Illinois, Stand for Children Illinois; INDIANA, Stand for Children Indiana; KENTUCKY, Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence; LOUISIANA, Stand for Children Louisiana; MARYLAND, MarylandCAN; MASSACHUSETTS, Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education, Stand for Children Massachusetts; MICHIGAN, The Education Trust- Midwest; MINNESOTA, MinnCAN; MISSISSIPPI, Mississippi First; MISSOURI, Children’s Education Alliance of Missouri (CEAM); NEVADA, Nevada Succeeds; NEW JERSEY, JerseyCAN; NEW YORK, NYCAN, StudentsFirstNY; NORTH CAROLINA, BEST-NC, North Carolina Public School Forum; OHIO, KidsOhio!, Thomas B. Fordham Institute of Ohio; OKLAHOMA, Oklahoma Business and Education Coalition, Stand for Children Oklahoma; OREGON, Chalkboard Project, Stand for Children Oregon; PENNSYLVANIA, PennCAN; RHODE ISLAND, RI-CAN; TENNESSEE, State Collaborative on Reforming Education, Stand for Children Tennessee; TEXAS, Educate Texas, Stand for Children Texas, Texas Institute for Education Reform; WASHINGTON, League of Education Voters, Partnership for Learning, Stand for Children Washington. Surce:

Then there are the POLICY PARTNERS for PIE—which is connected to CPRE— which is connected to Third Wave— with generous funding by with the mega-billionaire donor class behind the so-called Third Wave.

“Evidence and expertise play an essential role in forging public policy solutions to formidable institutional challenges; therefore, PIE Network partners with six leading national policy organizations that fuel reform on a national level, disseminate critical research, and offer guidance to network members.” These POLICY PARTNERS are: Center for American Progress, Center on Reinventing Public Education, Data Quality Campaign, Education Resource Strategies, National Council on Teacher Quality, and Thomas B. Fordham Institute. All are famous (infamous) for plots and policies and their obligations to the billionaire donor class. All are intent on eliminating elected school boards and pouring tax dollars into the coffers of private and religious schools.

Look again. Here are PIE’s ADVOCACY PARTNERS and what they do—The ”growing number of national reform organizations are also working at the state level to advance part of the network’s policy commitments. These organizations, which we recognize as advocacy partners, are often active in state capitols working in collaboration with network members or providing strategic advise and assistance as invited by network members. The current ADVOCACY PARTNERS include: 50CAN – national office, America Succeeds, Black Alliance for Educational Options, Democrats for Education Reform, Education Trust, Educators 4 Excellence, Families for Excellent Schools, Foundation for Excellence in Education, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, Parent Revolution, StudentsFirst, Students for Education Reform – national office, Stand for Children – national office. You can learn more at

Now there is a bit more detail (if you can stand it) in how Bellwether aids and abets the Third Wave’s efforts to discredit and demolish elected school boards, silece teachers, parents, and citizens.

I live in Cincinnati. Local foundations with projects in education have been part of a STRIVE collaborative with the Cincinnati Public Schools, Some members in this group have become part of a foundation-led “Accelerator” with a recently hired CEO and a target of $48 million for eliminating every good school that is not a “great school.” The Accelerator is a pitch for cross-sector universal student enrollment for the metro area, and with a specific inclusion of Catholic schools.

Charter-friendly Bellwether handled the CEO recruitment. The Bellwether job description begins with the Gates mantra of college and career readiness for every child. It is filled with “business and charter speak”—the need for a talent pipeline to “create a total of 14,500 new high-performing seats in the city.”

Our local “Accelerator” is “committed to a three-part philosophy: 1. To focus on each school’s performance, not its operator; 2. To embrace and support all successful schools whether they’re District, public charter, or Catholic, and 3. To focus on the development and expansion of schools and school models that deliver outstanding results.”

Among other qualifications, the CEO of this Accelerator was to have: “political savvy, and instincts sharp enough to navigate and establish productive relationships across the Cincinnati educational, philanthropic and political landscape;” and the “ability to identify new sources of funding from foundations, corporations, investors, and/or individual donors, and the skills required to secure these resources through relationship-building.”

REPORTING STRUCTURE. This initiative “was founded with significant engagement and support from the local philanthropic community. Members of this community will play a key role on the Board of Directors.” Over the next three years, the Accelerator will build out the Board, including a focus on adding perspectives from one or more national funders and one or more local community leaders. The Board will not likely exceed nine members, will meet at least quarterly, and will focus specifically on providing strategic and financial guidance.“ See more at this ink, and note the long reach of CRPE.

The CEO of our Accelerator is Patrick Herrel. He seems to have held three prior jobs: a government and economics teacher in Charlotte, North Carolina; Teach for America manager of recruiters across the Midwest; and Vice President of The Mind Trust in Indianapolis, where he helped launch “autonomous schools,” and “in-district, empowered schools.” I guess he had the needed fast track tsunami stuff. In 2012, Herrel was named one of Forbes Magazine’s “30 under 30” in education.

I am not alone in questioning the Accelerator and presumptions of our local donor class, most of them speaking as if experts in education based on their great wealth accumulated from holding executive positions in corporations. They believe that the end—metrics for high performance” justify whatever means are necessary to get the intended outcomes. Operators of schools do not matter. What citizens and elected officials think is of no great importance. They think they can buy the “seats” for poor students in high performing schools and that will do the job. Sounds all too familiar.

2010 was the high watermark of the corporate reform movement.

In spring 2010, the entire staff at Central Falls, Rhode Island, was fired because of low test scores, which created a national sensation. Arne Duncan and President Obama hailed the courage of Deborah Gist, the state superintendent, and Frances Gallo, the city superintendent, who ordered and confirmed the strategy. Duncan said the firings showed that the administrators were “doing the right things for kids.”

Thus began the reformers’ war against teachers.

In September 2010, “Waiting for Superman,” debuted with a multimillion dollar campaign to promote it: the cover of TIME, appearances by the “stars” on Oprah (Michelle Rhee, Geoffrey Canada, Bill Gates, etc.), and NBC’s Education Nation, focused on promoting the film and its advocacy for charters. “Superman” was a hit job on unions, teachers, and public schools. Its data were skewed, and some of its scenes were staged. It was denied an Academy Award. But Bill Gates put up at least $2 million for public relations.

Thus launched the reformers’ fraudulent fight for privatization as a “civil rights” issue.

Into this fray came the Los Angeles Times, with its own evaluation of thousands of teachers in Los Angeles, created by an economist who employed the methods approved by the Gates Foundation. Teachers were rated on a scale from least effective to most effective. One of those teachers, a dedicated fifth grade teacher named Rigoberto Ruelas, jumped off a bridge and committed suicide after he was publicly labeled as one of the least effective teachers in math and average in reading. Who knew that becoming a teacher would be a hazardous profession?

Anthony Cody delves into the journalistic responsibility of the Los Angeles Times in this important post. The LA Times hired an economist who created VAM ratings and used test scores to rank teachers. Its reporters, Jason Felch and Jason Song, warned against using test scores as the only measure to rank teachers, then proceeded to use test scores as the only measure to rank teachers. The two Jasons, as they were known, hoped to win a Pulitzer Prize. They didn’t. They did come in second in the Education Writers Association choice of the best reporting of the year. Felch was subsequently fired for an ethical breach that involved inappropriate relations with a source.

Cody is concerned about the ethics of journalists who cloak their advocacy and partisanship behind the charade of journalistic independence.

Now, it turns out that the Hechinger Institute at Teachers College, Columbia University, funded the LA Times’ rating scheme. And who do you think funded the Hechinger Report: the Gates Foundation.

We know more about VAM now. We know that it has been rejected by numerous scholars and scholarly associations as invalid, unstable, and unreliable.

Who killed Rigoberto Ruelas?

As readers know, the Los Angeles a Times published a scathing indictment of Bill Gates and his ill-fated forays into education policymaking. The Times noted Gates’ serial failures, one of which was his naive belief that teachers should be evaluated by the test scores of their students. This idea appealed to his technocratic, data-driven mindset.

Some cheered the Times’ about-face, but Anthony Cody did not. He argues that Los Angeles Times was complicit in some of Gates’ worst ideas, despite the absence of evidence for their likely success. It gave full-throated support to John Deasey when he ran the city’s public schools with a heavy hand and spent profligately on ed technology. While wiser heads were skeptical about Gates’plan to evaluate teachers by test scores, the Times decided to create its own test-based rating system and published the results.

Cody calls for accountability. The line between advocacy and reporting is thin, and he believes the Times’ reporters crossed it. They should have investigated the Gates’ theory, but instead they acted on it, assuming its validity.

Cody writes:

“I have a question related to journalistic integrity. How can the LA Times chastise the Gates Foundation – and their disciple John Deasy, without acknowledging their own embrace of Gatesian reforms? The LA Times did not just report on the issue – they created their very own VAM system, and criticized Los Angeles Unified for not using such a system to weed out “bad teachers” and reward those identified as “effective.” They were active advocates, instrumental in the war on teachers that has been so devastating to morale over the past decade.”

Our friend and regular commenter Laura Chapman, retired educator, reflects on Bill Gayes’ failure in Hillsborough. Accepting his pledge of $100 million drew the district onto a teacher evaluation plan that nearly exhausted the district’s reserve fund, led to the firing of the district superintendent MaryEllen Elia, and was ultimately canceled by Gates and the district after no results.

She wrote a comment about the serial failures of the Gates Foundation:

“This discussion has taken me down memory lane to the public schools I attended. One of these, Hillsborough High School in Tampa Florida, has been rehabbed several times, but it remains a landmark in school architecture from an era when attending and completing “high” school was a major achievement. The website has a curated collection of documents showing the history of the school’s founding and various locations before the current building was built, with magnificent Gothic architecture, refelecting some high aspirations for the experience of going to school. The school has been rehabbed several times, with “moderate”but important attention to preservation. The International Baccalaureate program is thriving, but that seems to have created a school within a school and conflicts among the students and the faculty.

“Then there is the story of what Bill Gates did to the Hillsborough County Schools and the demoralization that his money has created–his demand for pay-for-performance, worship of metrics especially test scores, the wholesale destruction of morale, and now a budget that is busted. Bill Gates did serous damage to a decent school system. For him, there was not an ounce of value to this particular high school. It could have been a big box store.”


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