Thursday, August 27, 2015

Why Aren't Parents And Students Held Accountable For Their Academics And Behavior?

It seems to me that in the age of "accountability" where teachers are evaluated on "junk science" and schools are rated on high stakes Common Core tests that are not grade appropriate, the students and their parents are given a pass.  In New York, The State uses the 6 day tests to determine 50% of a teacher's grade while the students scores are ignored for promotion decisions (however, these useless tests are used for student placement decisions).

The drumbeat of "accountability" is constantly brought up by the education deformer organizations and their media allies.  However, when you push through the "accountability" rhetoric you find that these education deformer organizations will ignore the two most important part of the "accountability"  equation, that is the parent and the student.  In the education deformer world the teacher is the most important part of a student's educational success.  To these organizations the fact that a teacher makes up only between 1% and 14% of a student's academic success is simply an inconvenient truth they choose to ignore.  In fact, one of their education deform heroes. Joel Klein and his allies hold teachers primarily responsible for the achievement gap between disadvantaged and middle-class children. In a 2010 “manifesto,” Klein and one of his protégés, Michelle Rhee, the former schools chancellor of Washington, D.C., summed up their campaign like this:

“The single most important factor determining whether students succeed in school is not the color of their skin or their ZIP code or even their parents’ income—it is the quality of their teacher.”

Joel Klein, as Chancellor, falsely claimed that he was able to narrow the achievement gap only to be canned as Chancellor by an embarrassed Mayor Bloomberg after it was shown that the income/racial academic achievement gap actually widened!

The frustration level of educators who suffer through disrespectful students, uncaring parents, and unrelenting administrative pressure and yet are blamed for a student's failure that they have little or no control over.  This is not just a New York problem but is found nationally as teacher shortages spread throughout the country.  Moreover, even in countries like Australia, teacher frustration has resulted in a school approving this message to parents when they call the school  While I agree with the frustration of these educators, I don't agree with the messages conclusion and maybe they should be lmore understanding of recent immigrants to the school district.  Otherwise, I wish all schools would record similar messages and place "accountability" squarely where it belongs on the parents and the students and not scapegoating teachers.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Real Legacy Of Ex Chancellor Joel Klein.

According to Politico, the Columbia University's Double Discovery Center will be giving Ex Chancellor Joel Klein their highest award, the James Shenton AwardOne would think that such an award would be given to only those who made a difference for public education of underprivileged students.  However, the truth is under Chancellor Joel Klein, the income/racial academic income gap actually widened.  His claims of academic excellence was all "smoke and mirrors: and even Mayor Bloomberg canned him when the truth was picked up by the media. Far from being a top educator, Joel Klein did more harm and little good when it came to really serving underprivileged students.

Under Chancellor Joel Klein, class sizes increased, highly experienced teachers were cast aside for clueless "newbies" and school budgets were siphoned to feed the ever growing Central Bureaucracy at the DOE.  Worse, was the destruction of the large neighborhood high schools by dumping "high needs" students into the schools to force them to fail and close  Read the New Yorker article at what Joel Klein did to Jamaica High School.  Moreover, his disrespect for teachers and ignoring community concerns are legendary.    Finally, his support of Charter schools and co-locating them in public schools were both morally and economically wrong for the public school students, especially the disadvantaged.

To remind people of the destructive Klein policies read his legacy Here.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

While Our Disconnected Union Leadership Supports The De Blasio Administration, The Teachers Continued To Get Screwed!

It wasn't too long ago that our union President, Michael (don't call me Mikey) Mulgrew, claimed that we have a supportive ally in the Mayor and a new tone at the DOE.  His embrace of the new Chancellor, Carmen Farina, was to show the new spirit of cooperation between the union and Tweed.  While on the surface, there seemed to be a era of cooperation, the fact is that cooperation does not trickle down to the schools or classroom where the Bloomberg "gotcha system" is still going strong.  If there really was a new era of cooperation between the union and the DOE wouldn't these issues disappear?

Fair Student Funding:  The use of fair student funding forces the schools to high the "cheapest and not the best teachers" for their students.  Bringing back the unit policy would allow schools to hire highly experienced teachers for their students.

Large Class Sizes:  Despite promises to reduce class size, the Mayor and Chancellor failed to lower class sizes and despite campaign promises, refused to develop a plan to implement the lowering of class sizes.

Double Standard in Disciplining Administrators:  The failure to remove many of the so-called 400 principals that Chancellor Carmen Farina claimed should not be in charge of schools are still there and she and her Bloomberg era holdovers continue to protect them. Examples can be found in my "bad principals"  articles.  Here are the articles dealing with the "double standard" that has not changed with the new administration.

ATR Crisis:  The holdover of the ideological Bloomberg era policy of the ATRs that drains $160 million dollars from the DOE budget annually and the failure to use experienced educators in the classroom is an educational crime. In fact, under the new contract ATRs are second class citizens.

Failure To Reduce The Bloated DOE Bureaucracy: The data accountability and legal departments at Tweed were supposed to have been reduced but thanks to the Chancellor's failure to "clean house" these departments continue to expand and thrive, like a cancerous tumor.

Frozen School Budgets:  Despite the City's economic viability and a $5.9 billion dollar surplus and more funding to the DOE, the Mayor and Chancellor kept school budgets frozen at 2012 levels.  Unbelievable but true.

Failure To Reduce Paperwork:  Despite assurance from both the UFT President and Chancellor, there has been little reduction in paperwork requirements imposed by the Bloomberg Administration.

Its no secret that our union negotiated a vastly inferior contract just to curry favor with the new administration and while Michael Mulgrew , Carmen Farina, and Bill de Blasio yuk it up, the teachers continued to get screwed.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Parents Overwelmingly Oppose High Stakes Tests To Rate Teachers.

A survey by PDK/Gallup has shown that 64% of public school parents oppose using high stakes tests to determine teacher evaluation.   This survey should put to rest the education deformer claim that parents support these Common Core based high-stakes tests to determine teacher effectiveness.  In fact, the same poll found that 54% of those polled oppose the Common Core State Standards while only 25% supported using them.  This came as no surprise to critics of the education deformer led education agenda.  For example, Josha P. Starr, who under pressure from Obama and Duncan, was not selected as Chancellor of the New York City schools said the following:

“Too many kids in too many schools are bored,” said Joshua P. Starr, a former superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland who is now chief executive of PDK International, a network of education professionals. “Parents maybe see that and they want their kids to be engaged in schools.”

That's right, as I have been writing about previously, the constant test preparation is not real learning and many students fear and loathe taking these high-stakes Common Core tests.  Students should be excited about learning not passing a test that, for many is too long, hard, and are not grade appropriate.  Moreover, the results are not known for months and used not to determine the students placement (it shouldn't) but is used as a weapon against teachers, especially teachers who teach "high needs" students like English Language Learners, Special Education, or behaviorally challenged students. Nationally 47% of parents would "opt out" their child from these "high-stakes" tests if they felt them inappropriate for their child or used inappropriately, compared to 40% who wouldn't.

Maybe this study will convince the many Presidential candidates like Jeb Bush, Hillary Clinton, and the many others who drink the education deformer kool-ade that Common Core based high-stakes testing is the best teacher accountability tool for evaluating teachers but instead it only hurts the students and does not improve education.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The DOE Claims That Credit Recovery Credits Are Awarded Less Often. Do You Believe Them?

The DOE has found itself on the defensive as the abuse of the "credit recovery" program resulted in schools ignoring the stringent requirements and offering students an easy way to accumulate credits known as "easy pass".  After denying schools were committing academic fraud, the DOE, under intense media pressure, finally admitted that some schools were not following the rules. The Chancellor, clearly embarrassed after claiming that the accusations at John Dewey High School were unsubstantiated, only to admit that she was wrong, set up a group of her cronies to investigate the use of "credit recovery" and to take action if necessary.  Now it seems that the DOE claims that there is less "credit recovery" credits being awarded by the schools.   Do you believe that?  I don't and here's why.

The DOE press release omitted the fact that their statistics were based on schools "self reporting".  That's right, instead of the DOE requiring schools to report their "credit recovery" statistics and the type of "credit recovery" programs they used, the DOE only requested that schools voluntarily report the information.  In the DOE's age of accountability and data mining that has resulted in a bloated Bureaucracy, yet the DOE did not even bother to use their staff to audit the schools for the amount and type of "credit recovery" used.

The question is why didn't the DOE use its vast resources and expertise to determine the extent of the abuse of the "credit recovery" program?  The answer is simple.  The DOE choose not to know.  In other words they were able to use the "plausible deniability" defense when allegations were pouring in about the academic fraud used  to  raise the bogus graduation rate. Better to claim that there is no problem if you ignore the issue.  For the DOE it's not "children first" but to raise the graduation rate by any means possible and if that means academic fraud, so be it.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Memo To MaryEllen Elia, Its Unethical To Evaluate Teachers On Junk Science

Last night the new NYSED Commissioner, MaryEllen Elia was the keynote speaker at the education deformer front group and Bill Gates funded, Educators 4 Excellence.  During her speech to the 150 member audience (how many were classroom teachers?), she expressed tepid support for teachers and stated that she doesn't blame teachers for the issues dealing with academic achievement. She said the following:

“I’m a commissioner that will never bash teachers,” she said. “We can’t look at making the teacher the scapegoat for problems that may have existed in bureaucracies we have to fix.”

If that's all she said, maybe I would have had a different opinion of the new Commissioner.  However, its what she said earlier in the speech that showed her true intentions.

 “I think opt-out is something that is not reasonable,” State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said at an event hosted by the teacher advocacy group Educators 4 Excellence. “I am absolutely shocked if, and I don’t know that this happened, but if any educators supported and encouraged opt-outs. I think it’s unethical.”

That's right in the world of MaryEllen Elia, dissent is not acceptable but the use of "junk Science" in the form of  Value Added Method (VAM) is ethical despite the fact that it has shown to be nearly worthless.  Yes, this worthless VAM that the VAM will account for 50% of a teacher's evaluation.  In the lawsuit brought by a 4th grade teacher on the NYSED VAM the data showed that the VAM was developed so that 7% of the teachers would be rated "ineffective" and teachers with high needs students are found to do poorly on the high-stakes test, hence, their teachers are more likely to get poor evaluations and possible unjust termination.

I guess its more important to ignore the scientific evidence that the VAM is simply "junk Science" and blame educators for the 20% "opt out" rates on these grade inappropriate tests that takes 6 days to complete and the results are not available until the summer.   This is the world our new NYSED Commissioner lives in.  To her its all about the numbers, regardless how worthless they are and that's unethical!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Myth Of Charter School Academic Excellence.

If you read the newspapers, the Republican Presidential candidates, and even many Democrats like Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and Ron Emmanuel, you get the impression the charter schools are the answer to academic excellence.  However, the truth is very different.

Sure some charter schools have proven academic success but that's because these few schools practice policies that exclude many English Language Learners, Special Education students, and impose discipline policies that remove behaviorally challenged students from their schools. These charter schools like Success, and KIPPS are compared to the neighborhood public school when it comes to test scores but these same politicians and media outlets ignore the disparity of "high needs" students between the public and these charter schools.  Moreover, the news media and politicians turn a collective "blind eye" on the failure of these high-performing charter schools to "backfill" the openings by accepting new students.  The result are smaller and smaller cohorts and class sizes from third grade on, the testing grades. I wrote about this previously Here.

A favorite trick these schools do is to encourage parents to withdrawal their academically struggling child at the end of second grade by telling the parent that they will need to hold the child back if they insist in keeping the child in the school.  However, if they remove the child from the school and go to the public school, they will advance them to third grade.  The result is the high performing charter school keeps their test scores high while dumping the academically struggling student onto the public school.  Moreover, if the student is behaviorally challenged, the high achieving charter school will expel the student and dump them as well onto the public school.  Finally, these high achieving charter schools will plead lack of resources or expertise when it comes to English Language Learners or Special Education students and will discourage these "high needs" students from attending their school.

Excluding these few high-achieving charter schools, the vast majority of the charter schools cannot afford to turn down students, even when they are amply funded by hedge fund managers and well-heeled individuals and struggle academically, many of them having lower test scores than the neighborhood public schools.  While some of these schools hire ex-police officers as Deans and discipline is better enforced, these charter schools suffer from the biggest libility, "quality teachers" that the public schools have.

The big bug-a-boo, even in the high achieving charter schools is the transitional and unstable teaching staff.  Even in the best charter schools, there is a nearly complete turnover of the teaching staff in three years. In many charter schools almost all the teachers are replaced yearly and in a story I published previously, one charter school had seven Science teachers for one position in the 2014-15 school year!

This year a charter school teachers told me that the school had teacher orientation and the staff consisted of discontinued or terminated (under 3020-a) teachers, Teach for America "newbies" and teachers suspended by the DOE for incompetence under section 3020-a for the school, year.  While some of these teachers probably were unfairly charged or discontinued by the DOE, not all of them were, and the Teach For America "newbies" have no classroom management skills or curriculum knowledge whatsoever.  For this charter school, its not about "quality teachers" but a warm body.

Even in the high achieving charter schools, none of the students from the Success Academy were academically proficient enough to be accepted by the many specialized public schools in the City and the reason is probably a combination of the lack of a stable and experienced teaching staff and the mindless test preparation at the expense of real education at these schools .

When I continue to read the newspapers and hear the politicians singing the praises of the charter schools I only snicker because the truth is the charter schools are academically struggling and do little to add real knowledge educationally to the student.  It's all "smoke and mirrors" when it comes to real academic success for the average charter school student.