marksimon's blog

Standards and Accountability for Charter Schools

Finally a new report from the Annenberg Institute at Brown University is calling for a set of standards and accountability for the charter school sector. It's recommendations are just common sense and deserve adoption by school districts across the nation.

Two New Books Look At Teachers

Richard KahlenbergRichard KahlenbergRick Kahlenberg reviews in this month's New Republic magazine two "must read" books about the history of our attitudes toward teachers. Goldstein's look at the history of 150 years of teacher wars particularly sheds new light on the ways that our current emphasis is misplaced.

Accountability for Reform

David KirpDavid KirpIn a NY Times Op-ed yesterday, University of California professor David Kirp sums up what's wrong with the dominant approach to education reform. The Mooney Institute would argue that its time to look at what the research shows works. The Consortium for Chicago School Research has for some time promoted strategies for how to organize schools for improvement, but school districts seldom look at this research. Its time to hold the reformers and the politicans accountable when they continue to  rubber stamp bad ideas with no track record of success.

Candidate for Mayor Issues Critique of DC School Reforms

Andy ShallalAndy ShallalDC Candidate for Mayor Andy Shallal issued an analysis of DC Public School Reform on his Web site February 14. Contrary to pupular opinion, an analysis of NAEP scores shows that low income and African American students have actually seen little to no improvement over the six years of experimentation with reforms under chancellors Rhee and Henderson. Budget Analysis Mary Levy also developed revealing charts based on the NAEP scores that show clearly that whites and wealthier students have been the only beneficiaries. The trajectory of improvement was actually better before the reformers came to town. Shallal also lays out his vision of what an alternative approach would look like -- one based on "support, collaboration and respect" rather than "test and punish." On March 12th, Washington Post columnist and blogger Valerie Strauss wrote about Andy's paper and posted 7 charts (here), that show the failed track record of DC School Reform.

Aligning Education Reform Policies with What the Research Tells Us

Greg AnrigGreg AnrigIn a nice summary of what top researchers tell us should be the focus of education reform in this country, the Century Foundation's Greg Anrig offers an excellent Commentary in Ed Week. Successful models of reform in health care and carful research from the Consortium for Chicago Schools Research, UC Berkeley and MIT point to the professional culture in schools, a spirit of collaboration, and parent-community-school ties as the keys to school improvment. 

Full Article:

Published Online: July 9, 2013
Published in Print: July 10, 2013, as From Health-Care Reform, Lessons for Education Policy

CommentaryRead more

Opposite Philosophies in Teacher Evaluation -- A Tale of Two Districts

A Tale of Two Districts 

By Mark Simon

There's no need for risky experimentation; we know what works in teacher evaluation.

These days, everyone seems to be wringing their hands about how to construct new evaluation systems that will make teachers better. This unnecessary angst has led to crazy experiments in reform that have embraced churn for the sake of churn, put school districts at risk, and demoralized many of our most talented teachers.

A few school districts, however, have resisted panic, pressures, and fads. Instead, they have invested in models that work.Read more

Karen Lewis and Randi Weingarten Op-Ed Reveals What Chicago Strike Accomplished

Lewis and WeingartenLewis and WeingartenTogether, Weingarten and Lewis offer one of the most cogent analyses of the meaning of the Chicago strike below. It appeared as an Op-ed column in the Wall Street Journal yesterday, but in case you don't have a subscription...

 Read more

What Provoked the Chicago Teachers Strike? Bad Management Philosophy.

TeachersTeachersGreg Anrig writes in Pacific Standard magazine that Chicago teachers are rightly standing up to outmoded management philosophy as promulgated by Rahm Emanuel. Current education reform strategies amount to a Taylorist carrot and stick approach, resented by teachers, particularly the most thoughtful ones. More successful businesses in the US have actually moved to more of Demming's total quality managment approach. Chicago teachers are finally taking a stand for the entire education profession in objecting to this profound management blunder, says Anrig.

What's Really At Stake In Chicago Teachers Strike

Elaine WeissElaine WeissA Column on the Huffington Post today by Elaine Weiss breakes through the uniform media stupidity and unified opposition from the nation's political class to clarify what the Chicago teachers strike is really about. She points out that by going on strike, Chicago teachers are "taking one for the kids." The issues are ones of serious disagreement over the vision of education reform. The teachers and overwhleming majorities of parents and the broad public take a "broader, bolder approach."

Philadelphia Proposes Dismantling Its Public School System And Selling Its Parts Off for Scrap

Although the national media has ignored the catastrophe unfolding in Philadelphia, the new interim chief of the public schools there is actually seeking permission from the City Council to dismatle public education entirely. Finally last week an article in the Philadelphia City Paper summarizes the carving up and privatizing proposal under consideration.

The new model of privatizing whole urban school districts is actually being celebrated by powerful spokespeople, including Washington Post editor Joann Armao, and its being promoted by the powerful Gates, Broad, and Walton education philanthropies. With all the spin and packaging money can buy, the end of public education in Philadelphia is being presented as a  bright and experimental future. The public is not buying it one bit.

Get Rid Of Teachers or Encourage Them to Stay, What's Best for Schools? -- New Study On Negative Effects of Teacher Turnover --

Mark SimonMark SimonAfter over a decade of “corporate reform” strategies in many places, we have a chance to compare the results of two drastically different approaches to improving public schools. In some places, such as Washington, D.C., we have seen teacher turnover skyrocket, in line with the belief that lagging student performance is due to inferior teachers. In Montgomery County, Md., the teachers’ union and district have been following a different path for the last 15 years, and are seeing dramatic results.

“Corporate reform” is the moniker earned by the dominant paradigm in school turnarounds, the one promoted by the U.S. Department of Education and championed by foundations established by successful corporate titans Bill Gates and Eli Broad. According to this approach, if students aren’t performing, start by getting rid of the adults who must be, by definition, responsible. This blame, fire, and hire strategy is imported from the corporate world where Jack Welsh and Donald Trump are the archetypal heroes. The problem is that after over 13 years of this approach there’s little success to point to on a national scale. Cleaning house, what we used to call “reconstitution,” has, at best, a mixed track record.Read more

MetLife's Survey of the American Teacher was Released Yesterday Showing a Big Drop in Job Satisfaction

The annual Survey of the American Teacher: Teachers, Parents and the Economy conducted by MetLife and the Harris Interactive that has tracked changing attitudes of teachers and parents for decades was released yesterday. The conclusion: over a decade of teacher bashing have started to take a toll leading to a dramatic drop in job satisfaction and concerns about teaching and learning conditions. But relationships between teachers and the communities they serve remain strong, and parent involvement is up. Education Week's article summarizing the survey results is HERE.

Straight Talk About Teacher Quality

Marla UcelliMarla UcelliThe Annenberg Foundation has just published a nice report on ideas that work to improve teacher quality. Authored primarily by Marla Ucelli, it draws on some of the best practices across the nation, including Cincinatti, OH, Montgomery County, MD,  Hamilton county, TN, and New York City. The six game-changing ideas in the report are: career pathways, measuring performance, supports not rewards, firing not a strategy, school culture and working conditions, teacher collaboration, and partnerships with parents -- no silver bullets, just what we know works. The Schott Foundation, which funded the report, offers this promo, here.

2011 Had Bright Spots Amid the Insanity of Union Bashing

Richard KahlenbergRichard KahlenbergRichard Kahlenberg looks back at 2011 with a year-end message that reminds educators that common sense is still on our side. The trend of re-segregating schooling along race and class lines saw important reversals, and the over-the-top demonizing of teacher unions also began to be rejected by voters and thoughtful commentators. Read his message here.

What's the Alternative to Test Driven Teacher Evaluation?

Stan KarpStan KarpIn fact, we have successful models for what great, collaborative teacher evaluation looks like, but the feds and the philanthropists have asiduously avoided looking at them. Rethinking Schools journalist, Stan Karp just published an insightful piece about a long-standing model in Montgomery County Maryland, and what makes it very different from the approach now in fashion and being pushed by the corporate reformers.

Marc Tucker Clears The Air With an Insightful Piece On Teacher Unions

Marc TuckerMarc TuckerMarc Tucker's overview of what's wrong with the current fashion of all-out war on teacher unions in the just released Winter 2012 issue of Education Next is worth circulating. While he paints with a bit of a broad brush characterizing what unions have fought for, assuming that there are no union locals focused on the quality of teaching and learning or locals taking a collaborative road at present, his reasoning for why politicians and district administrators have to refrain from attacking unions if they want teachers on-board with education reform is spot on. His warning to US policy makers that they have to learn from those heavily unionized nations who are now out-performing us is just common sense.

Steve Brill's Book, "Class Warfare," Attacks Unions and Engenders a Very Useful Debate

Steven BrillSteven Brill

Diane Ravitch offers a powerful critique in her New York Review of Books review of "Class Warfare" of hedge-fund managers who have claimed leadership of the reform movement as their pet cause. She contrasts Brill's myth-making with the truth-telling of a compassionate teacher from the Bronx, Janet Grossbach Mayer, in her new book, As Bad As They Say?

Steve Brill's new book is an unreleneting attack on teacher unions as the single source of what ails public education, but according to Dana Goldstein in The Nation it also is guilty of perpetuating the myth that the role of poverty in low student achievement is just not important. Her review is worth a read. Richard Rothstein's review in Slate shows how Brill's simple good vs evil narrative falls apart in the face of the facts just like the larger reform narrative being promoted by the education establishment. Toward the end of the book Brill's main heroine burns out and quits her job teaching at a charter school. She takes a job at a traditional school, protected by a union contract. Rothstein's complete review is well worth a read here.

 

Photos from the SOS Rally and March July 30, 2011

IEA Engages in Collaborative Endgame Behind Statewide Changes in Teacher Evaluation, Tenure and Teacher Quality Procedures

Audrey SoglinAudrey SoglinAt an event in Washington Thursday at the Center for American Progress, IEA Executive Director, Audrey Soglin and representatives from the State Board of Education and State Legislature described the five month process of intense collaboration that led to Senate Bill 7. The result is big changes in teacher tenure, evaluation, and dismissal procedures. The event revealed details like an agreement not to use current state standardized test scores as measures of student achievement, and a recognition that snap judgement of teacher quality are unreliable. Its a unique picture of the hard work involved and an interesting result under very difficult political circumstances.

Meanwhile, a video clip has been circulating the blogisphere showing "Stand for Children" head Jonah Edelman bragging to an audience at the Aspen Institute's Ideas Conference about how he and his organization outmaneuvered and outspent the unions, taking credit for SB7. Edelman's display of arrogance also reveals the true purpose of his organization as a front for monied interests trying to counter the political and financial power of unions. It is worth watching as an object lesson in what posers and "reformer" opportunists look like.

Read more

Diane Ravitch -- The Anti-Michelle Rhee

Diane RavitchDiane RavitchWashington DC's City Paper published an article this week detailing how Diane Ravitch got to be the clearest voice in oppostion to the reform narrative espoused by Michelle Rhee. It's a good read. According to Dana Goldstein's story, Ravitch may be the country's most prolific education user of Twitter. It turns out she tweets to her 13,000 followers as much as 99 times in one day.

Syndicate content