marksimon's blog

Bill Gates Meets with Trump

According to WashBill Gates at Trump TowerBill Gates at Trump Towerington Post columnist Valerie Strauss, Bill Gates met in December at Trump Tower with the President Elect and then had good things to say about the potential of working with the Trump administration. Many of us are not surprised that the three billionaires would have things in common. All of them see education professionals as having little to contribute to improving public education and seem willing to put its existance at risk. Read what Gates had to say here.

Disruption Strategy In Public Education -- How's It Working?

DisruptionDisruptionU Penn Dean of Ed School offers commentary on the effects of a decade or two of creative disruption as a reform strategy in public education.

Gates Foundation Gives Up. Who Cleans Up The Mess?

Bill GatesBill GatesAn editorial in the Los Angeles Times quotes (here) from a Gates Foundation letter that admits failure in their education reform efforts. The Times editorial in effect says the billionaires "shouldn't be setting America's public school agenda" because they're making a hash of it. But Bob Peterson points out (here) that they shouldn't get to just walk away either after wreaking so much havoc. This is an interesting moment of reconning for the education reform movement.

NAEP Scores: What do they mean?

Elaine WeissElaine WeissThe Broader, Bolder Approach newsletter this month is devoted to an explanation of what the recent drop and more long term trends in NAEP scores mean. Comparing state NAEP scores turns out to be a better asssessment of progress than PISA and other international tests. And there's more on the recent drop in scores here.

"No Excuse" Reformers Heavy On Excuses for Drop in NAEP Scores

Kevin WellnerKevin WellnerKevin Wellner of the National Education Policy Center offers (here) one of the better commentaries on the hypocritical response of reformers to the drop in NAEP scores that came out this week.  Carol Burris of the Network for Public Education pointed out today on national Public Radio, that the proponents of test-based accountability took a very different posture in 2013 when a very small uptick in NAEP scores were cited by Arne Duncan as proof that the strategies in place were working. Perhaps the no excuses crowd should think twoce about blaming the drop in student scores on the recession. After all, student poverty is just an excuse.

Are Charter Schools the Answer?

Paul ThomasPaul ThomasFurman University in South Carolina professor Paul Thomas posted a nice summary of what we know about the track record of charter schools, and Valarie Strauss re-posted it for the Washington Post here. He reminds us of the clear track record that demonstrates that the myth of charter schools is all about public relations rather than different results. In spite of that, the US Department of Education and billionaire philanthropists continue to promote the myths and ignore the data. Thomas' eloquent summary deserves to be circultated because the pattern he describes is true of charters all across the country, including Washington DC, where they enjoy more advantages than anywhere else in the country. 

New Research on Early Childhood and Effects of Poverty

Broader BolderBroader BolderAs summarized in an excellent blog post at the Broader Bolder Approach web site and on the Shanker Institute's fantastic new web site, new research on the effects of early childhood education and on the effects of poverty is shedding light on why past ed reform strategies aimed at narrowing the achievement gap have failed. Narrowing the gap is the right goal, but false mythologies have prevented real solutions. Teachers and parents are starting to demand honesty in education reform.

How To Measure the Accomplishments of NCLB?

George W BushGeorge W BushBoth Democrats and Republicans seem to want to quickly reauthorize ESEA, dubbed No Child Left Behind when the accountability centerpiece of education reform was reauthorized last in 2002. But first its time to look at the data on how the test-based approach has fared. Two studies have done just that. The National Center for Fair and Open Testing examined the data here. And the National Education Policy Center did so here. Turns out we were doing better under strategies being pursued before these "reforms." Perhaps its time to hold the architects and purveyers of the test-based accountbility reform strategy accountable.

Gates MET Study Stacked the Deck for Test-based Accountability

Journalist Dana Goldstein has written an excellent analysisDana GoldsteinDana Goldstein of what's wrong with the Gates MET study of whether standardized tests, evaluator observation or student surveys do a better job in assessing teacher quality. She boldly presented her article at AEI's Feb 5 2015 conference on: "Is the 'new' education philanthropy good for schools?" It must have been an "emperor has no clothes" moment. In a nutshell, she points out that the MET study asked whether actual observation of teaching, student surveys, or VAM test score measures did a better job of predicting future student test score growth, which "privileges" test scores by using it both as a variable being tested and as the outcome reflecting gains. Her article is also an excellent history of approaches to standardized testing and the role of philanthropy in determining educational measures and outcomes. It's to be published soon and is worth a read here attached.

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.

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