Comments on: The school reform deniers Thu, 21 Jul 2016 07:57:19 +0000 hourly 1 By: AndyAE Sun, 04 Sep 2011 03:06:38 +0000 Unions have given teachers a bad hame. Teachers have to figure out at what point they stop benefiting from union actions. Is all this bad press really worth it?

By: JamieT Mon, 29 Aug 2011 18:38:38 +0000 It’s ironic that after an extensive lead-in to your point which focuses on what is knowable and now knowable, you present things that are far from clear-cut as if they are facts. Your piece raises many important issues, but ultimately falls back on the same non-fact-based rhetoric that you so eloquently decry.

“Fact: This is not a matter of money. We spend much more per student than those other countries.”

What a simple lie this is. Do we spend more than other countries as a percentage of GNP? Are our teachers paid as well, or do we just spend more on things other than salaries?

Beyond that, what point is there in an apples-to-apples comparison? All the countries with wonderful education systems have a much simpler task than we do: they are, by and large, homogeneous. There is no inner city culture war to contend with every day.

“can there really be a debate about whether their performance should be measured” – you pose this “question” as a foregone conclusion by comparing the teaching profession to, well, everything else.

Unfortunately, in teaching, you don’t have any control over the fact that your students don’t come to class 1/3 of the time, are disruptive, threaten you, and so on. Yet those teachers are evaluated on the same system as the ones who teach well-off, well-adjusted kids in wealthy neighborhoods.

Then, there’s everything that you have chosen to ignore in this debate. Don’t you think that institutional knowledge is important in teaching? Why is it so clear to you that a bunch of 20-somethings with their New England liberal arts school degree, ink still wet, are going to be able to get anything out of these incredibly difficult situations?

Do you really think any of those people will even stay there for more than a year or two? What do you think the consequences will be of a teaching workforce that, over time, has a shorter and shorter average tenure?

It is truly amazing to me that someone who obviously is intelligent can present such a well-thought-out analysis of the wrong way to analyze something, and then completely fail to use those principles by presenting opinion as if it were fact.

By: No.37 Mon, 29 Aug 2011 17:04:57 +0000 I feel the writer does not truly understand how charters schools, including KIPP schools function. Working in and with such charter schools the last few yrs. I have witnessed the cherry-picking of students not explicitly but implicitly. Such charters force parental involvement, forcing parents and students to sign forms of conduct which if not adequately followed result in dismissal. Dismissal can be based on things such as failure to show up for parent teacher conferences or even missing a certain number of school days. What results is parental involvement that is beneficial to the student’s learning outcome, however, such actions cannot be followed by traditional public schools. Did the writer of the article check into the drop out rates of KIPP schools which are often remarkably high or the even the structure of the school that often forces students to repeat a grade? Furthermore, teacher burnout at such schools is very high, as many teachers feel as though instead of teaching they are marketing for a business. Often times actual teaching and education take a back seat to the marketing of performance, whether this be in actual marketing (handing out brochures, etc.) or by teaching to tests in order to appear as though real learning is taking place. A further problem is seen with the determining of school, student, and teacher performance. While the writer might argue that charters and reformers advocate non-standardized methods of assessment (observance, etc.) I have truly yet to see such actions take precedence over the standardized assessment methods. The fact of the matter is teachers are fired and hired based on student test scores. The reformers may say otherwise, but in my work with charters and especially reformers the main and ultimate goal is showing academic improvement of students on test so that they can receive further funding, and claim achievement. This unfortunately leads to a teaching to the test and an enormous emphasis on the test that actually takes away from learning and classwork.

By: samuel_c Fri, 26 Aug 2011 15:17:50 +0000 LOL the school reform issues been percolating since the 70’s. I”ve lived through half a dozen innovations in math,reading, how to organize world geography, whether or not world geography is important. Arguing whether or not children need time to get up and physically move around and burn off steam. Since the 70’s common sense has been tossed out the window. First we decided to recreate the wheel because new math would be better than old math. (oxymoron alert) That was stupid math has been math. for a very long time.

Then we decided to change up reading. The biggest problem with all these changes is none of them last long enough to give children the time to actually use the tools they are being given. I’ve seen my poor children go through 4 different ways to do things like fractions in two years just because someone was freaking out about how everyone would do on that part of a standardized test. Then it was the teacher’s fault they were confused about how to do fractions. The fact that the teacher complained about it every change was meaningless. And the rule is If she’d been a good teacher she’d have made it work, reality be damned.

Welcome to the new world order where educational policy and teacher methods change with the latest twitter feed. THATS THE REAL PROBLEM. Somewhere along the line we got the idea that we could fix big complicated problems completely in a 4 year election cycle. When it doesn’t work we never throw the morons,who led the charge, to the curb we blame teachers, principles and parents for things that were shoved down thier throats with very little input or feedback from any of those groups.

It’s the new world order “your with us or against us” and “we’ll take everybody, whose not, down with us”, are the mantra of every reformer and politician out there. No wonder nothing really changes.

By: Linda562 Fri, 26 Aug 2011 15:13:33 +0000 Mr. Brill is so right in insisting that journalists ask, “Is it true?”

Has anyone asked this about New York City’s standardized test scores? Here are some questions that need to be asked:

Are these tests the same, or nearly the same, from year to year?

Do teachers and principals know what is on these tests?

Are the tests delivered to the school before the day of administration? If so, how long do they sit in school offices and classrooms?

Who administers the test? Are there proctors in the room?

Who collects the test? Who grades it?

If a child scores at the 90th percentile on a test, what does this mean? What correlations can be made with the child’s background or his teacher? What do testing experts tell us?

Finally, would the state consider retesting the students at a New York City school with a completely different form of the test administered professionally? If so, would the scores be comparable to the ones from the previous test?

These are important questions so I hope someone asks them before more “high-stakes” decisions are made.

By: Linda562 Thu, 25 Aug 2011 15:59:42 +0000 The first paragraph of Mr.Brill’s article explains how educational “reform” happened:

It all started with a big lie from Texas when an ambitious educator touted “miraculous” graduation gains. The press reported this without checking the facts, in the same way that the novice journalist neglected to check the facts about the lawyer’s war medals. By the time a whistleblower revealed that fraud, and not miracles, was responsible for the supposed “reform” in Texas schools, it was too late. The miracle man had already been promoted to a national position where he encouraged similar “miracles” across the country.

School fraud soon spread across the nation. Other school people followed the Texas man’s example and announced “miraculous” test scores knowing that the press would not ask, “Can you prove that these scores are accurate?” Instead, when a “reformer” came along and bragged about test scores that went from the thirteenth to the ninetieth percentile, the press again fell for it without asking “Where is your proof.” We all know what happened next.

I don’t know why the press was hoodwinked about educational “reform” but I suspect it had to do with the recession. Were newspapers too financially strapped to support investigative reporting? Were they forced to report stories that supported the philosophies of their corporate owners?

Finally reporters started asking for proof. A few independent types dared to question the “reform” but the big exposure came from USA Today. God bless them.

So, yes, a lot of us DO deny educational “reform” because now we know it isn’t true.

By: earnest333 Wed, 24 Aug 2011 18:15:09 +0000 “If we accept the fact that there are stages of development, another question arises which I call ‘the American question,’ and I am asked it every time I come here. If there are stages that children reach at given norms of ages can we accelerate the stages? Do we have to go through each one of these stages, or can’t we speed it up a bit?”

-Jean Piaget, in a 1967 lecture in NY; as quoted in David Elkind’s ‘Children & Adolescents’ (1970) at 24.

Our children as race-horses; running as fast as we can into a finish line we only want to be there, but one that does not exist as a ‘checkable fact’…

Question 1: What exactly are all these children being educated in?

Demonstration of various intellectual competencies at random? Increased productivity? That satisfying feeling you get when you find out you’ve scored ‘proficient’ on the test- that you have, in fact, met the ‘norm’ Mr. Piaget has implied? How to cope with the myriad mental health problems that- along with strained interpersonal relationships- are the concomitant gifts of our blind cultivation of a ‘truly modern economy’?

Answer 1: We have no absolutely no idea, but it’s the teachers’ (or their union’s) fault.

Question 2: How would Mr. Brill’s take on ‘American education’ score on a standardized exam?

Answer 2: Typical.

Fill in the blank: Presently, the human capacity for development is being shaped by the U.S. public school system in order to effect ____________________________.

(Hint: it resulted in the medical model of ‘disability’ but chimps are capable of it.)

By: jaw0871 Wed, 24 Aug 2011 15:12:10 +0000 Reads like so much one-sided, narrow-minded, and trivial propaganda. Good job of pulling out the narrow exceptions to worker-oppression to construct an argument that workers, especially teachers, are somehow better off than they really are. Good job of floating the right wing version of history. Good job.

If this is intended to be a ‘fair’ report, where is the other side of the equation? Where are the statistics on teacher salaries? Where are the statistics on PTA involvement and student success / failure? Where are the statistics on union membership and living wages? Where are the statistics on flatlining middle class salaries? Etc. America is a sad place and you are helping make it sadder. Good job.

By: samuel_c Wed, 24 Aug 2011 13:32:04 +0000 Saying parents are irrelevant to the discussion is at best willful ignorance. That argument makes as much sense as using the local temperature of the month to prove or disprove global warming.
Yes some students overcome uninvolved parents. Some students do poorly with very involved parents. But Students with Uninvolved parents as a demographic do poorly in general. It’s a commonly documented thing in study after study that where people start affects where they go. It’s the same thing as getting a masters degree. Does that mean you’ll be more successful and make more money? NO. A lot of people are successful without them. Some are not successful with them. But there are more successful people with them because it’s an advantage.
Using the small number of students that succeed in spite of their bad parents really makes me wonder if as a teacher EDT studied statistics or did any math. A simple introductory analysis from a logic 101 course in college would easily blow apart that viewpoint if one is truly open to the facts, instead of their point of view.
That argument to me illustrates why this country has gone nowhere on any important issue for a long time. People are so invested in what they already know that facts are irrelevant. I understand. I watch bad business decisions every day because people ignore the complicated hard to solve factors that defy a quick easy decision. It’s far easier to just ignore the fact that a problem can have multiple dimensions that must all be addressed simultaneously, at least until you fail. Then pointing the finger at all the negative counterproductive people that tried to add reality to the planning process, because their negativity ruined your simplistic thinking is a great tactic to cover your ego. It’s a time tested strategy that works far too often.
As Ronald Regan once said “Facts are stubborn things”. We’ve ignored facts in this debate for far too long. Far too many people selectively ignore facts and pat themselves on the back for being better than those who ignore all the facts. The difference is the people that ignore all the facts are usually just ignorant. The people that ignore some of the facts are “Willfully ignorant” and are therefore guilty of intentionally ignoring reality. Those people have chosen to be like our congress and senate. They have become Intentional purveyors of half truths who do not one thing to make the problem better and many things to make it worse, admittedly with the best of intentions.

By: doroda Wed, 24 Aug 2011 08:39:58 +0000 I only thought that it is only in my country (Kenya) that requires reforms.In my country more emphasis is laid on Acquiring knowledge than practicing it. therefore we have graduates who are very educated but without any practical experience.the education system in Kenya requires a complete change sometimes in my country the cost of education especially PHDS become to expensive to read more on PHDs click on s-it-become-so-hard-to-attain-a-doctorat es-phd-in-kenya/