May 2008 Archives

I’ve written about the dangerous move towards McCarthyism Fordham's Mike Petrilli took asking AERA's board to boot former Weather Underground founder William Ayers as an “unrepentant terrorist.” There’s not much difference between that and implying that AEI's Frederick Hess is at best insensitive to issues of race, at worst a racist.

This is one of the few chances the DC City Council will have to do get back in the school reform process without being seen as obstructing change or undermining the Chancellor. No one can argue against the need for independent evaluators free from the least taint of conflicts.

We are deeply disturbed at the Mayor's choice of Frederick Hess and Kenneth Wong as unbiased, independent judges of the city's public school reform.

The history of business turnarounds shows improvements in productivity are necessary. A workforce motivated by fear of loosing their jobs won’t get you there. What’s called for is loyalty to the leadership. This Chancellor is going to have a hard time gaining loyalty from DC’s teachers, and she can’t replace them all.

At the end of May 2008, her takeover formula is obvious: Break the will of institutions within the school system; demolish as much of the old culture as possible, take all the political flack up front; and prepare the ground for a new approach in the 2008-2009 school year.

I favor the application of market principles to public education. I do not support the “better, faster, cheaper” model of district centralization adopted by Mayor Fenty and Chancellor Rhee, the strategy they have employed to put it place, or the Chancellor’s approach to the process.

Today, firms like Blackboard and K12 own the k-12 information turnpike, on and off ramps, filling stations, rest stops, long-haul vehicles, and much of its workforce.When/if the feds own the channel, service and content become king and the fragmentation of market providers inevitable. Prices and profits will fall.

DC Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, DC City Council, American Enterprise Resident Scholar Frederick Hess, Brown University Professor Kenneth Wong, the Public Education Fund, and those with an interest in objective reviews take note.

I was absolutely stunned to read Petrilli’s post. I was not surprised to see such remarks in the blogosphere, and not necessarily from Mike Petrilli - although I had no idea of his experience or interest in national security or law. I was very surprised to see such a statement from Fordham’s number two.

Petrilli called Ayers a terrorist and suggested a moral shortcoming that AREA should address. Eduwonkette did not answer in kind, but implied that some might question the moral stature of Edwin Meese and Donald Rumsfeld, and ask members of the Hoover Institute to boot them.

Participating in awards programs strengthens your company’s reputation, boosts morale,and helps with recruiting efforts. The news also fares well with board members and investors. Most importantly,awards build awareness of your company in the education industry.

Ayers views on education are inconsequential, in the sense that they are not the basis of teaching and learning in many America schools or classrooms. The philosophical bases of the pedagogies proposed by Ayers on the left or E.D. Hirsch on the right are so far over the heads of teachers and administrators that their debate is quite literally "purely academic."

Ayers' decision to form the Weatherman was a huge mistake. Bombings carried out by the Weathermen were illegal.

If the center of the AERA’s political gravity lies near the Democratic Party’s social liberal left, Fordham and Manhattan lean towards the Republican Party’s social conservative right. There's nothing inherently subversive or wrong with either group's relationships or objectives. It's just a description of facts on the ground and of the protagonists in our "culture wars."

The Story Breaks William Ayers, now a professor at the University Illinois - Chicago, was a founding member of the Weather Underground. To summarize and simplify solely for the purpose of starting this discussion (more detail to follow), the Weathermen bombed government buildings to protest America’s prosecution of the Vietnam War. In the wake of September 11, bombings are understandably a matter of great sensitivity to all Americans. Independent of this, the Weathermen are a “hot button” issue for most Americans old enough to have become engaged in domestic politics from the late 1960’s to the late 1970’s....

The debate around former Weatherman William Ayers - his past activities, his political philosophy, his views on education, his personal and professional relationships, and the individuals and organizations who have those relationships - says far mare about the nature of policymaking in public education than many realize.

K-12 education agencies request private sector assistance with message and outreach strategies all the time. I don’t know how the practice compares with other agencies but, as the Bush Administration can tell you, it's a problematic area.

Open source software is not free and it has its security vulnerabilities. On the other hand, it is inherently more flexible, and the security of proprietary software is not always air-tight either.

Respectfully.... I did not call Mike a McCarthyite in my initial posting on the subject, although I did say his approach heads us in that direction.

I tried not to call Mike Petrilli a McCarthyite, but to emphasize the direction Mike's rhetoric could take us.

Mike Petrilli asked me to comment on “Brand-Name Charters” an essay by business writer Julie Bennett in the Summer 2008 issue of Education Next.

The first National Conference on Value Added Modeling implied a consensus that value-added models (VAM) have great advantages over typical “status” methods (meet or exceed a standard), but that scholars were less comfortable using VAM in pay-for-performance because of the difficulty in isolating teacher effects on learning.

I don't agree with much of Prof. Ayers' politics, any of the Weathermen's violent activities, or many of his views on education policy, but I'll be damned if I'm not going to protest actions and tactics that can only drag political discourse into the mud.

Basic grammar offers the plain meaning of Section 1202(c)(7)(A): [A]… local educational agency shall use the funds…. selecting… a program… or procuring materials…, that are based on research that applies applies rigorous, systematic, and objective procedures to obtain valid knowledge relevant to reading etc etc.

If you think the education evaluator's debate over value-added models is arcane, this argument between lawyers is about the meaning on of two words - "based on" as in "based on scientifically based reading research."

This is a program offered by DC’s State Superintendent ‘s Office as the city’s higher education agency, rather than the Chancellor of the DC Schools as operator of public k-12 schools.

As an old Cold Warrior, I have to say it would be foolish for any school improvement provider not to participate in the process. In principle, pushing proponents onto this committees has conflict of interest implications. In practice, unilateral disarmament is not likely to create a level playing field.

The jury is still out - the question posed in the title has yet to be adequately answered. It is now a cliché that data, scientific evidence and research-based knowledge can and should shape policy and practice in education. But it is clear that education still has a long way to go before data and evidence are used systematically and effectively in school improvement.

Once the situations threatening student safety have been identified and prioritized, it’s time to determine the broad categories of activities necessary to meet a school district’s in loco parentis obligations Perhaps the simplest approach is to consider a time line encompassing what should be accomplished before, during and after each kind of threatening situation. Among other things, this exercise helps to identify activities that are common to all emergencies, or unique to a subset. It also begins to get at particular operational challenges....

Edbizbuzz readers know that I support the version of Reading First written into No Child Left Behind, but object to how Margaret Spellings and other Administration oversaw implementation at the White House and Department – especially those provisions related to the meaning of Scientifically-Based Reading Research. It would be very easy for me to write that this provides evidence of the Administration’s folly. I can safely say that the study provides no support for Reading First as a federal funding program, but it doesn’t tell us anything about the efficacy of any one of the privately-developed educational programs purchased ...

The first point of emergency planning is that success will be measured in a real emergency, by the extent to which people play the parts laid out in the plan. Buy-in is especially important when "civilians" play a crucial role. Public education may be unique in the extent to which "the line" is manned by people whose day job is not emergency response.

When private services are offered on public school grounds under a process by which the district selects vendors, parents have good reason to believe the services are of the highest quality. Under this RFP’s scheme it’s entirely possible that a higher quality provider will lose out to one of lower quality.

Conflating redundancy and incompetence seems to be a management strategy to regain control over deployment lost in 30 years of collective bargaining and redress management's own decades old failure to remove what may well be a large backlog of incompetent staff.

The question of value-added evaluation of teachers is not whether, but how fast it will come to dominate. So, it may be ironic that what interested me about the recent eduwonkette/Carey/Skoolboy debate on the subject was the question of when.


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