There are a fair number of "education" groups issuing "report cards" on the state of education, but where do they come from and who's behind them?
It's a question that comes up today following the release of a StudentFirst report card showing Minnesota education policies getting a "D."
On today's show, former Minnesota senator Kathy Saltzman, the Minnesota director of the group, explained why the state got the mark it got and what the state should do. She said, among many other things, under performing schools should be closed and local districts should get more flexibility.
But these are not impartial grades. They're a grade of a political philosophy. Just because the state got a "D," doesn't mean it deserved a "D." It also doesn't mean it doesn't deserve a "D." It means a group, with a particular point of view on how to educate children, graded a state on how well it adheres to what is, basically, a policy, about which there is apparent disagreement.
StudentFirst is the work of Michelle Rhee, would got credit for turning around a class in Baltimore and a school system in Washington.
Coincidentally -- we think -- she is the focus of a PBS Frontline documentary tonight.
In an article yesterday, Esquire warned of following Rhee's advice:
The current model for education "reform" in this country -- a corporate model with transparency problems and severely decreased political accountability -- is broken. Handing over "our" schools to hedge-fund managers, and to the people like Michelle Rhee who volunteer as well-remunerated middle managers, privatizes public education without having the basic cojones to admit that it's happening. This is not the way it's supposed to work.
And the Washington Post suggests the grades of states have been cooked by virtue of the fact standardized test scores weren't included. That penalizes states -- guess who? -- who do well in the test results.
One of the measures that was not used was standardized test scores -- which is ironic given that she is a big supporter of test-driven accountability for students, teachers and principals. This allowed StudentsFirst to give bad grades to states with high standardized test scores, such as Massachusetts. The reason? StudentsFirst says that while the state is consistently ranked first in National Assessment of Educational Progress scores for 4th grade and 8th grade reading and math, there was a large gap in scores in 2011 between white and Hispanic students.
Louisiana consistently ranks at or near the bottom of states for NAEP scores, and the achievement gap in Louisiana is huge: State tests show a 22.1 point gap for black and white students in English Language Arts in spring 2011 and a 26.7 point gap in math. But the state is implementing reforms that Rhee likes.
California got an F, and Richard Zeiger, California's chief deputy superintendent, called it a "badge of honor," given (he said to the New York Times) that StudentsFirst "makes its living by asserting that schools are failing." Rhee actually responded in a statement taking him to task for saying it.
"If you like her style of reform, then you will think that's a good thing. If you don't, be very worried," the Post said.
TPT will broadcast Frontline tonight at 9 p.m. (CT)
Esquire -This is not the way it's supposed to work.
So how is it supposed to work?
She is a former head of DC schools and we care because she has several tons of money behind her which can be used to influence public debate.
Rhee uses the cover of "students first" to take on teacher unions for corporate America. Unions have changes to make, but Rhee is an instrument of their agenda and not actually acting in the interest of students. We know prioritizing test scores doesn't measure full student knowledge and only increases the stress from those tests, not actual performance outcomes.
Only problem I have with "test scores doesn't measure full student knowledge" is that before we had NO measure. So many districts and schools let kids slid by, especially low income students.
Attacking teachers, unions and corporate shills does nothing to actually solve problems.
// Only problem I have with "test scores doesn't measure full student knowledge" is that before we had NO measure.
If you recall Monday's 5x8 -- I pointed out that Mass. and Minn. scored higher than some countries on math and science tests.
No news coverage of that.
Take a look at the top ranked places. Louisiana, Florida, and Washington D.C. The lowest ranked getting D's or F's are Massachusetts, Iowa, Minnesota, and other states that lead in most educational outcomes.
The best thing for poor, underprivileged kids with no voice is not to shut down their school and displace them. You notice when the powerful try to "save" people" their #1 strategy is to shuffle them to a new reservation.
These grades have nothing to do with education. They are part of a movement to crush the last vestiges of labor in this country. These are more human resources office reforms, rather than education reforms. Why do the worst states score the best? Because they have the fewest rights for teachers. Meanwhile, the one common thread in leading countries is a high respect for teachers. The exact opposite of StudentFirst and Rhee-form.
These educational reform people are hucksters who lie with statistics. See for example, http://www.pasisahlberg.com/blog/
Great 2010 article about Michelle Rhee:
Thank you, Heather, for the link to the article about the debacle Rhee made of the D.C. schools. I knew I had read about her vast failure but couldn't be sure.
Why do those who utterly fail at helping kids learn end up telling everyone who is succeeding how to do it?
No Child Left Behind was a program in Houston, TX. Administrators there used every trick in the book to avoid its consequences and left a large number of students without enough credits to graduate because they had been held back and then jumped forward so they would not be included in the year that was tested. But that became the standard for the nation.
Now, another failed rhee-make system is being touted as the savior of systems that are working well - need improvement, yes - but generally working well as Minnesota's test scores prove.
Why, instead of listening to these hacks, aren't we pouring money into Head Start and the early education programs which have already proven to be the most beneficial in making a difference in educational outcomes? Great return on the $$, too since for every $1 spent, $1.16 is returned in job performance, less crime and fewer incarcerations. The other huge factor affecting learning is parental poverty - but any program to address that is headed for the GOP chopping block. Guess we'll never learn.