Skip to content

Reform Selling Reform: Chiefs for Change Promoting Relay Graduate School of Education

Chiefs for Change (C4C) is a corporate-reform-promoting organization that began under the direction of Jeb Bush; as of March 2015, C4C is its own nonprofit.  Under Bush, C4C’s membership of state ed superintendents was dwindling. (In February 2015, C4C had only four members.) Still, according to Bush’s nonprofit, Foundation for Excellence in Education (FEE), C4C received over $1.5 million in 2014 from FEE for “program support for Chiefs for Change, a coalition of reform-minded chief state-school officers.”

In March 2015, Louisiana state superintendent and corporate-reform class act, John White, took charge of C4C.

The rebirthed C4C has extended its membership to include local as well as state ed chiefs. It’s even willing to pick up as many former chiefs as possible to boost its appearance of a notable membership. As of this writing, C4C only includes five active state ed superintendents. The rest of its 24 members are local superintendents or former superintendents.

As of 2016, C4C is not a large organization. Still, it is trying to drum up new members to form a coalition behind its ideas. Thus, it has released this 38-page policy brief on Title II of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Title II essentially concerns “preparing, recruiting, and training high-quality teachers, principals, or other school leaders,” where *high-quality* involves raising the federally-mandated state test scores associated with the “challenging State academic standards.”

Discussion of Title II begins on page 113 of the ESSA doc linked above. On page 114 is the discussion of a “teacher, principal, or other school leader preparation academy” that can be a nonprofit and that has as its chief aim of boosting those federally-mandated test scores.

In its Title II policy brief, C4C features one organization for “innovative teacher and school leader preparation programs”

The Relay Graduate School of Education:

Relay Graduate School of Education was formed to revolutionize the way teacher education is delivered and to better prepare more high-quality teachers for urban schools. Varying by location, Relay, a non-profit, accredited Institution of Higher Education, offers an innovative program that includes teaching residency, master’s degree programs for novice and experienced teachers, alternative certification, special education credentials, programs for school leaders, and free online courses.

Relay Graduate School of Education is a New York-based nonprofit (EIN 27-5316628). It describes itself as follow on its 2014 tax form:

Relay Graduate School of Education (“Relay”) was organized under the education law of the State of New York in February 2011, to improve the training and preparation of teachers. The organization received its public charity determination from the Internal Revenue Service in September 2011.

Relay commenced operations in July 2011, at which point the programs previously operated by Uncommon Knowledge and Achievement, Inc (“UKA”), related not-for-profit organization, were transferred to Relay. UKA supports Relay and its development and delivery of teacher and school leader training programs.

In July 2011, Relay Graduate School of Education opened its doors to an inaugural class of graduate students. In the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 academic years, Relay offered two programs, Master of Arts in Teaching graduate degree program in New York, NY, and teacher certification program in Newark, NJ.

By the 2014-2015 academic year, Relay offered Master of Arts in Teaching graduate degrees in New York, NY, Newark, NJ, New Orleans, LA, Chicago, IL, and Houston, TX, Master of Education in Instructional School Leadership graduate degree in New York, NY, and national instructional school leadership program. Since launching in 2011, over 1,400 teachers and school leaders have completed Relay’s teacher and school leader training programs.

In April 2012, Relay was approved by the Department of Education as Title IV eligible institution, allowing it to offer Title IV federal student aid programs to its students starting in the 2012-2013 academic year.

Relay is able to call itself a “graduate school” because it offers masters degrees. However, the organization is better described as what happens when an organization principally led by Teach for America (TFA), charter-school-leading alumni manage to figure out what they need in order to be granted accreditation as a teacher-prep program.

The Relay secret is that it focuses on test-score-raising skills:

Our approach to training teachers and principals is distinct in the world of higher education. It begins with a curriculum that emphasizes the teaching and instructional leadership skills that have the greatest impact on student learning. We know that when teachers and principals develop these skills, they can forever improve the lives of children.

To identify these skills, we’ve turned to the teachers and school leaders who’ve led thousands of students to extra- ordinary growth and inspired other educators to grow their own ability to do so. These exceptional thinkers are never far from schools. But they’re not sitting in ivory towers. They’re faculty members at Relay.

To be fair, Relay also refers to developing “personal character strengths” of students. However, the abundant TFA-alum presence among Relay leadership as well as the presence of “no excuses” KIPP as a founding partner and Walton and TFA as funders is evidence that marketing a set of skills is likely the overriding focus.

Skills-focused Relay currently has 12 campuses operated by 11 “deans.” Only one of these deans currently holds a doctorate (in this case, the one doctorate is a juris doctorate).  Three others are working on PhDs. Eight have their teaching experience from TFA. Many mention affiliation with charter schools as their leadership experience.

In order to become a Relay dean, one only needs to be willing to start a new Relay campus the Relay way– where student test score outcomes are front and center. For example, this ad is for a “dean fellow” in the Bay area (California). Here is an excerpt:

To succeed in this role, it’s not enough for you to know about educational theory and history. You must also believe that great educators can lift children out of poverty — and that teachers and school leaders can learn how to be great by mastering concrete, practical techniques for high-impact instruction.

That’s because Relay’s approach to training educators is unlike any other in the United States. Our graduate students earn their master’s degrees only if they can show a measurable impact on student achievement in their classrooms. …

In short, Relay focuses on results — not just at our institution, but also in the schools of the educators we train. As a Dean Fellow, and eventually as Dean, you will be responsible for helping Relay students achieve those results on a broad scale, across district and charter schools in the Bay Area.

And note that “essential duties” include drumming up philanthropic support:

 

ESSENTIAL DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

  • Serve as our primary instructional leader for the new campus by creating and teaching Relay courses, as well as advising graduate students
  • Manage and strengthen Relay’s relationships with key external partners, including donors, as well as prospective graduate students and faculty
  • In partnership with Relay’s National Dean and Chief Academic Officer, design a comprehensive program of study for graduate students in education, tailored to state-specific standards
  • Support your operations team member to coordinate all logistical aspects of Relay on the new campus, including but not limited to: scheduling; acquiring and creating all necessary resources; and working with staff in New York on recruitment, enrollment, communication, finance, student and staff policies, technology and facilities needs

As for the qualifications of a Relay “dean”: A doctorate is not necessary (which is not the case of any dean of a real college/university). Too, the requirement of “instructional experience” is not the same as “full time classroom teaching experience”– which makes it easier for TFA alums to become Relay “deans”:

QUALIFICATIONS

Most importantly, you must share the team’s sense of urgency about the need to improve student achievement through phenomenal training for educators. Additionally, you must have the following:

  • A master’s degree in education, doctoral degree is a plus
  • At least six years of instructional experience, with at least three as an instructional leader
  • Strong alignment with Relay’s pedagogical philosophy
  • Ability to work and communicate effectively with diverse populations
  • A proven aptitude to lead, inspire and persuade others
  • Excitement to start a new venture
  • Ability to work effectively, intensely, and within an entrepreneurial environment
  • A demonstrated passion for urban education and closing the achievement gap

Given that so many former TFAers become Relay “deans,” one can assume that the Relay “pedagogical philosophy” is indeed corporate-reform-approved, test-score-centrism.

Only one Relay job ad includes a doctorate as a must: The position of director of accreditation:

As a nationally accredited institution of higher education (IHE), Relay participates in annual and periodic reviews by CAEP and MSCHE.  Reporting to the Senior Dean of Academic Programs, the Director of Accreditation will be responsible for leading ongoing accreditation processes. The Director will work closely with our faculty and our operations teams to ensure we are offering an innovative, rigorous, and accreditor-aligned program to our educators. This is an exciting opportunity for someone who thrives at digging into curricular and programmatic details and thinking creatively about how to translate and present Relay’s approach.

ESSENTIAL DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

  • Research CAEP and state political landscape around Relay’s accreditation and make recommendations to Relay leadership as needed
  • Build relationships with accreditors, state boards of education, and policy makers to better understand requirements and advocate on Relay’s behalf as necessary
  • Develop and execute CAEP program review strategy based on the best practices in teacher preparation from across the country
  • Manage the process for each of our campuses to move from a modular to a course structure, while meeting state regulations and aligning to specialized professional association (SPA) (e.g., National Council of Teachers of Mathematics) standards
  • Manage a team of design faculty to prepare and submit all required reviews that meet SPA standards in a timely fashion
  • Manage Relay’s next CAEP unit accreditation (2020), including the writing of its Self-Study
  • Complete program proposals to the state of New York and manage relationship with NY State Department of Education
  • Support other state regulatory approval processes as necessary, including reviewing and editing IHE and certification applications, and, as needed, speaking on the behalf of Relay
  • Collaborate with research team to create data requests and analyze and interpret evidence of candidate proficiency against relevant standards

QUALIFICATIONS
First and foremost, the Position must share Relay’s sense of urgency about the need to improve student achievement through phenomenal teacher and leader training.

Additionally, candidates for the position must have the following:

  • Doctorate degree in a relevant area of study (e.g., Ed.D. or Ph.D. in leadership or school administration)
  • At least six years of professional experience, with a background in urban education and educational policy
  • Strong project management and relationship building skills
  • Exceptional attention to detail
  • Ability to work efficiently, intensely, and within an entrepreneurial environment
  • A demonstrated passion for urban education and closing the opportunity gap
  • Authorized to work in the United States

It is true that Relay has been accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). However, it is interesting to note of all New York teacher training programs, only Relay’s masters program has no indication of a date for an accreditation renewal visit. Its “initial teacher prep” program (ITP) is up for a site visit in the fall of 2020.

Aside from its campuses being operated by founding “deans” who are supposed to have at least masters degrees in education, Relay also advertises for three types of instructional staff: assistant profs, instructional fellows, and adjunct instructors.

The first group gets to call itself “assistant professors of practice.” I have been an assistant professor in the Ball State University College of Education, where a PhD or EdD was required.  However, Relay “profs” only need to have a masters degree in something– anything– but they do need to have at least 5 years of K12 teaching experience– which rules out most TFA alumni. The “profs” also need at least 2 years of some sort of “instructional leadership.”

The “prof” role is as follows:

  • As part of the effort to ensure that every urban, low-income public school student learns from a great teacher, Assistant Professors of Practice are responsible for teaching, observing, evaluating, and advising a cohort of graduate students.

Next are the full time, “instructional fellows.” They are there to “support deans and assistant professors of practice with instructional preparation and delivery” and “also support graduate students through classroom observations, personalized feedback, and grading.” The difference between fellows and the “profs” is that the fellows only need 3 years of K12 teaching experience as well as some unquantified experience in “observing teachers and giving instructional feedback.”

TFA alum could fit into the instructional fellows role, if they stick it out in the classroom for just a smidge more than the TFA-contracted two-year stint. Of course, such TFA alum would also need a masters, but no problem– just zip ’em through the Relay masters program, and they’re ready to start teaching teachers how to teach.

Finally, Relay has its part-time adjunct instructors. The requirements for the adjuncts are the same as for the “profs”; however, it seems that adjuncts must have more focused K12 teaching experience:

Minimum Qualifications:

  • At least 5 years of K-12 teaching experience in:
    • Secondary Math
    • Secondary Science
    • Secondary English
    • Secondary Social Studies
    • Elementary Math and ELA
    • Elementary and Secondary Special Education
  • At least 2 years of instructional leadership (e.g., coaching teachers, leading professional development)
  • Master’s degree

It seems that in seeking accreditation, Relay has found itself in need of legitimate teachers– not the fly-by-night TFA-trained variety. More than that: Relay needs legitimate teachers who will also buy into the test-score-driven reform that runs contrary to the professional sensibilities of career K12 classroom teachers. Therefore, it is willing to pay referral bonuses:

One of the most valuable things you can do to support Relay is help us find the very best talent. So we offer a $1,000 bonus for referrals that lead to full-time hires and a $250 bonus for those that lead to part-time hires.

SPREAD THE WORD

Our referral program is simple. Use the form below to provide contact information for the person you want to refer and ask your referral to tell our talent team that you referred him or her. If we hire your referral, you will receive 100% of the bonus upon the candidate’s start date. Members of the public and Relay employees qualify for the bonus.

Relay is advertising numerous positions, including recruiters of Relay students in New Orleans and Texas:

Work at the cutting edge of education – leading innovative work to attract college students to the teaching profession.  Relay Graduate School of Education is hiring a manager to help us identify promising and talented college students and recent college graduates who will make exceptional teachers.  You will connect these future teachers to the opportunities, experiences, and training that will make them strong future teachers – and you will coach and mentor them on their journey to entering the teaching profession.

Note that the recruitment isn’t just into the teaching profession; it’s into Relay. And there must be Relay teachers willing to teach those recruited students, so:

Interest Form: Talent Roles

Training a relay of high-quality teachers starts with a team of educators and support staff who are dedicated to doing the work. Our Talent team is responsible for finding the best people, supporting them, and growing them as professionals. If you’re passionate about closing the opportunity gap and one or more of the following areas, we’d like to hear from you:

  • Recruitment
  • Professional Development
  • Benefits Administration
  • Compensation
  • Performance Management

Indeed, one must also “manage the brand”– and drum up funding:

Interest Form: External Affairs Roles

We’re excited about the work we’re doing at Relay and we want the world to know about it. Our External Affairs team is focused on telling our story to the world. If you are passionate about using Marketing or Development to close the opportunity gap, we’d like to talk.

  • Marketing
    • Our Marketing team tells Relay’s story both on and offline. They create dynamic content for our website, communicate with the press and manage our brand. We are looking for marketing professionals with a range of experiences.
  • Development
    • Our Development team works with partners around the country to fund our programs. Folks who are successful on this team are able to clearly articulate the work we do and strategically find opportunities for funding that work.

Forget marketing. If Relay expects to peddle “accredited” corporate reform, it must 1) betray the corporate reform mantra that experience and degrees do not matter where “talent” is concerned, and it must 2) come up with scores of instructors who have more years in the K12 classroom than do most TFAers coupled with such individuals’ possessing at least masters degrees in any field, and, on top of that, it must 3) find such qualified individuals who also buy into skills-driven teacher prep.

That’s a tall order, even with cash bonuses for faculty referrals and the likes of a C4C policy brief promotional.

sales-job

_________________________________________________________

Released July 2016– Book Three:

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of both A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

Class Action Allowed in Walmart Mexican Bribery Case

According to Forbes, the Walton family is the richest family in America, with seven family members worth a combined $130 billion.

Their wealth is derived from their superstore chain, Walmart– and from unethical business practices such as the bribing of Mexican officials and keeping the issue to themselves for several years until the April 2012 New York Times revealed the bribery scheme– the internal knowledge of which had originated in 2005:

The Times obtained hundreds of internal company documents tracing the evolution of Wal-Mart’s 2005 Mexico investigation. The documents show Wal-Mart’s leadership immediately recognized the seriousness of the allegations. Working in secrecy, a small group of executives, including several current members of Wal-Mart’s senior management, kept close tabs on the inquiry. …

The Times examination included more than 15 hours of interviews with the former executive, Sergio Cicero Zapata, who resigned from Wal-Mart de Mexico in 2004 after nearly a decade in the company’s real estate department.

In the interviews, Mr. Cicero recounted how he had helped organize years of payoffs. He described personally dispatching two trusted outside lawyers to deliver envelopes of cash to government officials. They targeted mayors and city council members, obscure urban planners, low-level bureaucrats who issued permits — anyone with the power to thwart Wal-Mart’s growth. The bribes, he said, bought zoning approvals, reductions in environmental impact fees and the allegiance of neighborhood leaders.

He called it working “the dark side of the moon.”

The Times also reviewed thousands of government documents related to permit requests for stores across Mexico. The examination found many instances where permits were given within weeks or even days of Wal-Mart de Mexico’s payments to the two lawyers. Again and again, The Times found, legal and bureaucratic obstacles melted away after payments were made.

Not only did bribery benefit the Waltons with their Mexico operations; by keeping the bribery issues a secret for years, the Waltons were able for those years to inflate the price of Walmart stock.

In May 2012, the City of Pontiac (Michigan) General Employees Retirement System filed suit against Walmart in a class action alleging that Walmart had violated securities laws by 1) engaging in the bribery; 2) deceiving stockholders; 3) inflating its stock price via such deception, and 4) selling its stock at inflated prices.

On September 20, 2016, Arkansas federal judge Susan O. Hickey certified the class for the class action against Walmart.

The Waltons lied about exactly how long it knew about the corruption, as the plaintiffs’ lawyers, Robbins Gellar, reported on September 20, 2016:

On September 20, 2016, Judge Susan O. Hickey of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas certified a class of investors in City of Pontiac General Employees’ Retirement System v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. The court named City of Pontiac General Employees’ Retirement System as the class representative and appointed Robbins Geller as class counsel. …

Wal-Mart portrayed itself to investors as a model corporate citizen that had proactively uncovered potential corruption and promptly reported it to law enforcement. In truth, a former in-house lawyer had blown the whistle on Wal-Mart’s corruption years earlier, and Wal-Mart concealed the allegations from law enforcement by refusing its own in-house and outside counsel’s calls for an independent investigation. As a result of defendants’ misleading statements, investors were purchasing shares at artificially inflated prices, which crashed when the Times revealed the truth.

Of course, all of this info is “alleged” (tongue in cheek) until the court rules otherwise. However: Hickey’s class certification includes Walmart’s deceptive statement to the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) dated December 08, 2011– a statement which makes it appear that Walmart discovered the corruption in 2011– not in 2005:

On December 8, 2011, Defendants filed with the SEC a Report on Form 10-Q that stated the following:
During fiscal 2012, the Company began conducting a voluntary internal review of its policies, procedures and internal controls pertaining to its global anti-corruption compliance program. As a result of information obtained during that review and from other sources, the Company has begun an internal investigation into whether certain matters, including permitting, licensing and inspections, were in compliance with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The Company has engaged outside counsel and other advisors to assist in the review of these matters and has implemented, and is continuing to implement, appropriate remedial measures. The Company has voluntarily  disclosed its internal investigation to the U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission. We cannot reasonably estimate the potential liability, if any, related to these measures. However, based on the facts currently known, we do not believe that these matters will have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations or cash flows. [Emphasis added.]

The class certification continues:

According to Plaintiff, some of the differences between what Defendants represented and what they omitted are as follows: (1) Defendants actually learned about the alleged bribery scheme in 2005, not 2011; (2) Defendants learned about the alleged bribery scheme from a former in-house attorney and not from a voluntary internal review; (3) Defendants began an illegitimate internal investigation into the alleged bribery scheme in 2006, not 2011; (4)

Defendants did not implement any remedial measures until at least 2011 despite having learned of the alleged bribery scheme in 2005; (5) Defendants closed their inquiry into the alleged bribery scheme in 2006 after rejecting a proposal from outside counsel to assist in the internal investigation; and (6) Defendants withheld all information about the alleged bribery scheme from the DOJ and the SEC from 2005-2011. Generally, Plaintiff alleges that Defendants’ Form 10-Q contained statements that gave investors the false impression that they did not need to fear that Defendants had covered up the alleged bribery scheme.

Plaintiff asserts that the omitted and/or misleading information in the Form 10-Q concealed Wal-Mart’s true worth and thus Wal-Mart was overvalued throughout the class period, which is defined as December 8, 2011, the date Wal-Mart filed its Form 10-Q, to April 20, 2012, the day before the New York Times article was published….

Then comes the following footnote:

Plaintiff alleges that Wal-Mart was facing billions of dollars in estimated expenses and losses, including penalties of over $2 billion, $1.3 billion in decreased growth, and investigation and legal fees of $2.76 billion.

Here is the definition of the class of investors. Note that Walmart execs are purposely excluded from the class, including former Walmart CEO, Michael Duke:

All persons or entities who purchased or otherwise acquired the publicly traded common stock of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (“Walmart”) between December 8, 2011 and April 20, 2012 (the “Class Period”), and who were damaged by defendants’ alleged violations of §§10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Excluded from the Class are defendants and Duke’s family, the officers and directors of the Company, at all relevant times, members of their immediate families and their legal representatives, heirs, successors, or assigns, and any entity in which defendants have or had a controlling interest.

The class certification includes the following note about Walmart’s stock price:

Wal-Mart’s share price had modestly risen after December 8, 2011, to close at $62.45 on April 20, 2012. On April 23, 2012, the first trading day after the publication of the New York Times article, Wal-Mart’s stock price fell $2.91 per share to close at $59.54 per share. The stock continued to drop on April 24, 2012, to close at $57.77 per share on volume of 30 million shares, and fell to $57.36 on April 25, 2012, on volume of 28 million shares.

I am surprised that the class period begins with 2011 and not the year that Walmart nixed its inquiry in 2006. I suppose that the 2011 date makes for a stronger case.

The Walton fortune is tainted by the Walton willingness to do whatever it takes to turn a profit, including exploiting people who will never come close to having the fortune that they do.

Let’s connect Walton business practice to Walton charter love:

The Waltons view themselves as above the law, and when they don’t like the law, they try to buy it– even if the law is in a state where the Waltons do not reside– as is the case with the almost $2 million money dump by siblings Jim and Alice Walton into Massachusetts’ Question 2 (charter expansion).

It is no wonder that charter schools appeal to the Waltons. Charter expansion advances the idea of public education as a business in which the bosses have most of the power:

  • Charters are primarily non-union, which makes for cheaper overhead even as it opens a wide door for employee exploitation;
  • The public money sent to charters is often removed from the public purview, which opens yet another door, this time for mismanagement, fraud, and
  • The use of student/parent exploitation via gaming admissions processes and use of “no excuses” discipline practices to bend students into unhealthy submission (or purge the dissenters).

Through purchasing charter schools to educate the masses, the Waltons are only advancing what they value:

Business that serves the top, period.

three-waltons  Siblings Jim, Alice, and Robson Walton

___________________________________________________________

Released July 2016– Book Three:

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of both A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

David Coleman: Promising to Address SAT Problems When Cornered

Reuters has been releasing articles related to the newly-designed SAT ever since someone anonymously sent over 400 SAT questions to the news agency on August 03, 2016.

Reuters has since reported on the August 26, 2016, FBI raid of former SAT exec Manuel Alfaro’s home as part of an investigation of the Reuters item release; Reuters also released a special report on September 21, 2016, concerning the “wordiness” of SAT math problems– an issue that Reuters notes could “reinforce race and income disparities”– and which was raised in College Board internal documents in 2014 yet apparently ignored.

And, of course, there are the well-known issues of SAT’s recycling its tests and items so that test takers in countries such as China and Macau are able to game the SAT test-taking system.

The question is, why hasn’t College Board’s wonder boy president, David Coleman, addressed these years ago?

The answer apparently lies in his finally being put on the spot in real time in a professional meeting combined with Reuters’ access to SAT insider info.

In short, Coleman has been cornered.

Now, in September 2016, Coleman has stated publicly that he will (finally?) address the wordiness of the newly-designed SAT’s math problems as well as the test/item recycling that obviously fuels overseas cheating on the SAT.

Again, Reuters reports (September 23, 2016):

David Coleman, chief executive of the College Board, said the New York not-for-profit organization wants to simplify the word problems on the new SAT’s math sections to eliminate “superfluous words.” His remarks Thursday, at a conference of colleges and guidance counselors, came a day after a Reuters report detailed how the College Board’s new test contained math problems that are much wordier than internal specifications called for.

Coleman said the College Board also aims to reduce its practice of recycling SAT questions used on prior exams. Reuters articles earlier this year revealed how test-preparation companies in Asia are systematically harvesting old questions and having their students practice on them. When those questions are reused on exam day, the clients enjoy a big advantage over students who haven’t seen the material before. …

Coleman was pressed about the math sections and the exam recycling by the audience during an appearance at the annual conference of the National Association for College Admission Counseling.

Judi Robinovitz, a Florida educational consultant, expressed concern about a Reuters report Wednesday that the College Board had ignored its own internal research showing that the math questions on the new SAT were too long. …

Coleman said the College Board has seen “no meaningful difference” in completion rates on the new SAT between students whose first language is not English and those who are native English speakers. But he added that changes are in store for the new test, which debuted in March.

“We are going to do everything we can to further simplify the mathematics section. Using superfluous words is superfluous,” he said, later adding, “Every extra word should go. Complex, distracting situations should go.”

He said later, “I think the College Board should do everything it can because I’m worried about the perceptions in the [Reuters] article [from September 21].”

Superfluous words are superfluous. But let’s leave them in the test anyway until the media pressures Coleman to do what should have been done in 2014 when College Board first knew the wordiness was an issue.

And about the College Board practice of making cheating on the SAT easy by recycling tests and items:

Coleman was also asked by a college consultant in the audience about cheating on the SAT, and whether the College Board planned to do away with reusing test questions and switch to single-use, “one-and-done” tests.

“If you want to stop cheating internationally, give the tests once,” the consultant told Coleman. “Don’t repeat the same test ever.”

Coleman responded that some reuse of questions was necessary, but agreed that it was done too often. He said the College Board is trying to reduce recycling, while cautioning that doing so will be expensive and will take time.

“I think first and done is exactly right … it is exactly what we should all seek. And it’s going to take substantial advances in costs,” he said. “I do seek a better future and I do want to work on redesigning item and form redevelopment such that we can get there. And we are moving towards much greater first use and much more targeted reuse.”

So, SAT reuse is still going to happen. “First and done is exactly right,” but College Board under Coleman has yet to show any means to trying to do “exactly right” and combat the overseas cheating on the SAT other than canceling test sessions at the last minute.

And doing the SAT “exactly right” is going to cost more– which makes me wonder if more colleges and universities will decide that the cost of the SAT is not worth the negligible difference between admitting students using SAT/ACT and admitting without.

There is also the issue of SAT’s continuing to lose market share to ACT, as PBS reported in March 2016:

Many test-prep experts say the new SAT now looks more like its competitor, the ACT, which more students have opted to take in recent years. And it’s no coincidence. The SAT is losing market share to the ACT and has come under fire not only for its expense, but access. One of the many criticisms of the SAT is that the test creates a disadvantage for women, minorities and the poor who are less likely to afford the costly prep courses. The College Board aimed to tackle this by partnering with the Khan Academy, a[n] online educational service, to offer free test-prep.

Then there was the March 2016 effort for SAT to try to hide its new testing product from those most likely to approach it with a critical eye– the professional test-prep folk. As PBS notes:

But just days before the new test was administered, several would-be test-takers were uninvited. The College Board sent a letter to some who signed up saying they’ve been bumped until May. The board cited a “new security measure,” but most of those uninvited guests are actually test-prep professionals. Patrick Bock, a professional tutor who’s taken older versions of the SAT more than a dozen times, believes it was tactical. “They don’t want really bad press from experts who understand testing,” he said. “[Test-prep experts] skewer the tests for questions that aren’t quite where they need to be.”

So now, six months later, Coleman has Reuters pointing out that the redesigned SAT isn’t quite where it needs to be– and that the College Board knew as much years ago.

It takes being questioned in public at a professional meeting for Coleman to weakly rise to the occasion of unfavorable public perception.

I wonder how much longer the College Board will view Coleman as an organizational asset.

david coleman CB  David Coleman

__________________________________________________________

Released July 2016– Book Three:

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of both A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

Broad, Walton, and Their LA-based Nonprofit, Great Public Schools Now

Los Angeles is the focus of a major billionaire-funded, astroturf effort to expand the charter sector. And where there is a major market-driven reform push, a new, billionaire-funded nonprofit is often on the horizon. So it is with the 2015-created nonprofit, Great Public Schools Now (EIN 47-4962715, which was actually granted nonprofit status in February 2016). As Los Angeles Times‘ Howard Blume reported in November 2015:

The new organization, called Great Public Schools Now, is based in Los Angeles and will take the next steps in a plan that initially was spearheaded by the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation. A draft of that proposal, dated in June, called for raising $490 million to enroll half the students in the L.A. Unified School District [in successful charters and other high-quality public schools] over the next eight years.

The nonprofit will be run by two executives from ExED, a local company that specializes in helping charter schools manage their business operations. Former banker William E.B. Siart will chair the governing board; Anita Landecker will serve as interim executive director.

Blume continues the Great Public Schools Now story in June 2016, and he notes a suspicious shift in the kinds of schools the Broad-Walton-funded group supposedly wants to expand:

A controversial group that began with the mission of rapidly expanding charter schools in Los Angeles has named its board of directors, come out with a plan and publicly defined its mission as supporting new, successful public schools of any kind.

The board for Great Public Schools Now mostly includes faces and groups that are familiar in the education reform wars of L.A., including representatives from the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation.

The chair of the nonprofit is retired banker Bill Siart, the only board member who had been previously announced. …

Nearly all the other board members are widely regarded as pro-charter, even though their backgrounds are diverse. …

The group’s glossy, 16-page plan identifies 10 low-income, low-achievement neighborhoods as areas of focus. Clustered in the east San Fernando Valley and south and east of downtown, they include Boyle Heights, Pacoima and South Gate.

Although the plan is short on specifics, the group plans to announce its first grants Thursday. They could help schools in the targeted areas in a variety of ways. …

The newly released plan differs substantially from a draft obtained last year by The Times. That draft, which was not intended for public release, harshly criticized L.A. Unified and identified charter schools as the path forward, with the goal of moving half of district students into charters over eight years. The draft appeared to have been prepared to give to potential funders.

Critics probably will continue to view that draft as the real blueprint and the document released this week as public relations.  …

Timed with the release of its plan, Great Public Schools Now will launch a six-figure TV and print campaign, including ads in the L.A. Times.  …

While insisting that its focus will be on all schools, not charters alone, the group isn’t disclosing all pertinent details. It declined this week to provide information on its funders and how much money they are providing.

According to its website, Great Public Schools Now has a seven-member board and a three-member team. The board includes Walton Foundation K12 education program director, Mark Sternberg, and Broad Foundation executive director, Gregory McGinty. The team includes California Charter School Association (CCSA) senior VP of governmental affairs, Myrna Castrejon.

The Great Public Schools Now website includes no word on its funders. (There’s a link for funders, but no info.)

As for its “about/mission” page: It seems that Great Public Schools Now purports to expand all sorts of “successful public schools” (charter, magnet, pilot, and partnership schools)– even as it will offer startup grants only for charter schools:

Great Public Schools Now will fund the growth of high-quality public schools in high-need Los Angeles neighborhoods. To help support the growth of schools, grants will fund the identification and development of new charter school facilities, efforts to recruit and prepare public school teachers and provide support and coaching to public school leaders, and efforts to deepen conversations between educators and families to create more collaboration and public participation in creating more high-quality public schools.

MISSION

Great Public Schools Now is a California not-for-profit organization dedicated to ensuring all Los Angeles students receive a high-quality education by accelerating the growth of high-quality public schools.

Today, more than 160,000 students in Los Angeles and surrounding cities attend schools that are failing to provide them with a quality education. Our goal is to help as many students as possible get the education they want, need and deserve by replicating successful public schools, such as charter, magnet, pilot, and Partnership schools, in high-poverty areas of Greater Los Angeles.

Again, Los Angeles, you don’t get to know where the charter startup money is coming from, though the Broad and Walton presence on the Great Public Schools Now board is clue enough. The Walton Foundation has specific areas in Los Angeles that it will fund for new charter schools. Note that the Waltons offer no option to fund any other type of school besides charter schools.

In October 2015, I wrote about the Walton Foundation’s 2016-20 strategic plan. Below is an excerpt that might help clarify the Walton intention in Los Angeles:

Here are excerpts from the Walton report, including what they supposedly learned on their way to buying what they want.

The Foundation seeks to attract and develop talent to staff teaching, school leadership, district and organizational leadership positions through the support of organizations such as Teach for America. … The Foundation supports national advocacy organizations in order to create policy environments that support reform. Key grantees in this area include the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, Families for Excellent Schools, and Democrats for Education Reform. …

The Waltons view their “strategy” as somehow neutral. You know, “We fund all sorts of schools, without bias towards charters… But, oh, yeah, we really prefer charters, as our spending history clearly attests”:

The Foundation sees its strategy as agnostic with regard to sector (public charter schools, traditional public schools, private schools). … The Foundation’s funding history includes a significant amount of support for charter schools, however. In fact, roughly two-thirds of the Education Program’s investments support the growth of a high-quality charter sector in some way. This seeming preference for charter schools is in line with the Foundation’s theory of change that requires change agents, like new, high-quality charter schools, to increase competition in citywide school systems….

The Waltons do not see themselves as buying up democracy in order to shape it into the Image of Walton. And they are concerned about building grass roots support for their imposed reform. It seems that they thought the grass roots support would just happen and would manifest itself in automatic “competition” between charters and traditional public schools. Such competition has not happened; so, the Waltons want to increase their funding (and presence) in three key cities in order to petri-dish their latest strategic plan, which will now include grit and determination:

The Walton Family Foundation’s original theory of change was that expanding choice would spur competition, and consequently create system-wide improvements. The Foundation thought that once choice options reached a critical mass or sufficient “market share,” transformational, system-wide change would begin to occur.40 With over 20 years of learning from grantees and their communities, the Foundation’s theory of change is evolving and expanding. As Marc Holley describes it, “We have come to the realization that choice in and of itself is necessary but not sufficient to drive change at scale. We are more deliberate in thinking about what needs to be in place in order to promote functioning choice.” …

From their perch at the top, the Waltons need to get the parents (the bottom) on their side:

One area where the Foundation has received criticism is in the area of community engagement. It has been accused of having a top-down approach that does not adequately address the needs and desires of parents, local advocacy groups, and community groups. This is an issue the Foundation is grappling with. “The provision of choice, and the publication of data on school performance, has sometimes had little impact, especially in districts where reform lacks adequate local ownership, community and wider civic involvement, and parent engagement,” [Walton Foundation Senior Advisor] Bruno Manno notes. He identifies two levers in engaging local partners and communities more thoroughly: 1) building an active coalition of supporters, and 2) cultivating local advocacy partners. “We need a local and civic base of support for the work that’s going on. The work we support requires a stable constituency to be advocates for schools over time. There is a political dimension as well, the community and families need to understand what options are available.”

It seems that the Walton-funded writing on the Los Angeles wall might well entail expanding charters as the answer to making all Los Angeles schools better. It also believes in bringing traditional school districts around to its market-driven-reform thinking via corporate-reform-group infiltration. Too, it seems that the Walton Foundation believes that grass roots support for its effort is a matter of getting the public mind in line with the Walton charter expansion priorities.

The Walton intentions in incubating and expanding corporate reform fit hand-in-glove with the Broad intentions for Los Angeles. On its website, the Broad Foundation generously tosses around the term “public schools” even as it features KIPP, Success Academies, and Teach for America among its handful of “key grantees.” Furthermore, the Broad listing of current grantees is for the most part a corporate reform festival:

4.0 Schools
Achievement First
Achievement School District
Bellwether Education Partners
Bright Star Schools
Broad Center for the Management of School Systems
Building Excellent Schools
Center for American Progress
Central Michigan University Foundation
Charter School Growth Fund
Common Sense Media
Education Reform Now
Education Week
EXED, LLC
Great Public Schools Now
Green Dot Public Schools
Harvard University

IDEA Public Schools
Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP)
Leadership for Educational Equity
Michigan Education Excellence Foundation
Michigan State University – College of Education
National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
National Center on Education and the Economy
National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ)
Noble Network of Charter Schools
Orange County Public Schools
Partnership for Los Angeles Schools
Policy Innovators in Education Network
Progressive Policy Institute
Results in Education (RIE) Foundation
Scholarship Management Services
School of Visual and Performing Arts
Silicon Schools Fund, Inc.
Success Academy Charter Schools
Teach For America

Note that Broad is currently funding ExED, and that Great Public Schools Now has two ExED reps on its board/team: William Siart and Anita Landecker. What this illustrates is the all-too-common corporate reform funding incest. (According to the Walton 2013 tax form, Walton has also given ExED $50,000, and the Waltons loaned ExED $5 million for Los Angeles charter school facility financing.)

Like Walton, Broad expands choice, and it funds corporate-reform-minded organizations that can provide the minions and leadership transplanting necessary to transform a traditional school district into a decentralized, under-regulated, market-fed, billionaire-directed farce.

Broad and Walton are likely the chief funders of Great Public Schools Now. If there were other notable funders, they would also have a seat on the Great Public Schools Now board.

One of the Great Public Schools Now goals is to drum up more “public participation in creating more high quality public schools”– a goal already noted in the Walton strategic plan referenced above.

Given the top-down direction of corporate reform, that “grass roots” support is likely to be fabricated– as is the case in of a charter school rally held in Pacoima on September 17, 2016, and sponsored by CCSA:

The participants leading this rally were logo-shirt-clad, current charter school admin, teachers, parents, and students– not the public outside of charter schools demonstrating to get more charter schools, but those already associated with such schools. The participants were bused to the event, and some students told education activist Karen Wolfe (who produced the included video) that they would be receiving extra credit for attending the rally.

Astroturf.

In order to collect information on crowd members, one principal suggested they complete a CCSA information card. The enticement was participation in a raffle for prizes. The information cards could come in handy to provide *proof positive* that *the Los Angeles public wants choice.*

There was even a charter-principal-led, charter school pledge of allegiance:

Pledge of the Northeast San Fernando Valley Charter Schools

We pledge allegiance to the high-quality public schools in the Northeast Valley, where all students can succeed, where all parents can choose, where hope never expires.

I wonder how many individuals in the crowd were not already associated with CCSA. My guess: Not many.

Great Public Schools Now has a Walton- and Broad-financed “team member” whose job it is “leading our efforts and strategy around Community Outreach and Engagement.” In other words, she is being paid to convince those being acted upon by Broad and Walton to publicly unite behind what Broad and Walton want– even as her employer refuses to publicize its Broad, Walton, and possibly other funders.

I challenge her to do so without the use of logo t-shirts, chartered buses, raffles, or extra credit.

And I challenge Great Public Schools Now to disclose its funders on its website.

fanning-cash-2

____________________________________________________________

Released July 2016– Book Three:

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of both A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

TFA Joke Video about a Dating App Followed by “Don’t Join TFA” Video

TFA has a humorous video ad to recruit members. The ad is about the “TFA Dating App,” which is not real. The fictitious app, called, “One Night,” actually makes TFA sound like a teaching “one night stand.” (Oops to marketing.) Since TFA is a temp gig, the short-sighted parallel fits.

What I also found interesting is the video that followed the ad on Youtube. The second video, created in April 2015 by a former TFAer, is entitled, “Don’t Join Teach for America.” It was created by a young woman who is a native of Costa Rica and raised in Los Angeles. She joined TFA out of fear of not being able to find a job upon graduation. She ended up teaching in Mississippi. and had no say in the matter. She notes that the students of TFA teachers are getting shorted by being continually disrupted in their educations– educations that are being led by TFAers who are learning and fumbling as they go.

This young woman quit TFA (“my health deteriorated”)  and had to repay TFA for her six weeks of summer training and for 9 college classes that were supposed to be her road to becoming a career teacher– a backwards, unrealistic road, she now realizes. The young woman offers a lot of detail on her experience, and her words are well worth hearing.

She refers to TFA as “a hot mess.”

The young woman notes that after two years away from TFA, she still receives invitations from numerous charter schools inviting her to apply as a teacher.

She begins her recorded message by saying that she had wanted to make the video for a while but did not do so sooner because she feared losing friends. In the end, her desire to inform won– thus, the video.

Both videos are included below.

 

 

____________________________________________________________________

Released July 2016– Book Three:

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of both A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

J. Crew Offers a “Teach for America Collection”

No kidding. J. Crew is fundraising for Teach for America (TFA) by selling TFA apparel:

tfa-j-crew

Join us for the launch of J. Crew’s 2016 Teach For America Collection! To celebrate the launch, you will receive 15% off all purchases made during the event. In addition, J. Crew will donate 15% of your total purchase to Teach For America – Metro Atlanta! Come mingle, shop, and enjoy light refreshments with your Teach For America community. Friends and family are more than welcome; the more the merrier!

We look forward to seeing you on Tuesday, September 27th from 6:00-8:00 pm at the J. Crew at Lenox Mall!

People will buy these clothes and actually think that money is being donated to public education.

TFA is a teacher temp agency; its recruitment is in decline. The Meridian Star (Mississippi) reports on September 22, 2016, that TFA is charging districts more for TFA recruits.

TFA CEO Elisa Villanueva Beard blames the economy for improving too much, which says little for her reasoning as to why college grads join TFA: in a poorer economy, college grads are desperate.

Good thing that TFA thought to charge districts a higher fee for its fly-by-night-trained teachers.

And, of course, J. Crew is here to help combat the downside of that stronger economy.

Tongue in cheek, folks. Tongue in cheek.

__________________________________________________________

Released July 2016– Book Three:

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of both A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

Why Massachusetts Voters Should Think Twice About Charter Expansion

This post highlights excerpts from a September 22, 2016, post written by New Jersey teacher and ed policy doctoral student (Rutgers), Mark Weber.

In his post, Weber compares the attrition of Boston charter high schools to Boston public high schools, and he considers groups of students who begin as 9th graders and remain at a given school to complete 12th grade (such a group is known as a cohort).

When comparing Boston charter high schools to Boston public high schools, Weber found that across ten graduation years (2005 to 2014), the lowest cohort percentage retained by Boston public high schools (66 percent) was higher than the highest cohort percentage retained by Boston charter high schools (56 percent). (Click image to enlarge.)

machartersattrition03

Weber observes:

In the last decade, Boston’s charter sector has had substantially greater cohort attrition than the Boston Public Schools. In fact, even though the data is noisy, you could make a pretty good case the difference in cohort attrition rates has grown over the last five years.

Is this proof that the independent charters are doing a bad job? I wouldn’t say so; I’m sure these schools are full of dedicated staff, working hard to serve their students. But there is little doubt that the public schools are doing a job that charters are not: they are educating the kids who don’t stay in the charters, or who arrive too late to feel like enrolling in them is a good choice.

Weber discusses the importance of considering both the coming and going of a school’s students. If a school does not “backfill,” or replace students who leave with other students who arrive later, then the cohorts become smaller with passing years– with remaining students representing “a less mobile population, as Weber notes:

…This (backfilling) is a key issue in determining if charters can be scaled up to take a larger share of students. If charters are not backfilling, they are probably serving a less mobile student population — and one that is likely in less economic disadvantage. They are relying on the public district schools to take the students that are coming into the district, which raises some profound questions about how, exactly, the “successful” charters get their gains.

He also offers the following caveat about assuming that lifting Massachusetts’ charter cap automatically translates into success:

…There are two flavors of charter school in Boston: independent charters, and “Horace Mann” charters, which are sanctioned by the Boston Public Schools and staffed (mostly) with unionized teachers. …

There is no question that the independent charter sector is still relatively small in Boston, at least as far as high schools are concerned. That alone ought to give supporters of Question 2 pause: how can they be so sure these schools can maintain their alleged “gains” (we’ll talk about whether these “gains” actually exist in another post) if they expand? What if they can only function on a smaller scale?

Weber concludes:

This is a serious issue, and the voters of Massachusetts should be made aware of it before they cast their votes. We know that charter schools have had detrimental effects on the finances of their host school systems in other states. Massachusetts’ charter law has one of the more generous reimbursement policies for host schools, but these laws do little more than delay the inevitable: charter expansion, by definition, is inefficient because administrative functions are replicated. And that means less money in the classroom.

Is it really worth expanding charters and risking further injury to BPS when the charter sector appears, at least at the high school level, to rely so heavily on cohort attrition?

To date, Massachusetts’ charter expansion ballot measure, Question 2, has taken in almost $20 million in cash, with supporters outspending opposition almost 2 to 1.

The greatest financial supporter of MA Q2, Families for Excellent Schools Advocacy, is based in another state (New York), and has spent to date almost $7 million to raise the Massachusetts charter cap. (For Q2 ballot committee filings, click here.)

So many millions spent to lift another state’s charter cap, and not one dollar devoted to an impact study on the ramifications of doing so. But impact is not the question for those with the cap-lifting millions; lifting the cap for cap-lifting’s sake is.

Massachusetts voters need to think about that, and about Weber’s research.

scholtz  Tom Scholtz is the founder of the band, Boston.

_____________________________________________________________

Released July 2016– Book Three:

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of both A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.