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Will Fordham Institute Tenure Die?

On April 19, 2017, former president and board member emeritus of the Thomas B. Fordham (TBF) Institute, Chester Finn, published a piece entitled, “Will Teacher Tenure Die?”

Below is an excerpt:

Tenure arrived in K–12 education as a trickle-down from higher ed. Will the demise of tenure follow a similar sequence? Let us earnestly pray for it—for tenure’s negatives today outweigh its positives—but let us not count on it. …

It’s no secret that the HR practices of private and charter schools—neither of which typically practices tenure—work far better than those of district schools from the standpoint of both school leaders and their students. That’s because the leadership team can generally employ (and deploy) the instructors they deem best suited to their pupils and they’re not obligated to retain any who don’t do a satisfactory job. They can be nimble in regrouping, restaffing, and redirecting their schools—and everyone who works there knows that’s how it goes. Nobody has a right to continued employment untethered to their own performance and the school’s needs. The employer has the right to change the shape, nature, and size of the organization, to redeploy human resources, to substitute capital for labor, to replace elbow grease and sitzfleisch with technology, and to hire and fire according to shifting pupil needs and organizational priorities. …

Though often framed in term of “making it easier to fire bad teachers,” that’s not the main point of such reforms, nor should it be. The main point is to make it possible to run the kinds of schools that kids deserve to attend at a cost the taxpayer can afford to pay—and to bring the profession of school-teaching into the twenty-first century.

Finn’s piece is much longer. In it, he confuses K12 teacher due process rights with postsecondary tenure. In her April 20, 2017, post, education historian and former TBF board member, Diane Ravitch, addresses Finn’s confusion, including his error concerning K12 tenure copying postsecondary tenure. She also notes the following:

What Checker [Finn] doesn’t show is the alleged benefits of eliminating job security. …

At a time of a growing national teacher shortage, does it make sense to eliminate job security for teachers, the promise that they will not be fired capriciously?

The challenge today is how to recruit, support, and retain teachers. Checker offers no suggestions to answer these needs.

But Finn has his own tenure, 20 years of a handsome paycheck rolling in, from his TBF nonprofit.

  Chester “Checker” Finn

Finn is a (more than) double-decade think-tanker. As such, his fiscal well being is untouched by his own market-centered ed reform opinions.

He sits in a well-financed armchair calling football plays.

He advises on health and nutrition because he once took some vitamins.

He writes and promotes recipes simply based on his experience of once using an oven.

You see, Finn was once in a classroom. It was a brief “once”: Finn taught social studies as a full time intern teacher in Newton High School (Massachusetts) in 1965-66. He decided at that time that teaching was not for him. (See page 56 of Common Core Dilemma.)

Indeed, Finn decided he was much more suited to telling others how K12 education should be run.

He sits in the armchair.

He once took the vitamins.

He once used the oven.

So, let’s put him in charge of a remodeled,now-ed-reform think tank in 1997; keep him in charge until 2014, at which time Finn chooses to retire and hand the TBF presidency to faithful sidekick with zero classroom experience, Michael Petrilli (though Petrilli’s Linkedin bio reads as though he has been TBF president July 2005 – present”).

However, Finn did not leave TBF. No need. He is now emeritus. And in his TBF emeritus role, Finn continues to receive an annual income that no K12 public school teacher realistically expects to touch– and all for selling corporate ed reform, including writing opinion pieces like “Will Teacher Tenure Die?” and “studies” like this propaganda promoting Common Core.

Finn’s is a low-risk tenure, folks. He faithfully promotes the corporate reform agenda, and the philanthropic money continues rolling in.

According to the TBF funding and finances page, “recent funders” (not including individuals) are

Bloomberg Philanthropies/America Achieves
Brookhill Institute of Mathematics
Carnegie Corporation of New York
Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation
CityBridge Foundation
Collaborative for Student Success
College Board
Doris and Donald Fisher Fund
Education Reform Now
GE Foundation
Hertog Foundation
Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace
Kern Family Foundation
Laura and John Arnold Foundation
Leona B. and Harry M. Helmsley Trust
National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
Nord Family Foundation
Noyce Foundation
Overdeck Family Foundation
Searle Freedom Trust
The Achelis and Bodman Foundations
The Bernard Lee Schwartz Foundation
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation
The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation
The Houston Endowment
The Joyce Foundation
The Koret Foundation
The Kovner Foundation
The Louis Calder Foundation
The Lovett & Ruth Peters Foundation
The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation
The Randolph Foundation
The Searle Freedom Trust
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
The Walton Family Foundation

The TBF funding and finances page also includes TBF tax forms from 2011 to 2015, for two nonprofits: TBF Institute and TBF Foundation.

Note that TBF the Institute appeared in 2002. Prior to that, only TBF the Foundation existed. The Foundation still exists, but the primary TBF nonprofit is TBF Institute. Note also that TBF Foundation and TBF Institute share a board. The big funding for the Foundation came in 1995 when the founder, Thelma Pruett, died without an heir and $40-50 million went to the Foundation. Finn’s grandfather was Pruett’s attorney, and his father preceded him on the Foundation board. Finn’s father is a trustee on a number of the tax forms; also, one can read about this in chapter 22 of Finn’s book, Troublemaker.

For those who wish to peruse them, I include TBF tax forms from 2001-2015 (Foundation) and 2002-2015 (Institute) at the end of this post.

For now, let us briefly consider the money available to Finn and his think tank, TBF, with focus on both Institute and Foundation when it comes to some general revenue figures as well as both Finn’s and Petrilli’s compensation.

Both Finn and Petrilli have what one might accurately term “TBF tenure”: Soft, think-tank employment blissfully exempt from any negative outcomes related to the reforms they peddle.

Handsomely paid.

In for life.

TBF Foundation:

  • 2001: End of year total assets: $39.8 million ($32 million in corporate stocks)
  • 2002: End of year total assets: $32.5 million ($27.1 million in corporate stock)
  • 2003: End of year total assets: $40.8 million ($40 million in corporate stocks)
  • 2004: End of year total assets: $44 million ($40.3 million in corporate stocks)
  • 2005: End of year total assets: $45.3 million ($40.3 million in corporate stocks)
  • 2006: End of year total assets: $50 million ($39.7 million in corporate stocks)
  • 2007: End of year total assets: $58 million ($38.3 million in corporate stocks)
  • 2008: End of year total assets: $40.5 million ($21.2 million in corporate stocks)
  • 2009: End of year total assets: $45 million ($15.6 million in corporate stocks)
  • 2010: End of year total assets: $48 million ($15.8 million in corporate stocks)
  • 2011: End of year total assets: $45.9 million
  • 2012: End of year total assets: $48.3 million
  • 2013: End of year total assets: $50 million
  • 2014: End of year total assets: $52.8 million
  • 2015: End of year total assets: $49.8 million

TBF Institute gross receipts:

  • 2002: $7.8 million
  • 2003: $1 million
  • 2004: $903,000
  • 2005: $1.7 million
  • 2006: $2 million
  • 2007: $2.3 million
  • 2008: $2 million
  • 2009: $2.7 million
  • 2010: $2.8 million
  • 2011: $3.4 million
  • 2012: $2.9 million
  • 2013: $4.5 million
  • 2014: $3.7 million
  • 2015: $4.9 million

Finn’s compensation (Institute and Foundation):

  • 2001: $147,715: $128,000, plus $16,320 to employee benefits plan, plus $3,395 expense account
  • 2002: $215,272: $189,997, plus $21,428 to employee benefit plan, plus $3,847 expense account
  • 2003: $225,219: $200,000, plus $24,000 to employee benefit plan, plus $1,219 expense account
  • 2004: $226,683: $200,000, plus $24,000 to employee benefit plan, plus $2,683 expense account
  • 2005: $248,590: $224,590, plus $22,000 to employee pension plan, plus $2,590 expense account
  • 2006: $246,000: $224,000, plus $22,000 to employee pension plan
  • 2007: $248,000: $224,000, plus $24,000 to employee pension plan
  • 2008: $227,617: $203,106, plus $24,414 in “other compensation”
  • 2009: $224,000: $200,000, plus $24,000 in “other compensation”
  • 2010: $224,984: $200,000, plus $24,984 in “other compensation”
  • 2011: $222,368: $197,954, plus $24,414 in “other compensation”
  • 2012: $226,808: $201,954, plus $24,854 in “other compensation”
  • 2013: $236,235: $210,000, plus $26,235 in “other compensation”
  • 2014: $251,911: $223,958, plus $27,953 in “other compensation”
  • 2015: $214,169: $190,000, plus $24,169 in “other compensation”

Petrilli’s compensation (Institute and Foundation):

  • 2005: $67,416: $65,118, plus $2,298 expense account
  • 2006: $148,270: $134,260, plus $14,010 to employee pension plan
  • 2007: $163,120: $147,810, plus $15,310 to employee pension plan
  • 2008: $174,821: $150,000, plus $24,821 in “other compensation”
  • 2009: $182,200: $163,750, plus $18,450 in “other compensation”
  • 2010: $198,616: $168,626, plus $29,990 in “other compensation”
  • 2011: $205,775: $175,732, plus $30,043 in “other compensation”
  • 2012: $213,411: $183,956, plus $29,455 in “other compensation”
  • 2013: $237,375: $200,000, plus $37,375 in “other compensation”
  • 2014: $258,921: $220,833, plus $38,088 in “other compensation”
  • 2015: $316,984: $270,750, plus $46,234 in “other compensation”

So, here’s a question:

Will TBF tenure end?

Let’s borrow (and slightly modify) Finn’s words:

Tenure arrived at TBF Institute as a trickle-down from TBF Foundation. Will the demise of tenure follow a similar sequence? Let us earnestly pray for it—for the corporate ed reform think-tankery negatives outweigh its positives—but let us not count on it.

So long as there are funders, there will be a corporate ed reform market for authoritative emptiness and the corresponding ignorance that it breeds.

That’s all right.

I’m not planning on going anywhere.

I have public ed blogger tenure.

***

TBF Institute tax forms (2002 – 2015):

TBF Foundation tax returns (2001-2015):

_________________________________________________________

Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

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 two other books: 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.

James Kirylo: “That Time of Year: Spring and Testing”

Below is a guest post by my valued colleague, James Kirylo, who taught at Southeastern Louisiana University before accepting a position at the University of South Carolina. He has also taught at the University of South Alabama, Universidad Evángelica del Paraguay, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

  James Kirylo

As I read Kirylo’s post, I noted its timeliness.

The flowers are blooming and the lawnmowers are humming all over my neighborhood.

Must be testing season.

That Time of Year: Spring and Testing

by

 James D. Kirylo

It is that time of the year again.  The unfolding of nature with its brilliance in color, its sweet aroma, and the emergence of new life gives pause and illuminates all that is good.  It is also that time of year when public schools across South Carolina—indeed the nation—energetically announce standardized test “kick-off” time with pep rallies, balloon send-offs, and a host of other activities, further reducing what schooling has sadly become.  Spring is in the air.

Though spring and the birth of new life have had their way since the beginning of time, the intense association of testing and spring is a relatively new phenomenon.  Particularly since 1983 when a major document titled A Nation at Risk purported that public education was doing a mediocre job, which was followed by subsequent school reform efforts (e.g., No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and others), there has been a proliferation of standardized testing in American public education.

Whereas in 1950 those who completed high school took only approximately three standardized tests through their entire K-12 experience, and whereas in 1991 those who completed their K-12 experience took an average of 18-21 standardized tests, students today upon completion of their K-12 school experience can take anywhere between 60-100 standardized tests.  In short, more than 100 million standardized tests are administered yearly across the U.S., annually costing the states approximately 1.7 billion dollars.

This intense focus on testing and its results have moved into the realm of obsession, so much so that we now refer to “high-stakes” testing simply because they are becoming the sole criteria on how we assess and evaluate our children, teachers, administrators, and school districts.  In short, the “reform” movement provoked by A Nation at Risk can be characterized as one that is now controlled by the profit-making testing industrialized complex.

Truly, it has become disturbingly normalized in explaining reform efforts with detached terminology such as outcomes, ratings, scores, performance, monetary rewards, school takeovers, school closures, competition, and comparing and contrasting.  As a result we have created an educational system that is analogous to describing a for-profit corporation, which ultimately results in the creation of “winners” and “losers.”

This corporate-speak loses sight of the humanity behind this type of discourse, which works to objectify school-aged youth, fosters a constricted view of what is educationally important, and largely blames teachers if students don’t “perform” to some kind of arbitrary expectation.

Make no mistake, this testing environment has placed school-aged youngsters under unnecessary stress, where many are fearful, dealing with bouts of panic, crying spells, apathy, sleeplessness, and depression.  Therefore, it ought not be of any great surprise that droves of parents from around the country have opted-out their children from taking these tests, a number among which I include myself.

And perhaps ironically, this testing movement has yielded very little positive results in improving our schools.  In fact, one could argue that our nation is more at risk than it was 30 years ago, still leaving scores of children left behind. Indeed, illiteracy remains high, millions of children still live in poverty, and countless of youngsters are still attending classes with limited resources in schools that are old and dilapidated.

Of course, we aren’t able to constructively work on solutions unless we recognize that there is an awareness of the problem.  That is, unless policy-makers and other decision-making entities realize that a test-centric environment is ultimately unhealthy for our youth, we will continue down this spiral of alienating many of them from opportunity, equity, and a developmentally appropriate educational experience.

To that end, as we consider school aged youth during this time of year, perhaps the moment has come—this spring—that we rethink how we assess and evaluate our school-aged youth.  In fact, if we exert the same amount of energy, fervor, and expense on rectifying structural inequalities as we do on our testing fixation, and if we would celebrate schooling with pep rallies and balloon send-offs with which we genuinely recognize the individual gifts, talents, and uniqueness of all children through multiple fashions, I would argue we would see an emergence of new life in our schools.  Spring is in the air.

***

James D. Kirylo is associate professor of education at the University of South Carolina.  His latest book is titled Teaching with Purpose: An Inquiry into the Who, Why, and How We Teach (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016).

__________________________________________________________

Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

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 two other books: 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.

La. BESE Member James Garvey’s School Grading “Lie”: Read His Full Speech Here

On March 29, 2017, the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) held a 6 1/2-hour special meeting on the state plan to be submitted to the US Department of Education in April 2017 in compliance with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

Most attendees thought the plan was being rushed without having been properly vetted, including the Louisiana School Boards Association.

One of the components of Louisiana’s ESSA plan is a phasing out what White calls the school performance score “curve” in two years, and a raising of the criteria for school grading year by year until 2025. (In 2015, White called the school grading a “baseline year,” to be raised over ten years. That was when the state still used the term “Common Core” and when students took a “Common Core exam” that was PARCC-like.)

Despite school performance score/ letter grade modifying and phasing, the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) unequivocally promotes school letter grades, including the measuring of “improvement,” on its school letter grades page:

SCHOOL LETTER GRADES

Since 1999, the state has issued School Performance Scores for public schools, which are based on student achievement data. To clearly communicate the quality of school performance to families and the public, Louisiana adopted letter grades (A-F). All schools with sufficient data receive school performance scores.

  • Elementary schools (K-6):
    • 100 percent of the school grade is based on student achievement on annual assessments in English language arts, math, science, and social studies

    Schools may also earn points for significant improvement with students who are academically behind.

  • Middle schools (7-8):
    • 95 percent of the school grade is based on student achievement on annual assessments
    • Five percent of the school grade is based on credits earned through the end of students’ 9th grade year.

    Schools may also earn points for significant improvement with students who are academically behind.

  • High schools (9-12): Half of the school grade is based on student achievement on state assessments and the other half on graduation performance.
    • 25 percent is attributed to student performance on the ACT or WorkKeys
    • 25 percent is attributed to student performance on End-of-Course assessments
    • 25 percent is attributed to the strength of diploma index, which rewards achievements like Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exam credit
    • 25 percent is attributed to the cohort graduation rate, or the percentage of students who started 9th grade and graduated on-time within four years

Schools may also earn additional points for significant improvement with students who are academically behind.

Note that BESE approves the school performance scoring system and associated school letter grading system.

Note also that bias and inflation in the Louisiana school grading system has been documented on this blog (e.g., here and here and here).

Note also that BESE member James Garvey promoted Louisiana’s school grading as he was campaigning in October 2015 for reelection to BESE– the same month that I wrote this post about the inflation in school grading and quoted former BESE member Lottie Beebe about the inevitable crash that will occur when the inflated-school-grade rug is pulled out:

Dr. Schneider, thank you for your continued efforts to educate the public and the education community, for that matter. (You get it; I get it; and I am certain a number of other folks get it! Often, White and his supporters state that parents understand letter grades. We get that, also!) However, does the general public understand the methodology used to award these letter grades? While I realize the hard work and dedication of those within many schools, this “celebratory success” will be short-lived! At some point, there will be notable declines in student achievement due to the “inflated grades” and a failure to maintain progress points, etc. This is when these very schools being celebrated today will be vilified for failing to maintain or increase student achievement. No argument can then be made due to the success celebrated today! …and at a later date—-bamm! I acknowledge it is a normal response to accept the “flowers” when they are presented; sadly, they are going to “wilt” at some point!

In October 2015, Garvey said nothing about school grade inflation. According to nola.com, Garvey only promoted Louisiana’s school grading:

When asked how the state could improve scores on the ACT exam, Barrios, a former gifted-student teacher, turned the question around. “First of all, the premise is completely wrong,” she said, adding that it was ridiculous to hang so much on a single test.

Garvey, a lawyer, responded by praising the board’s work to put in place a system of school letter grades that let parents see exactly how good a school is or isn’t.

A second October 2015 nola.com article featuring Garvey’s campaign positions includes the following:

Increase transparency and accountability for education results by maintaining our current letter grading system for schools and districts.

No word about any opposition, reservation, or even slight hesitancy concerning Louisiana’s school grading system as misinforming parents.

So, imagine the surprise of many, including members of the St. Tammany Parish School Board (Garvey’s district) when Garvey waxed contrary at the March 29, 2017, BESE special meeting in long-winded,  tones familiar in barrooms in the wee morning hours:

Garvey begins at time 4:24:55:

I’d like to say on this issue [Louisiana’s ESSA state plan]… it’s hard to pick a good place to start. I guess I will start by saying that we have been lying to our parents, and lying to ourselves, and lying to taxpayers, and, most importantly, we’ve been lying to the children of Louisiana.

We’ve been telling parents, taxpayers, ourselves, and telling children that their schools are A schools when a lot of those schools, if they were scored in other states or under higher accountability systems that other states are using, they would be B schools or C schools.

Similarly, we’ve been telling parents that their B schools are doing great because they’re B schools. In other states, they’d be C schools and D schools. And you can go through the same thing with the other grades.

One of the biggest controversies that I think this issue contains is the clarity and honesty that it will create  and give to the parents about how their schools are doing, how well they’re doing or how well the schools are not doing.

This “lie” as I called it, I called it a lie because I know that other states have higher accountability systems, more vigorous accountability systems. I believe that all of the BESE members [know] it. Yet we are putting these false letter grades out there. In fact, even under this plan that moves us to where we will be on a similar grading system with other states, we’re going to take eight more years before we stop this lie that we’re telling the parents and that we’re telling our children.

This lie really hit home when I got a phone call from a parent who was a friend of mine a couple of years ago asking me about one of the local schools in Metairie. It was an A-rated school, one of the top A-rated schools in the state. And the parent asked me, “Is this a good school? Should I send my child to this school?”

I could have taken the easy way out and told the parent, “Well, go look at the letter grade. It’s an A. Of course, it’s got to be a good school.” But what I knew was that that was a magnet school, and it was able to draw students from around the parish, the best from around the parish.

I told her, “I can’t tell you if that is a good school or if that is a good school for your child in particular because I don’t know what the school is doing with those students once they get there. I know that there are good students in this school, but I also know that there are good students that are enrolling in that school. I can’t tell you how much they’re growing while they’re in that school.”

This plan, a big part of this plan will fix a lot of that problem.

Garvey continues speaking about how “delay will hurt it,” with “it” being Louisiana’s ESSA plan. (Feel free to listen to that Garvey spiel at time 4:29:10). But let us maintain our focus on Garvey’s “I could have taken the easy way out” hammer-home-the-“lie”:

Garvey is apparently unaware that anyone could feel betrayed by his now calling a lie what he for years actively promoted.

He was wrong.

On Thursday, April 13, 2017, the St. Tammany Parish School Board passed the following resolution declaring “an irreparable breach of trust” between the school board and Garvey:

RESOLUTION

WHEREAS, Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) Representative James (Jim) Garvey, who serves District 1, including all of St Tammany Parish, in a public meeting of the same board on March 29, 2017 stated that he and the other members of BESE have been “lying to parents” about the public school accountability system that BESE mandated all Louisiana public school districts use; and

WHEREAS, this accountability system that was publicly deemed a “lie” by BESE member Mr. Garvey was developed by State Superintendent of Education John White, who was appointed by Jim Garvey and other BESE members; and

WHEREAS, Mr. Garvey voted for and has actively promoted this accountability system as late as 2016 when he touted its successes in his bid to be re-elected to BESE; and

WHEREAS, if the current accountability system developed by Superintendent White is termed a “lie” as publicly stated by BESE representative Mr. Garvey, then the St. Tammany Parish School Board can only conclude the new Louisiana plan for the Every Student Succeeds ACT (ESSA), also developed by Superintendent White and his staff and rushed for approval by BESE members including Mr. Garvey, would be highly questionable; and

WHEREAS, despite widespread requests for delay from education professionals throughout the state, including numerous School Board members, the Louisiana School Board Association (LSBA), the Louisiana Association of School Superintendents (LASS), and the Louisiana Association of Principals (LAP), the state prematurely submitted to the U.S. Department of Education Louisiana’s plan for ESSA, which was formed on the basis of the highly questionable accountability system that Mr. Garvey publicly called a “lie to parents”; and

WHEREAS, the St. Tammany Parish School Board sadly concludes that there is an irreparable breach of trust between the St. Tammany Parish School Board, many educational professionals, school boards across the state and Mr. Garvey, as demonstrated by his own public admission; and

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that if Mr. Garvey truly stands behind his statement that the current Louisiana accountability system, that he has supported for several years, is a “lie to parents”, then this Board believes Mr. Garvey should take responsibility for these actions by resigning his BESE position, and any other individual involved in developing this flawed and inferior accountability system that was mandated upon all Louisiana public schools systems should take responsibility for these actions by resigning his or her position, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that St. Tammany Parish School Board asks Mr. Garvey to appear in a public forum at a time and location of the Board’s choosing to explain his actions for supporting this flawed accountability system for so long; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this resolution be to spread upon the official minutes of this Board, with copies being sent to Jim Garvey, BESE, District 1 Representative, all BESE members, State Superintendent of Education John White, LSBA Executive Director Scott Richard, LASS President Superintendent Hollis Milton, and LAP Executive Director Debra Schum.

When I first received the above resolution file, I thought it concerned the fact that in 2016, Garvey signed off on a falsified certificate granting John White ed leader 3 status even though White does not have the requisite five years of teaching experience.

Another Garvey-White “lie.”

 James Garvey

____________________________________________________________

Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

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 two other books: 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.

Easter 2017: Sometimes You Just Have to Leave Your Water Pot

Today is Easter.

Most of the posts that I write concern education reform. However, a handful are holiday posts– like this one.

Since it is Easter, in this post, I focus on Jesus Christ. It is certainly up to you to decide to continue reading. No coercion here.

I find that one of the most thought-provoking stories in the bible is Jesus’ meeting with the Samaritan woman at the well in the middle of the day (John 4). The story fascinates me on several levels. The first is that Jesus was a man, in a culture centered on men, and yet he held a full conversation with a woman, a conversation that he initiated.

Second, this woman was not even a Jewish woman. She was a Samaritan, and Jews hated Samaritans and vice-versa.

Third, the time of day that this woman came to draw water– noon, or the hot part of the day– indicates that she was an outcast among her own people. Notice that she also comes alone. No other women come with her, and no others are mentioned as being at the well during the meeting between Jesus and this woman.

Fourth, the likely reason that this woman is an outcast among her own people concerns her lifestyle. During her conversation with Jesus, the woman tells him that she has no husband, to which Christ responds, “You are right to say you have no husband because you have had five husbands, and the man you currently live with is not your husband” (my paraphrase of John 4:17-18).

Even in modern America, people do a double take when a person has been married five times– and not an affirming double take, at that.

So, if one considers the cultural norms in place at the time, the fact that Jesus holds a conversation with this woman is a profound statement about His character– and about his desire to help this woman find the real water for which she thirsts: a relationship with Him.

And He initiates.

All the while, Jesus’ disciples have been on an errand to find lunch.

When they return and see Jesus speaking to this nothing woman (in their estimation), they are shocked, but none are bold enough to ask him why he did so.

One could flip this disciple surprise around and note that Jesus was willing to risk what others thought of him in order to connect with a social outcast.

All He wanted to do was assure her that none of her failure mattered to Him and that to Him, she was valuable.

He told her that He is the Messiah.

It made such an impression on her that she left her water pot and ran home to tell others about her encounter.

Happy Easter.

____________________________________________________________

La. Supt. John White Fabricates Three Years of Teaching into Five: View His Ed Leader Cert Application

On April 11, 2017, I wrote a post about Louisiana state superintendent John White’s certifying himself as an educational leader.

  John White

Louisiana has three levels of ed leader certification. Ed Leader 1 requires no teaching experience. Ed Leader 2 requires three years of teaching experience in the applicant’s area of certification.

And Ed Leader 3 requires five years of teaching experience in the applicant’s area of certification.

Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) member James Garvey signed off on all three of White’s ed leader certifications.

White does not have the five years of teaching experience in his area of certification.

White has three years of teaching experience.

In my first post, I relied on a 2011 interview that White gave for EdNext to support his having only three years of teaching experience.

Fortunately, in this post, I am able to provide support from White’s application for Louisiana ed leader certification. (My thanks to my colleague Lee Barrios for her public records request of this info.)

According to Louisiana law (Bulletin 746), the following criteria must be met in order for a person to be granted ed leader 3 status, a certification that allows the possessor to become a district superintendent or assistant superintendent in Louisiana:

§ 708. Educational Leader Certificate Level 3 (EDL 3) [Formerly §709]

A. This certificate is required in order to serve as a school system superintendent or assistant superintendent.

  1. Eligibility requirements:

a. valid EDL 2 or one of the Louisiana administrative/supervisory certifications that preceded the educational leadership certification structure;

b. five years of teaching experience in his/her area of certification;

c. five years of successful administrative or management experience in education at the level of assistant principal or above. The assistant principal experience would be limited to a maximum of two years of experience in that position; and

d. passing score on the school superintendent assessment (SSA), in keeping with state requirements.

Note that the five years of teaching experience is just that– teaching experience– and that it is to be in the applicant’s area of certification.

Included with White’s application is the following letter from the Jersey City Public Schools:

December 10, 2015

To Whom It May Concern:

Please be advised that Mr. John White was employed with the Jersey City School District as a certified English Teacher from September 1, 1999 to June 30, 2002.

Please feel free to contact me for any further information at (201) 915-6362.

Sincerely,

Tracey A. Stone

Clerk2/Human Resources

To support the idea that White’s three years with Jersey City Schools were in White’s area of certification, his application also includes the following January 26, 2016, email from director of the New Jersey Department of Education Robert Higgins to Vicky Thomas at LDOE:

Mr. John C. White, DOB: XXXXXX and SSN: XXX-XX-XXXX received his NJ Standard (Permanent) Certificate as a Teacher of English in September, 2000 after completing his pedagogical work at the St. Peter’s College Regional Training Center in Kearney, NJ. His provisional (induction) period was served prior to that date in the Jersey City School district, where he also taught when he received the Standard.

Note that we only date our certificates to the month and year, not to the day.

Sincerely,

Bob H.

Of course, if one wanted to be technical, White only has two years of teaching experience in his area of certification because for 1999-2000, he appears to not be considered as certified by the New Jersey Department of Education. But let’s just let that go and five him the full three years of teaching experience in his area of certification: English.

English in New Jersey.

White was certified to teach English in New Jersey, and he did so for three years. Not five. Three.

As part of his Louisiana ed leader application, White offers no additional evidence of either teaching experience or of certification, either in New Jersey or any other state.

But that does not mean he didn’t try to fabricate an additional two years.

Here is how White tried to falsify five years of teaching experience:

First of all, he listed his three years in New Jersey (1999-2002) at William L. Dickson High School in Jersey City, NJ. The application has a box to check to identify the school as either “public school” or “private school.” White checked “public school.”

Next, he laid low and recorded his time in New Jersey with Teach for America (TFA) as “teacher coach and mentor.” Under “name of school,” he listed “Teach for America,” but he (rightly) did not check a box for either “public school” or “private school.” He also did not identify himself as a TFA executive director. And where he wrote the date, it looks like he began to write “2002-2004” and changed his mind and wrote “2002-2007.”

But there is one more line, and that one should have read, “Chicago, Illinois, TFA executive director.”

Instead, White wrote “Chicago Public Schools” under “name of school,” checked the “public school” box (which gives the shady impression that he taught public school in Chicago) and listed his position as “teacher coach and mentor” from 2004-2006.

It is a lame effort to try to fake two more years of teaching experience, but it was apparently the best lie White had at hand.

A number of problems with this lie:

  • White holds no Illinois teaching certificate.
  • White was never an employee of Chicago Public Schools (CPS).
  • White never taught in a Chicago public school.
  • White holds no certification as a “teacher mentor.”
  • “Teacher mentor” does not constitute teaching experience.
  • White includes with this application a letter dated December 09, 2015, verifying that from 2002 to 2007, he was employed by TFA as “Executive Director of our Chicago Region” at an annual salary of $126,499.92. So, any “teacher mentoring” in Chicago was in his role as TFA employee, not as a CPS employee.

On the same page as the above info, no one signed the oath verifying the accuracy of White’s info. The signature is supposed to be that of superintendent or human resources director.

White did sign below it as the applicant.

  Click image to enlarge

Despite the flimsiness of this I-kind-of-taught-in-Chicago lie, on June 08, 2016, LDOE certification specialist Regina Poole signed off on the ed leader 3 “Requirements” checklist, which includes “yes” for “have five years of teaching experience in his/her area of certification.”

  Click image to enlarge

And BESE member James Garvey approved White’s falsified ed leader 3 certification.

  Click image to enlarge

___________________________________________________________

Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

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 two other books: 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.

La. Supt. John White Falsely Credentials Himself with BESE Member James Garvey’s Help

In order to have his or her contract renewed, a state education superintendent in Louisiana must be approved by a two-thirds vote of the state board of education every time a new state board is elected every four years.

That would be 8 out of 11 state board members.

In January 2012, the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) approved John White for state superintendent by a vote of 9 to 1, with one abstention. They offered him this contract.

In January 2016, White’s contract renewal did not come up for a vote because only seven members of the newly-elected/appointed BESE board can be counted on to vote for contract renewal.

What this means is that as Louisiana state superintendent, John White is now a month-to-month employee. As it stands, BESE is locked in a holding pattern where a majority of 7 are holding on to White (and will not seek a replacement), but without the ability to sway one more vote, this majority cannot offer White another contract. (To read about the office of Louisiana state superintendent, including terms of appointment and continued employment, see page 3 of this Title 28 excerpt.)

In order to be Louisiana state superintendent, White does not need any certification or licensure. And to be state superintendent, he does not need any minimum number of years in the classroom.

However, it seems that not long after the 2016 BESE board was seated, White quietly credentialed himself as a certified “educational leader” in Louisiana.

In fact, White now has three Louisiana certificates on file, all for educational leader– levels 1 through 3:

JW ed leader cert 1

JW ed leader cert 2

JW teaching cert 3

White’s certificates for educational leader 1 and educational leader 2 were issued on the same day– February 19, 2016– and with sequential certificate numbers.

The third certificate, for educational leader 3, was issued less than four months later, on June 08, 2016.

Normally, the state superintendent signs all teacher and other school certifications. Yet in a situation that drips the influence of the corporate ed reform from which White hails, White’s certificates have no state superintendent signature because of the backwards nature of this venture: It seems even too blatant for White to sign his own come-lately certifications.

All other Louisiana teaching and other certificates are signed by both the state superintendent and BESE president, Gary L. Jones.

Even Jones’ teaching certificate has these two signatures: state superintendent and BESE president (which happens to be himself).

Now, for an unusual turn:

The single signature on all three of White’s certificates is that of BESE member and avid White supporter, James Garvey.

Why current BESE president Jones’ signature is not on White’s certificate begs the question of BESE’s awareness of White’s certifications. (Current BESE president signature is on all other certificates no matter date of issuance.)

But there is more.

Louisiana’s own certification webpage directs individuals to the statutes governing certification of teachers, administrators, and other school professional-level personnel:

Certification Policy for Teachers/Leaders

The Louisiana Department of Education, Division of Teacher Certification, Preparation and Recruitment, implements and maintains teacher certification procedures as mandated by legislation and State Board policy contained in Bulletin 746?Louisiana Standards for Certification of School Personnel. The information in this section is provided as a resource to educators and school districts to ensure that:

  • All Louisiana students receive instruction from appropriately credentialed and effective teachers
  • All Louisiana schools are led by appropriately credentialed and effective school leaders.

The link above for Bulletin 746 includes the criteria for educational leader 1, 2, and 3 certification (see pages 65 – 67).

Educational leader 1 is the certification necessary to become lower-level administration– and it appears to be issued once a local education agency (LEA) has decided to hire an individual as a leader in one of the following administrative roles:

Educational Leader Certificate Level 1 (EDL 1)

This is the certificate needed by those who fill school and district educational leadership positions (e.g., assistant principal, principal, parish or city supervisor of instruction, supervisor of child welfare and attendance, special education supervisor, or comparable school/district leader positions). This certificate is issued upon the request of the LEA once the individual is hired to serve as an Educational Leader.

It seems that educational leader 2 exists to either help one gain experience (be a matured ed leader 1, so to speak), to offer time to gain experience, including the required minimum 3 years of teaching experience– or to take a person to educational leader 3.

In order to receive ed leader 2, one must have ed leader 1, and in order to receive ed leader 3, one must have ed leader 2.

Thus, ed leader 2 offers eligibility for no additional administrative positions in and of itself. However, ed leader 2 can lead to ed leader 3, which allows for higher-level superintendency:

Educational Leader Certificate Level 3 (EDL 3)

This certificate is required in order to serve as a school system superintendent or assistant superintendent.

So, in certifying himself as educational leader 3, White is seeking to make himself appear legit in order to possibly assume a district superintendency or assistant superintendency when his stint as a state superintendent comes to an end.

Of course, the ed reform irony here is that White already held a district superintendency, for the state-run Recovery School District (RSD), only briefly (not even a year, from mid-2011 to early 2012), as part of ushering him as swiftly as possible to the role of state superintendent. As nola.com noted in January 2012:

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education signed off on Gov. Bobby Jindal‘s pick to be Louisiana’s new superintendent of schools on Wednesday, elevating John White from his post at the head of the state’s Recovery School District just months after he arrived in New Orleans.

White’s appointment has been widely anticipated since elections for the board this past fall ensured he would have the eight-vote supermajority needed to become the next head of the state Department of Education.

In creating White’s ed leader 3 certification, it seems that White and BESE pal Garvey anticipate that a second Louisiana district superintendency for White might not be as easy to procure.

In particular, what caught my attention were the requirements for years of teaching experience, especially for the ed leader 3 certification.

Ed leader 1 does not require teaching experience. However, it seems that one holding ed leader 1 is expected to progress to ed leader 2, which requires 3 years of teaching experience.

Even though in his own Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) bio, White chooses to be hazy regarding the actual years in which he did what and where, a 2011 EdNext interview with White has him with three years of teaching experience in New Jersey with Teach for America (TFA):

TFA sent White to Jersey City, to 3,000-student Dickinson High School, overlooking the Holland Tunnel, where he taught English for three years….

His three years in the classroom at Dickinson High gives White a firm grasp of these fundamental teaching challenges, including trying to teach the same content to a room of children where the proficiency spread may be two to three grade levels.

So, for ed leader 2 certification, White has enough years in the classroom.

But not for ed leader 3 certification.

Ed leader 3 certification requires five years of teaching experience:

§ 708. Educational Leader Certificate Level 3 (EDL 3) [Formerly §709]

A. This certificate is required in order to serve as a school system superintendent or assistant superintendent.

  1. Eligibility requirements:

a. valid EDL 2 or one of the Louisiana administrative/supervisory certifications that preceded the educational leadership certification structure;

b. five years of teaching experience in his/her area of certification;

c. five years of successful administrative or management experience in education at the level of assistant principal or above. The assistant principal experience would be limited to a maximum of two years of experience in that position; and

d. passing score on the school superintendent assessment (SSA), in keeping with state requirements.

John White does not have five years of teaching experience in any certification, yet he now holds what amounts to a falsified Louisiana educational leader 3 certificate bearing BESE member James Garvey’s signature.

To legitimize his ed leader 3 certificate, White should have 1) become a certified teacher in Louisiana and 2) taught an additional two years in that certification.

But he didn’t do that. Instead, he did what he often does: He tries to sneak and worm his way around legitimacy.

BESE needs to confront both White and Garvey about this false credential. But to do so, the BESE majority would have to confront itself about why it continues to employ as state superintendent a man without the votes needed for contract renewal.

No breath holding here, folks.

  John White

____________________________________________________________

Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

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 two other books: 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.

Question: Who Are the ESSA “Peer Reviewers” Selected to Review State Plans?

According to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), state plans are to be reviewed by a group of individuals holding specific roles– and the reviewers are to be identified by name.

From the ESSA document (pages 20-21):

(4) PEER REVIEW AND SECRETARIAL APPROVAL.—

(A) IN GENERAL.—The Secretary shall—

(i) establish a peer-review process to assist in the review of State plans;

(ii) establish multidisciplinary peer-review teams and appoint members of such teams—

(I) who are representative of—

(aa) parents, teachers, principals, other school leaders, specialized instructional support personnel, State educational agencies, local educational agencies, and the community (including the business community); and

(bb) researchers who are familiar with—

(AA) the implementation of academic standards, assessments, or accountability systems; and

(BB) how to meet the needs of disadvantaged students, children with disabilities, and English learners, the needs of low-performing schools, and other educational needs of students;

(II) that include, to the extent practicable, majority representation of individuals who, in the most recent 2 years, have had practical experience in the classroom, school administration, or State or local government (such as direct employees of a school, local educational agency, or State educational agency); and

(III) who represent a regionally diverse cross-section of States;

(iii) make available to the public, including by such means as posting to the Department’s website, the list of peer reviewers who have reviewed State plans under this section;

(iv) ensure that the peer-review teams consist of varied individuals so that the same peer reviewers are not reviewing all of the State plans;

(v) approve a State plan not later than 120 days after its submission, unless the Secretary meets the requirements of clause (vi);

(vi) have the authority to disapprove a State plan only if—

(I) the Secretary—

(aa) determines how the State plan fails to meet the requirements of this section;

(bb) immediately provides to the State, in writing, notice of such determination, and the supporting information and rationale to substantiate such determination;

(cc) offers the State an opportunity to revise and resubmit its State plan, and provides the State—

(AA) technical assistance to assist the State in meeting the requirements of this section;

(BB) in writing, all peer-review comments, suggestions, recommendations, or concerns relating to its State plan; and

(CC) a hearing, unless the State declines the opportunity for such hearing; and

(II) the State—

(aa) does not revise and resubmit its State plan; or

(bb) in a case in which a State revises and resubmits its State plan after a hearing is conducted under subclause (I)(cc)(CC), or after the State has declined the opportunity for such a hearing, the Secretary determines that such revised State plan does not meet the requirements of this section.

The US Department of Education (USDOE) website includes this ESSA page that has a link at the bottom, entitled, “ESSA State Plan Call for Peer Reviewers.”

The link is dead: “404– page not found.”

The dead page apologizes and notes that many pages are moved to new urls. However, a search for the new url– or even for the original via “do not send me to the new page” request– yields nothing.

So, I located the original page using Google Cache, which notes that Google last saved the page on April 03, 2017, at 17:24 GMT (which is the same as 1:24 p.m. in Washington, DC).

The page itself is noted as being last modified on 02/27/17.

The full text is below:

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

Calling Peer Reviewers for ESSA State Plans

The U.S. Department of Education (the Department) is seeking highly qualified individuals to serve in a critical role as peer reviewers of State plans, as required under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

Under the ESSA, States will build on their experience making progress toward providing a high-quality, well-rounded education for all students. On November 29, 2016, the Department published final regulations that govern consolidated State plans under the ESSA. To facilitate the development of State plans, the Department published a required Consolidated State Plan template that aligns with the statutory and regulatory requirements. Under sections 1111(a)(4) and 8451(d) of the ESEA, the Department must facilitate a review by external peer reviewers of each State’s plan.

The ESSA requires that the Department establish multi-disciplinary peer review teams and appoint members of such teams that include:

  • Educators (e.g., teachers, principals or other school leaders, or specialized instructional support personnel);
  • State and local educational agency personnel;
  • Researchers who are familiar with the implementation of standards, assessments and accountability systems; and
  • Researchers who are familiar with how to meet the needs of disadvantaged students, children with disabilities, and English learners, the needs of low-performing schools, and other educational needs of students.

To the extent practicable, the peer reviewers should represent a regionally diverse cross-section of States and include individuals who have had practical experience in the classroom, school administration, or State or local government (such as direct employees of a school, district, or State) in the past two years.

Peer reviewers will work individually and on a panel to evaluate whether each State plan meets statutory and regulatory requirements and the degree to which each State plan will support a comprehensive and coherent set of improvements in the areas of: consultation and performance management; academic assessments; accountability, support, and improvement for schools; supporting excellent educators; and supporting all students. Peer reviewers will make recommendations to the Department to inform our review and approval of each State’s plan.

Questions about this request for peer reviewers may be sent to ESSA.PeerReview@ed.gov.

Application Process

We are no longer accepting applications at this time.

Availability

Peer reviewers must commit to the following review process:

  • Virtual peer reviewer training for approximately four hours during the week of March 21, 2017;
  • Read and provide detailed comments during off-site individual review for four-five State plans between April 3 and May 3; and
  • Participate in a 5-day panel review in Washington, DC in early May (specific dates to be established in early 2017).

The Department will conduct a second peer review process beginning in September 2017.

Conflict of Interest

Please be aware that any applicant’s selection as a peer reviewer for the State plan peer review will include a review for possible, apparent, and/or actual conflicts of interest. If a potential conflict of interest is identified, the Department will consider whether the applicant can participate as a peer reviewer in full compliance with all applicable Department policies and procedures designed to ensure the integrity of the Department’s process for reviewing and approving State plans.

Honorarium and Other Information

Peer reviewers will receive an honorarium for their time and effort, contingent upon satisfactory completion of the above requirements and consistent with the required schedule. Travel costs to the events in Washington, DC will also be covered.

Some observations:

  • If these peer reviewers were “virtually” trained the week of March 21, 2017 (for four hours, at that), and are already reviewing plans as of the April 03, 2017, state plan deadline (the first round of state plan submissions), then the peer reviewers have been selected. (Note that the webpage last updated 02/27/17 was “no longer accepting applications at this time.”)
  • If these peer reviewers have been selected, then they can (and should) be publicly identified. Otherwise, the public cannot know that the reviewers have indeed been selected and that these reviewers meet the criteria for review team membership.
  • The language of ESSA implies that USDOE is not obligated to publicize reviewer names until after state reviews are completed (i.e., “(iii) make available to the public, including by such means as posting to the Department’s website, the list of peer reviewers who have reviewed State plans under this section”). However, this failure to publicize supposedly selected reviewers appears to run counter to promoting public faith in the “transparency” of the state plan review process. Indeed, publicizing reviewers after the fact keeps the public in the dark during the review process and makes it convenient for USDOE to compose a fake listing of reviewers with no reliable leverage for the public to know otherwise.
  • USDOE’s deleting the call for peer reviewer webpage without a word and without offering any substitute to provide the public with information on this process seems bumbling as best and deceitful at worst. USDOE should not be deleting webpages designed to inform the public without offering further explanation.
  • At the very least, USDOE should offer the public a definite date that it plans to release the names of the state plan reviewers.
  • Given that USDOE has numerous senior-level official positions vacant, and given the market-driven-reform bent of USDOE, it is not unrealistic to expect that USDOE has somehow outsourced the entire ESSA state-plan review process. If that is true, the public deserves to know what organization(s) are involved in such outsourcing.
  • How much are individuals and/or organizations being paid to review ESSA state plans? If outsourcing is happening, what are the costs, and are there conflicts of interest at work?

US ed sec Betsy DeVos owes the American public these answers.

  Betsy DeVos

__________________________________________________________

Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

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 two other books: 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.