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About Mercedes Schneider

 

me

I am first and foremost a teacher.  I have been formally teaching in some capacity for the past 24 years, mostly full time (21 years).  However, my first “student” was my younger sister, Anna, whom I taught to read when she was four years old and I was seven.  That was in 1974.

I am a product of the St. Bernard Parish Public Schools (1972-85). I attended P.G.T. Beauregard High School, where I graduated salutatorian.  In 1983, at fifteen years old, I tried to drop out of high school.  I’m glad I stayed.

I attended Louisiana State University from 1985 to 1991 and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in secondary education, English and German.  I taught for two years in St. Bernard, my home; then, I moved to Georgia and taught German (1993-94) and English (1994-98) for Rome City Schools.  While teaching full time, I earned my masters degree in guidance and counseling from the State University of West Georgia (1996-98).

While working on my masters degree, I became interested in counselor education.  I applied to the Ph.D. program in counselor education at Auburn University and was rejected because I “did not compare favorably to other applicants.”  I framed that letter and kept it in my office at Ball State; years later, I was able to use it as an encouragement for my students who came to me in tears at receiving doctoral program rejection letters.  It hurts, but press on.

I was accepted to the counselor education program at the University of Northern Colorado in 1998, and they gave me money to attend. (The Auburn rejection didn’t hurt so much then.)  I began my Ph.D. in counselor education but decided I liked all of those stats courses well enough to ask to transfer to the Department of Applied Statistics and Research Methods two years in, in February 2000.  I graduated with my Ph.D. in applied statistics and research methods, with a counselor education concentration, in August 2002.

Following my time in Colorado, I moved to Muncie, Indiana, to teach in the Department of Educational Psychology, Teachers College, at Ball State University.  I taught graduate-level statistics and research courses, except for one undergraduate course I taught, Tests and Measurement.  It was in this course that I had to address issues related to No Child Left Behind.  It was in this course that I taught students how bad an idea it was to attempt to measure teacher performance using student standardized test scores.

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina destroyed my home, New Orleans.  My mother chose not to evacuate and had to axe her way out of my sister’s attic.  She was missing for a week and ended up in Houston.  It was a while before she knew that she would not have to have her right arm amputated.

Even though there was no home to go to, I wanted to go home to New Orleans.  It took me two years to plan and reorganize my life for my return to southern Louisiana.

In July 2007, I returned home and began a new job teaching high school English in St. Tammany Parish.  I was told at the university that to “go back” to public school teaching was frowned upon and that I would not likely be able to resume a careeer teaching at the university level if I chose to replace it with a public school position.

I had to reckon with that idea.

But I love to teach.  High school, I decided, would be fine with me.

And it has been fine for the past ten years.  I love my kids.

Since my return to the public school classroom, I have published three books on ed reform issues. (See links at end of this page.)

I dedicate this blog to my St. Tammany students and to the thousands of students I have taught over the years, students of all ages, chiefly from grade seven to graduate-level,

beginning with my little sister, Anna.

 

_______________________________________________________________

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of the ed reform whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education.

She also has a second book, Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?, published June 12, 2015…

both books

… and a third book:

Released July 2016– Book Three:

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

 

171 Comments
  1. I just pulled up your address blog. I’m reading your outstanding book. I have being doing independent research for thirty-five years. I was a teacher who had to get out of the behavioral control system in elementary education. I quit! I taught in the Community College part time for several years. Please connect me to your blog. Ann Herzer, M. A., P. S. When will your second book be on Amazon?

  2. Can you tell us something about the Website Democrats for Public Education. It seems to have been abandoned and the phone number linked to this site does not work. Who really operated this site, what happened to it, why was it created and abandoned? As a democrat I was happy to see these “Democratic stars” supporting our public school system. So what was this really all about.

  3. Liz Lauter permalink

    Good morning Mercedes,
    If you haven’t already noticed this recent descriptive posting about a live horror charter school in Nashville, please read this and act as you see fit. This needs to be widely exposed. https://www.facebook.com/AmyFroggeForNashvilleSchoolBoard/posts/1076413312382932?fref=nf
    Liz Lauter “BAT at Large”

  4. GARY TOBIN permalink

    M. Schneider, I was going to write a story in this post but I opted out so not to take any of your precious time . You heard of making a long story short? Well that’s not me; I don’t know how to do that.

    So on this wonderful blessed day, I thank you for your hard dedicated work you do for our children and their future.

    I wish you a very MERRY CHRISTMAS…..

    • My 8th grade and H.S. students performed the Grench Who Stole Christmas at our re-opened public school in Greeley Hill, CA. Greedy Grenche’s closed the school for 4 years but the community fought back. Thanks Mercedes for your dedicated work to thwart the greedy Grenche’s of public school closures, charter schools and CCSS. The 3rd, CCSS is one we now contend with as a re-opened public school.

  5. Mercedes, I sent a longer message than this but it appears it did not go through so if I may I want to summarize I am looking for some feedback on what is being proposed for Detroit Public Schools via the video below. This is very similar to your recovery school district:

    http://www.michigan.gov/snyder/0,4668,7-277-57577_60279-353475–,00.html

    I am an active parent who respects your blog and all you do so hopefully I will get a chance to share more information when you have a moment.

    Thank you,

    Sincerely,

    Jeff Lauth

    • Hi, Jeff. I have your original comment. I do not publicly post messages to me, esp if they include contact info meant for me.

      • Jeffrey Lauth permalink

        Thank you. I appreciate that. But when you have time please let me know your thoughts on my original email or better yet call me when you have time. If evening works better my cell # is best.

  6. Brian Cleveland permalink

    I hope Edwards will do better, but I’m afraid he will keep not change Jindal’s poor choices including Common Core. By the way, have you seen the new video on that racket from Project Veritas? It’s in a UK Daily Mail story on Common Core and is quite damning.

  7. Mark Wade permalink

    Ms. Schneider,

    I have been searching online, following threads and links, to find trustworthy sources for research related to developmentally appropriate K-3 instruction. (Please see below for related information and links.) In my search, I’ve run across the Center for Data-Driven Reform in Education at Johns Hopkins University. There they have the “Best Evidence Encyclopedia,” which appears to supply reliable data on the effectiveness of various instructional programs.

    When I searched for the CDDRE on your site, however, it did not pop up. Given that the CDDRE is connected with—among other entities—the CCSSO, which you report recently received $15 million from one wealthy donor “to keep it running,” it seems that the apparent reliability of the site could be doubted.

    I have two questions: First, are you aware of the CDDRE and whether it is a trustworthy educational resource? Second, can you recommend other, reliable sites that provide scientifically based research on developmentally appropriate early-childhood and primary instruction?

    I will check your site from time to time to see whether this subject arises. Also, if you were able to post a list of trustworthy research sites, it would be very helpful for teachers who are trying to cut through the morass of “edupreneurial” misinformation. Additionally, if it were at all possible for you to email me with that information, I would be very grateful!

    Thank you for all you do!

    M

    ******

    About Johns Hopkins University / Center for Data-Driven Reform in Education
    http://www.bestevidence.org/aboutcddre.htm

    “CDDRE is collaboration among researchers and educators at Johns Hopkins University, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), the Success for All Foundation (SFAF), the University of Wisconsin, the University of Memphis, leading providers of research-based professional development services to at-risk schools and districts, and several state departments of education and high-poverty districts. The Center works with CCSSO and state and district leaders to identify problems and policy issues and then carry out randomized experiments to evaluate an overall data-driven approach to state and district reform, as well as randomized experiments and correlational and descriptive studies to evaluate components of the overall approach.”

    The Best Evidence Encyclopedia
    http://www.bestevidence.org/index.cfm

    “The Best Evidence Encyclopedia is a free web site created by the Johns Hopkins University School of Education’s Center for Data-Driven Reform in Education (CDDRE) under funding from the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. It is intended to give educators and researchers fair and useful information about the strength of the evidence supporting a variety of programs available for students in grades K-12.

    The Best Evidence Encyclopedia provides summaries of scientific reviews produced by many authors and organizations, as well as links to the full texts of each review. The summaries are written by CDDRE staff members and sent to review authors for confirmation.”

    • Mark, three names:

      Geralyn Bywater McLaughlin, Nancy Carrlson-Pige, and Susan Ochshorn. Google their work.

  8. Chuck Harvey permalink

    Dr Schneider, Just finished your “Common Core Dilemma” book and it is fantastic. The research is unbelievable and hard hitting with reference material. Of all the books and blogs we have read we have not seen anything about how to evaluate teachers. This is a sore subject with us. To believe that one teacher from an affluent area will have the save evaluation as a poor area defies logic. Anyhow, well done on another great book. The very best to you and yours. Chuck and Cathy

  9. Try reading my book, Why America’s Public Schools are the Best Place for Kids: Reality vs. Negative Perceptions available at http://www.rowman.com published by Rowman and Littlefield. It’s a research-based reality of the effectiveness of our public schools.

  10. FOUNTAIN PENS USED BY ELEMENTARY STUDENTS: GERMANY

    I am a public education administrator in the United States – New Jersey – and the father of an 8 year old. Presently I am in Germany and my son attends a German elementary school where among other things, fountain pens are used. I see great merit in using fountain pens for students. In my opinion, one of the reasons Germany produces some of the greatest products in the world is the emphasis the German school system places on “Basteln” or tinkering and other traditional activities that require care, like the use of a fountain pen. To many Americans this may seem quaint – but there is a rock solid place for “the quaint” in the earliest grades. Forming letters with a traditional tool like a fountain pen will give the young individual an intimate experience with reality – one which requires precision and care – much more than with a swipe or a push of a button. I strongly feel that this and other “quaint” experiences had by students in German elementary schools translates into a more thoroughly educated student – one that will be much more creative as technology is introduced – later. I think American education needs to re-evaluate how we educate our youngest and see the merit in what many Americans and American educators may perceive as impractical.

    In Germany, I once thought it totally impractical that it takes 7 minutes to draw a “Pils” beer – until I tasted how delicious it was. From then on I saw the wisdom in what may be seen as impractical or quaint – and saw how rich with tradition and also innovation German society is – and American educators would be well advised to take a good look.

    David Di Gregorio, Father of an 8 year old
    Supervisor of Library Media Services

  11. Sarah Waters permalink

    Have you heard of the national organization “Strive Together”, which on its website says it is a subsidiary of “Knowledge Works” (on its website, similarly I could find no supporters/donors list, though I did find reference to a Gates donation)? I’ve been trying to consider what a local organization, NorwalkACTS, intentions are in our school district. The local organization was an all volunteer staff at one point, but now have a paid staff. Their site doesn’t seem to list any donors. Their board members are many local community members including our data driven super. NorwalkACTS website now has a “Strive Together” badge/logo stamped on it. I’ve been trying to sort out.. Is this an insidious attempt at infiltration… Or is this a “helpful”… I suspect the former.

    After reading a Q&A by their Data Director, I replied with questions sand received this answer: Hello Sarah,

    Sorry it took some time to respond. Busy week.

    I’m not sure exactly how to answer your questions specifically but I’ll try to summarize how we are approaching our work.

    There has been reams of data collected around academic assessments and testing but it has mostly existed in silos and never subjected to any relevant data transfer or longitudinal studies. As we begin to connect disparate data we are learning a lot about how much work is involved.

    This is not a “big data” project. This is data about Norwalk students that we want to be able to use to ensure that they have access to interventions and services that will help them thrive. The data is often messy and the systems for using data across silos don’t really exist, so we are working on building a better data infrastructure to enable better quality, access and alignment.

    Norwalk ACTS does not make decisions on how to educate our children, or what assessments to use. We are a resource for bringing together the organizations that support them so that better and more informed decisions can be made by those most qualified to make them. We are a convener, a conduit, and a catalyst. And my job as data director is to assist in bringing quality data into the forefront so it can be used properly. I am not a statistician and we do not have one on staff. However we are collaborating with staff from UCONN, University of Hartford, and NCC for data analysis projects.

    Our work follows the framework of a national organization called Strive Together which is a collaboration of over 60 school districts large and small all over the country doing similar work. It is an incredible support network.

    I hope that helps answer your questions. Feel free to contact me if you have more.

    Regards,
    Paula


    Paula Palermo
    Data Director
    Norwalk ACTS
    203.451.8377
    norwalkacts.org

  12. Hi Mercedes
    Was at a policy forum at the Roosevelt House (NYC) and one of the panelists was Rebecca Kockler – she gave a glowing presentation of how Louisiana has used aligned curriculum to drive high pupil achievement in Louisiana – with significant teacher input … chatted with her briefly – asked if she know you “Oh, the blogger – no, we haven’t met.” Any truth to her praise? Looks like she’s on the fast track to somewhere … I’ll send you the power point if they post it.

  13. Brock Thacher permalink

    Hi Mercedes,

    The path to the study I mentioned on Twitter is below. Essentially it speaks to higher education and international experience and the impact it has on graduates getting jobs after graduation. It’s also interesting to see that although many colleges offer international courses and study abroad programs, that very few students take advantage. I thought this was relevant to not only college students, but parents of high school students preparing their children for college.

    Thanks!

    http://www.digitalnewsagency.com/stories/10277-new-research-shows-international-experience-in-higher-ed-is-important-for-career-success-but-many-students-recognize-it-too-late

  14. Ima C.I. permalink

    Hi, Mercedes. Your blog gives me hope.
    Is there a way to contact you directly, without a public post?

  15. Hello Mercedes,
    I am a public school administrator (library-media) and have a young son in third grade. He went to school in Germany – Bavaria last July (they have school until August). I think our elementary schools could learn from their system – perhaps you have an interest: I wrote about it here.http://www.librarymedia.net/an-elementary-school-experience-in-munich
    David Di Gregorio

  16. Hello Dr. Schneider,

    I was fortunate enough to sit in on the session you led on the charter takeover in New Orleans last March in Raleigh for the NPE convention, and have very often referred back to your first book. I am a NC teacher and public school advocate and have my own blog. I just posted about our own players in the reform game here in my state and their connections to national players, and I referred to your chapter on DFER and ERN as it served as a wonderful basis. I wanted to let you know that and have included a link to it if you would like to see it. Thanks, Stuart Egan

    https://caffeinatedrage.com/2017/02/11/the-dramatis-personae-in-the-privatization-of-public-schools-in-north-carolina-or-who-is-trying-to-reform-education-through-deformation/

  17. richard mullins permalink

    Hi.
    My grandson is at a school in Australia. He is 8 years old, and the school is starting on a system called ReadTheory, which comes from the USA. It is only a supplement to what happens in class. You are asked to answer multiple choice questions about a story about a page long. It has long been pointed out that the official answers to multiple choice questions are often controversial.I think probably it is ok if we don’t take it too seriously. (There is a quiz show on TV here called “Family Feud” where you have to guess answers to questions. You are judged against answers given by a panel of 100 people. So the answers don’t have to be always right for you to get points for your answer. For example, if to the question “Who discovered Australia”, you answer “Captain Hook”, you will get some points, even though the answer is wrong).

    I think the point of reading should be to generate some conversation in class, so I am rather horrified at a system that suggests that there is one correct answer and that it is to be obtained without discussion.

  18. richard mullins permalink

    Hey, you taught your sister to read.

    When I was four and three quarters old, and had not started school, my twin brother taught me to read, by reading a Mandrake comic to me from a magazine (there were about 4 or 5 frames). He read it once or twice, then asked me to read it and whenever I made a mistake he pointed to the word, hence indicating that I should try again. After 15 minutes of this I could read.

    He had previously taught himself to read at age four and a half, by asking grandmother to read the Mandrake comic (i.e. 4 or 5 frames from a magazine) to him over and over again.

    I say “he taught to me to read”. But I need to remember that my mother and grandmother would have prepared the ground by reading to me many times before, probably hundreds of times.

    Kind regards

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