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The Involved Citizen - Common Sense Revisited

> Public Education Politics (Where Vast Ideas Produce Half-Vast Results) <

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MORE BAD NEWS FOR THE CHILDREN OF CONNECTICUT.
And their parents continue to vote Democratic, in blind support of the Teachers' Unions. IDIOCY.
See two recent articles that appeared in ctmirror.org.
1) "Education Reform: Feds Find Connecticut's Plans Lacking", by Jacqueline Rabe Thomas, July 7, 2017.
2) "Test Results: Stubborn Achievement Gaps Unchanged", by the same author, July 14, 2017.

GS

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Rapid Response for MONDAY, January 2, 2017

The Public School Mafia, aka Teachers' Unions, continue to fight school choice including charter schools and magnet schools. And their victims of over 40 years continue to support them and their wholly owned subsidiary - the Democratic Party.

Amazing:
Albert Einstein's definition of IDIOCY in action.
Please see: "Sanctuary Colleges, Public School Poverty", by Chris Powell, in The Day (www.theday.com), Sunday Jan. 1, 2017, Opinion, pB4.

GS

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PLEASE REVIEW THE COURT RULING ON CONNECTICUT STATE PUBLIC EDUCATION
HANDED DOWN BY SUPERIOR COURT JUDGE
THOMAS MAUKAWSHER.
It is a GEM!
GS

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Rapid Response for
SUNDAY, September 18, 2016

"SFOGARE":  Italian for "to vent", to put out the fire.
That's what I must do every time I think of the abject failure that has been
Public Education during the last 40 years.
I am not new to this subject, as you can see from a visit to the Category on my web site entitled "Public Education Politics".
But now the scope of the failure is fully evident: absentee parents beginning with pre-school and trying to make up for it with destructive permissiveness and with efforts to administer "self-image" rather than having it be personally earned;  colleges and universities which have become institutions of totalitarian indoctrination instead of open dialogue and "higher education"; addiction to gizmos and gadgets at the expense of learning priceless socialization - and with resultant depression and suicidal ideation; ridiculous grade inflation and the holy "Curve"....

It is this last concept that prompts me today.
Please see the good article entitled: "Free Students From The Grade Curve Trap", by Adam Grant, NYTimes Sunday, September 11, 2016, SR p 3.
I have a personal story about that.  In the mid-nineties, I served as Adjunct Professor of Law at Quinnepeac School of Law for three semesters. My subjects included Health Law and Medical Mal-Practice Law.  My students were second and third year Law students.
On the first day of the first semester course, I met with 32 students.  After some pleasantries, I issued two rules: 1) this was not to be a correspondence course; three unexcused absences = no grade; 2) no grading "on the Curve"; I would give whatever each earned, 32 "A"s, 32 "C"s, etc.  We then proceeded with the day's material.
At the second class meeting, 16 students were ABSENT, never to be seen again.  The rest of us continued with a fine semester course, until of course I had to read and grade 16 three - hour essay exams.  As it turned out, they all earned A's and B's, with one C.  I continued for two other semester courses. A very rewarding experience, as have been all of the experiences of teaching and learning during this, my 60th year as a practising physician.

So, what has this wreck called "Public Education" wrought? Just look around you, and especially at those who don't even know that they are dying of STUPIDITY.
And now comes the news that up to 40% of Millennials are still living with their parents!   
CONGRATULATIONS: YOU GET AN A ++ AND A 4.5 GPA,
whatever the Hell that is.

GS

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Rapid Response for SUNDAY, April 3, 2016

REGARDING PUBLIC AND PRIVATE EDUCATION IN THIS COUNTRY.
FOR MY GRANDCHILDREN AND FOR EVERY OTHER CHILD.

This commentary is a continuation, discouraging and outrageous as it is, of observations that I have been making about the state of Education in America for at least the last two decades, posted mainly on my "Public Education Politics" section of this web site.

I have 5 grandchildren, 4 of whom are teenagers: bright, energetic higher education-bound. They earn generally good to excellent grades. And yet, they are in danger of being failed by their schools.
My grandchildren know, from my constant "preaching", that the most they learn in their schools will not be enough to make them competitive with children from other nations who are increasingly dominating American higher education.

Meanwhile, the Teaching Unions...no longer a Profession or even a Craft...continue to block improvements and continue to protect unqualified "teachers".
You want proof, in addition to what I have already offered, as noted above? Read carefully the following two articles, both surprisingly published in the NYTimes, long a protector of teachers' unions. 
1) "THE COUNTERFEIT HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA", Dec. 31, 2015, Editorial, pA20.
2) "COLLEGE ADMISSIONS SHOCKER!", by Frank Bruno, March 30, pA21.

To my grandchildren, and to anyone else smart enough to listen:
a) work for solid "A" grades in school, taking as many "AP" courses as possible...realizing that an "A" is not what it used to be; 
b) cross-read your subject matter as much as possible;
c) read at least two newspapers daily to keep abreast of current events and to avoid, as much as possible, the inevitable "spin" that used to be called "yellow journalism";
d) question, don't just accept;
e) and realize, finally, that all of those gizmos and "social media" connections, rather than keeping you "connected", are keeping you isolated and incapable of learning human interaction - the most important learning of all.

One more thing (UNA MAS...).  I am process-oriented, not outcome-oriented.  I am hereby fulfilling my part of the "process".  The rest, and the outcome, are up to you.  If you do not perform, and as a result achieve, I'm "OUTTA HERE".  You can take that, and only that, "to the bank".

Love,

Grandpa (GS)

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Rapid Response for SUNDAY, January 3, 2016

ON PUBLIC "EDUCATION", AGAIN...
The News is...There's No News.
But what there is, finally, is an Admission by the so-called "newspaper of record" that the decades - long failure of "public education" has produced its inevitable results.
See "THE COUNTERFEIT HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA", Editorial, NYTimes December 31, 2015, pA20.
And the cause of what should be at least civilly if not criminally actionable: the Teachers' Unions and their political supporters.
You want more? Review the many offerings spanning many years in my web site section entitled: "Public Education Politics".

GS


Rapid Response for TUESDAY, September 1, 2015

MORE ON PUBLIC "EDUCATION", ONE OF THE GREATEST - AND AVOIDABLE - DISASTERS IN THIS NATION OVER THE LAST 35 YEARS.
Please see my many previous commentaries on this subject in this RAPID RESPONSE section and also on my web site Category entitled "Public Education Politics".

GS

New test scores a needed reality check for Connecticut - TheDay.Com


Rapid Response for TUESDAY, June 10, 2014

FOR GOOD OR ILL,  LOOK TO CALIFORNIA IF YOU WANT TO SEE THE FUTURE. 

Here's hoping that this takes root and flourishes nationwide.

GS

Judge Rules California Teacher Tenure Laws Unconstitutional - The New York Times


Rapid Response for
FRIDAY through TUESDAY
, December 7 through 11, 2012

WHAT CAN I SAY ABOUT THIS THAT I HAVEN'T ALREADY SAID AND WRITTEN THROUGHOUT MORE THAN A DECADE ON THIS WEB SITE
EVEN THIS IS A REPETITION: 
CRIMINAL.

GS

US students far from first in math, science

Study: US fourth-graders make strides, but progress elusive at eighth-grade level

By Josh Lederman, Associated Press | Associated PressTue, Dec 11, 2012

WASHINGTON (AP) -- American fourth-graders are performing better than they were four years ago in math and reading, but students four years older show no such progress, a global study released Tuesday revealed.

Although the U.S. remains in the top dozen or so countries in all subjects tested, the gap between the U.S. and the top-performing nations is much wider at the eighth-grade level, especially in math.

"When you start looking at our older students, we see less improvement over time," said Jack Buckley, commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, which coordinated the U.S. portion of the international exam.

Even where U.S. student scores have improved, many other nations have improved much faster, leaving American students far behind many of their peers — especially in Asia and Europe.

With an eye toward global competitiveness, U.S. education officials are sounding the alarm over what they describe as a recurring theme when American students are put to the test. Lamenting what he described as "sober cautionary notes," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said it was unacceptable that eighth-grade achievement in math and science are stagnant, with U.S. students far less likely than many Asian counterparts to reach advanced levels in science.

"If we as a nation don't turn that around, those nations will soon be out-competing us in a knowledge-based, global economy," Duncan said.

American students still perform better than the global average in all subject areas, the study found, although students from the poorest U.S. schools fall short.

But the U.S. is far from leading the pack, a distinction now enjoyed by kids in countries like Finland and Singapore who outperformed American fourth-graders in science and reading. By eighth grade, American students have fallen behind their Russian, Japanese and Taiwanese counterparts in math, and trail students from Hong Kong, Slovenia and South Korea in science.

The results of the study, conducted every four years in nations around the world, show mixed prospects for delivering on that promise. A nation that once took pride in being at the top of its game can no longer credibly call itself the global leader in student performance. Wringing their hands about what that reality portends for broader U.S. influence, policymakers worry it could have ripple effects on the economy down the line, with Americans increasingly at a competitive disadvantage in the international marketplace.

Elevating the skills needed to compete with emerging countries has been a priority for President Barack Obama, who has pledged to train 100,000 new math and science teachers over the next decade. "Think about the America within our reach: a country that leads the world in educating its people. An America that attracts a new generation of high-tech manufacturing and high-paying jobs," he said this year in his State of the Union address.

Asia continues to dominate the top echelon of scores across subject fields. The tiny city-state of Singapore takes first place in eighth-grade science and fourth-grade math, with South Korea scoring nearly as high. Singapore takes second place to South Korea in eighth-grade math, with Taiwan in third.

The results also lean toward Asian nations when it comes to advanced levels of learning. In Singapore, 4 in 10 eighth-graders achieved the "advanced benchmark" in science, which requires an understanding of complex and abstract concepts in physics, chemistry, biology and other sciences. About 2 in 10 make the grade in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. In the U.S., it's about 1 in 10.

Reading skills are a major strength for American students. Only a few points separate American students from the top-scoring students in the world. In Florida, which took part in the study separately, reading scores are second only to Hong Kong.

"We cannot rest until every child has gained the power that comes through reading," said former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a prominent education advocate. "If Florida can do it, every state can and must."

The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study and its sister test, the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study, are used to measure knowledge, skills and mastery of curricula by elementary and middle school students around the world. Students in rich, industrialized nations and poor, developing countries alike are tested. In 2011, 56 educational systems — mostly countries, but some states and subnational entities like Hong Kong — took part in math and science exams. Fifty-three systems participated in the reading exam, which included almost 13,000 American fourth-graders.

"These kinds of tests are very good at telling us who's ahead in the race. They don't have a lot to say about causes or why countries are where they are," said Brookings Institution senior fellow Tom Loveless, who in previous years represented the U.S. in the international group that administers the test.

Other findings released Tuesday:

— Some U.S. states that were measured separately were clear standouts, performing on par with or better than some top-performing Asian countries. Eighth-graders in Massachusetts and Minnesota score far better in math and science than the U.S. average. But in California and Alabama, eighth-graders fell short of the national average.

— Racial and class disparities are all too real. In eighth grade, Americans in the schools with the highest poverty — those with 75 percent or more of students on free or reduced-price lunch — performed below both the U.S. average and the lower international average. Students at schools with fewer poor kids performed better. In fourth-grade reading, all ethnic groups outperformed the international average, but white and Asian students did better than their black and Hispanic classmates.

— Boys in the U.S. do better than girls in fourth-grade science and eighth-grade math. But girls rule when it comes to reading.

— On a global level, the gender gap appears to be closing. About half of the countries showed no statistically meaningful gap between boys and girls in math and science.

The tests are carried out by the International Association for Evaluation of Educational Achievement, a coalition of research institutions. The U.S. portion of the exams is coordinated by the Education Department's National Center for Education Statistics.


Regarding Education in New London

Post # 1 of 4

Heed the audit advice
The Day

The New London Board of Education and other city officials can react in one of two ways to a recent state audit of the board and school district. While they may not agree with all the observations, board members and the city officials who interact with them can view the audit as constructive criticism and motivation for self-reflection and improvement. Conversely, board members can become defensive, dismiss the findings as off base and continue to do business as they see fit.

We view with concern initial reactions that suggest some are taking the latter approach. That would be a mistake because the two consultants who fashioned the audit did their homework. The state Department of Education, which ordered the audit, has had an observer at board meetings going back a year. While arguments can be made about individual observations, the audit's overarching finding is unassailable - there is too much jousting with the administration, needless debate among board members over procedure and relatively trivial matters, and too little time spent on the substantive challenges facing the district.

As for the community as a whole, the outside observers found no unity of purpose, no shared vision for turning around the city's underperforming public schools.

"Communications between the Board of Education and School District Officials and City Officials (Mayor, City Council members) appears to range from non-existent to unproductive," concludes the audit.

Some board members and other city officials don't like the leadership of Superintendent Nicholas Fischer - we get it - but finding reasons to try to undermine his credibility helps no one, least of all students.

If a better way forward can be summed up in one recommendation, it is this:

"Board of Education meetings should focus on the large and significant issues in the schools such as improving student achievement. The Board should focus on ends - the outcomes that they want the Superintendent and his team to achieve - and use targets or benchmarks to monitor progress. Each Board meeting should contain an action item or report dealing with district and school initiatives designed to improve student achievement and close the achievement gaps."

Set goals, give the administration the leeway and backing to achieve them, judge the administration on outcomes.

Put hurt feelings aside. Failing to heed the recommendations of this audit will only prolong the school system's struggles and invite greater state intervention.

Post # 2 of 4

Audit calls New London school board leadership 'incoherent'
The Day
By Julianne Hanckel Day Staff Writer

Report: 'Powerful' intervention needed to boost test scores
New London - A state audit of the New London school board and district says their "incoherent" governance fails to focus on the well being of students as the major goal and will ultimately make it impossible to improve the schools' performance.
The observation of the board and interviews with 55 people whose names are being kept confidential were done by two consultants for the state Department of Education between March 19 and April 19.
The audit warns that New London's already low test scores - known as the "achievement gap" when compared to state averages - will widen unless the board gains a better understanding of its responsibilities and begins to focus on progress rather than low-profile issues.
Incremental changes in New London will "not make a significant difference in the quality of education provided," the audit states. Rather, only "powerful, transformational and systemic interventions have a chance of changing the achievement gap in New London." That could mean anything up to and including a takeover by the state.
The audit was submitted Monday to the Department of Education's Bureau of Accountability and Improvement. The Day obtained a copy of the audit.
The purpose of the audit was to analyze school system leadership; district and school organizational arrangements; and school district governance structure and functions, including the relationships among administrators, the Board of Education, Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio, the City Council and members of the community.
Researchers Robert Villanova and Mark Shibles reported they found a large disparity between how school board members described their effectiveness in carrying out the board's responsibilities and "how almost every other person interviewed described the board's effectiveness."
The researchers urge board members to stop micro-managing administrative functions and turn their attention to key functions of policy making. They note that the city's political culture is full of members who cycle on and off boards and cite instances of political posturing and uncivil, embarrassing behavior.
The study points out that the school district has no racial minority hiring policy or any apparent strategy to hire minorities, despite 75 percent of its student population being black or Hispanic. Recently the mayor's office and the city's fire department have also been criticized for failure to recruit minorities in that department.
A review of the audit by Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor is scheduled to take place today or Wednesday.
Pryor could order mandatory state training for all school board members, a reconstitution of the school board or in the worst case scenario, a reconstitution of the entire school system.
The audit urges that community members rally around a comprehensive pre-kindergarten to grade 12 district improvement plan; regular written and verbal communication between city officials and the media; better community support; a recruitment of minority teachers; and the potential regionalization of the schools.
The audit does not examine school district finances but does briefly mention that the school budget needs greater clarity and that members of the city government chose to focus intensely on the combining of the school board and city finance departments instead of supporting a responsible school budget.
"My overall impression (of the audit) is that it's balanced. There are things in there that are definitely food for thought and worth us considering," Superintendent of Schools Nicholas A. Fischer said Monday.
The state has had an observer at Board of Education meetings since last year, when former Chairman Alvin Kinsall requested it. Retired Groton Superintendent James Mitchell was assigned that role and has attended school board meetings since last October. In March, Lol Fearon, chief of the state's Bureau of Accountability and Improvement and representatives from the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education started to attend the school board meetings.

Post # 3 of 4

SO, WHAT ELSE IS NEW?  GS

Few city officials agree with auditors' report on New London schools
The Day
By Julianne Hanckel Day Staff Writer
New London - A day after a scathing state education department report on the performance of the local school board, board members said they were "cringing," "surprised" and "disappointed."
A governance and management audit of the New London Board of Education was conducted from March 19 to April 19 and included interviews with 55 community members, city and school officials, teachers, parents and business leaders.
The audit analyzed school system leadership; district and school organizational arrangements; and the relationships between administrators, the school board, Mayor Daryl Justin Finizio, the City Council and community members.
The future of the board and the school system is uncertain. The state commissioner of education has the authority to deliver sweeping recommendations that could mean anything - up to and including a state takeover.
Among a series of observances and recommendations, auditors noted that communication among city and school officials "appears to range from non-existent to unproductive."
"There are always things that we, as an administration, can improve on," Superintendent Nicholas A. Fischer said Tuesday. "But there has to be a willingness on the part of other folks in the community to respond."
School board Chairman William Morse said discussions among the board, superintendent, council president and mayor have to begin now.
"There has been very little effective communication over issues of substance between this group of people," Morse said. "It took an outside professional agency to point out that everybody has a role to play in improving this situation. The fingers were pointed everywhere. There isn't one side more responsible than the other."
He vowed to be the person to initiate the conversations, but said it's a "four-way street."
Morse said of the 22-page audit that he was most disappointed with the notion that teachers have faith in their students but are not optimistic about the district.
"I don't see from these findings any confidence in the district improvement plan, which is supposed to be our road map to success, and that's deeply troubling," he said.
School board members Barbara Major, Margaret Curtin, Jason Catala and Delanna Muse defended the relationship among board members, saying the board works well together, cares about the district's kids and is not about rubber-stamping.
They did not agree with the auditors' views on the political culture in New London and notions of political posturing.
"This board wants the public to know that we're really not that volatile. We all pretty much vote on conscience. We're trying to do the right thing," Major said.
City Council President Michael Passero said Tuesday that the auditors' evaluation of city politics was "superficial" and "condescending."
"There are a lot of good people wrestling with difficult issues," he said. "I think they did a disservice to the army of volunteers in the community who devote a good bit of time on boards, agencies and in elected offices."
The audit urged the community to rally around the school system. Finizio acknowledged that there needs to be a better community effort.
"We need accountability from top to bottom in our district, a concerted community-wide effort to concentrate on education and breathe new life into education, and we've been taking steps to do that," Finizio said. "We cannot accept the system we have now. It's inadequate and the time has come to face this reality, to work together to create changes."
A spokesman for the state education department said the commissioner has not yet reviewed the report.


Post # 4 of 4

...and where do Teachers' Unions continue to be?  In obstruction, of course.  GS

Evaluation plan imposes professional standards on New London teachers
The Day
By Julianne Hanckel Day Staff Writer
Those who struggle get support, expectations for needed improvement
New London - David Iler, a seventh-grade language arts teacher at Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School, holds master's degrees in science and elementary education, but that certification doesn't come close to preparing a teacher for the classroom, in his eyes.
"I didn't have the skill set ... to really know how to make my students as successful as they could be. Not knowing how to do what I needed to do, it almost killed me," he said last week.
Iler suffered a heart attack on the last day of school three years ago. He attributes the episode at least in part to stress and uncertainty about his job performance.
Now, in his third year, Iler is praising the school system's two-year-old teacher and professional development evaluation plan.
Through intensive, almost daily, support from the school district's literacy coaches, Iler has made a "180-degree shift" in his teaching style, he said, that is reflected in the organization of his classroom and the way he works with his students.
The aim of the new evaluation system is to clearly outline what's expected of a teacher in the classroom, give a teacher ways to improve instructional practices and, ultimately, to raise student academic performance levels.
"Before this evaluation plan, it was really a free-for-all," Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School Principal Alison Ryan said in an interview.
"There wasn't any standard in which teachers were being measured. There wasn't any clear direction from the administration or the district letting teachers know what was expected of them during a lesson and as an evaluator, our evaluations were really superficial."
While the plan stops short of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's proposal to link teachers' job security to student performance, it has moved New London schools to a system of structured support for struggling teachers, with consequences for those who don't improve.
The teachers union remains wary. Fredricka Gunther, president of the New London Education Association (NLEA), said recently that the pressures of being evaluated and the issues the school district is facing as a whole make the atmosphere difficult to work in because teachers, administrators and even students feel pressured.
To complement the evaluation plan, administrators, NLEA members and a representative of the Connecticut Education Association have come up with The New London Project, an evaluation support program that provides teachers with opportunities to improve.
That project has been cited as a first in southeastern Connecticut because of the way it was developed, with and including participation by the union and the administration.
Opportunities include being paired with an exemplary teacher, watching videotapes of their classroom instruction and receiving peer feedback in preparation for an evaluation or observation.
n n n
New London's formal evaluation plan has 10 standards on which a teacher is evaluated. Each standard includes a list of prompts as to what its execution in a classroom should look like.
Principals, assistant principals, deans and other administrators normally serve as the evaluators. Every teacher is expected to meet the 10 standards every day. Normally, non-tenured teachers are evaluated three times a year.
A main criticism of the union president is that the formal standards don't give room for teachers' learning or professional styles or for a teacher's professional judgment about a specific child. Fredericka Gunther said that even though the union and school administration have worked consistently to address what a fair teacher observation and evaluation should entail, she isn't convinced that all issues have been resolved.
"The old evaluation system wasn't as punitive, and it does seem a little punitive now. There's no place to put what someone does well," she said. "People, I think, feel like someone is out to get them. In the past, teachers would welcome someone to come into their room, they were excited to have someone observe. But when someone comes in with a checklist it becomes so exacting that the teacher as a whole is lost in the list."
Gunther said it isn't just New London's teachers feeling the pressure - it's felt nationally.
"We have a very dedicated group of hardworking individuals and we teach here because we like working with the kids and we enjoy the challenges, but anything that makes it more difficult for us to teach will hurt the kids. We know these kids and we know what they need," Gunther said.
n n n
The evaluation plan includes three levels of structured assistance, the last of which could lead to termination if the superintendent of schools decides the teacher has not been able to demonstrate improvement based on the standards.
Since the beginning of the 2010-11 school year, 27 of the district's 272 certified teaching staff members have been placed on the structured assistance plan. Seven teachers have remained on it from 2010-11 through this school year and eight teachers in total have have been deemed not to need assistance under the plan any longer. Each level of the structured assistance plan carries additional responsibilities and requirements for a teacher to become eligible to come off the plan. For teachers who have been identified as struggling there are options for extra support.
A "very small" number of teachers have been terminated or have submitted their resignations because of the rigors of the plan, a school official said.
David Iler was not one of those who had to go into structured assistance. He praises the plan's checklist.
"The refining of the evaluation last year let me know where I was successful and where I wasn't successful, but the re-tweaking of it this year has made it so good that I've done very well on my evaluations," Iler said.
He said he went from being "someone who was having a difficult time" to a teacher whom the school now uses as a model.
"In my opinion, if you're in the building and you're not there completely and utterly for the kids, you need to go somewhere else. If you're not willing to recognize the data and the (improvement) plan derived from it, you need to go somewhere else," he said.
"The bottom line is that this (the district's efforts to help improve teacher performance) is going to release all the pressure if everybody plays along."
n n n
Regardless of what happens to education reform in the General Assembly, New London will have to revise its evaluation plan again within the next two years to reflect a new state education requirement.
The state's Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC) unanimously adopted new teacher evaluation guidelines tied to multiple indicators of student achievement, although the guidelines do not link compensation and tenure to student performance.
The current version of the controversial education reform bill, S.B. 24, continues to go through revisions with less than two weeks left in the legislative session.


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MONDAY, April 2, 2012

PS.  See also the WSJ Editorial, Tuesday, March 20, 2012 entitled: "School Reform's Establishment Turn", pA14.  And, if you're wondering what happens to these students after they limp out of high school, check out the lead article in the Spring 2012 edition of The American Scholar, entitled "The Truth About Campus Cheating", by William M. Chace.  In addition to that, we read that "American higher education is characterized by limited or no learning by a large proportion of students". 
YOU'RE DOIN' A GREAT JOB, BROWNIE".

GS

State Sen. Stillman defends revisions in education reform package

By JC Reindl

Publication: The Day

Published 04/01/2012 12:00 AM
Updated 04/01/2012 06:05 PM

Hartford - Democratic Sen. Andrea Stillman of Waterford spent her Sunday evening last week on the top floor of the Capitol office building, crafting what arguably has become the biggest setback to date for Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's legislative agenda.

Joining her at the conference table were bill-writing lawyers and Stillman's fellow Education Committee co-chairman, Rep. Andrew Fleischmann, D-West Hartford.

If they cared to sleep that night before their morning committee meeting and vote, the veteran lawmakers had only a few hours to decide what to do about the controversial parts of Senate Bill 24 - the governor's 163-page education reform package.

Negotiations earlier that weekend between the Malloy administration and the two state teachers' unions failed to produce any grand compromise. That left the hard decisions to them.

By night's end, the pair had finished a dramatic rewrite to Malloy's bill that has since drawn praise from the teachers' unions for fairness and criticism from reform activists and school administrators' groups, who dismiss the revised bill as "watered down" legislation that better serves union members than schoolchildren.

Governor: 'A work in progress'

The Education Committee passed the new Senate Bill 24 on a 28-5 vote Monday. But as Malloy soon emphasized, the language in the bill isn't final and likely will change again in the legislative process.

The bill has until 12:01 a.m. on May 10 to be voted on by the full House and Senate. And Malloy indicated Friday that he won't sign the bill if it lacks what he considers to be real reforms to the teacher tenure system in public schools.

"This is a work in progress," the governor said last week. "I never served in the legislature, but I did make sausage for a summer job, and it's a bit like that."

Yet for the moment, the most anticipated state education bill in decades stands as what emerged from Stillman's committee.

A coalition of five education groups and the Connecticut Business and Industry Association issued a joint statement last week criticizing the revised bill. The coalition includes principals, superintendents and charter school activists who say they wrongly were left out of the process.

"The new version of S.B. 24 fails to move forward with several of the bold proposals Governor Malloy put forth, and it signals a lack of urgency to fix the fundamental issues that plague Connecticut's public school system," their statement read. "The result is a bill that reflects compromises that appear to be brought on by pressure from the teacher unions."

In an interview, Stillman denied the coalition's claim - echoed by Republican leaders and numerous editorial and blog writers - that she and Fleischmann "capitulated" to the powerful teachers' unions in the final hours.

"I don't think that was it at all," said the state senator, whose district includes New London, East Lyme, Montville, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Salem and Waterford. "I'd like to set the record straight."

A 'facilitating' role

For Stillman, the decision to scale back the governor's most ambitious proposals was born from numerous conversations with teachers and from reading their emails and hand-written letters.

"Who better to give you advice on how to run a classroom than those people who are in it?" she said.

She heard from teachers at group meetings about the bill, during and after public hearings, and some teachers even approached her in the aisles of Stop & Shop and the Waterford CVS to share their thoughts. Stillman said these teachers care deeply about quality schools and closing the achievement gap, but many felt parts of the original bill were misguided and might not work.

"I was hearing from people who are in the classroom doing the work, who are trying to handle children who come from dysfunctional homes, and disruptive children, and children who are mainstreamed into schools, and children who want to learn but can't because the teacher can't attend to everybody's need at once," Stillman said.

Some of these teachers feared losing their jobs or income if they scored a low mark one year on the new evaluations. There were other concerns as well. "I couldn't believe how many teachers spoke about the fact that principals are not always being honest in their evaluations," Stillman said.

"I think it's the most difficult job to be a teacher and manage all those young minds - especially in the public schools," the senator said. "And it's very different in charter schools - many of them - because many of them cherry-pick the kids they take."

But the Stillman-Fleischmann capitulation theory gathered force amid reports that the co-chairmen participated in lengthy closed-door meetings last weekend with the state teachers' unions - the Connecticut Education Association and AFT Connecticut.

Stillman confirmed that those meetings with union leaders occurred March 24 at an office building near the Capitol. But she maintains that she and Fleischmann generally had a "facilitating" role in eleventh-hour negotiations between Malloy administration officials and the unions regarding the two most controversial parts of the proposal: a teacher tenure overhaul and a new turnaround program for low-performing schools.

"We were just sitting there, taking notes, sharing copies of things and listening in," Stillman said.

The negotiations between the two parties ended at 1:30 a.m. without a deal, leaving Stillman and Fleischmann to reconvene that Sunday night to rewrite the bill.

"We sat down and filled in the blanks," Stillman recalled. There was no one present at that point from administration or union ranks, she said.

Up in their conference room, the committee leaders discarded Malloy's proposal for an immediate overhaul to the teacher tenure system that would have linked certification and salary guidelines to a new evaluation system.

Tenure reform

The full details of the evaluation system are still being finished by a council of teachers, principals and school board members. But the council agreed this winter to a framework that's 45 percent tied to student "learning indicators," with one-half of that based on standardized tests.

Another 40 percent is based on observations of teacher performance; 10 percent comes from peer or parent surveys, and 5 percent on student feedback or "whole-school" learning indicators.

Teachers currently gain tenure after working four years in the same district. Once tenured, they only can be dismissed for one of six reasons, including "inefficiency or incompetence."

Malloy's proposal called for a new, four-level performance scale that would make it easier to fire dismal teachers who are just coasting above incompetency. It required teachers to achieve two top ratings in three years, or a combination of three top or third-level ratings in five years.

Tenured teachers would then receive regular evaluations and could be dismissed for just one low rating or two second-level ratings in two consecutive years.

Stillman recalled her reluctance to proceed with Malloy's plan to link teacher tenure and certification to the new evaluations because the evaluation system has not yet been tried, and isn't even scheduled to be finished until late June.

"Just because a teacher might have a bad evaluation in one school, doesn't mean they should lose their license to teach," Stillman said, adding that she heard many stories of teachers who went on to great success after switching districts.

Calls were made that Sunday night, March 25, to Democratic leaders in the legislature, and Stillman and Fleischmann ultimately opted to "decouple" tenure from performance evaluations and instead have Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor head up a study about linking the new evaluations to teachers' employment status. The study must be completed by January.

"Our respective leadership in the House and the Senate suggested we just put in that we're going to study it," Stillman said. "So we thought, right now, that is the best way to write the bill." If the commissioner's study comes back positive, the legislature would have the option to act on it next year, she said.

They also significantly scaled back the proposed "Commissioner's Network" turnaround program that would have given Commissioner Pryor broad authority to reorganize 25 low-performing schools in the state.

Teachers unions feared that the program, as first proposed, would allow Pryor to break collective-bargaining contracts and could clear the way for management companies to swoop in and force teachers at those schools to reapply for their jobs.

The Stillman-Fleischmann rewrite delayed implementation of the Commissioner's Network by ordering another study. But the version of the bill that passed their committee included a last-minute amendment that allows Pryor to proceed this fall with 10 network schools, although without the authority to act unilaterally and compromise union contracts.

"That was perhaps the most interesting thing," Malloy said the day after the vote. "They apparently bought into the idea that there should be no Commissioner's Network. And then they understood that you can't go back to the people of Connecticut and say that we're going to tolerate the lowest performing schools years after year after year, so then they said 'do something about 10 of them,' but then they didn't give the tools that we need to do something about the 10 of them."

The Commissioner's Network suffered another blow Thursday when the Appropriations Committee revised Malloy's budget proposal by cutting the program's funding to $10.8 million from $22.9 million.

"That is a problem," Mark Ojakian, the governor's chief of staff, said Friday. "They clearly have made a statement as to where their funding priorities are."

Stillman said she believes her committee passed a good bill, yet she agrees with the governor that it likely will change between now and May. She noted how her committee doubled to 1,000 the new number of early childhood education slots in needy districts, and sped up the termination process for bad teachers from a maximum 155 days down to 115 days.

She acknowledged the bill contains less funding for alternative schools than first proposed, but still increases the state per-student funding levels. Some of that charter schools money was redirected to early education, she said.

Despite her role in diluting the governor's reform plan, Stillman said she and Malloy remain on good terms. They recently saw one another in the Capitol complex cafeteria. "We were very cordial with each other. He didn't show any animosity or anything, but he said 'we'll get it done.'"

Malloy was asked at a news conference Friday whether he would sign the education bill if it doesn't contain tenure reform. He replied that he wouldn't. "Evaluations have to mean something," the governor explained later. "And any package of reform that doesn't reference that is unacceptable."

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FAIR AND BALANCED. 
Now read also the many other facts and analyses offered in this section (Public Education Politics) in recent years.

GS

Don't scapegoat teachers

By Paul Choiniere

Publication: The Day

Published 01/29/2012 12:00 AM
Updated 01/28/2012 11:16 PM

If there is one thing that gets Mary Loftus Levine steamed it's the perception that most of the problems with the Connecticut education system, and with American public education generally, can be attributed to bad teachers.

"Teachers are facing demonization," Levine told me when we recently sat down. "It's not fair, it's not accurate and it's not going to fix the real problems."

Levine is a lifelong teacher herself and currently the executive director of the Connecticut Education Association, the largest teachers' union in the state with about 43,000 members.

Before dismissing Levine's comments as the actions of a union boss out to protect the membership, consider the recent proposal put forth by the CEA. It would streamline the process for dismissing ineffective teachers. The proposals the union offers would shorten by a third the dismissal process, from 120 days to about 85. It calls for one arbitrator instead of the current costly and cumbersome three.

But the union also wants to assure school systems have clear and consistent evaluation policies, which take into account multiple indicators of academic growth, not just test scores. They want plans in place to help underperforming teachers improve. And they want to assure teachers have adequate protection from retaliation because of personal or political reasons.

Has tenure and complicated dismissal procedures protected poor performing teachers? Absolutely. Do the proposals put forth by CEA go far enough in making sure bad teachers can be rooted out? Maybe not, but they certainly appear to be a good-faith effort to start a discussion about fair and effective methods for assuring teacher accountability.

I'd have to agree with Levine that it is a mistake to scapegoat teachers as the cause of what ails our education system, particularly in Connecticut, where the gap in educational achievement between urban students and their suburban counterparts is so massive.

Simply blaming teachers lets parents who do not make education a priority in the home off easy. It masks the reality that children growing up in wealthier suburban towns begin their educational journey in kindergarten so much better prepared than kids in the cities and in some poor, rural communities. Saying it's the teachers fault ignores the lack of discipline and respect from students that those teachers often have to deal with; values that can only be successfully engrained if reinforced in the home.

The challenges facing our public education system are myriad, the difficulty of rooting out poor teachers among them. But it's hardly the biggest problem, not even close.

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IN THE PUBLIC EDUCATION CABAL: AN EPIPHANY, OR A GRUDGING AND TEMPORARY STRATEGIC WITHDRAWAL?
"WE REPORT.  YOU DECIDE."


GS

State's chance to improve education

Published 01/22/2012 12:00 AM
Updated 01/21/2012 11:45 PM

Connecticut may boast about having the highest per-capita income in the land, but it should be ashamed of perpetuating the nation's worst "achievement gap" between poor students and their more affluent peers.

Various educational authorities, state agencies, legislative panels and gubernatorial task forces have for years sought with little success to reverse this troubling trend, and this newspaper, like the public, has grown increasingly frustrated. Amid a prevailing attitude of pessimism we are, nonetheless, encouraged by new developments suggesting improvements, at last, may be on the horizon.

A recent report by school superintendents recommends, among other proposals, that Connecticut expand early childhood education programs and intervene more aggressively in poorly performing schools.

We like this idea, which is enjoying widespread support, since numerous authoritative studies have identified early childhood education as one of the best ways to improve long-term student performance.

Experts have found that youngsters growing up in impoverished homes are ill-prepared for classroom structure by the time they enter kindergarten, and have an increasingly difficult time adjusting to more rigorous curriculum as they grow older. Early childhood education gets youngsters acclimatized sooner to a more disciplined learning environment and gives them a better chance to learn at the same rate as those in more stable households.

Spending more money for such support is a challenge at a time when Connecticut, like most states, faces continuing fiscal challenges, but providing universal pre-school for low-income students remains one of the best investments a government can make - provided the program is carefully designed with certified educators overseeing child-care professionals focused on clear curriculum goals.

The Chicago Longitudinal Study, which followed students in early education programs through age 26, found a return on investment of 11 to 1 in terms of reduced social service costs, avoidance of the criminal-justice system, greater access to higher education scholarships and improved earnings, to name a few of the long-term benefits.

Another encouraging sign of positive change comes in a report by Connecticut's largest teachers' union that for the first time recommends a "streamlined" process for getting rid of tenured and underperforming educators.

"The teacher tenure system, complete with the mistaken notion that tenure means a 'job for life,' is as misunderstood as it is outdated," says the report of the Connecticut Education Association, representing more than 43,000 teachers.

This welcome recognition represents a significant concession by the bargaining unit. Its report, "A View from the Classroom," also includes compelling ideas about improving methods for evaluating teacher effectiveness, boosting parental involvement, and helping colleges better prepare future teachers.

This union report was issued virtually simultaneously to the superintendents' presentation, made during Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's much-anticipated Education Workshop at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain.

At that workshop 91 percent of the superintendents complained that they lack the ability to remove ineffective teachers. The CEA contends that is an overstatement. Teachers can and are removed, union leaders contend, but the process is needlessly cumbersome and the teachers' organization is willing to work on improving it. That sounds like the opening for compromise.

To be sure, poor teachers with tenure have not been the main reason students in poor districts have recorded lower scores on standardized tests, but it's part of the problem.

By conceding this point, the CEA also opens the door to a true merit-based education system in which talented, effective teachers would rightfully be paid more than those with lesser capabilities.

We support this concept, as does New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg who last week recommended that teachers rated "highly effective" two years in a row receive a $20,000 bonus. Mr. Bloomberg also suggested the city pay off up to $25,000 in student loans to those would-be teachers who graduated in the top 10-percent of their class and took jobs in New York's troubled schools. Connecticut schools need to compete for that talent.

With the governor, legislature, administrators and the union representing educators all sharing ideas on reform, the state is poised for genuine change. Gov. Malloy appears to recognize he could have no greater legacy than setting in motion the changes that close the education achievement gap. This is an opportunity Connecticut cannot afford to miss.

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from FRIDAY, December 9, 2011

I'M SPEECHLESS...except to invoke that famous movie line: STUPIDO, STUPIDO, STUPIDO!

GS

New London board takes no action on raising academic standards

By Kathleen Edgecomb

Published 12/08/2011 12:00 AM
Updated 12/08/2011 10:10 PM

New London — The Board of Education took no action Thursday on a policy it is considering, which would raise the academic requirements of students participating in extra-curricular activities.
 
The proposed policy would require students to maintain a 1.7 grade-point average, which is a low C grade, to participate in clubs, athletics and school-sponsored travel.

Students athletes would have to earn a 1.7 GPA at the beginning of each season. Currently, the school abides by the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference rules, which require students to maintain a 0.66 GPA to be eligible to compete.

The board, which has four new members, voted 6-1 to send the item back to the policy committee for further discussion and review. Board president William Morse was in favor of moving the policy forward as it was written.

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from WEDNESDAY through SUNDAY, July 6 through 17, 2011

Once again, I'm forced to address the crime that is Public Education in this Country.   The CAPT test scores are once again out.  Again, they are miserable...especially in New London, Ct.  Once again, apologists for this rotten system are attacking the messenger (ie the tests) and not the message.  Once again, they are presenting sops like the recent Editorial in The Day, entitled "NL Flunks", which spreads the feeble effort at blame among everyone...and therefore to no one.  Please see my extensive section entitled "Public Education Politics", years in the making and unfortunately on-going, posted on my web site (www.asthma-drsprecace.com).  My sympathy goes out to those hard-working teachers who have not only suffered in class but who have been trying to buck the system (are there any?)...and my indictment against all who have supported the Teachers' Unions that have ruined our Public Education system.  One thing is certain: it's not all of these kids in New London and in the country who are so stupid and so intractable.  SHAME ON YOU.

GS


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TUESDAY, June 1, 2011

This is entitled: PUBLIC EDUCATION: THE DISASTER. 
I have been writing about this for decades.  See my web site, under the category listed "Public Education Politics"...and weep. 

Now comes an article by Joel Klein, former Chancellor of New York City schools from 2002 to 2010: "Scenes From The New York Education Wars" (WSJ Tuesday, May 10, Opinion, pA15).  Here it is, folks: the full and unvarnished truth about one of our foundational institutions.  In Medicine, there is a First Principle: Primum Non Nocere - First Do No Harm".  In the "profession" of Education, the First Principle appears closer to the comment by Albert Shanker, long time head of the UFT, quoted in the above article: "When schoolchildren start paying union dues, that's when I'll start representing the interests of schoolchildren". 

What a shame.  What a disaster.  GS


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Finally lancing a festering boil called Public Education.  GS

New London's courageous reading and writing policy

Published 05/22/2011 12:00 AM
Updated 05/19/2011 11:09 PM

The most surprising thing about the New London Public Schools' new policy that will require high school graduates to demonstrate proficiency in reading and writing is that it wasn't required already.

How is it possible that students at New London High, or any high school in the state for that matter, could obtain a diploma without demonstrating their English literacy ability? It would appear a basic assumption that high school graduates be able to write complete and coherent sentences and speak intelligently and logically.

As it turns out colleges and universities across the country, including even the most prestigious, are forcing some freshmen into remedial classes before allowing them to participate in the usual higher education curriculum because they cannot read or write at a high school level. Too many high school graduates are not prepared for college, or the workplace. And educators and employers know that.

That sad reality is in part what prompted the Connecticut General Assembly to pass a sweeping reform of the state's secondary education laws last spring - legislation that is now stalled because of a shortage of funds. New high school graduation requirements - including end-of-senior-year proficiency tests - were supposed to take effect with the class of 2017. The state is now delaying implementation, possibly until 2020.

Students can make their way through the school system unable to read or write, but lawmakers are going to wait nine years to fix the problem? That's unacceptable, and fiscal constraints should not be an excuse for allowing the mediocrity to continue.

Thank goodness New London is forging ahead.

Concerns that high school graduates were not ready for the workplace or higher education prompted the district's new policy, said the city's superintendent of schools, Nicholas A. Fischer. The school board approved the policy May 12, starting with the graduating class of 2015.

"As I have listened to employers and colleges and community colleges and vo-tech schools, the message is clear," said Dr. Fischer. "Our kids need to be coming in with a higher level of skills.

"I think our expectations need to be higher, and we need to be more demanding," he said.

New London's new literacy policy will be a district-wide effort, focused on the necessary reading and writing skills for every class at every level with a goal of helping students to become proficient at the 10th-grade level. There will be various testing options and mechanisms, including a separate evaluation for special education and English Language Learners, and students will have to prove they meet the criteria to get a diploma.

Support in this effort will be available for every student up to age 21. For some students that might mean taking online courses or attending adult education, whatever is necessary to reach the new standard.

Connecticut is a home rule state where local districts can implement their own tougher standards without a state mandate. That is what New London is doing with its new literacy policy.

"It is going to be more work," said Dr. Fischer. "But obviously we need to do it because we're not where we need to be.

"But with this policy, if we send students out there with diplomas, what we'll be saying to the community at large is that these students have the skills that will help them to be successful as adults."

Now that's a very good policy.

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A Speech Every American High School Principal Should Give
By Dennis Prager.


To the students and faculty of our high school:

I am your new principal, and honored to be so. There is no greater calling than to teach young people.

I would like to apprise you of some important changes coming to our school.  I am making these changes because I am convinced that most of the ideas that have dominated public education in America have worked against you, against your teachers and against our country.

First, this school will no longer honor race or ethnicity.  I could not care less if your racial makeup is black, brown, red, yellow or white. I could not care less if your origins are African, Latin American, Asian or European, or if your ancestors arrived here on the Mayflower or on slave ships. The only identity I care about, the only one this school will recognize, is your individual identity -- your character, your scholarship, your humanity.  And the only national identity this school will care about is American. This is an American public school, and American public schools were created to make better Americans.  If you wish to affirm an ethnic, racial or religious identity through school, you will have to go elsewhere.  We will end all ethnicity, race and non-American nationality-based celebrations. They undermine the motto of America, one of its three central values -- e pluribus Unum, "from many, one."  And this school will be guided by America's values. This includes all after-school clubs. I will not authorize clubs that divide students based on any identities. This includes race, language, religion, sexual orientation or whatever else may become in vogue in a society divided by political correctness.

Your clubs will be based on interests and passions, not blood, ethnic, racial or other physically defined ties. Those clubs just cultivate narcissism -- an unhealthy preoccupation with the self -- while the purpose of education is to get you to think beyond yourself.  So we will have clubs that transport you to the wonders and glories of art, music, astronomy, languages you do not already speak, carpentry and more. If the only extracurricular activities you can imagine being interested in are those based on ethnic, racial or sexual identity, that means that little outside of yourself really interests you.

Second, I am uninterested in whether English is your native language.  My only interest in terms of language is that you leave this school speaking and writing English as fluently as possible. The English language has united America's citizens for over 200 years, and it will unite us at this school.  It is one of the indispensable reasons this country of immigrants has always come to be one country.  And if you leave this school without excellent English language skills, I would be remiss in my duty to ensure that you will be prepared to successfully compete in the American job market. We will learn other languages here -- it is deplorable that most Americans only speak English --but if you want classes taught in your native language rather than in English, this is not your school.

Third, because I regard learning as a sacred endeavor, everything in this school will reflect learning's elevated status. This means, among other things, that you and your teachers will dress accordingly.  Many people in our society dress more formally for Hollywood events than for church or school. These people have their priorities backward. Therefore, there will be a formal dress code at this school.

Fourth, no obscene language will be tolerated anywhere on this school's property -- whether in class, in the hallways or at athletic events.  If you can't speak without using the f-word, you can't speak. By obscene language I mean the words banned by the Federal Communications Commission, plus epithets such as "Nigger," even when used by one black student to address another black, or "bitch," even when addressed by a girl to a girlfriend.  It is my intent that by the time you leave this school, you will be among the few your age to instinctively distinguish between the elevated and the degraded, the holy and the obscene.

Fifth, we will end all self-esteem programs. In this school, self-esteem will be attained in only one way -- the way people attained it until decided otherwise a generation ago -- by earning it..  One immediate consequence is that there will be one valedictorian, not eight.

Sixth, and last, I am reorienting the school toward academics and away from politics and propaganda.  No more time will be devoted to scaring you about smoking and caffeine, or terrifying you about sexual harassment or global warming.  No more semesters will be devoted to condom wearing and teaching you to regard sexual relations as only or primarily a health issue. There will be no more attempts to convince you that you are a victim because you are not white, or not male, or not heterosexual or not Christian.  We will have failed if any one of you graduates this school and does not consider him or herself inordinately lucky -- to be alive and to be an American.

Now, please stand and join me in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of our country.  As many of you do not know the words, your teachers will hand them out to you.

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Offerings by George A. Sprecace M.D., J.D.:


January 16, 2011
- "PUBLIC EDUCATION POLITICS".  This is the title of an ever-expanding section on this web site that continues to chronicle the abject failure of public education in this country.  And it is not a failure of the children who are its victims, but of the "educators", its teachers' unions, its teacher union supporters, the stupid minority parents who have blindly allowed it to continue for the last four decades, and the craven Democratic politicians who have traded their souls for predictable votes.  Once again, the famous question addressed to Senator Joe McCarthy comes to mind: "Have you no shame?"

Three recent newspaper reports are must-reads for anyone concerned about the future of their children, their grandchildren, and about the future of this nation. 
A $14 Trillion national debt, $45,000. for every man, woman and child in this country, is not our main weakness.  It is the dumbing down of the last three generations of our children, with consequences that will extend far into the future.  And it is immoral.

GS

December 28, 2010
- THE FOLLOWING "RAPID RESPONSE" OBSERVATION REQUIRES SOME PRIOR READING:
One of the most unfortunate and galling aspects of this story is that of the Black community: sold out by many of their fathers, led off a cliff by their "leaders" who for two generations have demanded that they consistently vote for the same Democrat politicians who supported and insured a crime called "public education" against all efforts at reform, and who thus have become accessories to this crime. 

If during the last forty years physicians practiced Medicine the way "educators" have practiced "education", we would be in jail.

GS

May 9, 2010
- "EXCELLENCE IN OUR EDUCATION INDUSTRY"

Believe it or not, folks, that's the motto on which I ran successfully twice for the Board of Education in New London, Ct. in the later 1960's.  How Hopeful.  How Naive.  But I was educable.  In 1971, while President of the Board, I and my wife took our then four children out of the public school system and enrolled them in a private school, which education they continued until college.  And, having witnessed up close and personal the developments of the 1960's, I made a prediction which I shared liberally: we adults would have to live through two generations: Horse's Ass, and Son-of-Horse's Ass. 

And so it came to pass.  There were many factors involved: the welfare multi-generations; the collapse of Black family life, as predicted by then-Senator Moynahan; the drug craze; the free sex craze; the revolt against any authority; the collapse of moral guidelines and its conscious replacement by a "value-neutral" mantra in and out of schools; the loss of marriage commitments for many, resulting in a 50% divorce rate and 50% of children being raised in one parent households; the foisting by society on the public school systems of all of the resulting social problems and requiring "mainstreaming" of very troubled children with what was then passing for "normal" kids, and at that time without adequate resources; the distorted emphasis on  "self-image" which now could be imparted instead of being earned.  
But then came the rub.  The "educators" began doing raw research, instead of clinical educational studies, on human beings, trying this and trying that, failing time and again.  Meanwhile, the teaching profession - not subject to the Hippocratic Oath and the precept "First, Do No Harm" - decided with their powerful unions that personal survival and advancement were their highest goals.  And so they proceeded and continue  to block, through their wholly owned subsidiary (the Democratic Party) any and all efforts to improve educationally a progressively failing student body at all levels, mainly by blocking any efforts to inject parental choice  and teacher accountability into the system.  Their response to any suggestion of trouble in the system: ever more money into the sinkhole. If physicians practiced Medicine and got the results that teachers have gotten.  we would rightly be in jail.

Well, folks, the results are in, the votes have been tallied, and the fat lady has sung.  If you have the stomach for it, read the extensively researched and documented report by Mark Bauerlein, Professor of English at Emory University, entitled: "The Dumbest Generation"  (The Penguin Group, 2009).  And where was - and is - the Teaching Profession?  No canary in this mine disaster.  What a legacy.

December 13, 2009 -
There is unfortunately always more in the continuing sorry saga of Public Education in America, held hostage for the last 30 years by the Teachers' Unions and by their wholly owned subsidiary, the Democratic Party.  Please see three timely statements on the subject:

February 19, 2009 - Amorality, thy name is becoming America.  Thanks to the studied "value neutral" public education system pursued over the last 40 years, one of so many failures of our "educators", we now have adults and children who don't have a clue about right and wrong.  A-Rod and his ilk, Raymond Burris, Wall Street, kids who routinely cheat in class, kids who don't think that the steroid users did anything wrong....  See the rrecent Daily News cartoon advising  Rodriguez to "TRY TRUTH SERUM NEXT".  Meanwhile, craven politicians throughout the country, most recently in Florida, and their stupid supporters continue to block any efforts at Choice in Education.  See "A Charter Setback in Florida", WSJ Editorial, Wednesday Jan 7, 2009.  See also the recent article by Nicholas Kristof entitled "Our Greatest National Shame".  (NYTimes Sunday, Feb, 15, 2009).  Here the author is rightly referring to Public Education...but he wrongly considers the "stimulus package", with yet more massive money thrown into that massive sink-hole, to be the solution.  The only solution will be when our poorest families, totally dependent on that system, begin to demand that their Democratic Party, a wholly - owned subsidiary of the Teachers' Unions, legislates Choice and Vouchers and teacher accountability...initially and throughout their teaching careers.

The start of a new school year brings no good news for public education.  In Connecticut, the government is suing the No Child Left Behind Law, while two national civil rights leaders published stinging rebukes in the Hartford Courant (see "The Connecticut Stakes", WSJ Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2005, Opinion, pA10).  Citing a recent study reported by the liberal Center for American Progress: '"Compared to other states", says the study, "Connecticut ranked 51st on the achievement gap between low-income students and non-poor students in 4th grade reading".  In other words, Connecticut is doint an excellent job of educating mostly white privileged kids, but few others are learning.  Any wonder it opposes a law called No Child Left Behind?".  And there's always more on this shameful topic.  See "Starving Charters: How states short-change alternative public schools" (WSJ Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2005, Opinion, pA8).  So, when do we stop talking about all the wonderful teachers and give human form to that faceless ogre called "teachers' unions". Right about now!   And when will the Black and other minority communities realize that their blind loyalty to the Democratic Party has been tragically misplaced?  Right now!
GS

Poor Public Education...and that Great Sucking Sound, GS

Public Education and 'Education Research'...An Oxymoron?, GS

Teachers' Unions, GS

To the Students of Public Schools, in New London and Elsewhere, GS
Public Education in America, GS

Attack Disease, Not Symptoms, GS

Additional Education Issues, GS

New London County School Test Scores, GS

Public Education in New London, CT and Elsewhere in 1997 and Beyond, GS

School Shootings, GS (as Published in The New London Day on Wednesday, April 11, 2001)

More Relevant Offerings:
MORE ON OUR NATIONAL DISGRACE.   GS\

Report: States set low bar for student achievement

By LIBBY QUAID, AP Education Writer Libby Quaid, Ap Education Writer Thu Oct 29, 3:16 pm ET

WASHINGTON – Many states declare students to have grade-level mastery of reading and math when they do not, the Education Department reported Thursday.

The agency compared state achievement standards to the more challenging standards behind the federally funded National Assessment of Educational Progress.

State standards were lower, and there were big differences in where each state set the bar.

The Obama administration said the report bolsters its effort to persuade all states to adopt the same set of tougher standards for what students should know.

"States are setting the bar too low," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said. "We're lying to our children when we tell them they're proficient, but they're not achieving at a level that will prepare them for success once they graduate."

The federal government can't impose a set of standards, because education is largely up to states.

But Duncan noted he is offering millions of dollars in grants to encourage states to accept a set of standards being developed by the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers. The grants come from the federal stimulus law, which set aside $5 billion to push Obama's vision of educational reform.

While the standards are not yet final, every state but Texas and Alaska already has committed to work toward adopting them.

The head of the department's Institute of Education Sciences said the biggest concern should be the wide disparity in standards among the states. A student who is proficient in one state might not be proficient in another, the report said.

"Why are these performance standards so far apart, and why are expectations set so widely from one place to another?" IES director John Easton said.

House Education Committee chairman George Miller said a child's education should not be determined by zip code.

"If we are serious about rebuilding our economy and restoring our competitiveness," Miller, D-Calif., said, "then it's time for states to adopt a common core of internationally benchmarked standards that can prepare all children in this country to achieve and succeed in this global economy."

The report by the department's statistics arm compared state achievement levels to achievement levels on NAEP. It found that many states deemed children to be proficient or on grade level when they would rate "below basic," or lacking even partial mastery, in reading and math under the NAEP standards.

Among the findings:

• Thirty-one states deemed fourth-graders proficient in reading when they would have rated below basic on NAEP. Mississippi's standards were lowest, and Massachusetts' were highest.

• Seventeen states deemed eighth-graders proficient at reading when they would have rated below basic on NAEP. Tennessee's standards were lowest, and South Carolina's were highest.

• Ten states deemed fourth- and eighth-graders proficient at math when they would have rated below basic on NAEP. Tennessee's standards were lowest; Massachusetts had the highest fourth-grade math standards, and South Carolina had the highest eighth-grade standards.

In addition, the report said more states lowered standards than raised them from 2005 to 2007.

North Carolina state education official Lou Fabrizio said states face a dilemma because of No Child Left Behind, the 2002 federal law that prods schools to boost test scores to meet annual improvement goals.

States can set easier standards that ensure schools will meet the federally mandated goals, or they can set more challenging standards that help kids improve.

His state chose the latter, but Fabrizio said it was tough to explain that higher standards meant lower scores.

"That was a really difficult job for us to do and communicate to the public that students did not all of a sudden become very ignorant," he said.

North Carolina still has below-basic achievement standards for fourth- and eighth-grade reading.


New Pledge, Unknown


Here is a bird's eye view of public education during the last 150 years, and of one reason why we are now in this swamp.  GS
"Bong Hits 4 Jesus - Final Episode" by Daniel Henninger, WSJ Thursday, Jund 28, 2007, Opinion, pA12.

"Save New London Schools from Mediocrity," by Charles Frink, The Day, Sunday, November 16, 2003, Voices and Views, Education, p. C3
"Cut on the Bias," by Diane Ravitch, the Wall Street Journal, Opinion, Tuesday, July 1, 2003.
"The Helping Hand," by Wallace Terry, Parade Magazine, Dec. 22, 2002.
"Reconstruction," by Charles Frink, The Day, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2002, in Perspective, pp. D1-4.
"S.O.S. - Save Our Schools," by Sol Stern, the Wall Street Journal, Opinion, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2002, p A18.

"Let These Pupils Go," the Wall Street Journal, Dec 2, 2002, Opinion, Review and Outlook, p A18.

"Crisis In Halls of New London High School," by Morgan McGinley, The Day, December 1, 2002.

"Reading, Cheating and 'Rithmetic", by Tucker Carlson, That's Outrageous, Readers Digest

"The Next Voucher Battleground," the Wall Street Journal, August 7, 2002, Opinion, pA14

"Vouchers Have Overcome," the Wall Street Journal, June 28, 2002, Review and Outlook, pA12

"Choosing Integration", the Wall Street Journal, Monday, July 8, 2002, Opinion, pA22

"Kids Will be Able to Transfer at 8,652 Schools," by Tamara Henry, USA Today, Tuesday, July 2, 2002, p. 1D

"The Liberal Voucher Opportunity," by Matthew Miller

"Will the Extreme become Mainstream?," by Michele Ridolfi

"Chokehold On Charters", the Wall Street Journal, May 3, 2002, p A10

"School Associated Violent Deaths in the United States, 1994-1999," by Mark Anderson, MD, MPH, et. al.

"Why Grade Inflation is Serious," a New York Times editorial

"Getting Tough is Good for Schools in New London," by Charles E. Potter

"Teachers' Pets," by William McGurn

Bullying: Not Only Assault and Battery, but Also a Public Health Problem...

"AMA Recognizes Bullying as Public Health Problem," by Victoria Stagg Elliott
"Cleveland Chooses," a Wall Street Journal editorial and its Footnote

"New London Schools Can Meet The Tests," by Mary Ellen Jukoski

"A Year in the Trenches," by Jacqueline Goldwyn Kingon

"Teddy Takes George to School," by Paul A. Gigot

"What Teachers Really Think," a Wall Street Journal editorial

"Author: Schools have failed kids in the name of reform," by Richard Whitmire

"Why Johnny Can't Read, Write, Multiply or Divide," by Kate Zernike

"U. S. Education Receives Failing Grade," by Cal Thomas


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