George A. Sprecace M.D.,
J.D., F.A.C.P. and Allergy Associates of New
The Involved Citizen - Common Sense Revisited
> Public Education Politics (Where Vast Ideas
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.
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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.
Albert Einstein's definition of IDIOCY in action.
see: "Sanctuary Colleges, Public School Poverty", by Chris Powell, in
The Day (www.theday.com), Sunday Jan. 1, 2017, Opinion, pB4.
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PLEASE REVIEW THE COURT RULING ON CONNECTICUT STATE PUBLIC EDUCATION
HANDED DOWN BY SUPERIOR COURT JUDGE
It is a GEM!
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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".
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
It is this last concept that prompts me today.
see the good article entitled: "Free Students From The Grade Curve
Trap", by Adam Grant, NYTimes Sunday, September 11, 2016, SR p 3.
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.
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
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.
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Response for SUNDAY, April 3,
REGARDING PUBLIC AND PRIVATE EDUCATION IN THIS COUNTRY.
FOR MY GRANDCHILDREN AND FOR EVERY OTHER CHILD.
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.
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
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:
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;
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;
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".
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Response for SUNDAY, January 3, 2016
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".
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
Response for TUESDAY, June 10,
GOOD OR ILL, LOOK TO CALIFORNIA IF YOU WANT TO SEE THE
Here's hoping that this
takes root and flourishes nationwide.
Rapid Response for FRIDAY through
TUESDAY, December 7 through 11, 2012
CAN I SAY ABOUT
THIS THAT I HAVEN'T ALREADY SAID AND WRITTEN THROUGHOUT MORE THAN A
THIS WEB SITE?
EVEN THIS IS A REPETITION: CRIMINAL.
far from first in math, science
fourth-graders make strides, but progress elusive at eighth-grade level
By Associated Press – Tue, Dec 11, 2012
(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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
"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
— 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.
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.
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.
Education in New London
Post # 1
Heed the audit advice
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
If a better way forward can be summed up in one recommendation, it
"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.
Audit calls New London school board leadership 'incoherent'
By Julianne Hanckel Day
intervention needed to boost test scores
- 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
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.
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.
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.
audit was submitted Monday to the Department of Education's Bureau of
Accountability and Improvement. The Day obtained a copy of the audit.
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.
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."
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.
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.
review of the audit by Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor is scheduled
to take place today or Wednesday.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
WHAT ELSE IS NEW? GS
Few city officials agree with auditors' report on New
By Julianne Hanckel Day Staff
- 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."
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
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.
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
a series of observances and recommendations, auditors noted that
communication among city and school officials "appears to range from
non-existent to unproductive."
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."
board Chairman William Morse said discussions among the board,
superintendent, council president and mayor have to begin now.
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."
vowed to be the person to initiate the conversations, but said it's a
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
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.
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
did not agree with the auditors' views on the political culture in New
London and notions of political posturing.
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.
Council President Michael Passero said Tuesday that the auditors'
evaluation of city politics was "superficial" and "condescending."
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
audit urged the community to rally around the school system. Finizio
acknowledged that there needs to be a better community effort.
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."
spokesman for the state education department said the commissioner has
not yet reviewed the report.
Post # 4
Teachers' Unions continue to be? In obstruction, of course.
imposes professional standards on New London teachers
By Julianne Hanckel
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.
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.
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
this evaluation plan, it was really a free-for-all," Bennie Dover
Jackson Middle School Principal Alison Ryan said in an interview.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
include being paired with an exemplary teacher, watching videotapes of
their classroom instruction and receiving peer feedback in preparation
for an evaluation or observation.
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.
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
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
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
said it isn't just New London's teachers feeling the pressure - it's
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.
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.
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
"very small" number of teachers have been terminated or have submitted
their resignations because of the rigors of the plan, a school official
Iler was not one of those who had to go into structured assistance. He
praises the plan's checklist.
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.
said he went from being "someone who was having a difficult time" to a
teacher whom the school now uses as a model.
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.
bottom line is that this (the district's efforts to help improve
teacher performance) is going to release all the pressure if everybody
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.
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.
current version of the controversial education reform bill, S.B. 24,
continues to go through revisions with less than two weeks left in the
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MONDAY, April 2, 2012
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
limp out of high school, check out the lead article in the Spring 2012
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".
State Sen. Stillman defends
revisions in education reform package
By JC Reindl
Publication: The Day
04/01/2012 12:00 AM
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
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
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
"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
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
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.
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"
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
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."
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Now read also the many other facts and analyses offered in this section
Education Politics) in recent years.
Don't scapegoat teachers
By Paul Choiniere
Publication: The Day
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
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
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.
EDUCATION CABAL: AN EPIPHANY, OR A GRUDGING AND TEMPORARY STRATEGIC
"WE REPORT. YOU DECIDE."
State's chance to improve
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
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
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
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
"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.
December 9, 2011
SPEECHLESS...except to invoke that famous movie line: STUPIDO, STUPIDO,
London board takes no action on raising academic standards
12/08/2011 12:00 AM
12/08/2011 10:10 PM
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.
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
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.
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
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
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.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
TUESDAY, June 1, 2011
is entitled: PUBLIC
EDUCATION: THE DISASTER.
I have been writing about this for decades. See my web site,
category listed "Public Education Politics"...and weep.
Now comes an article by Joel Klein, former Chancellor of New York City
from 2002 to 2010: "Scenes From The New York Education Wars"
Tuesday, May 10, Opinion, pA15). Here it is, folks: the
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
the UFT, quoted in the above article: "When schoolchildren start
union dues, that's when I'll start representing the interests of
What a shame. What a disaster. GS
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
festering boil called Public Education. GS
New London's courageous
reading and writing policy
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
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
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
Thank goodness New London is forging
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
"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.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
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
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
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.
Offerings by George A.
Sprecace M.D., J.D.:
January 16, 2011
. 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.
- "Departing Schools Chief":'We
Weren't Bold Enough'", by Javier C. Hernandez, NYTimes Sunday
December 26, 2010, pCt 1;
- "Accountability Is Working In
Florida Schools", by Jeb Bush, WSJ Monday Jan. 3, 2011, pA17;
- Education Lobby Should Consider
Its Product As Its Top Priority", by Dick Ahles, The Day
(www.theday.com), Saturday Jan. 15, 2011, pA4.
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.
December 28, 2010
FOLLOWING "RAPID RESPONSE"
REQUIRES SOME PRIOR READING:
- "Quarter of Applicants Fail
U.S. Military Entrance Exam", (www.theday,com), Wed. Dec. 22,
- "A Failing Grade", ibid.
Thursday Dec 23, 2010, Editorial, pA6.
- My entire section entitled "Public
Education Politics" on this web site, years in development...and
unfortunately a work in progress.
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.
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
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 -
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:
- "The 'Highly Qualified Teacher' Dodge", Editorial of the
NYTimes Friday, Nov. 13, 2009;
- "The Edsel of Education Reform", Editorial of the WSJ
Tuesday, Nov 17, 2009;
- "No Child Left Behind", Editorial of the WSJ Wednesday, Nov. 4,
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
In Connecticut, the government is suing the No Child Left Behind Law,
two national civil rights leaders published stinging rebukes in the
Courant (see "The Connecticut Stakes", WSJ Tuesday, Aug. 30,
Opinion, pA10). Citing a recent study reported by the liberal
for American Progress: '"Compared to other states", says the study,
"Connecticut ranked 51st on the achievement gap between low-income
and non-poor students in 4th grade reading". In other words,
is doint an excellent job of educating mostly white privileged kids,
few others are learning. Any wonder it opposes a law called No
Left Behind?". And there's always more on this shameful
See "Starving Charters: How states short-change alternative public
(WSJ Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2005, Opinion, pA8). So, when do we stop
talking about all the wonderful teachers and give human form to that
ogre called "teachers' unions". Right about now!
when will the Black and other minority communities realize that their
loyalty to the Democratic Party has been tragically misplaced? Right
that Great Sucking Sound, GS
and 'Education Research'...An Oxymoron?, GS
of Public Schools, in New London and Elsewhere, GS
Education in America, GS
More Relevant Offerings:
Attack Disease, Not
New London County
Test Scores, GS
Public Education in New
CT and Elsewhere in 1997 and Beyond, GS
School Shootings, GS
Published in The New London Day on Wednesday, April 11, 2001)
MORE ON OUR NATIONAL
States set low bar for student achievement
– 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
State standards were lower, and there
were big differences in where each state set the bar.
Obama administration said the report bolsters its effort to persuade
all states to adopt the same set of tougher standards for what students
"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
of standards, because education is largely up to states.
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
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.
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
Miller said a child's education should not be determined by zip code.
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."
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
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
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
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
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,"
North Carolina still
has below-basic achievement standards for fourth- and eighth-grade
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
Hits 4 Jesus - Final Episode" by
Daniel Henninger, WSJ Thursday, Jund 28, 2007, Opinion,
New London Schools from Mediocrity," by Charles Frink, The Day,
November 16, 2003, Voices and Views, Education, p. C3
on the Bias," by Diane Ravitch, the Wall Street Journal, Opinion,
July 1, 2003.
Helping Hand," by Wallace Terry, Parade Magazine, Dec. 22, 2002.
by Charles Frink, The Day, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2002, in Perspective, pp.
"S.O.S. - Save Our Schools," by Sol
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
In Halls of New London High School," by Morgan McGinley, The Day,
"Reading, Cheating and 'Rithmetic", by Tucker
That's Outrageous, Readers
Next Voucher Battleground," the Wall Street Journal, August 7,
Have Overcome," the Wall Street Journal, June 28, 2002, Review and
"Choosing Integration", the
Wall Street Journal, Monday, July 8, 2002, Opinion, pA22
"Kids Will be Able to Transfer at 8,652
Tamara Henry, USA Today,
Tuesday, July 2, 2002, p. 1D
Liberal Voucher Opportunity," by Matthew Miller
"Will the Extreme
by Michele Ridolfi
"Chokehold On Charters", the
Wall Street Journal, May 3, 2002, p A10
Associated Violent Deaths in the United States, 1994-1999," by Mark
Anderson, MD, MPH, et. al.
Grade Inflation is Serious," a New York Times editorial
Tough is Good for Schools in New London," by Charles E. Potter
Pets," by William McGurn
Bullying: Not Only Assault and Battery, but
Public Health Problem...
Recognizes Bullying as Public Health Problem," by Victoria Stagg
Chooses," a Wall Street Journal editorial and its Footnote
London Schools Can Meet The Tests," by Mary Ellen Jukoski
Year in the Trenches," by Jacqueline Goldwyn Kingon
Takes George to School," by Paul A. Gigot
Teachers Really Think," a Wall Street Journal editorial
"Author: Schools have
kids in the name of reform," by Richard Whitmire
Johnny Can't Read, Write, Multiply or Divide," by Kate Zernike
S. Education Receives Failing Grade,"
by Cal Thomas
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