Monday, July 20, 2009

Centralized Control : Deborah Meier
NOT a fan

My opposition probably reflects the views of the founders of our Constitution and the vast majority of Americans up to….yesterday (so to speak). The current DOE/Duncan agenda—Mayoral control, tougher national tests based on a national curriculum, teachers paid by test score results, etc, in fact, was never even mentioned in Obama’s political campaign. (Similarly, recent studies indicate that neither mayoral control has produced almost no statistical changes in its two most prominent trials—NYC and Chicago. What’s interesting is how in such a short time we went from practically no one agreeing with it—much less assuming it was an imminent plan!—to its being official policy–already in the works! The process itself chills me. The “behind the scenes” nature of the decision-making by interlocking circles of “influential” interests on matters affecting the minds of our children appalls me.


Anonymous said...

It coincides with our not so bright economic plans. China is already trading with its Latin America partners and exchanging Yuan. China is printing more Yuan to keep its currency from strengthing. Our dollars overseas have to eventually come home.

If the dollar succumbs to devaluation - it will by October this year it will mean lower real wages for Americans - education reform is a political war waged on unions.

It has to be - nearly 80% of school budgets is spent on teacher and administrator salaries. There will be proportionally fewer kids going to school as our population ages.

An average teacher is a 15-year veteran teacher with a Master's degree working in a Title I school makes about $84k per year works less days than the average US worker.

dan dempsey said...

Sorry, I am not buying your stat on $84,000 please cite a source if you believe that is a national average number for actual salary.

Anonymous said...

No, its not a national average its a teacher friend's salary in southern california.

Anonymous said...

It really speaks about the focus of politics in your state for the past 20 years. OSPI chief Bergeson sold the teachers out, brought in outside consultants, and rode the wave of reform dollars. So did your governor (and former attorney general). Who was on watch when Berg hit a snafu with Carkhuff. I'm sure they'd like everyone to forget about that. Core plus has got to be one of the trashiest textbooks ever written for kids. Try deciphering the answer book.

Anonymous said...

By spending school budgets on training and curriculum - the incentive for good teachers goes down. There should be a salary commensurate with a teacher's education level and experience. It should have nothing to do with student achievement - that's stupidity - its been tried already and it doesn't work. If society is going to progress, then kids need to be passing, productively learning, and staying in school. Public schools are not addressing those needs for all students - only those who are successful. Its not going to work and in the long run communities will end up paying for their failures.

We easily forget. For instance, the real purpose of a minimum wage. It has to do with the huge amounts of time laborers spent at work not being paid for work that was getting accomplished in lieu of getting paid. The minimum wage is a pittance anyway.

dan dempsey said...

In regard to the California teacher salaries, they range all over the place. In Mendocino probably making about half of that 84,000 but in some Silicon Valley districts even more. Nationally if there is an average for 15 years and a Masters I suspect it is more like $60,000.

Anonymous said...

Phil Daro and Uri Treisman - reform math supporters (Everyday Math and Connected Math) and "national consultants" for the OSPI WA State Math Revisions - are listed as members of the Math Work Group and the Math Feedback Group for the Common Core State Standards.

You may remember Phil Daro talking about how to deal with "worried and frightened parents" when they ask about calculators. "When they say calculators, you say technology," says Phil.

One can only hope the rest of the group members provide some balance to their BS.

Anonymous said...

This list abounds with math reform authors.

Eddins is coauthor of the UCSMP Algebra book and for a long time involved in the writing of state and national standards.

This Stanford article roughly breaks the committees down variously by the organizations that they represent. What is exasperating for everyone else is where are there any successes in this strange endeavor that's been happenning the past 20 years.

The math reform movement is an organizational nightmare that would have gone bankrupt long ago if it were not for its academic dishonesty.

Anonymous said...

Its true that there are huge differences in teacher salaries across the country. So how can one fairly tie salaries to student achievement. Its impossible to be fair - whether one looks at individual classrooms or regions of the US.

I took on a new class half way through last school year - it consisted almost entirely of Latinos who failed first semester algebra.

Each of the teachers had taken the five lowest-performing students from their classes and put them into this new classroom. Their claim was that these kids were pulling the rest of the group down. It made no difference - these teachers fail well over half their students anyway.

My contention is that it really doesn't matter in the long run whether you move kids or not.

In any classroom, there will always be students who will fill that lowest niche.

My new class performed statistically no different than the other classrooms on the end of course exams taken second semester (not that they did well, but no one else did any better) and in fact I had higher pass rates than the other classrooms. My students were just meaner and acted tougher. The other algebra class I had did above average and it consisted of kids with a variety of learning disabilities (I had a loaded deck) but I managed to keep a respectful environment and I made sure everyone passed.

The Tijuana-raised kids intensely disliked the rudeness of Americans and they were better schooled in their basic math skills.

No one thanked me for taking their problems. Neither did the problems thank me, although I'm sure later they probably will. My daughter recently went to a birthday party and when I went to pick her up later, there was this hush when the kids answered the door and saw who I was. Definitely a kodak moment.

Anonymous said...

National standards does not take into account the interactions between students and teachers. Its useful to analyze it with some ideas from game theory and the rules are pretty simple.

The teacher is primarily engaged in two activities - classroom management and transmitting information. Students are either receiving information or engaged in disrupting the classroom.

The disruptions cause noise which lowers the flow of useful information being transmitted to the other students. Poor textbooks are a different type of noise that disrupts the flow of correct information.

Its a huge puzzle for me because its sort of like having a television turned on in the classroom with the teacher acting as an interpreter for the students. At some point the teacher closes the book and has to do some explaining.

Standards addresses the content of the information, but not the quality of the information being transmitted. The less 'explaining' teachers do, the better 'written' is the textbook.

Anonymous said...

When Geary divides teaching into three pedagogues - problem-solving, inquiry, and direct instruction and correlates it to achievement - his model is far from complete. He is not accounting for this dichotomy between control and information exchange that gets created between the teacher and students - this is the overlying surface of the social contract that exists in the classroom.

My second criticism is how he differentiates between problem-solving or example-based instruction versus inquiry or discovery versus direct or explicit instruction. The three areas overlap each other - so how do two or more researchers calibrate and achieve the same results.

Finally, how much of the instruction is tied to using textbooks. Math is heavily laden with textbook or worksheets. Problem-solving, using examples from the textbook, could be a subset of direct instruction.

Once again, at some point textbooks have to take some, if not all responsibility for the lack of achievement we see in our schools. Teachers and schools cannot control the home environment or the lives of their students. They make a difference because their work is of such a caliber that students pay attention and listen. The ultimate insult for educators are students who would much rather be plugged into their ipods than in school.

We shouldn't be insulted, we should be listening to what we're not doing right.

Anonymous said...

When teachers have to take time to overcome student's aversion to school - it subtracts from time spent teaching. Geary doesn't seem to address that issue in his studies. If you examine tracked classrooms - I see different textbooks and probably less experienced teachers in lower classrooms. It is always the new teacher, who is either fresh out of TEP or an experienced teacher trying to move into a better school. New teachers are always put into the lower classrooms.

Case in point - algebra is taught over two years to lower performing students. In fact, it sometimes takes all four years for some students to pass one year of traditional algebra and even then it is pretty sketchy if they do or do not know basic algebra. Irregardless they will probably stop taking math for the rest of their adult lives.

Who do you pay more - the ex-cheerleader AP teacher with 30 superkids in each classroom and an extra prep for mentoring, who also fails a third of each of her classes to get what she wants (small classrooms) - or the new guy who thinks administrators screw up more than they're willing to admit.

I wonder how many of our elected leaders have got math-mouth. What a bunch of fools.

Anonymous said...

I'm proof - 18 years experience, masters, title I, more than $84k. I now teach science for at-risk students - all ages.

I have a ba math and physics. Couldn't afford a masters program and I joined the Navy. I tutor after school and run a chess club during lunch. If you can ignore test scores and administrators, life is pretty good.

Anonymous said...

I encourage everyone to read through the Achieve-Dana Center Benchmarks which will be influencing the Common Core Standards. Of the 15 members of the Mathematics Work Group, at least 5 are associated with Achieve.

They suggest that starting in Grade 1, students should know how to use a calculator to check answers. There is no sign or mention of standard algorithms for basic arithmetic. Common denominators are redefined as "equal" denominators. Run of the mill reform math.

If this is any indication of how the Common Core Standards will be written, we can expect low, meaningless standards aligned to reform texts such as Everyday Math.

Anonymous said...

As I said before and often, the morons of the math reform movement are fanatics - they are obsessed with being right. Then where is the evidence? This is academic dishonesty and its costing voters plenty. Public schools need textbooks that are of the same caliber and excellence as textbooks developed and used in Singapore. The people in Asia are not complaining about their schools - at least not as much as Americans who can't even find a decent health care program.

If people were better educated (employable) there would be far less suffering in this world.

Anonymous said...

There is draft copy of the core standards posted on The Core Knowledge Blog (stamped confidential...)

I have to say its not quite what I expected. For some reason, I expected a grade by grade framework.

Anonymous said...

A recent sting in New Jersey, shows you that graft is a cultural norm in the US, just like it is all over the world.

Here's three things that'll bring the US economy to its knees in 2010.
1. oil prices
2. treasury bonds
3. no job creation

"An investigation into the sale of black-market kidneys and fake Gucci handbags evolved into a sweeping probe of political corruption in New Jersey, ensnaring more than 40 people Thursday, including three mayors, two state lawmakers and several rabbis.

Even for a state with a rich history of graft, the scale of wrongdoing alleged was breathtaking. An FBI official called corruption "a cancer that is destroying the core values of this state."

Its what's kept hidden from the public that should be televised and it'll be a shock when that door finally gets kicked down.

Anonymous said...
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