Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving turkeys

Turkey # 1-- TFA leaders lobbying for Joel Klein

Teach For America thinks their bread is buttered on the Klein side. The liked doing business with Bush's DOE and are worried about Linda Darling-Hammond changing the way that business is done. She's been critical of the way TFA has dumped young, often ill-prepared teachers into poor urban schools.

Turkey # 2-- Faux Obama supporter Terry Moe

Andy Rotherham catches school privatizer and teacher-basher Moe in a lie. Moe, like so many trying to push new regime ed policies to the right, claims to be a long-time Obama supporter. Rotherham, who himself appears to be job hunting in the new administration, asks Moe a good question: "whether Rudi Giuliani knew this and when did he know it?"

h/t to Leo Casey on this one, since I hardly ever read Rotherham's Eduwonk any more. Too boring.

Turkey # 3-- The state of Nebraska

Nebraska made a sorry name for itself when its governor pushed its state university to ban Bill Ayers from speaking at an education conference.

Now the state becomes one of the few to pass a misnamed Civil Rights Initiative which outlaws race-based affirmative action in its hiring practices. Currently 97% of Nebraska’s teachers are white.

Turkey # 4-- Paul Vallas

New Orleans post-Katrina schools are still the lowest scoring in the state. But schools chief Paul Vallas is still “very pleased” at the latest test score results. He’s elated because 10 of his charter schools and two of his Recovery School District schools had a score of 60 or higher on a scale of 180—enough to shed the label of “academically unacceptable.”

Problem is, even this slight bump in scores is misleading. The improvement comes mainly in a handful of selective enrolment schools, says Edweek. Plus many of those black students who have been able to return to N.O. are still living in horrible conditions and attending decrepit schools.


  1. As a teacher in New Orleans, I feel compelled to comment on your fourth point.

    I do agree that Vallas shouldn't be pleased with the results and the district run (non charter) schools that he and his staff are most directly over are poorly run and their scores absolutely show it. In meetings with principals last year they actually likened running the district to building an airplane in mid-flight. Seriously, that's the metaphor they gave principals.

    In your post, however, you dismiss the gains many charters have made as due to selective enrollment. That point overlooks that there are many open enrollment charters that are, to put it bluntly, dominating the RSD run schools. The two KIPP schools, for example, went 1-2 among all open enrollment schools in the city and I believe 9 of the top 10 were charters.

    Are there still tons of totally unacceptable schools in New Orleans? Sure. Should Vallas be proud of the scores? Probably not, although he should be faulted more for claiming the scores of open enrollment charters he has little control over than for leaning on selective admission charters (also, almost all of the selective admission charters do not fall under the RSD, but rather under the Orleans Parish School Board so Vallas would have no basis for claiming those scores).

  2. Anon,

    You have a point. Some open enrollment charters do outscore RSD schools. But why shouldn't they? They get more resources and are generally smaller. However, it's a stretch to call KIPP an "open enrollment" charter. They are notorious for weeding low-scoring kids out on the back end and pushing them out, thereby artificially driving up their test scores. I think my main point still stands. The widening gap between the two tiers of schools in New Orleans is nothing for Vallas to be cheering about.


Agree? Disagree? Let me hear from you.