Former head of NOLA schools responds to questions, critics

Earlier this week, I ran a piece by one of the key architects of Louisiana’s recovery school district. A consultant with the Chicago-based DSI Education, Paul Vallas served as Superintendent of the Louisiana Recovery School District from 2007-2011.

Paul Vallas

Paul Vallas

He also served as Superintendent of the Chicago Public Schools, Public Schools of Philadelphia and Bridgeport Public Schools.

Some of you posted questions for Vallas, several of which he tackles today.

By Paul G. Vallas

There are common essential practices that exist in all high-performing schools, whether traditional or charter. When these instructional best practices are faithfully implemented, even failing schools begin to fulfill their mission to the children they serve, in spite of student poverty or other challenges.

1. A comprehensive preK-12 curriculum and instructional plan that is aligned to standards and provides continuity of instruction. Critical is the selection of proven curriculum and instructional models, sufficient quality instructional time-on-task and classroom modernization.

2. Effective use of data. Simple, time-efficient formative assessments give teachers almost instant data needed to measure student progress. Such data also gives the school’s instructional leadership team information to measure teacher effectiveness, which is critical to instructional improvement. “High stakes” testing, with results delayed for months, as well as “over-testing” is an impediment to students’ educational experience and school improvement.

3. Intervention and support. Selection and early-in-the-school year implementation of the most effective interventions based on student academic and behavioral needs. Additional teacher supports should be provided, based on teacher effectiveness.

4. There is no substitute for ongoing teacher and support-staff training and mentoring. It must be task oriented, site-based, designed to meet the individual teacher’s needs and it must not cut into the instructional day.

5. Local school-based instructional leadership teams to drive instruction. Led by the principal and comprised of the school’s most effective teachers the leadership teams not only provide instructional benefits, they also provide opportunities for teacher recognition, promotion, additional responsibilities and additional pay for performance.

The overarching mission of state takeover districts should be to ensure failing schools begin implementing these essential best practices, and in some cases, provide them with the models. State takeover districts also have the authority and resources to remove obstacles to best practice implementation in the schools in which they intervene or takeover. Obstacles include lack of sufficient human resources and technical support, impediments to a longer school day or year and staffing flexibility so that staffing reflects the children’s needs.

Removing obstacles can be accomplished by restructuring, reconstituting or chartering schools, but this is not a charter vs. public school issue. There are less invasive measures at a state’s disposal.

During my tenure as Louisiana Recovery School District Superintendent, my team negotiated “memorandums of understanding” with at least eight superintendents outside of New Orleans, without taking away any schools.

The RSD provided the districts with models and implementation technical assistance. Those districts, in a bid to stay in local control, worked with us to remove the obstacles to best practice implementation. It was a win-win, with students as the biggest winners.

The most important obstacle to remove, however, is financial. This means the state needs to have the capacity to help schools develop long-term financial plans that can implement and sustain the comprehensive education improvement plan. Predictability, consistency and stability are critical to all successful reform efforts and all require stable financing.

While in many districts the lack of success can be at least partially blamed on inadequate and inequitable funding, and while many reform efforts might require initial start-up funds, the reality is that long-term success requires a financial plan that effectively prioritizes and utilizes existing resources and makes organizational changes that maximize efficiency.
This leads me to one commenter’s question, “Why can’t those best practices be implemented without seizing control of schools from local accountability?” The answer of course is you can, if you know what to do and if local leadership has the will to carry it out.

However, when that doesn’t happen for years or decades, then there really is no local accountability. At that point, challenging the status quo, as Governor Deal’s Opportunity School District proposes to do, isn’t just good government, it’s a moral imperative.

 

Reader Comments 0

91 comments
dcdcdc
dcdcdc

He clearly doesn't understand.  The obvious solution is 1) More money, and 2) STFU because you aren't a teacher - oh, and just send us more money.


Actual accountability might hurt the eduacracy....and we can't have that.  Because after all., they are the really important ones in this debate - not the students!!!

HarryCrews
HarryCrews

Moral imperative? I argue it's a financial imperative, solely for Paul Vallas.

DisgruntledEmployee
DisgruntledEmployee

He did not address anything. First, can he provide proof that test cut scores(data) was not skewed to "juke the stats"? Second, all of these state takeovers are a product of ALEC and its allies attempt to privatize education with no real care about student outcomes. Prove its not Mr. Vallas.

JBBrown1968
JBBrown1968

Have any of you people ever been in a public or private school to work?  Reading your comments make me tired! You all sound like children! Let me sum it up for all of you. Schools everywhere are about money. Children mean nothing to white, black, or purple politicians, and you are divided on the issue of education because that is what the real people in control needs from you! These politicians and boards of educations are all picking your pocket and having a good laugh.

Now…… go back to fighting and not let truth get in your way!

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@JBBrown1968 You might be right. A constitutional amendment that 80% of the $ goes to the classroom might solve some of that problem. 

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

As for vouchers, lets voucherize the whole state. The state stops collecting taxes. Private road building, law making, law enforcing, child protecting, safety standardizing, car registering, etc, companies compete for our business. In your way of thinking, wouldn't that competition increase quality while driving down prices and be good for the state and everyone in it? 

EdUktr
EdUktr

@AvgGeorgian

... Or instead, a retail monopoly where bureaucrats and union bosses decide the food you'll eat, the clothes you'll wear, the car you'll drive—and where you'll spend your vacations.

Because, after all, they're the "experts."

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@EdUktr @AvgGeorgian Them diggety dabbity flabbity unions has control of the world and won't let us go. Can somebody please help us? We see how their all powerful reach has given away all the money in GA to teacher raises. Teachers are making in the high 100's and only work 6 months a year, that is if you call loafing around the teachers' lounge all day- work.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@AvgGeorgian @EdUktr 

And why O why can't somebody delete Code Section 20-2-989 from  the Ga. Code, that prohibits public school teachers from collective bargaining--striking-- the definition of unions?

EdUktr
EdUktr

@OriginalProf @AvgGeorgian @EdUktr 

Because we're a democracy and Right to Work is what Georgians prefer—not unions and workplace militancy.

Least of all for failing schools.

ProHumanitate
ProHumanitate

@EdUktr @OriginalProf @AvgGeorgian

Horse excrement, Ed. Prove that teachers union affiliated political contributions exceeded that which StudentsFirst and their offspring/affiliates astroturfed in Georgia.


AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

EdU - Do you think that education tax money is some kind of special money that is only the property of parents with school aged children? I don't and I DONT want the education taxes that I pay to be given to individuals to spend as they choose. Education is supposed to be for the common good. 


Here is true choice. No one in Georgia should pay any education taxes. Then you can spend your money any way you choose to educate your children. If you don't have children, you can donate to a school or keep the money. Your choice.Why do I never hear our legislators advocating for this true choice? Oh, maybe because with true choice, the legislators lose control of deciding who gets the tax money?

EdUktr
EdUktr

Failing schools, of course, would be challenged quickest by maximizing competition for education dollars. 

Take the Governor's plan one step further by providing parents with tuition vouchers they can use at any public or private school—and you will empower both educators and parents to find solutions.

HarryCrews
HarryCrews

@EdUktr

Yes, because market-based solutions for all ills has been proven to work brilliantly time and time again. Where do you come up with this?

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

I have two problems with this whole topic.


First, it isn't SCHOOLS that are failing.  It is children and their families, the neighborhoods and cultural attitudes and beliefs.  We should be in a dither to understand and ameliorate that.  Are there schools where teachers and administrators just "phone it in?"  Probably, although I have not seen them yet.  We need to be working on the families and communities.


Second, we say what these schools are doing "isn't working."  We don't actually know that.  They may be doing pretty well, since we have no control group with which to compare them.  I would posit that without the care and effort spent on them now, the outcomes would be much, much worse.


When I started teaching here in 1973, only one student came from a "broken home."  I had one child who had both parents graduate high school.  The mean educational level for daddies was 6th grade, moms' was 10th grade.  Only half the kids had tv (1-3 channels), and not all had indoor bathrooms.  Moms were at home, and the families lived on very little money.  BUT IT WAS EASY TO TEACH THOSE CHILDREN!  And they did very well.


Now, it is about the opposite.  It is MUCH, much harder to get good results.  Yet, without the dedicated teachers, it would be so much worse.  No education buzz words can compare, and they certainly cannot fix the problems.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@Wascatlady I agree about the "failingness" of schools. If you take the population of Gwinett STEM Academy and put them in the "worst" school for 1 year, they would still score at the top levels of whatever standardized test you gave them. Omigosh! What happened? That former failing school and its teachers are now top level performers. AMAZIN'.

Starik
Starik

@AvgGeorgian @Wascatlady  What you say is absolutely true. The problem is that changing the attitudes and circumstances of kids and parents is far beyond our capability. LBJ's Great Society tried to help. The New Deal tried to help. Both these efforts failed.  The schools are an institution we can do something about at a reasonable cost.  I suggest we upgrade the teaching profession - provide incentives for people to go into teaching as a profession at or above the level of lawyers - we have too many of those - but to do that we have to bite the bullet and get rid of the worst teachers; if it's hard to become a member of the profession you can justify steep pay increases.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@Starik @AvgGeorgian @Wascatlady We also have to have something tangible for the kids to work towards. In Georgia, the truth is that many of the available jobs do not require a high school diploma as evidenced by the number of high schoolers working. 


Does the state comprehensively study employment structure and use data to provide employment opportunity info and training options by region and county? The state could legislate that the labor department do this. No one rates the labor department as failing and demands that it be taken over by a private company. 


What we have is vague slogans - A high school diploma is a necessity, a 4 year degree improves lifetime earnings(good thing since most have to pay off many years years of student debt.), all the jobs are in the STEM field, etc.


The state could collect and disseminate employment data that could show people exactly what kind of jobs are available in each county/career area, at what pay and benefit level, and what training is needed for the job if they wanted to. Then kids could see education as a vehicle to a specific destination. Any ideas on why that is not happening now?

teacherandmom
teacherandmom

I appreciate Mr. Vallas response....but he did not answer the question.  He simply provided the same checklist we hear over and over.....with the exception of pay for performance, his list is no different than improvement plans in every district/school.


With all due respect, he needs to provide specific examples.  His list is just a regurgitation of textbook school reform ideas.  Any district seeking to improve is addressing  the ideas on the list.  Question is HOW?


Did they implement school wide benchmarks?  If so, how often?  Are they district generated or teacher generated?  What EXACTLY did they do with the data for their summative and formative assessments? Did they purchase specific reading/math intervention programs?  How did they improve their student support network?  Did they hire more school counselors?  Did they hire school nurses?   If I visited a NOLA classroom would I see predominately computer-based, test prep instruction or would I see active learning that is focused on the whole-child concept?


Specifics Mr. Vallas...not a list I can pull from a simple Google search.  If NOLA has discovered the answers and charters were able to provide the "miracle cure," we need to dig deeper into their process, dissect it apart, and reveal the solutions. 

Kat23
Kat23

Let's take $12,000 per student per year, the average national cost per student.  Let's take 50% of that to pay teachers, $6000 per student.


Let's take 15 students per class. So each teacher gets $90,000.  Let's make the salary $80,000 with a $10,000 annual classroom materials budget. 


For this kind of salary, we can get really smart people to teach, teachers who scored an average of 1300+ on their SAT's.


Astropig
Astropig

@Kat23


Good points. When you do the math on spending per student and then compare that to what classroom teachers are paid (which is way too low), you begin to realize that the lions (and tigers and jackals) share of money raised for education gets intercepted long before it reaches the classroom.This is at the very core of why the eduacracy hates charter schools-the loaves and fishes goes to feed someone other than them.

teacherandmom
teacherandmom

@Kat23 Make sure your budget includes transportation, breakfast/lunch, someone to prepare the breakfast/lunch, someone to clean and maintain the classrooms and  mow the grass, a few secretaries to field the vast amount of phone calls and parent requests.  Might want to consider a school librarian, school nurse (more and more kids requiring daily meds). 


Then...you have those pesky things that require someone to keep up with...like staff development and teacher certification and TKES,  testing (Milestones & SLOs), special education paperwork (if you have not participated in an IEP meeting, you really should try it sometime and experience the VAST amount of paperwork required).


While I appreciate your ideas regarding teacher pay and an annual $10,000 classroom materials budget, the reality is much different.  We no longer teach in a one-room school house.  When you house 500+ students in a building it requires quite a few adults in the building to make it work.  Given the dynamics of today's modern classroom, most do a d@mn good job in educating the masses on a much slimmer budget.

Kat23
Kat23

Why am I against Common Core?


Because it is based on deception.


Deception 1f we experts develop a new set of testing standards, it doesn't affect classroom curricula.


Tskr-home lesson:I'm a teacher.  I am NOT going to align what I teach, my course content to maximize my kids' CC-test scores, because if my kids don't do well, I can't be fired.. 


Yes you can, and teachers know it. Or if not fired, they can be publicly named as crappy teachers for public opprobrium.


I don't like Common Core because it doesn't promote discrimination, by which I mean the ability to measure high ability, and give to hildren the education that meets their abilities and intellectual needs,  Let's be honest.  'Some kids lovesience and math, they explore these outside of school.  Do you think that teachers who took "college algebra"and who at best balance their checkbooks and manage a household budget, should be teaching our brighter and brightest math minds mathematics?


I've just seen really bright kids cut off at the knees by mediocre-mind teachers.  Give them Common Core Math,do you think they are going to do better?  Yes, give math-phobics who either didn't have to take the ACT or SAT or who got 22- or 530- the task of teaching mathematics, what do you think will happen?


Quidocetdiscit
Quidocetdiscit

@Kat23


Your take on Common Core is interesting, for I have found the opposite.  The CC standards have actually allowed me MORE leeway when meeting the needs of my higher level learners.  For the first time, I really feel that the standards are open ended enough to allow me to stretch the content to meet the needs of ALL of my students along the continuum. I found a lot of the previous standards very targeted and restrictive (not that I allowed that to stop me from teaching more in depth or enriching the curriculum. )  I do agree that we are being asked to cover too much material.  I find that since CC allows me to go deeper and richer, I am having even more trouble getting through all the content I am asked to cover - especially since the Milestone tests are given while I still have over a month of school left -and the testing we are doing now takes away weeks of my classroom instructional time.

Kat23
Kat23

@Quidocetdiscit @Kat23


Good points!  You're finding that CC is working.  I don't want CC to fail. 


Your post doesn't mention the word math,  but it may imply that what you say refers to your math teaching more in depth.


You say you are having more trouble getting through all the content you are asked to cover.  Bingo!

That supports my proposal to have classes for 220 days per year, a full 40 days (two academic months) more than we operate currently. That might enable you to cover all the material in an academic year.


This would also dovetail with Mary Elizabeth's finding that many kids need more time to learn, and her suggestion that schools teach 14 years (K +1-13th grades).  


How much should you be paid?  Does $80,000 sound fair? For two parents teaching, that would be $160.000. By the way, when I specified $10,000 per classroom for materials, I meant teachers should be given $10,000 allowances, and they should decide how to spend it.  


To people saying, "we have tremendous overhead costs,"  of course that is true. This needs to be trimmed.  Teachers should be at the forefront of identifying and demanding corrections to administrative bloat.  Once we establish a ground rule of teachers' salaries being 50% of the education budget, teachers can identify things that they and their students don't need.


HarryCrews
HarryCrews

@Kat23

Thank God you're not teaching editing or English Composition and Grammar.

Kat23
Kat23

Another question:


Whatever happened to Robin Eubanks( ("invisible serfs collar")?  Your blog's most incisive contributor.


I read Diane Ravitch.  I agree with her about Common Core. Her problem is she equates education-unionism with good education.  Finland has unionized-teacher schools.


It also has: kids raised at home to age 7. before attending school, and no one is demanding that schooling begin at age 5, or earlier.


Most Finland schools are on town edges, with nature right outside for kids to explore, and see nature's beauty in action.


Teachers of children must be in the top 10% of  successful college applicants, not in the 30th-40th-50th percentiles.


Finland children take fewer cases than in America, but cover these fewer subjects in more depth.


Finland has only recently taken in physical-laboring immigrants.  Its curriculum doesn't admit, "We have 400 years of African/Asian imported slavery to atone for, and  so we must teach  a 'grievance' curriculum."

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@Kat23


"Finland children take fewer cases than in America, but cover these fewer subjects in more depth."

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


This statement, above, I support.  The greater the depth of the thinker, the less likely he/she will see others and him/herself in stereotypes, thus fostering the possibility of more peace on Earth.


Not sure what you are trying to say in your last paragraph.  Be clearer as to what you do, or do not, support there.

Kat23
Kat23

@MaryElizabethSings @Kat23


I don't know what I am trying to say, except that Finland had sorry schools for a long time, then the nation decided to focus on educating its children well.  The primary decision was to select teachers from among the highest cadre of college entrants, offer excellent incomes,develop new curricula for these high-ability students, and then when they were out, give them authority and autonomy,i.e. to respect them.


They did not create a perfect system. Lot's of Finland's college grads are manning IT and other customer-help phone banks in India. They can live on lower incomes there.  


In addition, most of Finland's African/Asian immigrants' children are being channeled to non-university hand-work training. These are students who score below average in Finland's schools.


Are they being discriminated against in Finland's schools? I do not know.  But the curriculum is not being changed to focus on the "evil" being perpetrated against Finland's black/brown immigrants.



Kat23
Kat23

We face a "wicked problem".


In the early 1970s, Daniel Patrick Moynihan (a brilliant Democrat) found that 26% of black children were being raised by single mothers. Only 10% of white children were being raised by single moms.


The government enacted perverse legislation that paid mothers (both black and white) more money than their low-wage husbands earned.  The mothers took the money and fathers escaped their responsibilities.  


We let mind-weakining, and willpower-saping drugs into our country (we can also add legal drugs, such as to "treat" ADHD"), which affected both young blacks and young whites,  decimate our civilization.


Today, 70% of black schoolchildren, and 50% of white schoolchildren are raised by single mothers.  Humans are not deer, or cows where males inseminate, and does and cows raise the offspring.  


Children need fathers to raise them, especially boys.  but girls too.  Single moms are overwhelmed by child-raising. Human child-raising requires two parents, two non-drug-using parents.  Life is hard enough as it is without brain-damage.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@Kat23


This particular post presents ideas that are too simplistically drawn and analyzed, imo.

Kat23
Kat23

@MaryElizabethSings @Kat23 We all have imo's.  I'm a simpleton. 


You once said that schooling should be extended to 13th grade.  I think that's right, we have so many students not ready for college after 12th grade.  The Ivies have supported 13th grade for decades, the Exeters and other elite college preps have long run "postgraduate year" programs.


Would you agree that modern schools could run from Sept 1 to August 1, i.e. giving students 4.1 weeks off.  Or let's work out a schedule where teachers teach 220 days a year, and pay them well, as in a husband-and-wife couple who teach make $160,000 per year, and still work 30 days less than the average management-level couple, is that an unnaceptable suggestion to you?


Suppose we have a range of progress programs, where some highly gifted students can enter college at age 15, very gifted kids enter at 16, most at 17-18, some at 19-20. You have experience teaching the slower kids, and you've drawn out from them more than other teachers thought was possible.   What do the fast and really fast learners warrant?  






MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@Kat23 


Thank you for your in-depth questions of me.  I certainly did not mean by my honest perceptions delivered that you are a "simpleton." I try to be impacting and truthful in my remarks so as either to raise consciousness or to improve educational delivery.


I do think that, in clear thinking, we must not simply present "facts," to the reader, but that we have thought about those facts and ideas with depth hopefully over time - as you mentioned in one of your posts, earlier. We have to be aware and wary of group-thinking and conventional mindless thinking at all times, as well as aware of our our own biases.  We must seek to understand nuance and degrees of balance within our thinking.  We must be authentic thinkers and even creative thinkers, if you will, instead of simply parroting convention "wisdom" or spreading facts from the minds one thinker to those of others without internalizing ourselves what the thoughts mean and will mean to our schools and to America.


Yes, I have said that some children may need to be in school for 13 or even 14 years before earning the criteria for a high school diploma.  Likewise, some children are able to graduate from high school with full curriculum requirements met after 11 years, and some after 10 years.  However, we must not neglect to consider a child's emotional and social development in the mix.  All is not simply accruing credits intellectually.


I have written many essays in my personal blog on this subject, in depth, which I have shared here.  My thoughts in doing that were communication not ego.  Why keep re-inventing the wheel, every post?  Why not share very detailed thinking on my blog's educational entries, for those who wish to probe deeper, as you have done.  I appreciate Maureen Downey's understanding my reasons for posting my links to my blog and for allowing me to do so, at times. I'm sure she screens the content for relevancy to the topics here.  She has a quick, and balanced mind, which explores with depth


Frankly, I cannot in honesty support the ideas you present in your second paragraph. One hears frequently about too much summer vacation time for teachers (and students) and the opinions of many about the salaries of teachers and even of their retirement and health insurance benefits. Your 2nd paragraph comes off as too concerned about the average citizens' thinking in these matters, which, in truth, can be based on personal envy and pettiness of thought.


There is legitimate concern for educational reasons regarding the number of school days and when students are in school (and teachers teaching), but that is not a matter to which I have given in-depth thought so I prefer neither to support or not support the ideas in your 2nd paragraph. I prefer to continue weighing those ideas over times, keeping in mind that educational growth of students is the priority, not more than some kind moralistic criteria that is punitive in nature, and springs often from petty jealousies (not you but of some; however, we mindlessly follow the thinking of some others, at times, without understanding their full motivations, of which they may not even be aware.)


Your last paragraph is excellent.  Actually, I must correct one erroneous fact you shared.  I did not work directly with the slower students, primarily. The course I taught in an all-black high school for half of my career was Advanced Reading for college bound high school students. They ranged in reading levels from grades 8 - 16.  If they could function with at least a C in that class they could remain with me.  Some grew 4 or 5 years (or more) in reading in 1 year's time.  The grade levels in that elective class were 10th through 12th.  Before that I worked as a school instructional leader for all students and teachers in a elementary/middle school combination so I saw firsthand how all students learn, from very slow to very gifted.  All students should be placed on their precise instructional levels and taught to full mastery at a pace in which they can maximize their individual gifts, without duress.  The entry on my personal blog, of "MaryElizabethSings" on Wordpress is called "Mastery Learning."  If you go there you will be given more information and links to even more detailed instructional information on my blog.



MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@Kat23 


I have a lunch date to which I must hurriedly get ready to go.  Please overlook my not having the time to edit my long answer to you, especially my 6th paragraph, which needs some serious editing, but I must go now.  I will be back this evening if you wish to ask more specific questions of me.  You have given serious thought to what you state and of which you inquire.  Thank you for the engagement of ideas. 

Kat23
Kat23

@MaryElizabethSings @Kat23


Thank you for your kind responses. 


There was an article in USA Today about a Notre Dame basketball player who  excelled in two sports, which mentioned a Wichita State player who played three sports in high school.

The article explicated that most "blue chip" basketball players played on teams all year in high school on AAU teams.  


This drew me back to some things learned in the 1990's, about kids who trained and played soccer and tennis and golf, 52 weeks per year.  Baseball players, 14, 15, 16, 17 year olds, in the warmer southern tier states playing baseball every month of the year.  


And then we see these amazing athletes.


You undoubtedly know the "smart parents" send their kids to academic summer camps.  They aren't satisfied with, "You went to school for 9 months, let your brain relax for 3 months."  And like the year-round athletes they get ahead.


Did your reading students get to attend school for 11 months? As in, "You've learned some things, but you can't now be shut off for 3 months?"

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@Kat23


Good morning, Kat.  Your arguments are logical and have been presented by some in education.  Other points-of-view have also been presented.


Again, this is an area in education which I have not studied and have no experience within so that I would rather not voice an opinion which might sway others, one way or another.  I do know instruction, however, and I have had graduate level training in it and 35 years of experience within it, 25 of which were in instructional leadership.


I do need to state, however, that from my experience the "summer break" lasts only 2 months, not 3, from mid-June to mid-August.


My hope would be that poor children could attend summer camps, also, not only for the mental and physical stimulation provided there, but for the interaction with others in a different setting.  If only our legislators would place emphasis on alleviating poverty through programs such as that!  But, that would be an investment, monetarily, in the positive development of human beings, not commercial enterprise.

Astropig
Astropig

@EdJohnson 

We haven't seen Ravitch quoted in this space since she came out against Common Core. Apparently, she's in Time Out.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@EdJohnson I read the article and would want to go to a school that is concentrating on trying to be good rather than concentrating on try to be passing.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@EdJohnson


I must highlight this from Diane Ravitch's excellent column, which incorporates Yatvin's thinking, too:


"The effective school asks much less. Children who put all their efforts into “covering” a traditional curriculum in order to “master” as much of it as possible are not seekers, initiators, or builders. They are at best reactors. The knowledge they dutifully soak up is not necessarily broad based or useful. It is taught because it is likely to appear on tests. It is quickly and easily forgotten.

Any school can become a good school when its principal and teachers have made the connections to life in the outside world that I have been talking about. It operates as an organic entity—not a machine—moving always to expand its basic nature rather than to tack on artificial appendages. A good school is like a healthy tree. As it grows, it sinks its roots deep into its native soil: it adapts to the surrounding climate and vegetation; its branches thicken for support and spread for maximum exposure to the sun: it makes its own food; it heals its own wounds; and, in its season, it puts forth fresh leaves, blossoms, and fruit."

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


I totally agree with the concept of seeking "good" schools, as defined here.  A sad reflection, now:


When I first started teaching in a segregated black school in January of 1970, that part of the South was still segregated socially and commercially in the downtown area so that when I wanted to take my little black 3rd graders on a field trip to learn about their town surroundings (I had just come back home from 7 years of living in NYC), the black principal and peer teacher had to inform me that the South was still not integrated racially and that the children would not be allowed in most places which they named for me.  I decided to cancel their field trip rather than have them subjected to that indignation of feeling inferior because society in the South was not yet "enlightened."


Lesson learned:  A school cannot exist apart from its surroundings as the two are interwoven as Diane Ravitch and Ms. Yatvin understand.  This is why I support Georgia's Democratic legislative plan for helping so-called faillng schools in Georgia through a wholistic, Community School Plan."



AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

Poor Mr. Vallas the consultant. 


How can I make my car better?

1. Make it faster

2. Make it get better mileage

3. Make it need less repairs

4. Make it look better

5. Make the driver better


Q. That sounds great, how do I get started?

A. Give your car to a charter car company and pay the charter company.


Maybe the Mo'better Charter Car Company.


Q. Are you sure that will work?

A. It will definitely work for the charter company.



The application of the 5 common essential practices that Mr. Vallas lists must be top secret because Mr. Vallas in no way tells us how New Orleans did this or how GA would accomplish these goals except for "takeover". Maybe the only way this can be accomplished is to pay a charter school company some money.


Where is the evidence that the state of GA can even describe these processes or has provided these specific items for "passing" schools? If it can, then maybe they could ask one of these schools to write it down  and they could give a copy to a team that the state could pay to go help a "failing school". I have seen no evidence that the state has provided a coherent 1-5 plan for all schools with the training and resources to carry it out.


If you research the NOSD "miracle", you will find that massive amounts of federal and corporate foundation money was pumped into the system early on. There seems to be no mention of it taking more money to make progress in "failing" schools in GA.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@AvgGeorgian 


"Maybe the only way this can be accomplished is to pay a charter school company some money."

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


If public education ever becomes the focus of those who are mainly seeking profit or monetary gain through the education of children and the work of teachers, we will have prostituted the public educational system for America envisioned by our idealistic and brilliant Founding Father, Thomas Jefferson.  Moreover, in my opinion, that would lead to the prostitution of the highest ideals and ideas of America, itself