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Posted by madfloridian in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Sat Aug 14th 2010, 11:04 PM
Rod Paige became George Bush's education secretary in a great part because of the "Houston Miracle", said to be a basis of NCLB. Trouble is there was no Houston miracle at all, but the damage was already done to our nation's schools.

We became a nation of test-takers then. Now it is getting worse.

From the NYT in 2003:

A Texas Tall Tale

ROBERT KIMBALL, an assistant principal at Sharpstown High School, sat smack in the middle of the ''Texas miracle.'' His poor, mostly minority high school of 1,650 students had a freshman class of 1,000 that dwindled to fewer than 300 students by senior year. And yet -- and this is the miracle -- not one dropout to report!

Nor was zero an unusual dropout rate in this school district that both President Bush and Secretary of Education Rod Paige have held up as the national showcase for accountability and the model for the federal No Child Left Behind law.Westside High here had 2,308 students and no reported dropouts; Wheatley High 731 students, no dropouts. A dozen of the city's poorest schools reported dropout rates under 1 percent.

...A miracle? "A fantasy land," said Dr. Kimball. "They want the data to look wonderful and exciting. They don't tell you how to do it; they just say, Do it." In February, with the help of Dr. Kimball, the local television station KHOU broke the news that Sharpstown High had falsified its dropout data. That led to a state audit of 16 Houston schools, which found that of 5,500 teenagers surveyed who had left school, 3,000 should have been counted as dropouts but were not. Last week, the state appointed a monitor to oversee the district's data collection and downgraded 14 audited schools to the state's lowest rating.

Bill Moyers NOW had a segment in October 2003 featuring Dr. Bob Kimball. David Brancaccio was the interviewer.

Questions about America's new education policy. It's based upon the Houston miracle. But was it all a mirage?

BRANCACCIO: Bob Kimball begins his days before dawn, putting out traffic cones at this elementary school in Houston. After that, it's hustle the kids into the building. Once inside, he'll get ready for his next plum assignment: cafeteria duty. This isn't exactly where 58-year-old Bob Kimball thought he'd be at this point in life. And it's certainly not what you would expect from a Ph.D. and a former army Lieutenant Colonel.

In the opinion of Dr. Kimball and others, he's here because he's a whistleblower. Punishment, he claims, for speaking out…punishment for revealing how the Houston schools were reporting false numbers of dropouts to make themselves look good.

.."BRANCACCIO: Kimball was working for this woman — Principal Carol Wichmann. Kimball says it was what Wichmann told him that made him suspect that the report was false.

KIMBALL: She said, "Well, I was given my instructions when I took over this school that we had too many dropouts, that it was all about paperwork and I had to fix the paperwork."

Manipulating records of special education students.

BRANCACCIO: Dansby and Nguyen began to get suspicious after parents started to complain about their kids being re-classified.. So they looked at the computer records and what they saw shocked them. Here's one printout, which they say shows 100's of students reassigned from normal classes to classes for kids with special needs.

And when they asked administrators about it, they say they were told to tell parents this: that it happened as a result of a computer "glitch" that would eventually be fixed.

Under NCLB schools have to show continual improvement.

BRANCACCIO: That's not only an important question in Houston, but nationally, because now, under the new federal No Child Left Behind law, schools must show continual improvement in the numbers. If they don't, they face potentially costly penalties. And like Houston, school principals could even lose their jobs.

NORIEGA: I think we're heading for a train wreck. My fear is that what we're going to do is we're going to place our education professionals in ethical dilemmas.

Rod Paige led the way in attacking teachers' unions, and that policy has not ended. In fact he called the National Education Association a terrorist organization.

Education Secretary Rod Paige says he chose poor words in calling the nation's largest teachers union a "terrorist organization," but he stands by his claim that the group uses "obstructionist scare tactics" in its fight over the nation's education law.

Paige used the terrorist reference Monday in a private White House meeting with governors while answering a question about the National Education Association, which has 2.7 million members. His words startled members of his audience, triggered outrage from prominent Democrats and deepened the divide between the country's top education official and its largest union.

Paige told The Associated Press in an interview that he made the comment in jest.

"I was making what I now know was a bad joke; it was a poor choice of words," Paige said. "I was referencing the Washington-based organization in general, not teachers."

Trouble is no lessons were learned from the Rod Paige experience. Just as the changes Arne Duncan made in Chicago are being proven to be unsuccessful, his policy is going national.

Many Chicago Charter Schools Run Deficits, Data Shows

Charter schools are publicly funded but often run privately and free from most public school regulations. So when charter schools run deficits, they become the problem of the taxpayer.

Even as the Obama administration promotes charter schools as a way to help raise the academic performance of the nation’s students, half of Chicago’s charter schools have been running deficits in recent years, an analysis of financial and budget documents shows, calling into question their financial viability.

..." But even though Chicago’s charter schools brought in $21 million in private money from foundations, corporations and wealthy individuals in 2007 — the last year for which complete information is available — half have run an average of $700,000 in deficits in recent years, with some of the shortfalls reaching $4 million, according to an analysis of Chicago Public Schools data by Catalyst Chicago, an independent magazine on urban education.

The data showed that two-thirds of the schools could not cover core expenses, like salaries, facilities and overhead, without private money. A third needed private money to fill more than 20 percent of their budgets. A recent study by Ball State University found that Chicago’s charter schools depend far more on private financing than those in other big cities, including Boston, Miami and New York.

Robert Runcie, chief administrative officer for Chicago Public Schools, said the district needed to take a “serious look” at the fiscal health of charters and was developing a system for stricter oversight. Four Chicago charters have been shut down since the 1990s largely because of financial problems.

The test scores are not much better than those of public schools.

Chicago Charter Schools on the Edge

Mayor Daley has politicized his Renaissance 2010 program and charter schools as his saving grace for the Chicago Public School system, but looking at recent reports, it’s only fledgling operation. On state performance reports that are measured by the Prairie State Achievement test scores, charter schools are only barely surpassing traditional schools. In addition, charter schools have been running with budget deficits and have the highest teacher turnover, according to a recent analysis by Catalyst Chicago.

.."The teacher turnover rate for charter schools is also at 25 percent vs. 14 percent for traditional schools, according to a study from the National Center for Education Statistics. The high turnover rate is attributable to the leadership changes within charter schools and the difficulties teachers have with discipline problems in an urban school. Some critics argue though that the turnover rate is a positive because charter schools do not have to deal with unions in regards to keeping poorly performing teachers. Only two charter schools within CPS have teachers who have unionized.

And yet they continue to base our national school "reforms" on these methods of turnarounds and testing and more testing.

Union leaders have vigorously fought charter schools, which they consider privatization of public schools and a way for school districts to abandon their responsibility to children. Charter schools also have mostly nonunion teachers, although teachers at two charters in Chicago have recently formed unions.

President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan, a former Chicago schools chief, view charter schools as a way to spur innovation in public school systems that they say are too resistant to change. States that do not allow charters or restrict their replication jeopardize their chance to receive federal financing, Mr. Duncan said last year. “We want real autonomy for charters,” he said.

Mr. Duncan has also pressed charter operators to take over failing schools under the so-called “turnaround” strategy, which involves replacing the entire staff of existing schools.

Even though there was no miracle in Houston and there appears to be no "Renaissance" of learning in the Chicago reforms.....these methods are still going nationwide. Teachers' unions are still being treated with disrespect, and scores are not going up enough to make it all matter.

Seems there is no requirement for accountability in the "reform" tactics. There is still increased accountability for teachers.
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