Evidence builds - corporate ed policies are failing

Lately, study after study, report after report is casting doubt on the efficacy of corporate education reform polcies. The ltest comes from The Broader Bolder Approach to Education

Pressure from federal education policies such as Race to the Top and No Child Left Behind, bolstered by organized advocacy efforts, is making a popular set of market-oriented education “reforms” look more like the new status quo than real reform.

Reformers assert that test-based teacher evaluation, increased school “choice” through expanded access to charter schools, and the closure of “failing” and underenrolled schools will boost falling student achievement and narrow longstanding race- and income-based achievement gaps.

The reforms deliver few benefits and in some cases harm the students they purport to help, while drawing attention and resources away from policies with real promise to address poverty-related barriers to school success:

  • Test scores increased less, and achievement gaps grew more, in “reform” cities than in other urban districts.
  • Reported successes for targeted students evaporated upon closer examination.
  • Test-based accountability prompted churn that thinned the ranks of experienced teachers, but not necessarily bad teachers.
  • School closures did not send students to better schools or save school districts money.
  • Charter schools further disrupted the districts while providing mixed benefits, particularly for the highest-needs students.
  • Emphasis on the widely touted market-oriented reforms drew attention and resources from initiatives with greater promise.
  • The reforms missed a critical factor driving achievement gaps: the influence of poverty on academic performance. Real, sustained change requires strategies that are more realistic, patient, and multipronged.

That's a troubling litanty of corporate education reform failure. You can read the report, here.

The Higher the StudentsFirst grade, the lower the academic performance

StudentsFirst released their "education policy report card" which they describe thusly

StudentsFirst created the State Policy Report Card to evaluate the education laws and policies in place in each state. We hope this helps reveal more about what states are doing to improve the nation’s public education system so that it serves all students well and puts each and every one of them on a path toward success.

They give each state a GPA based upon how much of StudentsFirst policy prescriptions have been implemented. We thought it would be interesting to look at the correlation between StudentsFirst "GPA" and the NAEP scores to see how well the policies StudentsFirst wants legislators to pursue stacks up against actually academic results.

The results are quite clear and unambiguous - following the policy prescriptions of StudentsFirst is bad for academic performance.

As you can see, in both 4th and 8th grade reading and math, the higher the StudentsFirst grade the lower the students performance. Yet more proof that StudentsFirst is not an education reform organization, but instead an extreme right wing anti-tax group funded by billionaires.

StudentsFirst is an anti-tax group

StudentsFrist, the lobbying organization ran by Michelle Rhee, puts itself forward as an education reform organization, but when one carefully looks at their agenda it is clear what they really are is another extreme right wing anti-tax group.

Their goal is to transfer as much money from public schools to private enterprise, while eroding public schools themselves. Let's look at the clear evidence.

The NYT reports

In just a few short years, state legislatures and education agencies across the country have sought to transform American public education by passing a series of laws and policies overhauling teacher tenure, introducing the use of standardized test scores in performance evaluations and expanding charter schools.

Such policies are among those pushed by StudentsFirst, the advocacy group led by Michelle A. Rhee, the former schools chancellor in Washington. Ms. Rhee has generated debate in education circles for aggressive pursuit of her agenda and the financing of political candidates who support it.

In a report issued Monday, StudentsFirst ranks states based on how closely they follow the group’s platform, looking at policies related not only to tenure and evaluations but also to pensions and the governance of school districts. The group uses the classic academic grading system, awarding states A to F ratings.

With no states receiving an A, two states receiving B-minuses and 12 states branded with an F, StudentsFirst would seem to be building a reputation as a harsh grader.

Ohio received a C-. StateImpactOhio talked to StudentsFirst about this report.

You mentioned that we’re a C but there are things in action that – according to your standards – will improve education in Ohio. What are those things?

A: Currently we have a system where regardless of how a child performs, teachers’ evaluation, pay, performance is pretty much divorced from the students’ outcomes. When you evaluate teachers you have to factor in student performance in those evaluations, and so Ohio has now passed legislation saying that student performance has to play a role in terms of teacher pay and promotion. We think it needs to go further, we think tenure decisions need to be based on student performance.

This comes as no surprise. StudentsFirst supported SB5 which had similar goals. What should be eye opening is this policy goal itself. If the goal is to put students first, why would this organization choose to pursue a failed policy?

In Washington DC where Michelle Rhee was head of the schools, she implemented this system, and as we reported last year it has been an unmitigated disaster.

Washington DC has purged a vast number of experienced teachers pursuing the policies of Michelle Rhee and the results have been terrible for students

D.C. public schools have the largest achievement gap between black and white students among the nation’s major urban school systems, a distinction laid bare in a federal study released Wednesday.

The District also has the widest achievement gap between white and Hispanic students, the study found, compared with results from other large systems and the national average.

The study is based on the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress, federal reading and math exams taken this year by fourth- and eighth-graders across the country.

The country already has a teacher attrition problem. We need policies that will retain experienced teachers, not drive them faster from the profession

In what other policy arena would a group be taken seriously by arguing for policies that eliminated experience? It is clear that what StudentsFirst aim is then, is to reduce the cost of teachers in order to pursue low taxes and siphon that saved money to private enterprise.

Furthermore, the recent 2012 elections demonstrated that ideology, not putting students first, is the main goal of Rhee's organization

Rhee makes a point of applauding “leaders in both parties and across the ideological spectrum” because her own political success — and the success of school reform — depends upon the bipartisan reputation she has fashioned. But 90 of the 105 candidates backed by StudentsFirst were Republicans, including Tea Party enthusiasts

Many of those endorsed candidates include legislators who cut Ohio public schools funding by by $1.8 billion - a move decried by the majority of public school supporters, but found StudentsFirst silent on the matter.

When you separate the rhetoric from the results and the goals, it becomes far easier to understand StudetnsFirst not as an education reform group but instead as a right wing anti-tax group - something all the available evidence demonstrates.

Strong Schools - Strong Communities

Another pro-public education organization is joining the fray in Ohio. Strong Schools - Strong Communities. ABC 6 News reports on their announcement

Deb Papesh, a Dublin City Schools parent, had this to say about the groups formation

"I believe Strong Schools, Strong Communities is looking at that to see what they can they borrow from what we did to help on a more global level," she said following the press conference.

Papesh thinks communities across the state can help each other with campaigns that center on funding issues.

Right now those involved with Strong Schools, Strong Communities say their job is to keep an eye on and testify for or against any new legislation that affects public education in Ohio.

They also say they’re prepared to activate their network in the same way the grassroots organization We Are Ohio mobilized in 2011 to push back against a legislative effort to limit collective bargaining rights for public employees.

Teacher Donna O'Connor had this to say

“We believe a child’s ZIP code should not hinder their access to a high-quality public education. We will advocate for a fair and sustainable and equitable funding formula and educate the public as to next year’s budget and policies that come out of our next session.”

We encourage you to follow them on Facebook, here at www.facebook.com/StrongSchoolsOhio. You can also receive a weekly text message update by texting "SSSC" to 51555.

Here's a video fo the press conferecne event

Part one

Part two

Part three

There's a growing resistance in Ohio, to the corporate education movement.

Education News for 11-14-2012

State Education News

  • Schools, governments urged to share costs (Columbus Dispatch)
  • The message to local schools and government entities from Gov. John Kasich’s administration is clear: Team up, and share services to cut costs…Read more...

  • Criminal referrals likely over school data (Columbus Dispatch)
  • As state officials said there’s a “strong likelihood” they’ll refer Columbus school employees for criminal prosecution…Read more...

  • Ohio Education Officials Unveil Plan For Future Based On Tennessee Model (WBNS)
  • Ohio has 400,000 people who need a job and a 100,000 job openings, and officials said the problem is education. For example, only 1 of out 4 Ohioans has a college degree, and many others lack the skills for 21st century jobs…Read more...

Local Education News

  • Accounting policies create transparency in district finances (Hamilton Journal-News)
  • Monroe Local Schools officials have instituted new accounting policies to prevent falling again into fiscal emergency and state control…Read more...

  • Mixup delays Marion City school buses (Marion Star)
  • A paperwork mix-up with the state took 14 Marion City Schools bus drivers off their routes, delaying the delivery of students, primarily elementary pupils, from school to their homes…Read more...

  • PAVE program's future at risk after state cuts funding (Newark Advocate)
  • As president of the Prevent Assault and Violence Education program, Emily Minton has talked to countless middle school students about bullying…Read more...

  • Award given to national good behavior program used in many local schools (Newark Advocate)
  • A game designed to reward students for good behavior and used in almost every Licking County elementary school has received its own reward…Read more...

  • Akiva students learn lessons at OSU'S Lake Erie lab (Youngstown Vindicator)
  • They caught fish from Lake Erie using a net, measured sun penetration in the water and scooped plankton from the lake bottom…Read more...


  • Good adviser (Columbus Dispatch)
  • The search for a new superintendent for Columbus City Schools should benefit substantially from the steady hand and sincere concern…Read more...

Education News for 10-16-2012

State Education News

  • Grad rates tumble under new rule (Columbus Dispatch)
  • Call it the ugly truth. Many Ohio schools saw their graduation rates plummet after the state required them to track whether every high-school senior…Read more...


  • School Reform, But From Whose Perspective? (Education Week)
  • Public K-12 schooling is a popular subject in all forms of media these days, with the majority of coverage highly critical of both the professionals who work within the system…Read more...

Local Education News

  • Bluffton board OKs new policies (Findlay Courier)
  • The Bluffton school board approved a number of new policies Monday, including one to provide reading intervention to students who may need it. Superintendent Greg Denecker said most of the policy changes were made because of changes in the laws…Read more...

  • Tri-Rivers levy would fund job training, upgrade facilities (Marion Star)
  • Tri-Rivers Career Center is talking job development as it seeks a tax levy that officials say is needed for updating the building and equipment…Read more...

  • New school could help lure jobs (Springfield News-Sun)
  • A major corporation’s sponsorship of the Global Impact STEM Academy not only secures help for the school but also provides a boost to local efforts to bring more businesses and jobs here…Read more...

  • LaBrae principal praises lockdown (Warren Tribune Chronicle)
  • LaBrae High School principal Rocco Adduci said he is pleased with the way staff and law enforcement secured the facility and took three intruders into custody…Read more...

  • TCTC decides against being part of solar project (Youngstown Vindicator)
  • The Trumbull Career & Technical Center board of directors has decided against participating in a proposed $8 million Solar Planet project…Read more...