Weekend Reading

In D.C. Fenty and Rhee pen an open letter to the community via the WaPo.   Must-read.

Update: More weekend reading:  Mikey is high on Buffalo!

11 Replies to “Weekend Reading”

  1. Andy,

    Thanks for linking to your foil, Valerie Strauss’ piece on the “Manifesto”. The importance of the education media covering the full story and the reason why 75% of urban superintendents (the majority) wouldn’t sign the document is real news and is valuable to the discussion of education reform.

    And maybe someday, you’ll learn not to be so snarky!

  2. Valerie Strauss would have a better point if someone regarded as a good school executive had declined to sign and then written about it, not a couple of hacks. Andy may be snarky but he’s right, the schools in Buffalo suck.

  3. More from “Mikey”, channelling Mrs. Ackerman:

    By Arlene Ackerman
    Some may feverishly await the arrival of Superman to resolve the problems that overwhelm our public education system, while others prefer to enlist with the personality of the day or prescribe to the scripted agenda of the hour. However, my preference, which remains unchanged for the past 42 years, has been to tackle school reform through collaborative efforts, with the start and end goal of providing quality educational opportunities for all children who attend public schools. Period.

    This said, I have written this letter in response to the Washington Post piece entitled, “How to Fix Our Schools: A Manifesto{hellip}” after discovering that the original document (from Superintendent Peter Gorman) to which I affixed my name was not what later appeared in print, nor did it fully encompass my core principles. Unfortunately, the views of this career urban educator are not likely to make the big screen because the facts are too complex and there is no kryptonite.

    Yes, there are ineffective teachers who shouldn’t be in our schools. However, it is far too simplistic to castigate them or leave the impression that the failure of our children would cease if we eliminated tenure or the entire union. The truth is our public schools havebeen asked not only to educate children but also to solve many of the ills that the larger society either cannot or will not fix. I am speaking of issues directly related to poverty like hunger, violence, homelessness, and unchecked childhood diseases (asthma and diabetes) to name a few. In spite of these challenges, there are thousands of dedicated and committed educators who are working hard to make access to a quality education for all children who attend public schools a reality.

    I contend that if our intended goal is to ensure that all parents have viable educational choices in their neighborhoods then we must stop the finger pointing and blame. We must be honest about the myriad of challenges we face in achieving this goal and articulate a strategic and integrated approach to solving a complex set of issues that include effective teaching. We must come together with the same kind of hard hitting, strategic and focused leverage that the President used to inspire and capture the hope of a faithful nation, unwilling to give up on the ills of the economy, world peace, and the environment.

    Yes, teachers matter. Thus, it is imperative that we help them or remove those who cannot effectively teach our children. Let us also enlist the entire nation in the pursuit of teacher quality. Let us focus our efforts on the role of the teacher as a pivotal position of new knowledge in a changing society. And in doing so, let us raise the value of teaching as an intellectual and highly prized career, much as it is in other countries.

    Lastly, with these perspectives, I also offer some stern, unsolicited advice to all of us who care about fixing our public schools: Be careful in this time of polarity not to get caught up in the scripted political agendas of individuals or organizations who seek to divide rather than bring us together. A collaborative approach to reform may not be easy, glamorous or movie-worthy, but it is a stronger and sustainable solution that is likely to outlast the tenure of individuals or politicized agendas.

    Arlene C. Ackerman, Ed.D.
    The School District of Philadelphia

    Atleast “Mikey”, unlike Andy, didn’t sit on the Virginia Board of Education when it was putting out false and inaccurate data.

  4. Me, misusing data:
    Washington Redskins 17
    Philiadelphia Eagles 12
    Redskins won.

    Chris, analyzing data:
    While it may appear Washington won by examining the score, by disaggregating the data, I can show that the Eagles really won:
    Passing Completion
    Eagles 64%
    Redskins 42%

    Total yardage
    Eagles 353
    Redskins 293

    Returning Yards
    Eagles 128
    Redskins 99

    First Downs
    Eagles 21
    Redskins 16

    4th Down Efficiency
    Eagles 2-2 100%
    Redskins 0-0 0%

    Time of Possession
    Eagles 32:57
    Redskins 27:03

    So, by disaggregating data, I Chris, have shown the Eagles played better football than the Redskins and beat them.

    Who are you going to believe, Chris’s analysis or your own eyes.

  5. Phillip:

    Yet another intellectually bankrupt comment.

    First of all, you still (repeat, STILL) didn’t answer my two very simple questions addressed to you concerning the merits of the data I posted and the fallacies replete in your analysis of your own posted data. You’ve instead poorly attempted another deflection, this time with an analogy, which I will of course humor, on the condition that I consider you as intellectually dishonest as Edlharris until you somehow prove otherwise.

    Now then, what has your analogy here showed us, if anything?

    1) That you don’t know what “disaggregate” even means. Come on Marlowe, you can’t be this stupid. You’re not “disaggregating” the scores of the football game by deciding to broaden your analysis with 6 other completely separate variables. “Passing Completion” is not at all implicitly defined as a component of “Total Points Scored”. “8th Grade Math DC-CAS Scores”, however, *are* a component of “Total Math DC-CAS Scores. The initial failure on your part was ignoring the inherent error in drawing conclusions from aggregate data in making far-reaching conclusions about DCPS as a whole instead of attempting to disaggregate scores by grades, but really it seems that you don’t understand the difference at all and so your failure only compounds.

    2) Were you to correctly disaggregate the football scores, perhaps you could do it along the lines of “Total Points Scored in the X quarter”. This would tell you more precisely when the Eagles began to lose, if the game was neck-and-neck until the end, on whom the blame should more fall for the loss, etc. The difference between reading the final score and analyzing the scores throughout the game is the same as the difference between passively reading the results and actively pursuing the causes for those results. You like to do the former, which is fine, but don’t pretend you’re engaged in the latter.

    3) This analogy also wrongly implies, just as the final score is THE most important result of the game, that the aggregate data you’ve presented is THE most important data in determining whether to praise or stone Rhee. It’s NOT. Were we to disaggregate the data and find that secondary students showed large improvements every year since 2007 (which is the case), that information is just as important as how the district did overall. It would suggest that we consider what is happening in the later grades of DCPS to help students advance toward higher levels of proficiency.

    4) And another thing: your aggregate data suggested the gaps CLOSED from 2007 to 2010. CLOSED! You’ve been going on and on about the difference between 2008 and 2010 in your elementary assessment of Rhee, but Rhee has been implementing her cruel regime of reform since the fall of 2007. If you want to at least bear a semblance of accuracy on this topic, you need to compare the 2010 test scores (the last time point of her tenure) to the 2007 test scores (the last time point before she started).

  6. First of all, you still (repeat, STILL) didn’t answer my two very simple questions addressed to you concerning the merits of the data I posted and the fallacies replete in your analysis of your own posted data.
    Chris you don’t read well or reason well.
    I posted data, which you objected to because it didn’t show what you wanted.
    I did not analyze the data.
    You “analyzed” the data to show what you wanted to show.

    That’s it.

  7. Andy needs to brush up on his cultural literacy. I was confused why he refers to the Washington Post’s Valerie Strauss as “Mikey” — a reference to the four-year-old character in the famous Life cereal ads from the 1970s. Searching the Eduwonk archives for the first such reference, it’s apparently because “she’ll publish anything.”

    Andy is probably too young to remember (I, alas, am not) but Mikey in the ad did not “eat everything” as Andy wrote. In fact, it was exactly the opposite. Mikey *hated* everything. Life cereal was different because “even Mikey likes it.”

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