Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Supe's On (Different burner)

A number of e-mails have come in wondering what happened to The Supe.

Here's the story. The Super's Blog had a small number of very dedicated readers - a number of them from around the nation and a handful in Indiana.

The number of hits on The Super's Blog was limited to a small number of reader's of interest and was not growing.

On the contrast - another superintendent blog site I have monitored is called The Wawascene. It is run by a Superintendent in Syracuse, Indiana. It gets 100,000 hits a month and seems to be growing. I decided to let The Super's Blog lie dormant for awhile and watch some local superintendent blogs to see what is happening.

What did I learn?

You've heard the saying, "All politics is local?"

I believe the power to improve education lies at the local level. The greater public is not so interested in what an anonymous superintendent in this nation is saying - no matter how fun the satire is.

But supe's listen up - the community does care about what you have to say and what you think about various issues. But do they really know? What unfiltered forums do you have to get a message out?

Some Supe's are finding out that blogging at the local level is one way.

I noticed on the AASA website that Superintendent Mark J. Stock from The Wawascene ( http://wawasee.blogspot.com ) is scheduled to lecture on this phenomenon along with Superintendent Clayton Wilcox at the AASA conference in New Orleans. Both of these gentlemen ( I am assuming that they are indeed gentlemen) wrote articles for AASA in the May, 2006 magazine, The School Administrator.

I will watch other Supe's local blogs and will leave this one dormant for awhile.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Teachers that blog

Teachers that blog get some mainstream media attention.

Article here.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

National testing

Here is the cry again for national testing!

If the goal is to make everyone in America learn the same things, then let's just make it easy. Adopt a national curriculum. Take RFP's for a set of national "materials" whether textbooks or software driven. Then require everyone to use them.

Then we can be just like the competitors we envy so much, China, India and Japan. Meanwhile, they are trying to figure out how to become like us.

I know the thought of this is horrifying. I speak in jest. But I get so sick of the wasted efforts in "textbook adoption" and curriculum revision efforts that are never ending and are repeated with redundancy in every system with the same publishing companies pushing the same generic products. Meanwhile, the curriculum just narrows and narrows and narrows as testing mania shows no signs of letting up. If we have a national testing agenda that narrows the curriculum to a single national assessment - how far are we the thought of national instructional "materials?"

Nahh. We'd rather play the pretend game and pretend we have local control.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

10 Million short

I can't help but wonder what in the world went wrong in the Lucas Oil Stadium project where someone forgot to consider 10 million dollars in annual operating expenses. Those poor Colts.

That would be like a superintendent renovating all the district's facilities by adding air conditioning but forgetting to include the increased utility costs in the budget! Whoops! Have to lay-off 20 teachers next year.

I haven't seen anyone step up and take ownership nor have we seen any project planner's head on a platter.

You don't suppose they knew this all along but didn't think they could get it passed if they said it was 10 M higher upfront do you?

Friday, August 11, 2006

Daniels promotes "Hoosier Homegrown"

Indiana has announced a new alternative energy initiative that Governor Daniels has termed "Hoosier Homegrown."

This alternative energy plan was immediately denounced by Indiana Democrats who claimed the state shouldn't be promoting drug use. The state's leading Democrat spokesperson said, "How D.A.R.E. the state promote such a thing. We've hemped and hawed around long enough. It's time for the state to take a firm stand against growing our own. "

He added, "Our counties have been on a long term hemp eradication project for some time and now is not the time to reverse the trend."

The Republicans just smiled and said, "Their just blowin' smoke."

Monday, June 26, 2006

Blogging Break

The Super's Blog will be taking a break from blogging (as if you hadn't noticed) until at least August. When the Indiana General Assembly starts up again and the madness begins anew, we will resume with some good natured satire.

Until then, enjoy the summer seasons.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Math and Science, Math and Science......what about....

Here is an interesting article link provided by a regular reader. (Note: the link does require registration but it is fairly simple)

The basic premise is that all the talk is about Math and Science, but what about all the other issues and needs? Here is an excerpt....

Of course, fretting about public education is something of a national pastime. Every few years a new survey comes out, showing that American schoolchildren lag
behind their global counterparts in science and math. That inevitably sends lawmakers and the public into a panic. Soon, we hear, the United States will
become a nation of baristas and retail clerks, while Asians leave their kids with the Nannybot, commute to work on cold fusion-powered monorails, and fine-tune the software that will put Microsoft and Google out of business.

And yet, for all the anxiety that science and math education inspires, the state of global languages, politics, history, and culture in U.S. schools may actually be scarier. Whether it is translating and analyzing intelligence intercepts in Arabic and Farsi, guiding American industry through new markets in Asia, collaborating with research partners across the globe, or shaping the foreign policy of the world’s only superpower at the ballot box, young Americans will struggle to bear their responsibilities.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Indy's Star's recipe for success

Here is Indy Star's recipe for success in today's editorial:

1. Invest in early-childhood education: A significant portion of students enter kindergarten already well behind their peers. The gap tends to widen as the children age. In next year's session, state legislators could make a significant contribution to narrowing the achievement gap by approving full-day kindergarten.

2. Share the facts: Educators tend to be overly defensive when discussing low test scores, low graduation rates and other indications that the status quo isn't working. The public needs to hear the truth, untouched by spin. One example: The state for years has claimed that the high school graduation rate is 90 percent. Preliminary data, based on a more realistic formula, indicate that the statewide graduation rate for the 2004-05 school year was 70 percent. Once lawmakers and taxpayers learn that three out of 10 students aren't completing high school on time, they likely will be far more willing to make the necessary investments and changes.

3. Embrace innovation: When Eugene White took over as superintendent of Indianapolis Public Schools last year, he didn't whine about the growth of charter schools in the city. Instead, he decided to compete with and in some instances partner with them. As a result, IPS is preparing to open a middle school based on the KIPP Academy model and create high schools focusing on government and law and the life sciences. Other struggling districts could use similar creative approaches.

4. Recruit the community: Mentors can make a tremendous difference in helping students succeed. Although many efforts exist, community and business organizations need to take more of a lead in providing volunteers.

5. Reward good teachers: If an outstanding worker is compensated at the same level as a mediocre employee, where is the incentive to excel? Yet, that's precisely the model set up in public schools. Merit pay for teachers along with bonuses for educators who take on the most challenging sets of students would justly reward high achievers and those willing to take chances.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Future High Schools to be like Colleges?

Article here declares that future high schools will look like colleges. One person quoted in the article says "students have got to get more focused." No disagreement there.

Three specifics are mentioned:

1. Small specialized schools
2. High school career tracks built around majors
3. Technology as king

I would agree for the most part. Might not be a bad thing to shoot for.

One little problem, students choose to go to college, logic tells you they might be more focused if its a choice.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Illinois announces new gambling curriculum

NEWS RELEASE

The Governor of Illinois announced this week a proposal to fund schools by selling the lottery off to the highest bidder.

Shortly thereafter the Commissioner of Education, Dr. Bettin' DeFarm informed state curriculum experts that there would be new Gambling Appreciation Standards put in place for 2006-2007.

"We think 12 th grade is the logical place for these standards. Seniors too often gamble away their last year anyway," explained Dr. Bettin DeFarm.

"Our Illinois gambling standards will have several new strands including: Riverboat Gambling, Internet Poker, Blackjack and more," he continued.

He explained, "Illinois will need a steady stream of gamblers to make sure that this is a good deal for all parties." When a few naysayers expressed doubts about the long term goals of funding noble purposes with gambling dollars, Dr. Bettin' DeFarm said with a roll of the dice, "I wouldn't bet against us."

Monday, May 22, 2006

Offshoring as a school improvement initiative

NEWS RELEASE:

The Federal Department of Education in conjunction with the Bush administration, stunned the educational community recently by authorizing the use of "outsourcing" and "offshoring" for schools that fail to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) under NCLB.

In recent weeks, the individual states have been releasing their lists of failing schools under the increasing demands of NCLB, prompting the feds to announce new methods for dealing with students struggling under the rising expectations.

"This is a very progressive move. The business community has been asking schools to perform more like a business and what better expression of this than the use of "offshoring," explained Margaret Spellings.

"All failing schools under NCLB will now be allowed to ship all failing students to third world countries. This should help the bottom line immediately."

When asked if that wasn't a little harsh, Spellings said, "Hey it's a dog-eat-dog business world out there and its now a global economy. I don't see anything wrong with offshoring students to a third world country. If they can't graduate they can at least get a job there!"

Heard the one about.....

Washington Post on Sunday

Bracey tries to find all those Chinese engineers.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Bloated scores or floating cut scores?

Indy Star likes these type of headlines. Indiana is criticized for reporting high graduation rates and state proficiency levels higher than NAEP scores.

From reading most of the actual paper posted on line by the author, one of the major problems is trying to rank the states when the states use different measuring sticks for determining proficiency.

The author seems to think that if the NAEP proficiency percentages match the state's reported percentages on their statewide assessments, then they are "not inflated."

Yet who says the NAEP cut scores are appropriate? Who says Indiana's scores aren't a better measure of true proficiency? Well it depends on what your agenda is. There certainly has been enough educational researchers question the appropriateness of the NAEP proficiency levels.

Here is an article from 2004 that describes why it is hard to make sense of all the proficiency hoopla.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Blogging about flogging...

Indiana Republicans have taken notice to Greg Walker's recent primary conquest over the Indiana Senates most powerful republican Robert Garton. Garton has run unopposed since 1970 in the Republican primary and has never been defeated. Until now. He was soundly trounced by an opponent whose most interesting platform plank is his support for public flogging as a disciplinary measure. Click here for more.

Rumors have it that Democrats are considering probing Walker's public support for stocks and bonds. At first they thought it was his accounting background but maybe he supports "stocks" on the courthouse lawn and various other types of "bonds."

Democrats will just have "whip" up a new strategy to defeat him in the fall electrocution, I mean election.

Friday, May 12, 2006

It's illegal, no it's not, well...we don't really know...just wait till you are sued and then find out

In the Alice and Wonderland world of public laws affecting education, consider the following:

  • Kindergarten is not a requirement for students in Indiana
  • However, schools are required to offer kindergarten for students in Indiana
  • Indiana funds only half-day kindergarten
  • Some Indiana schools offer full-day kindergarten and charge fees to support the additional costs
  • A recent Indiana Supreme Court ruling on parent fees resulted in attorney opinions saying schools can't charge fees for full-day Kindergarten because the state requires schools to offer it so it must be tuition free
  • Indiana schools are faced with dropping the extra half day of Kindergarten or offering it as child care only and providing only child care providers instead of teachers (then you can charge for it) Note: Did you screw one eyebrow up in the air after that one?
  • The state department sends another memo saying essentially, "don't worry about it until you get sued"
  • The governor and the department of education are promoting full day kindergarten as a needed program with the state willing to fund for it.

Let's sort this out:

Kindergarten is important enough to offer. Not important enough to require.

You can charge for child care if you want because it isn't instruction. You can't charge for an "extra" half day of kindergarten because it is an extension of a required curriculum. It is required for schools but not for students. Hmmm.

Oh well, just another day.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Critique of Newsweeks Top 100 High Schools List

By now most of you have seen the Newseek magazine annual list of America's top 100 high schools. Here is a critique of their methodology.

Why Newsweek's List of America's 100 Best High Schools Doesn't Make the Grade

Our research shows that Newsweek's methodology is far too focused on one
discrete indicator of school quality and that many schools that fail to make the
Newsweek list may be doing a better job educating all of their students.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Republicans quell gas price anger with tote bag offer

Link here

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Indiana Senate's most powerful republican takes a flogging

Indiana Senate President Pro Tempore Robert D. Garton, one of the most powerful men in the state, has lost the seat he's held for 36 years.

The president pro tempore is one of the most influential positions in the state because the president makes committee assignments and controls the flow of legislation, which can help defeat or advance bills.

"It just says that people are ready for a change," said Walker, who was celebrating at his Columbus home before going to Bartholomew County GOP headquarters.

Walker had parked his not-to-be-missed 1970 bright-orange Plymouth Valiant outside the polling place at Parkside Elementary School in Columbus. The car reminds voters of the year Garton was elected; Walker has pitched himself as a man with new ideas.

Walker faced criticism for one of those ideas. He has said he supports public flogging, a stance he defends by saying "no skin would be broken," and the public humiliation could change lawbreakers' ways.

I am not sure how to interpret the fact that the Indiana Senate's most powerful person lost his seat to someone who has been publicly reported to believe in public flogging as long as "no skin is broken."

We suggest his fall democrat opponent park a "not-to-be-missed" bright silver chariot and a dark brown horse outside the polling area to remind voters of the last time public flogging was widely popular.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Monday, May 01, 2006

High Stakes Testing - More dropouts?

A new study coauthored by respected educational researcher David Berliner, indicates
Three Key Findings:

1. States with greater proportions of minority students tend to implement accountability systems that exert greater pressure.
2. Increased testing pressure is related to increased retention and dropout rates.
3. NAEP reading scores at the fourth- and eighth-grade levels were not improved as a result of increased testing pressure.

Standardized testing has a place, but as time goes on, this period in American educational history will be best remembered not for what schools GAINED during this period, but for what students had to give up.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Indiana announces new initiative " Driving Money out of the Classroom."

IMMEDIATE PRESS RELEASE

Indiana has announced a new initiative titled, "Driving Money Out of the Classroom." A spokesperson for Governor Daniels announced, "We are very proud of this subterfuge. While we announced publicly that our goal was to drive money to the classroom, our true efforts are to drive money out of education all together."

She explained, "The new property tax caps in the new law we just passed that we refer to as the '2% circuit breaker' is designed to cap every patron's property tax at 2%. The cool part of this is that areas that have total property taxes over 2% will have to lose funding. The schools in those areas that have debt payments for building projects will still have to make their payments to avoid defaulting on their loans. So all over there will be schools having to use general fund money to make their debt payments. Neat huh!"

She added, "The net effect will be to drive money out of education altogether. That's even BETTER than driving money into the classroom."

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Dueling Dropouts

My data is bigger than your data! So there. Dueling dropout reports.

Debate on April 27th.

Meanwhile, another one bites the dust.

Carny

Indiana's Governor Mitch Daniels announces he may take a job as a "part time carnival barker."

Story here.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

New sanctions for No School's Behind Left


In a recent press release, the Federal Department of Education has announced a new investigative procedure for all schools failing to meet AYP under No School's Behind Left.

When asked about how this particular investigative procedure had application to education Mrs. Spellings expounded on the topic.

"I think my previous background as a proctologist has uniquely qualified me for this position of overseeing the schools who fail to make adequate yearly progress. These procedures aren't meant to be overly invasive and schools shouldn't take offense. We are just here to help. We haven't even taken the gloves off yet," she said with a smile.

With content provided by - Annie of course

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Fewer choose teaching

Accoring to stateline.org:

Classroom enrollment is up in most parts of the country and so is the demand for public school teachers. But many states report that fewer people are choosing to become teachers -- a trend that could lead to a national teacher shortage crisis, especially if baby boomers, who make up the largest age group in the profession, begin retiring en masse.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Brain drain in education

EdWonk posts a story today explaining why a Math teacher with 12 years experience leaves the classroom for private industry.

The contracts that education unions have negotiated across America (and schools boards have agreed to!) are heavily weighted toward seniority. When I was teaching I tried as hard as I could but I couldn't seem to get older any faster.

In recent years we have had this scenario happen with several Math teachers who left for greener pastures.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Blue Cross Blue Shield Announces 65% Solution

Breaking News in Health Care

In a major announcement today, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Health Insurance company revealed it's new nationwide initiative entitled, "The 65% Solution."

In a well staged press conference, breathless spokesperson I. M. Inshured2BadUrKnot stated, "The 65% Solution" is likely to be the answer to controlling health care costs in all health care situations involving surgical procedures. "

I.M. Inshured reviewed the key points. "The major step is to insure that the surgeon gets 65% of every claim. Only 35% of surgical costs can be spent on support services, anesthesia, surgical rooms, medical supplies, or janitorial services or even nurses unless they are on the surgical team. Sixty-five percent of all claims must go directly to surgical services."

When questioned about where the idea came from, Blue Cross Blue Shield spokespeople freely admitted they stole the idea from First Class Education.

I. M. Insured stated, "State legislatures everywhere are applying the 65% solution to education and are requiring 65% of all education costs to be spent on instruction."

When asked where the research base was to support the 65% threshold the Blue Cross spokesperson grinned and said, "The same place First Class Education got their research on the 65% solution. They pulled it out of their heads or somewhere else."

Carnival of Education

Don't forget to take a walk on the midway today and check out the Edusphere's blog submissions this week. The Super's Blog has been woefully lax in submitting our link to the EdWonks Weekly Carnival of late but we shan't forget to shamelessly stump for EdWonk anyway!!! :-)

Monday, March 20, 2006

Scrappleface Satire

Here is a satire post from Scrappleface regarding the recent public flap over the geography teacher that likened President Bush to Hitler.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Ouch!

This article echoes what I hear in the trenches every day.

"Maybe it isn't the teachers....."

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Indiana's new ISTEP test

I saw in one article that Indiana had proposed changing its new ISTEP test to the acronym REACH. Since this is the state of IN, I think this is excellent. That makes the new test REACH IN. Being from the basketball capital of the entire universe this also makes perfect sense. How about Higher Opportunities for Outstanding Progress (HOOPS)?

Or, my favorite. How about Future Opportunities for Unlimited Learning (FOUL).

IN students get 5 opportunities to pass the test before they FOUL out.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

The Unschooled

Here is a new term for you. "Unschooling." According the Chicago Tribune it is a growing trend.

This evidently goes beyond homeschooling by focusing more on what the students themselves are interested in learning instead of what the adults want them to learn.

Ironically enough, teachers used to feel more free to follow student interests but more and more state intervention into local curriculum has stymied most of these urges.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

And people wonder why cynicism exists...

Educational grant rules broken.

Politics as usual.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Teacher Pay?

According to stateline.org
Paying teachers based on talent and student performance instead of seniority is
gaining traction in the states thanks to support from governors and new federal
incentives to tie teacher pay to student achievement.

Friday, March 03, 2006

No College Student Left Behind

Here comes the push for standardized testing requirements for any colleges that accept federal funds.

Our university systems were the envy of the world.

By golly we can't have that. Let's test 'em all and let God sort 'em out.

No Child Left Untested.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Indiana announces winning bid on K-12 public education

The Super's Blog has discovered a heretofore undiscovered top secret memo that explains in excruciating detail future plans for selling Indiana's K-12 education system.

According to government sources the U.A.E (United Arab Educators) is in the running for top bid in Indiana's efforts to sell education to the highest bidder. Explaining the bid was Indiana's top education advisor. "Any port in a storm, I always said, so I think this bid to sell Indiana's K-12 system to UAE is an excellent offer. The financial picture for public schools doesn't look good so I say take the money and run."

Details of the plan show that UAE would take over all Indiana K-12 school corporations for 75 years by paying 4 bazillion up front and Indiana would forego all profits to UAE. When reminded that schools don't make profits, they meet expenses, spokespersons disagreed.

They replied, "Hey it works for port security and it works for Hoosier toll roads. It works for all private outsourcing the same way. What's the diff. The bumper sticker saying used to be "Buy American" but now the bumper sticker says, "Sell America!"

When asked how Spain and Australia can make profits on toll roads but Hoosiers cannot, an anonymous spokesperson said it bluntly, "Patrons will not tolerate government raising tolls for roads nor funds for schools, but patrons EXPECT private businesses to raise costs and make a profit. It's just that simple."

"Get used to it."

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Anti-dropout Bill

Indiana has proposed an anti-dropout bill that would NOT allow a student to drop out of school before the age of 18 unless it were for medical reasons or financial hardship.

Why am I skeptical? A law can't really address WHY students dropout - it can only say "you aren't allowed to." The reasons are so socially complex in most cases I know of that simply saying "you can't leave here" isn't going to make a difference.

How do we address the emotional and social complexities of why 20-30% of our students give up at this point in their lives?

What some principals predict is that a significant number of potential dropouts will willfully break known rules in order to get themselves kicked out. If they don't want to be here they won't be there - a new rule won't change that.

Sooooooo....back to the real issue. How does society address the real reasons why so many students find school irrelevant?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Liberty VS Equity

The tug of war between liberty and equity is a never ending battle. However, if it ever does end, our country is doomed. When the teeter totter tips to the liberty side, equity decreases. When the teeter totter tips to equity, personal and social liberties decrease. And so the epic struggle between political views goes on.

This liberty VS equity debate is evident in some recently proposed legislation here in Indiana that would allow schools more freedom to operate. The bill supposedly targeted over 900 rules and regulations that schools could be freed from. It does protect some core laws, such as collective bargaining, compulsory school attendance, discipline, parental access to records, immunizations, accountability, assessment and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

But the scope of what could be out the window was astounding to some on the committee and several who testified.

It seems to me that schools often cry out for more freedom, then when offered it they get nervous.

Yesiree, we want liberty and freedom from onerous regulations, whoooops ..... not THAT much. Hmmmm. Why not? It depends on how much inequity society can tolerate. I admit it. I have lived with so much regulation that I sometimes have trouble even recognizing it anymore. That's why we should be embracing it at some level.

Personally, I think we need to pursue deregulation or eventually the only deregulated schools will be private schools. Until they start taking federal and state money of course!! They should think long and hard about that. The trade off might not be worth it!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Voucher advocate proposes "no fiddling with the data."

Another recent study of 13,577 schools shows that public schools hold their own against private schools. The report calls the public school students’ scores “statistically significantly higher,” because 10 points is generally considered to represent one grade level’s difference. “This analysis makes it appear that there isn’t anything magical in private schools that leads to a significant difference in achievement,” Mr. Lubienski, co-author of the study, said.

In what has to be one of the most nonsensical quotes ever, Joe McTighe, Executive Director of the Council for American Private Education had this response to Education Week, “When you look at the data as is without any fiddling, students in privates outperform those in publics by a wide margin,” he said.

Let me interpret "without any fiddling." It means "don't look too closely at the data." When they broke the data down and compared students with similar backgrounds, public schools outperformed private schools.

Look for a huge push from voucher advocates in the next year. Indiana has already vowed to do so. I think there will be more desperation to do so soon because the longer time goes on the better and more thorough the research base will get. And that....might not be what private schools and voucher advocates really want.

Vouchers fail in IN - advocates vow to return

The Indianapolis Star reflects on the voucher bills dying in this year's General Assembly. Supporters vow to return with a grass-roots appeal to the public.

Look for a greater push next year. They believe the time is now.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Superintendent Search Process

In this article, a Minneapolis paper ponders the superintendent search process.

More than anything else, it demonstrates the lack of a deep candidate pool for these jobs across the nation. I would guess that many of these jobs have less than 10-20 qualified applicants.

Monday, February 13, 2006

NCLB driving testing industry

Article here says that NCLB has driven testing companies to emphasize multiple choice items due to high demand.
The quality of tests in U.S. schools is declining as companies producing the exams rely more on multiple-choice questions because of a surge in demand sparked by the No Child Left Behind Act, according to a recent report.

Full report from Education Sector is available here.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Teaching students to think outside the standardized test box



Read this article linked here, then tell me if you think this type of instruction is more likely or less likely under NCLB. One could argue that this type of instruction was hard to find before NCLB and you might be right. However, teachers tell us you are even less likely to find such creative, enthusiastic, open-ended activities like this when teachers are overly pressed to "teach to the test."

America, once the world's leader in developing creative entrepreneurs, is rapidly joining the rest of the world in standardized test mania. With the move to spring ISTEP in Indiana we will move from 5 weeks of test review to 5 months of test review. Our kids are so enthused they can't wait!

Friday, February 03, 2006

NEWS FLASH!

The Super's Blog has received a leaked copy of a press release that spokespeople close to the governor say is to be announced publicly in the next few hours.

NEWS FLASH:

Governor Mitch Daniels will be announcing his intentions to lease Indiana's statewide assessment plan called ISTEP, for a 75 year period to foreign countries. Daniels said, "Singapore and India have submitted the high bids. This will bring in 45 million dollars to Indiana immediately and will help us pay the cost to move the test."

Leading Democrats said, "It's highway robbery."

Dr. Sueellen Reed said, "These decisions are taking a toll on public education."

The Republican plan to move ISTEP testing from fall to spring has cleared the Indiana House on a party line vote. An amendment was added to put a little American flag on each test booklet.

Daniels admitted, "It's similar to the amendment to put an American flag on the Indiana highway toll booths to be owned by Australia and Spain." "Besides" he added, "There is nothing wrong with selling America to foreign countries. More and more savvy business people are doing this every year."

He added, "Another benefit is that when a teacher has a tech support problem with the on-line version of testing all they have to do is call tech support in India or Singapore to get help."

To which Democrats said, "Yeah, but you may be on hold for 75 years to get an answer."

Daniels smiled and said, "But we got the money up front!"

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Origins of the 65% Solution

As most readers are aware, the "65% solution" has been trumpeted as a way of "Driving Money into the Classroom." I thought a little background on its origins might be interesting for those who haven't followed it.

The primary person given credit for the "65% solution" is Patrick Byrne, CEO of Overstock.com. Interestingly enough, this eccentric CEO was also the dubious winner of CNNMoney.com's "Dumbest Moment in Investor Relations for 2005. (To find the link you will have to click on 2006 Smart List and follow the "10 Dumbest Moments link at the top) Here is what CNNMoney.com had to say about Patrick Byrne.

Over the course of 2005, Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne issues increasingly shrill pronouncements about nefarious short-sellers driving the company's stock into the ground. After listening to an Overstock conference call with investors in August, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban posts to his blog a list of the topics Byrne covered: "Miscreants; an unnamed Sith Lord he hopes the feds will bury under a prison; gay bath houses; whether he is gay, does cocaine, both, or neither; phone taps; phone lines misdirected to Mexico; arrested reporters; payoffs; conspiracies; crooks; egomaniacs; fools; paranoia; which newspapers are shills and for who; money laundering; his Irish temper; false identities; threats; intimidation; and private investigators. All in 61 minutes." Cuban then short-sells 10,000 shares of Overstock.

Not to join Cuban in selling Patrick Byrne short, but I am not sure what else qualifies Byrne for knowing what each school system in America needs to spend as a specific percent on instruction. Nevertheless, the the 65% solution picks up steam.

George Will, in the Washington Post, thinks Byrne's 65% solution is a great one. Will writes in April of 2005...
His idea -- call it the 65 Percent Solution -- is politically delicious because it unites parents, taxpayers and teachers while, he hopes, sowing dissension in the ranks of the teachers unions...

So there you have it. "A politically delicious" idea from the eccentric Winner of "The Dumbest Moment in Investor Relations" for 2005.

Not to be outdone, Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, comes out with a ringing endorsement of the 65% solution proposed by the group First Class Education. I guess Grover is in competition with Patrick Byrne for President of the "I-wish-I-hadn't-said-that-now Club."
Here is an old Norquist quote reported more recently in the Washington Post.

"What the Republicans need is 50 Jack Abramoffs...," Grover Norquist told National Journal in 1995.

There you have it. Expert testimony from two big name supporters of the 65% solution. The brains behind the idea is the Winner of 2005's Dumbest Moment in Investor Relations, and the leader of the Americans for Tax Reform organization who thinks Republicans "need 50 Jack Abramoff's."

Educators everywhere --- don't you feel better now knowing about two of the characters that help frame and define educational policy debate in America?

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

A thoughtful parent reflects on NCLB

This is an excerpt from a Letter to the Editor written by a parent opposed to NCLB. I thought it had some excellent points.

We can do better for our teachers and our students than to standardize away attention to the variety of styles, interests, and abilities of both. We can design a better vision than one that holds a minority child or group accountable for the failure of a school. We can create a better plan than to have our brightest students in a program of study that is geared for minimal "proficiency" and memorization on standardized tests, which excludes the expansive spontaneity of creative debate and discovery. And, we can do much better than to spend hours training our least able children to bubble answer sheets to cheat the system as well as the child. We can use new and creative methods to help stimulate a joyful quest for knowledge and resist the boring, rote, and meaningless learning that is geared toward a limited and small-minded outcome that substitute for real learning. Yes, our students need to learn basic skills, but more importantly, they need to learn to think independently, to reason, to be honest and thoughtful, and to decipher and apply the principles and values of our democracy. These are the skills they will need to become informed citizens in a society that will require their participation.

With the imposition of and adherence to the NCLB act, neither the rhetorical nor statistical manipulation can recover the many losses suffered by our students, our teachers, and our system of public education.

A.E. Levin Garrison

Monday, January 30, 2006

Public schools do better...again.

NY Times reports on another large scale study of public and private schools.

The study, by Christopher Lubienski and Sarah Theule Lubienski, of the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, compared fourth- and eighth-grade math scores of more than 340,000 students in 13,000 regular public, charter and private schools on the 2003 National Assessment of Educational Progress. The 2003 test was given to 10 times more students than any previous test, giving researchers a trove of new data.

"Over all," it said, "demographic differences between students in public and private schools more than account for the relatively high raw scores of private schools. Indeed, after controlling for these differences, the presumably advantageous private school effect disappears, and even reverses in most cases."

Friday, January 27, 2006

The Superintendent Selection Process: What parents REALLY want!

Superintendents might find it interesting to view how one parent and school advocate views the superintendent selection process going on right now in two east coast school districts.

Click here to follow the story

In frustration this parent (We'll call her Annie) previously asked me to post a list of job qualities SHE was seeking from her children's superintendent. I posted the list because I was struck by the difference between what the PARENT said they wanted for their child and what the official "search teams" always say is important.

Click here for the original Help Wanted list posted on this blog.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Giving it up for NCLB


A recent commenter said this:

"What WOULD schools have to give up for 100% of their kids to be proficient in Reading, Math & Science? Sounds pretty good to me. If you have the solution, let's get to it!"

My premise is that in a pluralistic society where the school systems are run as democracies with locally elected lay boards, making the drastic changes necessary to reach 100% proficiency of all students by 2013-2014 under NCLB is near impossible. Most communities are not willing to give up what it would take.

But, let's hear it from everyone...

What WOULD schools have to give up for 100% of their kids to be proficient in Reading, Math and Science?

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Connecticut sues over NCLB

Connecticut has sued over the federal No Child Left Behind law.

Two-thirds of the state's school boards have signed on.

A sign of things to come?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Shanmugaratnam, Minister of Education for Singapore

Here is a Newsweek article that quotes the Minister of Education for Singapore talking about American schools. I think he gets it.


I talked to Tharman Shanmugaratnam to understand it better. He's the minister of Education of Singapore, the country that is No. 1 in the global science and math rankings for schoolchildren. I asked the minister how to explain the fact that even though Singapore's students do so brilliantly on these tests, when you look at these same students 10 or 20 years later, few of them are worldbeaters anymore. Singapore has few truly top-ranked scientists, entrepreneurs, inventors, business executives or academics. American kids, by contrast, test much worse in the fourth and eighth grades but seem to do better later in life and in the real world. Why? "We both have meritocracies," Shanmugaratnam said. "Yours is a talent meritocracy, ours is an exam meritocracy. There are some parts of the intellect that we are not able to test well, like creativity, curiosity, a sense of adventure, ambition. Most of all, America has a culture of learning that challenges conventional wisdom, even if it means challenging authority. These are the areas where Singapore must learn from America.


Does this mean we shouldn't worry about improving America's math and science performance? No, it just means we better not throw the "baby out with the bath water." The "baby" is the American sense of creativity and curiosity that continually challenges the world in application of new ideas for products and services. The free-wheeling representative democracy that has defined America, is what allows this culture to exist.

The problem I see is that as teachers hunker down and overemphasize specific test results, the loss of creativity and curiosity is often an unintended consequence.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Daniels issues executive order on cooperative purchasing

PRESS RELEASE

In a stunningly bold move, Governor Mitch Daniels has proved that he can not only save daylight time in Indiana but he can even change time itself.

According to a spokesperson close to the governor, Daniels and his advisors were recently shocked to find out that Indiana school districts have banded together since 1981 under Indiana statute SC-1 to save money through cooperative purchasing agreements made through Regional Service Centers. This realization unfortunately came soon after they had publicly announced a major initiative encouraging schools to band together to do cooperative purchasing.

The Super's Blog has learned through its top secret mole in the state house, that The Governor will soon issue Executive Order 06-01 which encourages schools to purchase commodities, natural gas and other supplies through cooperatives and hereby declares all such cooperative purchases to be made retroactive to 1981 when Indiana's Regional Service Centers were first created.

The mole said, "Don't tell anyone, but he just wants a little credit for it. It's not good for his conservative base to know that public schools have done this for years."

A spokesperson close to the Governor said, "This Governor doesn't need daylight savings time, he can change time itself."

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Governor's speech tonight

Here is what the pre-speech notifications indicate the Governor is going to say about education tonight:

Mitch says: Indiana continues to make a strong financial commitment to k-12 schools. Hoosiers spend 14% more of their income on K-12 schools than the US average.
(Maybe we should be proud of that instead of embarrassed Mitch. You'll likely say that like we should be ashamed. And guess what 60% of Hoosiers surveyed said they are willing to spend more taxes for education. Bet you don't say that tonight.)

Mitch says: K-12 spending was one of the only four areas to see an increase in the 2005-2006 state budget. The problem is where the money goes. (That's good as far as it goes. But many schools and students got less or the same while expenses rose. And as far as "where the money goes" not one patron here has ever told me that their local board's decision to renovate our facilities was a problem.)

Mitch says: School construction projects in 2003-2004 cost Indiana taxpayers 146% of the US average. Debt service on school construction is now 10% of property taxes bills, 3x the national average. (Paid for by local patrons with local money from decisions made by their locally elected representatives with a remonstrance process in place. Your point is...you want to control it instead? Mitch knows best. So much for your push to provide more local control! You're moving around Mitch. Your talking local control and consolidating central control at the same time. Some aren't buing it..)

Mitch says: Only 61% of school operating budgets go toward instruction and learning.
(And society says the perfect number is____? Maybe with the cost of gas, insurance and other operating expenses it should be 50%?)

Indiana ranks 50th in the percent of K-12 employees who are teachers.
(What's a "teacher?" We have numerous teacher "aide" positions teaching Reading Recovery and other positions. Many of them have teaching degrees and work directly with students. They aren't labeled "teachers." In this respect the "efficiency cult" should praise us for stretching our pennies. In other cases the increases in student performance are a result of "instructional coaches" who do not directly teach children but work directly with teachers. Again, performance gains for kids - but they aren't "teachers" in the traditional sense of the word. Makes the comparison muddy but makes a nice sound bite anyway. )

Mitch says: The solution is to increase the percent of funds spent on instruction and learning.
(Rob Peter to pay Paul.. )

Every 1% moved from overhead to instructional spending would free up $100 million for student learning. (It's amazing what you guys can call overhead. Are guidance counselors, nurses, bus drivers, teacher aides, and computer technicians really overhead ?)

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

65% solution or 65% delusion?

Around the nation, many governors and legislators are falling all over themselves to trumpet the "65% solution" as a way to hold down costs in education. The "65% solution" simply argues that 65% of all funds going to education should be oriented to instruction. Indiana has been reported to be at 61% but that figure is debatable, as they all are. Politicians undoubtedly see this as a political winner. Who could be against "driving more money into the classroom?"

At least our Indiana governor was smart enough not to attach a specific percentage to it as an absolute target. There is no research to support 65% as the "ideal" public funding level for instruction! Of course he couldn't resist suggesting maybe we could get that up to 70% or even higher.

Here is an article discussing the 65% solution in Texas. Evidently in their current plans football coaches salaries would be considered "instruction" but librarian salaries would not. After winning the Rose Bowl and finishing the BCS as #1, this might actually fly in Texas!

This simple illustration shows that the simplest concepts can be amazingly complicated.

In order to make such state-by-state comparisons about the level of "instructional" funding, clear definitions are required - never an easy task. This only seems simple to people who have no clue.

Here are a few examples:

Are librarians instructional expenses? Maybe it depends on whether they only check books at the counter or whether they purchase your child's reading materials.

Is a teacher aide instructional? Maybe it depends on whether they put up bulletin boards or whether they tutor kids.

Is a computer technician instructional? Maybe it depends on whether they repair your hard drive or whether they work with students and help make instructional software purchases.

Is air conditioning instructional or operational? Maybe it depends on whether or not you ever served as a teacher on a 90 degree day with 90% humidity in a school without AC.

Is a football coach instructional? Maybe it depends on whether your child learned about sacrifice, teamwork, self-discipline and goal setting or whether they learned how to cheat to win.

Is the bus driver's salary instructional? Maybe it depends on whether or not the child would be at school without the bus.

Is the cook's salary instructional? Maybe it depends on how well you learn when you are hungry.

Sorry - but 65% solutions are 95% delusions.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Hoosiers surveyed about education

From IU’s Center for Evaluation and Education Policy.

Some 65 percent of Indiana residents surveyed said the schools in their communities were excellent or good

72 percent rated teachers as good or excellent

62 percent of Hoosiers believe the state’s K-12 schools are underfunded

Almost 60 percent said they would pay higher taxes to make more money available to them – an increase of 11 percent over 2004.

And From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette "a glowing report about education."

Friday, January 06, 2006

Republican Photo Op: Driving more money into the classroom

News Release:

At 1:57 PM Eastern Time (or was it 1:57 Central DST..no maybe it was... Eastern DST or...) representatives of the National Republican Party staged a "photo op" to demonstrate their national commitment to "Driving More Money into the Classroom." The 1997 late model car was stuffed with coins in various amounts of small change and carefully choreographed to careen through the window of Mrs. Ruth Jones busy 3rd grade classroom. A Republican spokesperson who wished to remain anonymous stated, "It demonstrates our commitment in a very clear way." "Mrs Jones said, "All 37 kids were absolutely terrified. It would have helped if they had told us ahead of time they were planning this. But at least all the kids managed to scramble away as the glass shards were raining down around us."

Mrs. Margaret Spellings said, "At least No Child was Left Behind."

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Vouchers Trojan Horse

You could almost see this trojan horse rolling up the plank.

Some Indiana Republican legislators recently announced that they were going to seek legislation allowing a vouchers program for parents of children with autism.

They forgot one little teensy-weensy thing...maybe parents of children with autism aren't interested.

The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette today ran an editorial indicating that the Autism Society was not aware of the proposal and furthermore, may not be interested.

“There’s a concern that they are putting forth this bill without having consulted anyone in the autism community,” said Susan Pieples, president of the Autism Society of Indiana. “We want to make sure we’re not being used as a pawn for school choice.”She said House leaders showed “little integrity” in proposing the voucher plan without first consulting those most affected.

“We don’t want to see money taken away from those programs,” she said. “The general education system has to be shored up first. It is really a travesty that we can find money to fund a new (Colts) stadium, but we’re so underfunded when it comes
to children.”

Not all Republicans were behind this trojan horse of course, but enough were that they felt comfortable to run the idea out in public.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Are the Indy Star's graduation stats just as inaccurate?

Many high school principals have privately complained in years past about there not being a consistent way of reporting graduation and dropout statistics.

This fall the Indianapolis Star ran a series on graduation rates and dropouts in an effort to bring public attention to the issue.

Unfortunately, after a number of pretty decent editorials, they go too far with this one.

The Star's version of graduation rates is just as twisted as the old high school rates.

Here are a few quotes from the Star:

IPS, with a graduation rate of 39 percent in 2005, remains home to the region's worst dropout factories.


The failure of state and local educators to report realistic graduation rates, however, conceals such dismal performance. Says (Stan )Jones: "They think their schools have nice facilities and things are fine, when in fact things are not."


Inflated graduation numbers have lulled the public into believing that dropping out is rare. It's not.

Read through this list of Indy area schools and then look at the Star's definition of "graduation."

The Star's editorial board's calculations were made by taking the number of seniors graduating in 2005 and comparing it to the number of 8th graders in 2001. Couldn't get it more simple...and couldn't get it more wrong. Just as wrong as many of the "bloated" high school rates they are taking to task.

The Star claims that the Indianapolis Public Schools has a graduation rate of 39%. However, compare this 39% statistic to the Census Data ( note: click on the county for which you want stats - wait for the red arrow and click when the hand appears) which shows the percentage of adults over the age of 25 in Marion County with high school diplomas is 81.6%. Is there a disconnect? I guess there could be. Maybe 42.6% of them all leave the county or finish up high school before they turn 25. Or maybe this is a new version of the famous economic "brain drain" problem in Indiana? :-)

Except where do they go? Here are all the counties surrounding Marion county and the percentages of adults over 25 with high school diplomas.
Marion County 81.6%
Hamilton County 94.2%
Boone County 88.3 %
Hendricks County 88.5%
Morgan County 80.7%
Johnson County 85.7%
Shelby County 79.8%
Hancock County 87.8%

According to Census Data placed on the Department of Education website for the Indianapolis Public Schools, the percentage of adults WITHOUT a high school diploma in the IPS area has been reduced from 41.3% in 1980 to 28.3 % in 2000. This improvement trend was the same in almost every single school corporation on the Star's list.

I suppose the true graduation rates are closer to the census data numbers than they are the old "glorified" graduation rates the high schools reported or the Star's pessimistic view.

Monday, December 19, 2005

A Legal Holiday Greeting

The Super will take a holiday break from blogging and will resume on January 2, 2006. Don't worry taxpayers, I am still at my day job. :-)

From Your Lawyer Friends:

"Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, our best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. We also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2006, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere. And without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishee. By accepting these greetings you are accepting these terms. This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for herself or himself or others, and is void where prohibited by law and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher."

From Your Other Friends:

Here's wishing all of You a
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

A sign of things to come.

The Indy Star ponders the question, "Are tutors worth the costs?"

In what is sure to be a sign of things to come in the "freewheeling" world of competition for students, the Star reviews the competitive world of non-profit and for-profit companies competing for tutoring contracts with large, mostly urban, school systems.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Vouchers needed to escape high performing schools

This one is kind of interesting. I am not sure what to make of it. Read "The New Separate But Equal."

According to the author, liberal white parents are fleeing high-performing schools in large numbers in areas of San Francisco because there are too many high-performing Asians.

The author says, "Our best hope for a truly color-blind society is not quotas or reverse discrimination, but to allow all parents the opporunity to provide the best edcuation for their children by offering them options such as tuition vouchers, charter schools, school choice and merit-based techer pay."

So, let me get this straight - the "best education available" is to make sure I take my voucher and go to a lower-performing school.

As they say, if your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. This is the first argument for vouchers I have heard that involves the need to escape a high-performing school.

I think voucher advocates would have gotten a lot further in their efforts if they had just tackled this from the beginning with the liberty/parental rights perspective.

This approach might have avoided a few of the ongoing disputes over charter school effectiveness, and the effectiveness of vouchers etc. Trying to prove charter schools are better than public schools is proving to be a tough row to hoe. Arguing over whether or not to give parents more choices is a much "cleaner" argument.

Monday, December 12, 2005

The winner of the caption contest

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Home Schooling

EdWonk discusses the trend of home schooling increasing in the African American population.

Indiana has some of the least restrictive home schooling regulations in America. When it is done well, home schooling can hardly be beat. With internet resources growing daily and the home school network continuing to grow - it should come as no surprise.

Some of them have their own extra-curricular teams and even organize large scale field trips.

With a knowledgeable parent or tutor, the right resources and an independent or motivated learner - it can work wonders.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

12 Days of a Hoosier Christmas

From the Indy Star Editorial Board comes the 12 Days of a Hoosier Christmas.
Covers the major issues of Indiana's 2005 year

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Indiana gets an A for Science Standards

At a recent meeting in Indianapolis, State Superintendent for Public Instruction, Dr. SueEllen Reed, was overviewing Indiana's academic progress. Governor Mitch Daniels replied that the LA Dodgers had improved too, but they play in a weak division.

Indiana was recently one of 6 states in the US given an "A" rating for it's Science standards.

I was trying to figure out which weak division that is...

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Indiana Caption Contest



We have a growing group of national readers who might not pick up on the statewide Indiana issues. But for you Indiana folks- put on your thinking caps. E-mail The Super Blogger (link is on the sidebar) your favorite Mitch sayings. We will pick the best ones and run them. Or you can go to the website and select your own and e-mail the graphic. It's meant to be good clean fun.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Congress to consider new sanctions for failing schools under NCLB?

The Supers' Blog has discovered that new sanctions are being proposed for failing schools under NCLB.

Margaret Misspellings, the federal spokesperson for NCLB, stated,"We believe that this proposal is the next logical step for America's public schools. We serve students breakfast lunch and dinner and some are still hungry. We provide after school programs for latch-key students and counseling services and nursing services for the sick and confused . We provide physical activities and extra curriculars and they still can't get 100% to hit federal weight goals. We teach them abstinence, and they still have sex. We teach them to use protection and some still get pregnant. We teach them to drive cars and they still have accidents. We teach them to cook a basic meal with the food groups and they still go to McDonalds and order the large combo with extra fries. We try to teach them how to get along with each other and how to handle a conflict without hurting each other and some still scrap and squabble."

She sighed, "We just don't go far enough. So we are proposing legislation that would require all school board members and school employees to legally adopt all children who fail to meet proficiency on their state exams."

She continued, "Of course we wouldn't consider 100% to be a reasonable standard in most circumstances of life, but Language and Math are different. We finally have come to the conclusion failing schools who fall short of perfection might as well be required to adopt them."

Starting in 2010, all failing schools will be required to implement a lottery-based system that requires every failing student to be legally adopted by school employees.

Misspellings added, "At least the new parents will receive a federal voucher to send their failing children to a different school."

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Are we educating them or raising them?

The Washington Post ponders the huge agenda handed to public schools today. Before school programs, lunch programs, after school latch-key programs, counseling services, nursing services and the list goes on and on.

Some say it is a grand plan hatched by the liberal left but the Washington Post says, "It's more a grand hodgepodge, created by those on the left, the right and in between."

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Mold

Joe Thomas over at Shut Up and Teach ponders why we don't apply the same standards for testing children as we apply to testing mold.

I find this post so ironic it is funny. Good find Joe.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Feds tell governors to pick on someone their own size!

PRESS RELEASE:

The Super's Blog has discovered a heretofore unknown top secret memo outlining a federal plan that would require governors to pick on someone their own size. Since a number of governors have been calling on schools to eliminate food with high sugar and fat content recently because of obesity concerns, congress is reportedly considering requiring all state houses to follow the same requirements they are foisting on schools.

Starting January 1, 2006 all state government offices will have the following restrictions.

1. All legislators will be weighed and measured annually and their height and weight statistics will be mailed in a report card to all voters.

2. All elevators will be turned off. Some say a few never reached the top floor anyway.

3. All legislators will carry a free and reduced lunch magnetic swipe card issued from their favorite lobbyist of course. A few had already swiped theirs.

4. All legislators will be required to walk around the building two times a day and do jumping jacks. They say a few didn't know jack anyway.

5. All legislators will be required to pick on someone their own size. That one might be tough.

6. All legislators are forbidden to utter the words, "biggie-size it."

Said federal congressperson, Ima Biggun, "We think this is the least we can do. At least this way state officials will have to put their money where their mouth is if they can't pick on someone their own size."

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

"Driving More Money into the Classroom"

PRESS RELEASE

The Republicans announced today the rollout of their new national education initiative titled, "Driving More Money Into the Classroom."

Chief Spokesperson for the Republicans, C.D.L. Laidlaw, revealed the highlights of the new initiative.

"We like the way Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels has instituted his 'cult of efficiency' in Indiana and so we have closely modeled our national transportation plan for driving more dollars into the classroom after his Bureau of Motor Vehicles consolidation plan," stated Laidlaw.

He continued, "Indiana closed license branches everywhere based mostly on which lease arrangements they could get out of and required patrons to drive somewhere else for their business. It was very efficient for the government to require patrons to drive 30 miles and more roundtrip to take care of a simple transaction."

"Our new initiative called, Driving More Money Into the Classroom, will be implemented following this model. It will require all patrons to drive their children to the bus driver's house every morning for transport to the school. This way we won't have half empty buses."

"We are laying down the law," said Laidlaw, "We have been absolutely appalled to learn that America's school buses have been running their bus routes at 50% capacity for half of the time!"

Monday, November 28, 2005

Gerald Bracey's letter to the NY Times

Gerald Bracey sent the following letter to the NY times as a response to this NY Times article about NAEP scores.

Sam Dillon makes a fundamental error in his article about discrepancies between state tests and NAEP. He assumes the NAEP achievement levels are valid. They are not. Ideologues who wished to sustain the sense of crisis created by "A
Nation At Risk" created them in the 1980's. The NAEP levels are impossibly high. For example, In the Third International Mathematics and Science Study, American 4th graders finished 3rd among 26 nations (emphasis mine) in science. Yet NAEP said only 30 percent of them were proficient or better in science. Similar results occurred in math. Little wonder, then, that the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Education, the Government Accounting Office and the Center for Research in Evaluation, Student Standards and Testing have all rejected the NAEP levels. They continue to exist only because there is so much political hay to be made from saying that American schools and students stink.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Misspellings clarifies NCLB "leeway" remarks

PRESS RELEASE:

The Bush administration today clarified what it means by granting more "leeway" for schools trying to make adequate yearly progress (AYP) under the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) laws.

According to Bush's top education advisor, Margaret Misspellings, the new revised law will be called All Schools Still Pretty Much Left Behind (ASSPMLB).

Misspellings was careful to clarify reports in The Washington Post about granting leeway to schools under NCLB. She stated,"We are excited about granting schools more leeway. But the purpose is to hold firm in our surreal requirement that 100% of all students in every disaggregated subpopulation in 100% of America's schools score at the proficient level on their state standardized assessment or they FAIL. While blindly holding firm in this unreasonable and irrational standard, we hope to provide additional flexibility in the myriad of ways in which schools can work hard and still fail."

Misspellings added, "It is only by labeling all of America's schools failures and developing alternative methods of failure that we can increase the number of private schools who are not held to these same irrational standards."

She added, "I hope this clarifies what we mean in the reports stating that we are giving more schools leeway."

Monday, November 21, 2005

Sent by an astute trend spotter

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Governor finishes last in his division again.

Rumors have it that the guv kinda got into it with Dr. SueEllen Reed, Indiana's State Superintendent of Public Instruction, at an Education Roundtable meeting. Evidently a report was being given that indicated Indiana's student achievement had been slowly and steadily rising in many areas. The governor took exception to any good news and revealed that the LA Dodgers had improved too but they play in a weak division.

I have about had it with the lame sports analogies. This is not a game - its education! American obsession with rankings and ratings will be our demise.

These folks don't get it. The unintended consequences of trying to be number one on some international or national test will eventually choke out what remains of the American creativity and ingenuity. (See the previous post on this blog.) Teachers in the trenches will confirm this.

My son came home with an A- the other day. I guess using the governor's flawed logic I should frown and ask him why he wasn't number one in the class that day AND tell him that since he is
not in the advanced math class that he should be disappointed because he is in a weak division.

As they say, "The beatings will continue until morale improves."

Unintended Consequences

Last week one of our teachers who has been going room to room helping teachers implement some new programs, told us in an administrative meeting that the standards-based reform efforts have become so emphasized, that teachers are resorting to "chalk talk" and lectures because they feel so pressured to cover the specific indicators that they feel could be tested.

They feel so rushed to cover everything tested that they don't feel they have time to take material into depth and do something interesting with it. In other words, the unintended consequence is that school becomes less fun, and less engaging for students.

So....Sad.....

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Trapped Teachers

EdWonks weighs in on an issue I have long felt impacts teacher morale.

This was posted on The Education Wonks blog site today.

If Congress wanted to do something useful for teachers, maybe it could pass a law that would permit teachers who are currently shackled to their jobs by outmoded seniority rules escape from school districts that have toxic work-environments and transfer their seniority to districts that are dedicated to fostering a culture of educational excellence and high employee morale.

For a long time now I have noticed how trapped educators are by the archaic salary schedules. Once a teacher gets about 7 or 8 years under their belt, they are trapped for life in their current school district with few if any options. Due to their higher salary they are stuck with few if any school districts able to afford hiring them as a veteran teacher. This too leads to morale issues as teachers begin to feel trapped.

We used to hire a few veterans now and then until health insurance, utility costs and rising fuel costs compounded by dwindling state revenue came to be. As it stands now - teachers are stuck.

This is the trade off the unions accepted when they fought for pay that is exclusively seniority based.

Friday, November 18, 2005

"Return to Cinders....."

News Flash.....

Elvis was spotted at a recent Indiana Property Tax Control Board Meeting when the following comments were made by Member Maury Mills.

Superintendent Paul Garrison made a presentation stressing how the community and past boards had stressed only academic facility needs for 50 years, and now needed to address some special use space. Their building is a 1954 structure, with a combination gym/auditorium shared by all six grades. The superintendent noted that the gym could not accommodate all PE needs. Part of the project was for an auxiliary gym and a new track. After a facility study estimated a cost of $17 million, the board and administration cut the project to an estimated $8.3 million.

Member Mills asked for a breakdown of cost by each project item. He questioned the cost of the latex running track, and asked "are we all out of cinders?"

Nice Maury. I can only assume your grandkids don't run track or take PE there.

Ok... everyone do your best Elvis for me now....ah 1, and ah 2, and ah 3 and go.."Return to Cinders...."

Property Tax Control Board defines "local control"

Evidently Indiana's Property Tax Control Board has created the following operational definition for the term "local control."

local control (lo'kul kun'trol) 1. we the state, control the locals

Recent decisions by the Indiana State Property Tax Control Board, as well as comments by board members in the meetings, show an agenda that is so obviously political it is appalling. One school district went for approval of a 10 year construction bond issue and was only approved when they made it 18 years instead. The rationale? I can only assume the state board wanted to show they lowered the tax rates. Nevermind that it was a local decision and it would be paid with 100% local tax payer dollars.

Now...the community will pay more by borrowing over the long run. Now mind you, there is nothing wrong with either approach. We can also argue that it should be a user tax by spreading the cost over 18 years so everyone pays a little. The point is....WHO should make that decision? Political hacks trying to protect the governor from being accused of raising taxes? Or local patrons who pay the freight on the project?

local control (lo'kul kun'trol) 1. we the state, control the locals

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Impossible Goals and NCLB Failure

Jim Horn at Schools Matter points out the irrationality of NCLB and the ensuing cry for privatization that is sure to follow.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

No Child's Behind Left

PRESS RELEASE

President Bush's top education advisor, Margaret Smellings, announced today that President Bush was rolling out a new education plan closely modeled after Vice President Dick Cheney's new torture policy.

Smellings stated, "For a long time we have been advocating that Vice Principals be given broader authority over handling detainees awaiting discipline in the office. Even to the point of torture with wooden instruments."

Smellings indicated the new program would be called, "No Child's Behind Left."

The plan will overturn state laws that have previously limited the use of corporal punishment and will give Vice Principals one more tool in the torturous task of determining who did what to whom and when did they do it?

Smellings sniffed, "If torture is good enough for the Vice President and the CIA it should be good enough for the Vice Principal and the CYA."

Monday, November 14, 2005

Ain't America Great!

Where else but America could a prison inmate be elected to the school board. LOL

Friday, November 11, 2005

NCLB violates federal promises?

From federal legislation under Goals 2000 comes this closing paragraph to section 319....

(b) REAFFIRMATION.--The Congress agrees and reaffirms that the
responsibility for control of education is reserved to the States and local
school systems and other instrumentalities of the States and that no action
shall be taken under the provisions of this Act by the Federal Government
which would, directly or indirectly, impose standards or requirements of any
kind through the promulgation of rules, regulations, provision of financial
assistance and otherwise, which would reduce, modify, or undercut State and
local responsibility for control of education.


Have the feds lived up to their promise not to undercut state and local control?

Jim Horn over at Schools Matter blogs about the increasing cry for national curriculum and national tests.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Is Your State Chamber of Commerce Out of Touch?

Many superintendents have observed that their state chamber of commerce representatives repeatedly take positions on issues that do not necessarily reflect the local chamber of commerce in their communities. There might be something to this.

Recently, I attended a community business and education forum in which the following statistic was quoted.
"Seventy percent of the jobs available in the future will NOT require a four year degree."
In addition, a graph was distributed showing the results of a round table discussion of community leaders who were asked, "What can education do to advance the interests of business? The most frequent response by almost 2 to 1? Give them graduates with "skills." From reading all their comments it is obvious that they meant soft skills and technical skills, not what most view as academic skills.

Meanwhile the state education policy, driven by business roundtables at the state levels, is driving almost all students to college preparatory tracks. Which has never been a "track" proven to emphasize technical or soft skills.

This might indicate that local business needs are at odds with the state chamber of commerce's view of needs. Meanwhile, the nation's governors are driving attempts to make high school more academically rigorous because they know that students that take more rigorous courses do better on international and national tests.

Students are getting mixed messages.

Disconnect?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Obesity Fad: Junk Science?

Here is a research study on your school's vending machines.

Conclusion: Much ado about nothing.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Finally, a FUNDED mandate!

For years educators have railed against "unfunded mandates."

I have finally discovered a "funded mandate."See the photo of a plastic rafter square and flexible tape measure?

This is Indiana's method of funding a new obesity initiative. Indiana's educators will soon be required to weigh and measure all public school students and send the data to the state in a spreadsheet along with their confidential student ID number.

Now, I figure it will require each teacher an hour to put the books away, line up the class, take them to the room where confidential weigh-ins will occur, supervise the class and take them back to the room and resume instruction. At 200 teachers x 1 hour each, times $30.00 per hour of instructional time, that's $6,000.00. Not to mention the nursing staff hours to man the stations and organize the spreadsheets for uploading to the state.

Our FUNDED mandate is a $4.99 rafter square and $6.99 tape measure our nurses received in the mail.

Now THAT's efficiency.

Finally...a FUNDED mandate! Posted by Picasa

Teachers suspended with pay for breaking up fights?

According to an individual posting on the Indy Star web site, Indianapolis Public School teachers have been put on administrative leave pending an investigation after students have alleged the teachers used excessive force in breaking up a student altercation.

Wow this is tough. Liability issues have the entire nation under siege. Administrators are afraid not to treat these seriously until the facts are sorted out...but now the teachers will be afraid to get involved which is the WRONG message also.

Tough spot.

Here's the link.

Here's an excerpt:
Several teachers have been suspended this year because they were involved in
breaking up fights. After the fights were stopped, a student alleged that he or
she was the victim of a teacher using too much force to separate the combatants.
Principals must report the allegation to Child Protection Services and IPS Human
Resources. The teacher is then suspended with pay pending the CPS investigation.
The mere fact that this suspension and investigation have happened becomes a
threat to the career of the teacher.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Is the system collapsing under the weight of it all?

This year alone you can add to your curricular pile...obesity, bullying, intelligent design, and now.....middle school foreign language requirements? (according to this morning's Indy Star)

What would you like us to leave out?

Of course you don't want us to leave anything out.

It's all important isn't it?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Press Conference: Indiana Governor Supports Change to Constitution

This is a rerun of a previous post. It is reposted today in response to the recent meeting of the Indiana Efficiency Commission in which a brief discussion was held about revisiting the original intent of the Indiana Constitution and what it has to say about education. I'll save them the trouble.

PRESS RELEASE: March 28, 2008 (Hint: Note date...this could be satire)

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, has announced his support for a bold new amendment to the Indiana Constitution. This amendment is purported to bring Indiana's system of public education more in line with the current administration's vision for public education.

Below is the current Indiana Constitutional language describing the "Common School System," established on February 10, 1851:

ARTICLE 8. Education
Section 1. Common school system

Section 1. Knowledge and learning, generally diffused throughout a community, being essential to the preservation of a free government; it should be the duty of the General Assembly to encourage, by all suitable means, moral, intellectual, scientific, and agricultural improvement; and provide, by law, for a general and uniform system of Common Schools, wherein tuition shall without charge, and equally open to all.

It has been widely reported, that Senator Flubbers will introduce legislation containing new language using the "strip and insert" process so popular this legislative session. The problem as usual, is finding bills "germane" to the topic.

When questioned, education policy advisor David Shame stated, "I didn't see a problem with any of the bills being "germane." The few bills I actually read all seemed to be in English."

The following language has been circulated in a leaked memo.

Proposed Constitutional Change/New Language on Education:

ARTICLE 8. Education

Section 1. Common and Uncommon school systems

Section 1: Knowledge and learning, general or specific, diffused or confused, throughout a community, being essential or nonessential to the preservation of a free or oppressive government; it might or might not be the duty of the General Assembly or General Disassembly, to encourage or discourage , by any or all suitable or unsuitable means, moral or immoral, intellectual or unintellectual , scientific or unscientific, agricultural improvement or lack of improvement; and provide or maybe-not-to-provide, by law or without laws, for a general or not-so-general, uniform or not-so-uniform system, or possibly no system at all, of Common or Uncommon Schools, wherein tuition most assuredly will be with charge and generally not equal or open to much of anyone, unless people of means or maybe, mean people.

A spokesperson close to the governor said on condition of anonymity, "Of course we believe in 'common schools.' The Governor just has a different VISION and understanding of the word "common."

He added, "For goodness sakes people, that constitution was written clear back in 1851! We've changed our minds about the constitution being a founding document. We've now decided that the constitution is an evolving thing. You know, a 'living document'. He just believed that when he worked for the Hudson Institute. He's moved on."

To which national voucher advocates replied, "We like it, it works for us."

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The long and short of it...

Press Release from Scott Foresman Publishing Company:

In a follow-up to yesterday's post, the publishing conglomerate, Scott Foresman Incorporated, announced today its hostile takeover of the company Cliff Notes.

Scott Foresman spokesperson, I. M. A. Bridged, stated, "We have accepted the fact that in today's MTV world our busy teens do not have time to read the full versions of our literature texts. Between ball practice, and the evening shift at Burger Death, they simply cannot leverage the time to read full text literature.

Our vision is to deliver the Cliff Notes versions of the classic literature most often assigned by today's English teachers, in text messages over cell phones. These short versions can also be downloaded in MP3 sound bites to iPods for auditory review before tests and quizzes."

Cliff was unavailable for comment and was widely reported to be enjoying his new found wealth by curling up with a good book.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Are their attention spans really THAT short?

Over at Get Schooled, Friday, it was posted that a textbook rep was marketing their "short version" stories because of the students "short attention" spans.

I hate to think that we have to use abridged versions of the classics because we think students can't pay attention long enough to read them.

If we use abridged versions of everything don't we just expand their short attention spans?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Do Parents Matter?

This news article in the LA Times seems to imply that parent involvement is not a factor in student achievement.

Reading the article carefully however, will reveal that all schools in the study were low-income schools.

In other words, when comparing students of poor parents to other students of poor parents, parental involvement is not as significant as curriculum alignment and high expectations on the part of the school personnel.

However, comparing the parental involvement of students in middle-class and upper-class schools to students of parents from poor backgrounds could reveal a different headline.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

So whose fault is it that property tax rates are rising?

One of the great advantages that state governments have through controlling educational policy, is that they not only get to set policy, but they get to decide who pays for it. They can have their cake and eat it too. Make new rules, pass it off to local tax payers then say, "It's those dang schools again...if they would just control spending...."

Here is good quote:

Bill Blomquist, a political scientist at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis, said, “What you see, especially in Indiana, is that state officials are more than happy to claim credit when local property taxes are reduced, and more than happy to blame local officials whenever property taxes go up,” Blomquist said.

Here is a link on a full article on property tax increases in Indiana.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Are the public schools the best solution to every social problem?

This question was posed by an Indiana superintendent on a local school corporation blog site in Indiana.

His blog post was titled "Another Big Fat Mandate."

Indiana is evidently going to consider a bill to weigh and measure every student in the state and require them to send the data to the state.

Another great idea - at what cost?

For newcomer's - click on this link to see the cost. Scroll to the bottom of Jamie Vollmer's website, click to see The Burden animation.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Help Wanted

Notice to all Superintendents:

The following Help Wanted ad was received by The Super through e-mail from a parent in a large east coast school district that is looking for a new superintendent.

I present this ad as proof that the more parents know about NCLB and it's insidious side-effects, the more they want their educational leaders to stand up for their children and not just go along with the throng throwing money at the testing industry.

Wouldn't you like to see a help wanted ad that actually looked like this?



HELP WANTED:

School superintendent who meets the following criteria:

Thinks independently and creatively about public school education.

Does not buy into the NCLB act or it's insistence on participation in the standards and testing industry.

Endorses a curriculum that is sensitive to the needs of the individual child.

Solicits the professional input of teaching staff.

Endorses an awareness of and dedication to current knowledge about learning.

Believes that smaller classrooms, varied assessment tools, creative curriculum and competitive salaries for teachers belong on a priority agenda.

Dedicates resources, not only to minority and special needs students, but also to real and varied academic opportunities for the entire range of students.

Is willing to research and consider other avenues for students advancement besides AP, IB or other overused, academically disputed recipes.

Will hope to foster community and parental interest, input, and support for our schools, our teachers, and our students.

Has no financial claims or interest in contributing to the growing financial returns of academic test, textbook or tutoring industries.

With no particular political agenda, still believes that our public schools present an opportunity to prepare and educate our students for a better future.

Enjoys shellfish.

Ok Supe's - any takers?

Sunday, October 16, 2005

If you could do it over again, would you still be a teacher?

I have been noticing a growing trend in the teaching profession. Ask a few random teachers if they would encourage young people today to go into teaching.

Ask them, "If you could do it all over again would you still be a teacher?"

Many of them are saying they have not encouraged their own family members or other young people to go into education.

The most prevalent reason seems to be that the respect factor is now gone or diminishing and the constant bombardment and negativity from media and politicians has created a growing dissatisfaction.

A second reason is that the teaching profession has not kept pace with the increasing wages found in other professional careers.

This feeling seems to be supported by this month's AFT study showing that teachers' pay increased just 18 cents for every extra dollar earned by other professionals.

Searching around on the web, it's hard to find much that would give a bright, eager high school student a reason to go into what used to be a valued and respected profession.

Sad thing is, we need good people now more than ever.