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Friday, May 24, 2013

How we could fix public education, and why it won't happen

By Laurie H. Rogers

This week, I saw a donation stand for the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). The stand was located between the in and out doors of a grocery store, and the older veteran standing there must have felt chilled. I gave him a donation, and on the way out, I offered to get him a cup of coffee. He looked like he wanted one, but he demurred, so I just went and got him a large cup with a free refill. He offered to pay me for the coffee. When I refused his money, he put it in the donation cup. This veteran was focused on his mission. He wasn’t there for himself, and he behaved with impeccable manners and integrity. I thought – what a difference between a man like that, and so many of those who run our public schools.


As an education advocate, I’m asked regularly how we fix our public schools. After six and a half years of advocacy, I’m no longer confident we can. Solutions exist, and they’re neither difficult nor expensive to implement. But most board directors and education administrators won’t do those things, and no one can make them. Absolute failure brings them more money, sympathy and power. They’re nearly immune now to any consequences, and most seem allergic to accountability or self-introspection. Naturally, this kind of power can go to one’s head.

The situation could be rectified, with proper oversight from citizens, legislators and the law. But many school districts spend much time, energy and taxpayer money cultivating uncritical friends – in the legislature, the courts, public agencies, private organizations, small businesses, large corporations and the media. They keep publicly funded lawyers on retainer, and they can spend a bottomless pit of tax dollars, suing for more in the midst of plenty. They wield their considerable power with impunity, and they answer to almost no one. In the midst of their self-interest and lack of humility, most refuse to properly educate or protect the children.

It’s quite twisted. I think of these people now as the Edu Mob. I keep asking for someone with oversight to jerk a legal knot in their chain, but it’s been years and I’m still waiting.

Certain administrators and board directors come to believe they’re invincible, that they have carte blanche to do as they please – to hide information, mislead about money and outcomes, violate open-government laws, and lie right to our face, if necessary – in order to get what they want. I doubt they see their lying as wrong. I’m sure they see it as just the cost of doing business. It isn’t honorable, of course, but only those with honor would care about that.

Here are 10 key things districts could do to fix the problems they’ve created. Match these 10 to the things they actually do.
  • 1. Start telling the truth. Assess all students with well-written, at-grade-level tests (so, not with any state tests). Provide citizens with the unvarnished results. Put more effort into telling the truth about academic outcomes than they’ve put into hiding it. Give completed tests back to teachers and parents so we know how to help the children.
  • 2. See the children – and the academic problem – clearly. Feel a concern for the children that transcends a concern for themselves. Recognize that students are being damaged for life by failed academic programs. Feel ashamed and embarrassed. Develop a sense of urgency about helping the children academically. Turn shame and embarrassment into immediate action.
  • 3. Buy good textbooks. Buy good textbooks today. If they bought textbooks with a proven track record, they wouldn’t need to waste teacher and student time on adoption committees or pilots. Worry more about the academic quality of the textbooks than about whether they align with the unproved, arguably illegal Common Core State Standards, whether they engage in “political/social justice” themes, or whether they contain a gazillion group projects. Buy books that are sufficient, efficient, effective, and crystal clear to teachers and parents. Such books are available; they should buy them now before somebody wants to make them illegal.
  • 4. Don’t put curriculum and tests online. Many children won’t do well with all-online material. Some will find that working online hurts their eyes and even damages their eyesight. Some will be distracted by online options and visuals. Children also learn by writing things down; they don’t learn by clicking a mouse. Care more about this than about pleasing the feds, Bill Gates, Apple and other tech vendors – or about pocketing their gobs of bait-money.
  • 5. Allow teachers to directly teach. Stop micromanaging teachers. Allow teachers the academic freedom they need to be as good or as poor as they are. Reward effective ones, and fire ineffective ones. Ask parents for input on this. Care more about teacher quality than about pleasing unions or obtaining union support for pet projects.
  • 6. Remove distractions from the school day. Stop wasting time on things like excessive testing and test prep, “training” on unnecessary technology, and assemblies where children learn how to sell stuff. Stop yanking teachers out of class for useless “professional development.” Give teachers good academic materials and then leave them alone so they can teach it.
  • 7. Make class sizes manageable. If districts take in tax dollars to lower class sizes, they should actually lower the damn class sizes and stop lying about it.
  • 8. Allow the community to help. Community members can and will volunteer to fill in academic gaps; administrators just need to open the door. No one needs a teaching certificate to tutor a child.
  • 9. Cut back on or get rid of curriculum departments. Most administrators in public-school curriculum departments don’t teach, and they generally refuse to learn. What they do is tell everyone else what to do. Make them go away. And please, for heaven’s sake, do not put any dogmatic reformers back into the classroom.
  • 10. Obey the laws. Do it because it’s right, and do it always, not just when somebody gets caught.
This is what it takes: Good textbooks, a productive learning environment and caring teachers who can actually teach. It’s why good tutors are incredibly effective. But the Edu Mob won’t do any of it. Most administrators won’t publicly tell the truth or admit there’s a problem. They won’t assess students with at-grade-level tests and make results public; won’t consistently buy or use good textbooks; won’t allow teachers to directly teach; won’t clear the school day of distractions; won’t lower class sizes to reasonable levels; and won’t solicit community help on mathematics or grammar.

What will they do? Exactly what they’re doing.
  • They’ll put all curriculum and tests online, without any proof that a) this is an effective way to teach, or that b) it won’t damage the children’s eyesight.
  • They’ll campaign hard for bonds and levies and sue for more money, using your tax dollars to do it.
  • They’ll push for all-day kindergarten in all schools for all children, whether or not citizens like it, and whether or not all 5-year-olds are ready for this.
  • They’ll apply for charter schools, which they’ll run or influence to be run in the same way as the current public schools.
  • They’ll adopt the Common Core initiatives, sight unseen – blindly tagging along after this obscenely expensive national experiment.
  • And, they’ll hand you a fistful of excuses as to why they can’t do anything else.
The Common Core initiatives come with a creepy data system that is trashing privacy laws regarding children and families. Remember the idea of expunging records when children turn 18, so that new adults can begin with a clean slate? That’s pretty much out the window with the Common Core. The feds want cradle-through-career data and information, which they’ll share as they please without our permission or knowledge, and which no one will be allowed to expunge.
Despite voting repeatedly to target multi-millions of taxpayer dollars for various aspects of the Common Core, Spokane Board President Bob Douthitt admitted early in 2013 at a district math forum that he doesn’t know much about the Common Core. Douthitt also has said the district had no choice but to adopt the Common Core (which is not true), and that Spokane students are graduating ready for college (which is not true for most). His assertions aren’t logical. If everything is wonderful, why is he voting to waste our money on changing everything?
Douthitt is running again for the school board. Please don’t vote for him.
I had a surreal experience this week. I went in to look at the district’s curricular materials, and they look depressingly like they did in 2007. Unbelievably, this district still uses two of the worst math programs on the planet: Investigations in Number, Data, and Space, and Connected Mathematics. The public has online access to the district’s “curriculum guides” – which are overarching concepts of what curriculum coordinators expect of teachers, but we haven’t been allowed to see the district’s "program guides" – the daily administrative dictates to teachers. Those are hidden in Blackboard, which requires a login.
Program guides are public records, however, so I stuck to my guns, and I managed to see some of them this week, along with some of the curricular materials. It’s a mound of truly awful stuff.
  • If you’re a believer in civics instruction, you’ll be distressed by the social studies materials.
  • If you’re a believer in direct instruction to mastery of sufficient standard algorithms, you’ll be distressed by the stubbornly crappy math materials.
  • If you’re a believer in literature and in direct instruction of grammar, you’ll be distressed by the English/language arts materials.
  • If you think small children should not be taught to embrace alternative lifestyles to which their parents are opposed, or before they even know what a lifestyle is – you’ll hate the “human growth and development” materials.
  • Everyone should be appalled by the rampant typos, spelling and grammatical errors, incomprehensible test questions, and generally weak writing coming out of the Department of Teaching and Learning.
I asked Superintendent Shelley Redinger if the district will buy better math materials for fall 2013. She said they’ll continue to pilot materials. It’s clear that Saxon Math will not be adopted in Spokane Public Schools, not even by someone who says she understands the math problem. This, despite Saxon being one of the best elementary math series in the country. Supporting Saxon are solid research, student data, millions of happy homeschoolers, and the majority of math professionals I surveyed earlier this year.

Is Saxon Math the only math program currently available that's sufficient, efficient and effective? No. But the antagonism shown toward it by reformers is not about Saxon; it's about philosophy. Believers in reform math and student-centered learning will never want the same books as will believers in direct instruction to mastery of the most-efficient and most-effective algorithms.

Saxon Math and the kind of instruction within it have been caricaturized and demonized in Spokane by lovers of the current failed approach to math. So, now, the district is waiting for “Godot” – a math program that won’t upset those people; that hasn’t been written, properly researched or assessed; that’s “aligned” with the unproved Common Core; that 50 or so hand-picked people will collectively decide without proof is good enough; that’s supposed to make reformers and traditionalists happy; that will be mathematically sufficient; and that will get all kids on track for college. This is a fish-bicycle, an impossible thing. It can’t happen.

Whichever new materials they eventually look at will still have to go through another wasteful adoption process, and when adopted, will be yet another experiment on the children.
I expressed concern about the 20,000 students who will be forced to suffer in math for another school year. It’s a lifetime to them, I argued. Don’t you feel a sense of urgency? I asked Dr. Redinger. They’re drowning. She said she feels that urgency.

Maybe. The proof is in the pudding. There’s been no proper assessment made of all students, no truth about their struggle made public, no solid math curriculum adopted, no community tutoring program begun, no opt-out offered for all-day kindergarten, and no district push-back made public on the Common Core. Dr. Redinger has made nearly a quarter of a million dollars since July 2012, yet the children still don’t have a good math curriculum. Board directors Bob Douthitt and Sue Chapin have been on the board since 2007. Rocky Treppiedi has been there since 1996, Jeff Bierman since 2009, and Deana Brower since 2011. This school board has spent years campaigning for more dollars, and the last two furiously trying to undermine the Public Records Act for all citizens in Washington State. Yet, Spokane children still don’t have a good math curriculum.

For years, I’ve asked the school district to help me begin a free community tutoring program in math so we can get these children to grade level. It would be volunteering to help the children, an offer I've made repeatedly. Former superintendent Nancy Stowell repeatedly refused to allow it. I was publicly criticized for suggesting it.

I began asking Dr. Redinger about it in September 2012. Finally, she invited me in last week to talk about tutoring. I was wary but hopeful. Had she begun a program? Did she want me to start one? Had someone else begun a program I could promote? Nope. None of the above. She handed me a fee schedule for renting a school building. I stared at the fee schedule, as I contemplated her quarter-million-dollar salary. What should I have said? What I thought was: “Seriously? Are you kidding me??”

Apparently, the wants of the monkeys still dictate how the zoo is run. Saxon Math could help fix Spokane’s math problem, but reformers don’t want Saxon, so it’s dead in the water. Instead, the leadership will allow 20,000 children to suffer every day in math while they all wait for a textbook that’s yet to be published. Reformers also don’t want citizens tutoring in proper math, and they don’t want at-grade-level assessments, but they do want the Common Core. Clearly, dealing with their hates and wants still takes priority over the children’s needs.

There’s so much arrogance and self-interest in public education, many adults now seem money-blind and power-blind to the children. I’ve begged them: Please care about these children. In return, many of them - including members of the board - call me names. The latest pejorative, so I hear, is “gadfly.” It isn’t the worst name they’ve called me.

I don’t know how to make selfish people care more about the children than about themselves. It’s probably another fish-bicycle. They should be ashamed, but they aren’t. They do, however, want you to give them more money and to vote some of them back in. Please don't.


Please note: The information in this post is copyrighted. The proper citation is:
Rogers, L. (May 2013). "How we could fix public education, and why it won't happen." Retrieved (date) from the Betrayed Web site: http://betrayed-whyeducationisfailing.blogspot.com

This article was published May 28, 2013, on Education News at:http://www.educationnews.org/education-policy-and-politics/laurie-rogers-how-we-could-fix-education-and-why-it-wont-happen/


23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Saxon is not a bad program, but as a teacher, I find its organization a little strange. For students who don't have a teacher available, Saxon is a good program. In trying to teach it to a class, I find its non-standard organization difficult to work with.

I like Mary Dolciani's Structure and Method Algebra series better - but since I've never taught elementary school, I don't know which programs might work there.

I guess this is a long-winded way of saying that just because a teacher doesn't want to use Saxon, that doesn't mean they're not dedicated to really teaching math. I hate the reform texts as much as anyone (and the software approach too!)

Laurie H. Rogers said...

That's fine, Anonymous. I understand and accept your point.

I have seen the Dolciani textbook. I have a copy of both volumes, as well as the teacher manual.

Although the math content within Dolciani is strong, certainly better than any reform textook, it doesn't contain enough practice on the basic skill. The sections with problems provide a few at the teaching level, and then they suddenly sail off to complicated problems that expect a great deal of a student just learning that concept.

I'm tutoring a student whose school uses Dolciani. This week's chapter introduced special right triangles, and there was some work on the Pythagorean Theorem. The problems used complicated radicals on both sections, and also asked the student to draw the right triangles with the information given. It was unnecessarily complicated, and the student was confused.

In addition, the book occasionally tosses in the odd material from a more advanced level.

So, I would take Dolciani over any reform text, but it isn't clear enough or incremental enough for me. I haven't seen a better one on that score than Saxon. I get what you're saying -- not everyone will appreciate Saxon's constant review, but I deal with that by modifying it.

(I can't make a muffin recipe without modifying it either. But I think of muffins in the same way -- we should make the recipes that work for us.)

Your point was well taken, though, and I added a short paragraph to acknowledge that Saxon isn't the only series that can get the job done. The district's issue with Saxon is philosophical, and that's the point I hope I'm making more clearly now.

Thanks for the comment. I appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

Just so you realize, Laurie, it's teachers from the district that write the program guides, not admin from Teaching & Learning.

Laurie H. Rogers said...

Really? Thanks for telling me that. How does that happen?

Teachers are supposed to be in the classroom, teaching ... so how do they put together these program guides? The math program guides that I saw just for high school math, stacked altogether, were several feet tall.

How many teachers are there writing guides, who takes over their classroom, and who actually writes the wording? As we know, a committee can't actually write a guide -- someone has to choose the words. Do they have guidance or oversight -- or even proofreading help -- from T&L? What is their training in writing a curriculum guide?

That's amazing news. I would really like to know more about that. My email is wlroge@comcast.net

Anonymous said...

Laurie - a couple of things.

First, the intertia of a district the size of Spokane is huge - rectifying what has been put into place for years, if not decades, is going to take a lot of time (read years). That's very unfortunate for the kids in the system today, but that's just the reality.

Second, I cannot imagine that calling the superintendent, in effect, a monkey, is the way to develop a constructive partnership to achieve the needed changes. And, I am not sure what your point is relative to her salary and the fee schedule - don't other groups/organizations have to pay to use the facilities outside of school hours?

I can only imagine that for every issue you raise, there are many parents out there raising other issues that they feel are just as important to them and they want them addressed immediately. How does the district make all the needed changes in a timely fashion? I can't imagine it's like snapping ones fingers...

You make a lot of interesting points, but you minimize their impact and your activism by being combative and attacking someone that appears to want to bring about change. That's too bad as the district needs input like yours, but that input has to be tempered by reality. If not, you just get tuned out.

Laurie H. Rogers said...

Thank you for your comments, anonymous (9:30).

I'll rework the wording, but I'm not calling the superintendent a monkey. The word "monkey" is a metaphor -- the lunatics are running the asylum, the monkeys are running the zoo. My point is that she is allowing those who are opposed to proper instruction to prevent needed changes, as they have prevented them for decades.

I believe her when she says she wants change, but she's been here for almost a year, collected close to a quarter of a million dollars, and the children still don't have what they need. That's what I'm criticizing. Those in opposition to proper instruction still influence the curriculum.

As for the fee schedule, the community tutoring program would be free, run by volunteers, for the benefit of the children. No one pays to come in and read with the children on school property. When I ran a chess club, I didn't pay to do that. This would not be for-profit, which I’ve told them several times. It's about helping the children get up to speed in a critical subject.

No, I don't think we should have to pay to volunteer. No one else does. And passing any fee on to parents would in effect be charging parents for a program that is making up for skills the district refuses to teach.

As for my issue taking precedence over other parents' issues – You wouldn’t know it from the leadership, but academics are the entire point of a school district. It isn't about me or my issue -- it's about the children and their academics. Placing other issues on a level with academics is -- once again -- missing the point of a school district.

As for being tuned out, it happened the moment I went to the board for the third time, the moment I interviewed the former superintendent Brian Benzel, the moment I questioned their idea of how math should be taught, the moment I tried to speak to the local print media, the moment I refused to go along to get along. I can't be tuned out more than I am. And yet, for the sake of the children, I keep trying to get through. The parents do hear me.

If the superintendent is upset that someone has noticed that two of the worst math programs in the country will be used again in the fall and has said so, then she is not the person she has told me she is. The fact that we are heading into another academic year without the children getting a good math program, or proper tutoring, or even truth for their parents -- is inexcusable.

It's a difficult thing to get anyone in this school district to take responsibility. They always want the praise, but they always duck the criticism. She's at the top. That's why she gets the big bucks, and that's why she's getting this criticism.

I think I've been patient. I waited for almost a year to give her room to do what needs to be done.

How many years and how many taxpayer dollars do you figure a superintendent should get before she buys the children a good math program, and before she tells their parents the truth?

Laurie H. Rogers said...

Anonymous (9:30):

I have reworded that section and softened the metaphor. Let me know if this is more clear.

Writing is a tricky business, and I am not Mozart, who was able to write his music without much editing.

I'm glad you mentioned this. I think it's closer now to what I meant. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Laurie -- where do parents fit in? Yes, I know (and agree) districts need to change for the better and in countless ways, but where do parents fit in all of this? Thank you and keep up the great work...

Anonymous said...

I'd recommend that the schools use Singapore National Primary Mathematics Curriculum. The Program made by the Curriculum Planning, Development Division of Education, Singapore. (these materials are available at www.singaporemath.com choose the link shop, thereafter choose mathematics) You may choose US Edition or Standards Editions. The books are available from K-6 and in this year additional books were published for grade 7 and the grade 8 books are coming out in July(there is one textbook for every semester).PLEASE DO NOT EXCHANGE THESE EXCELLENT MATERIALS WITH FOCUS ON MATH OR OTHER copycat materials.

The Singapore National Primary Mathematics is the leading curriculum since 1999 internationally. There is no reason we should not use it here in the US everywhere. Singapore is first in TIMSS since 1999 on grade 4 and grade 8 with this curriculum. The US is 26th in the TIMSS. Many schools and home schoolers use this curriculum and the students and teachers react to it wonderfully. Attitudes towards Mathematics are changing. The books are cheap, right on target (no profit for the publishing company)
The profit is for the learners, for the teachers and for the parents. Many teachers who hated math since their childhood embrace this curriculum, because its approach changes the attitude of children towards mathematics. It takes some time for the teachers to learn the new approach, but once it is learned it is a lifelong benefit. The teachers do not need to change to any other curriculum, but improve themselves in this concept.
I could discus there further the benefits of the Sincapore Math concept, but there are many publications available reflecting on this.

Laurie H. Rogers said...

Anonymous (4:13):

Your question is pertinent. There are as many approaches to parenting as there are parents. Obviously, some parents are not doing the job they should.

On the other hand, parents are being lied to about the strength and effectiveness of the math program. How would parents know about the weak math program when they hear the problem is their child, their school, their income level, their community, or maybe themselves? When they hear their child might have ADHD, might have oppositional disorder, or just might not be good in math? When the cut score for the state math tests is set AFTER the children take the tests, and it’s largely set based on how well the children did, and not on a standard level of achievement? Children don’t have to do well in order to pass. In 2012, about 80% of Spokane 10th graders passed the state math test. That number obviously does not reflect the fact that most Spokane 10th graders are close to being mathematically illiterate.

People in this district have steadfastly blamed the math problem on teachers, parents, children, society, poverty, etc., but the math problem also resides in families that are strong, well-off, involved and loving, and it resides in children who are dedicated, smart and capable. I see the problem across this district; it cannot legitimately be pinned on the parents.

Parents see the truth when their children try to go to college, but many still don’t realize how they’ve been hoodwinked by the K-12 system. It isn’t just Spokane. It isn’t just Washington State. This is the game across the country. What will we do with a nation full of mathematically unknowledgeable graduates? Who will take over the reins of the country?

The situation is alarming. Parents should be alarmed. But they have been lulled to sleep by the deception.

I’ve been asking this superintendent since September 2012 to lift the curtain and allow parents to see the truth. I hope she will do it. It would help her, too, but it would ruffle the feathers, no doubt about it, of those who would prefer that parents continue to live in ignorance.

Laurie H. Rogers said...

Anonymous (4:44)

I like aspects of Singapore Math (the Standards or the older U.S. Edition), and I use it for K-3. Then, I move to Saxon, supplementing with Singapore. I don't care for the high school Singapore books at all.

A few cautions:
1. As you rightly pointed out, not all Singapore Math products are created equal.
2. Singapore Math has come out with a constructivist series they say is based on the Common Core. Parents should avoid it.
3. Singapore Math is word-problem heavy, and it doesn't contain enough practice in some simple things. I modify it to suit the student I'm tutoring. I don't always use it in the way the book is written.

If any parent wants to ask about a Singapore series, feel free to write to me. I like aspects of it a great deal, and the Standards or the older U.S. versions are miles and miles better than any reform-math product.

Bruce Price said...

The odd part for me is that many people are still uncomfortable with the word "conspiracy."

I would suggest that American education, since the time of John Dewey, was and is a conspiracy the size of Texas. Impossible not to see.

I don't think John Dewey and his cult members ever sat down to lunch when they were not conspiring to transform the school system as a way of transforming the country.

Reform Math, in all of its silly manifestations, is prima facie proof that the people in charge do not want children to learn math. Whole Word is proof that the Education Establishment hopes to undermine literacy. I've concluded that every gimmick in the public schools is there precisely because it does NOT work.

Anonymous said...

Interesting commentary on a problem acknowledged by few. I'm familiar with all three math curriculum mentioned. I've used Dolciani and Singapore. I found Saxon too repetitive for math oriented students. of course, I could have simply reduced the number of problems. I will continue supplementing my son with true Singapore until 7th. I find few teachers willing to acknowledge the issues in schools. Too many are touting the central office line. If I hear one more time that CCS increases rigor and critical thinking I will scream. Wait, I already did that. When I ask how CCS increases rigor when it moves ALG 1 from 8th grade to 9th teachers' eyes glaze over. Asking for examples of increased critical thinking and they will change the topic of conversation. From the perspective of a parent, anyone giving free tutoring services should not have to rent a building. People and groups use the athletic fields all the time for free. Additionally, I want NONE of the required school day devoted to sales techniques, awarding prizes for selling the most etc. How does that calculate into seat time?Laurie, keep up the fight. Too bad parents are not more concerned with academics instead of little Susie's new outfit for school.

Anonymous said...

It seems in the article you are complaining that admin from T&L are writing the program guides and telling teachers how and what to teach.
You said:
"program guides – the daily administrative dictates to teachers."
Then when given the information that it isn't admin writing the guides, but teachers, from their content, writing the program guides, you complain about that as well.
You said:
" Teachers are supposed to be in the classroom, teaching ... so how do they put together these program guides?"

You are very hard to please, Laurie.

Teachers wrote the program guides, partially during sub out days, partially during evening meetings, and partially over summer. We believe in the program we wrote and committed many many hours to make sure the program aligned to Washington State Performance Expectations (PEs).

Laurie H. Rogers said...

To Anonymous (1:21 p.m.):

You said: “It seems in the article you are complaining that admin from T&L are writing the program guides and telling teachers how and what to teach. ... Then when given the information that it isn't admin writing the guides, but teachers, from their content, writing the program guides, you complain about that as well.”
Actually, I acknowledged that this is new information, and I asked questions about it. You decided that my questions are complaints because it fits your narrative, but they’re just questions. You also didn’t answer some of my questions.

You said: “You are very hard to please, Laurie.”
I’m easy to please. If districts would do what they’re supposed to do academically for the children, hold themselves accountable and engage in transparency to parents and taxpayers, I’d be downright delighted. How about if you blame the district for not doing its job, and stop blaming the messenger?

You said: “Teachers wrote the program guides, partially during sub out days, partially during evening meetings, and partially over summer. We believe in the program we wrote and committed many many hours to make sure the program aligned to Washington State Performance Expectations (PEs).”
So, taxpayers are paying for teachers, subs, overtime, and probably food -- so that teachers can write a guide for a program that – were it any good – could just be taught?
What is the background of these teachers? While they’re writing program guides, who is teaching the children? What is the administrative team in Teaching and Learning doing?
This system only makes sense to people in public education. No one in a successful business would ever operate this way.

Are you thinking I should just accept your explanation, an anonymous source, about a collective effort from other anonymous sources, which appears to have led to a deeply flawed academic program? Should I say, “Oh, OK. I get it. It’s fine then.” ?? Looking at the program guides and curricular materials, I see spelling errors, grammatical errors, factual errors, political leanings, and ultimately -- insufficient academics... You might believe in your program, but I see a program that will NOT lead the children to college or career readiness.

My point in the article is that the adults in the district should care more about the children than about individual wants and egos. I want to thank you for helping me to prove that point.

Anonymous said...

Touchè. There are typos and errors in what you say is a massive undertaking for the people who wrote the guides?

"The math program guides that I saw just for high school math, stacked altogether, were several feet tall."

So sorry. We are human. I've seen typos and errors in text books and novels, newspapers and magazines. It happens.

The reason why I didn't give you more information or answer all of your questions is because I didn't want you to have all the information you desire. You twist anything and everything anyone ever posts on here if they disagree with you in any way.

I'm remaining anonymous because I'm a teacher in the district you so despise.

Laurie H. Rogers said...

To Anonymous (1:24 p.m.):

Yes, of course.

You don’t have to take responsibility for the mistakes because everyone makes mistakes.
You don’t have to concern yourself with the children’s academics because you claim to be doing your best.
You don’t have to tell parents the truth because the real problem here is Laurie Rogers.

I don’t despise the district. The district is made up of children, whom I care about; caring and dedicated staff members who have always been kind to me; and excellent teachers who understand exactly what I’m saying and who are not allowed to be as good as they really are.

I’ve spent six and half years trying to persuade administrators to improve what they’re doing in academics. They always have something else to do, and that’s because they’re focused on the wrong things.

Anonymous, it’s worth noting that you haven’t expressed one word of concern about the children.

If you would ever like to engage in a conversation about the children and their academics, my door is always open to you or anyone else.

Ian Elliot said...

Laurie, many thanks for taking PRIVATE time to do the research and write a very effective blog informing parents and public what are solutions readily assimilated that benefit student learning. The Anonymous went defensive because the buy-in is complete among those who engage in birthing the reform project. Many know no better, but close their doors. Others, paid for service, cannot digress. Hopefully after Sharon Hanek's presentation for the history of Ed Reform/aka standards-based/aka outcomes based FedEd you will come to present current day dilemmas with which you have engaged these readers. "Anonymous" only because it posts and can't id otherwise.

Laurie H. Rogers said...

Any time I can do it, Sandy. Just need a little notice, and I'll be there.

Goin Ballistic Fan said...

I just retired from teaching secondary level math for 31 1/2 years and I am wondering why we are definitely dumbing down the public school curriculum. I have fought for years to do the best I could for my students and get around any new fad including Reform Math. My students were weaker and weaker every year, this year was the worst. I hate thinking it is a government conspiracy to dumb down the electorate. And, why doesn't the math community step up and state that Common Core would be better served with a stronger,math curriculum using more teacher directed learning instead of Reform student lead/cooperative learning group work? I was repeatedly dogged and threatened to follow the curriculum like a good teacher should and tried to get parents/ board members involved. But, found it to be a losing battle as all said their own child was their only responsibility.That is why teachers can't beat the system, but can be blamed for a lack of student learning.

Goin Ballistic Fan said...

I have just retired from 31 1/2 years of teaching secondary level math. I have tried to teach around every new fad including Reform Math for the sake of my students. I am hoping there is not a conspiracy to dumb down the electorate as that is all I have seen for the last ten years. All of the local districts hopped on the NSF grants available over the last ten years to bring in Reform math in various ways. And, I truly saw a definite weakening of ability of students to do mental math even in my advanced math classes. We stopped doing well in contests and state testing and now are close to the bottom in math among local districts. We always lagged behind the rest of the US, here in the midwest, so I saw all of the new math coming and read everything I could on it. I really never had much success with both curriculums that were chosen for us( we really never got to choose as we balked after round one failed us) But, teachers can't stop bad curriculum choices when parents are solely concerned with their own children and not others. I do not understand why NCTM can't come out and say Common Core would be better served by teacher directed curriculums instead of student centered discovery ones at the elementary level. They want a more focused, in depth, curriculum and you cannot do that with students that are ill prepared. Elementary school is the time to seriously use the best math teachers and curriculum so that the secondary teachers can add more variety and activities to bolster it. Elementary math teacher training should be completely revamped to support today's need for a better education. I see none of this happening and with state control, no hope for change. Is it weird that all of our old math textbooks are in South America and they are ahead of us in math?

Michelle Courtney DeFiore said...

The problem with public education is that the government is not paying too much attention to it. This is one of the hot topics in education today. They should also focus on education.

Michelle said...

Too many parents are either ignorant of what their children are learning (missing at school), simply do not care enough to investigate, or are plain too dumb to even analyse the content of rubbish taught at school, that it may be in society's best interests to just let those children flunk.

For those smarter parents who do get it, they will send their kids to tuition or teach at home, giving their children a better chance in life. You can't fight everyones battle for them!

Natural selection? I would say that sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind. I've had enough battling school principals, teachers and bureaucrats for no reward, time lost that could have been spent teaching my children.

The problem is that teachers themselves have been educated with constructivist pedagogy and this causes a vicious cycle of hopelessness in the system - the blind leading the blind.


Fight the battle by educating your children your own way at home and let them go to school to play, then at least they'll have a chance to succeed.

Try to fight the system and you will not win, there are too many layers of protection around reformed, dumbed down educational models and too many vested non-academic interests. Do what some cultures in this country do and forget about the system and instead concentrate on your kids.