Letters to the Editor

Offensive letter

August 27, 2010

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To the editor:

I am among thousands of parents to receive a letter from the Kansas State Department of Education, regarding USD 497 being “on improvement.” This letter is offensive. After all, when was the last time anyone from KSDE set foot in our schools?

I know firsthand what remarkable schools we have. Our teachers do remarkable work that no one-shot test, imposed from the outside, can possibly judge. Furthermore, countless extraneous variables reduce the validity of “adequate yearly progress” to “adequate yearly diddily poop” (Google that).

The entire premise of No Child Left Behind is ludicrous: all students must be “proficient” by 2014? Why not mandate our police eliminate all crime and firefighters eliminate all fires by 2014 as well? This law has nothing to do with education and everything to do with blaming and shaming public schools, eroding public confidence and setting the stage for private enterprise to profit from public funds.

The Obama administration’s “Race to the Top” pushed the path to profiteering further still. Forty-six states, already strapped for cash, played the slots at a chance for one-time dollars. Most states lost — and lost more than money. To qualify, 34 states changed laws regarding public education in ways that invite profiteering at taxpayer expense.

Those who blame and shame our public schools and accuse schools of squandering money seem to believe the solution lies in adding layers of for-profit middle management. Charter school corporations, assessment peddlers and school improvement consultants have never been happier.

What about the kids?

David Reber,

Lawrence

Comments

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

I'm guessing our LTE writer is a teacher?

"I know firsthand what remarkable schools we have. Our teachers do remarkable work that no one-shot test, imposed from the outside, can possibly judge. Furthermore, countless extraneous variables reduce the validity of “adequate yearly progress” to “adequate yearly diddily poop” (Google that)."

So in other words, no measure is valid and we should just accept the teachers' and the schools' words that they're doing fine.

If you're not a teacher, what business are you in, exactly, where it works that way?

Scott Drummond 4 years, 9 months ago

A teacher's views on the matter may have more relevance than oh say an internet blogger.

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

Yes, scottie, because he's so objective, and not trying to justify poor performance while asking for more money.

Scott Drummond 4 years, 9 months ago

Please point out where the writer justifies poor performance or asks for more money.

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

Oh, sorry, I missed this one.

The parts that I was referring to? Why would he complain about 'extraneous variables [which] reduce the validity of “adequate yearly progress” to “adequate yearly diddily poop”' if not to justify not meeting those standards? And his last paragraph laments those who complain about school spending when he believes the problem is how much of that spending goes to administration, which tends to suggest he believes it should be allocated more in his direction.

Was I was reading between the lines at first? Yep. Yes, I inferred some things from the LTE writer's words, but 1) inferring meaning from what people say - and don't say - happens to be what I was trained for and what I get paid to do, and 2) after finding out who the LTE writer was and seeing his other 'works', it appears I was right.

geekyhost 4 years, 9 months ago

Measuring not only the group as a whole but bunches of subgroups is asking for statistical outliers to take away funding from the district. Google chi square and goodness of fit tests to see why it really is adequate yearly diddly poop.

I'm not saying there shouldn't be standards, but NCLB is pretty much designed to make sure nobody meets those standards. In the case of Lawrence, it's kids with reading difficulties that are being tested as not proficient in reading. Yes, you read that right. Kids with reading disabilities are not proficient in reading, so we're "on improvement."

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

Well, that would be the whole frikkin' point, wouldn't it, geek? Caring for those subgroups who need the extra attention? But what the heck, you're right, let's just forget about those danged outliers who bring the average down.

Imagine if they did that at the emergency room, geek. Who cares if one patient has a temperature of 106, and another is freezing to death. On average, the whole group is within the normal temperature range. No problem at all - unless YOU'RE the one with the fever, of course.

God forbid KSDE, the school district, the individual schools, or the teachers actually give a flying fig whether those kids with reading difficulties get help to overcome those limitations and taught to read. The teachers are doing "remarkable work" with the group as a whole, so scr*w 'em, right?

KSManimal 4 years, 9 months ago

You're operating under the erroneous assumption that ALL students CAN achieve to the same level, and if they don't the teacher has failed.

Would you say a PE teacher has failed if a wheelchair-bound student could not complete a pole vault and long jump? Of course not.

But, by holding ALL students to the same standard, then blaming teachers for student "failure", that is exactly what is happening in core subjects.

News flash: Kids with significant learning challenges aren't going to meet "proficiency" any more than severely physically disabled students are going to play quarterback.

Most importantly, treating such students as though they SHOULD achieve to such levels does a great disservice to those STUDENTS. It neglects their real needs and ignores their real achievements.

But hey, as long as doing that makes public schools look bad...it must be a good thing.

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

So like I said - scr*w 'em, right?

If these kids can not be brought up to even a basic reading level, then what are they doing in mainstream schools?

KSManimal 4 years, 9 months ago

What are they doing? LEARNING.

But, the assessments used by NCLB are not a valid measure of the learning they are doing. That's the whole point.

Back to the wheelchair-bound student example: by your argument, we shouldn't bother having that kid in any PE courses, since he'll never be brought up to basic athletic levels.

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

"What are they doing? learning."

Really? What are they learning? How does a child learn about history, geography - or even biology - without being able to read a textbook, handout, or the blackboard?

"But, the assessments used by NCLB are not a valid measure of the learning they are doing."

In the story I linked to below - a thread you seem to have commented on - it talks about how the McPherson schools are wanting to use an ACT-based assessment rather than one compliant with NCLB. If the experience of McPherson is any indication, students who are able to meet the NCLB standards are still woefully unprepared for college. Are you saying you can't meet standards that might prepare the kids to say 'You want fries with that' or 'Hi, welcome to Wal-mart'?

"Back to the wheelchair-bound student example: by your argument, we shouldn't bother having that kid in any PE courses, since he'll never be brought up to basic athletic levels."

With the slight difference that not being in PE does not interfere with their ability to learn in other subjects. I.e., you don't have to be able to climb a rope in order to be able to, again, read a textbook, handout, or the blackboard.

KSManimal 4 years, 9 months ago

"Really? What are they learning? How does a child learn about history, geography - or even biology - without being able to read a textbook, handout, or the blackboard?"

Umm.... by LISTENING, by WATCHING, and by INTERACTING WITH OTHER STUDENTS..... Your knowledge of teaching/learning is obviously severely limited. My suggestion is, when you're in a hole - stop digging.

You have, once again, completely missed the point of the wheelchair analogy. I will try once more for you: Expecting a kid who can't walk to perform athletically to the same standard as others is ludicrous. The same is true of expecting the severely learning disabled student to perform to the same academic standard as others.

No one would think of blaming the PE teacher when a wheelchair-bound kid can't run; yet we are quick to blame the academic teacher when the cognitively-disabled kids can't perform to "proficient" standards.

For the record, not being in PE DOES in fact interfere with student's abilities to learn. Physical activity has a positive impact on mental activity.

Stop digging.

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

"Umm.... by listening, by watching, and by interacting with other students..... Your knowledge of teaching/learning is obviously severely limited. My suggestion is, when you're in a hole - stop digging."

And yet more of the snotty elitism that you think YOU are the only one who could possibly know anything about education. I have a Masters in an education field, too, genius-boy, and yes, I've taught. That's another of the big chips on your shoulder, isn't it? That not all teachers share your opinions? Because that's what they are - opinions.

[Why don't you just come out and tell us who you are, mani, as if the trail of clues you've already dropped wasn't big enough to drive a semi on?]

So tell us all, mani, how these kids that are so severely learning disabled that you can't teach them to read are going to be able to remember what they learn from "listening, by watching, and by interacting with other students" if they can't take notes? I didn't say they'd learn nothing at all, but you're the one who said they can't be taught something basic like reading - are you seriously going to say that doesn't hamper the rest of their learning ability?

"You have, once again, completely missed the point of the wheelchair analogy. I will try once more for you: Expecting a kid who can't walk to perform athletically to the same standard as others is ludicrous. The same is true of expecting the severely learning disabled student to perform to the same academic standard as others."

I got your point, and dismissed it as the irrelevance it is. Again I'll ask - if these kids are so severely learning disabled, then why are we trying to educate them in traditional schools, when you admit they aren't going to learn what the other kids learn?

"For the record, not being in PE DOES in fact interfere with student's abilities to learn. Physical activity has a positive impact on mental activity. "

Really? No kiddin'. Oh, except PE isn't the only form of "physical activity", is it? YOU try pushing yourself around in a wheelchair for a while, and come back and tell us all how easy it is.

Stop digging? I could give you the same advice. Your posts do nothing more than confirm every one of my criticisms. But as someone so utterly convinced that they, and only they could possibly know anything about anything, you'd probably never understand that. Do you really think your snobby alleged expertise is winning you any debate points?

geekyhost 4 years, 9 months ago

Well, genius boy with the masters in an "education related field" - and let me guess, you've never had a class in special ed, have you?

Dyslexia, which, as I pointed out previously, affects one in five students, is a specific learning disability affecting reading. It does not affect comprehension when they listen to books on tape or have books read to them. It does not render someone incapable of learning, and in many cases they're perfectly capable of reading with accuracy. It's just slower and more exhausting. It also doesn't men they're incapable of writing, though it often does mean they're hindered in handwriting and ability to learn foreign languages.

With the right accommodations, dyslexic students can do quite well. In fact, famous scientists, lawyers, doctors, and even writers are dyslexic.

However, expecting all of them to perform to some arbitrary "proficient" standard on a reading test is not the way to measure their education or future performance potential.

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

So we're moving from brain damage to dyslexia?

Perhaps your own reading could stand some improvement. You might seen this: "I didn't say they'd learn nothing at all, but you're the one who said they can't be taught something basic like reading - are you seriously going to say that doesn't hamper the rest of their learning ability?" I stated that, as opposed to climbing a rope in PE, difficulty reading interferes with the learning of other subjects. And nothing you said disputes that.

"With the right accommodations, dyslexic students can do quite well."

You mean accommodations like teachers who quit whining about impossible standards and teach them to read?

geekyhost 4 years, 9 months ago

Yes, all of the teachers I've dealt with have done nothing but whine and all the extra effort they've given and evidence based methodology has clearly been my imagination.

The reason teachers whine about NCLB is because it's bull. Before you ask, no, I'm not a teacher.

What kids need is a system that doesn't tie funding decisions to a high stakes test that arbitrarily requires "all students" to be proficient in reading and math as measured by standardized test. This is a standard that will either drive schools to cheat on the test (some already have) or drive out slow learners and students with disabilities so as to not risk funding for everyone else. When it does work, it does so by teaching to the test to the point that deep understanding of topics is eliminated. Either way, it's BS, just like NCLB.

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

"What kids need is a system that doesn't tie funding decisions to a high stakes test that arbitrarily requires "all students" to be proficient in reading and math as measured by standardized test."

I'm going to stick with the post I just made a few minutes ago towards the bottom of the page. One thing I didn't mention in that post: Despite your (correct) observation that the law requires us to provide an education for the kids, that's STATE law, not a federal one. And the fed can put any requirements it wants on receipt of funding.

geekyhost 4 years, 9 months ago

PS, reading comprehension boy, where did I move from brain damage to dyslexia? I mentioned that the subgroup underperforming in Lawrence was identified as having reading disabilities.

And yes, someone who is not proficient in reading can learn in other areas and with other methods and alternative materials. You don't assume someone who is blind is incapable of learning, do you?

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

Oh, I apologize. Your reading comprehension is fine. Except perhaps for mistaking "we're" for "you're". I never claimed you said that. I was referring to a comment from another poster that has been something I've been referring to through this exchange. I'm not a fan of the new 'nested thread' format that puts posts all over the place rather than chronological order.

However, you made the point yourself how people with dyslexia can overcome that, to become "famous scientists, lawyers, doctors, and even writers" - but it's too difficult to teach them to be able to pass one test?

geekyhost 4 years, 9 months ago

What are they doing in mainstream schools? Receiving their free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment - as the law clearly stipulates schools are required to give them.

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

WHich side of this are you arguing, geek? 'Cause it's getting a little hard to tell. On the one hand you're arguing it's not realistic to expect these special cases to learn what their peers do, then you're arguing they should be there to learn what their peers learn.

I'M not the one arguing they shouldn't be there, geek - I'm disputing Mr. Reber's, and your, contention that they shouldn't be expected to perform. If they are appropriate for a mainstream school experience, then they should be expected to benefit from it.

geekyhost 4 years, 9 months ago

I'm on the side that argues that tying funding decisions to all students performance on a standardized test is idiotic. Do we defund colleges because one statistical group of students scores lower on their GREs even though most groups perform above average?

Just because a student performs poorly on reading tests does not mean that they have not learned to their capacity. I'm not arguing that schools underestimate the potential of kids. Far from it. However, it is unrealistic to expect every student starts with the same potential, lives in the same home environment, has the same motivation, and performs the same way on tests. NCLB starts measuring kids in third grade. We don't test them on admission and compare their scores or even measure whether or not we're talking about the same group of kids, since it doesn't track each student but tracks them as groups.

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

"Do we defund colleges because one statistical group of students scores lower on their GREs even though most groups perform above average? "

Pretty much, yes. Maybe not specifically GRE scores, but there are a number of organizations that rate colleges on such factors as degree completion and other outcome measures. If a school doesn't perform well, parents don't send their kids there, and they lose money from the lost tuition. Do those rating organizations care whether some of those kids who didn't get a degree were one-and-done basketball stars, or kids who were given some preferential consideration on admissions even though they didn't meet traditional academic standards?

"Just because a student performs poorly on reading tests does not mean that they have not learned to their capacity."

And who gets to decide that? I do not mean to belittle your efforts with your own child. Nobody knows better than you how much effort has been put into his education and what his limitations are. But why do you get to decide that for other parents who might have a different opinion? Why do you get to decide they should be realistic and tell them the school has done the best it could?

What if the school system had told YOU when to quit?

All of which is pointless - you still have not addressed one very important point: If these standards are so unfair, why are over 90% of the school districts in the state not "on improvement"?

geekyhost 4 years, 9 months ago

It's not 2014 yet. We'll see how 90% of the schools are doing by then when the goal is to have ALL students performing at or above grade level.

You've yet to address anything that shows NCLB actually improves school quality. You seem to just be attached to this test as if it were the panacea.

Like I've said before, the testing is open to manipulation and there have been schools that were caught cheating. The scores stay with the school and don't follow the student, so districts with more students who move would look different from schools without. Just because 90% of schools score well does not mean those that don't aren't adequately educating their children or doing quite well with most of them.

Again, you mistake the goal of NCLB with its effectiveness. Nobody is arguing that schools shouldn't try or that students should be written off. Many of us, however, would argue that NCLB actually inhibits efforts toward quality education. The only way that all students by 2014 will score at grade level in reading and math is if you lower the grade level standards, drive off underperforming students, cheat, or use a combination of all three. All students simply are not all the same. Acknowledging that some of them are simply going to be performing below grade level in spite of your best efforts is not the same as giving up on the idea of trying to reach them.

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

It's not 2014? No kiddin'. You're a regular font of information tonight.

I doubt that it will be 90% at that time. And there will be sanctions for those that don't meet the standards. Regardless of what the final tally is, I strongly suspect that the districts that are trying to find ways to meet the standards will do substantially better, and stand a much better chance of avoiding those sanctions, than the districts who cry and whine that the standards are too difficult, impossible, or unfair.

"You've yet to address anything that shows NCLB actually improves school quality."

You've yet to say anything that says it doesn't. Other than to argue that the schools that aren't performing really, really are doing a gee-whiz-great job - really!

"The scores stay with the school and don't follow the student, so districts with more students who move would look different from schools without."

So all these moves are one-way? Nobody moves into those districts that are performing better? And none of the kids that move to Lawrence are the ones who are actually doing fine, only the lower-performing ones move to Lawrence?

Well, that would explain a lot.

Including much of this conversation.

"The only way that all students by 2014 will score at grade level in reading and math is if you lower the grade level standards, drive off underperforming students, cheat, or use a combination of all three. "

Again, I really do wish you'd make up your mind. Really, geek, it wasn't THAT long ago you said: "No, it's not the strategy every school takes". Now those are "the only way(s)" that schools can meet the standards?

KSManimal 4 years, 9 months ago

"You've yet to address anything that shows NCLB actually improves school quality."

"You've yet to say anything that says it doesn't."

Actually, there are well over 100 studies which show that this sort of high-stakes testing environments has negative consequences.

http://www.examiner.com/k-12-in-topeka/fixation-on-test-results-hinders-student-performance

geekyhost 4 years, 9 months ago

In other words, no, we do not base the entire funding of a college on the standardized test scores of a single student demographic. Consumer decisions about schools are based on a variety of factors.

And good gravy, nobody's telling anyone when to quit. I'm just saying that you do your best, you try to improve, you refocus your areas to improve weak spots, but you do not financially punish the whole school because there are kids you can't reach no matter how hard you try. Those kids are likely still improving. They're just not at grade level.

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

Um - I hate to break this to you, geek, but for all your blustering, we're not talking about "the entire funding" of a school district, either, are we, and never have been.

geekyhost 4 years, 9 months ago

Let me first set asid your redonkulous argument and point out that my child has dyslexia and is therefore a member of the statistical group underperforming.

My child has been educated using an evidence-based curriculum (Reading First) shown to help students with dyslexia, Furthermore (until the budget cuts took it away this summer) the school also offered summer reading school. There have been SpEd teachers, speech therapy, small groups, extra emphasis on reading, more time, etc, etc.

I've researched dyslexia, because I take an interest in my own child's reading ability, too, and the school did everything the experts recommend. Everything. And yet 20% of the student body is still going to have dyslexia, and some of these kids are going to end up just not being readers. It's not a matter of "aw, screw 'em." It's a matter of facing reality. You do the absolute best you can. Just like in your odd ER comparison. One of those patients might not make it in spite of having the best doctors there who do everything right. Why should that hospital be punished if they can't work miracles? That isn't the same as saying the hospital doesn't care if it loses someone. Not at all.

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

First, as to the "odd ER comparison", the point was that while some are going to die, you don't decide that before making the effort to treat them. And as I mentioned elsewhere, no, it's not always the doctor's fault the patient dies. But without some kind of standard outcome measures, we don't know if it was just a patient that couldn't be saved, or an inept ER staff that's killing a lot of patients. There might be special circumstances that make one ER's population different than that of another, rendering direct comparison unfair. But how would we know without those outcome measures?

You quickly passed over your mention of budget cuts. Maybe that's where you should put some thought. Maybe if a school district put their money into more special ed classes instead of a new football field or performing arts building or whatever, it would be possible to bring even those difficult cases up to par. And maybe fewer parents would say 'we're just being realistic'.

By the way, geek - how do you think those 90+ percent of the school districts that are not on improvement manage to get their dyslexic kids to meet the standards? Maybe that's something else you should be looking into.

geekyhost 4 years, 9 months ago

Well, there are some great strategies I've seen implemented by some of those "passing" schools, especially after they're on improvement. Let's see, there's the cheat on the test strategy. It's made the news frequently. There's also the push all the disabled kids out and into homeschooling strategy so they no longer count against you. Awesome ways to meet those goals. No, it's not the strategy every school takes, but yes, it's happened. This is one of the reasons NCLB doesn't fix truly failing schools.

Oh wait, you wanted those kids to not be written off before they started. I do too. Perhaps more so than you. This affects my child. NCLB is not the way to handle it.

Yes, I'd love more SpED funding and less football stadium money, but the structure of funding through our state encourages bond initiatives for football stadiums and buildings and discourages local funding for teachers and SpED. The districts have to sue the state to actually get things funded. That's absurd.

Add to that that next year, if we're still on improvement, the Lawrence district will be legally required to offer services to low income families that historically have a very low uptake rate. I'd be in favor of just offering those services as a matter of course if they were actually shown to be effective, but in most districts they just cost money and do not improve scores.

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

"Well, there are some great strategies I've seen implemented by some of those "passing" schools, especially after they're on improvement."

So your contention is that more than 9 out of 10 school districts cheat. My, that's certainly a good argument in favor of the fundamental quality of public schools.

"but the structure of funding through our state encourages bond initiatives for football stadiums and buildings and discourages local funding for teachers and SpED"

Maybe that's where you should be focusing your complaints. And what you should be trying to fix.

geekyhost 4 years, 9 months ago

Reading comprehension snark boy is not reading for comprehension. I did not say 9 out of 10 schools cheated. I said some schools did. Google it. It happens. And yes, it's an awesome argument for school improvement, and yet another reason why NCLB is full of fail.

Interesting you mention 90%, since that's the percentage of kids in the district that scored "proficient" on the reading test. I wonder how many of the remaining students transferred in from one of the "passing" districts.

Why yes, I have focused efforts on the state legislators. I've spoken with my representatives and made my opinion on legislative matters known, but thanks for the tip, concerned citizen on the Internet who claims to have some degree vaguely resembling something related to education.

State funding is broken. NCLB is broken. There's no reason I can't focus on both.

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

Ooh, geekyboy is getting a little touchy.

Perhaps you could find a dictionary and look up the word sarcasm?

Yes, geeky, I can read, and saw that you said "No, it's not the strategy every school takes," but I couldn't help but notice you offered no guesses at what the successful schools that aren't cheating are doing to meet the standards. You admit they exist while simultaneously crowing about the impossibility of meeting those standards. Do you even read what you write?

"Interesting you mention 90%, since that's the percentage of kids in the district that scored "proficient" on the reading test. I wonder how many of the remaining students transferred in from one of the "passing" districts."

Actually, I believe I said "90+ percent". Which also happens to be the percentage of school districts not "on improvement". And the best you can do is again make snide comments that the districts doing better than Lawrence must be doing so unfairly. Hey, geek - is enrollment up or down in Lawrence? 'Cause if it's the latter, perhaps your conspiracy theory doesn't hold a lot of weight.

"but thanks for the tip, concerned citizen on the Internet who claims to have some degree vaguely resembling something related to education. "

No charge.

As for my degree, I started in Curriculum and Instruction and then transferred to another specialty area within the school of education. I could be more specific, but first, it's none of your business, and second, this is an anonymous account (as is yours). I have valid reasons for keeping it that way, perhaps some of the same reasons the LTE writer, who has also posted to this thread, has not identified himself. And neither have you. But since you like my suggestions, here's another one - also free. Why don't you stop b*ing and whining about how the standards can't be met, and start figuring out how other districts are meeting them? Or is whining and moaning what your own degree is in?

geekyhost 4 years, 9 months ago

No, this isn't touchy. This is snarky. Hello, Internet, have you met Notajayhawk? Notajayhawk, have you met Internet? Some of your other assumptions are also hilarious.

The other schools could simply be statistically lucky and have a student population that scores better through no different effort on their part. Perhaps they've discovered a curriculum that is indeed plated with gold and coated in magic fairy dust, but since NCLB isn't supplying student-attached data, as far as I know, there's really no way to say.

Merely measuring whether enrollment was up or down wouldn't give you an answer there, since underachieving students could be transferring in while adequate test scorers transfer out in greater number. Or the other schools could just suck. NCLB just isn't a valid way to tell, and it punishes the entire district for the performance of a few students at a few schools.

The test is ultimately unachievable. All students are not going to score at grade level in every single school unless you lower your expectations or encourage the underperforming students to leave. Hey, it's a nice dream, but it won't happen.

There are so many far more interesting ways they could find effective teaching methods and build better schools, and this NCLB thing just gets in the way of it. It also assumes that students exist in this school shaped vacuum and go home to supportive parents in loving non-violent homes who feed them square meals and assist them with homework every night. That's not reality.

You've got issues with NCLB per your other statements, so I'm not sure why the rabid attachment to it.

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

"The other schools could simply be statistically lucky and have a student population that scores better through no different effort on their part. "

90% of them? That's quite a statistical anomaly, ya' think?

"since underachieving students could be transferring in while adequate test scorers transfer out in greater number"

Which is equally as likely as adequate students transferring in while underachieving test scorers transfer out in greater numbers. Got anything to base your conspiracy theories on, geek?

geekyhost 4 years, 9 months ago

No, it's not quite a statistical anomaly to have 10% or less outliers, particularly when you test it against so many subgroups.

If you look at NAEP scores through their data explorer, most districts have not shown significant improvement since NCLB started, including Kansas. Indeed, looking at our state data, the average reading score for students with disabilities has shown a gap in achievement in reading to that of their peers, and the spread and scores have been fairly consistent since 1998. If NCLB were forcing improvement, you'd think there would be a dramatic upward trind in the early 2000s.

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

And I have no rabid attachment to it, geek, I simply have no significant objection to it. But then, my kids don't go to school in Lawrence.

geekyhost 4 years, 9 months ago

Yes, I'm sure it makes it much easier to make snap judgements that way.

Jeff Cuttell 4 years, 9 months ago

NCLB was your anointed GW Bush's baby. The writer is correct that that is a terrible plan and one that was put together to make it look like conservatives want educated people in this country. That couldn't be further from the truth. They want people to be lemmings. If you don't believe me, try to watch this Glenn Beck/ Sarah Palin joke that is happening today.

The writer is so wrong about this test doesn't mean anything. There are only certain ways things can be measured. It might be that this is an over reaction. I might also mean that there is real reason for concern. Something to watch and try to improve on.

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

I would have been happy being half right. Even I didn't see this coming:

[from your link]

"In addition to teaching, David is active in state and local politics with interests in school finance, curriculum, and content standards."

Richard Heckler 4 years, 9 months ago

David Reber is on the money. Charter schools and privatiztion of public education is nothing more than reckless big government tax dollar corporate welfare. Dumb spending.

gl0ck0wn3r 4 years, 9 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

gl0ck0wn3r 4 years, 9 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Stuart Evans 4 years, 9 months ago

But public school systems are nothing but indoctrination chambers used to further the agenda of reckless big government. It's a freakin' paradox!

grammaddy 4 years, 9 months ago

You can thank "W" and his unfunded "No Child Left Behind" for this. Our teachers have been strugglng ever since."On improvement" means we're not quite where we need to be.A little more parent-involvement would really go a long way to get us there.

Verdad 4 years, 9 months ago

I thank the late liberal lion Senator Edward Kennedy. The author of the bill. Working with Democrats always leads to trouble.

geekyhost 4 years, 9 months ago

Yes, it's always the fault of either bad teachers or bad parents. There's never any cases of kids that have learning disabilities and simply will never score as "proficient" in spite of massive parental and teacher involvement.

Jeff Cuttell 4 years, 9 months ago

What is Tom doing here? Shouldn't he be in DC putting the finishing touches on his MLK loves Glenn Beck sign? I thought they were "taking back the civil rights movement" today.

beatrice 4 years, 9 months ago

Or ... you can read and watch none of it, like most of us.

Tom, it really isn't an issue of either / or for most thinking people. You must realize this on some level.

BigAl 4 years, 9 months ago

Tom, you can't be serious. I have never seen and am not even sure what "huffie, dailykos, moveon or mediamatters" is. Whatever they are, they are definitely NOT mainstream media in any way, shape or form. Beck doesn't try to educate people on anything. He is a commentator spewing his opinions and spinning yarns. I have heard him say from his own mouth that he didn't always check his facts and that he was not a journalist. Even Whoopie Goldberg, for crying out loud, got him to admit he made some things up about her. Beck is for non-thinkers. Period.

He is a blow-hard and the worst kind of blow-hard.

Jimo 4 years, 9 months ago

Profiteering? roll eyes

What about the kids, indeed, Mr. Reber. The schools do not exist to be a full employment project for teachers and administrators.

Scott Drummond 4 years, 9 months ago

Remember the health care debate? Should a profit be made on my illness and need for health care? For many in this country the answer, shamefully, is yes. Looks like public education is one of the next targets of these right wingers who have stolen our government and are busy destroying the American way of life.

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

Your doctor doesn't profit from your illness, scottie?

Doctors didn't profit from your illness before there were insurance companies?

Why is that okay?

weeslicket 4 years, 9 months ago

this is a side thread to the topic, but i am confused here, nota:

  • are you saying that it is ok for a physician to "benefit" from your illness (i.e., provide a service for compensation in treating the illness)?
  • are you saying that it is ok for an insurance company to "benefit" from your illness (i.e., provide a service for compensation in processing the treating of your illness)?
  • both?
  • neither?

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

Let me start with your second question. Insurance companies do not profit from your illness. They profit from providing a financial service. Health insurers no more provide health care than car insurers provide transportation of home insurers provide shelter. You do not need insurance to address your illness, you choose (at least, before Obamacare) to pay someone to assume the financial risk from an illness.

(And, while the provider of health insurance is inextricably tied to your health, technically they profit from you not having an illness.)

As to the other question: Um, yes. Any provider of a service or product has a right to payment for those services or products. Even when that is tied to some misfortune of the customer, client, or patient.

I blew out a tire today, and sat on the side of a busy highway, with my 19-month-old in the car, waiting for the motor club's wrecker to get there. The driver profited from my misfortune. So did the company he drives for, and the motor club itself. So will the tire shop I go to in the morning, and the manufacturer of the new tire.

The blower motor in my central air went out during the heat wave. I have two children with asthma, riding it out wasn't an option. The repairmen profited from my misfortune. So did the equipment supply store from which he purchased the new motor, and the manufacturer of that motor.

Why shouldn't doctors?

And why shouldn't teachers? I have no problem with that. What I have a problem with is a teacher saying there shouldn't be standards to measure his performance. That's not the way it works in almost any other (non-government) job. He's entitled to ask for, and to bargain for, whatever his employer will pay him, just as, say, an autoworker is. But if the autoworkers demand too much, and cars get too expensive, people stop buying them. The market is the ultimate assessment, if the autoworkers aren't earning their money by getting paid too much, and not delivering a quality product, they eventually lose their job. There are no market forces in play in the world of education, for the most part. We have no choice but to send our kids to school, and no realistic option other than the school the government chooses.

Audrey Goebel-Hall 4 years, 9 months ago

More and more people in more and more school districts are going to be seeing the same kind of letter as we approach 2014. As a teacher myself, I do believe the education system should be held accountable; however, it is ridiculous to expect every student to test at or above grade level in both math and reading. That includes students with special needs and students who don't speak English. I'm all for accountability, but the government and the public should understand that not every child learns at the same rate or in the same manner as his/her peers.

Don't even get me started on how elementary students and even some middle and high school students are forced to spend the majority of their day studying math or reading. Subjects like science, social studies, and electives are left until the end of the school year when all the testing is completed.

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

"Don't even get me started on how elementary students and even some middle and high school students are forced to spend the majority of their day studying math or reading. Subjects like science, social studies, and electives are left until the end of the school year when all the testing is completed."

You're right, where are our priorities? Let's get those electives done first, who cares if the kid can read or add when he gets out of high school?

Audrey Goebel-Hall 4 years, 9 months ago

I'm not suggesting that reading and adding are unimportant, but no one should have to spend 6 to 8 hours working only on math or reading. Many of those students who struggle in the core subjects thrive in art or music. Should we really take away the one bright spot in a student's day? Maybe you believe so, but I don't.

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

If it takes 6-8 hours spent on reading and math to get them to grade level, then I suggest there might be a bigger problem. But yes, if that's what it takes so the child can read an employment ad, or make the correct change at McDonalds, I do consider it to be a tad more important than whether they can carry a tune.

Abdu Omar 4 years, 9 months ago

What the problem is, in my opinion, is the definition of an educated child. I was slow learning math and had lots of trouble with it. But later when I was in college, I finally got it! IF that kept me from going to college, I would have never been successful in my area,. Some standards are ridiculous and what No Child left behind did was help Bush get elected. The plan they produced was faulty at best.

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

Um - how would NCLB have kept you from going to college? By insisting the school system you came out of actually made sure you "got it" while you were still there?

I admire your determination. How many other children didn't bother to go to college, or couldn't get in, because they didn't 'get it' before they graduated high school?

KSManimal 4 years, 9 months ago

There is plenty of research available to demonstrate that students who study music do better in math than those who don't.

The problem with NCLB, and its supporters, is that teaching and learning are not nearly as simple as NCLB would have folks believe.

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

And you of all people should know that correlation does not prove causation. Maybe the kids who study music were smarter in the first place, or maybe school systems that offer music courses are better schools in general.

KSManimal 4 years, 9 months ago

" Maybe the kids who study music were smarter in the first place"

Right. And maybe the kids who do better on the NCLB assessments were smarter in the first place.

You, however, wish to place 100% of that success or failure on the school.

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

There are always going to be smarter kids. The whole point of NCLB is that the other ones deserve a basic education, too. So sorry you can't grasp that.

"You, however, wish to place 100% of that success or failure on the school."

Whereas you wish to accept 100% of the credit and none of the blame.

geekyhost 4 years, 9 months ago

Nobody's arguing that kids don't deserve a quality education. We're arguing that NCLB does not deliver it.

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

Apparently, neither does the school district.

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

It's nothing of the kind. If anything, your argument is - we can't meet the standard because it's the standards that are invalid.

geekyhost 4 years, 9 months ago

We can't meet invalid standards is not a circular argument. It would be circular if I then turned around and cited our lack of meeting them as the proof that the tests are invalid.

geekyhost 4 years, 9 months ago

How about the fact that states set the standards for NCLB and students in Mississippi who pass would fail if they moved to Massachusetts? It's not an objective standard.

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

And this is your "proof" that NCLB itself is flawed? That the states can set their own standards? I thought your problem was that there's only one standard? This would really be easier if you'd pick a side and run with it.

geekyhost 4 years, 9 months ago

There's a high stakes test that you seem to think is a valid measurement of student achievement and fair standard for measuring all student proficiency by 2014. You also argue that students with learning disabilities that do not achieve adequate scores have somehow been given up on or "left behind," so it's perfectly valid to withhold funding and hold the school district to the standard that all students need to achieve X score on this test.

And yet the ENTIRE STATE of Mississippi apparently has less potential than Massachusetts. I don't really believe that, but I do know if I were a poor state like Ms, I'd give them lower standards to avoid losing funding. Oh wait... that would be gaming the system, and it would almost be like NCLB wasn't a true measure of student achievement or school success. Huh, guess that's a consistent position after all.

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

You have a fundamental lack of understanding of standardized, comparative measures of outcomes, don't you?

geekyhost 4 years, 9 months ago

Yes, you do.

Let's go over this again: States set the standard. That means it's not really standardized nor is it comparative for any measure outside of the state. NCLB mandates they achieve "proficient" on state standards. You've now compared low standards from states trying to look good on paper (MS) with high standards for states with money for education that try for high standards (MA).

"Some states claimed that 80 percent to 90 percent of their students were proficient in reading and math, even though external measures such as the federally funded National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) put the number at 30 percent or below. One state alleged that over 95 percent of their students graduated from high school even as independent studies put the figure closer to 65 percent. ...."

And more statistical games and incentives to race to the bottom: http://www.educationsector.org/research/research_show.htm?doc_id=373044

If you're going to then argue that Lawrence must somehow be much worse than the rest of the state because their students with identified disabilities performed worse than other districts within the same state, I'll ask you to do the leg work on that one. Show me that 90% of all Kansas districts had cohorts of disabled students large enough for measurement. Lawrence is likely (without examining the data, granted) to have a larger population of students with identified disabilities because we've got a university that studies interventions and trains therapists. There's both an urbanicity and social effect demonstrated by research to identification of learning disabilities.

BigPrune 4 years, 9 months ago

The school districts spare no expense when it comes to improvements, necessary items like: flat screen t.v.'s in the hallways - so show announcements so nobody has to write with a marker on a piece of paper and tape it to the wall; custom stainless steel accents and lazer cut interior signage; custom built apple computer centers filled with brand new apple computers; ceramic tiled flooring; high-tech overhead projectors; ergonomic 2-legged German made chairs the defy gravity, etc. All necessary items that will make our children smart, of course.

weeslicket 4 years, 9 months ago

sadly, this is correct.

in kansas, we spend money on: "things..stuff..objects..buildings..land..maintenenceofthings.."

in kansas, we do not spend money on: "people who work"

BigPrune 4 years, 9 months ago

...corrections....."to" and "that" :)

gogoplata 4 years, 9 months ago

End the Dept of Ed.

Private schools are better.

matthewjherbert 4 years, 9 months ago

.......so long as you have the financial means to afford to send your children to them. If you don't, I suppose it's off to the fields and a lifetime of illiteracy for you! If you think the rich/poor gap is bad now, try closing public schools.

geekyhost 4 years, 9 months ago

Except for the part where they generally score no better when compared to students of like socioeconomic status and aren't legally required to educate children with disabilities, sure, they're so much better.

matthewjherbert 4 years, 9 months ago

Right on David! By the way, this is NOT a partisan issue to those of you who are taking shots at various individuals......NCLB passed the Senate with a near unanimous vote. It was suggested by a Republican President and sponsored by a Democrat Senator (Kennedy, D-Mass).

Verdad 4 years, 9 months ago

I shold have read the entire thread befor posting my comment above.

LoveThsLife 4 years, 9 months ago

There has to be some kind of way to measure how proficient students are in math and english.

While I do understand that there are drawbacks to standardized testing (teaching to the test, not as applicable in special education settings etc.) I still think that those tests can be a useful tool. If done right a standardized test can give useful feedback to educators on what is being retained by students.
Those tests are not rocket science it's basic stuff.

geekyhost 4 years, 9 months ago

Sure, they can be a useful tool. When you're not tying funding to student performance in a virtually unachievable way. I'm not against standardized testing, but people need to understand it as one tool in the toolbox instead of the entire toolbox.

BigAl 4 years, 9 months ago

People like Beck, Hannity and Limbaugh do nothing but promoting hate, fear and division. They are despicable and are only interested in self promotion.

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

Hey, lookie, guys - it appears we got Mr. Reber's attention:

http://www.examiner.com/k-12-in-topeka/in-what-other-profession

Our professional educator apparently believes less than 40 comments to be a 'deluge'. Guess he doesn't get out much.

David, since nowhere in this thread have I seen the words "in what other profession", I can't help but wonder if your latest column wasn't driven by my first post to this board, in which I asked "If you're not a teacher, what business are you in, exactly, where it works that way??" I sincerely hope I am mistaken, and you were just blowing smoke that had nothing to do with the response to your LTE, as that would suggest you missed the point by a country mile.

When I said "So in other words, no measure is valid and we should just accept the teachers' and the schools' words that they're doing fine," I was referring to your criticism of standardized assessments of students' proficiency. (The part of your letter that I quoted prior to my response probably should have clued you in on that.) And yes, David, I AM asking "in what other profession", just not in the way you apparently read it. I said nothing about experience being a liability, or that professionals who practice in a field should be considered the least knowledgeable about that field. I was referring to the assessments. Because David? There is no other profession where someone doesn't judge the outcomes of your work.

BTW, I'm curious - do you object to assessments such as the SAT's or ACT's, too? Or just the assessments that can tie the students' progress and proficiency (or lack thereof) to you?

Oh, and BTW, David, just what makes you so sure that the "armchair educators" who ridiculed your letter are not, or haven't been, teachers?

But I do have to thank you for the laugh, David. This was my favorite part of your subsequent column:

"You won’t hear many say “that lawyer charges a lot of money, she obviously doesn’t care about her clients”"

Um - really? You really think most everyone thinks lawyers are in it to help their clients and not for the money? Again, you don't get out much, do you?

gl0ck0wn3r 4 years, 9 months ago

It is sort of hilarious that he doesn't bother to point out that he's also a high school biology teacher in the LTE - only that he knows "firsthand" that the schools are great. It sort of changes the tone when one also knows he is complaining about tests that (should) validate his performance in his profession.

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

He's also been commenting on this thread. I can't, of course, tell you which user he is, but if I could figure it out you should be able to. In his posts, he doesn't identify himself as a teacher or as the LTE writer.

gl0ck0wn3r 4 years, 9 months ago

I'm pretty sure I can guess which poster is the LTE writer. Funny... shouldn't he be busy working on lesson plans?

geekyhost 4 years, 9 months ago

I'm actually not sure who you think it is. It's not me. I'm not a teacher, but I did learn fancy schmancy edumacational terminology from my "education related" grad degree. I suspect it's the same on you have, which is why I've been razzing you about it.

I have a lot of problems with the way schools are run, and I'm all for standards and data, but NCLB is a cluster@#$#@$ that takes focus away from the true mission of schools, plain and simple. If the feds wanted to run schools, they should just run them. And fund them.

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

I'm actually very sure it's not you. And if you can't figure out who it is, then I've been giving you too much credit. And I haven't been giving you any at all.

geekyhost 4 years, 9 months ago

There's only so much care I have left when it comes to sleuthing out anonymous IDs. Sort of like the care I have about posting in newspapers in cities other than my own. You apparently have care to spare for both causes.

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

"If the feds wanted to run schools, they should just run them."

Don't want the feds' interference? Don't take their money. Pretty simple. Get your fellow state residents to agree to pay enough in taxes so they can pay for it all themselves without federal assistance, and you no longer have to worry about NCLB.

geekyhost 4 years, 9 months ago

I'd actually rather the feds just run them all using a single, consistent, and reasonable set of standards and evidence-based methods.

weeslicket 4 years, 9 months ago

it's been a few days since i've come back to this thread, so apologies for the lateness.

from notajayhawk: "When I said "So in other words, no measure is valid and we should just accept the teachers' and the schools' words that they're doing fine," I was referring to your criticism of standardized assessments of students' proficiency. (The part of your letter that I quoted prior to my response probably should have clued you in on that.) And yes, David, I AM asking "in what other profession", just not in the way you apparently read it. I said nothing about experience being a liability, or that professionals who practice in a field should be considered the least knowledgeable about that field. I was referring to the assessments. Because David? There is no other profession where someone doesn't judge the outcomes of your work."

i think this is correct. i also think that the measures and implementation of nclb need some revisions; mainly because they do not really provide sensible measures of reasonable outcomes for real kids. (avoiding the godwin self-incrimination on this one)

weeslicket 4 years, 9 months ago

if i may offer: the basic problem with the NCLB approach is that it exists in a kind of mathematical wolkenkuckusheim.

and in stating this, i hereby invoke the godwin flag;
and, both win and lose this thread in one fell of swooopiness.

mr_right_wing 4 years, 9 months ago

Have you contacted KSDE about this? Or would you rather just mouth-off about it in the local paper?

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

After re-reading Mr. Reber's latest blog in the Examiner (I posted the link above), I feel the need to add another comment here.

Mr. Reber posed a sarcastic question in that blog: "What could a teacher possibly know about education?"

That isn't the problem, Mr. Reber. The problem is that you think that, by virtue of being a teacher, you know everything about education, and that only you know anything about education. Fully half of the state board of education members are teachers, Mr. Reber. The others have years and years of experience in administering school systems, in developing and implementing policy, in overseeing outcomes. There's a little bit more to all that than teaching.

I'll give you the benefit of the doubt, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, and assume you're a competent teacher. However, with your activism in "state and local politics with interests in school finance, curriculum, and content standards", one might wonder why you're still a biology teacher and not sitting on your local, let alone state, BOE. Or, for that matter, running even a single school. You purport to be an expert in the field of education by virtue of your profession. The people sitting on the state board are experts in administering school systems by virtue of theirs. I could as easily call you an 'armchair administrator', and point out you have no more expertise or ability in the area of running a school system or in developing and implementing policies and standards, as you so easily denigrate all those non-teachers who dare to question your own opinion. Sorry, Mr. Reber, but your LTE, and your other writings, just sound like sour grapes at having to follow policies and meet standards instead of setting them.

parrothead8 4 years, 9 months ago

All a test can show is who memorized certain facts or formulas. You can't quantify real learning.

geekyhost 4 years, 9 months ago

You can, but not with a bubble test. There are alternative assessments that can demonstrate applied knowledge, but mostly the standardized tests measure how good you are at taking standardized tests.

geekyhost 4 years, 9 months ago

You can, but not with a bubble test. There are alternative assessments that can demonstrate applied knowledge, but mostly the standardized tests measure how good you are at taking standardized tests.

windex 4 years, 9 months ago

I don't think Mr. Reber is complaining about having to follow policies and meet standards. I think he's complaining about having to work under the guidelines of a federal policy which is at best stupid and at worst cynical and evil. That policy is called No Child Left Behind and it is a stupid policy. It says that if ALL students aren't grade-level proficient in math and reading by 2014, their schools and teachers have failed. This is stupid. ALL students includes the kid who immigrated from France to the US the week before the test and doesn't yet speak English. ALL students includes the kid who suffered brain damage in a car wreck when he was three years old. ALL students includes the kid who comes to school, oh, 60% of the time. We should have the highest possible standards for our nation's children. Schools and teachers should be accountable for teaching them. But setting impossible goals (all coaches will win all games! All doctors will cure all cancer! All 65 year olds will run a marathon!) is just stupid. STUPID.

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

Mr. Reber's specific complaints were that "no one-shot test, imposed from the outside, can possibly judge" the work the schools are doing, that there is no validity to the standard of “adequate yearly progress”. In other words, nobody should be judging the "remarkable work" he is doing except him.

I agree that NCLB is problematic. Not because it holds schools to a higher standard - do we just abandon those with brain damage, the English-as-a-second-language kids, the ones whose mothers are drug addicts or that miss a lot of school? That was the entire point of NCLB - that those kids should get out of school with an education, too. The problem is that it imposed the standards without providing the resources to meet those standards. But Mr. Reber didn't just complain about NCLB. He further complained that schools made changes in their public education systems for a chance to get money from the federal government. So he also has a complaint over making changes that would bring more money.

The tone of his letter (and his other writings in the Examiner) suggest his beef is that someone from outside is telling him what to do. He even posed this question in his first paragraph: "After all, when was the last time anyone from KSDE set foot in our schools?" That's the problem Mr. Reber has - he doesn't like being told what to do, and especially doesn't like having anyone question whether he's done it right.

parrothead8 4 years, 9 months ago

"Mr. Reber's specific complaints were that "no one-shot test, imposed from the outside, can possibly judge" the work the schools are doing, that there is no validity to the standard of “adequate yearly progress”. In other words, nobody should be judging the "remarkable work" he is doing except him."

Your summation is inaccurate. Just because he thinks a "one-shot test" fails to judge a school's progress doesn't mean he thinks "nobody should be judging" his work.

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

Who, then?

It's not only non-teachers he complains about, a letter from the KSDE prompted his letter, and half the BOE, and the acting commissioner, are teachers.

It's not just NCLB, because he also complains about Race to the Top.

What standards, what kind of oversight and outcome measures, does Mr. Reber not dismiss as "adequate yearly diddily poop"? What standards does he say are reasonable, that he is willing to be judged by? What standards does he think will confirm his own assessment that he and his fellow Lawrence teachers are doing "remarkable work"?

If you read Mr. Reber's other writings (the links are posted above), it's clear that he doesn't want any outside interference, and that teachers should be left alone to decide which students should be able to meet outcome measures and which should be exempt. And although NCLB has problems, his attitude is exactly why something like NCLB is necessary.

parrothead8 4 years, 9 months ago

NCLB is exactly why something like NCLB is not necessary. People who think learning can be quantified with numbers and charts into neat little categories are exactly why our education system is so screwed up.

These tests that supposedly tell us what's wrong with our schools...cripes, they're absolutely worthless. All they do is tell us what percentage of 4th graders can add at what we think is a 4th grade level, and absolve us of any responsibility to take an active role in education. When we can point to numbers and say, "See, little Johnny can't add, it must be the teacher's fault," then it releases the rest of us from our responsibilities of being part of the village that raises the children.

Kids don't need more tests. They need more time with actual people who care about what they're learning.

KSManimal 4 years, 9 months ago

"He further complained that schools made changes in their public education systems for a chance to get money from the federal government. So he also has a complaint over making changes that would bring more money."

"Race to the Top" only gave money to about a dozen states, but coerced law and policy changes out of nearly three times that many. The changes that were made will harm public schools in the long run.

As for the money - it's temporary. Some improvements might be made in those states....but what happens to those programs and interventions when the RTTT money disappears? They're gone, that's what. RTTT isn't about helping public schools, it's about undermining them.

As to you're concluding statements, re - being told what to do, I find it ironic that the right wing opposes federal government expansion into state/local business....unless that expansion does one of three things: destroys public schools, outlaws abortion, or bans gay marriage.

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

And all of this - and all of your arguments - are based on nothing more than your opinion that the changes these states and school districts make are 'destroying' public schools. That you know better than all of them what's best for the schools and the students. Maybe all the changes we're talking about are actually in the best interests of all involved, and YOU just don't like them.

And, um, you're the one trying to make this a 'right wing' problem, mani. Neither NCLB nor RTTT were products of conservatives. Is that one of the things that sticks in your craw - that your fellow liberals are the ones telling you to make these changes?

Jama Crady Maxfield 4 years, 9 months ago

Windex......you nailed it! I know David Reber (having taught with him for a number of years) and he is simply feeling what most teachers are feeling. We are DOING our jobs and have no problem with standards and being held accountable. HOWEVER, NCLB is impossible. There is NO way for all students to be proficient without giving teachers the tools to make that happen. Instead, in the past few years, funds have been cut (across the country) and teachers are now teaching bigger classes, textbooks are out of date, basic supplies are not there. On top of the money issue (since $$ seems to be the BIG issue for notajayhawk and his complaints about David's letter) there are the everyday LIFE issues that teachers also get to tackle in the classroom. Kids who speak very little English, have severe learning disabilities, abuse, haven't eaten a full meal in days, don't know where their parents are, the list goes on and on and on.

windex 4 years, 9 months ago

Notajayhawk says: ..........."Mr. Reber's specific complaints were that "no one-shot test, imposed from the outside, can possibly judge" the work the schools are doing" - NAJH, do you disagree or agree with this? Do you think it is possible to judge the success or failure of the entire public school system this way? Or not?

..............and says that Reber says that "there is no validity to the standard of “adequate yearly progress”. Well, AYP is the road to the dead-end destination of the inevitable 2014 Public School System Failure. So while we can be happy that our schools are making progress on this road, how valid is it to celebrate your progress traveling down a dead end road?

And DIST, honestly, what would YOU say if you had Terry McEwen's job? All you could possibly say (in public) is hooray for progress and that they'll try harder when they don't get far enough down their dead end road.

And finally, ......"The tone of his letter (and his other writings in the Examiner) suggest his beef is that someone from outside is telling him what to do." I suppose this is possible. But he seems pretty coherent to me and I suspect his beef is that someone from the outside is telling him to do a bunch of stupid crap. If we want intelligent teachers teaching our kids, we'd better not give them stupid, impossible, unfunded mandates.

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

"NAJH, do you disagree or agree with this? Do you think it is possible to judge the success or failure of the entire public school system this way? Or not? "

I would have thought I was already clear on that. There are always outside standards. Fair has nothing to do with it. Is it a surgeon's fault that a patient only lived two months after a triple bypass if that patient didn't take his meds, kept smoking, kept drinking, and lived on bacon-triple-cheeseburgers? No. But we still need global assessments to check for systemic problems, i.e. whether overall, the patients having that surgery at that hospital survive for a significantly lower amount if time than the patients having that surgery at all hospitals. There may indeed be something specific to the population that particular hospital serves. How would we know without some kind of outcome measures?

I'm willing to bet that, before the KCMO school district lost their accreditation, their teachers would have said pretty much the same thing, that they were doing a "remarkable" job and it was "countless extraneous variables " that were responsible for kids getting high school diplomas when they - literally - could not spell three-letter words correctly.

"I suspect his beef is that someone from the outside is telling him to do a bunch of stupid crap."

And who gets to decide that? Mr. Reber? He gets to decide if he's doing his job well enough to keep it? Once again I'll ask: Is that the way it works at your job?

Mr. Reber started his diatribe by railing against a letter from the KSDE. He dismisses their criticism because they haven't been in the Lawrence school district. Guess what - Mr. Reber has no basis to talk. He hasn't, either. He's been in his classroom, in his school. He has not observed every teacher in the district, he has not assessed every student. When he says "I know firsthand what remarkable schools we have" and "Our teachers do remarkable work", what is the basis for that claim? He can speak about nothing more than what HE does and what HE has seen. He has no first-hand knowledge of how every student benefits (or not) from every teacher. No individual does.

And that would be why we use standard outcome measures.

There is also the slight matter that Mr. Reber is a public employee. The citizens of Kansas elect the Board. The citizens of the United States elected the presidents who gave us NCLB and Race to the Top. We are paying him to teach what we think our kids need to know and how to teach it. If he thinks he knows better than we do what we want for our children, if he has all the answers, and knows more about teaching than the five members of the state Board who are also teachers, then let him join the 'profiteers' and open his own private school. Of course, then he'll be subject to the ultimate assessment: If the kids don't learn anything, people won't send their kids there.

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

Well, I guess he's definitely demonstrated how much he knows about running a successful school.

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

Isn't the search function wonderful? I wonder how much more we'd learn about Mr. Reber and his opinions if we took his advice and Googled a certain phrase?

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

One of the parts I found interesting:

"While McPherson eighth-graders last year achieved the highest standard on state reading assessments that comply with No Child Left Behind, only 43 percent of those same students qualified as on track to be “ready for college” as determined by the reading portion of the ACT Explore test."

So Mr. Reber thinks it's too tough to get his students up to a level that isn't even close to preparing them for college. Isn't that "remarkable"?

KSManimal 4 years, 9 months ago

You've provided a great illustration here of a big difference between people who understand learning and those who don't. You're pointing to a failed attempt at something as proof of ignorance. Real educators understand that failed attempts INCREASE a persons understanding of things, not the other way around.

Also, what a great illustration of the original letter's point that experience is considered a liability in education; whereas elsewhere it's an asset. How many successful business owners can you name who have never had a failed business? Do you point to that and say "see, they don't know a thing about business"?

While this school may have failed as a business, it certainly did not fail in the mission to educate. Dig up some kids, all grown now, who were part of those programs and see if they'd call it a failure.

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

"You're pointing to a failed attempt at something as proof of ignorance."

Have 'they' tried again - successfully?

"Real educators understand that failed attempts increase a persons understanding of things, not the other way around."

Then you must be brilliant.

I have a pretty good understanding of learning, mani. Failed attempts only marginally increase a person's understanding, in that they eliminate one or some of the possibilities as what doesn't work. It lends very little, if any, insight into what does.

KSManimal 4 years, 9 months ago

"Failed attempts only marginally increase a person's understanding, in that they eliminate one or some of the possibilities as what doesn't work. It lends very little, if any, insight into what does."

Yeah, that's why we have airplanes and spaceships and computers and cars and cell phones and genetic engineering and........

You're right, though. Not one damn good thing ever came from people trying things and finding out what doesn't work.

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

Um, the people that invented airplanes and spaceships and computers and cars and cell phones and genetic engineering eventually found the right way. So again I'll ask - was there another attempt - a successful one - at opening the natural school?

You say failure is a step towards success. Sometimes this is true. But in the immortal words of Sigmund Freud, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

8muddyboots 4 years, 9 months ago

Wow. nota, you didn't read the article very closely. He took a job with the school district. His wife continued on working in non-traditional education.

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

Wow, muddy, you didn't read either the article or my posts very closely. The question was did they make another attempt - a successful one - to open their own school again?

TopJayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

Immigrated from France? How very PC. LOL. Gotta be a teacher.
Lotta whining for being expected to achieve results. In all fairness, there should be distinctions made for special ed.
But yes, we need to be nice to the French kids.

penguin 4 years, 9 months ago

Just a note on the testing.

The test is not all just a one shot experience for all. If you are a high school student that fails to pass the first time than you get another shot about 6-9 weeks later. The high schools have the time to prepare the kids again for the test. I am not saying this is right or wrong...but just what it is. So this notion that all the testing is just one day out of the year is a bit off when it comes to the high school kids.

KS 4 years, 9 months ago

jajacut - NCLB was written by none other thatn Teddy Kennedy and supported by Bush. It is strongly opposed by the unions. But in keeping with the liberal mantra, including BHO, it has to be the fault of Bush. After all, he was also responsbile for the San Francisco earthquake, and the Chicago fire among others.

tbaker 4 years, 9 months ago

David; instead of a "layer" of for-profit middle management, lets skip the layer and abolish government-ran schools altogether. The entire education business should be changed from a union feed trough to a "for profit" business. The reason is simple: Give me one example where a private, "for profit" school hasn't out-performed government schools in every measurable way. Profit is the reason why these schools are better. I have a real problem with someone who is supposed to be teaching my child complaining about a test that measures whether or not they are actually doing their job. Isn't the education of our children something we should be measuring?

KSManimal 4 years, 9 months ago

"Give me one example where a private, "for profit" school hasn't out-performed government schools in every measurable way. Profit is the reason why these schools are better."

Give me one example where a private, for profit school has to educate EVERY kid in the community, not just those whose families value education and can afford to pay for it, and who's kids get three meals a day. I could go on...

Select clientèle is the reason why these schools appear better.

Not to mention the FACT that if all schools were private, for profit schools, easily half the people in this country would get no education at all. Of course, if we did eliminate all the lower-income students....our test average would skyrocket!

" I have a real problem with someone who is supposed to be teaching my child complaining about a test that measures whether or not they are actually doing their job."

You're missing the point - the tests are not a valid measure of whether or not the teachers are doing their job. By golly, if that wheelchair-bound kid can't do the high jump, we'd better fire his PE teacher......

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

Yada, yada, yada, yada, yada. Nothing more than the same old tired excuses.

Tell us all something, mani - are there any schools, anywhere, that are meeting the standards?

KSManimal 4 years, 9 months ago

Yada, yada, yada, same old ignoring or reality. You aren't paying attention.

Yes, there are schools meeting standards. But there will be exponentially fewer from now until 2014 when 100% will be "failing".

Again and again you miss the point: NCLB and its AYP requirements are invalid and are set up to guarantee 100% "failure" by 2014.

Let me spell it out again: NCLB requires ALL students to score "proficient" (more or less equal to "at or above grade level") by 2014. This is essentially mandating that 100% of students perform at or above average.

It is statistically impossible.

There are only two possible outcomes: 1) 100% of schools "fail" by 2014; or 2) states change their definition of "proficient" to mean "the performance of the lowest-achieving kid in the state".

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

Hey, lookie what I found:

http://www.examiner.com/k-12-in-topeka/twenty-four-kansas-title-1-districts-thirty-seven-title-1-schools-on-improvement

"While those numbers are up from last year, they represent just 8 percent of all school districts in the state, and just 5 percent of the 732 Title I schools in Kansas."

Gee, mani - seems like more than 9 out of 10 can meet the standards that you have so many excuses for not meeting.

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

But then, look at the bright side, mani - at least you'll learn something from your failure.

geekyhost 4 years, 9 months ago

Actually, when you compare apples to apples and test groups matched for socioeconomic status, private schools do not tend to perform any better than public schools.

Or as a 2003 study says, "Overall, 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."

notajayhawk 4 years, 9 months ago

In perusing some of the other writings of this LTE writer, I came across one on the healthcare issue in which he posits there is no penalty for not getting health insurance under the recently passed legislation, there is, to his thinking, a tax break for those who do. That is, there is an incentive for compliance, not a punishment for non-compliance.

Why is this any different?

The fed hands out the money, they make the rules. Pretty simple. It works that way for all federal funding. You want highway money? They'll tell you what your policy on seat belts should be, or your BAC limit. There's another story in this paper right now about the rules they placed on Medicaid funding, saying if you want money from us for helping kids with their ADL's in school, you have to fund those services at home.

Or here's a better one: Welfare. If you want money from the fed to hand out in food stamps, TANF, medical assistance, etc., then you have to be in total compliance with documenting their job-seeking efforts. It doesn't matter if they live in the middle of the boonies without available transportation and three pre-school-aged kids to take care of, you'd better be able to document they spent 20 hours per week at the Workforce Center and applied for 15 jobs per week. Why is that any different than federal education funding? They make the rules if you want their money. If you meet their standards, they'll pay you. If you don't, figure out a way to pay for it yourself.

jafs 4 years, 9 months ago

The problem is that much of federal and state oversight is poorly designed.

I have no problem with holding teachers and schools accountable and making sure that students are getting a good education - it worries me that so many people seem to be graduating from high school without learning the basics.

But it's clear that student success is related to more than teacher proficiency, which makes it hard to design oversight that accurately monitors that factor (and, of course, the inclusion of special needs, dd, etc. students is silly - there should be different standards for them).

My wife works with developmentally disabled folks and has done so for over 20 years. The way that the state and federal government oversee her work is absurd - much of the oversight is designed by people who don't really know much about the field, it changes far too often for no apparent reason, requires way too much paperwork/documentation, etc.

Case managers are now routinely spending 60% or more of their time doing paperwork - that means only about 40% can be spent actually helping people. That doesn't make any sense, especially when the place she works is CARF accredited - a voluntary oversight organization made up of people who actually do understand the field.

It seems to me that simply requiring an organization that works with the dd population be CARF accredited would be a much simpler and better way of assuring that they're doing a good job.

Of course, then all of those government bureaucrats would have to find something else to do, or lose their jobs :-)

And, the level of scrutiny in her field compared with the lack of scrutiny towards money spent (or lost) in war is infuriating - nobody seems too concerned with the approximately $9 billion simply unaccounted for, or the billions spent on projects which aren't working, etc.

Overall, the amounts of money involved with dd funding are vastly smaller than the above.

katandrac 4 years ago

My oldest daughter just graduated amid an extremely high performing group of students. Every year that my children have standardized testing, we get a copy of the results and over time have seen that a class that performs well continues so throughout their schooling and one that scores poorly continues to perform poorly, despite having the same teachers. The class following my daughter's has done poorly from the first exam. The next year's group is a better testing class. The following group is a very bad group of testers. The next two groups have been stellar. It doesn't take any special talent or training to see that some groups of kids do better than others regardless of the teachers. The tests themselves prove it has more to do with the students' abilities than with the quality of the teachers.

JDice03 3 years, 4 months ago

Maybe we're testing our schools on the wrong things. As someone who has completed k-12 + BA + MBA, I can tell you that even though I've had the privilege to have had some excellent teachers, 90% of what I learned came from doing my HOMEWORK. Any good student knows that unless you go home and study the material, you're not going to pass the class. The teacher's job is primarily to MOTIVATE students to learn... Not to somehow make them smarter during the 1-hour they have to keep them from screwing around in class. Parents need to take some responsibility in their child's education ... And by "some," I mean 90%! Good teachers are essential (and I think that there are A LOT of good teachers out there), but they are only a small part of your child's success... About 10%. I understand it's nice to have someone to blame when your kid doesn't grow up to be a brain surgeon, but we really do need to stop blaming teachers and start listening to them.

Disclaimer: I'm not a teacher... So you can put a little stock in this opinion!

argd2117 3 years, 4 months ago

If we're going to have a 'No Child Left Behind' law that outlines performance expectations for teachers/students, shouldn't there be a component in there for parents too? After all, it doesn't seem fair that those who have the most influence on their own child's academic achievement are not accountable for it at all. Kids are in a classroom about 35 hours a week, but are with their parents the remainder of the time. If your child isn't 'proficient' then how about the teachers AND the parents be held accountable? Maybe a class on a new teaching technique for the teacher and a parenting class for the parents? Now THAT would increase those oh so accurate test scores in a jiffy...

30plusyears 3 years, 3 months ago

Just so you know I am a teacher & I don't know all there is to know about education. I work to stay on top of trends, topics & ideas. I think about my student's needs & what will make them grow, be lovers of learning, knowledgeable, & articulate. NCLB has helped & has hindered. I would like to see it gone. It is not realistic to think that all children will be at the same level of ability by any given date. They never have been & never will be. Some posts sound like teachers are not working to help children who do not meet the requirements of NCLB. That teachers work with the middle of the road & let the others flounder. Some sound like children who learn differently, take longer, or have special needs should not be in our schools. Some sound like you know the whole district by experience with 1 or 2 people. That bothers me. I teach 20+ children, ages 3-5, in the public school system, over half are identified with special needs. I change diapers, wipe dirty noses, support language & speech development, teach math, early reading, motor skills, social/ behavior skills, etc. Each child is an individual. Each one learns at their own pace. Each learns. Each has the right to learn. Each needs & deserves my attention. Each deserves a quality education. I am not perfect, but I try to do what is right for each child, just like the majority of educators I know. I have a student who counts by 2's & find groups of 10; I have a student who does not speak, but made a "b" sound in association with a ball. Each accomplishment is important. Each child will take the same standardized test designed for 1 type of learner to assure that they have learned. My "b" guy & my counter are the same age. They are not the same type of learner. The same type of test or standard will not fit both children. They may or may not stay worlds apart in learning, but if they do my "b" maker will likely bring down the whole school score, not due to his ability to make progress, but because of his socioeconomic class, his inability to make standardized progress & the inability to take a standardized test like his peers. Should the district be penalized? The child is clearly making progress, his progress, reported 3x per year, plus yearly to the state via required developmental testing looking at the individual child. Think about it. No need for blame, attacks, or accusations, just understanding & experience from more than 1 point of view. I am but 1 in a sea of people who have dedicated their lives to the betterment of children, your children. The children I have taught & the families I have served, know & are the judges of what I have or have not done. They don't need a standardized test to tell them. There will always be those who are not great at what they do for a living & it is important for us to help them find a better fit for their skills. A society shouldn't blame the whole for the few that need help being better, child or adult.

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