The Civic Council’s pet charter schools already get millions extra. Where will their greed in.

Poor Gary Chartrand, lamented that he just wanted things to be fair between charter schools and public schools in a recent op-ed in the Times Union. Well it seems as if not all charter schools are equal after all because if the charter is affiliated with a member of the civic council they already receive extra, millions extra. 

The civic council loves charter schools but they really love the KIPP School and the Tiger Academy.

John Baker- KIPP Charter

Gary Chartrand- KIPP Charter

Daniel Edelman- KIPP Charter

John Baker, Tiger Academy

Eric Mann, Tiger Academy 

Um, notice all the overlap there?

Well it just so happens that these two charter schools also receive a lot more public money than all the other schools, public and charter alike. 

Representative Fischer and Senator Aaron Bean want to give the KIPP school two million dollars extra and representative Clay Yarbourough wants to give the Tiger academy an extra million. What do these two charters have in common? They were founded by men,  who as members of the civic council regularly give the three legislators campaign money.

The KIPP school was brought to town by Ponte Vedra businessman Gary Chartrand who is one of Jason Fischer’s earliest and biggest supporters. The KIPP school is not located in Fischer’s district nor is it likely many children living in his district attend the school, but that has not stopped Fischer from funneling millions extra over the years to the KIPP schools. As you can see it is well represented on the Civic Council.

Yarborough at least has the decency to support a charter school in his district. He told WJCT news, Tiger Academy stands out as a high-performing school in an underserved neighborhood.  It’s graeds are C, B, C,C, C, D, D. Solid after a slow start but not spectacular. There are numerous other schools in the same area that do just as well if not better. They just aren’t sponsored by the Baker family like the Tiger academy is.
They got the money too
So it seems like fair is okay, but making sure their personal charter schools is taken care of is a pretty high priority too.
You know even other charter operators should be outraged by what the civic council is doing, they must be thinking, hey we better get us some politicians too.

Here is another time they raked in a bunch of extra cash too.

Northeast Florida, where public education died

Northeast Florida if you wanted to destroy education, knee cap the middle class and do harm to the state you have come up aces. Embrace what you have done; own it, because if we get much more of Wise, Thrasher and Scott that will be about all you do own, it’s definitely all your children will.

Congratulations Northeast Florida, you are the epicenter for the destruction of the state’s public schools. Your recent dogged insistence to vote against you and your children’s interests and for politicians that couldn’t care less about the both of you have signaled education’s death knell. When you voted for Steven Wise, John Thrasher and Rick Scott you may as well as put a stake through education’s heart and forks in our children, because they too like our schools are done.

Steven Wise is no friend of public education and this has been made more evident by his senate bill 736 or what he laughably calls the teacher quality bill. In his bill teachers become at will employees and can be fired regardless of performance. Speak up? You’re gone. The principal doesn’t like you? You’re gone. The principal’s neighbor has a nephew who thinks he might like to try teaching because it would be cool to have summers off? You’re gone. This not increased quality, is what senate bill 736 will allow to happen. It also gets rid of pay increases for advanced degrees. I hope this irony is not lost on you. In every profession we say the more education you get the better off you will be, every profession except education that is, and it also gets rid of seniority and due process, two of the long established tenants of education.

The bill is also another unfunded mandate. School districts will be required to come up with ways to finance the various teacher salary scales and all the increased testing that the bill calls for. Kids will be taught more to the test than ever because now a teacher’s job is on the line more than ever. These tests are not just going to magically appear. They will be developed and scored by educational testing companies who will drain much needed money away from schools coffers and reap millions in profits. Then there will also be teacher evaluation systems that has Michelle Rhee and others salivating. Oh you didn’t know Michelle Rhee has a teacher evaluation system. Why she does, it’s called IMPACT and it has widely been panned in Washington D.C. which means it is probably on the fast track to Florida; after all she is the darling of Rick Scott and Wise.

Steven Wise has cloaked the bill in simplistic easy to please statements like merit pay and reward our best teachers. He doesn’t mention that teachers, who may know better what’s best for them than he does are overwhelmingly against it. His bill is like giving doctors who didn’t ask for it a clump or dirt and saying it’s a cutting edge scalpel and they must use it. Wise also doesn’t mention that there is no study that says merit pay works. Not one! In fact all the studies say it is the equivalent of the luck of the draw. Teacher’s student’s success on standardized tests varies wildly as students enter and leave their classes.
Wise says he wants to improve education, my question is how? Is it by making teachers want to leave and replacements harder to attract because that is what his bill is really doing; hey Jacksonville great job in voting for him.

Then there is John Thrasher who makes no apologies for his distain, no make that hatred for teachers and their unions and he comes from St. Johns County which is the top school district in the state, thank goodness he didn’t come from a county lower on the list. Wake up St. Johns, his way of thinking is going to hurt the schools and kids in your county as well but I guess some of you didn’t think about that while shooting nine at the country club. Would Deborah Giannoulis really have been such a bad alternative? She ran on a platform of doing what’s best for our kids, Thrasher has a history of doing what’s not.

He wants to end collective bargaining and destroy workers rights. He wants to do this by ending payroll deductions for unions but at the same time continue to allow payroll deductions for the United Way and other organizations and by decertifying unions that have a membership of less than fifty percent plus one. Why should multi-million or billion dollar corporations, his friends and supporters be the only one with a voice in government? In the end all his bill amounts to is rewarding his friends and silencing his enemies. Even if you don’t like unions, is this the America you want to live in? Do you want to live in a country where our corporate over loads tell us what to think and feel and limit the earning power of millions of everyday citizens; if so communist Russia would have been the place for you. This is not just a teacher battle here, this is a battle for the future of the middle class and if we are going to have one or not. Way to go St. Johns, you have just destroyed the teaching profession and public education but potentially the middle class as well, talk about a trifecta.

Thrasher and Wise are so concerned about education that instead of demanding Scott rescind his draconian budget, they develop bills that will handicap and set back the profession. No thanks guys and don’t worry about me I’ll try and get somebody to pull the knife out of my and the thousands of teachers back you just put it in.

Then there is Rick Scott, he of the 1.7 billion dollar fine for fraud who won the election with less than fifty percent of the vote, which was more of a referendum against Obama than for him. You have to hand it to him though, while spending eighty million dollars of his own personal fortune he made the election about Washington D.C. not about Florida. I get it that you don’t like Obammacare but how do you feel about gutting social services for the sick, disabled and children. How do you feel about him curtailing protections for the environment and our rivers and how do you feel about him cutting billions from our already resource starved education system? Friends we were already fiftieth in the nation. He and this is adjusted for inflation, wants to send us back to 1976 levels of school spending, you know before all the unfunded mandates and changes to education that siphoned millions away to corporate charter schools, vouchers and education testing companies.

North East Florida voted for this transplant and while hoping to create additional tax breaks for corporations and wealthy individuals in addition to the billions we already give, he seeks to balance the budget on the backs of the working poor and the middle class. Cut your own throat much North East Florida.

He won by saying he would create jobs, well the tens of thousands of teachers and government workers who are about to find themselves unemployed aren’t so optimistic about his plan. And friends we are already a low tax, pro business state without an income tax. If companies aren’t rushing here now do you really thing they are going to do so after we destroy public education, curtail government services and harm the environment?

Northeast Florida once again, if you wanted to destroy education, knee cap the middle class and do harm to the state you have come up aces. Embrace what you have done; own it, because if we get much more of Wise, Thrasher and Scott that will be about all you do, it’s definitely all your children will.

Where do babies come from

When I was little the first time I asked my mother where babies came from she said, the hospital. A few years went by and when I asked her again, she said, when a man loves a woman he lies with her and nine months later a baby is born. When I was five and ten both of those answers were good enough and they were correct. However as an adult I learned the answer is a lot more complicated than that and there were a whole lot of factors, like unwanted pregnancy, stds and birth control among others that needed to be considered. The real answer became very complicated

Fixing the problems in education are likewise more complicated than saying, the hospital, but that’s what the powers-that-be and our state legislature will have you believe when they say merit pay and charter schools will make everything better.

Merit pay isn’t as simple as fire bad teachers/reward good ones. First of all reputable studies say merit pay does not work and I have yet to find one that says it does. It sounds seductive though doesn’t it? Pay the better teachers more, get rid of the worse teachers and things will improve. The thing is, do we want simple solutions that sound seductive or do we want solutions that work.

Then there are charter schools the darling of the right. Well friends study after study has shown charter schools, who get to pick and choose who they let in and keep and who often don’t play by the same confining rules that public schools do, don’t do any better. This means they get the best kids with the most involved families and don’t exceed what is happening at. P.S. this or P.S.. That says to me our public schools must be doing something right.

They do this while at the same time trying to limit the one reform that has proven to work and is on the books, the class size amendment. Why because the class size amendment costs money, whereas merit pay believe it or not and charter schools make money for corporations and big business. This is not about what’s best for the kids it’s about money and we know this because they ignore the number one thing that is known to affect how children do in school.

At no point do theses powers-that-be mention poverty, which is what study after study points to as the leading factor in determining how well a child does in school. In fact they marginalize it by saying things like, poverty is an excuse hoping that allows them to maintain the status quo.

Look there are more high performing teachers at the high performing schools and they draw a correlation from that. That’s their proof that it must be the teacher’s fault. They hope we don’t notice that that the lower performing schools with the supposed lower performing teachers are in the neighborhoods hit hardest by poverty. It must be the teachers right?

That is what they say, that friends if their ultimate, from the hospital, answer and it’s just as accurate as my mom was.

We have problems in education and we need serious solutions, not off the cuff ones designed to placate five year olds, which is what the legislature and governor must think most of us are and line the pockets of corporations while ignoring what’s best for our children.

The false claims of education reform

From the Washington Posts Answer Sheet

By Paul Thomas

“Accountability,” “merit,” “choice,” and “competition” are compelling to most Americans because they speak to our faith in rugged individualism.

As South Carolina faces yet another year of budget shortfalls that jeopardize many aspects of the state budget—notably education—we must look especially close at new policies and proposals that are driven by ideology but not supported by evidence. Two ideas being considered now that deserve our skepticism are merit-based teacher pay and increased funding for charter schools.

From President Obama and Secretary of Education Duncan to the misleading documentary “Waiting for Superman” to the new reformers (Bill Gates, Geoffrey Canada, and Michelle Rhee), the public is bombarded by a false claim that teacher quality is the most important element in student learning and public education is failing because of an inordinate number of “bad” teachers.

Evidence, however, shows that teacher and school quality accounts for only about 10-20% of measurable student achievement and that out-of-school factors are the dominant source of education problems.

Yet, teachers do matter, often in ways that cannot be measured, and since teacher pay accounts for the greatest percentage of education budgets — which continue to dominate state budgets — political leaders and the public feel compelled to call for greater teacher accountability.

Reformers such as Gates and Canada have been beating the drum for teacher accountability and weeding out the claimed “bad” teachers, and this media-driven mantra is turning many states to consider dropping traditional teacher pay scales based on experience and degrees for merit-based systems that are linked to claimed objective data, such as test scores.

Again, “accountability” and “merit” are compelling concepts, especially when we are talking about adults who are charged with educating our children. But merit-based teacher pay should be rejected for the following reasons:

• Studies show value-added methods (a popular form of merit pay) to be statistically flawed as tools of assessing a teacher’s impact on student learning. In short, research refutes the effectiveness or accuracy of merit-based teacher pay.

• Teaching and learning are not singular and direct relationships between one teacher and one student. Any measure of student learning is a reflection of that child’s entire life and entire education experience (including all teachers and learning experiences in that child’s life). The impact of one teacher on one student, in fact, can be hard to measure for many years.

• To identify a direct and thus causational relationship between teachers and students, all other factors impacting student achievement, including out-of-school factors, would have to be controlled, resulting in a process that would cost more money and time than the state can fund.

• Decades of research show that teachers are not motivated by merit pay. Teachers are motivated by better teaching conditions, administrative and parental support, and collegiality.

• Accountability must be connected to autonomy and to the behavior of the person being held accountable. Currently, teachers are mandated to implement standards that they did not create, and their students are assessed by tests that those teachers did not design. To hold a person accountable without honoring that person’s professional autonomy is unethical and invalid. And to hold one person (the teacher) accountable for the actions of another person (the student) is just as unethical.

If we believe teacher pay should be tied to merit and accountability, we must first honor teacher autonomy, and then design a system that addresses teacher behaviors—not student outcomes.

Charter schools appear to offer the choice and competition—which we have idealized—we believe can raise the quality of education, but increasing funding of charter schools proves to be as flawed as teacher merit pay.

The overwhelming body of evidence on charter schools shows that they are essentially the same as public schools. Also problematic is the inequity common in charter schools:

“The analysis found that, as compared with the public school district in which the charter school resided, the charter schools were substantially more segregated by race, wealth, disabling condition, and language. While charter schools have rapidly grown, the strong segregative pattern found in 2001 is virtually unchanged through 2007,” reveals a review from the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder (NEPC).

Another review from NEPC cautions: “Federal policies that will strengthen charter schools in the longer run—rather than expanding the number of charter schools in the short run—need to be based on a more accurate and representative body of evidence.” SC would do well to delay expanding charter support, especially in a difficult budget year.

The teacher merit pay and charter school movements are being driven by false claims, clearly refuted by the weight of evidence. SC’s political leaders must be careful not to be swayed by our ideologies and to seek policies and funding that serve our students well.

Its not as simple as fire bad teachers, reward excellent ones

From the St. Petersburg Times

by Tom Marshall

Turkey Creek Middle PE teacher Tecca Kilmer worries that simply testing student knowledge, ignoring physical gains, misses a big part of what she’s teaching.

TAMPA — Everyone seems to have a bright idea in the tug-of-war to fix America’s public schools.

Pay teachers more. Adopt a common curriculum. Give parents a voucher and let them pick the school.

But this spring, one solution is looming above all others, both nationally and in bills before the Florida Legislature. It rests on a simple claim: that it’s possible to predict each student’s performance on tests based on their track record, and then hold teachers accountable for making those annual predictions come true.

It’s called value-added analysis. And the Hillsborough County School District is preparing to push the new science to its limits.

Nearly every Hillsborough student this spring will take exams in rarely-tested areas like physical education and the arts. Such scores, along with those already collected on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, will allow the district to rate virtually every classroom teacher using student tests.

“What it means is every student has their own starting line, and students are compared to themselves. That’s a good thing,” said Anna Brown, assessment director for the district’s seven-year partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Teachers say the new emphasis on testing adds pressure to teach memorizable facts at the expense of exercise or creativity. They worry of being wrongly labeled and facing pay cuts or even termination as a result.

And experts say they’re right to worry. Even those who find value-added methods useful say Hillsborough is venturing into uncharted waters by including non-academic subjects and special-needs students.

“All of these indicators are fallible,” said Henry Braun, an education professor at Boston College and former vice president of research for Educational Testing Service. “I think we overestimate what statistical analysis can do for us.”

Value-added is being used by hundreds of school districts nationwide, including New York City and Chicago. But research shows it’s often inaccurate.

One federal Education Department study found such systems misclassify up to 35 percent of teachers in a single year. That error rate falls to 25 percent using three years’ worth of data.

Steven Glazerman, a senior fellow at the consulting firm Mathematica, said it’s not clear whether it’s fair to use a 20-question test to determine 40 percent of an elementary art teacher’s evaluation, as Hillsborough plans to do.

“Unfortunately, we don’t know the answer,” he said. “Because most of what we do know is based on the traditional grades in the traditional subjects. I’d have to say it is an open question.”

Hillsborough officials say they won’t rely solely on value-added. Starting this fall, such scores will make up 40 percent of a teacher’s evaluation, rather than the 50 percent being considered by Florida legislators. And the district will use three years of scores to make decisions on teacher pay.

Observations by principals and peer evaluators will make up the remaining 60 percent in Hillsborough, with support from a $100 million Gates grant. Officials say their new system will be tougher than in previous years, when 99.5 percent of their 12,500 teachers were rated satisfactory or outstanding and one-third were called flawless.

It’s true that value-added is imperfect, said David Steele, who oversees the district’s Gates reforms.

“But is it better than what we have done?” he asked. “Is there more error built into value added? Or is there more error built into one principal sitting in his office, evaluating every person on his staff whether he’s ever actually seen them teach or not?”

• • •

It’s kind of like growing oak trees.

That was the analogy offered by Brown during a visit to teachers at Williams Middle School in Tampa.

She pointed to a picture of two trees, one of which had clearly done a better job of reaching its full, leafy potential. Would it be fair to judge their gardeners without knowing more about things like soil quality and climate?

“Gardener B must be superior, (because) he has the higher tree?” she asked. “I think we all know that doesn’t tell the whole story.”

In the same way, Brown said, University of Wisconsin statisticians will help Hillsborough to factor in variables like poverty or language fluency in predicting annual student gains.

But several national value-added specialists argued against Hillsborough’s plan to use such scores as part of an automatic rating system.

Braun of Boston College said value-added often fails to account for things like a principal’s weak leadership or school climate differences, lumping such factors into a teacher’s score. He advised using it only to focus attention on potential concerns.

“What you (should) use it for is to do detective work,” said Derek Briggs, an associate professor of education at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He favors his state’s approach of using value-added methods to spot potential problems with schools — not individual teachers.

Jesse Rothstein, an associate professor at the University of California at Berkeley, said using value-added as part of a teacher’s evaluation can prompt them to change their teaching in unhealthy ways, dropping useful activities that aren’t being measured by a narrow, simplistic test.

“You do have to worry that you create incentives for teachers to aim at the measure you’re using, rather than aiming at being effective,” he said.

• • •

“Okay, wait a minute!” called out PE teacher Tecca Kilmer. “I want you to take two fingers and check your pulse.”

Her students at Turkey Creek Middle School were playing an energetic game of capture the flag on a wind-swept field. But now they dropped to one knee, pressed their necks and counted silently.

“What does it mean if it’s beating faster than usual?” she asked.

“You’re using more oxygen,” said eighth-grader Logan Holland.

Even before Hillsborough won its Gates grant last year, PE teachers were teaching and testing more — both as part of a voluntary state merit-pay program, and to set the pace in an age where every teacher must show they’re making a difference.

Kilmer said she’s not doing anything differently this year. But she worries that a single, written exam that tracks student knowledge — not physical improvements — can’t capture all of what she teaches.

“It’s good in the sense that it’s looking at what students are learning,” Kilmer said. “But a written test is not enough for PE.”

Hillsborough arts teachers, too, say the new tests miss a lot.

“It’s a tiny snapshot,” said Frank Hannaway, a music teacher at MacFarlane Park Elementary.

He said he likes the new teacher observation system, which includes visits by peer evaluators with experience in the arts. But teachers want an evaluation that measures musical learning, and not just facts about music.

“We’re working on that,” said district arts supervisor Melanie Faulkner. Music students will listen to a song as part of an “experience-based” test, and art students will look at a picture.

“It’s not writing definitions,” she added. “We want children to apply what they’ve learned.”

Elementary art classes have already been reduced to 30 minutes per week due to budget cuts. With the new tests, some teachers have been forced to cut back on projects, said Amy Klepal of Ballast Point Elementary.

“The biggest complaint I’ve heard from teachers is that it really takes away from the creative process for children,” she said. “We’re stopping more, we’re talking more.”

On a recent morning, her third-graders used a full period to finish collages. Klepal said she’d wait until an early-release day, when she sees each class for 15 minutes, to brush up on test topics like the difference between Van Gogh and Renoir.

“We want them to gain deeper meaning in their learning,” she said. “We’re talking about cultures, we’re talking about history. But when you see a child once a week for 30 minutes, that’s a tall order.”

The big bussiness takeover of Florida Schools

From the St. Augustine Record

by Kathleen Haughney

TALLAHASSEE — As Gov. Rick Scott backs away for now from a push for an expanded school voucher program, former Gov. Jeb Bush’s education foundation has begun quietly circulating draft legislation that may serve as the Legislature’s template to massively expand the number of charter schools throughout the state.

Scott’s budget team this week preached the governor’s belief in school choice, saying the Scott wanted to expand virtual school offerings, allow more students to transfer from failing or sub par schools and create more charter school opportunities. Meanwhile, Bush’s Foundation for Florida’s Future has brought forth a plan that would allow colleges and universities to open charter schools without school district approval and set up a system for the per-student funding to follow the student and not be tied to a school district.

The governor and the foundation got a high profile push this week from former D.C. schools chancellor Michelle Rhee, who made her name by promoting school choice and firing teachers she deemed failures. Rhee, who also serves as an informal adviser to Scott, was in Tallahassee this past week to lobby the Legislature on an education reform issues, particularly expanding school choice and abolishing teacher tenure.

“We have to be putting policies and laws in place that don’t hamstring charters … that create the right environment for them,” Rhee told reporters. “And if Florida can do that, I think you’re going to attract more and more of the high quality charter providers into the state.”

Charter school expansion may be an easier route for Scott to test the waters of school choice expansion.

State Sen. Steve Wise, R-Jacksonville, who chairs the Senate’s Prek-12 Education Committee, is open to the idea of charter school expansion, noting that the Kipp Charter School in Jacksonville has been relatively successful.

“Sometimes, they have a little bit more flexibility than the school districts, but I think they’re going to be in this game,” Wise said. “And we’re going to try to work with them as best as possible.”

Union officials aren’t weighing in yet on potential charter school legislation. A Florida Education Association spokesman said the teachers’ union has generally been in favor of charters in theory, but that it would not favor a system where per student funding left a school district to follow the student to a charter school.

A line in the foundation’s draft legislation reads, “Charter school students shall be funded without regard to whether the student’s home address lies within the school district sponsoring the charter school.”

Why I do not love public education

Another gret blog from Modern Schools. A lot of teachers have similar feelings about education. -cpg

Save Our Schools is hosting a Valentine’s Day blogging festival called I Love Public Education Blogging day. I’d like to participate, but I do not love public education. Here’s why:

I do love teaching and working with young people of all ages. Teaching is fun and inspiring, at least it was until the Ed Deformers really started to go crazy with accountability, testing, and attacking teacher compensation, tenure and pensions. I still learn a lot from my students and from my colleagues, which I really appreciate. I like the fact that education is free for all children, theoretically giving all kids the opportunity to grow and develop. Clearly, education is necessary so that people can learn the basic skills they need to survive in this world. It is also my livelihood, so I do not want to see it debased or eviscerated any further.

Herein lies the rub: Public Education has always existed as a tool for maintaining and enforcing the existing socioeconomic relations (i.e., ensuring that the rich remain rich and the rest of us have the minimal skills and attitude necessary to help them to do so). I do NOT love this most fundamental aspect of public education. The notion that education is the great equalizer is nothing but a liberal myth. It helps bolster the American Dream fantasy and it draws many do-gooder types to the teaching profession who make increasingly desperate sacrifices for “the good of our students,” and sometimes to the detriment of their colleagues. Yet the vast majority of people still end up in the same social class as adults as their parents, despite their schooling.

Certainly there is the potential for individual teachers to enlighten children and inspire them to resist the injustices in the world and to help some of them move up the social ladder, but even the very best teacher is fighting against tremendous odds. The fact is that the socioeconomic relations outside of school play a much stronger role in a child’s academic development than do the school or teacher. If we really want to see significant improvements in graduation rates and closing the achievement gap, then we need to be fighting for greater social and economic equity. We need to be organizing to take back the wealth that the rich have been sapping from us. We need stronger unions and higher pay for the 95% of Americans that are not part of the ruling elite. We need universal health care for all. We need childcare for all parents who want to work outside the home. We need mental health services and drug rehab for all who need it. We need affordable housing. We need to stop locking people up for nonviolent petty crimes like drug possession.

So for me, saving public education is about much more than just getting the billionaire (and millionaire) Ed Deformers off my back. Of course I would love to see an immediate end to NCLB and Race to the Top. It would be great if the voucher, charter-school and “choice” advocates would quit trying to raid public funds and even greater if we could start funding public schools generously instead of miserly. And it would be fantastic if we really did lower class sizes, provided adequate books and supplies, clean and well-maintained facilities. And while we’re at it, how about providing elementary teachers with a prep period or giving secondary teachers two or three prep periods so they had the time to really read all those essays and lab reports and to develop exciting new hands-on activities? How about providing full-time nurses and health clinics on campuses, reinstating counselors and librarians, arts and music? However, if we don’t also start organizing and fighting for some serious social transformations, even all these other great improvements will only help a fraction of our students to achieve at the high levels we have set for them.

Most New York Children not College Ready

Neither are Floridas. -cpg

From the New York Times

by Sharon Otterman

New York State education officials released a new set of graduation statistics on Monday that show less than half of students in the state are leaving high school prepared for college and well-paying careers.

The new statistics, part of a push to realign state standards with college performance, show that only 23 percent of students in New York City graduated ready for college or careers in 2009, not counting special-education students. That is well under half the current graduation rate of 64 percent, a number often promoted by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg as evidence that his education policies are working.

But New York City is still doing better than the state’s other large urban districts. In Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Yonkers, less than 17 percent of students met the proposed standards, including just 5 percent in Rochester.

The Board of Regents, which sets the state’s education policies, met on Monday to begin discussing what to do with this data, and will most likely issue a decision in March. One option is to make schools and districts place an asterisk next to the current graduation rate, or have them report both the current graduation rate and the college ready rate, said Merryl H. Tisch, the chancellor of the Board of Regents.

The move parallels a decision by the Regents last year to make standardized tests for third through eighth graders more difficult to pass, saying that the old passing rates did not correlate to high school success.

“With three through eight, we ripped the Band-Aid off,” Dr. Tisch said in an interview last week. “The thing we said then, in looking at the business world, is that if you sit on this, you become the Enron of test scores, the Enron of graduation rates. We need to indicate exactly what it all means, especially since we’ve already said that college-ready should be the indicator of high school completion.”

State and city education officials have known for years that graduating from a public high school does not indicate that a student is ready for college, and have been slowly moving to raise standards. But the political will to acknowledge openly the chasm between graduation requirements and college or job needs is new, Dr. Tisch; David M. Steiner, the state education commissioner; and John King, the deputy state education commissioner, said in interviews last week.

With President Obama making college readiness and international competitiveness a top national goal, and federal and philanthropic money pouring into finding ways to raise national education standards, that equation is changing, they said. “It is a national crisis,” Dr. Steiner said.

Statewide, 77 percent of students graduate from high school. Currently, a student needs to score a 65 on four of the state’s five required Regents exams to graduate, and beginning next year, they will need a 65 on all five.

Using data collected by state and community colleges, testing experts on a state committee determined last year that a 75 on the English Regents and a 80 on the math Regents roughly predicted that students would get at least a C in a college-level course in the same subject. Scores below that meant students had to often take remediation classes before they could do college-level work. Only 41 percent of New York State graduates in 2009 achieved those scores.

In the wealthier districts across the state, the news is better: 72 percent of students in “low need” districts are graduating ready for college or careers. But even that is well under the 95 percent of students in those districts who are now graduating.

The data also cast new doubt on the ability of charter schools to outperform their traditional school peers. Statewide, only 10 percent of students at charters graduated in 2009 at college-ready standards, though 49 percent received diplomas. The state has not yet calculated results for every district and school.

State officials have also begun a series of meetings in local districts to introduce this data and ask local officials what they want to do about it. A common reaction, Dr. Tisch said, is shock and hesitancy. There are fears of plummeting real estate values, as well as disagreement, particularly in rural areas, with the idea that all students need to be prepared for college.

Jean-Claude Brizard, the schools superintendent in Rochester for the past three years, said that while he was surprised by the data, he welcomed the effort to move the conversation away from simply graduating. In an effort to improve, Rochester has closed half its high schools and opened new schools, including its first high school that allows students to earn credits at several local colleges.

“We are behind the eight-ball a bit, but we are pushing,” he said. “It’s shocking, I know. It’s low. But for me, it is going to support my initiatives.”

In New York City, roughly 75 percent of public high school students who enroll in community colleges need to take remedial math or English courses before they can begin college-level work. City education officials said the 23 percent college-ready rate was not a fair measure of how the city would do if graduation requirements were raised to a higher standard, because students would work harder to meet that new bar.

While it has not gone so far as to calculate an alternative to graduation rates, the city has already begun tracking how each high school’s students fare in college, and in 2012 it will begin holding principals accountable for it. “Last year, well before the state announced this plan, we told schools we would begin including robust college readiness metrics in school progress reports,” said Shael Polakow-Suransky, the chief academic officer.

One thing that is helping districts get over their shock, Dr. Tisch said, is the opening of a broad discussion about how to improve things. On their tour, which has visited Albany, Buffalo and Rochester and will visit New York City, Westchester County and Long Island in the coming weeks, officials are presenting a menu of options.

One idea is to simply report a college-ready graduation rate as an aspirational standard and leave it at that. Another is to impose tougher graduation standards — like requiring that all students in the state take four years of math and science, or permanently raising the passing score on high school Regents exams to 75 in English and 80 in math.

But they are also discussing increased flexibility for districts and students, so that they can spend more time on the subjects they are interested in. For example, students might be permitted to choose at least one of the Regents exams they must pass to graduate — currently all students have to pass math, English, science, global history and American history. Students might be able to substitute foreign language, economics or art for one of the five. Or students could replace one Regents with a vocational skills test in an area like carpentry or plumbing.

Alternatively, the state could grant flexibility to districts to give credits based not on how many hours students sit in a classroom — currently 54 hours per semester per credit — but on whether students show competency, based on examination or online course work.

To press their case, state officials said they hoped to get political support from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. The political environment was particularly challenging now, because the state will roll out a new system in July to evaluate teachers that has the potential of strong opposition from teachers’ unions.

“I would consider it irresponsible, quite frankly, to hold back information at this point, considering that we have already moved in that direction on the three through eight,” Dr. Tisch said, adding, “The obligation at the end of the day is to make sure that when youngsters graduate, that graduation means something from New York State.”

Charter Schools aren’t working out so well.

If they aren’t working in NYC what makes Scott and Bush think they will work here? -cpg

From Mother Jones

Bad News for Charter Schools

— By Kevin Drum

The New York Times reports today that not everyone who graduates from high school in New York is ready for college. That’s no surprise. But the news for charter schools was pretty grim:

Statewide, 77 percent of students graduate from high school….A state committee determined last year that a 75 on the English Regents and a 80 on the math Regents roughly predicted that students would get at least a C in a college-level course in the same subject. Scores below that meant students had to often take remediation classes before they could do college-level work. Only 41 percent of New York State graduates in 2009 achieved those scores.

….The data also cast new doubt on the ability of charter schools to outperform their traditional school peers. Statewide, only 10 percent of students at charters graduated in 2009 at college-ready standards, though 49 percent received diplomas.

Statewide in New York, about 50% of high school graduates are college ready. In charter schools, about 20% of graduates are college ready. This isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison, since we don’t know whether the charter schools had the same quality of incoming students as the public schools. Most likely they didn’t, as the lower graduation rate shows. Still, that’s a helluva gap. It’s not good news for the charter school movement.

Bad News for Charter Schools

No need to wait for Superman, we already have big brothers and sisters

To paraphrase Warren Grymes of Big Brothers Big Sisters; Last year’s release of the film Waiting for Superman was a sobering wake up call, that people will believe anything put in front of them. Mr. Grymes wrote the first part, i wrote the second. Now where he is correct our education system has many issues, Waiting for Superman through misinformation and staged scenes exacerbates those problems by selling solutions, charter schools and vouchers that don’t work and by contributing to the false “bad teacher narrative” being sold by the maker of the film and its billionaire producers.

However Mr. Grymes in his guest editorial to the Times Union wasn’t all wrong. Our children do need mentors and organizations like Big Brothers/Big sisters provide them. Studies show that for every proactive dollar we spend, we save 7-11 dollars in reactive (remediation, incarceration, affects of crime, public aide, etc) dollars. Now where we do need mentors, do you know what we need more?

We need a school system that is filled with rigor and discipline, a system which is determined that every child comes out a productive citizen ready to maximize his or her potential not just put on an assembly line to college. You know basically the opposite of what we have now.

I appreciate Mr. Grymes and his valuable organization and he might not have realized it but we already have a lot of supermen and women in our community and in our schools working with our children, instead of referencing a piece oh blatant anti public education propaganda, he should have just said, that but we need a lot more too.

Chris Guerrieri
School Teacher