Education reform

The collapse of standards in NY schools

There is a massive problem with NY public funded schooling.

It is to be expected with a left wing mayor intent on protecting the unionised education workforce.

Technically speaking, New York state Education Commissioner John King was correct when he insisted last week that “we are not retreating” on school standards. So true — it’s more like a surrender.

King’s attempt to put a happy face on the rout was wishful thinking, as the parade of white flags reveals. The commissioner has been admirably bold in pushing onward, but now marches mostly alone.

From Albany to City Hall, the education-reform movement is grinding to a halt. Meaningful teacher evaluations and standardized tests for students are either on hold or moving into the mushy world of educrat gobbledygook, where vapid self-esteem is prized more than real results.

To be sure, the collapse didn’t happen all at once. It recalls the Ernest Hemingway dialogue in “The Sun Also Rises.”

When a man asks, “How did you go bankrupt?” another answers, “Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.”

So it is with the collapse of standards. What started as a trickle is now a gusher wiping away the tentative progress on accountability.

The biggest blow came with an innocuous-sounding press release from city Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. She announced a new promotion policy for grades 3 through 8 that “takes the temperature down around testing” while allowing “educators to make decisions about the students they know best while maintaining high standards.”

In plain English, that means that even if tests show Johnny can’t read, we’re giving him a gold star and sending him on to the next grade, where he’ll fall further behind before being passed on again. That’s the gist of social promotion, and it’s now ­official city policy.

Mayor de Blasio later boasted of the move, saying, “We’re ­going to in every way we can move away from high-stakes testing.”

Presumably, that means he favors low-stakes testing, which is testing that doesn’t matter. Welcome to the new mayor’s education plan, where he’ll be able to claim victory because failure has been outlawed.   Read more »

Teachers part of the problem, not the solution

The DomPost editorial suggests that teachers, or more accurately the teacher unions are part of the problem not the solution regarding national standards.

The time has come for teacher unions to accept that national standards in reading, writing and mathematics are here to stay.

Parents clearly want plain-English reports about how their children are progressing in the three most important building blocks for a sound education, and the policy has been overwhelmingly endorsed at the last two elections.

It is therefore in teachers’ interests to work with the Ministry of Education to ensure a sound system of assessment and data collection. Sadly, the signs this week are that teacher unions and representatives will continue cutting off their noses to spite their faces.  Read more »

Voucher Schools in India – Private Schools for the Poor

Everywhere in the world people are embracing charter schools, voucher schools, academies, and partnership schools. For too long education has been the preserve of the unions and academics…and their way isn’t working.

The old systems specifically are leaving the poor behind. In India there is a movement to change that:

The Brahmpuri slum in New Delhi is an energetic place, home to migrants, Muslims and other marginals. A barber with a cut-throat razor and a bucket of dirty water shaves clients on the pavement. Factories hum in people’s front rooms. Animals and children are everywhere: buffaloes pulling carts, white ponies doing nothing in particular (they are popular for wedding ceremonies), children hawking bicycle pumps and washing powder.

The school, despite its name, is private, and it is a miracle of compression: floor upon floor of children, 25 to a class, crowded into a narrow concrete block. It is also a miracle of order: the children wear uniforms and stand up to greet visitors. One classroom is decorated with bright pictures and perky slogans such as: “We will get more than 80% in maths.” The teacher worked for Infosys, a giant IT firm, before finding her vocation. Other classrooms are drabber. Dr Bhandari, the school’s owner and headmaster, is clearly a shrewd businessman. He runs a fancier school next door, decorated with images of Mickey Mouse. He has an impressive collection of certificates. He uses an interpreter to explain that one of his school’s strengths is that it is “English medium”.  Read more »

The new enemies of promise

Michael Gove is on a mission…to improve British education standards and getting in his way as usual are the teacher unions. He calls them “the enemies of promise“.

Exactly 75 years ago the great English writer and thinker, Cyril Connolly, published his most famous book –  The Enemies Of Promise. Connolly’s work explores the ways in which the talented individuals of his time were prevented from achieving their full potential.

It’s time someone produced an update. Because there are millions of talented young people  being denied the opportunity to succeed as they deserve. Far too many are having their potential thwarted by a new set of Enemies Of Promise.

The new Enemies Of Promise are a set of politically motivated individuals who have been actively trying to prevent millions of our poorest children getting the education they need.

All too familiar…same problem here.  Read more »

The kids left behind by traditional schools are helped by Top US Charter Schools

Everyone knows the US Charter Schools have mixed results (unlike Sweden who have nailed it) and that there are things that have to be done right in New Zealand to get the massive benefits that are possible.

The key thing in the latest US study that New Zealand has to nail is the authorisation process. It has to be very thorough and the schools have to start well. If those things are done they will make a big difference to the children currently missing out.

Other findings to note:

1.   It is possible to organize a school to be excellent on Day One – and they need to be.

2. Charter Management Organisations post superior results with historically disadvantaged student subgroups.   They produce stronger academic gains for students of colour and students in poverty than those students would have realised either in traditional public schools or in many categories what would have learned in independent charter schools.   Read more »

More Labour meddling in Education

Here is another ‘politically neutral’ principal – Pat Newman. I heard him banging on against National Standards on NewstalkZB last night with hosts Petra Bagust and Pat Brittenden. 

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First up was Professor John O’Neill who called the standards “dumb”

Next was Lesley Pether, Principal of Maraetai Beach Primary School, who said the National Standards were going well and NS was helping the teachers.

Finally Pat Newman, Principal of  Hora Hora Primary School, Whangarei , expressed his dislike to National Standards by saying “Ha,ha,ha…” He believes that National Standards help no one. He was very rude and referred to Anne Tolley simply as “She”.

I Googled Pat Newman and found that he might be the same Pat Newman who is a hopeful Labour Party electorate candidate for Whangarei. Talk about a stitch up! He has also posted at Red Alert.

I am adamantly opposed to standards as discussed. I am not opposed to parents have good accurate information and they should be getting that now, and if not their parents should be loud and vociferous to get that info.

That also requires parents to pick up some responsibility to attend school, talk to their teachers and discuss their childrens p[rogress though!.

I am opposed because standards will not identify poor teachers and they shouldn’t anyway and in my opinion, there are already existing avenues for that to happen, that are working.

Hora Hora Primary School is Decile 2 school. I wonder – is this the reason why Principal Pat Newman is so against National Standards? I would have thought that National Standards would help the teachers and the students to achieve more.

Ethnic makeup of pupils:

Maori 73%, NZ European/Pakeha 21%,
Pacific 1%, other ethnicities 5%

Also it was interesting reading the ERO report for Hora Hora School – especially this statement. I wonder what this means? : The board was also asked to attest that ‘policies and procedures that relate to students who have special education needs are implemented without discrimination’.

Including Students with High Needs

During this review ERO investigated the extent to which the board and school leaders of Hora Hora School provide an inclusive education for students with high needs. This included collecting evidence about the school’s policies, processes and practices to support the enrolment and induction of students with high needs and to support their participation and achievement at school. The information collected during this review will contribute to information that will be reported in a national education evaluation report.

Prior to a review, a board of trustees and principal attest in the Board Assurance Statement that they have taken all reasonable steps to meet their legal requirements including those detailed in Ministry of Education circulars and other documents.

The board of Hora Hora School was asked to attest to whether it had ‘ensured that teachers of students with disabilities, and other contact staff, have a sound understanding of the learning needs of students with disabilities and, where necessary, have put in place support systems centred on each individual with disabilities.’ The board was also asked to attest that ‘policies and procedures that relate to students who have special education needs are implemented without discrimination’.

ERO’s findings confirm these attestations.

ERO needs to know that Pat Newman does not intend to work with the Crown on National Standards because he can’t – maybe – because he is too politically aligned with the Labour Party.

This is even more proof of the Labour and union dominated opposition to National Standards. The dishonesty of the campaign to undermine National Standards is clear for all to see now.