This is NOT ‘accidentally on purpose’ – this is absolutely on purpose.

In the last six months, many aspects of my life have gone through ‘change’. My address (a whole new state), my back office for tutoring, my weight. While those items have changed, my very real beliefs and sense of equity have not changed one bit – they just become stronger in conviction.

I know exactly why I left teaching in the classroom and now, 10 years later, when many more teachers have ‘left’ (fled and not replaced), I realize I was just a bit ahead of the curve. It is a challenge to find anyone these days who wishes to become a teacher due to the insanity of getting the credential and the further insanity of making through the first two years- never mind possibly getting through the first five years  and making it work for them, when they are seasoned and can be great.

As education went to  further extremes of the business model (charter schools, for profit secondary ed, small schools within a school, TFA and so forth, supplementary educational services) approach to education, those in charge continued to intentionally overlook and then ignore the most obvious problems arising from a ridiculous system. It is not that anyone has  forgotten or overlooked what we do in schools, it is most often the people in charge selectively choose to ignore, not address or lower the level of the problem until they  are called out.

Teachers are not by nature a dumb lot so one would have to guess administration, school boards and other community members seem to have a hand in the manipulations of kids getting an education. And this is why teachers become frustrated. We know. We know administrators and businesses (all the non-profit charter schools are BUSINESSES) intentionally on purpose have to overlook things so they meet the bottom line, present some sort of numbers to the people interested in their concept and hope to goodness no one catches them. A perfect example is how charter schools are able to skirt ADA rules for special ed students. You would be amazed at the stories, pack of lies and so forth surrounding this aspect of education.

When an article such as the one written by Jeff Guo at Storyline hits my reading, it is impossible to put down. http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonkblog/wp/2015/09/22/these-kids-were-geniuses-they-were-just-too-poor-for-anyone-to-discover-them/?tid=sm_fb   It is the embodiment of all the things I know are going on and have never had the ‘evidence’ to prove as we don’t talk about this stuff in polite company. It is too unseemly to discuss all the ways we betray students in this country.

What Mr. Guo wrote about is the basis of work looked at by Malcolm Gladwell, Shankar Vedantam, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner.  It is the not so ‘hidden’ mess right in front of our eyes if we would just pay attention.  What is shocking is the fact this information is in no way hidden at all and that is the largest disgrace.

The result was an atlas of inequality.

We blame money as the cause for ignoring the gifted and talented students within a school district. It is not money. It is will. We know these students are out there and it is our job to find them. We have to do a better job. Instead, we do the opposite of what is best practices.

We give minority students and/or students of poverty the worst teachers, the new teachers, the teachers we can not figure out how to help. We give these same students Supplementary Education Services (SES), which is polite terminology for whatever half-rate tutors we can find after some ‘business’ takes a percentage off the top for hooking us up (trust me – I know the system and have seen it as a teacher, as a tutor and having been approached to work for these organizations). We created state tests which were so low in caliber, when the common core came out, most notably the standard for the economically advantaged kids, we flipped out to see the low scores. Reality met head on with the games we played to try to fool ourselves.

We put the socioeconomically disadvantaged students in charter schools which do not (the statistics prove it out repeatedly) which do not do anything more or better than a good, well run public school.  We do everything in our power to disenfranchise this group of students including evaluating them at the same time, at the same rate for gifted and talented programs.

Is it really any wonder at all education is in a shambles?

What can YOU do?

_________________________________________________________________________________________

As a parent, you can use the SES money towards a better tutor for your  student.    http://www2.ed.gov/nclb/choice/help/ses/description.html  

Districts must make available to parents a list of State-approved supplemental educational services providers in the area and must let parents choose the provider that will best meet the educational needs of the child.

 The school districts do what is cheapest, NOT best. Find an independent tutor to work with a small group of students. They can be paid by SES funds. Trust me, the threshold to be a tutor for supplemental education services is low. You can find tutors willing to work with students for less than their ‘listed’ costs on a website such as https://www.avidbrain.com/

-Stay away from the sites which promise you tons of tutors as you will find it is a numbers game and the sites with the ‘most’ tutors are not the sites with the BEST tutors. There is a difference.  Sites with the most tutors need to prove to investors they have a business model. 20% of the tutors on the site do 98% of the work. The other tutors are window dressing……I’ve been there. I was the 20%.

-Tutors are generally independent contractors.

-If you go with an SES ‘provider’, some business is making money and the tutor is maybe getting $12-20/hr.  Since an SES tutor has a low threshold to meet to become a tutor, you are not getting your monies worth, you are getting what is cheapest for your school district.

-If you go with an independent tutor, the tutor makes the money they are worth, stick with the job and know what they are doing.

Why ‘grading’ the teacher is not only wrong, but ineffective. Part II of II Blogs

Gawande, Atul, Personal Best, The New Yorker 3 October 2011  p. 44, 46-50, 51-52

This is Part II of two blogs begun March 2012 which addressed Dr. Gawande (New Yorker Magazine Article). He has a  quest for ‘coaching’ to continue developing  into his Personal Best.  I felt it necessary to analyze the article written by Dr. Gawande in order to address a professional sense of self-reflection, that of a professional surgeon.  Dr. Gawande so thoroughly addressed his personal role in medicine AND all the other potential factors  of medicine that I was compelled to use this as an example.   Dr. Gawande admitted the fault of being human and demonstrated humility in  not being  God.  He noted that the human condition is imperfect yet there is a way to learn and continually improve ourselves over time,  most often with self-reflection and insight from others as it is difficult to view ourselves while being ourselves.

Only by carefully observing other professionals outside the field  of education can we begin to develop a consciousness of  professionalism, what it means to good, better, best, great and so forth and look for tools to apply to the teaching profession.  Focusing only on education assumes the worst case scenario – teachers are distinctly different in the world of humans, but instead of being viewed as deities, in America, they are viewed as pure evil by many, often including their own administrators and the government at state and federal levels.

When we see what others do, we get past the misanthropic view of one group of people (non- teachers)  regarding teachers and notice more of  the similarities between teachers and other professionals.  Once back from the brink of insanity,  we can address the multitude factors which effect the outcomes of education, which are not strictly the result of teacher quality.  Many outcomes in education have everything to do with poverty, parental involvement and  self motivation/will.

If we were to blame only surgeons and doctors for ALL medical outcomes, no one would have surgery any more. It is both a science and an art.  There is not ‘perfection’, rather there are gradations of success based on a whole slew of issues above and beyond the doctor/surgeon.  We may seek perfection –  this involves coaching and improving professional practice.  It is NOT the golden bullet to prevent all problems.  Doctors can not account for your DNA, what you choose to eat, how you choose to take care of yourself.  Doctors have to work with what is presented to them and hope that with their best ministrations, they obtain a positive outcome as they take an oath to do no harm.  In the case of doctors, we need to look from within regarding outcomes of surgery,  because we came to the doctor damaged.

When we grade a teacher, we wish to push results and outcomes on people whom have the least control over what goes on in a child’s life. Teachers have only 40/168 hours, including sleep. Take out sleep (which is substantially important) and you have 40/118 hours assuming kids sleep a 10 hour night. In both cases, 40 hours is very little and yet so much is expected.   Teachers, like doctors, have to work with what is presented to them and hope that with their best ministrations will produce positive outcomes in nine months of the school year of eight-hour school days.  Let me be clear – most kids do not sleep even eight hours a nigh.t Not all school days are actually eight hours so the numbers I present are skewed by things such as testing, minimum days, staying up late at night for a variety of reasons and a multitude of other issues (lockdowns, snow days, illness, etc.).  Grading a teacher on amount of time of ‘influence’ alone is inadequate.

In order to explore  various ideas within education reform, I also sought out different pieces of writing from others who address the ideation of grading teachers.   It is not enough to say something is a  bad or good idea, rather one needs to support different views and perceptions so the discussion can center on what is best for children, not what is best for our sense of power over things we lack control.

As Dr. Gawande indicates, coaching is costly and rarely something schools can afford. It is awkward – in the hospital and in the classroom.  Obtaining coaching can be (and often is viewed outside sports and singing) seen as an admission of failure instead of the converse – an admission of willing to improve.  When coaching is used as punishment in education, it automatically infers substandard performance.  To change the perception of coaching in education will be no different or easier than the exact experience Dr. Gawande addresses at the end of his written piece.   Demonizing teachers does not improve their quality – it does slowly wear them down and destroy them which could not be good for students.

I am done picking at the bone of grading teachers with  a public which hates  teachers, who think denigrating and demeaning teachers (public humiliation/bullying/ exposing student success or failure on our backs) is reform.   This bone is from a  recently dead animal which was left rotting on the street, run over by a car and bits of it are smashed into the concrete. The piece of bone left has tendons and muscle hanging from it, smells of horrible decay and clearly would be of no use to the mammal it came from so we need to start over and not be so willing to kill.  Bloodsport does not ever portend to good.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/04/opinion/sunday/confessions-of-a-bad-teacher.html

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203458604577263603261494594.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

http://scholasticadministrator.typepad.com/thisweekineducation/2012/03/more-wk-value-added-.html#more

http://schoolsofthought.blogs.cnn.com/2012/03/06/my-view-when-did-teacher-bashing-become-the-new-national-pastime/?hpt=hp_bn1

So, to use a quote:

New Yorker Magazine cartoon (5 Dec 2011) by Victoria Roberts: “There’s an elephant in the room and no zookeeper.”

Let’s try to find a better course of action because grading teachers is not working the way we assumed it would.  Here is a smattering of examples of alternative perspectives.  What would be awesome is if the people who hired teachers had as much interest in teacher success as their own rise to power.

Almost all men can stand adversity, but if you want to judge a man’s true character, give him power.   (I have been unable to find the source in order to attribute this quote – if you know it, please comment!)

http://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/the-8-qualities-of-remarkable-employees.html?

http://scholasticadministrator.typepad.com/thisweekineducation/2012/03/thompson-how-is-teaching-different-from-all-other-professions.html

http://scholasticadministrator.typepad.com/thisweekineducation/2012/03/thompson-address-behavior-first.html

http://www.kqed.org/a/radiospecials/R201203292000

https://whereiskatima.wordpress.com/2009/06/28/zagat-type-ratings-at-schools-all-for-it/

When society begins supporting ways for teachers to improve their personal best, obtaining the caliber of teachers  wished for will be in reach.  Brigham and Women’s Hospital in MA and Harvard University are fortunate to have such a self reflective staff member AND some one so willing to share their personal experiences in order to help others.  By supporting Dr. Gawande and his willingness to strive for better, these institutions and patients benefit greatly all the way around.

We would do far more to improve education by creating a positive environment for teachers.   It is our choice – surgically destroy education with reforms that have little to nothing in offering actual  improvement or healing what happens in the classroom by owning our locus of control and assisting teachers in achieving their personal best.

My looks at data are deceiving even to me…….

http://www.newsweek.com/feature/2011/americas-best-high-schools.html

I could not resist reading the above article when it inadvertently popped on my computer screen as I was rabbit holing for something else.  Typically I don’t have to do much in the way of actively looking for education news – it is just ‘there’ to be read by myself and anyone else.  Reading the article is one aspect; the second part is analyzing what I read as I am always on the search for news which will show me education in America is improving.  It is not satisfying when articles such as this  one actually confirm what I may have thought – there is no challenge in viewing an alternate possibility of success and celebrating how change actually happened.

Newsweek selected some heavy hitters with Wendy Kopp, Linda Darling-Hammond and Tom Vander Ark to create the metrics for assessing the schools.

…….each school’s score is comprised of six components: graduation rate (25%), college matriculation rate (25%), AP tests taken per graduate (25%), average SAT/ACT scores (10%), average AP/IB/AICE scores (10%), and AP courses offered (5%).

In light of the people and metrics, I found it difficult to believe not one Aspire Public Schools campus made the list nor KIPP in the State of CA or TX (where KIPP heralds from).  My shock is related to these  two charter school foundations which publicly state they are changing the face of education, put out tons of statistics and test score improvements, yet failed to make the cut.  Something had to be wrong with this picture.

In its six years of operation, CAL Prep has surpassed California standards for excellence on the Academic Performance Index, according to Christine Schneider, a spokesperson for Aspire Public Schools.

This is where the research begins:

I was trying to figure out how schools with outstanding scores did not make it to the top.  AP/IB/AICE scores were averaged and weighted at 10%. Assuming any school which calls itself ‘college prep’ offers these classes, that could not be a problem. Maybe it was the number of students taking those classes.  Again, a school which calls itself college prep should have students attending these classes, most especially when the campus has high test scores. Number of AP courses offered  was only 5% of the total so again, this should not be at issue.  I know that Aspire Public Schools occassionaly gets professors from community colleges to teach courses which would be at least college level where students can obtain college credit (this should be AP).

Graduation rate……hmm, now there is a stinker.   I know when I taught Grade 8 for Aspire Public Schools, there were almost 60 students in my two science classes. The school moved to Berkeley (I will not address the reasons the school felt a need to leave Oakland, but they did).  The graduating class was 17 students.  Perhaps the graduation rate was a problem.  When you loose  about 2/3 of your students in  four years, there is a problem.

College matriculation rate – according to the below, all 17 students were accepted to four year colleges and universities.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Aspire-Public-Schools/191834436818?sk=notes#!/note.php?note_id=384702101385

At a minimum, this school- by all rights, should have been on the Newsweek list……what went wrong and why did Aspire Public Schools not cry foul?

Some one  had been reading my blog and they were searching blogs regarding Aspire Public Schools. I went and did the same and started reading the blog listed below.

http://econompicdata.blogspot.com/2010/02/employment-by-education-attainment.html

It is clear, Gloria Lee knows the value of a college education as she noted she loves data. So why is there no data on the approximately 2/3 of the class who did not graduate and why is Aspire Public Schools not addressing that issue?

Graduating 1/3 of your student population in four years is not even as good as the success rate of day traders in the stock market and we all know they have angles. Once again I am wondering what happens to the real data, the truly ‘realized’ losses which seem to be occurring but are not talked about. Here is a school which SHOULD be at the top of its game.  These inconsistencies of data are troubling simply because of the advent of “Waiting for Superman” and Michelle Rhee…..could it be charter schools actually are not out doing their regular public school brethren?  Could it just be charter school marketing hype?

Addendum:  I am looking forward to the analysis of this information by Aspire, KIPP, etc. in CA   http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/08/12/BAT71KMA37.DTL

 

The Dilemma Box of Teacher Preparation

http://www.npr.org/2011/05/10/136057240/ed-programs-assail-u-s-news-survey

Admittedly, I did grad school ‘much’ after the fact. I took time off between undergrad and graduate school to pursue all the random things out there in the world.  I was pretty sure before I attended grad school  the stakes were going to be much higher financially, time wise, perserverance and outcome  (it was – squared then cubed – still owing on student loan).  Grad school in my mind was an educational feast to be partaken when you knew what you loved to eat (besides dessert first!).   The plethora of jobs and varied W-2’s for taxes served as a kind of funky personal/sequential/interval/numerical time line  leading up to grad school and when I attended, it paid off in spades.  First off, I was ready for the big questions, the ideas, the thoughts and most importantly, weighing two or more ideas simultaneously and exploring the potential merits of all.  In no small part, my greatest preparation came from being a Peace Corps Volunteer which challenged my thinking at every turn. 

Graduate school was indeed a feast. I had wonderful professors, classmates and worked my bottom off to enjoy said feast.  I graduated and was pretty self assured questions were a part of the bigger picture of life – the more you thoughtfully asked, the more you gleaned.   In some respects I was more fortunate than my counterparts pursuing education as I earned an undergrad degree in Communicative Disorders (speech pathology/audiology) instead of general studies.  My science experiences were far more in depth and my appreciation of the dilemmas for learning disorders well above what the average teacher learns.  In some respects I was very unfortunate – I asked a great deal of questions and challenged what many people said about the learning process in graduate school.  I actually had the temerity to believe   Algebra taught behind a hut in Namibia while drawing in the sand  was of equal quality to that in a city classroom with 35 students.  I questioned ridiculous curricular programs (FOSS kits at the middle school level), memorization in lieu of learning a concept, grinding the numbers for Algebra (yes, you have to as there are no short cuts or easier methods), text books instead of actual science labs (wrong and ridiculous) and so forth.  Those who were willing to join the fray of debate became my closest friends; those who were too afraid to join the debate or (literally) had nothing to say became my acqaintances until such time they desired opening their minds and standing up for ideas/experiences they believed in.  Instead of being fearful, I was always exploring new information – the more to choose from the better.

I found the closed mouth, closed minded people willingly drank Kool Aid (with or without sugar) without question  and followed the group think.  It is now all of sudden these self same people which are questioning whether or not U.S. News and World Report should rank teacher preparation programs.   The horror they must be facing is the very fact that some one or group of  ‘ones’ is going to start asking some very challenging questions about their teacher preparation programs (curriculum, experiences, supervision, etc.)

Imagine if you will, a teacher prep program where FOSS kits were donated to the science department, so, that is what was taught…..or some (if not all) text book companies from TX decided to re-do their Algebra text books to ‘align to state standards’ and so that is what was used to ‘develop’ new math teachers.   Imagine where the ‘five paragraph essay’ came from and you should be horrified (it is the absolute minimum standard of writing deemed necessary to graduate high school and in many cases, enter college).   Think about all of those teachers who obtained a graduate degree while serving time in a charter school (where you absolutely must follow group think) and you begin to see why fear is a reality for so many schools of education.

We should ‘know’ what best practices are and they are not the same for every situation and every student. We should know the difference between learning, applying and synthesizing a concept versus memorizing a bit of information to take a multiple choice test with a 25% given success rate upon guessing.  We should know what a good education looks like as we seem to be getting students from foreign countries who have one.  And yet we are afraid to have some one look at our book shelves, peer into our teaching methods, evaluate our ‘sacred’ teacher development practices – on what grounds might some one be afraid if you are RIGHT??

In the last 10 years, I became the ‘go to’ person for friends and friends of friends for various potential questions to ask employers during an interview as I have the audacity to believe it is just as important what a potential employer asks you, as you ask them – you are going to be working together for awhile (hopefully) so get it all out on the table.  I have found over and over by painstaking experience, those people who follow the party line/pitch/game, etc.  at the interview are the self same people who will turn on a dime when led to the new Kool Aid as they are too insecure and/or desperate to have their own thoughts.   It is these people I fear and avoid because they do have something to hide.  Anything right out in the open, up front and to the point is not  hidden.   People who have the ability to discern the difference of right/wrong zero sum games from different/equal benefit and broader scope do not fear people looking in their bookshelves AND are willing to do things to improve for they know they do not have all the answers.

We have all manner of tests for teachers to prove they are highly qualified. We need to start having some methods for demonstrating the higher ed institutions are qualified to prepare teachers.  In fact, there should be a ranking, like the Michelin Stars for restaurants.  This is the result of what happens when you don’t teach people to think – they forget how and become fearful when asked.

As for me, I am going to watch from the sidelines. I did not think ‘From Good to Great’ by Jim Collins, varied state standards, Wendy Kopp and Teach for America, charter schools or Michelle Rhee and Students First was the whole picture.  This new reformation is going to be very interesting indeed.

2009 Science Data by NAEP… the good, bad, ugly and true.

Many people are amazed when I relate why I left teaching science in the classroom – as if it was the most ridiculous decision I could have made – job security was ‘everything’.   I  try to explain  I was using my feet to cast my vote against what I believe to be vapid.  I left the classroom four years ago after teaching science at a charter school – the final frontier for teaching to the test and only knowing about API and AYP in California.   I knew about and followed NAEP which meant API and AYP were only one piece of a larger and more complex puzzle regarding the process of  education. 

Interestingly, most teachers at any school and a fair amount of  principals are inadequately aware of what NAEP is to even have a quality education reform conversation, at least in California.  Education reform centered around such items as question banks for pre/post assessment and data collection (CST’s).  I can not even remember the last time I heard a teacher state the idea of anecdotal evidence.  Part of me felt overpaid for the job I was doing since I sure was not allowed to teach science in the manner which mattered (NAEP results as of Tuesday are indicative of this feeling http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/26/nations-report-card-science_n_814112.html ). 

At some point that last year in the classroom, it occurred to me I had not gone to graduate school to teach from a text book or kit -as the kind people of Lawrence Hall of Srecience – UC Berkeley (FOSS Kit) were trying to convince me to teach Gr 7 photosynthesis while writing the chemical equation on  paper with paper atoms!    When I discussed the possibilities of using various other hands on methods of exploring the concept of photosynthesis (Elodea in a test tube with indicator fluid – blow in CO2 and cap, allow to photosynthesize in sunlight outside and see the gas on the pond plant leaves and so forth), it was made clear to me ‘this was not what was on the test’ and therefore my students needed to do/study the lessons Lawrence Hall of Science constructed.  I accidentally on purpose cited the infamous Harvard Study (along with The Smithsonian Institution as part of my point of reference), to no avail.  Apparently what was found out all those years ago regarding science misconceptions never quite translated itself from the right coast to the left coast. 

I was caught between a rock and just a place – it was not a hard/difficult place, it was just a place.  Just teach science as you are told and follow the text book.  The rock was my conscience and my better sense of what a quality education could be.  There was nothing compelling about teaching science from a textbook.

The stage for my decision to leave the classroom was set by President Bush as he pushed  NCLB through Congress on an express plane to hell.  NAEP  (National Assessment of Educational Progress) was just beginning to be read/heard and appreciated by a broader group of educators. Although The  National Assessment of Educational Progress has been around since 1969, it seems only professors in the field of education paid attention.  Although NAEP had great data, it could not get traction with an administration which believed evolution was one of the signs of the second coming (NAEP uses scientific methods to obtain data).   It is difficult to refer to the above scenario as few people even understand NAEP.

 Grad schools these days do not discuss NAEP – very few people know what it is when I reference it as its name, the acronym or The Nation’s Report Card.    Apparently the idea of parity across the states is taboo since each state managed to carve out a special meaning for highly qualified teachers.

The NAEP science assessment is not specifically aligned to California’s science content standards. There is no national science curriculum and each state sets its own standards. California’s own science assessment system, as it has for other subjects, shows students making steady progress. – Mr. Torlakson

  This inability to discuss the larger idea of a national curriculum and parity is also part of why the data released 25 January 2011 was so unsettling.  People don’t really know what the data means, so they belittle it.

“As a science teacher, these results are troubling. Despite the enormous efforts being made by educators, we’re seeing the consequences of lagging behind other states in investing in education,” Torlakson said. “This test is a less-than-precise measure of student performance in California, but it is one more signal about where we stand and where we’re headed.  http://www.cde.ca.gov/nr/ne/yr11/yr11rel12.asp

The good part is it is ‘NOT TOO LATE’ for the U.S. to regroup and actually do something about our shoddy education system as it relates to science. The bad is it will be costly since there are many wonderful undereducated and/or poorly educated students laden with misconceptions which must be dealt with.  The ugly is it will be difficult to recruit the people with both the expertise in science/math and the mastery of educational process without the dollars.  Teach for America may have their grant – they are horrible at retention.  The true (truth) is, I left at just the right time – when nothing was happening.  There is hope things will turn around in the not too distant future.  I believe it would be great to teach science again – in a manner which matters.

CSI: Education in America

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/07/magazine/07Teachers-t.html?em

It seems each generation gets a bit closer to identifying and capitalizing on the  magic of the educational process and I am eternally thankful.  I believe I speak for all teachers worldwide in stating that if some one could identify specifically the magic needed to be the best teacher in any classroom, we would all use it, no questions asked. It is not for a lack of desire to be a better teacher, rather, there are no direct and linear one answer fits all situations and  works.

My generation (which obviously tells you my age) was raised on Fred Jones and his Tools for Teaching as well as Harry K. Wong and his The First Days of School.  From doing a quick scan of Amazon.com, there are many, many books designed to help teachers become ‘better’ at their craft. I am thankful so many professionals want to share their insights. Sadly, I do not see how year over year test scores (the current leading indicator of success in America) have improved in spite of all these people sharing their hard earned wisdom.

While I wish Mr. Lemov well and am sure he has best intentions, I can’t help but note that nothing in the article Elizabeth Green wrote (noted above) talks about PARENTS and parenting.  If indeed a proper autopsy was done, it would find that when children are parented and come to school with age appropriate literacy and behavior, learning does occur. 

Parenting includes prenatal and post natal nutrition, medical care as necessary, access to a library and parents who brought children into the world willfully, spending time with them each day to help them develop.  Parenting includes sacrifices of many things for the joy of parenting. Parenting is not about abdicating a child to the teacher for babysitting services when a teacher is for teaching, anymore than you would not drop a child off at a doctors office for day care.

If, as Mr. Lemov states, teachers can be improved upon and taught how to be better by micromanaging every detail/step/motion and content can equally be dispersed, this does not explain why education is not  in such dire straights in India, Korea, China, most of Europe – essentially any place which is not America.  Reasonably speaking,  education seems to be occuring quite favorably in other places and surely no one has put nearly as much effort into analyzing how to make bot teachers.  To my knowledge, Malcolm Gladwell has not addressed the dissociation of education from parenting although he did a piece on selecting a football player for two situations-NFL and universities and came up with some analogies which are fitting to this situation.   Me thinks we are not using the evidence properly as the focus has been on how to pretty much kill off any joy in teaching and has been for many years. Teachers stand to be the accused without counsel, without a jury of their peers, without actual evidence which can be corroborated.

If indeed,  skill sets are teachable/learnable, why have we not figured out how to stop having surgeons with major malpractice law suits……..we have gotten close as now the body part where the operation is to be performed is labeled and some one inventories what goes in and out of the body (scalpels, sponges) during surgery but still malpractice continues.  Why on earth could we not have ‘stopped’ the Wall Street meltdown as math is very easy to follow – you can not have multiple outcomes, there is indeed only one right answer and yet Wall Street went to the wall and slid to the gutter.  Isn’t it reasonable that with all the training we give police we should not have to read one more time about some one being shot accidentally (sometimes accidentally on purpose…).  Since teaching is as much an artful practice, it can not be run through a microscope nor assayed like DNA.

Surely it would be more cost effective if each and every child was given $500 in a future college bank account bearing interest if they came to school with basic literacy in kindergarten and another $500 for getting through algebra in Gr 7 ($250 for Gr 8 passing and $100 for Gr 9) and maybe $100 here and there for some other landmarks.  If they never went to college, the money is returned to the government. It is a reasonable investment for the future and it sets the precedent of teaching parents how to save for the future (another skill set Americans are sorely lacking in). 

By finding immense fault with  teacher’s practices and not putting any focus on what else is at the crime scene seems to delimit the art of investigation.

Whose stamp of approval makes a program credible? How do parents determine what is best for the education of their child? How do we as adults determine what is best for our mental health treatment, or treatment for a child? The decision making is all intimately related.

Over the past few weeks I have been glimpsing at portions of the newspaper which I have neglected enjoying for six months due to lack of time. When Eric Jaffe wrote his piece in the LA Times regarding the issue of bringing scientific scrutiny into psychotherapy to determine the programs efficacy, I glommed on like warm gum on the sidewalk to a tennis shoe coming by. This similar/same issue of credibility in education took us to state testing being all meaningful and research based education programs as the apogee of educational standards. There has been no noticeable improvement in education for years. The U.S. continues to fail in graduating the quality of students we seek to employ from abroad to make our country function. The lack of applied reasoning seasoned with the emotionality of issues has helped grow the sour grapes we can not make into wine for either education or mental health care.

At the crux of what Eric Jaffe wrote is the simplicity of ‘accrediting’ those who can vs. accrediting those who will follow a didactic, linear approach which ultimately saves money for the institution (industry) most capable of spinning and marketing their ideas to an ignorant public.

Following along with the logic of all the pieces written 11 January 2010 in the LA Times Health Section, would be the race in the last 10-15 years to ‘credential’ teachers through any program possible (http://www.theapple.monster.com a piece entitled Alternate Routes to Teacher Certification 20 January 20100, especially for people looking to make a career change AND bonus to TFA! It is the same logic – we can teach your child by a research proven, scientifically validated, evidence based research methods (http://www.thebestevidence.org and http://www.ed.gov/nclb/methods/whatworks/edpicks.jhtml) recipe that continues to fail children as there is no longitudinal data to show that these programs have indeed improved education. In fact, according to my previous blog, we are still not even sure what makes a great teacher except it appears to be linked to good multiple choice test scores – the most ludicrous measure of success.

Clearly I want my heart surgeon to tell me how successful he is on multiple choice tests about the heart instead of telling me how many intricate surgeries he has done requiring his flexible thoughts and creative skill (not measureable by any multiple choice test). There is no research to show a doctor who does well on multiple choice tests is a better surgeon; an attorney who does well on multiple choice tests is better at representing a client or perhaps an MBA who did better on his multiple choice tests in business school is better at ravaging the public banking system.

The upside to all that has happened in the name of research proven education is the increase in charter schools, TFA and all the ancillary programs who have huge marketing budgets and people gifted in spin as to the upsurge in test scores with more minority/poverty stricken students entering college, BUT NO DEMONSTRABLE PROOF ANYWHERE that there are more students graduating college……..which would be at least one way of demonstrating better research proven education programs.

Applying the above logic in education to the logic used by the Psychological Clinical Science Accreditation System, we as a society should look forward to more people with mental illness getting less help or inadequate care for a long term health issue (mental health). This would also mean more prisoners in prison (the number one precipitating factor to entering the system is mental illness) or being released on a revolving policy and more unproductive members of society as it is already known that there are insufficient services for people of low income and who may also be non-white (specifically in the realm of clinical depression, but definitely apparent in all mental health issues). New law may aid therapy options/Eric Jaffe 11 January 2010 delineates more surrounding the passage of Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act which went into effect 1 January 2010, which seems to have more to do with costs than efficacy or productiveness of the mental health treatment and the qualifications of the provider.

While the answers are certainly not clear as potable water, there has to be more to the discussion than immediacy and money. Time is money and as the saying goes, ‘If you don’t have time or money to re-do the job correctly, do it right the first time’. In education we keep plodding along and re-doing or attempting to undo that which has not worked – and it shows. Following our poor choices with mental health in the realm of research proven most undoubtedly will produce similar results. Can we make it with shoddy education and mental health solutions?