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This teacher reacts to seeing “Waiting for Superman”

crossposted from Daily Kos for which it was first written

Friday schools across Maryland were closed, so I went to the first show at Noon.

On the way home I thought long and hard about what I would say.

No matter how I parse it, my reaction has two key points.

1. Davis Guggenheim feels guilty about not sending his kids to public schools, and the result is a film which basically trashes public schools, public school teachers, teachers unions, while unjustly glorifying Geoffrey Canada, Michelle Rhee, charters, Kipp, and union busting.

2. The film is intellectually dishonest, so much so it is laughable.

I will explain my reactions.

Guggenheim admits his sense of guilt. He talks about his admiration for teachers. He reminds us of his 1999 film “First Year” about dedicated teachers. He shows us video of driving past four public schools to take his child to a PRIVATE school (note, NOT a charter school). But we never are given any specifics. We are not even told if any of those is the public school his child would have attended. He uses his skill with films to have us infer that none of the four does a decent job of instructing kids, and that his child would have to attend one of them. But we are given NO data to support such an inference.

The film focuses on children trying to get into charter schools via lotteries. Yet at the end, in the text after all the emotion has been wrung out of the viewing audience, Guggenheim is at least honest enough to tell us that lotteries are not the answer. If they are not, why not show us schools that are? Why is not a single successful public school shown? Might that undermine the propaganda that is being put out to manipulate the viewer in a particular direction? Might that make the viewer less likely to text in support of the agenda that Guggenheim puts forth?

I said the film is intellectually dishonest. I will not go through all the examples I could cite: I do come to this “review” late, and many others have dissected the various problems with the film.

Let me cite several. Jay Mathews advocates for KIPP on the basis of the raise in the percentiles on reading scores. Yet that ignores a chunk of data. First, those being tested do not include all those who entered KIPP schools – at least a portion of KIPP schools have an unfortunate tendency to “counsel out” students who would not score well. Second, it is not yet clear that the gains in test scores that are reported persist further up the educational ladder when the students leave KIPP. Finally, the independent study (by Mathematica) that Kipp likes to cite says only 10% of KIPP schools perform better than the public schools from which they draw. That is actually a worse percentage than charter schools as a whole, as was seen in the CREDO study, where 17% of charter schools performed better but 37% performed worse.

From Canada we constantly heard that the system was broken, and on the whole we were intended to draw the conclusion that public schools are not working. Yet even Eric Hanushek is quoted in the film as saying something quite different: that if we could replace the worst performing 5 to 10 % of teachers, our schools would be performing at the same level as Finland, the highest scoring nation in the world. Finland, however, has a far lower rate of children in poverty than does the US, and that difference accounts for much of the difference in performance. But Finland also has a 100% unionized teaching force, which seems relevant to mention if Finland is supposed to be the standard by which we judge our performance, especially when we are constantly bombarded with “facts” about how unions are the problem.

Consider – we are given comparative statistics for lifting of licenses for doctors and lawyers versus only 1 in 2,500 Illinois teachers losing their teaching certificates. But that totally ignores the large number of teachers who leave before they get tenure, many of whom are low performers. Why go to the expense of legally lifting a certificate when the person is no longer teaching? We lose almost half of teachers in the first 5 years. If only 1/2 of those are substandard teachers, then the rate of substandard teachers leaving is higher than the 5-10% Hanushek says is necessary to replace, and not only 1 in 2,500. And by the way, Hanushek never gives any evidence that the replacements would be any better.

That raises another interesting point. By his own admission in the film, Geoffrey Canada was NOT even a satisfactory teacher his first two years. He said he didn’t begin to hit his stride until his 3rd year. Elsewhere, but not in the film, Michelle Rhee has acknowledged that she was a horrible teacher her first year and half. She came out of Teach for America. Both of these people, offered as models for what we should be doing about education, demonstrate something very well known – that as a nation we do a poor job of preparing our teachers and inducting them – bringing them into the classroom. Finland does so over several years with decreasing amounts of supervision and increasing levels of individual responsibility for the new teachers. Finland offers a model which works. Teach for America, by the words of Rhee and Canada, is not what we should depend upon. And if we were to summarily fire 5-10% of teachers only to replace them with additional novices, there is no evidence this will improve student performance.

Let me also note what I consider the most disturbing image in the film. It is used as a set-up to bash teachers. We see a teacher peeling back skulls and pouring knowledge into the heads of students. Later, as the words we hear are bashing unions and union rules, we again see the teacher pouring, only this time she – and it is a she – is pouring her “knowledge” onto the floor, somehow missing the open minds of the students.

This is a horrible model of education. It may work for drill and kill to raise test scores. It does not result in meaningful long-term learning or the development of an ability to continue learning independently. It may not be intellectually dishonest, but it is a distorted understanding of teaching and learning.

What is intellectually dishonest is what the film says about tenure. The film somewhat misrepresents the development of tenure in post-secondary institutions. It is totally wrong when it describes tenure for public school teachers as a life-time guarantee of a job. All tenure does is require due process according to contract rules mutually agreed to by unions and school boards. Note the two parts to this: due process, and mutually agreed to. The portion of the film with Jason Kamrad is used to imply that it is almost impossible to dismiss a tenured teacher. In fact it is not, rubber rooms not withstanding, if administrators follow the rules and document. This is no more difficult that convicting criminal wrongdoers in the justice system when the police and the prosecution follow the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Petty dictators and inexperienced leaders might not like following the rules. Michelle Rhee dismissed a batch of teachers ostensibly because the city could not afford them, but replaced some with people from Teach for America. When she got caught she talked about a handful who rightfully should have been dismissed (although that could easily have been done under proper procedures) while implying that all of the dismissed teachers had similar problems. That was not honest.

Her track record also is not as rosy as the film portrays, although on this I would refrain from accusing that portion of intellectual dishonesty, because the inconsistency of score performance became publicly apparent only after the film was in editing. Still, questions had been raised about the performance at the time Mayor Fenty and Chancellor Rhee were touting the scores as proof that their approach was working.

Perhaps the most intellectually dishonest portion of the film is the presentation of Geoffrey Canada. Let me be clear: I believe Canada is absolutely correct in providing what are known as wrap-around services, including medical and tutoring and family support. What the film implies is that Canada is obtaining better results applying the same or similar resources, and somehow if others would take his approach, which includes his insistence on no union and the ability to fire any teacher, all would be well.

Let’s try the reality. As it happens, on this the New York Times has a recent piece that is quite appropriate, about which many have now commented. Titled Lauded Harlem Schools Have Their Own Problems, the piece appeared on October 12. In it we learn that the schools in Harlem Children’s Village have per pupil expenditures of $16,000 in the classroom and thousands more outside the classroom. The average class size in the Promise Academy High school is about 15, with two licensed teachers per class. Stop right there, and think about the image of most urban schools: how often do you see as few as 20 students per class? How rarely are there two adults to deal with what is often 30 or more students?

Despite that, Canada’s track record is spotty. In the film we hear about the commitment he makes to the parents, which in the Times piece is framed as “We start with children from birth and stay with them until they graduate.” Perhaps we should read about the first cohort of Promise Academy I, which opened in 2004:

The school, which opened in 2004 in a gleaming new building on 125th Street, should have had a senior class by now, but the batch of students that started then, as sixth graders, was dismissed by the board en masse before reaching the ninth grade after it judged the students’ performance too weak to found a high school on. Mr. Canada called the dismissal “a tragedy.”

Somehow dismissing an entire cohort does not bespeak a model that I would want to emulate. Nor does it demonstrate that Mr. Canada is the sparkling example the movie would have you believe. Allow me to quote what Walt Gardner posted about Promise Academy I in this blog at Education Week:

Even now, most of its seventh graders are still behind. Only 15 percent passed the state’s English test. Their failure to perform resulted in the firing of several teachers and the reassignment of others. Although 38 percent of children in third through sixth grade passed the English test under the state’s new guidelines, their performance placed them in the lower half of charter schools in the city and below the city’s overall passing rate of 42 percent.

As a piece of propaganda pushing a flawed vision of education, “Waiting for Superman” is brilliant – it manipulates emotions, it takes facts out of context, it misrepresents much of the data it uses and is less than accurate in its portrayal of key figures, most especially in its portrayal of Canada.

I have not yet cited the biggest example of its intellectual dishonesty. That would be what is NOT in the film. There is not a single example of a successful traditional public school, whether in troubled neighborhoods – and they do exist – or in places like suburbs where many of our schools perform at levels as high as in any place in the world. Instead it allows Canada to paint with a broad brush, saying “the system is broken” and implying that ALL of American education is failing.

It is not. Even by the flawed measure of test scores, the current administration wants to target 5% of American schools. Not all schools are dropout factories.

Too many are. They are for the reasons they have often been – they teach other people;’s children, the children of the poor, those of color, those who do not speak English at home.

It does not have to be this way.

The film is wrong when it wants you to believe this is a new phenomenon. There was no idyllic time in inner city schools, certainly not in the 1970s, which is again an impression the films wants to give you. After all, it was because children of the poor were being systematically deprived of the right to an education that Lyndon Johnson pushed for and signed the first version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in the mid 1960s. That had not magically changed things within the next five to ten years.

At the end of the film the text that appears on the screen says we know what to do, then offers the usual bromides of so-called reformers of more accountability, more assessment, higher standards, and the like. This has been the pattern at least since the Reagan administration. If this were the correct path, why a quarter century after A Nation At Risk are we hearing the same things, only more so?

Let’s be clear. Raising the bar of ‘standards’ will do nothing to improve the educational performance of a child not achieving the current, apparently too-low standards. It may in fact merely increase the number of drop-outs.

If Geoffrey Canada can, with foundation money, provide all those wonderful trips for his students, plus teacher-student ratios in the classroom of better than 1-8, perhaps we might consider what we need to do to provide for the students in our regular public schools, who are often at a classroom ratio of better than 30-1, who do not have foundation and hedge-funds paying for their field trips. Canada has a spanking new building, modern, fully equipped. Many of our young people are in buildings more than half a century old, with leaking roofs, with no doors on bathroom stalls, sometimes with no toilet paper unless they bring it themselves. Just the difference in externals like this delivers a powerful message about which kids we really care about, and they know it.

If you knew nothing about American education except what you gleaned from watching “Waiting for Superman,” you would have a totally distorted understanding both of the status of American public education and of what really makes a difference for young people. That inevitably distorts the public discourse on this important national issue. Of course, the intent of propaganda is to drive discussion in a pre-decided direction, whether or not that direction is either necessary or justified by the real facts on the ground.

The film is intellectually dishonest. Most of those who know about education, especially those who know the reality of what has worked and can be scaled up, have increasingly been speaking out and writing against the glorification of the film, and the vision it pushes, and those it attempts to lionize.

And Davis Guggenheim? He admits his sense of guilt. On that he is at least partially honest. What he has done in this film should not, however, allow him to feel as if he has expiated his sense of guilt, for this film has done real damage to the public discourse over education, and made it harder to get to the kinds of real reform necessary so that none of our children are left in failing schools. I long for such a day that all experience fully the right, the opportunity to learn. That will not happen by busting unions, propagating charters, all the while we ignore the increasing economic disparity, and the unfortunate reappearance of racism. Couple this with the attitude of some of an unwillingness to pay for public services for which they do not personally benefit and you will see an increase in the number of students who are not well served by our public schools – we will damage many that are currently working.

As bad as it may be now, things like “Waiting for Superman” merely make it harder to move towards the changes we truly need. I fear that will be its legacy, and that would truly be tragic.

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Discussion

24 thoughts on “This teacher reacts to seeing “Waiting for Superman”

  1. ” First, those being tested do not include all those who entered KIPP schools – at least a portion of KIPP schools have an unfortunate tendency to “counsel out” students who would not score well. Second, it is not yet clear that the gains in test scores that are reported persist further up the educational ladder when the students leave KIPP. Finally, the independent study (by Mathematica) that Kipp likes to cite says only 10% of KIPP schools perform better than the public schools from which they draw.”

    You need to read the study for yourself, as very little of the above is actually true.

    First, the 10% figure is completely false. The study actually found that most KIPP schools (not 10%) were producing achievement gains greater than class size reduction. And “half of these KIPP schools are producing impacts large enough to cut [the achievement] gap in half within three years.”

    Second, it’s false that “those being tested do not include all those who entered KIPP schools.” The exact opposite is the truth. In the Mathematica study, the researchers specifically kept including test scores for anyone who dropped out of KIPP, so that any effect attributed to KIPP wouldn’t be inflated by allowing bad students to drop out. As a result, the researchers said that the KIPP effect described above is an understatement

    Posted by Stuart Buck | October 17, 2010, 3:25 pm
  2. Stuart,

    Can we really take away anything useful from these results….if they are so easily interpreted in such different ways. I am more interested in the people that the data is addressing….who are these children, who are the teachers, who are their parent, how is their community getting stronger because of the schools?

    what do results mean to you? Do you have personal experiences with KIPP that differ from Ken’s thoughts? Results as you see can be read many different ways, and honestly I could careless what some narrow result show….have you seen KIPP work for your kids, would you send your 6 children there, what about how they teach, is helping them to find their calling in life and why they live? How much is just preparing them to get a job that we can’t even promise them will be there when they graduate? How much of what they are doing is more than programming them to take a test. How is it empowering them to be the change and leaders in their community?

    These are things I would be more interest in than test scores….

    David Loitz

    Posted by dloitz | October 17, 2010, 3:43 pm
  3. I only have one personal experience with KIPP schools. We once had a chat in a pub in Brooklyn with a group of educators from a nearby school which were interested in the KIPP model, and planning on setting up their own KIPP school.

    What they raved about was the ability to reject kids who couldn’t fit the mold and the strictness with which every aspect of behaviour was monitored. They were also super excited that they might be able to make more than their typical teacher salaries were going to allow. As far as I know these people managed to open up their school…

    The thought of a place run by some inexperienced educators where the inability to remain completely silent with your hands held in front of you means you get thrown out of the school worries me. I’m sure that’s not what happens at every KIPP school, but I definitely remember one of these teachers demonstrating “the pose.”

    Yech.

    Posted by dwees | October 17, 2010, 7:14 pm
  4. “Can we really take away anything useful from these results….if they are so easily interpreted in such different ways. ”

    The study in question is not easily interpreted in different ways at all. The blog post is simply wrong.

    Posted by Stuart Buck | October 17, 2010, 8:59 pm
    • Do you have anything personal to add? I am still not interested in the results of a study, my interest is purely with the people that are actually living the day to day experience of trying to help people learn. Kipp is held up as a the creme of the crop, I am not sure it needs you to come to its defense… but if Ken is wrong, don’t just site the study, but instead show us why we should look at KIPP as a model to learn from….

      Posted by dloitz | October 17, 2010, 9:20 pm
  5. Can someone link to this study about the KIPP schools so I can read the darn thing for myself?

    Posted by dwees | October 17, 2010, 9:32 pm
  6. Let me offer some clarification. I was relying on a secondary source’s summary of the Mathematica study. That source has since corrected to say 20%, and explained that 18 of what was then 82 KIPP schools were shown to be performing better. Thus that part of my original diary is incorrect based on the incorrect and unclear statement by the secondary source, whom in this case I will choose not to identify, but not rely on further.

    However, the issue of KIPP counseling out is still not fully addressed in the Mathematica study, which I have now read. Nor am I aware of any study showing persistence of such gains in further levels of schooling or in other measures, so some question remains.

    My remarks on KIPP are probably of less importance to the overall thrust of the piece, especially as the film does not focus on KIPP specifically.

    I could also have added from direct communication that the faculty at SEED charter were not interviewed for the film and at least a few have some problems with how the school was portrayed in the film.

    The data on HCV is unquestioned. The NY TImes story provides some new information, but the story about the dismissal of the entire first class is well known, as are the levels of spending per student.

    I acknowledge that I probably should have read the KIPP study directly on my own, but sometimes we do rely upon those whose commentary has in the past been reliable. In this case it was not. Had the point that 18 of 22 examined showed improvement, I might still have remarked that this was just a partial study, and until a more complete examination could be done we should withhold judgment.

    Peace.

    Posted by teacherken | October 17, 2010, 10:02 pm
  7. One more point, something which is problematic with all such studies, is that we do not have comparisons for the performance of these students when in a different setting. Thus while the results seem promising, we also know that test scores are not merely a product of what happens in schools, and we have no way of knowing how much of the results are attributable to what happens in KIPP and what happens with students with motivated parents.

    This is offered separately from the problems with my original statement based on incorrect information. It is rather a caution in what conclusions we can draw based on how the data is obtained.

    The authors also note, that while there is a higher degree of students on free and reduced lunch than in the district as a whole KIPP schools have

    lower concentrations of special education and limited English proficiency (LEP) students, than the public schools from which they draw.

    While the authors appropriately put that text into bold, I do not see evidence that they are comparing the results obtained in the KIPP schools on a disaggregated basis, nor do they seem to indicate the relative percentages of the two groups in either KIPP or system schools. This should raise some cautions, given that we know both groups tend to perform at a fairly low level on such tests.

    Posted by teacherken | October 17, 2010, 10:13 pm
  8. and let me clarify on the comment immediately before this – they do report results that would imply positive results for LEP students, but do not report on SPED. They do report disaggregated scores by race and gender and ethnicity, which are helpful. There is difference in performance among all of these groups, and the overall performance of a school can be affected by the mix.

    Again, I should have read the report on my own, and not relied upon a summary since I was making a forceful statement. That’s on me. I have read the CREDO study (which, incidentally, was led by Margaret Raymond who is, I believe the wife of Eric Hanushek, who appears in the film and whose words in the film I reference), and the percentages cited are accurate – 17% of charters over all perform better and 37% perform worse than the public schools.

    I will be offline except for email for most of the next two days because of heavy responsibilities at school. I will see additional comments through email, but regret that I will not be able to respond in a timely matter.

    Sorry for the problem on that part of the diary.

    Posted by teacherken | October 17, 2010, 10:33 pm
  9. Thanks, Teacher Ken.

    I’d just add, however, that this still seems wrong: “That source has since corrected to say 20%, and explained that 18 of what was then 82 KIPP schools were shown to be performing better.”

    18 out of 22 is not 20%. Maybe the source means that 18 schools out of the total number of KIPP schools is 20%, but that is a completely irrelevant comparison. Mathematica studied the 22 KIPP middle schools that had existed long enough for data to be available over a several year period. The findings in no way imply anything about the other KIPP schools not studied.

    As an analogy, if I study 100 out of 1,000 public schools in a given state, and I find that 90 out of 100 are doing great, it’s just not correct to say that I’ve found “only 90 public schools out of 1,000 that are doing great.” I didn’t study the other 900 at all, and their success rate might be the same. True, I might have somehow cherrypicked the only 90 public schools that are doing great, meaning that the other 900 are all failing, but that isn’t very likely. So it would be wrong to say, “Study finds that 9% [90 out of 1,000] of public schools are doing great.” That just isn’t what was found.

    Posted by Stuart Buck | October 17, 2010, 11:32 pm
  10. Here’s my brief rebuttal of the KIPP study (with a link to someone else’s rebuttal).

    http://davidwees.com/content/looking-kipp-schools

    In short, KIPP schools are selective, enrolling less special education & ell students and then removing more students in 7th and 8th grade (according to http://nepc.colorado.edu/newsletter/2010/06/new-kipp-study-underestimates-attrition-effects-0)

    Students also spend 60% more time in school but only see a 20% gain in knowledge learned (which in the KIPP study you linked to above is measured as 1.2 years vs 1 year of overall growth as a student). Perhaps we could argue that there is logarithmic improvement for spent in school vs knowledge learned as a result of that time, but shouldn’t we see an even stronger improvement?

    Posted by dwees | October 17, 2010, 11:40 pm
  11. Because I continued to be uninterested in discussion of one report…. I will instead hope to draw the discussion back to the personal connections we have to school, be them KIPP or other wise.

    I personally have not been in a KIPP school, but the few charter school I have been in, while not perfect, are positively trying to connection to students in a more holistic way helping them to find their own place in the world, not assign for them their identity via narrow ideas of success.

    I have my own set of ideals in which to judge a school be it a charter or a public school, or a private school, test scores are not on the top of my list…. What does your lists look like?

    I also wanted to add this page….from Person/Planet by Theodore Roszak just for thought….

    http://books.google.com/books?id=BwDCKb5aGMYC&lpg=PP1&ots=Q_THW4BOqW&dq=person%20planet&pg=PA189&output=embed

    Posted by dloitz | October 18, 2010, 3:51 am
  12. Dwees — the 1.2 figure there doesn’t mean “1.2 years vs 1 year of overall growth.” It means 1.2 entire years of of ADDITIONAL growth in a mere 3 years of schooling. And a .48 standard deviation effect size, even if it’s at only half the schools, is simply huge. You don’t find that kind of effect from anything else. There may be nitpicky things to say about the Mathematica study, but disagreeing that the effect is huge isn’t a valid argument at all.

    As for student composition, you don’t like the fact that KIPP doesn’t have quite as many special ed students or English learners. But you admit that they have more students in poverty and minorities. What you should also acknowledge is that the finding that “KIPP schools most
    often enroll students whose average fourth-grade achievement is lower than the districtwide
    average.”

    It’s very hard to maintain that KIPP is selecting its students when they’re starting out with poorer students with lower scores.

    Posted by Stuart Buck | October 18, 2010, 8:15 am
    • Stuart,

      what is your agenda, are you personal connected to KIPP, if so I think it only fair that you offer up that connection. If not, then please off up more of you personal connection to education, this post has very little to do with this study, and I think Ken has greatly went to lengths to acknowledge the way he misrepresented the study. I will ask again, How does the result affect you as a parent, or a teacher, or a community member, what did you learn from it that has helped you to change education. KIPP good or not is only merely one part of the solution, we need to use multiple sources and multiple models and multiple voices to truly move education away from where it is headed, which at this point is repeat the dehumanizing, narrow success driven, life style from generation to generation. I more interested in what you would do than what KIPP is doing! They have a Jay Mathews book, and a number of articles and movies that showcase them…. and I will continue to look for way in which their model can enrich my teaching….. but this post is not about KIPP, It is about a personal reaction to WFS….Personal….not right or write….but a personal connection by Ken. This Blog is about the person, not the data, about the story not the PR…..so again I ask….

      You have 6 children, where do they go to school? What do they want to be? What makes them happy?

      Hoping for a real conversation,

      David

      Posted by dloitz | October 18, 2010, 1:51 pm
    • Interesting note: all of the top 9 strategies highlighted by Marzano in Classroom instruction that works produce standard deviation effect sizes of .59 to 1.61, which trump the KIPP figure cited above.

      That being said, we are so in the trees. We should not be working on reforms that try to make sure all kids learn at each school. We should be working on reforms that make sure there is a school for each kid in each division. Those schools, community centers, business, and/or workshops should be geared towards helpings kids make lasting contributions of worth to their own lives and to their communities.

      It may be true that good test scores help a communities real estate values. It’s hard to argue that academic success doesn’t help a community. However, it’s easy to argue that a homogenized school system will do nothing to advance our democracy, kick-start our economy, or save our world. If public schools valued and cultivated teaching and learning apart from test scores, they could be impacting their communities in much more positively visceral and immediate ways.

      Insomuch as some KIPP schools, some charter schools, and some traditional public schools employ Marzano’s strategies through individualized project-based learning, student entrepreneurship, and/or community-service, put them in my portfolio division. Insomuch as some KIPP schools, some charter schools, and some traditional public schools limit teaching and learning to seat time and test scores, let’s help them find ways to connect students’ learning to their passions and lives.

      If a 1.61 or .48 standard deviation effect size means kids have learned enough to make a difference in the lives of their communities, awesome. Insomuch as they don’t, we’re missing the forest of real reform for a thinning out and doctoring of the trees.

      Best regards,
      Chad

      Posted by Chad Sansing | October 18, 2010, 2:43 pm
  13. Chad — the important question is what does the effect size apply to? Marzano isn’t usually (as far as I can tell) talking about effects in generating additional growth on well-written standardized tests, which is what the KIPP study is about.

    For example, he talks about the huge “effect size” from “identifying similarities and differences” — a percentile gain of between 42 and 46 points according to a study from 1986 (Stahl and Fairbanks). But that study was just about vocabulary lists. It most certainly NOT mean that any school that starts teaching using “similarities and differences” is suddenly going to leapfrog all of its students by 40+ percentile points. If that were the case, we’d end the achievement gap tomorrow.

    David — no personal connection to KIPP, just someone who knows the research. My six kids go to nearby public schools, as if that should matter.

    Posted by Stuart Buck | October 18, 2010, 3:05 pm
    • Stuart, if Marzano is talking about learning and standardized tests are supposed to measure learning, I’m not above conflating whatever I need to in order to make the point we’re valuing and measuring learning and – by extension – people in fairly superficial ways under conditions unlike those anywhere else in society. Certainly some tests are better written, more valid, and more useful than others, but in looking at them as a class of assessment, I find standardized testing and the teaching it engenders less valuable to society than student work like that produced at an Expeditionary Learning school.

      As Lord of the Flies as our movies like it, school isn’t that great a microcosm of society, apart from the way adults group students to conform to their view of the world. However, in all practicality, school right now just doesn’t reflect learning, doing, or problem-solving in the real world.

      This kind of makes sense in that you wouldn’t find a kindergartner performing surgery. However, it kind of doesn’t make sense in that we don’t often find kindergartners, say, listening to story-time at the senior center, making art out of the bottles recycled from the cafeteria, or frosting cupcakes for a shelter.

      As an aside, I’d suggest that most standardized tests are vocabulary lists.

      What do you think KIPP schools do well, and do you think they sacrifice anything by doing so? How, and in what ways, do you think they, or any school (as if labels should matter) should improve?

      Best,
      C

      Posted by Chad Sansing | October 18, 2010, 9:34 pm
  14. Stuart,

    I guess my attempts to try to communicate that yes it does matter where you send your children….not because it lessen your analysis of research, but instead because it makes you more than a name on a website, had you send that all your kids went to private schools or charters, that would make no difference. I still interested more in your personal views and stories than I will ever be with data. Honestly Data really tells me nothing, sorry. Data should only be used on the personal level, because the on the personal I can tell you that John or Sarah, Nico or Tori are actually engaged, happy and expanding their joy of learning not just repeating one I or someone else tells them. Robots are not children, and children are not robots….

    guess we are after two different things with this discussion and so I will move on….

    David

    Posted by dloitz | October 18, 2010, 3:19 pm
  15. http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f8/1600178470
    this is just really weird….here is a the director telling us that actually test scores mean nothing…. he was a c- student….yet the teacher saw something in him that was not able to be measure on a test and helped him develop that…. Great message….yet you made a movie that preaches the opposite… weird and actually a bit like… Oh wait don’t call me out on what I did….because look I really do like teachers….look at this cute little video I made.

    Wow….kinda of dumb founded.

    what do you think?

    Posted by dloitz | October 22, 2010, 5:31 pm
  16. http://www.smdailyjournal.com/article_preview.php?type=opinions&title=The+truth+about+Woodside+High&id=143483

    This is a very honest and powerful rebuttal to some of the main talking point in Waiting For Superman.

    The movie succeed in telling a story, if that story is true or honest is another question. One only has to do a few minutes of research to realize how bias and untruthful the movie is.

    Does it tell a good story, is it entertaining and moving? Yes. Are some of it message worth trying? Of course!

    Does it leave out so much to almost that it can be harmful? I think so! I do recommend seeing it, but hold it up to the microscope and don’t be fooled by it simplistic and narrow approach to transformation.

    And truly hold it up to the light and see for real what it is trying to say.

    I am still having a hard time getting the image of a child’s head being ripped open and having a milky like knowledge soup poured in his head…. so much wrong with that idea!

    David

    Posted by dloitz | October 24, 2010, 12:13 am
  17. Thought I would pass on this article about KIPP and power codes….

    http://education.adelphi.edu/news/bernsteiniananalysis.pdf

    Posted by dloitz | November 8, 2010, 5:45 pm

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