Sunday, December 21, 2014

Foreign policy

4LAKids: Sunday 21•Dec•2014 The Winter Solstice
In This Issue:
 •  PUNISHED TEACHER IN CLASS AGAIN: Eight-month exile over fundraising spotlights union and district differences on the issue of discipline
 •  From the wonderful folks who drew the FBI to LAUSD: PREPARING FOR A RENAISSANCE IN ASSESSMENT
 •  HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest (but not necessarily the best) of the Stories from Other Sources
 •  EVENTS: Coming up next week...
 •  What can YOU do?

Featured Links:
 •  Give the gift of a 4LAKids Subscription to a friend or colleague!
 •  Follow 4 LAKids on Twitter - or get instant updates via text message by texting "Follow 4LAKids" to 40404
 •  4LAKids Anthology: All the Past Issues, solved, resolved and unsolved!
 •  4LAKidsNews: a compendium of recent items of interest - news stories, scurrilous rumors, links, academic papers, rants and amusing anecdotes, etc.
Tip O’Neill said that all politics is local – and I believe that the most powerful+local political dynamic is that at the school site. The teachers and the parents and the students and the administrators; the credentialed and the certificated and the neighbors and the community and real estate agents. The agendas and the policies and the politics and the pedagogy and the curriculum and the PTA. ¡C’mon down!

Of course, we occasionally wander off campus and the school board gets involved in the minimum wage of hotel workers. The puzzle pieces involve immigration policy and international publishing cartels and billionaires with too many billions and too much time on their hands …surely everything that’s wrong with education can be fixed with a better algorithm. Or another model from business school.

LAST WEEK’S NEWS was all about foreign policy. Cuba. Russia. Pakistan. North Korean cinema criticism.

(I grew up in Hollywood and worked in The Biz; no one ever anticipated that a squabble between a Japanese Keiretsu and the [nuclear armed] Hermit Kingdom would be fought in cyberspace and the Hollywood Trades with the White House questioning the film distribution strategies of studio executives? I recommend: “This -- THIS? -- is what led to an international incident?”| to put it all in perspective.)

Quietly fulminating on the local and foreign policy scene, tangled up in the geopolitics of the Middle East and the School ®eform Movement – with a foray into immigration policy – is the story of Fethullah Gülen, the government of Turkey and the operation of the largest chain of charter schools in the United States.

As Seth Rogan – or is it James Franco? - would say: “Whatttt????”

SIMPLY: Fethullah Gülen is an Islamic Cleric who lives in Pennsylvania and is the promoter and/or founder of 130 Charter Schools in the United States, which makes him the biggest charter school entrepreneur in the country. Bigger than Green Dot or KIPP. Magnolia Charters in Los Angeles? That’s him!

• There are some that say that he teaches religion in his schools; he denies it.
• There are some that contend he illegally imports teachers from Turkey to teach in his schools; he denies it.
• LAUSD recently pulled the plug on a couple of his schools for fiscal impropriety.
• Oh, and Tayyip Erdogan, the President of Turkey, says that Gülen is secretly plotting to overthrow the Turkish Government in a coup– and has sworn out an arrest warrant against him. Today the AYP, Tomorrow the World!

Now President Erdogan isn’t necessarily a nice man …

FDR’s Secretary of State, Sumner Welles, once said "[Nicaraguan dictator] Somoza's a bastard!" And Roosevelt replied, "Yes, but he's our bastard."

….and Fethullah Gülen doesn’t look like a Central Casting wild-eyed+bearded radical Muslim cleric – (he quotes Gandhi and MLK …but so did Dr. Deasy) …but let me just say that this is all very curious.

And it gets curiouser and curiouser with every passing day.

YOU MAY HAVE READ in these pages- or elsewhere - about the former LAUSD risk management consultant who is suing the District for firing him when he blew the whistle on alleged improprieties in the Miramonte settlement. That case drags on, all suit and countersuit; but last week the District lost a $3.3 million whistleblower and defamation-of-character lawsuit over improprieties at Poly High – a case that features some familiar figures – and more loose ends than a grass skirt.

Happy Holidays Everyone - and Happy New Year. If you believe in such things, please say a prayer for Peace. With apologies to John+Paul: It's getting better all the time.

I used to get mad at my school (No I can't complain)
The teachers who taught me weren't cool (No I can't complain)
You're holding me down (Oh), turning me round (Oh)
Filling me up with your rules (Foolish rules)
I've got to admit it's getting better (Better)
A little better all the time (It can't get more worse)

¡Onward/Adelante! - smf


●●smf: This is a great story, filled with lovely complications and international intrigue. The regime in Turkey is no more a wellspring of western secular democracy than Fethullah Gülen is a wild eyed bearded mullah. Instead we have nuance and politics and power and money: This is the New Byzantium.

P.S.: The Magnolia Charter Schools in LAUSD are affiliated with Gülen.


By Ece Toksabay, Reuters | from WorldPost: a partnership of The Huffington Post & Berggruen Institute on Governance |

12/19/2014 8:34 am EST Updated: 10:30 AM | ISTANBUL, (Reuters) :: Turkish authorities are seeking an arrest warrant for U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen whom President Tayyip Erdogan accuses of trying to undermine Turkey and overthrow him, a government official said on Friday.

The issue of a warrant would take Erdogan's campaign to root out Gulen supporters, including purges of the judiciary and police, to the international arena potentially testing already strained relations with Washington.

Gulen has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999. He was a close ally of Erdogan in the early years after his ruling AK Party took power in 2002 but has been in open conflict with him since a graft investigation emerged a year ago targeting the then-prime minister's inner circle.

Erdogan portrays the investigation as part of a coup attempt and describes Gulen's followers as traitors and terrorists - all charges that Gulen, who runs a vast network of schools and business enterprises in Turkey and abroad, denies.

Turkish courts have dropped the corruption cases, critics at home and in the West citing that as evidence Erdogan is stripping the judiciary of its independence.

Asked about a report that a warrant had been issued, a government official, requesting anonymity, told Reuters: "There is no decision yet. The prosecutor has made a request and the judge is evaluating it."

It was not immediately clear on what specific grounds the warrant was being requested.

If it is forthcoming, Turkish authorities would be free to apply to the United States for extradition, with no guarantee of success. Erdogan's image in the West, once that of a moderate reformer, has been eroded as his open intolerance of opposition and of criticism has grown.

A Turkish court on Friday kept a media executive close to Gulen and three other people in custody pending trial on accusations of belonging to a terrorist group, in a case which Erdogan has defended as a response to "dirty operations" by his enemies.

Hidayet Karaca heads Samanyolu Television which is close to Gulen.

The European Union, which Turkey is seeking to join, has said last weekend's police raids to detain Karaca and other media workers was contrary to European values. Erdogan told the bloc to mind its own business.

Ekrem Dumanli, editor-in-chief of the Gulen-linked Zaman newspaper, was released but forbidden from traveling abroad before trial. Seven more people whom prosecutors sought remanded in custody in the case were also released pending trial.

●(Additional reporting by Gulsen Solaker in Ankara and Ayla Jean Yackley in Istanbul; Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Nick Tattersall, Ralph Boulton)


►120 AMERICAN CHARTER SCHOOLS AND ONE SECRETIVE TURKISH CLERIC: The FBI is investigating a group of educators who are followers of a mysterious Islamic movement. But the problems seem less related to faith than to the oversight of charter schools.

By Scott Beauchamp | The Atlantic |

Aug 12 2014, 11:25 AM ET :: It reads like something out of a John Le Carre novel: The charismatic Sunni imam Fethullah Gülen, leader of a politically powerful Turkish religious movement likened by The Guardian to an “Islamic Opus Dei,” occasionally webcasts sermons from self-imposed exile in the Poconos while his organization quickly grows to head the largest chain of charter schools in America. It might sound quite foreboding—and it should, but not for the reasons you might think.
You can be excused if you’ve never heard of Fethullah Gülen or his eponymous movement. He isn’t known for his openness, despite the size of his organization, which is rumored to have between 1 and 8 million adherents. It’s difficult to estimate the depth of its bench, however, without an official roster of membership. Known informally in Turkey as Hizmet, or “the service”, the Gülen movement prides itself on being a pacifist, internationalist, modern, and moderate alternative to more extreme derivations of Sunni Islam. The group does emphasize the importance of interfaith dialogue, education, and a kind of cosmopolitanism. One prominent sociologist described it as “the world’s most global movement.”

Singling out the Gülen schools as particularly nefarious, simply for being run by Muslims, smacks of xenophobia.

Much of the praise for the Gülen movement comes from its emphasis on providing education to children worldwide. In countries like Pakistan, its schools often serve as an alternative to more fundamentalist madrassas. Gülen schools enroll an estimated two million students around the globe, usually with English as the language of instruction, and the tuition is often paid in full by the institution. In Islamic countries, where the Gülen schools aren’t entirely secular: The New York Times reported that in many of the Pakistani schools, “…teachers encourage Islam in their dormitories, where teachers set the example in lifestyle and prayers.” But the focus is still largely on academics. Fethullah Gülen put it in one of his sermons, “Studying physics, mathematics, and chemistry is worshipping Allah.”

In Western countries such as the United States, Germany, and France, there isn’t any evidence whatsoever that the nearly 120 Gülen charter schools in America include Islamic indoctrination in their curriculum. The schools are so secular that singling out the Gülen schools as particularly nefarious, simply for being run predominantly by Muslims, smacks of xenophobia.

However, these schools might be suspect for reasons that are completely unrelated to Islamic doctrine. One of their most troubling characteristics is that they don’t have a great track record when it comes to financial and legal transparency. In Utah, a financial probe launched by the Utah Schools Charter Board found the Beehive Science and Technology Academy, a Gülen-run charter school, to be nearly $350,000 in debt. Furthermore, as the Deseret News reported, the school’s administrators seemed to be reserving coveted jobs for their own countrymen and women: “In a time of teacher layoffs, Beehive has recruited a high percentage of teachers from overseas, mainly Turkey.”

Even more unnervingly, the school’s money—public funds from the local community—was being donated to Gülen-affiliated organizations and used to pay the cost of bringing teachers to Utah from Turkey. To illustrate the level of fiscal mismanagement, the school spent about 50 cents to pay the immigration costs of foreign teachers for every dollar that it spent on textbooks. In 2010, after being the first charter school in Utah history to be shuttered, Beehive appealed the decision and was reopened the same year.

There are similar stories from other states. In Texas, where 33 Gülen charter schools receive close to $100 million a year in taxpayer funds, the New York Times reported in 2011 that two schools had given $50 million to Gülen-connected contractors, including the month-old Atlas Texas Construction and Training, even though other contractors had offered lower bids. It was the same thing in Georgia, where Fulton County audited three Gülen schools after allegations that they’d skipped the bidding process altogether and paid nearly half a million dollars to organizations associated with the Gülen movement.

The Gülen movement is known for its secrecy. But when it comes to the Gülen charter schools, the lack of transparency is part of a larger problem that has nothing to do with the Turkish-based organization. Diane Ravitch, education professor at New York University and Assistant Secretary of Education under George H.W. Bush, writes about this larger transparency issue in her latest book, Reign of Error, explaining, “In 2009, New York Charter School Association successfully sued to prevent the state comptroller from auditing the finances of charter schools, even though they receive public funding. The association contended that charter school’s are not government agencies but ‘non-profit educational corporations carrying out a public purpose.’” The New York State Court of Appeals agreed with the organization in a 7 to 0 vote. It took an act of legislation from the state—specifically designed to allow the comptroller to audit charter schools—for this to change.

Ravitch also writes of a similar instance in North Carolina in which the state, urged on by lobbying giant ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council), proposed the creation of a special commission, composed entirely of charter school advocates, as a way for charter schools to bypass the oversight of the State Board of Education or the local school boards. Ravitch writes, “The charters would not be required to hire certified teachers. Charter school staff would not be required to pass criminal background checks. The proposed law would not require any checks for conflicts of interest—not for commission members or for the charter schools.” In other words, it isn’t the Gülen movement that makes Gülen charter schools so secretive. It’s the charter school movement itself.

This comes across in the latest news story related to the Gülen schools: an FBI raid last month on the headquarters of over 19 Gülen-operated Horizon Science Academies in Midwest. According to search warrants obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times, federal authorities were interested in gathering general financial documents and records of communication. The warrant specifically mentions something called the E-rate program—a federal program that, according to the Sun-Times, “pays for schools to expand telecommunications and Internet access.” A handful of the Gülen-affiliated contractors assisting the schools were receiving money from this federal fund. It’s difficult speculate what this could all mean, as all documents pertaining to the investigation, save the warrants themselves, have been sealed from the public.

It isn’t the Gülen movement that makes Gülen charter schools so secretive. It’s the charter school movement itself.

Meanwhile, the Ohio State Board of Education has launched its own probe of the nearly 20 Gülen-associated charter schools in its state. As part of the investigation, four former teachers from Horizon Academy (the particular name of the Gülen charter school chain in Ohio) gave testimony. The teachers mentioned issues as disturbing as cheating on state tests, unsafe building conditions, overcrowding, and even sexual misconduct. One of the teachers, Matthew Blair, had previously tried to contact the state’s Department of Education in order to file complaints, but hadn’t heard back from officials. Board president Debe Terhar assured the teachers, “Your concerns have not fallen on deaf ears. We hear you, and we will move forward with making sure this thing is investigated.”

I contacted Matthew Blair, and he told me that the problems with the Gülen schools were merely symptomatic of a larger problem within the state’s education system. “The charter school system in Ohio is broken beyond repair,” he wrote in an email. “As it is, charter schools operate in a lawless frontier. Regulations are few and far between. Those that exist are consistently and consciously overlooked.”

The Gülen schools, he wrote, “are an excellent example” of this problem: “A Gülen organization controls the real estate companies that own their schools. They charge rent to their own schools and tax-payers foot the bill. They refuse to answer public records requests, falsify attendance records, and cheat on standardized tests. Yet, Ohio continues to grant them charters to operate.” He added, “It doesn't hurt that the Gülen organization is politically active and treats state politicians to lavish trips abroad.” But overall, he said, “this Wild West atmosphere of few regulations creates incestuous relationships among politicians, vendors, and schools. Charter schools like Gülen's give generously. In return, they are allowed to keep their saloons open and serve whatever they want. The only way to save the charter school system is to start over again by using the model of effective public schools.”

They participate in a system that gives every incentive to keep their financial dealings under wraps.

The Gülen movement insists that the accusations against are the result of gross exaggeration or outright falsehood. Websites like and defend Gülen charter schools from accusations of impropriety: aggregating positive news about the schools, restating their mission in magnanimous language, and distancing Fethullah Gülen himself from any of the legal proceedings or investigations. One particular article quotes Gülen’s attorney, who responds to (more) FBI raids on Gülen schools in Louisiana by reminding readers that Gülen himself “is not the founder, shareholder, or administrator of any school.”

But the problem with Gülen schools isn’t that they’re connected to a particular religious movement (although some might object to public funds making their way to any religious institution). The problem is that they participate in a system that gives every incentive to keep their financial dealings under wraps. Charter schools were designed to provide a certain amount of autonomy, and many schools have successfully walked the line between public responsibility and private innovation. But there are vulnerabilities built into the system, and one is a reduced oversight that enables schools to move vast amounts of public funds into private hands. The Gülen movement, with its foreign origins and mysterious leader, may make for a particular intriguing story.

But as the saying goes, “Don’t hate the player; hate the game.”


by Vanessa Romo, LA School Report |

December 19, 2014 12:39 pm :: LA Unified sustained another legal blow this week in a “whistleblower” case that’ll cost the district millions.

After nearly a month-long trial, a Los Angeles jury awarded retired Air Force Officer and Junior ROTC instructor, Archie Roundtree, $3.3 million, finding that the district had revoked his teaching certification in an act of retaliation.

This latest setback comes a month after the district announced a $139 million settlement in civil cases stemming from the actions of a former teacher at Miramonte Elementary School.

Shortly after reporting a series of violations in the operation of the JROTC program at John H. Francis Polytechnic High School in Sun Valley, Chief Academic Officer Gerardo Loera began complaining to the Air Force about the veteran instructor. The Air Force subsequently revoked Roundtree’s 15-year certification to teach JROTC cadets.

According Renuka V. Jain, a lawyer who represented Roundtree, “The jury awarded Roundtree $1,810,840 on the whistleblower claim, $1 million in defamation damages against Loera, and $500,000 against Assistant Vice-Principal Adriana Maldonado-Gomez. The jury also concluded that Loera had acted with malice, oppression or fraud.”

“The settlement is good but he will never be able to get his certification back,” Jain told LA School Report. “There is no appeal, there is no review. The only people who can get it back is Air Force and they’re not going to do that,” she said.

The district said in an email response it is “very disheartened” by the verdict.

“It is never the intention of the District or its administrators to engage in defamation or retaliation against any employee for any reason,” the district said. “While the jury found in favor of Major Roundtree, the District believes and maintains that each of the administrators’ actions were taken with the students’ interests at heart and were not done in retaliation against Major Roundtree.”

The district is currently reviewing the record and considering its options with respect to any challenges to the verdict.

●●smf’s 2¢: I have some real problems with the reporting of this story – or perhaps the editing thereof.

● “Shortly after reporting a series of violations in the operation of the JROTC program at John H. Francis Polytechnic High School in Sun Valley….”: Because this is a whistle blower suit I presume that Major Roundtree made the allegations - though to whom and what the allegations were are totally unclear. Did he complain to LAUSD? To the Dept of the Air Force? …and what exactly were the allegations? …and even more critically: What is the timeline?
● “….Chief Academic Officer Gerardo Loera began complaining to the Air Force about the veteran instructor”. Again, the timeline. Loera was named Chief Academic Officer on December 1, less than a month ago. The trial was “nearly a month long” so one must suppose that Loera’s action took place previous to him holding that job.
• Loera’s previous job was Executive Director, Office of Curriculum, Instruction and School Support - where he was often called upon to be the administration’s thankless+unthanked mouthpiece re: the CCTP (iPads) and MiSiS.
• Before that he was Jaime Aquino’s deputy when Aquino was Deputy Supe for Curriculum and Instruction.
• And before that Leora was Principal of John H. Frances Polytechnic High School – a/k/a Poly High. (I had a girlfriend who went to Poly – that’s a very complicated story!)
• And as for “Assistant Vice-Principal Adriana Maldonado-Gomez” …that is a new job title to me. We now have Assistant Principals – and back in my misspent youth there were Vice Principals …but….. Ms Maldonado-Gomez is currently on the faculty of Grant High School as an Assistant Principal

PUNISHED TEACHER IN CLASS AGAIN: Eight-month exile over fundraising spotlights union and district differences on the issue of discipline

By Howard Blume | LA Times |

Published online Dec 17, 2014/In print Dec 21, 2014 :: A popular South Gate Middle School teacher returned to the classroom Wednesday, eight months after he was pulled from campus for alleged financial improprieties.

The case of Stuart Lutz, 60, became one more touchstone in the debate in the Los Angeles Unified School District over "teacher jail," the informal term for the administrative offices where instructors report after they've been removed from their classrooms over allegations of wrongdoing.

The teachers union, United Teachers Los Angeles, has insisted that teachers have been needlessly removed from classes, kept out of work for unreasonable periods, overly punished for minor mistakes and wrongly dismissed.

Lutz's experience underscores the question of whether administrators unfairly took advantage of district policy to remove teachers who were troublesome, but not necessarily guilty of substantial misconduct. Lutz was the union representative for his school and had some disagreements with the principal.

Lutz acknowledged Wednesday that he failed to follow proper procedures for organizing and paying for field trips, but added that he and other teachers had been operating this way for years without knowing any better.

At the request of the union, L.A. schools Supt. Ramon Cortines agreed to authorize a fresh and expedited look at the allegations and evidence against Lutz, an art teacher who was involved in student activities.

"Under the new leadership of the district, intelligent minds have prevailed," said union Vice President Colleen Schwab.

Union President Alex Caputo-Pearl called the return of Lutz a "huge breakthrough," but added that major differences remained in contract negotiations that still could result in a strike. The union and the district have agreed to fast-track negotiations, with meetings every week, he said.

Lutz said his discipline ultimately consisted of a "conference memo," in which an administrator explained what Lutz did incorrectly and how to avoid such problems in the future. Such memos can lead to more serious consequences if a mistake or misconduct is repeated.

The teacher praised "this wonderful outcome."

"It’s so great to know that so many people were working so hard on my behalf for this homecoming," Lutz said. "I’m so happy to be back.”

Students also would be pleased, said Armando Chavez, 14, who was in Lutz's class last year.

"It was a lot of mayhem after they took him out, and a lot of things were very different," said Armando, who is now in ninth grade at South Gate High School. "We had about six substitutes for the rest of the year."

The number of teachers and other employees who were removed from schools ballooned to about 300 after the January 2012 arrest of former third-grade teacher Mark Berndt for sexual misconduct at Miramonte Elementary. Berndt eventually was sentenced to 25 years in prison. His alleged victims received settlements totaling nearly $170 million.

That case and others prompted district officials, particularly then-Supt. John Deasy, to take what they considered a safety-first approach, both to limit potential harm to students and to limit liability for the nation's second-largest school system. Other measures included reviewing records going back decades to weed out possible past or future offenders.

District officials have insisted that they want to treat teachers fairly. They note that most teachers continue to be paid after they are pulled from their classrooms. L.A. Unified also recently set up a special unit of investigators to resolve sexual misconduct cases more quickly. And teachers who have been removed from the classroom, who formerly had to report to a district office during work hours, where they did nothing, now can remain at home.

Union activists complained that such measures were insufficient because, they said, allegations still resulted in a teacher being considered guilty until proven innocent.

From the wonderful folks who drew the FBI to LAUSD: PREPARING FOR A RENAISSANCE IN ASSESSMENT

By smf for 4LAKids

Sunday, 21 December, 2014 :: You have to give it to Pearson. No, really…you have to! It’s in the contract. It’s embedded in the standards and the NCLB waivers. .It’s in the stars.

They are the world’s largest publishing company. They are the world’s largest textbook publishing company – which has the best highest-on-investment of any kind of publishing save for printing money itself. They apparently own the market in digital content publishing for the Common Core State Standards with their Common Core System of Courses – which may or may not actually exist – developed with start-up money from the Los Angeles Unified School District, thank you very much.

Now they have a vision for the future, and in it they are the world’s largest testing company.

They have seen the future and it’s Pearson.

Last week Pearson’s Chief Education Advisor, Sir Michael Barber and assessment expert, Dr Peter Hill, generated a report about this bright new wonderful tomorrow. Their “essay” PREPARING FOR A RENAISSANCE IN ASSESSMENT says that new technologies will transform assessment and testing in education.

According to the authors:

• Adaptive testing (for example, tests that evolve in real time on screen) will help generate more accurate tests and reduce the amount of time schools spend on testing
• Smarter, automated marking of exams will help improve accuracy and reduce the time teachers spend marking “rote” answers
• Technology will help combine student performance across multiple papers and subjects.
• Assessment will provide on-going feedback, which, will help personalise teaching and improve learning.
• New digital technologies will minimise opportunities for cheating in exams or “gaming the system”.
• The essay argues that current assessment methods are no longer working, so that even the top performing education systems in the world have hit a performance ceiling.

The authors set out a ‘Framework for Action’ that details the steps that should be taken for “policymakers, schools, school-system leaders and other key players to prepare for the assessment renaissance”

The report is 88 pages under the Pearson imprint. 88 pages of research an inch deep and a mile wide, reminiscent of every slick new modern educational text you’ve ever seen – with pictures and graphs and text boxes, all Helvetica and white space and more designed than written.

It is salesmanship pretending to be scholarship. Data masquerading as knowledge. Advertising making believe it is research.

In print I’m sure you can smell the shiny acid-free paper and soy based ink – with a press run of varnish to make the pictures pop and blacks truly black. You probably can’t smell the barnyard fecal matter at all.

You can read it here: And you should, because as an early reviewer writes: “… these are the people that the reformsters listen to. “

That reviewer, Peter Greene, who blogs a at http:// continues:

“…Let me just try to distill some of the big takeaways from Peter Hill and Michael Barber's essay. Here are some important things to know about what Pearson's brave new future education world would look like.

Welcome to the matrix: students will be plugged in

Pearson does not aspire to simply administer a high stakes test or two a couple of times a year. Think of every sort of assessment you do, from unit tests to small check quizzes to daily exercises for understanding. Pearson wants all of that. All. Of. That. Every single bit of assessment will generate data which will go straight into the Big Data Bank so that a complete picture of the individual student can be created and stored. I once noted that the Common Core standards make more sense if viewed as data tags. I wrote that last March, but it still looks correct to me.

The point of having everything done via internet-linked device is not just to deliver instruction and assessment to the student-- it's to be able to collect every bit of data that the student generates.

Through the use of rubrics, which will define performance in terms of a hierarchically ordered set of levels representing increasing quality of responses to specific tasks, and a common set of curriculum identifiers, it will be possible to not only provide immediate feedback to guide learning and teaching but also to build a digital record of achievement that can be interrogated for patterns and used to generate individualised and pictorial achievement maps or profiles

And Pearson is completely comfortable with assessment and instruction centered on character traits, developing grit and tenacity and prudence and the ability to work well with others. So their system will hoover all that info up as well. By the time your child is eighteen, there will be a complete profile, covering every aspect of her intellectual and personal development. I wonder if Pearson would be able to make any money selling that database to potential employers or to government agencies. Hmmm...

Teachers will not be teachers

Pearson doesn't much like the teaching profession as it currently stands. They believe that teaching must be transformed from a "largely under-qualified and trained, heavily unionized, bureaucratically controlled semi-profession into a true profession with a distinctive knowledge base, framework for teaching, well-defined common terms for describing and analyzing teaching at a level of specificity and strict control."

"Learning systems of the future will free up teacher time currently spent on preparation, marking and record-keeping and allow a greater focus on the professional roles of diagnosis, personalized instruction, scaffolding deep learning, motivation, guidance and care." The system will do all the planning and implementing, and the system will put all the necessary technology at hand. "But without such a systematic, data-driven approach to instruction, teaching remains an imprecise and somewhat idiosyncratic process that is too dependent on the personal intuition and competence of individual teachers."

All educational decisions will be made by the software and the system. Teachers will just be needed as a sort of stewardess. We will teacher-proof the classroom, so that any nasty individuality cannot mess up the system.

Personalized learning won't be

Pearson's concept of personalized learning is really about personalized pacing. The framework for learning starts with "validated maps of the sequence in which students typically learn a given curriculum outcome." So-- like railroad tracks. Personalized does not mean wandering all over a variety of possible learning paths. It means adjusting to move slower or faster while pausing for review when there's a need to fill in holes.

Pearson does not offer an answer to the age-old question, "How do all students move at their own paces but still cross the finish line in time?" They do suggest that we give up the old age-grade progression, and they believe that high expectations fix everything, but they do not directly explain if that's enough to keep some students from being stuck in school until they're twenty-nine years old.

Character may be important, but humanity, not so much

One of the odd disconnects in Pearson's vision is that they value (enough to plan measuring) social skills and character, but they do not pause to consider how their system might affect or be affected by the development of these qualities.

What does it do to the development of a child to be in groups that change regularly because of differing educational pace. What will happen when an eight year old must leave her best friend behind because she is being moved up? What will happen to the very bright twelve-year-old grouped with a bunch of fairly slow seventeen-year-olds?

Pearson lists a wide variety of possible obstacles to this system's emergence, but they assume that students will simply fall in line and take the system seriously, feeling some sort of accountability to the device screen that delivers their instruction and assessment. Teachers no longer automatically receive the trust and respect of our students--we have to earn it. Pearson assumes that because they think they're important, students will, too. That's a bad assumption.

Software will be magical

Pearson knows that trying to test any higher levels of cognition with bubble test questions is doomed to failure. Their solution is magical software. Software can ask questions that will delve deep, and software can read and assess the answers to open-ended essay questions. Software can suss out a student's intelligence so well that it can then create more test items that will be perfect for that student. Software can unerringly crunch all the data to create a perfect profile of the student. Software can do all of these things better than live human beings (even though software is written by live human beings).

And if you believe all that, I would like to sell you some software that controls the Brooklyn Bridge.

Important people are listening to these guys

You cannot read a page of this essay without encountering familiar references. New tests that move beyond the old bubble tests. High expectations can bring all students up to excellence. Enhanced data collection will lead to better learning. The job of teaching needs to be changed. We've heard it all from various bureaucrats, reformster leaders, and US Secretaries of Education.

Important people pay attention to Pearson, even though most of their ideas are rather dumb and self-serving. We all need to be paying attention to Pearson as well, because back behind the Gatesian money and the policies of Arne Duncan we find these guys, generating and articulating the ideas that become foundational to the reformsters.

It would be easy to dismiss Pearson as simple money-grubbing corporatists, to lump them together with the goofy amateurism of a Duncan or a Coleman. But they are rich, they are polished, they are powerful, and they are, I believe, driven. I have never read work by Michael Barber in which he does not note that changing the global face of education is a moral imperative, a job that he must do because he knows what must be done to improve mankind. For me, that takes this all to a new level of scary. |

Mr. Greene is quite verbose, if you really want to get into the weeds in deciphering Pearson’s Renaissance, continue on HERE

HIGHLIGHTS, LOWLIGHTS & THE NEWS THAT DOESN'T FIT: The Rest (but not necessarily the best) of the Stories from Other Sources
PUNISHED TEACHER IN CLASS AGAIN: 8-month exile over fundraising spotlights union/district differences re: discipline |

From the wonderful folks who drew the FBI to LAUSD: PREPARING FOR A RENAISSANCE IN ASSESSMENT |







2 STORIES: UTLA LOWERS SALARY DEMAND, says pay proposal lowered in hopes of reaching a deal in the next few months |



NO RELIEF FOR LAUSD?: "'There must be some way out of here' said the joker to the thief” |



EVENTS: Coming up next week...

*Dates and times subject to change. ________________________________________
Phone: 213-241-5183
Phone: 213-241.8700


What can YOU do?
• E-mail, call or write your school board member: • 213-241-6386 • 213-241-6180 • 213-241-5555 • 213-241-6382 • 213-241-6388 • 213-241-6385 • 213-241-6387
...or your city councilperson, mayor, the governor, member of congress, senator - or the president. Tell them what you really think! • Find your state legislator based on your home address. Just go to: • There are 26 mayors and five county supervisors representing jurisdictions within LAUSD, the mayor of LA can be reached at • 213.978.0600
• Call or e-mail Governor Brown: 213-897-0322 e-mail:
• Open the dialogue. Write a letter to the editor. Circulate these thoughts. Talk to the principal and teachers at your local school.
• Speak with your friends, neighbors and coworkers. Stay on top of education issues. Don't take my word for it!
• Get involved at your neighborhood school. Join your PTA. Serve on a School Site Council. Be there for a child.
• If you are eligible to become a citizen, BECOME ONE.
• If you a a citizen, REGISTER TO VOTE.
• If you are registered, VOTE LIKE THE FUTURE DEPENDS ON IT. THEY DO!.

Who are your elected federal & state representatives? How do you contact them?

Scott Folsom is a parent leader in LAUSD and is Parent/Volunteer of the Year for 2010-11 for Los Angeles County. • He is Past President of Los Angeles Tenth District PTSA and represented PTA on the LAUSD Construction Bond Citizen's Oversight Committee for ten years. He is a Health Commissioner, Legislation Team member and a member of the Board of Managers of the California State PTA. He serves on numerous school district advisory and policy committees and has served as a PTA officer and governance council member at three LAUSD schools. He is the recipient of the UTLA/AFT 2009 "WHO" Gold Award for his support of education and public schools - an honor he hopes to someday deserve. • In this forum his opinions are his own and your opinions and feedback are invited. Quoted and/or cited content copyright © the original author and/or publisher. All other material copyright © 4LAKids.
• FAIR USE NOTICE: This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. 4LAKids makes such material available in an effort to advance understanding of education issues vital to parents, teachers, students and community members in a democracy. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.