"One of the problems in this field is people who tell audiences what the audience wants to hear rather than the truth.  This leads to much applause and positive reviews and big bucks, but I don't think it leads to any improvements in American education" (Chester Finn, former U.S. Secretary of Education). Suffice it to say that neither do I. "A lot of it (educational consulting) is a scam, because the people who get hired don't really know much or don't meet the needs they are being hired to address or, in a few cases, are themselves frauds," said Finn.  "There's so much emphasis in the field (education) on 'professional development' and 'in-service,' and so many dollars rolling around for those purposes that it's easy for this racket to flourish." Indeed it has. Listening to "experts" talk about how teachers aren't preparing students for the workplace of the 21st century and that our practices no longer amount to the greatness that they once did is as tiresome as it is loathsome. In this list of links to previously published articles of various sorts, I attempt, in my own way, to set the record straight by putting the Willard Daggett and Company's favorite pastime of maligning teachers and their tacit attempts to demean their practices in proper perspective. Contained herein is a veritable rogues gallery of predatory educational capitalists who spell the downfall of what made America great -- liberty, fairness and industry. They elicit failure of honest and industrious teachers in school districts far and wide. They are unequivocally contemptible and dishonest people. Beware of them! Of them all, beware especially of Drs. Arlene Ackerman and Willard Daggett! They are to the business of education, so to speak, what Al Quaeda was and is to America.

Consider as well how these opportunistic "reformers", hoodwink legislators on all levels into believing that teacher performance should no longer rest upon how well teachers teach which custom and tradition have already established and laid down but on student performance on standardized tests. Financial reasons require many municipalities to downsize schools or raise taxes or both. With unemployment nationally on the rise (at the time of this writing), teachers have also become politically attractive targets. As such, school boards through local building administrators would relish the power of summarily firing staff who prove to be particularly refractory but can't because tenure provisions in labor contracts won't allow it. So local officials have resorted to more nefarious means. Hence the rise of the charter schools and school management companies. Additionally, Arne Duncan's latest funding initiative, Race to the Top radicalizes staff turnover through the implementation of new evaluation regimes. In Pennsylvania, for example, "consultants" like Charlotte Danielson (whose credibility, in my opinion, is at best questionable) are contracted to quietly inaugurate such models which contain many more purchase points by which local building administrators can use as bases to disparage teachers. Over time, these become pretexts for firing teachers who they believe to be particularly resistant, however uninformed and unfair all of this may be.

I have often wondered as to how these people have finessed the issues of student achievement and their oftentimes preposterous and demeaning accoutrements of teacher accountability to the forefront of the national consciousness in roughly the last 10 years and with great aplomb. That this issue manifests itself only within the past 10 years not the 175 +/- which public schools have been extant I find to explain a great many things.

Many school districts across the country have adopted such measures as detailed in the principles behind Dr. Willard Daggett's models of school reform with virtually no fact checking. In May 2007, during a districtwide in-service given at Northeast High School in Philadelphia, I along with my colleagues listened to Dr. Daggett speak. Although I cannot remember any specifics of what he said, I left excited about the broad-based interests which Dr. Daggett's "thinking" and "message" could potentially serve. Regrettably, I too for a time, was taken in – until recently.

Much of the reportage even in the liberal press surrounding the trammels and tumults in the Philadelphia school system since December 2009 does not bode well. Neither did it square with my place in it as a teacher experientially. It completely overlooks the triumphs, however small and indiscriminate by state tests they may be, my colleagues and myself achieve each day on the job.

A sort of unquiet came over me and I got to thinking -- and soon after, writing. The moral and fiscal states of things weren't always what they are. About 30 years ago, Philadelphia was seen as a model school system. We had the best schools in Pennsylvania. How could a once great educational system have declined so precipitously in relatively so short a time? Why does it no longer look, feel and sound like the learning environment I once experienced during my time in school when it was seen by arguably many to have actually worked? Why did it change and what drove it? How to begin?

I began thinking more critically about that day with Dr. Daggett and I wondered if his message were in fact, philosophically reasonable. On the surface, at least, it did. But out of curiosity, I did some Google searches to find out what others had to say. What follows is merely a small but representative sampling of what I found. The video embedded in the page to the WFC Courier piece "Controversial to the core", in particular, both shocked and infuriated me. Much of what Daggett presented at least in those vignettes, can and has been proven to be patently false but people still flock to his gatherings and are eager it seems to jump on any new "teaching". If the substance I captured on this page still reflects his blithe disregard for the facts and are still indicative of how taxpayer funds are spent and I have reason to believe that they are, much of the sham behind the "reform movement" now, from a certain point of view, makes sense. The reasons for its continued adherence and adoption, however do not. But enough. Don't take my word for any of this. Do your own research and decide for yourself.

Postscript: Arlene Ackerman died in February 2013.

Check out http://groups.yahoo.com/group/nyceducationnews/message/40282. It's an online version of what could be considered to be the world's most poorly written C.V. and was actually found (at the time of this writing) on her corporate website (http://www.danielsongroup.org/about.htm). Note the excerpt “She has taught at all levels, from kindergarten through college…" appears TWICE within three paragraphs. Moreover, this striking lack of specificity suggests that she has no appreciable classroom teaching experience at all. Additionally, her regime, like Obama Care, is almost as annoyingly cumbersome as it is likely to implode in on itself in actual practice because of its sheer complexity. The subversive potential by agenda-driven administrators is also not unlikely and in fact, is readily apparent in the linked YouTube video. Two slides, in particular, are cause for concern. In the slides titled "Lake Wobegon" and "A Question of Fairness" (which appear at 4' 30" and 5' 43" respectively), Danielson argues that too many teachers are erroneously being rated at the top of their respective evaluation scales, a sentiment incidentally already echoed by the now disgraced Dr. Arlene Ackerman in a Philadelphia Daily News article which published in June 2008. One should reasonably conclude from these that Danielson is about as anti-teacher as a one can be. Yet, many school administrators, I suspect, will capriciously dismiss such sentiments almost out of hand. Suffice it to say that at no point does she indicate the number of teachers SHE ACTUALLY OBSERVED FOR HERSELF! In fact, I found the "…Fairness" slide particularly troubling. Note how there are no numeric values ascribed in the figure. It is conceivable that the data are fabricated. Most troubling of all, they are based on findings from Michelle Rhee's initiative, the New Teacher Project. Given Rhee's questionable moral stature as suggested in the article "Amid a Federal Education Inquiry…" linked below, and the track record of reformers in general as recent events in the Philadelphia school district have shown, it is not at all unlikely that Danielson’s appraisal of the “problem”, like her dubious experience in the business of education generally, is ridiculously overstated to the point of being driven merely by connection rather than by qualification. Charlotte Danielson, like Willard Daggett and others of her kind are not honest people. Evil follows her.
A link to an article in the Washington Times (07/23/2012) describing how Obama is spending more stimulus funds to purchase control over school curricula
Here is another news article detailing some of the dishonesty of Willard Daggett and the philosophy behind the education reform movement. If his command of the facts cannot be trusted then neither can his message.
While the rest of the links on this page may be old news, here's something new (Jul 29, 2012) from Michelle Rhee. Read the transcript of this video carefully. It has at least some of the earmarks suggesting that these insufferable know-it-alls play it loose with the facts: "...about this Harvard study…" What Harvard study?? What's the name of it? Who was the principal investigator(s)? When was it promulgated?? There are no substantive details found in the transcript. This person goes on to say "We are now 25 out of 34 nations when it comes to math." I spent about 30 minutes trying to find corroborating information by doing a simple Google search. I used the following search string: "harvard study" "25 of 34". Not being familiar with many Harvard studies and because of the very limited scope of the transcript, I didn't have anything to go on for a search string. I couldn't find such a study. I don't believe that it even exists. I reserve the right to be proven wrong and I must say that I have been more often than I care to admit. If you find anything, please feel free to call or e-mail and set me straight. Not surprisingly, Rhee's remarkable tenure as a successful failure during her scant 3-year tenure in the classroom is well known. She's leveraging her non-profit to malign our integrity and unfairly demean our practices as a means of retribution. This she has done partly through misinformation but predictably through lying. She even freely admitted to putting tape on the mouths of her students on their way to the cafeteria for lunch! This is tantamount to child abuse! Rhee has absolutely no business anywhere near a classroom let alone chancellor of an entire school district! With leaders like her, who needs reform?
Postscript (08/15/12): I regret that the study was not fabricated. After several attempts to refine my search string, I finally found it. However, it is worth noting that Rhee's conclusion during the July 29 Fox interview is misleading at best. According to the transcript, Rhee stated “...that the US is far behind it's international counterparts.” The principal investigators analyzed raw test scores from seemingly disparate standardized math and reading tests from 49 countries from 1995 to 2009. They concluded that America ranked 25 out of 49 countries, not 34 as Rhee stated. Further her characterization of American schools was intellectually incongruous. America was not “far behind” but ranked square in the middle, a fact blithely glossed over by a media outlet professing to be "fair anad balanced." You be the judge.
Here is an article detailing some of Rhee's funding sources.
This combined with her unremarkable 3-year tenure in the classroom, 'nuff said. The rest is history.
I've been wondering whether people can still do this job and what it actually means to be a teacher. To answer these questions, we would do well to examine history and common sense. If we look not to the future for "progress" but to the PAST -- at the philosophies and especially the people, immeasurable by the accoutrements of state standards and tests which have actually been proven to have worked, the answer might surprise us. Here then is how that might begin. Stop listening to people like Arne Duncan, Willard Daggett and Michelle Rhee. At the very least, fact check the shit out of EVERYTHING they say. It seems there's a lot of it. Do not allow them to force you to settle for anything less than the moral and philosophical splendor to which teachers most everywhere are capeable. Stand up for yourselves. Be proud of what you've done because of your heritage and those who you helped. It's not hard! But most of all, be proud of who you are.
See? I told you! Education in America from kindergarten and beyond is as #1 as it ever was!! Here is a success story which both reformers and normal people would do well to remember. Landing a robotic explorer on Mars is a crowning achievement. It is testimony to the resolve, industry and belief in the individual of which teachers have developed no insignificant part. It should come as no surprise that reformers in whatever their gusies, have lost all credibility and should not be trusted. Most importantly, America's successes in space are proofs of our successes in the classroom. Education in America works very well as it ever has and ever shall. If you still don't believe me, look to the moon and outward to Mars, then back to earth at Hubble and outward once more to the stars. Finally, look in a mirror. The vehicles, all built in America, from bench to boardroom, from dream to concept, from concept to reality and from reality to history -- these are tokens of our heritage as teachers. We helped build that!
Here is the video which appeared in the WFC Courier in 2008. The reform movement is insanely dumb and to think that much of its work is based upon this guy's explains much. Decide for yourself.