Skip to main content

On Competition and Donald Trump, Jr.

Listening to Donald Trump, Jr.’s speech makes my blood boil.

There are a few points that need our attention.

1. Competition makes education better.

Browse Diane Ravitch’s blog post about the competition that has run rampant in Detroit Public Schools. She references Donald Cohen’s post, where he debunks the myth about competition increasing student achievement.  Cohen concludes the following: “If charter schools were systematically outperforming DPS schools, these lessons would be easier to stomach in Detroit. But the city’s charter schools are rife with wasteful spending, double dipping, and insider dealing, and many have been allowed to operate for years despite terrible academic records.”

And let us not forget the Detroit Free Pressexposé on charter schools. Many do not disclose how they spend public dollars, and the majority underperformed when compared to traditional public schools. Quoting the Free Press, public dollars were misused in ways such as:
  • A Bedford Township charter school spent more than $1 million on swampland.
  • Two board members who challenged their Romulus school’s management company over finances and transparency were ousted when the length of their terms was summarily reduced by Grand Valley State University.
  • National Heritage Academies, the state’s largest for-profit school management company, charges 14 of its Michigan schools $1 million or more in rent — which many real estate experts say is excessive.
  • A charter school in Pittsfield Township gave jobs and millions of dollars in business to multiple members of the founder’s family.

 2. Teachers are more interested in tenure than serving students.

I know The Hill School, which Trump, Jr. attended, is nothing like traditional public schools where I work and serve on a board of education, but his statements are misguided in purporting the myth of the self-serving teacher.

As my colleague on the board of education, Martha Toth wrote about teacher motivation, noting that most teachers go into the profession for altruistic reasons. She references the most recent study about teacher performance and motivation:

The National Center for Performance Incentives at Vanderbilt University (funded by a $10M grant from the U.S. Dept. of Education) employs “specialists in social and behavioral science, statistical analysis, economic theory, and policy analysis” to conduct “randomized field trials and evaluations of existing pay-for-performance programs” in public education. The report on one such study, the Project on Incentives in Teaching, or POINT, was released last week. This five-year study and analysis of a three-year randomized trial examined the effects on student outcomes of paying eligible Nashville teachers bonuses of up to $15,000 per year for increasing their students’ scores on the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program tests.

The bottom line? “We sought a clean test of the basic proposition: If teachers know they will be rewarded for an increase in their students’ test scores, will test scores go up? We found that the answer to that question is no.

I don’t fear teacher tenure or my teacher’s union. Both were designed to protect teachers from political whims, to ensure equal and adequate professional compensation, and to allow academic freedom.


The public only needs to look at the advocacy work that’s taking part by teachers around the country—and especially locally, like the sick-outs in Detroit to protest the terrible conditions of many public school buildings—to see that the needs and demands of teachers are often with the best interest of students in mind.

Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing your clear, logical and factual response. You are a true advocate for public education.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Targets and Time

I just finished Cris Tovani and Elizabeth Birr Moje's No More Telling as Teaching: Less Lecture, More Engaged Learning from Heinemann's Not This But That series edited by Ellin Oliver Keene and Nell Duke.

Needless to say, I pick up anything that's by Tovani and Moje because of Tovani's belief in the workshop model and Moje's extensive work in both disciplinary and out of school literacies.

After finishing this quick read, I've been thinking a lot about two things.

First, how we spend our time matters. I get less than 60 minutes with students each hour. Time is a hot commodity! Because of that, I am constantly looking at ways to maximize instruction. If I pass papers back this way or if I move this to this point in time, I can gain another minute. And those minutes add up! Sometimes, however, it feels like there is just never enough time. All teachers know that. In fact, I've yet to meet a teacher admit that she or he has too much time with students, especia…

Letter to the Editor Regarding DeVos

***Update:  At the time this letter was read at Monday’s board meeting, the hearing regarding Betsy DeVos’ nomination as the secretary of education was still scheduled for Wednesday, January 11. Later that evening, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions postponed the hearing until January 17 at 5:00 PM.

This is a letter to the editor that I will submit for the January 12 edition of the Belleville-Area Independent
-----
To the Editor:
This week marks a defining moment for public education in the United States. On Wednesday, January 11, a hearing will have taken place regarding Betsy DeVos’ nomination as the secretary of education.
During the past few board meetings, I have expressed my concerns publicly about Mrs. DeVos’ appointment to the top education post, and I reiterate those same concerns here. I have contacted Senator Stabenow and Peter’s offices, and they both have now expressed their concerns regarding this appointment and have vowed to…

Stop Ignoring Research

I just finished Kylene Beers and Robert Probst's Disrupting Thinking. I keep thinking about page 103 in the text, where they discuss the idea of "research-based practices" and how many of us "are willing to ignore what we know from research." They mention teaching grammar in isolation, spelling lists, lack of conferring in writing classrooms, monologic talk, prescribing novels without choice--the list goes on and on. I get frustrated because I hear from other teachers often excuses for why they do these things. And even I have felt forced to resort to some of these practices at times because it's what kids have been conditioned to expect at school. It is amazing how quiet a classroom can be when you give every student a worksheet. And if compliance is our end goal, then a worksheet works. But if we want students to undertake meaningful work that's often the work supported by best practices, we're going to have to be willing to get a whole lot more u…