Events: "Education Nation" Pro / Con

NBC's "Education Nation" is making a week-long stop in Chicago, starting with events over the weekend and going through the rest of the week. Has anyone caught any of the segments on NBC7 (the Town Hall above), or been downtown to see thenstallation on the plaza in front of NBC Studio 5? It's all very rah-rah (and sponsored by the University of Phoenix among others).  There's an event on Thursday with Duncan and Emanuel. 


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  • Actually far from a yawn from my perspective. The entire framework of the program from the fact that the University of Phoenix, a for profit institution, and the Gates Foundation were the major funders of the NBC program were driving a fairly corporate controlled education reform agenda. Clearly the overwhelming majority of teachers, including teacher panelists, articulated a very different educational agenda than the one being framed by the questions driving the program.

    Really only Ms. Sale a teacher from a Nobel Street charter school and Mr. Stewart from Urban Prep supported much of that agenda, and even they expressed reservations at certain points. Even Ms. Sims a CPS teacher who is on the Mayor elect's education transition team expressed some real reservations about things like teacher evaluation based on test data. I was very favorably impressed by her and she seemed clearly to be thinking independently of the Emanuel administration. The most articulate of all the panelists was Ms. Brave a golden apple award winning high school teacher, she was at many points simply brilliant as was the CPS teacher panelist teacher from Lincoln Park HS. Jay Rehak, form W. Young HS, who spoke from the floor really expressed the unfair advantage a school like his had compared to struggling neighborhood schools.

    I think it is fair to say that the overwhelming majority of teachers at the session were not supportive of the predominate dialog of corporate controlled school reform that was being pushed at the meeting, more heavy handedly by Tamron Hall the MC and far less so by Allison Rosati the audience interviewer who was very fair.

    Rod Estvan

  • I was very much impressed with the way the real inequities were conveyed not only by CTU members, who always carry that torch, but by the charter teachers. The young man from Urban Prep agreed that smaller class sizes are key. Typically, that lot talks endlessly about how great it is that they work 16 hours a day for peanuts. I applaud his honesty. I am sure he returned to work with a slap on the wrist.

    I was most impressed with the woman from Lincoln Park High School. I could have closed my eyes and thought it was a young Angela Davis. Future CPS CEO? Future Pres of CTU?

  • In relation to the several posts about Jay Rehak's comments at the meeting. Jay is consistent in his perspective, he points out how a selective HS like young is really a completely different reality than a neighborhood HS, he also points out that so are many charter high schools. I think Jay and many other CTU members over generalize about the comparative advantages charter schools have, some really do have far more students who do not come from stable homes with engaged parents and their performance data is generally lower. Charter schools in Chicago are not a one size fits all in relation to the students they enroll. As I have said many times the formal definition of low income allows for both the deeply poor and the working poor to be counted under the same subgroup for NCLB accountability purposes.

    One poster writes: " Jay Rehak doesn't understand how student achievement data is used in either evaluating teachers or evaluating schools for purposes of probation. It is based on growth, not on raw scores. Schools with higher achieving students like Whitney Young are actually at a disadvantage. They can only grow so much. Same with schools." Are any of the selective CPS HS on probation? So Jay's point was well taken I think.

    Lastly on the use of performance data in teacher evaluation. Next month Access Living will be releasing a white paper on the new Illinois evaluation law and its implications for students with IEPs. I have worked on this project now for several months with a graduate student from the Adler School. The issues we have discovered in relation to the use of value added models and other growth measurements were very enlightening. Hopefully Alexander and this blog will post something about this white paper once it is released.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Thanks, Rod, for backing me up. The writer who seemed to think I don't understand how student progress is measured is mistaken. I understand all too well. The way students are measured is called "Adequate Yearly Progress" and it suggests that I should be measured under the assumption that my students will score "1 Year" from whereever there test scores were before I had them. So, for example, if I have a student who scores at 10.5 grade level, that student should be at 11.5 after I have taught him/her for a year. The flaw in this type of measurement is two-fold. First, "1 year" of progress cannot accurately be measured by one test (even those who write the test will tell you this.) Additionally, while it is true that it is possible that a student could theoretically max out on his standardized test score (if he scored a perfect score as a sophomore, then missed a question as a junior, his score might "go down" or be less than 1 year's progress) it is far more likely that my students will gain on a standardized test more than "1 year's" learning in one year in my class because the students are great test takers, especially vs. the general population.

    Honestly, while I love working at a magnet school, I do think it is unfair to my colleagues that my school, as well as other magnet schools in Chicago, cream the best students from elementary schools and then leave the neighborhood schools with everyone else.

    Truthfully, in my classes I have very few discipline problems. That makes my judge infinitely easier than my colleagues in neighborhood schools. My time is spent, for the most part, teaching; very little time is spent on discipline.

    Understanding that fundamental difference in teaching realities is central to anyone understanding the issue of teacher evaluation.


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