Ethics shmethics.


I have no argument with those who are fighting the battle against using student test score data as a means to evaluate teachers performance. I have no argument with them, because I am one of them.

But the secret use of teachers as test subjects is, to me, a much different matter. They are connected. You can see it as the inevitable result of the political opportunism of those like Rotherham, Joe Williams of DFER and the political leaders like Daley, Bloomberg, Klein and Spellings as they push testingtestingtestingtesting.

But when Eduwonnkette had the nerve to suggest that the secret program, willingly agreed to by middle management school principal hacks, was an ethical failure, arising out of the same moral pit as the infamous Tuskegee medical experiments on black people, oh did they raise a howl of protest.

Obviously, Eduwonkette had cut a little to close to the bone.

Reading Eduwonkette, it was clear that she was not claiming that the secret NY schools program was identical to the racist Tuskegee program. She was reflecting on the ethical failure.

Reflecting on ethical failure. Not something Rotherham wants to spend too much time with.

Welcome, Joey.

At one o’clock this morning I got a call that I have a new grandson, Joey. He joins our family which includes his beautiful, now older sister, Lucy. I hope you join me in wishing them a world in which children, all children, are part of a community of love and care.

What the best and wisest parent wants for his (her) own child,that must the community want, for all its children.
>John Dewey (1859-1952)

Asbestos at Fairfax. Does anyone remember?

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know I graduated from LAUSD’s Fairfax High School 41 years ago. Today I received a disturbing letter from an old friend, Les Perlman. Perlman is now Director of Writing Across the Curriculum, Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.Les writes,

I am forwarding a very sad EMail from Gina Blumenfeld about Tony Schultz, who was a half or whole year ahead of us at Fairfax, and, for many of us, at JB.If you have any information please contact Sol Weisel, at who will pass it on to Tony’s family.Sad Les,Sorry for the lengthy email, but the reason I’m writing you now is because Tony Shultz, who was at JB and Fairfax with us, has just recently been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer, specifically, mesothelioma (the kind from asbestos exposure). It appears that he may have been exposed at Fairfax HS or at UC Berkeley during the 60s. I’m hoping you can help me try to contact all the Fairfax alums that you can think of to let them know about Tony and help us search for information that his family is seeking from anyone who may remember construction/destruction going on at Fairfax between ’62 – ’65, where asbestos was prevalent in building materials. Also, they’re looking for anyone who may have been involved in theater set construction or ceramics classes during high school or at UC Berkeley where Tony and some of the rest of us attended) since asbestos might also ihave been in those building materials, glazes, etc.If you could also help in spreading the word for this information it would be greatly appreciated. Your brother, Jay has already given me some important information: He does remember they did a core test in the building farthest north and east during that time and the wall cracked and the sample crumbled, but he thinks that the construction didn’t start anytime earlier then summer of 1967. It’s important to get as many recollections on this matter as possible – some may confirm Jay’s memory, others may contradict or add important detail.Sol Weisel and Ben Pomerantz are also trying to contact as many people who were at Fairfax and Berkeley with us. If you can contact or forward me current email addresses for the following (or any others you can think of), that would be great:p.s.Here is part of an email from Tony’s wife, Susan, that lays out more specifically the kind of information they are looking for:FAIRFAX ALUMS– T was there from 62-65. Do you recall any construction or tearing down of the buildings during that time? T remembers being in the rotunda area a lot and that there was a lot of construction and de construction happening around that time. And demolition of old buildings contained a great deal of asbetsos, most paints, stuccos that were sprayed, joint compound that was used. Can anyone help us to corroborate dates? Dusty conditions etc?? Please let me know?BERKELEY-Construction of Zellerbach Hall was in 68, exactly the time T was there and working as a theatre techie. it is quite possible that he went into the new construction to help set up the new theater–or was around the construction as part of his job, Any memories of Zellerback construction? Of Dwinnell builiding materials? OF light and cable materials that might be culpable. We are looking for a contact for Mitchell Levitan in Albion CA–who was T’s boss at the time.CERAMICS STUDIO from 62-65. we know there were certain glazes that contained talc and asbestos fibers. anyone work inthe studio and might be able ti identify a jar or box that held product used in the studio. we are looking for RON NAGLE his instructor. Any ideas? or anyone else in the studio at that time? Any way of checking what glazes and products were commonly used at that time? 

Secret experiments on teachers. Now that’s what I’m talking about.

Eduwonkette goes to the heart of the matter.  NY elementary and middle school principals volunteered their schools, keeping their teachers in the dark while a secret plan to evaluate them using test score data was tested on them.This is not about using test score data to evaluate teachers. That is certainly dumb enough. But about the secret experiment, Eduwonkette asks, 

Where are the ethics? 

“This is a line in the sand for the UFT.”

Leo Casey, a leader of the NY teachers’ union, says that the use of test score data to evaluate NY city public school teachers is

… a line in the sand for the UFT.

This echoes the statement of UFT president Randi Weingarten when she was quoted in the NY Times yesterday, saying,

If one permitted this, it would be one of the worst decisions of my professional life.

Some members of the UFT raised criticisms of the leadership, particularly because the Times reported that the union leadership had been aware of the secret use of test score data to evaluate teachers.

But Casey, writing in Edwize, denied that report, stating,

The DoE told us that they wanted to do an “academic study” on value added models over the summer. Randi made it clear from the very first time this was raised in a meeting that we would be in total opposition to the use of data from that study to evaluate teachers. When they told us how they wanted to do the study, we raised the sort of objections I discussed above, to no avail. The spectre of using this study for teacher evaluations and tenure was raised by the DoE first last week, in a speech the deputy Chancellor gave in Washington DC.

One can’t exaggerate the importance of this fight in NY for teachers all across the country. This is not about what one union local negotiates for it’s members. If Chancellor Klein gets away with this in NY, no teacher is safe.

Says Casey,

The DoE has no contractual or legal authority to use test score data in the evaluation of teachers, and the UFT will oppose it with all the means at our disposal.

I’m right behind you, brother.

I did a spit-take when I read this.


Randi Weingarten: “If one permitted this, it would be one of the worst decisions of my professional life.”

No school today in honor of the heroic Martin Luther King. I was having my coffee and reading the NY Times and there on the first page below the fold was the story of the plan as described by the amazingly messed-up deputy NY school’s chancellor, Chris Cerf.

Here are the first 3 paragraphs:

New York City has embarked on an ambitious experiment, yet to be announced, in which some 2,500 teachers are being measured on how much their students improve on annual standardized tests.

The move is so contentious that principals in some of the 140 schools participating have not told their teachers that they are being scrutinized based on student performance and improvement.

While officials say it is too early to determine how they will use the data, which is already being collected, they say it could eventually be used to help make decisions on teacher tenure or as a significant element in performance evaluations and bonuses. And they hold out the possibility that the ratings for individual teachers could be made public.

I swear I did a spit-take.

Let’s go over this again:
1. 150 NY principals have agreed to take part in this program. They AGREED to take part!
2. 2500 teachers will be evaluated based on the growth scores of their students.
3. Those teachers don’t know that they are in this program. The principals haven’t told them. HAVEN’T TOLD THEM!

Do these teachers get to decide which students they get? Do they get to decide who taught them before? Where they live? How much their parents make?

Oh, you’ve heard all the arguments about evaluating teachers based on test scores before. That’s not even the point.

Teachers are being evaluated, based on some data that the suits like Chris Cerf can’t even describe. Teachers don’t know it is being used to evaluate them. The principals weren’t ordered, but agreed to take part.

UFT president Randi Weingarten doesn’t even come close to describing how grotesque this is but makes a stab at it:

“If one permitted this, it would be one of the worst decisions of my professional life.”

Sunday links.


At the recently completed Consumer Electronics Show officials from AT&T mused about the possibility of inspecting traffic on their networks to check for copyrighted material.

2008 might well be the Year of the Filter, but who knows? It might also be the Year of Filtergate. A single major fiasco could even revive the simmering debate over network neutrality regulation and legislation. Stay tuned; it should be quite a spectacle.

We can only hope the fiasco comes quickly. Assorted Stuff

It is so simple. Want to enforce the illusion that graduation rates are rising so you can use that issue to run for the presidency? Start holding back 8th graders before they ever reach high school. Just enough might be disgusted with school to drop out right then and there and never besmirch a Bill Gates school with their presence. Education Notes Online

It doesn’t seem to me like people are being turned off politics these days. If anything, the Iraq war and the tanking of the economy have heightened interest in politics and the ’08 elections among all segments of the America – including young people.

So at the end of the day, why is Bloomberg going to run for president? NYC Educator

Developer Eli Broad just donated $12 million to four L.A.-area KIPP schools (plus another $12 million to Aspire, another charter chain).

The L.A. Times followed the news of the donation with an intelligently reported (to the eye of a KIPP skeptic) profile of one of the KIPP schools.

All those who think it’s a good idea to keep fifth-graders in school for 10-hour days and then add two to three hours of homework — and to make a student feel like she wants “to cut her wrists every morning” — raise your hands. (And Sit Up, Listen, Ask Questions, Nod and Track the Speaker With Your Eyes — this is KIPP’s SLANT policy, required of all students.) San Francisco Schools

Daniel Barenboim, the world renowned Israeli pianist and conductor, has taken Palestinian citizenship and said he believed his rare new status could serve a model for peace between the two peoples.

After making remarks in which he directly equated homosexuality with bestiality, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee was attacked at the San Francisco Zoo by a gay tiger. Borowitz Report

There’s a memorable moment in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” when Indiana Jones sees a rival’s archaeological excavation and realizes the buried treasure is somewhere else. “They’re digging in the wrong place!” he exclaims.

The line could explain why our national elections leave us feeling empty. By expecting so much so fast from Washington, D.C., we are digging for “change” in the wrong place.

Think about it: The White House can be won only by raising truckloads of cash from moneyed interests looking to preserve the status quo. Likewise, the U.S. Senate’s filibuster rules allow 41 lawmakers, representing just 11 percent of the population, to stop anything. These are institutions designed to prevent change, not embrace it. David Sirota