Education Week, a national weekly read by the Ed cognoscenti, has been accused by Deborah Meier, David Marshak, Philip Kovacs, Susan Ohanian, Jerry Bracey, William Spady of violating journalistic standards by humping a point of view that backs the kind of insanity we've seen here in NYC. They sent a letter and want others to join them. Read this important letter at Susan Ohanian's place.
I had my own recent bout with an Ed Week editor when they printed an article biased in favor of a report on teacher quality by Britain's Sir Michael Barber who was embraced by Bloomberg/Klein for his half-baked policies in England (now under some repudiation – I'll check it out in an upcoming trip to London.)
An article called "Teaching Quality Matters" states (my emphasis):
The world’s top-performing school systems and those coming up fast have a lesson to teach the others: Put high-quality teaching for every child at the heart of school improvement....
Neither resources nor ambitious reforms have been the answer to the need for school improvement, say the authors, Sir Michael Barber and Mona Mourshed of McKinsey & Co., the London-based consulting firm responsible for the report. They point to “massive” increases in spending and popular reforms—prominently, class-size reduction and decentralization of decisionmaking—that have failed, they say, to much budge the needle of student achievement many places.
You know. The old line about all you have to do is fix teacher quality and you overcome all (I'll write more on this soon.) But then again, the UFT's Randi Weingarten, the Clintons, et al. all sign on to this bull.)
I sent the following letter to the editor, who I've spoken to a few times in the past (and have some sympathy for, as she was once trapped in a train station for hours with nothing to read but Education Notes.)
I was wondering if Michael Barber, a noted trasher of class size as a factor, cited specifics of the studies he cites? He says many places. Did he give one example? If not, shouldn't he be challenged to do so instead of being allowed to leave the impression that class size reduction doesn't work?
I received this reply:
"Generally true?" "Many US school systems?" How about which ones? Where's the actual research to cite this, not that I trust research, which can be slanted in so many ways. But Ed Week is part of the cabal against spending real money on Ed reform – is is so much easier and cheaper to blame the teachers. How about Ed Week calling for an accurate study (like we really need a study to tell us that much smaller classes, which I bet the elite critics pay a fortune to assure their own kids experience - like Bloomberg's kids going to Spence with 14 in a class) instead of adopting the "generally true" standard of research.
There are a few references in the report, but it is not really a scholarly work. I don't have it with me. I think his argument rests more on the fact that there has been a lot of class size reduction in places where achievement has stayed relatively flat, such as in many U.S. school systems. I think that is generally true, although you could certainly argue that classes need to be still smaller. I didn't have much space to offer challenges and had to give what space I had to people assessing the general worth of the report, which you should be able to get on the Web. You might a letter to the editor if you think his conclusions are misleading.
The article, which you can read in full here, did include the following bone:
I never wrote that letter to the editor, but I think now is a good time.David P. Baker, who has extensively studied the results from international math and science tests, praised the study for clear conclusions that hold the possibility of pushing policymakers in valid directions. He said his own research showed that countries that reduced the spread in teacher quality tended to have higher test scores. At the same time, the Pennsylvania State University professor said the report might have taken better account of the effects of social disadvantage, which has a profound influence on school performance [the Richard Rothstein view].
Here is a list if you wan to join the party.
Virginia Edwards, Editor and Publisher email@example.com
Gregory Chronister, Executive Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Lynn Olson, Project Editor for Quality Counts email@example.com
Karen Diegmueller, Managing Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Mark W. Bomster, Asst. Managing Editor email@example.com