Sunday, December 9, 2007

NY Times Buries Winerip

Mike, we miss ya

Mike Winerip, one of our favorite commentators on education, is back in the NY Times today laying waste to the No Excuses argument, something anyone who spends 10 minutes in the classroom understands.

Does that mean we stop teaching? No. But we understand that we must fight for the resources necessary to close the achievement gap, not do ed reform on the cheap or throw money at data management rather than classroom management.

But guess where what should be a front page piece because it exposes the sham of NCLB and the entire business-based ed reform movement and, in particular, the entire program of BloomKlein, is buried? In the regional "parenting" section which most people in the city environs do not even receive. Another shameful sucking up to BloomKlein by the paper of illicit record. Winerip starts his piece with:

THE federal No Child Left Behind law of 2002 rates schools based on how students perform on state standardized tests, and if too many children score poorly, the school is judged as failing.

But how much is really the school’s fault?

A new study by the Educational Testing Service — which develops and administers more than 50 million standardized tests annually, including the SAT — concludes that an awful lot of those low scores can be explained by factors that have nothing to do with schools. The study, “The Family: America’s Smallest School,” suggests that a lot of the failure has to do with what takes place in the home, the level of poverty and government’s inadequate support for programs that could make a difference, like high-quality day care and paid maternity leave.

The E.T.S. researchers took four variables that are beyond the control of schools: The percentage of children living with one parent; the percentage of eighth graders absent from school at least three times a month; the percentage of children 5 or younger whose parents read to them daily, and the percentage of eighth graders who watch five or more hours of TV a day. Using just those four variables, the researchers were able to predict each state’s results on the federal eighth-grade reading test with impressive accuracy.

I want to reiterate that even with these issues, I have a firm belief they all can be overcome. Give us the resources. I kid in pre-k is already 2 years behind? What would it take? A one-on-one person every day for a year? Then do it. Did you see Jim Liebman say that it would take 15 in a class, the level of private schools, for class size reduction to make a difference and that is too expensive. When this country suddenly needs trillions to fight wars the money magically appears?

Don't come saying it can be done by changing low expectations. Educators who want to reform the system the right way do have low expectations: about the ability of the system to give them the tools they can really use to close the achievement gap.

The entire article is posted at Norms Notes at this link.

The last time I saw Winerip was at the Monday Night Massacre on the Ides of March, 2004 when Bloomberg fired members of the PEP who were against the 3rd grade retention policy. His voice at this crucial time has been missed.

It seems the NY Times education agenda will keep it that way.

Ed Note:
Eduwonkette has done some great work with good links and some interesting comments at this link.


  1. With a constituency made up mainly of new teachers (1-4 years), I find it easy for people to have a disconnect with the UFT. And at the same time, there has to be some sort of union education for new teachers in every building. Not just about teacher rights and the contract, but also the philosophical reasonings behind why unions are important. Most of the folks in my building don't examine our daily struggles and complaints as a part of a larger problem in education - the business model. I do my best to talk to people and have them question the place in which they work, but the mass media usually doesn't help. I was impressed that something like this got published. Every teacher should read it.

  2. If reducig the Achievement_Gap is a goal, the most effective action for concerned entities would be to issue a very public and very emphatic condemnation of Out_Of_Wedlock_Breeding...


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