Friday, November 13, 2009

Dear Dumb Bob Compton

After hearing Bob Compton on yesterday's Brian Lehrer show make some statements about education that were right in line with the ed deformer crowd, I posted this:

Reknowned Arizona Charter School Asks Disruptive Students to Leave

My comments led to this comment from Compton:

Bob Compton, Exec Producer 2 Million Minutes said...

Thanks for the post, Norm.
I don't think I'm manipulative, although I am trying to foster improved education for our children.
Guess "dumb and dumber" is your answer. :-)
Every child has the potential to be well-educated - not every child aspires to that goal.
I'm working, at my own expense, to inspire, and perhaps scare just a bit, more kids into striving for a better education - for their own life-long benefit.

Dumb Bob :-)

Dear Bob,

I don't think for a minute you are really dumb. If you are not manipulative, then you are misguided. We all agree that every child has the potential, but you yourself said that some are not right for the Basis school. I bet more than some. You said they should be in an alternative setting. Better to spend your time and money working on figuring out how to do that in a meaningful way.

Your points about finding good schools in India and China are off base in that students are weeded out. As they are here too, by the way. For your next film, why not find the worst schools and figure out what's wrong with them and how to fix them.

So much of what you had to say about education in your brief time on the program was so off base that I can imagine numbers of teachers pulling their hair out in frustration. Luckily, I don't have enough hair to pull out, so I just gnashed my teeth. I'll send you the dental bill.

PS: I hoped you enjoyed your time with Uncle Joel at that private screening.

Check out what Bob has to say at:


  1. Let me clarify why I view BASIS as such a powerful model for America.

    It is NOT because the BASIS school is “THE” solution, but because it embodies two fundamental attributes necessary for “THE” dramatic improvement in U.S. education:

    1- it meets the President’s agenda for K-12 education improvement – an agenda, which I believe, makes sense for 21st century America, and
    2- because it passes critical business tests necessary for large-scale replication.

    Here is Secretary Duncan's 6-point public school agenda:

    1- Make U.S. Education World-Class – set world-class academic standards and a curriculum that fosters critical thinking, problem solving, and the innovative use of knowledge to prepare students for college or career.

    2 - Assessment and Accountability - require systems that provide timely and useful information about the progress of individual students and the capability of individual teachers.

    3- Reward For Performance – use rewards and incentives to keep talented teachers in the schools that need them the most and demonstrate we value their skills.

    4- Recruit Best and Brightest to Teaching – support efforts to fast-track private sector professionals with advanced degrees into teaching and push for expansion of Teach For America.

    5- Remove Poor Performing Teachers - challenge State and school districts to quickly remove ineffective teachers from the classroom.

    6- No Restrictions on Charter Schools – school boards should not limit the number of charter schools; should allow charter schools to create their own rules regarding hiring, curriculum, tenure and unionization; and per student funding should be equal to that of other public schools within the same district.

    High-quality charter schools give children and parents the option to find the school that best fits their needs.

    Continued on next post...

  2. Part 2 -

    If we are to prepare America’s 54 million K-12 students to compete globally with the nearly 600 million other K-12 students in the world, we must have 21st century schools that:

    1- meet the needs of students,

    2- can be affordably scaled, and

    3- are economically sustainable with the $668 Billion we annually spend on K-12 education -- an amount that exceeds any other country.

    Our economy simply cannot support massive increases in education spending –we must get creative, entrepreneurial and frugal. BASIS, more than High Tech High, New Tech High or KIPP, meets the test of business scalability and sustainability.

    That is what I’m referring to as The 21st Century Solution. Here are the specifics:

    1- Modest Start-Up Costs – a BASIS school can be started for ~ $150,000. That is extraordinarily affordable. BASIS Tucson is located in a strip mall across from Office Depot on East Broadway. It has very humble facilities. That's fine for a school.Basis

    2- A Curriculum Above The Global Standard – in math, science, English, history, foreign language, etc. We must educate our children to at least the level of those with whom they will compete for the high-wage jobs of the future.

    3- An Inspiring Culture – can ordinary American kids, middle and low income, achieve at extraordinary academic levels? BASIS proves they can. That is reassuring and inspiring!

    4- A School Year of 180 days – lengthening the school day, week, year will take lots of debate and will add to cost. Kids need to compete now. That is not to say that many children would not benefit from a longer day, week and year - it just will add to cost.

    5- Sustainable Economics for a “Free Public Education” - for an annual cost of $6,500 per student, BASIS is delivering a world-standard, free public education – that cost is below the national per student average of $8,700 and well below my daughters’ private school tuition of $15,000/yr in Memphis.

    6- Passionate, Expert, Inspiring Teachers - all of BASIS teachers are professionals with Master’s or PhD’s in their fields of expertise. Over 80% are NOT certified teachers.

    7- College and Graduate School As Students' Goal – 100% of BASIS students go on to top colleges and most plan for graduate school.

    8- Entirely replicable – no new curriculum needs to be developed; no major foundation grants are needed to fund start-up; no corporate contributions are required to sustain the school. This model can be scaled quickly across the country and is affordable to ANY community.

    My film may have disappointed the pedagogues, but for helping typical Americans and their typical local and State leaders envision a way to bring American children up to world-standard, at a price we can afford, I contend BASIS is “The 21st Century Solution.”

    So, I used BASIS as a conceptual metaphor, much as the film uses time lapse photography, slow-motion video, a tiny bird at the end and the song Une Annee Sans Lumiere by Arcade Fire: metaphorically.

    Bob Compton

  3. But Bob -- ANY school can succeed if it just kicks out the problem kids! Every existing school in American can succeed if it just kicks out the problem kids.

    If kicking out the problem kids is the key to insta-magical-miracle success and all schools should just do that, it's most efficient by far not to start any new schools at all, but to simply apply your amazing miracle success formula to the schools we already have. Just think how simple that would be!

  4. Don't forget that every school would also succeed and have good stats if they kick out all the problem students and those that are truant, too. The stats would go through the roof. However, schools are meant to help students, who have social, academic, and emotional problems, to see that opportunities are out there for them. They can only do this through an education. Unfortunately, those run schools rely on stats so much that their best option to keep the stats high is to kick out the students. John Dewey look what the learning institution has turned into?

  5. I agree totally with 8:40 and 12:08. They're in the real world.

    Tell you what, Bob: How about reducing the size of my public school music class below 50? The DoE loves those numbers -- cost efficient, right? -- and our disgrace of a union just signs on the dotted line every contract.

    I'm one of those old style teachers reinforcing math through music (fractions, you know: quarters, eighths, that kind of thing), but with all grades in the same class, that's 9th through 12th, and with the majority of the kids special ed and holdovers with some reading at the 2nd grade level (!) and others going to college next year (though probably remedial), PLEASE tell me how all that hi-falutin' advice about accountability, global standards and all that other corpo-drivel changes one damn thing for my kids.

    What needs fixing doesn't get fixed because the agenda of these people you talk about -- Obama and all his controllers and flunkies -- is not to help the kids. The agenda is to help corporations and political careers.

    I invite you to visit my classroom, any day, any time. See how we are trying to cope when administrations and pols set us all up this way.

  6. Dumb Bob, meet cranky Norm. You two should meeet up for a dinner date. How does meeting up on 11-13 around 5pm at Murray Bergtraum HS sound?


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