Thursday, March 22, 2012

Shael Channels Leo at HST 101 Event


I was struck by the similarity in his [Shael] remarks to the way that Leo Casey, playing his usual role as the left face of the union leadership, tried to sell the evaluation deal.   
---- Peter Lamphere, commenting on the HST 101 debate Monday
#HST Shael: echos Leo Casey argument that stand tests not as crucial. Who wrote whose script?  --- my tweet at the event
Remember how Leo Casey defended inviting Bill Gates to be keynote speaker at AFT convention that they were entering into a "dialogue" with him?  ---a parent activist

Before I get into the similarity between the lines being put out by Shael and Leo -- affirming my contention that there is a lot of commonality of interests between the UFT and Tweed --- ie, getting rid of vet teachers, closing large high schools which the UFT consistently supported until recently, the upcoming joint support of Quinn for mayor by both Bloomberg and the UFT, that the UFT role is to be an intermediary between ed deformers and the rank and file rather than an absolute advocate --- putting out the line "if we are not part of the conversation"---yada, yada, yada --- I want to raise this diversion.

I ran into a top-level principal who loves the job [less and less] and gets raves from teachers yesterday ---whom I barely know and have had few discussions with on education who said "Shael is ________ [very uncomplimentary]." I was surprised as this person is not someone I would expect this from.

So when even a guy like Shael (who comes off as a reasonably nice guy -- a real educator who has sold out, as opposed to the bloodless Mark Sternberg who channels John White) put out there by Tweed to sell their crap has little credibility with high quality principals, that is a sign of their abject failure at all levels. The principal continued, "By the time Bloomberg leaves the system will be in such shambles it will take 20 years to put something back together and by that time I will be far, far away."

So, about the similarities between the Shael and Leo lines on ed eval ---to such an extent that I was surprised Monday night. If you have a chance check out the video –

HST 101

Part 1: http://vimeo.com/38901880 (1 hour)

Part 2: http://vimeo.com/38919400  (51 minutes)L

Listen to Shael (I hate writing his hyphenated name) and tell me he doesn't come off like Leo Casey, whose credibility with people at the school level has suffered a similar fate as Shael's has at the same level. I don't mean the usual suspects like me but people who have not been active before but highly respected teachers who are aware of the debates like Assailed Teacher who are viewing Leo more and more like principals view Shael the shill.

In part 2, Peter's partner Dao Tran -- they were there with their daughter -- speaks about the impact of high stakes testing on their school where trips are banned in pre-k.

Here is Peter Lamphere's full take, posted March 20.
The forum last night in Brooklyn was excellent - kudos to the parent networks that organized it.  Shael certainly got grilled by a variety of angry parents, principals and teachers about the nature of the testing regime. 
He, of course, played his usually role as the Bloomberg education regime's left face, by reminding parents how many progressive schools Bloomberg had opened up and mentioning his "doubts" about the system as highlighted by Anna Phillips in her writeup (below).  However, he stuck to his guns that Bloomberg administration had generated more of a dialogue about learning in the schools by their emphasis on "results" (how can a dictatorial regime that brooks no opposition be said to have a dialogue?), and the potentially progressive nature of the critical thinking tests that they were in the process of designing (or paying Pearson millions to design).

I was struck by the similarity in his remarks to the way that Leo Casey, playing his usual role as the left face of the union leadership, tried to sell the evaluation deal.  Both of them emphasized the benefits of multiple measures, focused on how few teachers would really be evaluated by tests (because value added will supposedly only be calculated for English and Math teachers), and touted the idea that the "local 20%" would not be based on standardized tests.

There was a particularly revealing moment on this angle when Elijah Hawkes talked about the particular rigorous portfolio assessment that the students at his former school go through (they are part of the Consortium, a group of schools that use student presentations of projects instead of the Regents).  Shael used this to talk about the value of performance-based, but not portfolio, assessment as part of a potential local evaluation deal.

I believe the eliding of portfolio based assessment with "performance based" tests is a key sleight of hand that will be pulled in the coming year as the city and the union try to sell whatever they come up with as an evaluation deal. When I questioned Leo Casey on his blog about what kind of "performance based" option he thought the union could negotiate with the city for the "local 20%," he basically said that something along the lines of a Social Studies DBQ essay from the Regents was on the table before talks broke down in December.  

So the much touted, higher-order thinking that Shael would like to promote and that the union thinks it can sell, turns out to be exactly the same as the Regents' exams that have been hammering our students for years.

However, if teachers and parents continue to show the kind critical engagement that the audience did last night, which didn't have any patience for Shael's salesmanship, we have nothing to worry about.
Here is Anna Philips' report on the debate at Schoolbook.

1 comment:

  1. I will never trust anything that comes out of Leo's mouth. His Edwize piece last week attacking Carol Burris' movement was disgusting.

    My question is why didn't the UFT insist that charters must also adhere to these evaluations?? Aren't the exempt?? Yet not one word of outrage from our union leaders.

    The thing is, they develop their scripts like a finely tuned campaign, deliver what we want to hear, then when push comes to shove, give the politicians and reformers what they want. They co-opted their opponents (New Action and a particular blogger) and try to destroy those of us who won't drink the Kool Aid.

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