Two More Gone – The Revolving Door At DPI

A July 8th Facebook posting on the Tales of an Educated Debutante blog page gave a list of recent departures from the NC Department of Public Instruction.

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At the end of that post it asks, “Who’s next?”

Well, two more people are reported to be leaving in the next few days.

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Since March of this year, seven of the higher profile positions have seen turnover.

Hopefully in November of 2020 there will be even more turnover in the highest office in DPI.

 

Could Someone Please Share This With Mark Johnson & Rep. Craig Horn? “The Messy Reality of Personalized Learning”

“His larger “argument, though—that the alliance between education policymakers and billionaire technologists could undermine the role of teachers and the public sphere—has only become more relevant.”

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A July 10th piece in The New Yorker and also posted by the Hechinger Report entitled “The messy reality of personalized learning” might be something every public education advocate in North Carolina should read.

Then go back and review all that Mark Johnson has said about “personalizing” learning here in North Carolina.

New, personalized learning technology allows teachers to get the information they need about students’ progress without high-stakes testing. Especially in the early grades, progress checks can feel like a normal, engaging lesson instead of an examination. In many cases, students won’t even know we are checking in on their progress.” – Mark Johnson from “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not gonna test it anymore!” in January of 2019 on EdNC.org.

“At DPI, we want to transform our education system to one that uses 21st century best practices so students and educators have access to unique learning experiences personalized for their individual needs and aspirations.” – Mark Johnson from “North Carolina Public Schools Accelerating into 2018” in December of 2017 on EdNC.org.

“Our society uses technology to personalize our news, social media, entertainment options, and even fast-food orders.” – Mark Johnson from “North Carolina Public Schools Accelerating into 2018” in December of 2017 on EdNC.org.

Then go back and see the program that Rep. Craig Horn wanted to bring in to create a virtual pre-K for low-income students.

 

School Performance Grades – One Of The Many Things That Need Changing When Reducing Testing

There has been really no question that we as a state have become addicted to arbitrary standardized testing. Public school advocates have been saying that for years. Mark Johnson ran a campaign for state superintendent with test reduction as a primary platform.

And now there is this bill that has gained a lot of traction in this NCGA session: Senate Bill 621.

testing1

What this bill would do according to the News & Observer‘s recent report is:

▪ Eliminate the N.C. Final Exams starting in the 2019-20 school year. These 20+ state tests are given to students of teachers who don’t have results from a state end-of-grade (EOG) test or state end-of-course (EOC) test that can be used to evaluate their performance.

▪Replace the state EOG exams given in grades 3-8 in reading, math and science with the N.C. Check-Ins, which are shorter exams given to students three times a year in each subject. The Check-Ins are currently voluntary but would become mandatory beginning in the 2022-23 school year.

▪ Eliminate the four remaining state EOC exams for biology, English and math typically taken by high school students. They’d be replaced by the ACT now taken by all of the state’s high school juniors or by a “nationally recognized assessment of high school achievement and college readiness.” This change would go into effect in the 2020-21 school year.

▪ Require the state Department of Public Instruction to review the third-grade reading EOG to determine whether it should be modified to better meet the needs of the Read To Achieve program. The state has spent more than $150 million since 2012 under Read To Achieve, but third-grade reading scores have worsened over time.

There is more to the bill and the hint that the ACT will be used as an overall test to grade student achievement will be explored later. This post is to comment on how the state should overhaul its use of the School Performance Grading system.

NC is the only state (out of 16 which use a school grading system) that puts more emphasis on proficiency than growth and counts proficiency for 80% for a school performance grade. That proficiency is calculated by student test scores. Reducing testing but not changing the school performance grading dynamic ultimately leads to a rather negative effect: fewer tests will have much more power over proficiency grades for schools. In other words, fewer tests now have much more effect on schools. That’s increasing pressure on schools and students.

Ironic that a bill meant to reduce stress in students and schools might have a totally different outcome if something is not done about how those school performance grades are calculated. It begs for more serious consideration to at least alter the ratio of achievement and growth or just doing what really needs to be done – abolishing the school performance grading system.

 

 

 

 

 

What Lawmakers Are Really Saying Is That They Actually Fear A Well-Educated General Public

Two quotes highlighted in a July 10th WRAL editorial are really glaring. And that editorial should be required reading because it correctly states that the NCGA powers-that-be are more interested in giving more corporate tax cuts than fully-funding our public schools.

It was a stunning confession. It says far more than state Rep. Craig Horn probably intended when he recently talked to a New York Times reporter. It revealed a basic truth about the priorities of the leaders of North Carolina’s legislature.

We simply don’t have the money to provide a quality pre-K experience to every child in North Carolina, even though I absolutely agree that a face-to-face, high-quality pre-K is the best option,” Horn told the reporter.

What! North Carolina doesn’t have the money? How could that be? Just look at the bragging from the state’s top legislative leader about our economy.

“The financial and economic state of our state is the strongest it has ever been. North Carolina is booming,” said state Senate leader Phil Berger.

What those two quotes also say in a more covert way is that people like Craig Horn and Phil Berger really do not want to fulfill their obligation as outlined by the state constitution. Why? Because there exists a fear that drives them to do what they do as far as legislation is concerned.

This is what the NC State Constitution states:

(1) General and uniform system: term. The General Assembly shall provide by taxation and otherwise for a general and uniform system of free public schools, which shall be maintained at least nine months in every year, and wherein equal opportunities shall be provided for all students.

There is one thing that the current powers in the North Carolina General Assembly fear most.

It is not unclean water.
It is not a budget deficit.
It sure as hell isn’t climate change.
It’s not even gerrymandered maps, although all of those weigh in the equation.

It is having a well-educated general public – one that would not allow current lawmakers to be in a position of power to continue to promote an agenda that absolutely favors a few over those they should be helping. And their actions over these last eight-plus years have been a recipe in ensuring their policies remain intact.

Many of those have been very apparent. There is the current debacle of gerrymandered legislative districts. Even the redrawn maps have shown a more-than-obsessive addiction to hold on to majorities in Raleigh.

There was a voter-ID law that was struck down in the judicial system. A determined effort to water down minority voices might have been one of the most open secrets in this state. And now the voter ID law recently passed still cannot decide what ID’s it will accept.

But those unconstitutional actions coincided with other egregious acts that have weakened public education to a breaking point – one that makes the 2020 elections so very important. Those actions have been assaults on public schools coated with a layer of propaganda that keeps telling North Carolinians that we need to keep reforming public education.

What once was considered one of the most progressive and strongest public school systems in the South and the nation all of a sudden needed to be reformed? What necessitated that? Who made that decision? Look to the lawmakers who saw public education and the allotted budgeting for public education dictated by the state constitution as an untapped reservoir of money to funnel to private entities.

The public started to see test scores that appeared to be less than desirable even though what and who was being tested and the format of the testing was in constant flux.

The public started to see “school performance grades” that did nothing more than track how poverty affected student achievement. The “schools were failing” to actually help cover up what lawmakers were refusing to do to help people before they even had a chance to succeed in the classroom.

The teaching profession was beginning to be shaped by a business model that does not discern a public service from a profit minded investment scheme which changed a profession of professionals into one that favors short term contractors.

But there are two large indicators that voters in North Carolina should really pay attention to when it comes to the NCGA’s relentless pursuit to quell their fears of a well-educated general public – money spent per pupil and tuition costs to state supported universities.

Below is one of many different data tables that shows how willfully the NCGA has made sure to keep public schools from thriving (from  the NC Justice Center’s July 2016 analysis).

Inflation-Adjusted-2

And how that per pupil expenditure truly affects schools becomes even clearer when you read reporting that clearly shows how funds are used (and stretched) by school systems.

Furthermore, resources get more expensive over time.

Take Kris Nordstrom’s piece entitled “As new school year commences, shortage of basic supplies demonstrates legislature’s failure to invest”.

This table from that report should be easy to decipher.

supplies

Simply put, this is a great example of truth-telling and an equally fantastic exposure of the very fear that the NCGA has of thriving public schools. Nordstrom states,

“When adjusting for enrollment and inflation, school funding has been cut in the following areas since leadership of the General Assembly switched hands in 2010 (a time period in which the state was already struggling to find resources as a result of the Great Recession): classroom teachers, instructional support personnel (counselors, nurses, librarians, etc.), school building administrators (principals and assistant principals), teacher assistants, transportation, low wealth schools, disadvantaged students, central office, limited English proficiency, academically gifted, small counties, driver training, and school technology. Funding streams for teacher professional development and mentoring of beginning teachers have been eliminated completely.”

  • Don’t we have a state surplus?
  • Don’t we spend millions on validate vouchers that have shown no improvement in student outcome?
  • Don’t we spend millions in legal fees defending laws that are unconstitutional?

The answer is “YES” to all of these.

Remember, our lawmakers are bragging that we are economically thriving. So who is profiting?

The Pew Research Center for U.S. Politics & Policy conducted a national survey on the attitudes on whether higher education has had a positive or negative effect on our country (http://www.people-press.org/2017/07/10/sharp-partisan-divisions-in-views-of-national-institutions/). It’s rather disturbing.

More disturbing is that it is not surprising.

PP_17.06.30_institutions_lede_party

Inside Higher Ed highlighted the Pew survey. Paul Fain in his report opened up with this:

“In dramatic shift, more than half of Republicans now say colleges have a negative impact on the U.S., with wealthier, older and more educated Republicans being least positive”(https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2017/07/11/dramatic-shift-most-republicans-now-say-colleges-have-negative-impact).

Might want to see who controls policy in Raleigh.

And those “wealthier, older, and more educated Republicans” who are in control in Raleigh have also enabled state-supported colleges and universities to become more expensive.

At the beginning of 2017 year, WUNC published a report called “Incoming UNC Students Likely To See Tuition Increase” (http://wunc.org/post/incoming-unc-students-likely-see-tuition-increase#stream/0). In it there is a data table that shows the steady and steep increase in tuition costs for UNC undergraduate resident tuition.

tution_increases_through_the_years

And yes, we are still a bargain compared to other states, but that is an over 70% increase that does not include housing, board, food, supplies, books, travel, and all of the other expenses sure to accompany a college experience.

Is it supposed to make sense that rising tuition costs should accompany lower per-pupil expenditure in public secondary schools all the while boasting of a state surplus in a state that currently has racially gerrymandered legislative districts and an increased investment in a rather robust effort to privatize public schools?

Apparently “yes” to many in Raleigh.

Which is why they say “no” so often to people.

Dear NCGA, You Just Made Financial Literacy As A HS Requirement – So Practice What You Preach & Expand Medicaid

When 500,000+ people in the state of North Carolina could have health insurance if North Carolina simply expanded Medicaid as so many other states already have, then you are dealing with a legislative body that is not interested in helping many stay healthy.

Medicaid expansion would be a great step in combating the forces of poverty with which over a fifth of our public school students fight against every day. And advocating for students is advocating for the very things that make students succeed optimally.

Simply put:

  • Students who do not get the basics on a daily basis have a hard time achieving in school.
  • Students who cannot get health care have a hard time achieving in school.
  • Students who worry about loved ones who cannot afford healthcare have an extra burden upon their shoulders when they come to school.

In October of 2016, the North Carolina Poverty Research Fund published a report entitled“Putting a Face on Medicaid Expansion in North Carolina.”

The title graphic literally explains it all.

medicaid

Look at that map closely and imagine transposing it on top of a map that shows the school performance grades on a state basis. In fact, you almost can.

EdNC.org released a new version of its Data Dashboard that allows users to filter for different variables when viewing data pertaining to NC’s school performance grades.

This is what the most recent school performance grades look like when viewing them as plotted on a map of the state.

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Look at that more closely.

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And look at the numbers of student body percentages that received free & reduced lunches as correlated with the school performance grades.

map3

No school that had 0 – 25% free and reduced lunch (low poverty) received a score of “D” of “F”. The other bars explain themselves.

Now look at that map of school performance grades right next to the map from the UNC report.

maps

There is a strong correlation between the school performance grades and the percentages of uninsured people within each county.

Of course it is not a one to one, but it is a strong correlation – enough to literally see how expanding Medicaid could put so many more students into a position of better health that would in turn put them in a position of better school achievement and learning.

The idea that we as a state cannot expand Medicaid is ludicrous. We as taxpayers already put money into the national coffers to pay for Medicaid . In fact, by not expanding Medicaid in this state is like not reclaiming federal tax dollars that we as North Carolinians already pay in the form of health insurance for hundreds of thousands of our fellow North Carolinians.

And we literally just passed a mandatory financial literacy course for every public school student.

Sen. Jerry Tillman, How’s That ISD Working For You?

From June of 2016 concerning the Achievement School District, now the Innovative School District (ISD):

With just days remaining in the N.C. General Assembly’s short session, leaders on the Senate Education Committee have given their approval to achievement school districts, a GOP-backed model of school reform that may clear for-profit charter takeovers of low-performing schools.

Committee Chair Jerry Tillman, a Republican who supports the measure, declared the “ayes” to have won the vote Friday, although to some listeners, the voice vote appeared to be evenly split or favoring the opposition.

House Bill 1080, the long-gestating work of Rep. Rob Bryan, a Republican from Mecklenburg County, will allow state leaders to create a pilot program pulling five chronically low-performing schools into one statewide district. From there, the state could opt to hand over control of the schools, including hiring and firing powers, to for-profit charter operators.

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“They will make great growth,” declared Tillman. “That’s a fact.”

Also from June of 2016:

Other critics pointed out a similar system in Tennessee had not produced better academic results. But Sen. Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph, said the Tennessee plan tried to do too much, too quickly.

“These models have worked and will work if you don’t go too big,” Tillman said. “These schools will do a great job for these kids. It’s something we need to try.”

Let’s clarify a couple of things:

  • No model of this ASD  / ISD has ever worked. The Tennessee model has had years to work itself out. It didn’t.
  • There is only one school in the current NC ISD. It doesn’t get any “don’t go too big” than that.
  • The guy who brought up the legislation, former Rep. Rob Bryan, works for the very charter company that currently presides over the ISD in North Carolina.

And now there is this:

The state program designed to turn around North Carolina’s lowest performing schools is now without a superintendent or a principal.

That’s the opening line from an article just posted in the News & Observer entitled “NC program to take over low-performing schools loses superintendent and principal.

An “innovative” school district run by an out-of-state for-profit charter chain that employs the former NC rep who pushed it through the NCGA with a voice vote presided over by Sen. Jerry Tillman that has only one school will be getting its third superintendent and its second principal – after only one year in operation.

So, Sen. Tillman, how is this working for you?

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Surprise: School Calendar Flexibility Has Been “Shelved” Again This Year By NCGA

North Carolina is one of only one of 14 states that had state laws that governed school calendars?

school calendar

The above graphic is from the Feb. 2017 Final Report to the Joint Legislative
Program Evaluation Oversight Committee on school calendars.

What is also shows is that North Carolina was at the time was one of the TWO states in the entire country whose laws dictated when a school could start and when it had to end.

There was a chance for change on the horizon.

From a Feb, 2019 edition of the Winston-Salem Journal:

An N.C. House education committee on Tuesday began an effort that could allow North Carolina’s school systems more flexibility in planning school-year calendars.

The Education K-12 Committee held a nonvoting session during which its members discussed a controversial 2004 state law that prohibits public-school systems from opening before Aug. 26 and closing after June 10 without permission from the State Board of Education.

State Rep. Donny Lambeth, R-Forsyth, estimates that more than 200 school-calendar bills have been submitted in the legislature in the past six years, with none of them clearing a committee because of stiff opposition from the state’s travel and tourism industry.

200 bills and none have made it past committee in a legislature that had a super-majority  in those six years because of opposition from another industry.

AND IT HAPPENED AGAIN THIS YEAR.

From a July 5th report from the Winston-Salem Journal:

Public schools statewide will retain their late-August opening dates after a House bill attempting to move up the schedule by a week was shelved in the state Senate.

Although that outcome was expected, the legislation did clear one chamber after similar bills have been dead-on-arrival at the General Assembly in recent years…

House Bill 79 would have allowed public school systems to align their calendars with local community colleges, which typically start a week earlier and not before Aug. 15.

The bill cleared the House by a 100-10 vote March 28.

However, HB79 was sent directly to the Senate Rules and Operations committee. That typically is a sign a key Senate Republican leader wanted the legislation on the back burner, if not to be heard at all.

“There is no chance (for HB79), as I believe the tourism industry has once again convinced legislators that starting school early would hurt tourism,” said Rep. Donny Lambeth, R-Forsyth.

We need to have the ability as local school systems to be able to have exams done before the winter break instead of having the “fall” semester end the day before Groundhog Day.

We need to have the flexibility to not have to consider forgiving days of school because of weather and other natural occurrences.

We need to have the flexibility to allow for schools to plan for professional development and workdays that actually help teachers prepare.

We need to have flexibility to allow schools to not have to start classes until after two football games have been played.

A lot of high school students still have sports and other activities that bring them back routinely to their schools before the school year starts in early August.

And until the law is changed, students still will have to go to school 180 days a year.

Oddly, it is funny to think that the travel and tourism industry has this much power over our school calendars.

For This Teacher, Bonus Pay Does Not Work. Never Has.

Remember this from February of 2018?

berger

Sen. Phil Berger’s words in reference to the teacher merit bonuses based on 2017 scores reflected a growing willful ignorance that is still being bred in secret chambers in Raleigh amongst GOP stalwarts.

In fact, his statement was so preposterous and outlandish that the only thing keeping this teacher from laughing out loud was the fact that Berger’s reasoning was more the norm than the exception for the state’s most powerful lawmaker.

There are a couple of places in the statement that immediately seem incongruous. North Korea strikes me as more of a communistic totalitarian state. The government controls everything. Actually, the government owns everything. When I think of a socialist country, I tend to think of countries whose economies provide large “welfare” and social services to all citizens like Norway, Finland, Denmark, Belgium, or even Ireland. Many talk about the “socialized” medicine in Canada and England. Putting North Korea in that context seems a little extreme. Besides, many socialized countries have education systems in which the teaching profession is much more highly revered than here.

Oh, and Sen. Berger also seemed to forget that North Carolina is a “right-to-work” state. That means there are no unions. NCAE is not a union. It’s an association of education professionals. If Berger really wants to see how teacher unions work, then he should go to Chicago and New York City. Now those are unions.

But it’s the word “bonus” that seems to be most spun by Sen. Berger.

I got one last year. And the year before. In the last couple of budgets, when any of my students from my multiple sections of Advanced Placement English Language and Composition scores a passing grade of “3” or higher, I received a bonus of $50 per student. If lots of my students pass, that bonus got bigger.

AP scores for North Carolina were released yesterday. I was very proud of how my students performed. And the budget for this year has not been passed; therefore, the fate of bonuses for AP scores and other selected tests is not set in stone yet. But if they do keep the bonuses, my feelings will not change.

The longer this state keeps giving bonus pay for student scores, the more I feel that it just exacerbates the real problem: continued lack of respect for all public school teachers. In fact, I do not even consider the “bonus” a bonus. To me it’s just academic “blood money.”

One thing about bonuses is that they are highly taxed. Ironically, almost 40% of my bonuses was taken out by three different taxes every year.

25% of it went to the federal government. Some of what the feds will get may be paying for Medicaid in other states, which is ironic because we didn’t expand it here in NC. Sen. Berger was a champion in not expanding Medicaid in NC.

Almost 8% went to Social Security, which at my age may not be around when I am old enough to receive it.

Almost 6% went to the state. That’s actually kind of funny to think about because the state gave me money to give back to them.

Two years ago, I did not keep the bonus. I wrote a check to my school because the school needed it more.

I did the same thing this year along with helping some kids with special needs. And don’t think I do not need the money. I do – still have two kids, car payment, mortgage, therapy for a special needs child, etc.

It is hard for me to consider taking this money, especially when I know why the bonus is given and the fact that it doesn’t really belong to me because so many more people at my school helped my students pass my particular AP test.

I know that there are other teachers I know well who will receive bonuses for their students passing AP tests. If they keep that money, that’s their business. They need the money. They have families and needs. I will not in any way ask them what they will do with it.

There are many reasons for my opinion, and all are rooted in principles and respect, but if I had a chance to tell Sen. Berger why I feel that his statement is rooted in political “newspeak,” I would talk about the following:

  1. I do not need a carrot stick. If getting a bonus to get students to perform better really works, then this should have been done a long time ago. It’s funny to think of rewarding me for my students working harder and not other teachers who do absolute wonders in the classroom that do not get measured.
  2. This creates an atmosphere of competition. I did not get into teaching so that I could compete with my fellow teachers and see who makes more money, but rather collaborate with them.
  3. I did not take those tests. The students took the tests. Students need to be able to harness their own motivation and hopefully I can couple it with my motivation. Yet many of these students are taking eight classes, participating in extracurricular activities, and helping families. Plus, with all of the testing that we put on students that takes away from actual instructional time is staggering. Sometimes, I am amazed at what our students actually accomplish in light of the gravity they are placed under.
  4. I was not the only person who taught them. To say that the success of my students on the AP English Language and Composition Test solely rested on my performance is ludicrous. While the cliché’ “It takes a village” might be overused, I do believe that the entire school’s faculty and staff has something to do with not only my students’ success, but my own.
  5. Bonus pay does not work. It’s like merit pay. There is really no evidence that it helps public schools. Remember the ABC’s from the late 1990’s and the early 2000’s? Yep, I do too. So should Sen. Berger.
  6. The state does not have a reputation of fully funding their initiatives. Again, remember the ABC’s? I still do. Those bonuses dried up because they were not fully funded. And after the bonuses are taken away in the future (which they probably will), will the expectations of student performance be lessened? History says that it will not.
  7. My class is not more important as others. They all matter.
  8. This sets a dangerous precedent in measuring students and teachers. Effective public schools are collaborative communities, not buildings full of contractors who are determined to outperform others for the sake of money. And when teachers are forced to focus on the results of test scores, teaching ceases from being a dynamic relationship between student and teacher, but becomes a transaction driven by a carrot on an extended stick.
  9. This is a reward, but far from showing respect. Many teachers got a raise in the past four years, but again that is an “average” raise. Bonuses in this case seem more like “hush money” and a means to brag that lawmakers seem to care about teacher compensation. But if Berger really respected teachers, he would do more for them than give “bonuses” to a few of them. He would reward them with salaries comparable with the rest of the nation. He would restore due-process rights for new teachers, he would give back graduate degree pay, he would stop measuring schools with a defeatist model, and he would restore longevity pay.
  10. It’s pure grandstanding. There is uncontrolled charter school growth. There are loosened sanctions on for-profit virtual schools. There are massive amount of money going to Opportunity Grants which will no doubt fill the coffers of schools that do not even teach the same curriculum as those teachers you want to “reward” with these bonuses. There is a lawsuit between our puppet state superintendent and the state school board Berger helped appoint, and an ISD district still out there. There is the lowered per pupil expenditure. All of this affects the very schools that Berger thinks a bonus will help to hide.

Sen. Berger thinks that bonuses are part of the solution. Rather, it’s a symptom of a bigger problem.

But if he wants to make comparisons with North Korea, then he might want to look at his own actions in promoting unconstitutional mandates that gerrymander districts to ensure certain people remain in power and that suppress minority voters so they do not have a voice.

And there are so many excellent teachers who will never receive a bonus because the work they do in advancing kids can never be measured by the eyes of the narrow-minded who have no idea of what happens inside of a classroom.

Like Phil Berger.

About That Charlotte Observer Op-Ed From iStation’s President & COO

Istation will help NC students read and save teachers time.” – That’s the title of the op-ed written by Ossa Fisher, the President & COO of iStation, the new reading software that Mark Johnson unilaterally decided to use to replace the existing mClass for the Read to Achieve initiative.

fisher

It appeared in the Charlotte Observer this past week.

If you have not read Justin Parmenter’s work that investigates the iStation contract, then please do so. Simply go to Notes From The Chalkboard. The purpose of this particular blog post is to not talk about the manner in which iStation came to NC. Parmenter’s posts already do that extremely well.

This post is in response to the op-ed itself and in response to why it appears in the Charlotte Observer in the first place because what Ms. Fisher tries to say here doesn’t speak half as loudly as what her op-ed actually communicates.

  • When does a software product already slated to be used in schools have to defend itself in a widely circulated newspaper? Not many times do you see a company who has already been contracted by the state feel the need to validate itself in the state’s largest newspaper because of the immense opaqueness that surrounds its coming to NC?
  • iStation’s credibility and strength of product do not stand out. Many teachers around this state have spoken out not just about the timing of new change for the 2019-2020 school year, but many have talked about how much they have invested in this past year in the previous system in place – both time and money.
  • It’s funny that Fisher talk about the failure of Read to Achieve in terms of what mClass was able to do and not do. In essence, she’s showing that Berger and Johnson are scapegoating mClass for the failures of Read to Achieve. In reality, Read to Achieve has been failing ever since it started and interestingly enough this teacher has never heard of mClass as being the culprit for its failure. One 2018 Charlotte Observer article talked about an NC State study that measured the Read to Achieve initiative. What really stood out in this study was the suggestion that the state needed to front-load more support and resources for Pre-K through second grade students as well as continuing interventions through all grades.  The study suggests Read to Achieve has been too tightly focused on third grade, saying children need help as soon as they begin school and after they’ve advanced to fourth grade.”

    Reading Ms. Fisher’s out-of-state assessment of Read to Achieve leads one to believe that mClass was the culprit. And Berger and Johnson would love nothing more than to be able to scapegoat mClass in the process.

  • iStation had a particular lobbyist working for them. Doug Miskew was the lobbyist who represented both Class Wallet and iStation. Both got contracts with DPI through Mark Johnson against the wishes of many an educator. Miskew also is a frequent donor to campaigns for those in the NCGA who champion privatizing efforts.
  • Ms. Fisher wants to talk about the how iStation works in her op-ed. Not once does she delve in the manner in which the contract has come to NC. If she is so confident about the strength of iStation, then it should have been widely tested by teacher focus groups here in North Carolina under more transparent means over a period of time. And furthermore, if the strength of iStation was so apparent, then release the notes from the selection committees and minute from the meetings. Non-disclosure agreements should no longer have power after an actual contract has been signed.
  • Ms. Fisher does not acknowledge that 88 of the 115 superintendents signed a letter asking for more clarification and time.
  • And while last on this list, but certainly not the least powerful, what Ms. Fisher’s op-ed does really communicate loudly is that teachers can speak loudly. If enough of them were allowed to have voice in the selection process to begin with, then maybe better decisions and more efficient processes can be used in finding the best resources for our students.

But in the meantime, many of us look forward to more iStation people following us on social media while we keep pushing our state superintendent to be at least some what transparent ad have the guts to answer valid questions.

 

The ISD of NC – Where Leadership Turnover is the “Innovation”

A couple of days ago, the blog posted that there was no longer an acting superintendent of the Innovative School District (ISD).

ISDsuper1

Whether LaTeesa Allen resigned or was relieved is still a matter of discovery, but it has been verified that she is no longer at the helm of the ISD.

And then yesterday as reported by The Robesonian in Robeson County:

ROWLAND — Students at Southside-Ashpole Elementary School, the state’s first member of the Innovative School District, will have a new principal in the coming academic year.

Bruce Major resigned that position effective Monday, according to Tony Helton, CEO of Achievement for All Children, which operates the school.

ISDsuper2.PNG

An “innovative” school district run by an out-of-state for-profit charter chain that has only one school will be getting its third superintendent and its second principal – after only one year in operation.