Politicians pushing corporate education reform should be ashamed

In her latest blog post, Diane Ravitch, the nation’s leading public education advocate provides us with yet another reminder about why politicians like Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy should should be ashamed of what he has done to our public school teachers and our public schools…

Florida Teacher Donates $400 Bonus to NPE to Fight VAM and Ither Failed Reforms!

Kim Cook, a first-grade teacher in Florida, received a bonus of $400. She donated it to the Network for Public Education to fight the failed ideas of corporate reform, which prevail in her state.

She is the second teacher to donate their bonus to NPE to fight fake reforms that demean teachers and distort education. Not long ago, Kevin Strang, an instrumental music teacher from Florida, donated his $800 bonus, awarded because he teaches in a school that was rated A.

On behalf of NPE, we thank Kim and Kevin. We hope other teachers will follow their lead. We pledge to fight for you and to advance the day when non-educators and politicians stop meddling with your work and let you teach.

I asked Kim to tell me why she decided to do this. This was her reply:

“Hi Diane,

“Yes, I donated $400. I am a first grade teacher in Alachua County, Florida. I was inspired by Kevin Strang’s donation last month. I, too, received bonus money, not because I work at an “A” school, but because my school’s grade went from a “D” to a “C.”

“Here’s the catch: I don’t teach at the school that determines my school’s grade. I teach at Irby Elementary School in Alachua, Florida, which only serves grades K-2. My school’s grade is determined by students at the grade 3-5 school up the road.

“I have only been working at Irby Elementary for three years, so I have never met–never even passed in the hall–the fourth and fifth grade students whose FCAT scores determined my school’s grade. Even if I had, I completely disagree with high-stakes testing and tying teachers’ bonuses, salaries, and evaluations to those scores. I am donating my bonus money to NPE because I am fighting the failed policies of education “reformers” in every way that I can. Thank you for providing me an avenue through which to do that!

“Here is some background information on me. I am the Florida teacher that received an unsatisfactory evaluation based on students I had never taught at the same time I was named my school’s teacher of the year. My story made it into Valerie Strauss’ The Answer Sheet.

I am also the lead plaintiff in Florida Education Association/NEA’s lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of VAM.

With deep appreciation and respect,

Kim Cook

In Florida, as in Connecticut, politicians have tied teacher evaluation programs to standardized test scores and inappropriate and fault assessment schemes.

Take a moment to read the Florida teacher’s story because it is system that is pretty similar to one Governor Malloy pushed through here in Connecticut.  In fact, a strong argument could be made that the Connecticut’s system is even worse.


Here’s the crazy story of Kim Cook, a teacher at Irby Elementary, a K-2 school which feeds into Alachua Elementary, for grades 3-5, just down the road in Alachua, Fla. She was recently chosen by the teachers at her school as their Teacher of the Year.

Her plight stems back to last spring when the Florida Legislature passed Senate Bill 736, which mandates that 40 percent of a teacher’s evaluation must be based on student scores on the state’s standardized tests, a method known as the value-added model, or VAM. It is essentially a formula that supposedly tells how much “value” a teacher has added to a student’s test score. Assessment experts say it is a terrible way to evaluate teachers but it has still been adopted by many states with the support of the Obama administration.

Since Cook’s school only goes through second grade, her school district is using the FCAT scores from the third graders at Alachua Elementary School to determine the VAM score for every teacher at her school.

Alachua Elementary School did not do well in 2011-12 evaluations that just came out; it received a D. Under the VAM model, the state awarded that school — and Cook’s school, by default — 10 points out of 100 for their D.

In this school district, there are three components to teacher evaluations:

1. A lesson study worth 20 percent. In the lesson study, small groups of teachers work together to create an exemplary lesson, observe one of the teachers implement it, critique the teacher’s performance and discuss improvement.

2. Principal appraisal worth 40 percent of overall score.

3. VAM data (scores from the standardized Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test scores for elementary schools) worth 40 percent of the overall score.

Cook received full points on her lesson study: 100 x .20 (20%) = 20 points
Cook received an 88/100 from her former principal: 88/100 x .40  (40%) = 35.2 points
On VAM data — points awarded by the state for the FCAT scores at Alachua Elementary School: 10/100 x .40 (40%) = 4 points

Total points that she received: 59.2 (Unsatisfactory)

This is her second year at Irby Elementary, where she teaches first grade. She never taught a single student who took the FCAT at Alachua Elementary last spring. The same will hold true for this year’s evaluation; 40 percent of her appraisal will be based on the scores of students she has never taught.

The Florida Education Association’s Web site says:

Every teacher will be evaluated using the new evaluation criteria and student learning growth. Veteran teachers must demonstrate Highly Effective or Effective performance; if they are rated unsatisfactory two consecutive or two out of three years, they will be placed on an annual contract then, if there is no improvement, terminated.

Here’s what Cook wrote to me in an e-mail:

I have almost 25 years of experience as a teacher. I JUST got my 2011-2012 evaluation on Friday. There is a real possibility that I will receive an unsatisfactory evaluation for this school year. I may go up to “needs improvement”, but either way, my job is in jeopardy.

Last month, the faculty and staff at my school voted for me as Irby Elementary School’s Teacher of the Year. I am so honored to have been chosen. I work with an amazing group of teachers. They are the most hardworking and talented group of women I have had the privilege to know. Yet every single teacher at my school received an evaluation of “needs improvement” or “unsatisfactory” because of this insane system that the Republican state legislators and Gov. [Rick] Scott dreamed up at the beckoning of Jeb Bush and ALEC [American Legislative Exchange Council]. My colleagues and I deserve better than this.”

  • buygoldandprosper

    Danny Malloy has no shame.
    He makes crack whores look honorable.
    The entire Malloy clan is morally corrupt and specifically, Dan, has
    completely sold out to advance what he perceives is his career.
    Absolutely sickening.

    • brutus2011

      Agreed. Malloy and all career politicians are traitors to our republic. Our system is to be of limited government with those qualified to serve as representatives of the people to do so briefly and then return to private life. And no, I am not a tea-party person. But I do believe in limited government. Why? To not do so invites tyranny. For proof, look at our state, and country for that matter, today and tell me that the moneyed class has not bought “our” elected representative and that even our children are peddled off to feed some obscure “bottom-line” somewhere.

  • Bill Morrison

    I wish to make a donation of $1,000 to the Network for Public Education. How do I do so?

  • Linda174

    How to exit the common core memorandum of understanding by Mercedes Schneider


  • Linda174

    Stop the federally sanctioned child abuse of our children:


  • Linda174

    Comment on Ravitch blog, NYC teacher:
    Michael Fiorillo
    April 12, 2014 at 12:44 pm
    The Final Solution to the Teacher Question:

    – Proclaim austerity for the public schools, while continuing to expand charters.

    – Create incentives for non-educators to be in positions of power, from Assistant Principal on up.

    – Maintain a climate of scapegoating and witch hunting for “bad teachers,” who are posited as the cause of poverty and student failure, doing everything possible to keep debate from addressing systemic inequities.

    – Neutralize and eventually eliminate teacher unions (the first part largely accomplished in the case of the AFT). As part of that process, eliminate tenure, seniority and defined benefit pensions.

    – Create and maintain a climate of constant disruption and destabilization, with cascading mandates that are impossible to keep up or comply with.

    – Create teacher evaluations based on Common Core-related high stakes tests for which no curriculum has been developed. Arbitrarily impose cut scores on those exams that cast students, teachers and schools as failing, as was done by NYS Education Commissioner John King and Regent Meryl Tisch.

    – Get teachers and administrators, whether through extortion (see RttT funding) threats or non-stop propaganda, to accept the premises of “data-driven” everything, even when that data is irrelevant, opaque, contradictory, or just plain wrong.

    – Get everyone to internalize the premises and language of so-called education reform:

    – Parents are not citizens with rights, but “customers” who are provided “choices”
    that are in fact restricted to the decisions of those in charge, based on policies
    developed by an educational industrial complex made up of foundations,
    McKinsey-type consultants and captive academics.

    – Students are “valuable assets” and “products,” whose value is to be enhanced
    (see the definition of VAM) before being offered to employers.

    – Teachers are fungible units of “human capital,” to be deployed as policy-makers
    and management see fit. Since human capital depreciates over time, it
    needs to be replaced by fresh capital, branded as “the Best and Brightest.”

    – Schools are part of an investment “portfolio,” explicitly including the real estate
    they inhabit, and are subject to the “demands” of the market and the preferences
    of policy-makers and management.

    – Create an intimidating, punitive environment, where the questions and qualms are either disregarded or responded to with threats.

    – Get the university education programs on board under threat of continuing attack. Once they are on board, go after them anyway, and deregulate the teacher licensing process so that it’s easier to hire temps.

    – Eliminate instruction that is deemed irrelevant to the most narrowly-cast labor market needs of employers, getting rid of art, music, dance, electives, etc., thereby reducing the focus of education to preparation for passive acceptance of low-wage employment.

    – Embed software and electronic gadgets in every facet of the classroom and school, from reading to test-taking, with the intention of automating as much classroom input and output as possible.

    – Use the automation of the classroom to enlarge class size – something explicitly promoted by Bill Gates – and transform teachers into overseers of student digital production that is connected to massive databases, so that every keystroke is data to be potentially monetized.

    – Cash your bonus checks, exercise your stock options, and declare Excellence and Civil Rights achieved.

  • Linda174

    Steven Colbert takes on the common core….the national joke is officially a national joke:


  • Linda174

    Exposing the lies from Jeb Bush and his statistical shell game.

    Oink, oink Jeb…sucking off the public teat for personal gain while feigning concern for public school children:


  • buygoldandprosper

    Another example of a politician with no shame:


    While his credentials are a bit more impressive than our current governor, the same mentality is there. We are serving our elected officials in this state.

    How is Edith Prague doing in her job these days?

    Another standout:
    “When Connecticut Innovations Inc., a quasi-public state agency, sought an executive assistant to its executive director and CEO in the spring, 199 hopefuls applied. The winner: Leslie Larson, wife of seven-term U.S. Rep. John Larson. The documents Mrs. Larson submitted with her application stretch our faith in fairness”
    And my favorite…CATHY MALLOY, snagging almost $200K a year as head of GHAC. From restaurant manager, to rape crisis event planner, to video artist!

  • cindy

    Wonder if Malloy will attend Camp Philos: http://www.dailygazette.com/news/2014/apr/13/0413_FossCol/

    “Next month, he and other reformers will gather at Camp Philos to discuss strategy and ideas. I have no idea what will come out of this meeting. But if it’s anything like what we’ve already seen from the education reform movement, I doubt I’ll be impressed.”