Our View: States' education laws aren't making the grade
Students in New York City public charter schools are doing well, Rhee and Klein write -- why don't all states allow the schools?
January 7th, 2013
04:00 AM ET

Our View: States' education laws aren't making the grade

By Michelle Rhee and Joel Klein, Special to CNN

Michelle RheeEditor's note: Michelle Rhee is the founder and CEO of StudentsFirst, a nonprofit organization that identifies as a “grassroots movement” to produce “meaningful results" for education on local and national levels. She previously served as chancellor of schools in Washington D.C.

Joel Klein is CEO of Amplify, the education division of News Corporation, and a StudentsFirst board member. He is the former chancellor of New York City schools.

Joel Klein(CNN) - It’s hard to watch Robert Griffin III play football and not think about education policy.

RG3, as fans call him, is a rookie who has been playing in the National Football League for all of 18 weeks, but led the Washington Redskins to twice as many victories as they had last year, their first winning season since 2007 and their first divisional championship in 13 years. Now imagine if the Redskins had a little less money to pay salaries next year and cut Griffin from the team, keeping instead a handful of bench-warmers. It sounds ridiculous, but that practice is exactly what happens in most school districts where policies require teachers to be laid off based on seniority, not talent.

Here’s another nonsensical example: There’s overwhelming evidence that quality public charter schools provide a viable education option, particularly for students from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds. In fact, test scores released in July 2012 showed New York City public charter schools outperforming traditional schools throughout the entire state, despite poverty rates 150% of that of the rest of the state and far greater numbers of minorities. Incredibly, eight states still do not allow public charter schools to exist. That means children assigned to low-performing schools in places such as Birmingham, Alabama, Louisville, Kentucky, and Omaha, Nebraska, are trapped without a choice or a way out.

These aren’t teacher problems, or student problems. These are policy problems. In far too many states, the laws and policies in place that govern education put up significant barriers to higher student achievement.

In fact, according to a first-of-its-kind report card that we published this week, nearly 90% of states earned less than a “C” grade on the subject of education policy. Ours is a new type of education report card that doesn’t look at teacher performance or students’ test scores, but instead focuses solely on the laws in place determining how our schools are allowed to operate. StudentsFirst will publish it annually, and this year no state earned higher than a B-minus.

That ought to shock parents, educators, and lawmakers alike. It indicates that no matter how hard our children study, and no matter how much passion teachers pour into their classrooms, the rules and regulations governing education are holding schools back.

There is no shortage of effective educators and innovators in our country. However, they are currently forced to operate in a bureaucratic, out-of-date environment. That’s why StudentsFirst’s singular mission moving forward is to shape policy and help pass laws at the state level.

It is clear there are three key policy areas - call them pillars - upon which a solid education system must be built. First, the teaching profession must be elevated. That means using meaningful evaluations of teachers and administrators in making personnel decisions, ensuring teachers are paid as professionals, and providing alternative means of getting qualified instructors certified and into classrooms. Second, parents must be empowered with meaningful information and choice. And third, transparency is necessary to ensure that education funding is being spent wisely and school districts are governed properly.

We hope the report cards provide a wake-up call. They can serve as roadmaps for policymakers to use in creating the kind of environments that prioritize students’ interests and give educators the tools to improve student achievement.

The report cards also provide reason for optimism. Florida, for example, is setting an example - beginning with a strong foundation for reform built by Governor Jeb Bush and continuing today, under Governor Rick Scott - by bringing more rigor and accountability into its school system. The changes are paying off; Florida students recently outperformed a majority of the country and the world in an internationally benchmarked test. Tennessee has also seen student achievement rise following the enactment of student-focused reforms there.

Some states have also shown that reform doesn’t require an incremental, years-long process. In a single year, Louisiana lawmakers adopted what may be the strongest law in the country on teacher and principal performance evaluations, and they expanded parents' access to quality school choice. Those are changes we expect will lead to dramatic student improvement.

These examples beg the question: Why do we continue to tolerate a public education system that fails our kids when we know significantly better outcomes are possible?

Our schools are supposed to be America’s great equalizers, ensuring every kid a shot at success. We know, given the right tools, that every student can achieve at high levels. Maybe sending our state education systems home with an “F” or a “D” is the strong jolt lawmakers need to remember that student-centered education policies are the foundations on which strong schools are built.

The opinions expressed are solely those of Michelle Rhee and Joel Klein.

soundoff (123 Responses)
  1. Peter A

    Follow the money. The current "reform" movement is about taking public tax dollars and funneling them to private corporate interests. The goal is not to better educate American children; it is to give corporations and their CEO's a chance to get their hands on that mountain of money.

    January 16, 2013 at 9:19 am |
  2. Jolette

    i sorta agree with this, but i feel that there are multiple reasons why this occurs, in my opinion is that the schools do not care if the student passes or fails.
    I know students that play all the sports in the school and the school administrators treat them like kings, yet they are barely passing their classes. Yet when a student is doing well and desires to study certain things, the school some how does not have the money to provide the proper means for that class. A perfect example is art. Some how the schools have a ton of money to be able to pay for football, asb, rally's, etc. but they can not even pay for a simple art class, autoshop, woodshop, or music class. They can barely even pay for counselors who help students through their high school career and get them on the path to college. You can imagine how angry many of the students were when they found out the school was putting a new pool in.

    I dont know about you, but that is my opinion because that is the case for many of the schools in my area.

    January 10, 2013 at 11:56 pm |
    • Alice in PA

      In a lot of cases, the community and parents contribute to the athletic programs by partcipating in fundraisers, working concession stands, or just giving money. Unfortunately I have never heard of that type of support for the salary of a guidance counselor or buying new timers for a science lab!

      January 11, 2013 at 9:49 am |
  3. James

    How am I not surprised?

    January 10, 2013 at 5:36 pm |
  4. Dave

    You can not compare a charter school to a public school as the charter schools can pick and choose who they admit mostly based on the child's test scores. Public schools don't have that luxury and if they did then you better bet that the performance numbers would skyrocket for public schools. Charter schools are destroying our public education system and if we continue on this path all schools will become charters and kids from lower income families will be left behind. Talk about snob education!

    January 10, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
    • Kate

      Both of my boys attend a Charter school. I love it, they were not accepted based on test scores (they were home schooled before hand) plus my oldest has a speech disability. I love their policies and they implemented a year round school year which is unheard of in my area. They also take in troubled kids who have been expelled from public school and work with them. I have seen several kids make a turn around. I thank God every day my Boyd go to such a wonderful school.

      January 11, 2013 at 11:05 pm |
    • Kate

      Our charter school also accepts based on class size. Our school is funded by Lake Superior State University which has been a God send.

      January 11, 2013 at 11:11 pm |
  5. A DCPS Teacher

    This article is written by a woman who (1) QUIT teaching after 3 years of TfA, while claiming ridiculous gains (90% raise in proficiency of her class) which were PROVEN to be entirely dreamed up by Rhee AND placed on her resume (since then these fraudulent claims have been removed from her public profiles after being debunked widely in the press). (2) QUIT being a "Chancellor" and "putting students first" in DCPS after 3 years, despite being above politics and all that (she quit when her champion, Fenty, lost election, mostly due to HER reforms).
    This is a lady who has NEVER (3) taken a college course or a graduate course in education or policy, and who has absolutely NO QUALIFICATIONS in education policy and who (4) MAKES UP her own research using students First as a front instead of reading the PLETHORA of peer reviewed research out there, on performance pay and charters, etc.

    Yes, Why don't we listen to someone who quit on our children, made up stuff on her resume, never learned anything about education policy from REAL research, and who thinks it's ok to just make up your own research "facts" when you don't like the peer reviewed research already available? Sounds like a recipe for success!

    January 10, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
    • Network

      Must have struck a chord with you.....

      January 10, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
  6. Cinda

    Thank you for some other wonderful post. Where else could anybody get that type of information in such an ideal means of writing? I have a presentation next week, and I am on the search for such info.

    January 9, 2013 at 4:46 am |
  7. Austin

    Michele Rhee and Joel Klein (now running an attempt by Rupert Murdoch at News Corp to factor significantly in children's learning) are in no way credible on the issue of school reform. Despite heralding her own success and attracting a great deal of attention (mostly from those who shared her irrational hatred of teacher unions), Rhee managed to depress performance in DC public schools on most NAEP performance measures, the most reliable indicator of student learning available in the US. Klein managed to slow the rate of academic growth in New York public schools. Neither managed to keep up with national improvement trends in education.

    Rhee is not trained as a professional educator, and has disdain for the body of knowledge that professional educators and those who analyze systems understand. Her lack of respect and regard for the professions she seeks to reform is not in and of itself a problem, if it did not lead to such gross miscalculations about how to intervene to accelerate performance. She believes strongly in the mantra of forcing teachers to perform better through incentives and public pressure (though both have been demonstrated to be non-effective, and sometimes suppressants of performance, since teaching is a complex-adaptive behavior and thus not amenable to typical econometric interventions - Dan Pink describes this in popular terms in his book, Drive). She applies this same logic to the behavior of schools themselves - that choice will force schools to compete and thus perform better. Again, it's an intuitively appealing logic to those who have not looked deeply at the evidence, which very clearly and conclusively demonstrates that hoped-for gains as a result of the application of school choice simply have not materialized.

    These two clowns are reprehensible self-promoters who cloak themselves in the disguise of placing "Students First." If they really want to help students, they would review the evidence more thoroughly and begin advocating for policies that actually have some hope of improving life chances for children. Until then CNN, and any other news outlet, should be excoriated for giving them any public forum in which to share their vacuous and specious thinking.

    The report is vile, unsupported filth.

    January 8, 2013 at 11:31 pm |
  8. Alice in PA

    Ok Time for a lesson in critical thinking. Notice how the links in the article do not, I repeat, DO NOT come from outside sources. They are links to Rhee's own organization. Where is the outside confirmation that charter schools are better? Why is it not there? Because it does not exist. Look at the actual Department of Education results for most states and you will find that charters do not overwhelmingly outperform the public schools. Even worse than that, charter schools are touted as a option for students traditionally underperforming in their local school, usually due to socioeconomic factors or IEP status. Charter schools who are rated as "successful" will have far fewer of these children. Let me rephrase: the schools who were "chartered" to help the children who need the most help systematically exclude those exact children. But the companies do make a lot of money and therefore can give it to advocacy groups like Student First. At least CNN did not treat the "rheeport" as actual news and instead put it in the opinion blog section. Perhaps they should invite the NYC Public School Parents group who recently issued a report card on Rhee to write a post here.

    January 8, 2013 at 10:33 am |
  9. Teacher

    I love how this article is written by someone (Michele Rhee) who gained her credibility by increasing test scores in Washington D.C., and in the past two years it has come out that their was an epidemic problem with test score changes in the D.C. schools that she overlooked. Sweeeeet, please tell me how to fix our schools...

    January 8, 2013 at 8:34 am |
  10. mrmattpieroni

    Justteach, there is an argument for both and thank you for the discussion. These talks can only help us improve as educators. I do agree that parents play a pivotal role, but who is in charge of getting the majority of parents involved? Effective teachers and administrators. Persistence by teachers who have lacking parental involvement has helped both my peers and my personal classrooms the past three years. I understand I have a lot to learn, but I will not accept that parents are the end all be all in a students success. Again, they are highly important in an effective school and education, but if we throw out students who have little parent involvement at home, how many kids will be left in our schools? Charter schools do have the right to rid themselves of problem students, but the majority of students at my previous school were there strictly because their parents worked in the area. We had students from 12 zip codes in the Phoenix area, and it wasn't because we were any better than the surrounding schools. Parents fill out applications and enrollment forms at every school because of open enrollment. The only students who were expelled from school were those who had several safety issues involving their teachers and peers, not just because they didn't do their work. Other charter's may handle things this way, but it is by no means the the norm.

    William, you are correct with the 20% stat, but it is a bit skewed when simple things like sleep are involved. If, on average, students get 8 hours of sleep (which is 1.5-2.5 hours below the actual average you can find here http://www.sleepforkids.org/html/uskids.html) parental influence is still only at 47% during the school year . In my short teaching career I have encountered many parents who are more out of it than their child, work during the hours their child is home, or are gone all together. Our job as teachers and administrators is to motivate and find a way to inspire the children who walk through our doors, not to make excuses as to why things are not changing. Each child must leave their classroom with the understanding that they control their future. If they want to be a bum that is their choice, not their parents choice. I do agree parents should be held more accountable for their children (possible tax breaks for continually increasing student performance or lowered tax returns for continual digression), but for now these are just teacher dreams. Effective teachers and administrators are the reason that many parents even have a clue that their kid is in school and not at a free babysitters. Great discussion so far to both of you. I thrive for this learning process.

    January 7, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
    • Justteach

      We have several charter schools in my area all but one require parents to volunteer at least 20 hours a school year. If a parent does not the child is removed from the school and placed back in their public school. Effective teachers and administrators can not force Parents to be active yet the charter schools can. They can work on getting some to help but they will never hit 100% like the charter schools can. You say you and others at your school have worked to do it, are you at 100%? Open enrollment parents do have to fill out an app. in most cases those are parents that care about education or care more about a sports team. You had removed students from your past charter school for "safety issues" what happened to them did they get sent to a public school? Did they effect the learning of other public school children because your charter school could not handle them? Did the effect the teacher in the public school trying to teach those without the issue once they were moved into the public school class? If you want a true reading on charter school force them to take all students/parents. We have a local charter school owned by John Legg a state rep here in Florida his charter school is around 25% free or reduced while the public school 500ft away is at 85%. What do they say about eating and learning?

      January 8, 2013 at 7:48 am |
  11. Howard Frank

    Teachers unions continue to fight against performance-based evaluations. They say you cannot judge a teacher's performance since the class he is given determines the success level.

    Really? They been doing the exact same thing successfully in business for as l long's business has been in business. Salesman have been given territories of unequal opportunity forever. The solution? Specific targets are tailored according to the type of territory and potential each has.

    Unions reject this. Their policies make all employees – average. There's no way to excel through performance. you are rewarded forr longevity, and you end up with burnt out teachers who should have retired years before. What ambitious young person wants to be average? non that I'd hire.

    Yes, school policies play a part. But the way we cow-tow to uniouns is self destructive. Let them strike and see how far their community will support them. In big cities that may be a problem but most of America sees well paid educators who refuse to be juddged on their abilities. It offends the working man and woman.

    Howardd Frank
    Dow Jones Local Media Group

    January 7, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
    • Justteach

      Thank you Howard,

      Your own statement proved what is wrong with the performance-based evaluations in the teaching field. You say in the private sector "Specific targets are tailored according to the type of territory and potential each has" this is not being done in the teaching field.

      Right now in Florida you have teachers teaching special needs students that are being compared to regular ed students.

      You have teachers being rated on the school average based on students and subjects they do not teach. This can be a positive for a bad teacher at a well off school or a negitive for a great teacher at a bad school.

      You also have the issue of the students gains being measured on a single test. Do those in the private sector get paid based on 1 single day of sales?

      January 7, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
    • Roman

      All offense intended, sir, but the working man and woman that you purport to speak for do not have even the slightest inkling of how difficult it is to do this job. If the vast majority of teachers are saying this, maybe it's time to listen instead of assuming that teaching is like any other job.

      As a salesman, you have these two benefits working for you that teachers do not: 1) When someone walks through your doors, that person is interested in purchasing something related to what you're selling. 2) If 10 people walk in and only 1 buys something, those 9 non-sales do not count against you directly. A potential buyer in your building already has an ember of interest, it just needs fanning. When a student comes into my room, chances are they have zero interest in Shakespeare and I have to start by kindling that fire - not only for the 1 sure sale out of 10, but for all 10 of them, because to fail one is to fail them all.

      Most teachers aren't against performance-based evaluations, but we ARE against performance-based evaluations designed by people who are ignorant of why we're against what they're suggesting. Right now, pursuant to NCLB, every state is required to have a standardized graduation test, which is an idea I like but a reality I hate. However, to base MY salary on the performance of my 10th graders is as ignorant as it is short-sighed - first, students get tracked, so there are going to be better performing classrooms (I know a teacher who had IB students, so he could get away with standing at a podium and rambling for 2 hours a class. I could never do that, my kids would riot), and second, it completely ignores that there are 9 entire years of grade school that should have been preparing them, too, and since that test here in Ohio is based on an 8th grade skill level, they should be well along before they even look at 10th grade. Why aren't those teachers getting the hammer?

      January 8, 2013 at 8:01 am |
    • Austin

      Howard, this is just wrong. There is not a single measure that's mandated for all businesses to apply to the performance of their employees. Mostly, that is worked out from company to company, and most often from business unit to business unit. It often varies within a business unit, with understandings of the various roles and contributions individual people play within the company. Your logic is very superficial. With teachers, evaluations supported by Rhee and others turn evaluation into a dry, centrally mandated, statistical exercise that would be rejected by every rational human resource department in every successful company.

      You make the same miscalculation as Rhee. A decent rhetorical argument (which withstands not more than a minute or two of rational sense-testing) becomes your policy position. Think.

      January 8, 2013 at 11:40 pm |
  12. Mike

    Charter schools can pick their students. Public schools cannot. Charter schools receive public funding, but do not follow the same state and federal guidelines public schools have to follow. I teach all learners, not just the gifted and high achieving students. If I could pick my students they would consistently out perform their peers as well. Charter schools are not the answer.

    January 7, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
    • jrbill

      Your so right Mike, it's amazing that high profile people like Klein spout off totally meaningless
      statistics like this. Unfortunately, happens all the time in educational policy

      January 7, 2013 at 9:06 pm |
    • Nik

      You can't throw all charter schools under the same umbrella. I teach at a public charter school. Because we are a public school we have to admit anyone who wants in (as long as there is space in the class – our class sizes are maxed at 25). We have NO say in which students attend our school and yet we consistently out perform all of the schools in our area. We must be doing something right.

      January 8, 2013 at 12:25 am |
      • Roman

        I also teach at a public charter and, though my school's policy does allow any applicant to enroll, I know of several local public charters that do not have such a policy. If that policy exists, it is likely school-based or state-based.

        January 8, 2013 at 8:32 am |
      • Alice in PA

        There is always self selection just by virtue of enrolling in the school. That requires a parent who is aware and able to make that step and those parents tend to have students who are more successful in school. Unfortunately, parents of poor performing students tend not to be aware and/or able. Charters also select students in other small ways like applications or requiring volunteer time at school. Look at the socioeconomic stats of your school compared to those from which your students come. Also, look at retention rates – how many of your students go back to the public school since in many charters, lower performing students are gently (or not) removed from the student body. If after adjusting for any differences you are still outperforming them, then that is fantastic and you need to find out why and report it. Maybe work with an ed researcher and let us know.

        January 8, 2013 at 11:15 am |
  13. empresstrudy

    You all seem to believe that any sort of improvement or solution is even possible. It is not. This is as good as it will ever be and all we're debating is how much it costs and how rapidly it gets worse. There is nothing that any one can say or anything any one can do or has done that will ever improve anything. You've been having these debates for a half century and all you've ever done is make it slightly worse. Americans just need to embrace their mediocrity and leave all the hard work for foreigners and 1st and 2nd generation immigrants.

    January 7, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
  14. I Am God

    What needs to happen is to get children to be intrigued by new prospects in the world. We need our children to see a future that they can build with their help.

    January 7, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
    • frontgate

      This article is just more antiunion blather by a bald guy and a foreigner.

      January 7, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
      • vinm

        Racist much? Rhee was born in Michigan.

        January 9, 2013 at 9:12 am |
  15. Dennis

    Yes, all these regulations are holding for profit schools back. they want to be able to take a voucher from a public school student, so the taxpayer can fund their private school. Notice how their is always some non-profit "grassroots" Organization with loads of corporate donations saying how for profit industry is over-regulated. Let's deregulate the U.S Education system, it worked wonders for the mortgage industry, and now you can trust the good people of corporate america to school your children.

    January 7, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
  16. Marie

    When the topic of "school choice" comes up, why does nobody even mention Milwaukee, who has had a school choice program since 1992? Why? Because despite the system in Milwaukee, which allows low income parents in Milwaukee to send their children to private schools, the education gap between rich and poor students is still shocking in Milwaukee, even after 20 years. The gap in proficiency in reading and math between white students and students of color will make you feel rather ill. It's because rather than allow these children to go to well established, super high-performing and already existing private schools that churn out student headed to college, these systems create an incentive for hundreds of little fly-by-night, mom & pop, cottage industry schools to pop up and offer incentives to families to enroll their kids. There are very few requirements for teachers or administrators in private schools, so they can hire anyone they want. Many schools will offer a $200 gift card for each student enrolled, or offer free transportation for their after school day care (which the state pays for), or the school is run by their cousin, etc. This is all fine and is totally LEGAL, but it doesn't lead to better education for the children. So, while the test scores have risen very mildly in Milwaukee just like they have everywhere else in the country, the scores of children in the private schools is EXACTLY THE SAME as the scores of the children in the public schools, after 20 years for them to prove that they provide a better education for the children. Attendance in the private schools is as laughably low as it is in the public schools, graduations rates are as low in private vs. public. And the private schools can turn away special education children and they routinely do, so arguably their scores are actually lower as their rates of special ed children are many times lower that the rates of special ed children in the public school system.

    January 7, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
  17. QS

    "Our schools are supposed to be America’s great equalizers, ensuring every kid a shot at success."

    Exactly why I voted 'No' on my state's recent try to implement charter schools.

    January 7, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
  18. dotheflippin'math

    Deception! Why do schools have to provide tenure, and retain teachers on a seniority basis? It's the only thing that prevents the very well-paid administrators from fattening their own paychecks by firing the highest paid teachers. It's literally an "us vs. them" between teachers and administrators. Administrators are akin to corporate officers, and they tend to make about as much. Look at superintendent pay rates, and compare those with the most experienced and educated teachers. Salaries for superintendents tend to be around 5 times higher than their best teachers, the ones out there in the trenches. There have always been provisions for firing very poor or unqualified teachers. I do think unions sometimes overprotect their own, but make no mistake, administrators, not your children, will profit by allowing administrators an "easy" way to rid themselves of those pesky and expensive older, more experienced teachers, especially those who have held union positions. Greed is the real motivator here, and the outcome of replacing all those experienced teachers with young, inexperienced teachers, will be far from excellence (unless you're referring to the salaries your school's administrators will be raking-in).

    January 7, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
    • Parent of 3

      They can sue for wrongful termination like anyone else. Anyone should be able to be fired for cause. The suprintendent is accountable to the school board or the city/county/state govt as the case may be. Firing good teachers is short sighted. Pay based on performance for the Administrators as well.

      Making someone unfirable is a recipe for incompetence and laziness. Why wouldnt all companies fire their best employees and hire useless ones if the short term, short sighted bottom line was the only consideration?

      January 7, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
      • Justteach

        Administrators in the states offering merit pay and that removed tenure do the evaluations and assign the students to the classrooms. If a teacher is loaded with behavior problems along with the lowest level students the grades will not be at the top. So the Administrators can use the system to show just cause. which kind of kicks the sue for wrongful termination to the curb.

        January 7, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
      • jheron

        not in a right to work state.

        January 7, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
      • Parent of 3

        So your answer is: "Lets leave someone unfirable because someone can through a huge amount of effort rig the game against them? How is this different that in any other workplace in existence?

        There is no logical reason to make someone unfirable.

        January 7, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
      • Justteach

        Like I said before in many states a teacher can be fired. You can get the data from the states if you want to take the time. The data in many of those states is really flawed due to the you will be fired and this will be put on you state record or you can resign. This is a major problem in Florida I have seen it first hand. A teacher was going to be fired for not doing lesson plans the union said they had a good enough case, the admin said if you resign this will not be on your record. The teacher resigned and went to work in a nearby county. The fact the district does not want to do their job and remove the teacher correctly is not the teachers fault.

        January 7, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
    • Ronnie Harper

      I work in school administration and serve over 20 districts, and I can verify this statement as completely true. There is no transparency and the people at the top make a fortune for doing essentially nothing at all. They waste resources, mismanage funds, and generally leave the classroom environment to rot while they steal the taxpayer and non-profit funds for themselves. I watch it with my very own eyeballs every day.

      January 7, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
      • Roman

        Every year, the Federal DOE releases a national report card of public schools' budgetary breakdowns. If you know where to look, you can see this in action; most successful districts have a 3:1 salary ratio between how much of the budget goes to teachers (3) and how much goes to administration (1), not including maintenance costs and other staff. Obviously, we know that there are not only 3 teachers for every administrative staff member, and some admin staff get paid rather poorly, so administrators are still making significantly more than teachers, which is fine. Many unsuccessful districts have a smaller disparity, often 2:1 or less. Some schools I've noticed even have the larger portion of the budget allocated to administration and not teachers, who make up most of the work force - these schools are, as far as I can tell, severely underperforming compared to the 3:1 schools.

        January 8, 2013 at 8:45 am |
  19. HenryMiller

    "... the rules and regulations governing education are holding schools back."

    Rules, regulations, and laws always hold things back. They deny choice; they deny innovation. They take the authority to make decisions away from those on the scene, those who know what's going on, and give that authority to bureaucrats who usually know little other than how to play bureaucratic or political games.

    January 7, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
    • gager

      Great post, thanks.

      January 7, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
    • jheron

      Be careful what information these 2 are pushing. Just because they have a non profit, it does not mean that they don't get bigger salaries by successfully pushing for-profit schools.

      January 7, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
    • Alice in PA

      Yeah, I hate those regulations about factories not emitting tons of mercury and lead into the air. They are really holding back innovations! I hate the speed limit laws that won't let the 18 year old go 120mph down my street I hate those regulations requiring all children to be educated, not just the rich white ones.

      January 8, 2013 at 11:08 am |
  20. Parent of 3

    I think one simple fix to public education would make a huge difference. Get rid of tenure. Tenure at the university level is difficult to achieve. It is not automatically handed out if you can make it though a couple of years of teaching. Not being able to get rid of an incompetent teacher is ridiculous. Anyone who acts like every teacher is a wonderful human being is an idiot. They have their good and bad like everything else. We wouldn't hesitate to get rid of a bad air-traffic controller, yet teachers who claim to be the most important educator in a childs life (it should be parent, but usually isn't) keep their profession from being taken seriously by refusing to cull the deadwood.

    I had some great teachers in high school. Some whom I still keep in touch with even now (20 yrs later) but I had some very very bad ones as well. Ones whom other teachers wished could get fired, but alas they were stuck with. It is anecdotal of course but I know quite a few good teachers and quite a few former teachers and all of them complain about their profession being taken over by a bunch of lazy good-for-nothings who like 3 months vacation and drawing a check for nothing once they have tenure.

    January 7, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
    • Parent of 3

      I also feel getting rid of publicly funded athletics would help as well. In many school districts the football coach makes 2 to 3 times what the average teacher makes and while the football team gets a new bus and uniforms, books and labs are falling apart.

      January 7, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
    • Justteach

      Their are only a handful of states that have problems with tenure. In many states they can be fired very easily even if they are tenured.

      January 7, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
      • Parent of 3

        care to name these states on both sides?

        January 7, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
      • Justteach

        Which states do you hear about that have a bunch of teachers sitting in a room without students just putting in the time?


        On the other hand


        Now some in recent years have removed tenure like FL

        The major problem that really makes a mess of the data is that in many of those states the teacher does not really get fired. They are provided the option of getting fired (which would go on their record) or resigning (which they offer to keep it off the record and they get hired in another county).

        January 7, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
      • Joanna

        Add Maine and Mass. to the list with tenure where you can be fired with a show of cause.

        January 7, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
    • Alice in PA

      You re misinformed about tenure. Tenure is earned and any tenured teacher can be fired for incompetence. And as a scientist, I question your own anecdotal evidence about your own teachers. Students are not objective and accurate judges of their teachers. First of all, they are children who lack a wider perspective of the world and what is or may be expected of them. Second, good teachers may be the most frustrating for students, especially "good" students who know how to play school but are frustrated when an outstanding teacher asks them to go outside their comfortable boundaries. Third, students do not know the objectives of the the teachers. They may know that they are teaching Newton's Laws, but are probably unaware that they are also being taught howe scientists think, write, draw, measure, etc. Fourth, memories are unreliable. We tend to remember extremes like really fun times or really sad times. Decades later, no one has an accurate view of what their life was in that moment.

      January 8, 2013 at 11:06 am |
  21. Jesus

    From the study:

    Opportunity Charter School: 10% ELA, 15% Math.

    Good job charter schools! Man, if only public schools would allow only 15% of their students to know the proper math skills they should have for their age...

    January 7, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
  22. Jesus

    Did anyone read the study? Specifically the part where it mentions that "Testing data about student from low-income families is not yet available."

    I wonder why that would be? Maybe because, as has been proving dozens & dozens of times, SCHOOLS & FAMILIES WITH MONEY PERFORM BETTER THAN POOR SCHOOLS WITH POOR STUDENTS. So what's their solution? Take the not too poor students & give them government money to attend private school & HOPE their grades go up since they now have smaller classes. But what about the poor child still stuck at the underfunded public school? Well, he can stay there until it closes, or go to a further school that he probably won't be able to attend... But who cares, these CEO's made MONEY!!!

    January 7, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
    • Tom

      Students who perform better have parents who value education, and are invested in their children doing well in school, plain and simple.

      January 7, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
  23. Jesus

    I love the fact that Ms. Rhee's corporation, I'm sorry, "non-profit", says it cares about results of education, yet instead of finding out what is being taught or what the students know, they give them grades... So these students can get all A's on their standardized multiple choice tests, but they don't actually retain any of the knowledge, and that's positive results?

    January 7, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
  24. weebitwidd11e

    NYC charter school average proficiency rates rose significantly both in Math (72.0%, up from 68.4% in 2010-11) and English Language Arts (51.5%, up from 44.5%). NYC charter school students' mean scale scores also increased by three points in each subject (689 vs. 686 in Math, 665 vs. 662 in ELA). Average in math is supposed to be significant. That is not significant. It is only 4.4%. It rose 7% in language arts. That is a little better.

    Charter schools can't really do much better than regular public schools. Yes they saw some change. But their butts are on the line here. Let the honeymoon end and then watch. It is true States and even counties have some pretty crappy laws when it comes to education. I guess they think as long as they are offering something to the students everything is fine.
    Let’s look at the school system as a whole. There is no consistency in the curriculum. Go to one school they offer STEM classes and have a high graduation rate that students go to college and don't have to take remedial classes. Go across town and these students are not offered STEM class’s, graduation is low, and they have to take remedial classes before they can even think of taking on a degree in college. This same school has a high turnover rate among teachers, and the students move from school to school more often.

    You will never get the education system fixed unless you scrap the system you have, and put in place a system that is consistent with ALL schools. Start with the basics. Introduce STEM basics into the public schools. This means that when a student enters high school the student is ready for college prep. The classes are centered on STEM. Regardless if the course is the basics of fixing, upgrading, or building computers... to programming, Science lab, Linguistics. Etc. The poorer the school is the more they offer classes still centered on STEM but more geared towards a technical vocational school. Or just mix it up not all students want to go to college, and students may be poor but they still want the opportunity to go to college.

    Forget the BS and work education around the students, and stop this BS with working the students around education. It won’t work. You can put 50 new teachers into a building and call it a school but unless that school helps the student when they graduate then that school has done NOTHING. Students will catch on the charter schools as well and when they graduate and they find out the jobs are not there, and the colleges say they are missing remedial classes you will be back to square one.

    This is not hard to see what is going on. This is the number one major headache of schools is no consistency. You can’t possibly stand in front of a student body and tell them “make me proud, and make the grade!” and then offer them classes that won’t ever help them get into college. Unfortunately this is what is happening all over America. This is what is wrong with our school system.

    January 7, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
  25. The Truth

    Know how to fix education, hold teachers accountable. Why does every other profession hold leaders accountable for their subordinates work except for teachers?

    Teachers continued employment and pay should depend on the performance of the class. Students who underperform should be treated like an underperforming worker: warnings, mentoring, training, probation and if necessary firing. In the case of firing replace with hold back a grade or reassigned to a lower track. All leaders/managers encounter underperformers and they are evaluated on how they deal with the situation. Same should be for teachers.

    January 7, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
    • Jesus

      Ok. A worker, lets say a cashier, is poor at their job, and they get fired, you hire someone else, train them on the register, and in 2 days, you have a new cashier. Do you think teachers are that easy to come by? You can just hire any old person and you expect them to be better? It doesn't really work that way. Teachers are not Old Yeller that need to get shot when they don't work out anymore. We need to FIX the system, not just shut it down

      January 7, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
    • Justteach

      Should I burger flipper be fired because the person in charge or ordering forgot to order the meat? Students not provided the same materials from parents or even within the same school district.

      Should the burger fipper be fired for lack of sales because the counter person is rude, abusive and unruly? Students that acts up and can not be removed from the class.

      Should the burger flipper be fired for not being able to work when the manager comes in late and they do not have the keys? Students that do not show up for class.

      Should the burger flipper be fired when the customers show up on drugs? Many students are issued the wrong meds (or parents sell them, forget to give them the meds, or use them for themself) and come in and do nothing but drool on the desk.

      January 7, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
    • Alice in PA

      Contrary to popular myth, teachers are evaluated both as they try to enter the career and after that. Teachers are observed and graded and can be fired for poor performance. No, they are not evaluated on their students' test scores just like doctor's are not graded on their patient's outcomes like obesity, cancer etc. Where I live, there is a diabetes rate way higher than the national average. So should all the doctors be fired? Or is it possible that there are factors beyond the control of the doctors?

      January 8, 2013 at 10:55 am |
  26. BlahBlah

    Really? Massachusetts a 'C'
    Let's examine the facts instead Ms. Rhee

    January 7, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
    • marstomr14

      Great read. And in my most sarcastic tone, I find it shocking that when you increase your standards and hold ALL parties accountable, have a highly educated workforce, and promote a culture of education, you actually have a better chance of getting the intended results of higher test scores. It doesn't matter whether it's a public school, private school, charter, home school, unionized, non-unionized, and so on. If you don't hold students, teachers, and administrators accountable to high standards (and continually increase those standards), don't maintain a highly educated workforce, and don't promote a culture congruent to your goals, you're going to make success less likely. I don't think Massachusetts is doing anything ground breaking – just following some basic laws to success. Hopefully other educational leaders will do the same.

      January 7, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
  27. ManWithThe1000PoundBrain

    So much for the charter schools example. In Michigan, the majority of charter schools have been UNDER performing in comparison to the public schools in corresponding communities. And this, despite the fact that charters can "pick and choose" and typically do not take or support special education students. You would think that because charters do not have the special education population that the regular public schools have; and since parents** are taking some initiative in choosing to send their children to a charter school, that they should be knocking the ball out of the park in comparison–but they are not. They have many of the same problems as the regular public schools have. **Keep in mind that parental involvement is a key factor in student success. Surely, you can pick and choose and find some great success stories with charters, but you can also find great success stories among regular public schools. The fact is, charters do not represent the rank and file population the shows up by default at the regular public schools so the New York example is meaningless. Add more charters is the epitome of waste, fraud and abuse and the worst case of duplication of services in history. Conservatives argue for consolidation of services while at the same time argue for more, for profit charters–which is de-consolidation in the extreme. The explosion of publicly funded charters (for profit schools) only transfers a greater proportion of tax payer funding to the brick and mortar/administrative costs of educating children. The more schools you have, the more overhead you have.

    January 7, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
    • taquita

      Where are you getting your facts? My child attends a charter in Michigan and I can tell you that charters do not pick and choose their students, and they also accept special education students. In my opinion, the beauty of a charter school is that it is a smaller school which equals a smaller general population, smaller class sizes, more accountability of the faculty, parents, and yes, even the students. And because they don't have a slew of administrators that make 6 figures for doing nothing and providing pensions for anyone that shows up and pretends to work there for a while – there is actually money left over to invest in the school building, the classrooms, and even the playground. Imagine that...

      January 7, 2013 at 9:48 pm |
  28. Jesus Christ Superstar

    . The changes are paying off; Florida students recently outperformed a majority of the country and the world in an internationally benchmarked test.

    uHHH, as someone who is now in college with a lot of these graduating Florida teens, I can easily say that they are NOT outperforming anyone. They have no math skills, no reading comprehension, but do they ever know how to take a multiple choice test. That's why they "outperform", because if theres 1 thing you actually DO learn in FLorida schools, it's how to score the best grade (not learn the most) but score the best grade on a multiple choice test...

    January 7, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
    • Benjamin Smith

      Community college doesn't count.

      January 7, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
      • Jesus Christ Superstar

        Well when we're in the top 10 Community Colleges in the country... And these students graduate from Florida high schools, it kinda does

        January 7, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
  29. Jesus Christ Superstar

    You know what's funny... is that these two CEO's, yes, CEO's, are NOT educators... CEO's are put in power to make money, not to educate people.. yet... these CEO's think they know education better than educators... but no, lets keep listening to CEO's... and when half of the country can't afford school anymore, we'll all wonder what went wrong...

    January 7, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
    • Non Sequitur

      Jesus –

      Whatever you think about what the opinions expressed by the two ‘CEOs,’ your statement is partially incorrect and detracts from your point of opinion. Michelle Rhee was an educator for a while, and, in fact, both were chancellors of major inner city school systems. Michelle Rhee is the CEO of the Students First 'non-profit organization' (note non-profit as its mission is not to make money but rather to build a movement to reform the U.S. education system), not a 'corporation' whose mission is to make money. And Mr. Klein is a vice president of a corporation, but is contributing in this piece as a board member of above mentioned non-profit organization.

      You ranting does not impress as someone speaking with authority on the FL educational system. I was educated pre-college as well as obtained my Bachelor's Degree in FL, but received my graduate degrees from other states. I wonder about your expert opinion on FL students' performance capabilities. So how many colleges (community or otherwise) are you attending, and how long had you done so, that makes you render such a decisive opinion on all of FL's students? Your showcased vernacular style of writing does not render your opinions as expert opinions, no matter how many caps you use.

      January 7, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
      • Jesus

        Dude, it's called an observation. Nowhere did I say anything about being an expert... It's called having an opinion... But I guess in your world no one's allowed to have them?

        January 7, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
      • Justteach

        She spent 3 years in the classroom and her students were ranked near the bottom in the state. Her results on her changes in D.C. were flawed do a search on the high number of student tests answers being changed and the fact she did not investigate it.

        January 7, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
      • jheron

        Non-Profit does not mean she doesn't get paid. Many non-profits pay their CEO's quite well.

        January 7, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
  30. Jesus Christ Superstar





    January 7, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
    • Benjamin Smith

      I don't know what makes you look more ignorant, TYPING AN ENTIRE UNINTELLIGIBLE PARAGRAPH IN ALL CAPS, or inserting ellipses into...nearly every other...word....like...you know what...they mean...

      January 7, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
      • Jesus Christ Superstar

        Awwwww, someone doesn't like how I type... Did it hurt your feelings...? I'm so sowwy. I'll make a sad face for you because I hurt your feelings 🙁

        January 7, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
  31. empresstrudy

    Schools have no ability or school to steer so called policy. Parents don't understand that and don't want to. All schools can do is ask for money and spend money. So what you're left with is schools that spend a lot of money and some measure of results, good or bad, and schools that don't spend a lot of money and get some measure of results good or bad. Parents and pundits will always look at that and determine that would should happen is spend more money regardless of the results, good or bad. The answer is always spend more money and perhaps that's even the right answer. But whether it is or not, it's the only answer you will ever get.

    January 7, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
  32. StephVa

    This report listed Louisiana as the top educational state? I just couldn't read any further with snickering.

    January 7, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
    • Jesus Christ Superstar

      It also mentions FLorida outperforming other nations... As a former & current student in Florida, I can tell you that is just not true. THe only reason they are "outperforming" is because the students learn how to take multiple choice tests. They don't learn the material, but they know how to answer in a test properly...

      January 7, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
      • Justteach

        Not really why Florida was on top.

        About 2500 students total took the test in 80 schools. Less than 1% tested and we are making blanket statements about the entire state? We also have a 3rd grade retention policy so our 4th grades could be older. only 85% of the students in the tested school took the test, second lowest of all the countries/state­s/provinces.

        Funny thing is Florida will not release which schools took the tests. It was a matter of cherry pickin the students that took the test.

        January 7, 2013 at 5:04 pm |
  33. artsygirly

    Charter schools are not a cure all that they are made out it be. In the past few years there has been a strong political push to create as many charter schools as possible in my state. That has caused a problem of consistency. Last year there was only one charter school listed in the top 10 while they filled the ranks of the lowest preforming schools. Because they have been implemented quickly and without a lot of forethought, there is rarely oversight. A friend of my worked for a charter that was in a disadvantaged community run by a university. Over the course of two years she was never observed in the classroom and never was given any feedback on her teaching. Instead of looking for the newest gimmick why don't we attract the best and brightest to the teaching profession. Make sure they are well paid and have support systems especially in communities where there is a lot of poverty. We need look to other countries such as Finland which have wonderful education systems and educators are valued.

    January 7, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
    • Mike

      Finally a comment that makes sense. Recruit the best and brightest, pay them well and provide them resources. Think it might work?

      January 7, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
  34. jeffrey miller

    Dear Michelle and Joel,
    Please stop. Just stop. Stop your intimidation tactics and your narcissistic bullying. You will never, ever win your petty gamesmanship with my profession.

    January 7, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
    • david esmay

      Along with William Bennett, Rhee is one of worst friends and best enemies of public education. Neither should be aloud to voice their opinions on CNN.

      January 7, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
      • njc

        Are you a teacher? It seems that a lot of these negative comments about revising education are coming from teachers. There was an initiative to incentivize teaching by providing bonuses to high-performing teachers, but the teachers unions were not having it. Why would any decent teacher or representatives of teachers say no to this? Perhaps the issue is that the representatives of these unions are not decent educators. By the way, it's "allowed", not "aloud"...

        January 7, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
      • Chalmers

        "Neither should be aloud [sic] to voice their opinions on CNN."

        You really believe this? That opinions that differ from yours should be suppressed? If you are a teacher, then you are likely doing your students a disservice by teaching them this.

        January 7, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
      • kfitton

        It's simple as to why teachers oppose performance pay, because there hasn't been a system devised yet that can accurately determine performance for what teachers do. The politics and subjectivity of what goes into education can't be quantified in an unbiased manner and teachers know this. Who wants their salary/bonus to be determined by factors they cannot control?? Students aren't widgets like businesses make them out to be.

        January 7, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
      • Alice in PA

        NJC review your idea about teachers making the negative comments. Why would you not trust the judgement of the professionals who are on the front lines every school day? THe ones who have the professional knowledge? I do not see any CNN blogs debated the value of architectural engineering standards or biological containment policies because most people know that those decisions are better left to the professionals in the field. Same for education. As far as merit pay, it has bee tried and researched by professionals and found not to affect student learning.

        January 8, 2013 at 10:47 am |
    • jeffrey miller

      As a matter of fact, I get performance pay. It's one reason I switched jobs. It's not about the union. It's about honesty and what really does work in education.

      January 7, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
  35. sfmt

    Why can't we look at other successful countries and learn their lesson?

    January 7, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
    • Justteach

      It is not as easy as you think. How do you suggest we make parents instil the value of an education? The major difference between the US and the countries that are above us is just that. Funny how our teachers stink yet we have such a high rate of valedictorians from other countries......

      January 7, 2013 at 4:35 pm |
  36. Frango Mint

    The fact that ultra high-scoring Massachusetts got a C from Ms. Rhee indicates that this whole grading system is a joke. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. We should all be trying to emulate what is happening in Mass, not trying to force new rules on them.

    January 7, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
    • William

      Here's the answer to this: StudentsFirst makes the scoring system. Of course it will be biased to show their own schools doing the best. In NY, we are being inundated by the same sort of bias from companies that stand to profit immensely by first showing that our students are not doing well enough on tests (made by none other than Pearson) and then selling the state the remedy. I cannot understand how taxpayers have allowed this sort of madness to continue, yet the "test till you drop" madness has extended itself into my 4 year old's pre-k class! As a teacher myself, I have already had to give a number of tests whose sole purpose is to assess my own work, which has cost me and my classes days of valuable teaching time. Its sheer lunacy.

      January 7, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
  37. why does the press pay attention to these shameless self-promoters?

    I don't want more charter schools, Joel and Michelle. No thanks! And I don't want teachers so focused on tests in order to keep their jobs, that they fall out of love with real teaching and learning. I don't want your simplistic and hyped up narrative either. Yes. Some schools are just awful. And some children have fewer opportunities and access to good schools, but when you, Joel, were in a tough economic spot, you didn't need a charter school, you just went to a good old public school in your zone. (See District 1 in Manhattan for ideas about ways to create greater access to strong schools for all, and it is not a charter-based plan.)

    There is nothing useful in this report card. The laws you want will make it easier to sell products to schools and districts. Joel's products. And Michelle is getting to be very wealthy seeding the market to make it easier for Joel and other corporate hacks, like him, to line their pockets. CNN, and all of the other news outlets, why do you not call these people on their multiple conflicts of interest? I don't find grades all that meaningful myself, but if you want me to go there, Joel and Michelle – an E, not for excellence, but for being complete egomaniacs, or make that an M you've officially crossed the line into megalomaniacs.

    January 7, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
    • Steve

      I'm not sure why the solution is "turn schools over to private, for profit companies" rather than "meaningfully reform the school system". Its not impossible. Unions are not the magical, all powerful bogymen that conservatives make them out to be.

      I'm extremely uncomfortable with turning things that are of a public good over to a for profit model. Just look at our political system, which is pretty well owned by the private sector. Does that work efficiently?

      January 7, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
      • Jesus

        Steve, you are 100% spot on!

        All this revolves around the boogeyman of teacher unions that (in conservative minds) = bad. So lets take unions out, and then all of a sudden we're good. Do they care that these for-profit charter schools fail? No. Do they care that these kids learn how to pass tests without actually learning? No. They just are happy that we have no more unions & that these CEO's are making all the money.

        January 7, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
  38. profbam

    "quality charter schools"–how is that determined? Over the last 10 years a few charter schools sprang up and within a few years were closed down because they were frauds. The DA's office is trying to figure our into which bank account the money disappeared. Meanwhile the students were dumped back into the public schools further behind than before. I do not doubt that "a quality charter school" can produce great results and the authors use cherry picked data to support their position. My friends with autistic children are all demanding that their children be "main-streamed", will your preppy charter school take in autistic and LD children?

    January 7, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
  39. Justteach

    This public education destroyers forgot to mention that less than 1% of the grade level were tested in Florida that outperformed a majority of the country. The schools were cherry picked by the Florida DOE. They also forgot to mention that all the data on Bush and his testing agenda did not show improvement until the voters in the state passed Class Size Reduction Amendment History in 2001 and was implemented over time until it went into full efffect in 2010.

    January 7, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
  40. joecalaba

    Clearly there is an agenda of the authors that is self-serving. This "article" reads more like an infomercial than real journalism. For shame.

    January 7, 2013 at 11:01 am |
  41. jboh

    By pushing charter schools, you remove the best students from general public education, leaving the special needs, and poorer performing kids concentrated in traditional schools. At the same time, funding is being stripped from traditional schools. Of course charter schools score higher. It is an excuse to short change the majority of students because charter school enrollment is limited. We should push for greater improvement in existing schools, especially in disadvantaged areas. Most "advantaged" area folks have gotten there by education, and will instill its value in their kids.

    January 7, 2013 at 10:43 am |
    • Justteach

      Sorry the Data in Florida shows that Charter schools show less in student learning gains. Even though the charter schools get to pick the cream of the crop the crop does not show as strong of gains than those with the same entry level schools in public schools.

      January 7, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
      • Alice in PA

        Isn't is telling that charter schools screen their students and parents, have no unions, are relieved on many regulatory burdens and still do not outperform their traditional counterparts.

        January 8, 2013 at 10:41 am |
  42. spent

    After 34 years of teaching, well, all I want to write is give us a great product and teacher's will come through. Glad I am out and after my comment liberals are glad as well.

    January 7, 2013 at 10:13 am |
  43. Portland tony

    One size doesn't fit all. And although Mrs. Rhee is a stand out in education circles, so cracks seem to be forming in her testing philosophy as uncovered by the Washington Post....It appears that test results that primarily reward the test giver are subject to irregularities!

    January 7, 2013 at 10:06 am |
    • William

      She's only a standout because she has the political backing to make her so. Her policies in Washington area schools are falling apart now that she and her drive to find funding are gone. Soon, the schools there will be unable to pay the incentive based bonuses that she promised in their "school turnaround" and then what? Also, if memory serves, there was a significant "pushing under the rug" of test altering concerns, which I suspect was enabled by her political clout. Amazing that she still gets put forward as a "reform mogul" in my opinion.

      January 7, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
  44. Roman

    StudentsFirst gets more and more ridiculous as time goes on. As Stephanie Smith pointed out, their grading system is terribly subjective - "These are the qualities we think education should have. If you disagree, we fail you." That should shock parents? Only if parents: A) know you exist, B) think you have the weight behind you to lay those grades. You have neither in your favor right now, so perhaps you might've waited to launch your grade system until you had political clout. Too early, sirs.

    StudentsFirst likes to tout the success of Charter Schools like it's a Holy Grail, but I was happy in this article when I saw "quality Charter Schools" and "viable educational option." Paired, I agree. A well-run charter school IS a viable option, and many excel because they are not as limited as public schools. However, many of their scores are "cooked" in a sense, as Charters have the ability to deny students based on performance, even during the school year. I know of at least three such schools here in Cleveland that remove underperforming students just before the OGT dates, so their test scores will look phenomenally better than they actually are. This is legal. Most public schools cannot do this.

    January 7, 2013 at 9:50 am |
  45. Mary Leonhardt

    The problem is that the Students First people are working backwards. They have already decided on the three issues that they think are most important to education, and "grading" states on their compliance. Instead, why don't they look at high performing schools, and states, and see what they are doing. The charter school statistics are mixed and it is very hard to prove with current statistics that kids do any better in charters. They need to do some real research instead of cherry-picking studies that fit into their pre-conceived notions.

    For example, I taught in a high school in Massachusetts whose students regularly tested in the top five percent of schools in the state on the NAEP. And Massachusetts, as a state, is usually number one or two in the country as far as scores go. So why don't you look at what is happening there?

    My own take on education, after thirty-five years in high school classrooms and watching high achievers, is that we have to get the kids reading. Period. End of story. Avid readers read better, write better, concentrate better, have wider frames of reference, and do better in all of their classes, across the board.


    January 7, 2013 at 8:59 am |
    • Christine

      Mary Leonhardt is exactly right. The grading for Massachusetts, in particular, is ridiculous. The state has strong unions, a strong pension plan, and values seniority, and still manages to come out on top in national and international tests. Yet, Rhee's organization gives the state a C. I don't see how anyone can take this report or Ms. Rhee seriously.

      And I am no fan or unions or seniority-based salaries.

      January 7, 2013 at 9:48 am |
      • Frango Mint

        Massachusetts got a C? They are the highest achieving state in the country. That's ridiculous.

        January 7, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
    • Justteach

      Massachusetts is ranked high because they rank 5th in median income, 9th lowest in poverty, and 3rd in ESE student percentage.

      January 7, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
      • Christine

        And because people here value education. As far back as the 17th century, we had the highest literacy rate in the world. It is not the money that produces the outcomes, it is the culture that creates the high incomes and the fabulous educational outcomes.

        January 7, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
      • Alice in PA

        You just name the top three factors that 4 decades worth of research have shown to control a student's educational achievement and notice Rhee address none of these factors in her agenda!

        January 8, 2013 at 10:38 am |
  46. Stephanie Smith

    Outstanding. If you aren't making enoungh money through your profitable-for-you "non-profit", and you don't have enough politicians taking your money, just lay out arbitrary grades. Sounds like this "non-profit" is following the NRA grading policy...follow my rules and you can pass, if I don't like you, you get an F.

    I can go and grade the states on policies, as well. If I don't think the current laws (without any research or solid data, by the way) meet my expectations, I can also give them an F.

    Not enough states follow their rules of education, and the public should find their results "shocking"? Give me a break.

    January 7, 2013 at 8:44 am |
  47. mrmattpieroni

    Reblogged this on Mr. Matt Pieroni and commented:
    Good ideas to start off our new semester. Policies could take a long time to change so for now, how can we make our own school better?

    January 7, 2013 at 7:56 am |
  48. mrmattpieroni

    Combating poor salaries and Charter school success is a must. I had to make a decision to leave an amazing Charter school in Phoenix strictly because of my financial needs. As a unified group, we turned a "C" school into an "A" school in a year. We had a great staff and amazing support from our principal, but many of us had to make the decision to leave. Why? MONEY

    Those of us who did not have a significant other who could completely support the family (my dog makes $0 a year) had to make a decision to leave. In my case, making 30 grand a year was not an option anymore because of student loans from my undergrad and my masters.

    This was an easy decision to make, but I miss and loved every second I had with my peers and that feeling of family that is not evident in my new, public school setting. Teachers are divided, put their egos ahead of student needs, and only show unity on the surface. My 7th grade team has come together as a group, but this took a lot of effort and we are one of only a few truly cohesive groups in our school.

    What do you think of my views on change within our schools?

    Build Your Dream,

    Mr. Matt Pieroni (Purr-Row-Knee)

    January 7, 2013 at 7:52 am |
    • Justteach

      Sorry Matt the number one factor in a child's education is the Parent, not other teachers or school leaders. The reason a charter school can improve so quickly is the first thing needed to be done is a parent needs to fill out an application. AKA the parent cares about education. The majority of charter schools also require parents to volunteer, kick out any behavior problems and kick out students that do not do their work. Take those 3 things out of any failing public school and the grade will jump.

      January 7, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
      • William

        100% correct. Students spend 80% of their time outside of school. How can a teacher of a child be more than 20% responsible for that child's education? (answer: because you can't grade parents and attack them like you can teachers!)

        January 7, 2013 at 3:45 pm |