American Exceptionalism:
Education
without Development

(an assessment of the cognitive performativity of the rhetoric of reform)

Comparison of the cognitive performativity evident in the PISA reports
with the rhetoric of educational reform in the United States suggests that the educational reformers themelves suffer from strategically disabling cognitive limitations.  
pisas
This page turns the tables on the assessment fanatics, and assesses the assessors.  

First, I set the context for CNN's State of the Union roundtable discussion of 5-1-11, which involved four education leaders in the U.S.  This occurred two months after The U.S. Department of Education-sponsored International Summit on the Teaching Profession that took place in New York City on March 16-17, 2011, in which education leaders from around the world, including education profesionals from the highest-performing nations, met.  The summit was the first of its kind, designed to engage countries around the globe in an intensive discussion about promising practices for recruiting, preparing, developing, supporting, retaining, evaluating, and compensating world-class teachers.  This provides the context for the State of the Union discussion.  I provide a transcript of the CNN roundtable discussion (on the right side of the page).  On the left side of the  page I provide excerpts from the OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) reports, so that one can compare cognitive performances.

Second, I provide links to some interesting news accounts of the reformers' handiwork, together with my commentary.

Third, I provide excerpts from a report on the state of American competitiveness by Members of the 2005 “Rising Above the Gathering Storm” Committee, prepared for the Presidents of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine.

Fourth, I compare the members of this committee with the major forces behind the reform movement, as derived from an analysis of the corporate backers of Relay University, Wall Street's attempt at subverting professional, science-based teacher education in America's schools of education.
No Child Left Behind: is it Stalinist?

Stalinism is a form of bureaucratic domination that hs two fundamental features: planning, and coercion through terror.  The prinicple features of NCLB involve setting targets based on test scores, and punishing teachers who fail to meet those targets.

A third feature of Stalinism is its brutish stupidity.  Consider this NYT story:  soviet joke: we have met  our quota for nails

Hard-Working Teachers, Sabotaged When Student Test Scores Slip, NYT By MICHAEL WINERIP Published: March 4, 2012

A fourth feture of Stalinism is its rootedness in the most backward strata of the population

I.
Comparison of the cognitive performativity evident in the PISA reports
with the rhetoric of educational reform in the United States suggests that the educational reformers themelves suffer from strategically disabling cognitive limitations.
CNN State of the Union with Candy Crowley (5-1-11)


cs
video part 1/2video part 2/2,  and transcript
Context for the CNN State of the Union discussion of education in America (excerpt in right cells)



The U.S. Department of Education sponsored the International Summit on the Teaching Profession that took place in New York City on March 16-17, 2011.  This is their blurb.

"The U.S. Department of Education together with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Education International (EI) and U.S.-based organizations—National Education Association (NEA), the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), Asia Society, and WNET hosted the first International Summit on the Teaching Profession March 16-17, 2011, in New York. The summit was the first of its kind, designed to engage countries around the globe in an intensive discussion about promising practices for recruiting, preparing, developing, supporting, retaining, evaluating, and compensating world-class teachers."

The summary below is from Reflections on the International Summit on the Teaching Profession, in www.learningfirst.org.  The Learning First Alliance is a self-initiated partnership of 16 of the nation’s leading education organizations.  It is the voice of the professional educational mainstream.  In this regard it should be distinguished from the various Wall Street buccaneer-sponsored educational "reform" organizations.  

"It’s been more than a week since the U.S. Department of Education sponsored International Summit on the Teaching Profession took place in New York City.  For those of us who were observers, the conversation was valuable but the extended time spent sitting and listening challenged our ability to absorb all that was being exchanged.  However, a few themes kept resurfacing:

In countries with high performing students as measured by the PISA tests, the teaching profession is held in high esteem and attracts the strongest students to its preparation programs.  Conversely, those same countries support a highly selective process for identifying potential teachers and accepting them into teacher preparation programs.

Once on the job, teachers in high performing countries are given an average of 15 hours/week to confer with colleagues, observe others’ classrooms, and participate in professional learning activities.

In countries where students score well on international tests, teachers’ salaries are on par with engineers, doctors, and other professionals.

In all the countries that participated in the summit, teachers are unionized.

In countries where student achievement is high, teachers are given a great deal of autonomy to deliver instruction in ways that reach students with a variety of learning styles.  Further, this autonomy is important to teachers and a mark of their professionalism.  Even in countries with strong central education departments and national goals and standards, schools and teachers are free to craft the instructional support in ways that fit their individual teaching styles while meeting the needs of the students with whom they work."


Transcript

State of the Union with Candy Crowley (5-1-11)





CROWLEY: Up next, we'll shift gears and look at the growing education crisis in the U.S. Why are American students falling behind the rest of the world?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: Indiana Republican Governor and potential presidential candidate Mitch Daniels has been busy pushing educational change through his legislature, molding his state into what he considers a model for reform.

Yesterday Daniels signed into law a part of his plan that ties teacher salaries to annual evaluations. This week he will sign the nation's broadest school voucher program. The overall Daniels plans allows middle- and low-income families to use tax-payer funds to help send their children to private schools, including parochial schools, restricts collective bargaining for public school teachers, and puts in place a system to significantly expand the number of charter schools.

Daniels and Education Secretary Arne Duncan have been at the forefront in making education a priority. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. MITCH DANIELS (R), INDIANA: We've all got to get better everywhere.

ARNE DUNCAN, SECRETARY OF EDUCATION: Folks have accepted a status quo that just simply isn't good enough.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: But when it comes to vouchers and collective bargaining, Duncan says: "We must make every public school a great school, not a school good enough for someone else's children, but for our own children. I worry that Indiana may overlook the opportunity to drive change through tough-minded collaboration rather than confrontation."

When we come back, a conversation we taped earlier with a panel of experts devoted to improving the U.S. educational system, divided on how to do that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)
II.  Cognitive Performativity in State of the Union with Candy Crowley (5-1-11)

The contrast between the limited cognitive processes of American educational reformers and the state-of-the-art scientific thinking of the PISA analysts is striking: this is another moment in the unfolding of American Exceptionalism: while the OECD's cognitive performativity in their discourse on education is on the formal operational level, the level of cognitive performativity of America's "reform" leadership is at best concrete operational (ages 7 to 11).  Comparison of the cogitive performativity evident in the PISA reports with the rhetoric of educational reform in the United States suggests that the educational reformers themelves suffer from strategically disabling cognitive limitations.  

First two examples:  although the discussion of the effect of poverty on educational outcomes is virtually taboo in the United States, it is a fundamental concern of the OECD.  Indeed,  not only does the OECD take cognizance of the effect of socio-economic differences on cognitive development; they evaluates the effectiveness of OECD member nations' educational systems in narrowing the effects of such differences:

1.  OECD (2010), PISA 2009 Results: Overcoming Social Background – Equity in Learning Opportunities and Outcomes (Volume II)

The weak relationship shown in Figure II.1.3 [not shown here] suggests that countries with similar levels of income inequality distribute learning opportunities very differently.  This finding is important as it shows that equity in educational opportunities can be achieved even where income is distributed highly inequitably. For example, in Iceland and Hungary, two OECD countries with a gini coefficient of around 0.29, close to the OECD average of 0.31, the proportion of the variation in student reading performance explained by the variation in students’ socio-economic background is 6% and 26%, respectively. A wide range of countries sits between these two extremes. Finland and Norway appear with Iceland in the top-right corner with below-average impact of socio-economic background on performance and below-average underlying inequality. Austria, Belgium, France, Germany and Luxembourg join Hungary in the bottom-right quadrant with above-average impact of socio-economic background and below-average underlying inequalities. Estonia, Greece, Israel, Italy and Japan appear in the top-left quadrant, with above-average underlying inequalities and a below-average impact of socio-economic background; while Chile, new Zealand, Portugal, the United States and Turkey appear in the bottom-left quadrant, where income inequalities are large and the impact of socio-economic background on learning outcomes is also large. p. 32

One should compare the above with the oft-repeated shibboleth by our own educational reformers that "poverty is no excuse."  Thus do our educational reformers demonstrate their ignorance of regression analysis.
panel 2

CROWLEY: Joining me now, Democratic senator Michael Bennet of Colorado. He was the superintendent of Denver's public schools, Republican Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, he is the former education secretary and former president of the University of Tennessee, Randi Weingarten is president of the American Federation of Teachers and CNN education contributor Steve Perry is the founder and principal of Capital Prep Magnet School in Hartford, Connecticut. Thank you all for being here.

Let me throw out to you just the overarching question, I think that I personally was sort of appalled when I saw how the U.S. stacked up against other education systems around the world of 38 countries, we're about 14th, very middling. What are other countries doing that we're not doing? Just jump ball.

WEINGARTEN: So, we actually had an international summit sponsored by the Secretary of Education just this past month to think about just that, with many of the countries that out compete us at that summit. And what they are doing they focus on preparing teachers like we prepare doctors in this country. They focus on the support in classrooms. They look at teachers as the president has often said as nation builders and with a lot of stature.

We do things where, you know, we think a charter school here will work. Let's focus on testing one day. Let's focus on charter schools one day. We do the silver bullet theory. They do the theory of really growing knowledge.

BENNET: We have not recognized how the world has changed around us both in terms of our delivery of education and the international delivery. So when the last president became president George Bush, the second George Bush, we led the world in the production of college graduates. Today, ten years later, we're 12th or 15th in the world. That's how fast it's changed. And we're running a system right now that's producing from children in poverty only nine college graduates out of 100 kids.

So my view is that, you know, if we were given a blank sheet of paper to redesign the system, we wouldn't design the system we have today. One of the things we do is figure out how to much better support people that want to teach in our country.

CROWLEY: Either one of you, it seems to me that we don't really have time here to -- an entire generation is being lost in an educational system that's not just serving them badly, it's serving the nation badly.
2.  OECD (2011), Lessons from PISA for the United States, Strong Performers and Successful Reformers in Education, OECD Publishing.

Moderating the impact of socio-economic background on learning outcomes
 
Students who did not surpass the most basic performance level on PISA were not a random group and the results show that socio-economic disadvantage has a particularly strong impact on student performance in the United States: 17% of the variation in student performance in the United States is explained by students’ socio-economic background.  This contrasts with just 9% in Canada or Japan, two of the benchmark countries described later in this volume.  In other words, in the United States, two students from a different socio-economic background vary much more in their learning outcomes than is normally the case in OECD countries.  Among OECD countries, only Hungary, Belgium, Turkey, Luxembourg, Chile and Germany show a larger impact of socio-economic background on reading performance than the United States.  It is important to emphasise that these countries, including the United States, do not necessarily have a more disadvantaged socio-economic student intake than other countries; but socio-economic differences among students translate into a particularly strong impact on student learning outcomes (figure 2.4).

Similarly, among the 25 countries participating in PISA that show a more unequal distribution of income in their populations than the United States (among OECD countries, these include only Chile, Israel, Mexico, Portugal and Turkey) only Panama, Chile, Peru, Argentina, Uruguay and Turkey show a larger impact of socio-economic background on learning outcomes at school (figure 2.4).  The comparatively close relationship between the learning outcomes of students in the United States and socio-economic background is therefore not simply explained by a more socio-economically heterogeneous student population or society but, as noted before, mainly because socio-economic disadvantage translates more directly into poor educational performance in the United States than is the case in many other countries.  Students who did not surpass the most basic performance level on PISA were not a random group and the results show that socio-economic disadvantage has a particularly strong impact. (p 34)



panel 3

PERRY: Well, what we've done is we've designed schools to support the needs of adults, not the expectations that the country puts on its children. So we've created working conditions that are most conducive to the adults. We have 6 1/2 hour school days. We have an eight month school year, all of which is counter to what children need.

So one things that we're not doing that other countries are doing, and successful schools in this country -- because we need not leave this country, we have very successful schools in this country -- we haven't put children first.

CROWLEY: Let me just -- I just want to give these figures to our audience. 34 countries, the U.S. ranked 14th in reading, 17th in science, 25th in math. We must be doing something -- what is glaring here?

ALEXANDER: Well, let's think about what we're doing right. What we're doing right is by any standard we have almost all the best colleges and universities in the world, almost any standard. We should change our elementary and secondary system and make it more like our colleges which is to say create independent schools, we call them charter schools, and let the money follow the children to any school that fits the needs of those children. If they need to be there from 6:00 in the morning to 6:00 at night and on Saturday they can select that school. That would help.

WEINGARTEN: So, let me just jump in here, Senator. Because the senator has had tremendous amount of experience in terms of education. But that's -- but what the other countries are doing right is that they are actually focusing on making sure that all kids have a decent shot at education. They are not doing the kind of silver bullet theories we do in the United States.

(CROSSTALK)

ALEXANDER: The silver bullet theory is not giving -- if you give a poor kid a ticket to a good school, that's not a silver bullet, that's an opportunity.


Third example, on Teacher quality and teachers’ unions:

3.  OECD (2011), Lessons from PISA for the United States, Strong Performers and Successful Reformers in Education, OECD Publishing.


Teacher quality and teachers’ unions:

As PISA shows, in most OECD countries, once teachers are hired, it is very hard to remove them from professional service, irrespective of the quality of their work.  The high quality of teachers in those countries appears to be a function of the policies that determine the pool from which teachers are initially drawn, their compensation, the status of teachers, the high standards of entering university-level teacher-preparation programmes, the quality of their initial preparation, and the attention given to the quality of their preparation following their initial induction.  Critics of American education are sometimes disapproving of the teachers’ unions and of how they perceive these unions as interfering with promising school reform programmes by giving higher priority to the unions’ “bread and butter” issues than to what the evidence suggests students need to succeed.  But the fact is that many of the countries with the strongest student performance also have the strongest teachers’ unions, beginning with Japan and Finland.  There seems to be no relationship between the presence of unions, including and especially teachers’ unions, and student performance.  But there may be a relationship between the degree to which the work of teaching has been professionalised and student performance.  Indeed, the higher a country is on the world’s education league tables, the more likely that country is working constructively with its unions and treating its teachers as trusted professional partners. Witness the reports of Ontario in Canada or Finland.  (p. 238)


See Dan Pink on the surprising science of motivation  a rebuttal of economism (8 min in),  including the shibboleth of incentives.  Look at this video: it situates our educational reformers in the context of modern organizational theory.

OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR
The High Cost of Low Teacher Salaries  
By DAVE EGGERS and NÍNIVE CLEMENTS CALEGARI
New York Times, April 30, 2011

*see also August 18th 2011, panel discussion the quiet town of Edgartown in Martha’s Vineyard, in a small church, there was a on the achievement gap  
panel 4

WEINGARTEN: But what I'm saying is when we look at the evidence, look at the evidence, we have some incredibly great schools in the United States of America and we have some really terrible schools. But if you look at the evidence of what works, what works is having a strong group of teachers and principals working together collaboratively.

Having a real good curriculum that -- where we're engaging kids in a real way and trumping poverty, not making excuses for it. But these other countries in the world don't have independent charter schools.

(CROSSTALK)

ALEXANDER: Why don't you let a poor kid have a ticket to a good school, at Hartford for example.

 PERRY: Why is it -- if you believe what you said, then why is it that the teachers unions are the first in line to stop children from leaving failed schools? Why is it on a regular basis your organization stands in support of the teachers in failed schools. If we put children first, if we put children first, than what we don't care where they go to school, we just care they go to a good school.

We need your organization and others to stand with the education reforms and say children are first, every day, and regardless of what we think the school is or how hard the teachers are working if they are not producing shut the school down period.

WEINGARTEN: Actually, we've done a lot of those shut the schools down for the last 20 years and it hasn't worked. But on the ground right now as we're talking in Washington, there are cuts in school budgets throughout the country. So kids are losing out in terms of music. They are losing out in terms of sports. They are losing out in terms of arts. They are losing the kind of activities that they need to engage them.

The issue is...

ALEXANDER: Why don't you let them then go to a school that has music and arts.

PERRY: One of the reasons that we have that...

(CROSSTALK)


Teacher salaries relative to workers with college degrees
teachsal
This figure gives the lie to the right-wing propaganda machine's* attacks on teachers.  Look at Perry's comments to the right in the context of this graph.

*see David Brock, Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative (Three Rivers Press, 2003), and The Republican Noise Machine : Right-Wing Media and How It Corrupts Democracy (Crown Publishers,  2004)
Panel 5

WEINGARTEN: We need to have the finances in schools so we can help all kids, not some kids. The bottom line is...

PERRY: That's not the issue. One of the issues, as a principal who is...

WEINGARTEN: Steve, one more -- can I just finish one more point, which is that the point that you're raising about these kind of alternatives, there are studies now that say that 80 percent of these alternative schools, the charter schools are not performing as well as public schools.

PERRY: But that's not the only alternative. And as somebody who is on the front line and who does have the responsibility of maintaining a local budget, I think that one of the best things to happen in education has been the budget crisis because it requires us to hook into ourselves and make decisions and realize that what's driving the cost of education is not football practice, it's not band practice it's the personnel. And if you have people who get guaranteed increases regardless of whether or not they do anything well, then that's what drives the cost.
in panel 2 Weingarter refers to the dept of ed summit.  She, and it, are ignored.

panel 3: perry's anti-uin rhetric plus midless comment about putting children first, whichc other contries but not us have done

Alexaner: fails to grasp anything at all.  an idiot mouthing the shibbolets of provncial p[rotsantist

panel 4: perry--more anti-union rhetoric

panel 5: perry--more anti-union rhetoric

panel 8: weingarten tries to present PISA results on teacher development; isintrrupoted b Perry. Crowley has to intervene

panel 8
8Weingarten  in vain attempts to explain the prctices in finland and singapore

panel 9  perry's limitations (corete op) apparent; alexaner: The holy grail of elementary and secondary education is teacher evaluation and principal evaluation.

Panel 6

CROWLEY: Let me -- I'll come back and start with you, Senator. We're going to take a quick break here because I want to get down to some of the specifics because we're talking teacher pay here. You started out about talking about respect for teachers. I think I've heard that for 30 years in Washington about how we have to have more respect for teachers, we have to elevate that career choice. And I want to talk a little bit about how you all want to go about doing that. We'll be right back after this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: We're back and talking education reform with senators Michael Bennet and Lamar Alexander, as well as Randi Weingarten and Steve Perry.

Thank you all again. Let me start with you, Senator, because you did start out -- I promise you, since "Nation at Risk," and I remember doing a story about "Nation at Risk," and said, you know, if a foreign country had done to our schools what we're doing to our schools, we would have declared war, essentially. Here we are, we are still talking about we have to find a way to make this an elevated career path. How do we do it?

BENNET: Well, I would argue -- I said the other day on the Senate Floor that if the hundred senators in the Senate faced the same odds for their kids that kids in poverty face, I guarantee you, we wouldn't be hanging around the Senate Floor for very long, we would be going home to figure out how to get our kids into the finest schools with faculties that are doing the work that we were talking about earlier.

One of the things that I think we need to do is under and, and this is a positive thing about our country, we need to understand that finding people that are willing to do the same job for 30 years of their life is going to be really hard to do in the 21st Century. We used to do that. We take the best British literature student in her class and we'd make her a teacher for 30 years, because we wouldn't let her do anything else.

That's no longer the case. I'm very interested, as a result, and I've been thinking about how you think about compensation over a seven- or nine-year period of time, you know, in the classroom. Today we've got a system designed with a very low current wage. But we say, if you hang around for 30 -- or if you're there for 30 years, we'll give you a pension for your retirement.

Well that incentive structure may have made sense at one time. It probably makes less sense today for new people that are coming to the profession.
Final example on the role of the state in cognitive development (Bildung):

4.  OECD (2010), PISA 2009 Results: Overcoming Social Background – Equity in Learning Opportunities and Outcomes (Volume II) , p. 3

"Naturally, GDP per capita influences educational success, but this only explains 6% of the differences in average student performance.  The other 94% reflect the potential for public policy to make a difference.  The stunning success of Shanghai-China, which tops every league table in this assessment by a clear margin, shows what can be achieved with moderate economic resources in a diverse social context.  In mathematics, more than a quarter of Shanghai-China’s 15-year-olds can conceptualise, generalise, and creatively use information based on their own investigations and modelling of complex problem situations. They can apply insight and understanding and develop new approaches and strategies when addressing novel situations. In the OECD area, just 3% of students reach this level of performance." (Only 1.9% of Americn students reached level 6.)


These paragraphs (1 through 4) exemplify the complex systems approach of the educational leadership of the EU.  As mentioned above, the contrast between the primitive cognitive processes of American educational reformers and the state-of-the-art scientific thinking of the PISA analysts is striking.  This can be seen immediately in the next section.  

One point--the potential for public policy to make a difference--will be taken up later, in
America's Future is Now: A Failed State?  Much has been written on the role of the state in modern societies.  In the twenty first century the role of the state has become more significant than ever, for as the PISA reports indicate, the development of the population from concrete-operational competence to formal-operational competence is entirely dependent on a strong state committed to such development, as in Finland.  And formal-operational competence is now a prerequisite for entry into the modern "middle class" (admittedly one of the most vacuous terms of modern discourse.  I will deal with that later).
panel 7

CROWLEY: Do you think that the system, as it currently is, protects bad teachers? Would you admit that?

WEINGARTEN: I think that the system -- I think that right now whereas there's no epidemic of bad teachers, we've got to do a lot better job at the preparation, the support, the nurturing, and then if somebody can't teach, ushering them out. And we have...

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: If we're 14th around the world and our...

WEINGARTEN: Wait, wait, let me...

(CROSSTALK)

PERRY: It is teachers. We can't just say that we live in a country where we have bad parents.

WEINGARTEN: Let me finish.

CROWLEY: Let me have her just finish.

WEINGARTEN: It's not -- we don't have bad parents. And we don't have an epidemic of bad teachers. What these other countries do is that they do what our new teachers have just told us they want. They support and nurture.

Teaching is not like speed-dating. You can't just plop somebody in and say, do it, and then if they don't get the test scores that one wants, to usher them out of the profession. We have to nurture and prepare.

Having said that, we have to evaluate and we have focus on performance. Steve is right about that. And the AFT has been focusing on how we do evaluations in a way that doesn't shield incompetence, but also doesn't allow management to have an excuse not to manage.
panel 8

PERRY: The problem with many of us, principals in particular, like I am, is that we spend a year or two sword-fighting with the organizations that protect them to make sure that we have dotted our I's and crossed our T's to get rid of this teacher.

That teacher is responsible on the low end for 120 students. So that teacher is the Algebra I teacher, and she's not very good. Then all of the children who had her for Algebra I do not know what they need to know. We can't get that year back.

So what we need you to do...

WEINGARTEN: Steve, we are doing in Connecticut -- in Connecticut, we are doing the kind of innovation in terms of legislation that actually will help us identify, people are doing a good job, and if they are not, to help them, and if they are still not, to usher them out of the profession.

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: Let me interrupt both of you at this point only because, you know, if you're the mother of the child, and the teacher that you want to help, your don't want your child with that teacher that needs help, you want it with a teacher that knows what they are doing.

WEINGARTEN: Right. But, Candy, the issue becomes what's happening right now is that there in the countries that outcompete us, in the schools that do well, it is a joint venture where what I'm suggesting here is that, as a former classroom teacher, you cannot just say to somebody, OK, just do everything we're asking you to do with every single child without help.

And what we're talking about and what Singapore has done so well is that they focus on evaluation and they focus on continuous improvement. That's the kind of stuff that they did, that Michael did in Denver. That's the kind of stuff that we need to do throughout the country and we can do it.
Comments


Weingarten: opens with reference to the U.S. Department of Education-sponsored International Summit on the Teaching Profession that took place in New York City in March of 2011.  This is not discussed by anyone on the panel.  Then makes second reference to the evidence from PISA.  Again this is not discussed.

Alexander: Shibboleths of provincial Protestantism; concrete operational; apparently unable to function on the formal-operational level.

Perry: Attack on teachers; concrete operational.  Can only focus on concrete examples; apparently unable to function on the formal-operational level.  

Bennett: flaccid responses, vague references simplistically expressed, but no shibboleths of provincial Protestantism.  No reference to the International Summit.

At one point Weingarten expressed skepticism of the single bullet apporach.

Comparison of the cognitive performativity evident in the PISA reports with the rhetoric of educational reform in the United States suggests that the educational reformers themelves suffer from strategically disabling cognitive limitations.  The panel's failure to discuss the Summit is utterly astounding.  Beyond that, the question arises as to whether or to what extent the cognitive limitations of our educational "reformers" is part of a deeper malaise.
panel 9

(CROSSTALK)

PERRY: Just real quickly, if I could say practically, when I have a teacher, for instance, who falls asleep in class and I try to fire this individual, and it takes me four to six months to fire them, and I have to counsel them and deprive them of the support, that's what we're talking about. We're talking about people not doing their job, and us trying to get rid of them.

WEINGARTEN: But, Steve, we are changing that.

CROWLEY: Let me call a time on this.

WEINGARTEN: We are changing that. And you know that and I know that.

CROWLEY: As you can see, there's always a conflict with the unions versus, you know, what people want to do to get better teachers in. So let's put it on the table, what's out there? I know you all have been working up on Capitol Hill in terms of federal legislation, federal reforms. What's the single best reform you all think is doable at the federal level right now?

ALEXANDER: Well, if you hadn't said federal level, I could have answered that.

(LAUGHTER)

ALEXANDER: Because the whole...

CROWLEY: Well, $71 billion, you ought to be doing something with that.

ALEXANDER: Federal spending on elementary and secondary education is about 10 percent of the whole package. And action is in the classroom and in the community. The holy grail of elementary and secondary education is teacher evaluation and principal evaluation.

How do you -- how do you evaluate a good teacher? And especially how do you relate student achievement to teacher performance? We're in the Model T phase of that. We don't know how to do it very well. Michael did it in Denver. BENNET: Not very well but it's getting better.

ALEXANDER: Well, but we tried it in Tennessee, lots of people are trying it. But we need to focus. The Gates Foundation is funding that. Tennessee is moving ahead on it even today as it was 20 years ago. But that's what we need to do to attract and keep the best teachers in the classroom.

I'm not talking about kicking people out. I think it's more important to keep good people in, and to find out who they are and reward them, pay them well, and you have to have differentiated pay and pay some more than others to do that.

CROWLEY: Senator Michael Bennet, Senator Lamar Alexander, Randi Weingarten, thank you, and so much, Steve Perry as well. I have to have you back because I'm not sure we have solutions but we do know what the problems are.

(CROSSTALK)

CROWLEY: Yes, we started the conversation anyway. Thank you all so much for joining us.

Second, I provide links to some interesting news accounts of the reformers' handiwork, together with my commentary
4.  Media links as moments/topological subspaces/windows onto processes

below is a more sophistated expression of  We Don't need no Education:  

"“I can study Vygotsky later,” said Tayo Adeeko, a 24-year-old third-grade teacher at Empower Charter School in Crown Heights. She was referring to another education school staple — Lev Vygotsky, a Soviet theorist of cognitive development who died in 1934. “Right now,” she added, “my kids need to learn how to read.” from Ed Schools’ Pedagogical Puzzle

Comment: this appears to be an apotheosis of concrete-operational thought and a gentle demonization of formal operation thought as such.  See Developmental Divergence  
Posted at 11:21 PM ET, 03/23/2011 Wash Post Valerie Strauss
Darling-Hammond: U.S. vs highest-achieving nations in education  

•Ed Schools’ Pedagogical Puzzle, by SHARON OTTERMAN (NYT July 21, 2011)

10 Years of Assessing Students With Scientific Exactitude
, By MICHAEL WINERIP
Published: December 18, 2011 NYT

Educated nation? By Harold Levy The Hechinger Report

Third, I provide excerpts from a report on the state of American competitiveness by Members of the 2005 “Rising Above the Gathering Storm” Committee, prepared for the Presidents of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine.
However, the most pervasive concern was considered to be the state of United States K-12 education
The members of the 2005 “Rising Above the Gathering Storm” Committee are listed below.  This is about as "elite" a group as one can find--major multinational corporations, major universities, and the National Academy of Sciences, etc. (see full cover page to the right).  Elsewhere on this site I will critique the way the term "elite" is bandied about as epithet or label, rather than fully developed concept.  (E.g.: see Keynesian Elite in the New Deal State for example of what I mean by fully developed concept.)  Two elements of the concept of elite must be the adjectives hegemonic and strategic.

In this report one finds no reference to charter schools and test scores, the current fraudulent shibboleths of the band of hustlers who call themselves educators; no reference to overpaid teachers wallowing in privilege.  One does not find Baptist ministers and basketball superstars and venture capitalists as the new educational leadership (Detroit's charter schools).

One also finds no media coverage of this report.  This is striking.

To the right are excerpts from their report; below are links to media stories and my own commentary.
RISING ABOVE THE GATHERING STORM, REVISITED

Rapidly Approaching Category 5

By Members of the 2005 “Rising Above the Gathering Storm” Committee

Prepared for the Presidents of the
National Academy of Sciences
National Academy of Engineering
Institute of Medicine

NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES,
NATIONAL ACADEMY OF ENGINEERING, AND
INSTITUTE OF MEDICINE
OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
Washington, D.C.
www.nap.edu
Members of the 2005 “Rising Above the Gathering Storm” Committee (this is the now-belagured CED sector of modern corporate capitalism

1.  corporate

NORMAN R. AUGUSTINE [NAE/NAS] (Chair) is the retired chairman and CEO of the Lockheed Martin Corporation and a former Undersecretary of the Army. He is a recipient of the National Medal of Technology.

CRAIG BARRETT [NAE] is retired chairman and CEO of Intel Corporation.

GAIL CASSELL [IOM] is vice president for scientific affairs and a Distinguished Lilly Research Scholar for Infectious Diseases at Eli Lilly and Company.  She is the former president of the American Society for Microbiology and former member of the Food and Drug Administration Science Board and Advisory Committees to the Director of the National Institutes of Health and the Center for Disease Control.
CHARLES HOLLIDAY JR. [NAE] is the retired chairman of the Board and CEO of DuPont.

PETER O’DONNELL JR. is president of the O’Donnell Foundation of Dallas, a private foundation that develops and funds model programs designed to strengthen engineering and science education and research.

LEE R. RAYMOND [NAE] is the retired chairman of the Board and CEO of Exxon Mobil Corporation.


P. ROY VAGELOS [NAS/IOM] is the retired chairman and CEO of Merck & Co., Inc.


2.  education

NANCY GRASMICK is the Maryland state superintendent of schools.

SHIRLEY ANN JACKSON [NAE] is president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She is a past president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and was chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ANITA K. JONES [NAE] is University Professor Emerita at the University of Virginia. She served as director of defense research and engineering at the U.S. Department of Defense and was vice-chair of the National Science Board.

RICHARD LEVIN is president of Yale University and the Frederick William Beinecke Professor of Economics.
 
C. D. (DAN) MOTE JR. [NAE] is president emeritus of the University of Maryland and the Glenn L. Martin Institute Professor of Engineering.

Additional members of the 2005 Committee:

STEVEN CHU [NAS], a Nobel Laureate in physics, is currently serving as U.S. Secretary of Energy.

ROBERT GATES, former president of Texas A&M University, is currently serving as U.S. Secretary of Defense.

JOSHUA LEDERBERG [NAS], recipient of the Nobel Prize in physiology/medicine, passed away on February 2, 2008.

CHERRY MURRAY [NAS/NAE] is dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science at Harvard University. She is immediate past president of the American Physical Society and a past deputy director for science and technology at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. She was formerly a senior vice president at Bell Labs, Lucent Technologies.

RObERT C. RICHARDSON [NAS] is the F. R. Newman Professor of Physics and the vice provost for research at Cornell University. He was a co-winner of the Nobel Prize in physics in 1996.

CHARLES M. VEST [NAE] is president of the National Academy of Engineering and is president emeritus of MIT and a professor of mechanical engineering. He is a recipient of the National Medal of Technology.

GEORGE M. WHITESIDES [NAS/NAE] is the Woodford L. & Ann A. Flowers University Professor at Harvard University. He has served as an adviser for the National Science Foundation and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
 
RICHARD N. ZARE [NAS] is the Marguerite Blake Wilbur Professor of Natural Science at Stanford University. He was chair of the National Science Board from 1996 to 1998.
The original Gathering Storm competitiveness report focuses on the ability of America and Americans to compete for jobs in the evolving global economy. The possession of quality jobs is the foundation of a high quality life for the nation’s citizenry.

The report paints a daunting outlook for America if it were to continue on the perilous path it has been following in recent decades with regard to sustained competitiveness.

The purpose of the present report is to assess changes in America’s competitive posture in the five years that have elapsed since the Gathering Storm report was initially published and to assess the status of implementation of the National Academies’ recommendations.  p. 2


The Gathering Storm report assessed America’s position with respect to each of the principal ingredients of innovation and competitiveness—Knowledge Capital, Human Capital and the existence of a creative “Ecosystem.” Numerous significant findings resulted—for example, with regard to Knowledge Capital it was noted that federal government funding of R&D as a fraction of GDP has declined by 60 percent in 40 years.7 With regard to Human Capital, it was observed that over two-thirds of the engineers who receive PhD’s from United States universities are not United States citizens.8 And with regard to the Creative Ecosystem it was found that United States firms spend over twice as much on litigation as on research.9 However, the most pervasive concern was considered to be the state of United States K-12 education, which on average is a laggard among industrial economies—while costing more per student than any other OECD country.10

So where does America stand relative to its position of five years ago when the Gathering Storm report was prepared? The unanimous view of the committee members participating in the preparation of this report is that our nation’s outlook has worsened. While progress has been made in certain areas—for example, launching the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy—the latitude to fix the problems being confronted has been severely diminished by the growth of the national debt over this period from $8 trillion to $13 trillion.11

Further, in spite of sometimes heroic efforts and occasional very bright spots, our overall public school system—or more accurately 14,000 systems—has shown little sign of improvement, particularly in mathematics and science.12 Finally, many other nations have been markedly progressing, thereby affecting America’s relative ability to compete effectively for new factories, research laboratories, administrative centers—and jobs. While this progress by other nations is to be both encouraged and welcomed, so too is the notion that Americans wish to continue to be among those peoples who do prosper.

The only promising avenue for achieving this latter outcome, in the view of the Gathering Storm committee and many others, is through innovation. Fortunately, this nation has in the past demonstrated considerable prowess in this regard. Unfortunately, it has increasingly placed shackles on that prowess such that, if not relieved, the nation’s ability to provide financially and personally rewarding jobs for its own citizens can be expected to decline at an accelerating pace. The recommendations made five years ago, the highest priority of which was strengthening the public school system and investing in basic scientific research, appears to be as appropriate today as then.

The Gathering Storm Committee’s overall conclusion is that in spite of the efforts of both those in government and the private sector, the outlook for America to compete for quality jobs has further deteriorated over the past five years.

The Gathering Storm increasingly appears to be a Category 5
p. 4-5
Fourth, I compare the members of this committee with the major forces behind the reform movement, as derived from an analysis of the corporate backers of Relay University, Wall Street's attempt at subverting professional, science-based teacher education in America's schools of education.



Institutional Contexts for above discourse:



Charter Schools (Wikipedia)

•Charter School Battle Shifts to Affluent Suburbs
  By WINNIE Hu July 16, 2011 NYT

CER Board of Directors  

The Bill Gates problem in school reform, By Valerie Strauss

Volunteer: Why I stopped helping Stand for Children (update) By Valerie Strauss WP 7-14-11
 
For-Profit College Group Sued as U.S. Lays Out Wide Fraud
, By TAMAR LEWIN, August 8, 2011

Michelle Rhee (Wiki) She has also been a visible figure in the national media, appearing on television shows, radio programs, and the documentary film Waiting for Superman. In May 2011, Rhee spoke in favor of school choice alongside the Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker at an event hosted by the American Federation for Children, a pro-school choice education organization founded and funded by Betsy DeVos.[47]

Eager for Spotlight, but Not if It Is on a Testing Scandal, By MICHAEL WINERIP
Published: August 21, 2011 NYT

Under Pressure, Teachers Tamper With Tests, by Trip Gabriel, NYT June 10, 2010

Leading mathematician debunks ‘value-added’, by Valerie Strauss (Wash Post 5-9-11)

In War of Words, 'Reform' a Potent Weapon.  Key phrases provide powerful shorthand for those with specific policy bent, By Sean Cavanagh EdWek March 2, 2011

High School Classes May Be Advanced in Name Only, by Sam Dillon, Published: April 25, 2011

Jeb Bush Leads Broad Push for Education Change With ‘Florida Formula’, By TRIP GABRIEL, Published: April 26, 2011

Questions about cheating could hinder efforts to improve schools (Wasp Post By Bill Turque, Published: July 25)

When standardized test scores soared in D.C., were the gains real?

In Public School Efforts, a Common Background: Private Education, NYT 4-17-11

Behind Grass-Roots School Advocacy, Bill Gates
, By SAM DILLON, NYT May 21, 2011

Five myths about America’s schools Paul Farhi is a reporter for The Washington Post (5-23-11  ???)

Posted at 10:34 AM ET, 05/22/2011
The letter from assessment experts the N.Y. Regents ignored    
 
Posted at 01:21 PM ET, 05/17/2011
NY regent: Why we shouldn’t link teacher evaluation to test scores
By Valerie Strauss


behind school reform talk: the shibboleths of provncial republicanism (white, anglo-saxon, evanelical)  leads int next section

Posted at 4:43 PM ET, 12/14/2010
How Shanghai topped PISA rankings -- and why it's not big news in China
By Valerie Strauss

Charter School Battle Shifts to Affluent Suburbs, NYT  By WINNIE HU
Published: July 16, 2011

Tom Vander Ark’s New York-Area Charter Schools Falter

By ANNA M. PHILLIPS
Published: July 14, 2011

Training of Teachers Is Flawed, Study Says
By TAMAR LEWIN
Published: July 21, 2011

The National Council on Teacher Quality
Our Funders
Board of Directors