CURMUDGUCATION: Barber: Let It All Burn

CURMUDGUCATIONThe slightly-cranky voice navigating the world of educational “reform” while trying to still pursue the mission of providing quality education.

Source: CURMUDGUCATION: Barber: Let It All Burn


Barber: Let It All Burn

On Valentine’s Day, Sir Michael Barber (the head education honcho at Pearson) took to the74 to offer a rather odd and ultimately confused metaphor for education reform by walking us through the story of St. Paul’s Cathedral. It’s the test from his speech at the 2016 Global Google Education Symposium. Yikes.

The problem, he asserts, began with the construction of the original St. Paul’s, a classic Gothic construction whose spire had been shattered by a lightning strike in the 1560s, a mess that was never repaired. A century later, royal surveyors recommended patch and repair, but fortunately, just a few years later, the Great Fire of London leveled the city, St. Paul’s included. Christopher Wren got to build a new cathedral.

Does this historic example of disaster-based opportunity remind you of Katrina-socked New Orleans? Well, it does Barber. And it represents for him a choice that he will repeat throughout the piece— patch and mend, or transformation?

He proceeds with a litany of ills– blacks men sent to prison, poor students not admitted to Oxford, Greece’s huge levels of youth unemployment, illiterate Ugandan teachers, jobs at risk for automation.

Patch and mend, or transformation?

He’s talking now about the education system. And he will now call out the reasons he think transformation isn’t happening.

Cost– it’s easy to let short term concerns “override long-term aspirations.” Kind of like poor people could save money over time by buying a Tesla with the $80,000 they don’t have.

Entrenched status quovians– Oh, those damn teachers’ unions. They advocate for crazy things like smaller classes. Barber also accuses us of advocating for less accountability, which is simply a lie.

Psychological barrier– This is clever. The many botched ed reforms of the past are not to blame for, you know, failing, but rather their failure has created a psychological resistance. Sort of like your psychological resistance to having your hair permed by a six year old, or your psychological resistance to taking your car back to the mechanic who botched your car repairs the last ten times you gave him a chance.

Barber then presents his chart of “false dichotomies” as part of the psychological barrier problem.

His point here is that we can actually have both/and of each of these.  Some of these are straw men– has anybody ever said that we have to choose between best practices and innovation? Others are just glossing over some serious questions, like universal standards vs. personalization. And all of them skip over the question of the content of the ideas considered– it’s not a strategy vs. implementation issue if the strategy is junk to begin with and no implementation in the world will de-junkify it

Lack of imagination– “We cannot build what we cannot imagine” is a facile observation, and not really applicable here. First, Wren’s imagination was firmly rooted in a deep and thorough understanding of architecture and building. He did not imagine a cathedral floating on clouds, or with a roof unsupported by functional structure. Second, we’re not talking about building a big stone structure; we’re talking about an organization grounded in a complex web of human relationships. I can imagine that Angelina Jolie will fall madly in love with me the moment she sees me. I can imagine that I can staff a factory with a thousand obedient, compliant, happy meat widgets who will put loyalty to the corporation ahead of their own concerns. But imagination does not make it so.

But Barber believes that some systems and system leaders have made it happen, including Paul Pastorak and Paul Vallas in New Orleans, which is a bit of a stretch. Tony Blain and Lee Kuan Yew (Singapore) get nods as well. He allows as none is perfect, but all have “dramatically improved student outcomes within three to five years,” a claim that is only true insofar as those “leaders” were able to swap out bad test taking students for meat widgets that did better on bubble tests.

Barber is attached to the romantic vision of the Hero CEO, the “courageous leader” who can transform an entire system, using the transformative elements of deliverology,a management consultant cathedral of bunk.

Barber wants to spend the rest of his life transforming the living daylights out of education, comparing that goal to Wren’s forty-year work on the Cathedral. He wants to get transforming right away, and the big finish of his speech is a question–

Why do we have to wait for the fire?

So, I guess, step one is to burn it all down now. Disaster capitalism should never have to wait for a disaster to present itself.

But here’s the really curious thing about Barber’s speech. I have saved the first for last.

Barber opens this speech by introducing St. Paul’s Cathedral via the famous WWII photo showing its dome rising above the rubble of a shell-shocked London.

This was the view my mother saw each morning as she crossed Southwark Bridge on her walk to St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, where she was training to be a doctor. She found the sight of St. Paul’s rising majestically above the city very inspiring. Millions of Londoners felt the same way. St. Paul’s was still standing. Britain had endured.

So there was never a question about transforming this St. Paul’s, never an issue of wanting to destroy it and replace it, in fact a celebration and gratitude that it survived the fire, held on through the disaster, and stayed standing. Barber’s mother never encountered someone staring at the dome while waiting for the fire to come and ruin it so that replacement was the only option.

The monument that Barber seeks to honor maintains its status as an important monument precisely because the fire didn’t take it, and nobody wanted it to, not even the madman in Europe whose imagination, whose vision was of a London completely destroyed– even St. Paul’s cathedral.

Barber answered his own question before he even asked it. Not all visions are worth pursuing, not all systems are waiting for the fire, and not everyone who wants to watch the world burn deserves the power to bring their imagination to life.

I honestly don’t believe that Trump voters want to take Nathaniel’s Medicaid | Eclectablog


‘I honestly don’t believe that Trump voters want
to take Nathaniel’s Medicaid’, at Eclectablog

You may view the latest post at…

Source: I honestly don’t believe that Trump voters want to take Nathaniel’s Medicaid | Eclectablog

Grand Rapids Econ Club hosted the President of the American Enterprise Institute: The most influential Right Wing Think Tank in DC today

Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

screen-shot-2017-02-20-at-7-18-13-pmThe President of one of the most influential right wing think tanks, the American Enterprise Institute, spoke to a crowded room at the JW Marriott in downtown Grand Rapids today.

Hosted by the Econ Club of Grand Rapids, Arthur C. Brooks, spoke to a room full of business people and other members of the power structure today about an idea they all love, which was entrepreneurship. Nothing that Brooks had to say was terribly interesting, rather it was just a 30 minute cheerleading session about how great starting businesses are.

However, the American Enterprise Institute is something worth talking about and something that everyone who cares about social justice and collective liberation ought to pay attention to.

Here are just some of the positions that the American Enterprise Institute has taken in recent decades:

  • Opposes minimum wage laws and living wage campaignsscreen-shot-2017-02-20-at-7-24-45-pm
  • Opposes any regulation of Wall Street
  • Questions Climate…

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$100 x 100 Wayland Area Small Business Challenge | Allegan County United Way

Are you a Wayland area small business owner?

If not, could you share this with someone who is?

With your gift of just $100, you can improve educational success, household income and the health of Allegan County residents.

Our goal is for 100 small businesses to donate $100 for a total of $10,000.

We invite you to join other local businesses such as Worksighted (pictured below) in making our community a better place for all.

Learn more below and accept the challenge today!

Follow the link below to follow the challenge!

MEA Retired: New MEA-Retired Website Launches

New MEA-Retired Website Launches

We would like to invite all Michigan Public School retirees to click on and explore our newly designed website, The new design is optimized for tablets and smart phones. About 60 percent of our emails are opened by tablets/smartphones. You will find a reorganized and attractive website that focuses on information that is important to public school retirees. The first thing you will notice is the announcementssection which draws attention to pictures of member activity and features an article of current interest and importance to retired school employees.

The GRAY-COLORED DROP DOWN MENU at the top of the page is a navigation pathway to information about the workings of our organization. Here you will find archived copies of MEA-Retired publications such as the quarterly Michigan Retirement Report and monthly Tribune newsletter. Click on CHAPTERS to find our 38 local chapters around the state, some of which have their own websites. Under the MEMBERSHIP tab you will find information on how to become a lifetime member, how the AIM membership program works, and the importance of becoming a lifetime member of MEA-Retired.

The RESOURCES tab found both on the top right side of the home page as well on the far left is perhaps the most useful to members. Here you will find the updated and current publications from MPSERS (Michigan Public School Employee Retirement System) and our insurance providers. We have posted links to MPSERS charts which allow retirees to easily compare the differences in coverage and out-of-pocket costs among the five health care providers from which we can choose. There are 14 links under the insurance tab alone including the insurance rates of BCBS and other information. We included phone numbers and links to all of our providers. The RESOURCES tab also is an important gateway to information about Social Security and Medicare.

If you are a lifetime NEA/MEA member, you need to log in at the top right of the website. Once you log in, an additional blue colored drop down menuappears. Here you can explore menu items just for members such as Leadership, Documents and Forms, Governance, Committees, and Political Information. Directions for explaining how members can log in are written in an accompanying article found below.

Whether you are a lifetime member or not, we hope MEA retirees find our website useful and informative.

Member Login Directions

At the top right hand corner of the website there are two gray boxed – username and password. Members can login with these credentials: Example a Thomas Smith would login as follows:
Username: (first letter of his first name + last name = tsmith
Password: (last four digits of his Social Security Number)
If you have any login problems please send an email to the email address at the bottom.

Source: MEA Retired

Presidents Day: What Trump Has Done for the Country

Diane Ravitch's blog

I have received several copies of this statement about Trump’s accomplishments.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it looks like Trump is actually making America great again. Just look at the progress made since the election:

1. Unprecedented levels of ongoing civic engagement.

2. Millions of Americans now know who their state and federal representatives are without having to google.

3. Millions of Americans are exercising more. They’re holding signs and marching every week.

4. Alec Baldwin is great again. Everyone’s forgotten he’s kind of a jerk.

5. The Postal Service is enjoying the influx cash due to stamps purchased by millions of people for letter and postcard campaigns.

6. Likewise, the pharmaceutical industry is enjoying record growth in sales of anti-depressants.

7. Millions of Americans now know how to call their elected officials and know exactly what to say to be effective.

8. Footage of town hall meetings…

View original post 326 more words

National Education Policy Center:   “Imbalanced Report Partially Explores Teacher Evaluation Reform”

BOULDER, CO (February 21, 2017) – In response to pressure from the Obama administration, many states adopted policies linking teacher evaluations to student performance on standardized tests and other measured outcomes. However, the newly enacted Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) seems to mark a federal deprioritization of teacher evaluation reform.

A new report from Bellwether Education Partners seeks to influence states’ decisions about possible revisions to teacher evaluation policies, but its conclusions are often underdeveloped or unsubstantiated.

Amy Farley, an Assistant Professor at the University of Cincinnati, reviewed For Good Measure? Teacher Evaluation Policy in the ESSA Era for the Think Twice Think Tank Review Project at the National Education Policy Center, housed at CU Boulder’s School of Education.

The report argues for the maintenance of key elements of high-stakes teacher evaluation, including the heavy focus on accountability and the use of student outcomes to evaluate teachers. It also urges policymakers to invest in management, capacity, and strategies to capture lessons learned.

While the report raises several good questions with regard to the future of teacher evaluation, it has three key flaws: it overstates the likelihood that ESSA will result in widespread changes to evaluation systems, it ignores the literature regarding substantial technical challenges and unintended consequences of growth measures, and it dismisses the ideological and political debates surrounding teacher accountability.

Professor Farley concludes that the report offers “little fresh or worthwhile” guidance for policymakers. The unsubstantiated claims and dogged defense of student growth metrics poorly serve policymakers seeking a nuanced and research-based discussion of teacher evaluation reform in the ESSA era.

Find Amy Farley’s review at:

Find For Good Measure? Teacher Evaluation Policy in the ESSA Era, by Kaitlin Pennington and Sara Mead, published by Bellwether Education Partners, at: (1).pdf

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC) Think Twice Think Tank Review Project ( provides the public, policymakers, and the press with timely, academically sound reviews of selected publications. The project is made possible in part by support provided by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice:

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education, produces and disseminates high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. Visit us at: http://nepc.colorado.eduhgy

Source: Imbalanced Report Partially Explores Teacher Evaluation Reform | National Education Policy Center

Phasing out income-tax revenue a dangerous game | Bridge Magazine

Lansing’s tax-cutting obsession is leading Michigan down the drain” – Phil Power

Ninety minutes.  That’s all it took last week for the House Tax Policy Committee to hear testimony and send the full House a bill that would gradually phase out the Michigan personal income tax.

The bill, passed 7-to-4 on a straight party-line vote (with a couple abstentions), would cut the tax rate from 4.25% to 3.9% next Jan. 1, and by 0.1% each following year until the tax is eliminated entirely in 2057. State revenue loss in the first full year was estimated at $1.1 billion out of a $9 billion state general fund.

There was no discussion of what would need to be cut — or where any new money to make up the difference would come from.

That’s what passes for the “careful deliberation” our lawmakers devoted to state tax policy when they considered a measure that would leave a giant hole in the state’s already stretched budget.

Read the rest of the opinion essay here: Phasing out income-tax revenue a dangerous game | Bridge Magazine

“Creating Quality Education” —  By Bill Cobbs for MI Governor

At “Bill Cobbs for Governor,” I aim to build a better tomorrow by providing complete education services. I wish to serve the people of MI.

Source: Creating Quality Education – Bill Cobbs for Governor in MI

Creating Quality K-12 Education
Making Michigan a Better Place for Kids

Education is a fundamental building block for Michigan’s future. Investing in a quality k-12 education for our children is a moral imperative. The investment we make today will be the dividends we gain tomorrow.

Literacy Is Fundamental

Literacy is important to both our democracy and freedom as a nation. From all that I’ve read, one of the most important aspects of the slave trade was denying slaves the ability to read and write to maintain servitude. While slavery has ended, even to enjoy Freedom of the Press, we must be able to read what our journalists print.

Without literacy, we can’t study our nation’s history, to understand why our nation granted the freedoms we now enjoy. Without literacy, what remains is a dumbed down society plagued by the virus of cognitive dissonance eating away one by one, at our critical thinking, our attention span, and our very moral fiber. And here we are. Trump.

Today’s bondage may not be physical, but it is even more insidious. Children are being deprived of basic literacy both in our schools and in the home.

In educational policy, we are being drawn into the trap of privatization by “school of choice” marketing. This marketing is not for our benefit. Listen closely when a Governor says he is taking over academic control of your school, but he is not accountable for a quality education! A Governor that would rather spend $35,000 to imprison an illiterate juvenile, than $10,000 to teach a child, has another agenda. Governor Snyder has been deaf to our cries, and out of touch with the components of good Governance. Literacy is all the more difficult to achieve when the average charter school teacher has only one year of experience.

There are four steps to this immoral and unethical scheme to profit from the destabilization of our neighborhoods:

  1. Defunding neighborhood schools so they lack books, staff, and proper maintenance
  2. Labeling public schools which lack critical resources as “failing” to drive students away
  3. Closing the schools lacking critical resources
  4. Privatizing by giving away publicly funded community assets to for-profit charters

There was a time that brothers and sisters went to the same school, knew the same teachers, and were proud to root for the home team at high school football games. The viability of every neighborhood and its cultural institutions is important to literacy. When neighborhoods have safe, clean schools, people desire to put down roots and property values rise.

Conversely, destroying our neighborhood institutions creates crime and instability. It has been shown that closing schools and making children cross into unknown territories increased gang activity and gang membership in Detroit. Poor areas are easy victims because more families are renters, and these families have fewer connections to the neighborhood. Therefore, children who attend charters may have an even more difficult time forming stable positive relationships.

Yet, the opportunity to send our child to a charter school across town with a fancier name is so tempting; we may forget momentarily the impact on our property values when our neighborhood school is boarded up. Let’s remember, we are in this together. Destabilizing neighborhood institutions to benefit a business is counter-intuitive to government efficiency, transparency, and accountability. It also creates segregation by dividing children into two classes:

  • Children who will be accepted at a charter and have transportation
  • Children who are not accepted at a charter and do not have transportation
Around the country, brown and black communities are being pushed off the precipice into privatization. Have you noticed that when the public accountability of an elected board is removed, we have the Charles Pughs, and Eddie Longs, eager to step right up to “mentor” a fresh crop of fatherless victims?
There are many examples I won’t name, but you have heard about them, too. If we want literacy, we have a moral responsibility to shore up deficiencies that exist in our neighborhood schools and empower teachers and parents with the resources they need.
In our homes, we must reinforce the importance of reading. Some families have every game system and shoes with three-figure price tags. These same homes may not have a book. This is the Slavery of Consumerism which keeps us in a financial bondage our children may never escape from.
There are still lessons to be learned from Oliver Twist, and I Know Why the Mockingbird Sings. Books can teach us about faraway places. Books can show a child that his or her self-worth cannot be determined by things. When we hunger for things, we can never have enough things. Things are secondary to character and community pride. Things are secondary to dreams.
At home, we must reinforce education’s role in opportunity. We cannot allow the television and gaming systems to be the educational tools in our home. Whatever neighborhood we live in, we as parents must expose our children to reading at an early age.
Reading is power. We must find creative ways to make learning fun. We break the stranglehold of illiteracy by having strong community-based schools and homes that stress reading skills early. We must praise education and make it paramount to the children’s future.
We can fix this. We must properly fund public K-12 education. We cannot abandon our neighborhood schools. We must stop blaming educators and empower them. We must not allow education of our children to be driven by economic standing. We must not abandon our special needs students. Some charter schools have done excellent work, but destabilization of our public institutions for school privatization is not the answer.
We must increase educational spending, and use our resources more effectively. We must move money from the incarceration process to the educational process. We have to provide our children with the tools to become doctors, lawyers, teachers, and public servants and productive contributors to our community.
After nearly 17 years of school choice, it is estimated that Michigan is 40th of 50 states in child literacy. With this in mind, we can no longer allow one family in West Michigan to decide the fate of every child via political contributions.
If we want to throw off the choke hold of illiteracy, we must do our duty as citizens. Many died for our right to vote. Staying home on Election Day has laid the red carpet for politicians beholden to corporations which turn our children into commodities for sale like corn or wheat.
We must care about the policy being written for our community and make our voices heard. We must groom leaders with moral character. We must get in the voting line and we must pull the lever for people who value funding quality education in every Michigan neighborhood. We must open a book, and read to our kids. Literacy is fundamental.
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