Friday, September 26, 2014

As Long As We’re Testing…

Could a little ’straight talk’ cut through the “fog of war?”

The ongoing battle between our public schools and alleged “corporate reform,” one-sided since passage of NCLB, has now begun to morph into a new and more strident phase.  Most of our states, slavishly following the NCLB and NGA reform party lines — and frequently with little or no intellectually competent state inspection of tactics before legislative imposition — have imposed standardized test and VAM regimes on our roughly 14K public school systems.  That was followed, courtesy of ALEC lobbying and Bill Gates’ intrusive dollars, by railroaded near mass installation of CCSSI's alleged “Common Core.”  

Bipartisan, all of the above may have been fully warranted in principle, by virtue of the adamant refusal, for at least three decades, of most of our entrenched and frequently self-righteous public school systems and their leaderships to accept accountability, and proactively reform their own learning systems.  Given that, the resultant reform mantra being installed in defiance of common sense as well as contemporary knowledge about learning, and driven in part by political ideology, is strangling contemporary public K-12 learning and hurting children.  

Strategically, it may have a greater chance of actually damaging our nation than ISIS; but it is being prosecuted with vigor by a White House and US Department of Education riddled with both ignorance, or hypocrisy, or both, and in bizarre coincidence, also by right wing extremism.  Throw in the demagoguery of retro public education zealots still trying to install last century's school of education methods gibberish that has been repetitively disproven, and you have a full complement for a messy social battle.

Too many of America’s public system leaders, that genre also streaked with ignorance and poorly vetted human resources, have simply been sycophant to state legislative enclaves that wouldn’t recognize an education, because as one critic put it, “they’ve never seen one."  But increasingly the good core of America’s public teaching army is stepping out of the foxhole and biting back.  Two recent examples, are here and here.  More substantively for public education as a whole, a movement to reform the alleged reforms is stepping up and fighting back, linked here and here and here.  And at last survey, up to 60 percent of Americans now reject the NGA/CCSSI “Core” concept.

The scary parts of the above scenarios suggest that there may be no truce, or overwhelming force on either side, to stop the war:  Schools under local control can bob and weave, if they have the grit ignoring either state or Federal dominance because their funding (ironically expedited by right wing funding credo) is increasingly disproportionately local; Federal standards for upgrading our public systems are in large measure ruled out by the Constitution; state education bureaucracies have too long let political fealty rather than professional competence determine their values and operations; some undetermined fraction of local BOE is somewhere between ill-equipped for oversight and corrupted; and a once credible US Department of Education, once supported by intellectual and research components, has seen its credibility to jawbone school policies critically wounded by Duncan’s tenure.  

Lastly, an uncontrolled “billionaire boys club,” exhibiting plutomania, has been permitted to buy and impose public education mantras and tactics that suit their egos and personal beliefs, a distorted and ugly consequence for a nation/public that actually thought it democratically owned its children’s schools.

Tolls of war

A consequence of the above upward spiraling struggle for control of learning is that the rhetoric starts to turn both ugly and into distortion of truth. Propaganda replaces attempts to find balance and room for bargaining resolution.  Self-righteousness and dogmatism replace reasoned argument on either side.  

An example of the above issued recently, a vicious personal attack on Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), and is described by a story in this week’s The Washington Post, linked here.

The Edunationredux blog has been critical from its day one of some strategies and tactics of our teachers’ unions, both the AFT and the NEA. However, that critique has to be referenced against the inherent consequences of being a source of collective bargaining.  Conceptually, any labor union is by definition a source of countervailing power to institutional or organization management; that is its nature.  Its mandate is representation of its members, a complex dance between protecting those rights against repression or intimidation and securing benefits and job security, while operating in the larger social and civic interest.  The expectation is of loyal opposition ranging to controlled conflict, not two idealistic partners tripping down the "yellow brick road" with happy faces, holding hands.  Any other expectation is total naiveté.

The attack on Randi Weingarten, president of the AFT, by a known provocateur, formulaic with carefully disguised sources of heavy funding, is wrong.  The AFT under Weingarten has increasingly moved to more moderate positions in the ongoing public school skirmishes.  What characterizes the present attacks is total disregard for balance or truth.

Expect the next stages of the public school reform firefights to increasingly take on this same pattern of contentiousness.  The stomach for the fight is a matter of personal values, but the capacity to differentiate truth from fiction is central to inching toward some better place in US public K-12 reform.

True or false?

The game is apparently testing, so testing it is.  If you have the courage to confront your own beliefs, or prejudices, take this T/F test.  Below are 30 statements about factors or issues surrounding our present school reform movement and its players.  Keep track of your answers, true or false.  At the end of the exercise there is a link to the presumed most correct answers.

Statements, note either T or F:
  • The best definition of learning is the memorization of dates, facts, formulas, etc., drilled until they become part of permanent memory and can be retrieved on demand.
  • Charter schools represent freedom of choice and education upgrades, while our public schools have become too socialistic in their values and styles of education.
  • The best way to improve teachers’ performances is with monetary incentives tied to test score performances of that teacher's classroom.
  • Value-added assessment of teachers -- looking at period-to-period changes in test scores -- is a valid way to assess performance even if a teacher might not teach a grade or subject matter tested, because it reflects the school's overall quality.
  • Charter schools are intrinsically less prone to non-educational influences and the most altruistic because they aren't linked to state governments, or quests for levies, or to other topside groups.
  • NCLB's standardized tests are valid and reliable because they are constructed by university schools of education and master K-12 teachers, and scored by educators.
  • Two national icons, Michelle Rhee and Bill Gates, have demonstrated the most nuanced and philosophically diverse understanding of US public K-12 education, and its need for self-determination using, respectively, their megaphone and wealth to improve America's schools.
  • The best performing K-12 schools in the US are now private sector-sponsored K-12 charters; the worst, historically independent private and religious K-12 schools.
  • The very best way to develop learning in K-12 classrooms is to script common curricula, script lesson plans, and script the way a classroom is managed to assure quality learning and reliability of the lessons created there.
  • Our university schools of education are now recruiting into their degree programs applicants with the highest ACT/SAT scores and prior achievement to become America's teachers.
  • NCLB (supplemented by RttT) was the noblest piece of educational legislation written in the first part of this century, with practical and realistic goals for rising above student learning discrimination, and offering nuanced processes for improving K-12 classroom education.
  • The myth that some American corporations are massively profiting from proliferating standardized testing is just that, merely sour grapes from entrenched public education defenders and advocates.
  • A sure-fire way to improve our classrooms is to weed out the bottom ten percent of all teachers each year for the next ten years; put a stake in the ground for evidence-based accountability and quality control not unlike the goals the US private sector uses.
  • America's public schools have been in the forefront of efforts to introduce and integrate digital technology and online learning into our K-12 classrooms.
  • Public K-12 schools have some of the best managerial talent in the US in their principals and superintendents, trained at the highest levels of organizational and managerial theory, equivalent to advanced management or public administration degrees.
  • America's elementary and secondary education gurus have spent decades working on alternative models for testing K-12 learning, and finally demonstrated via classroom experiments that present standardized bubble tests perform best in measuring K-12 learning.
  • The rumor that one of the agendas of present "corporate reform" is to undercut public K-12 education is just that, rumor, started and mistakenly promoted by some in our public sector to deflect calls for public K-12 accountability.
  • The configuration of our public K-12 schools was determined a century ago, heavily influenced by the Carnegie Foundation, with the goal of matching every child with a classroom experience that mirrored their individual attributes.
  • Standardized tests are the gold standard for assessing learning and teacher performance because they accurately, reliably, and equitably measure hard performance, evidence-based learning.
  • Public K-12 education's administrators must pass rigorous testing, professional board assessments, and show high performance internship experience before they are allowed to manage a school or system.
  • Proven over and over, the best method of creating K-12 learning is putting the teacher in the front of the classroom, with proper discipline and in full control of dialogue.
  • America's K-12 public schools and their leaderships have led other organizational forms and venues in flattening organizational designs, and including the classroom teacher in school strategies, operations planning, and assessment designs.
  • America's teachers' unions were formed originally with real purpose, but have become unnecessary and parasites feasting on schools' taxpayer dollars.
  • For their levels of education and responsibilities, public K-12 teachers are now compensated as professionals on a par with other comparable professions.
  • The USDOE Secretary Arne Duncan has been a champion of public K-12 education, recognizing and supporting those schools’ needs to creatively and entrepreneurially devise curricula and learning styles that fit their cultures.
  • The NGA/CCSSI "Common Core" was developed by a nationally and publicly sourced roster of K-12 and higher education resources, chaired by a nationally recognized education professor, then received school field testing and was internationally benchmarked before being rolled out.
  • US schools of education have risen to the reform need by changing their admission requirements, adding technology curricula, and challenging the reform hordes by developing better assessment methods than corporately-sourced standardized tests, but having to inventory them until present testing obsessions subside.
  • US local boards of education, by virtue of generally politically non-partisan election are well tested via that electoral process, and most states also employ mandated education and education law training before board elected can be sworn and seated.
  • "Teach for America" is really the model for future public school teachers, the way to get deeply classroom-trained teachers into all of our future schools, and especially the way to get a stable teaching capability into socioeconomically and culturally disadvantaged schools.
  • By their nature, with local accountability, and non-partisan compared to other politically-based local governmental units, our public schools rarely experience the top leadership failures some of those other functions experience; US public schools' top leadership -- superintendents -- by virtue of local BOE leader selection procedures, historical precedent, and rigorous BOE oversight, are almost always top of the heap.
For a quick scoring check, tally the number of true versus false answers you recorded.  

If you judged all 30 statements to be “False" or "Falsifiable," you are a winner, someone who digs behind the more traditional and frequently naive press versions of the current reform machinations.  But if you recorded a “True” on any of this list, you may need to put the other oar back in the water, get out more, or cultivate some Google time.  There is tongue-in-cheek in some of the statements, a few are tricky, and there is an educational subtext in the whole gig, but every item of the 30 has been challenged or refuted by legitimate research, or by properly informed critical assessment, or by empirical testing, or is orchestrated and frequently paid reform propaganda.

But the more important implication of this roster of propositions is that a frightening proportion of the list is considered true by our public, or is faked being true by alleged reformers, and forms the basis for much of present K-12 “corporate reform” information strategy.  The assumptions rooted in the above statements are also going unchallenged by many timorous or phlegmatic public education professionals who may ultimately be gored by them.  Too many of our public K-12 administrators, and even many teachers, are either deflecting response to reform attacks, or dissembling with parents and taxpayers who are depending on their judgment and courage to keep their schools viable.  

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Thank you for your interest.  


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Ohio's School Testing Quicksand

On Sunday the Dayton Daily News featured a story about Ohio’s public school report cards; the headline, “School report cards faulted.”  Parts of the story merit additional emphasis.

Complaints cited, from local system administrators through parents, coalesced around a lack of transparency of how the scores and grades were derived, volatility over time in what was employed, and precisely how assessments were calculated.  Excepting one measure, graduation rates, all of the grading appears to be based on the phalanx of standardized tests being imposed on Ohio's schools and children.

Defense of the system of scoring was focused, first, on the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) assertion of “nearly perfect scores for design and ease of use,” emanating from the Education Commission of the States.  That Commission, or ECS, claimed bipartisan, appears a richly disguised front for the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI).  Its leadership is wholly political, barely an educational resource found in its lineup.  ECS in turn is linked to an alleged research organization prominently funded by the Gates and Walton foundations.  Independent and objective as a source of rating Ohio’s assessment styles?  Not so much.

The next line of defense came from Ohio’s State Board of Education Vice President, Tom Gunlock, apparently filling in for Board President Debe Terhar, keeping her head down until her term is over in 2014, possibly because of an irresponsible social networking post seeking to link a sitting US president to “Hitler.”  Mr. Gunlock appears to possess no background or expertise that would let him attest to the validity and reliability of Ohio’s test-based school grading, now being questionably extended to subsets of the K-12 student base.  As allegedly a “pay to play” member of Governor Kasich’s political entourage, his responses raise further questions of credibility.

Lastly, an ODE staffer opined in defense that there is a 42 page ODE online site reference to how Ohio’s alleged value added measures are calculated.  A slight oversight or misrepresentation, those 42 pages consist of nothing but promotional rhetoric, and contain no competent explanation of precisely how Ohio’s school grades or VAM scores are created.  Current Ohio Superintendent Richard Ross’ game plan is intact:  Obfuscation 1 -  Transparency 0.

Let’s dig a little deeper.  In 2011 after the Ohio Legislature passed H.B. 153, mandating creation of an Ohio public school Performance Index (PI), to drive school grades replacing the prior system of verbal assessments, a slip on the ODE website suggested that the PI was not doing a credible job of aligning with accepted terminal high school testing represented by pretty well validated SAT and ACT scores.  Following that lead, the most recent SAT, ACT, and PI averages for all of Ohio’s public systems were requested via Ohio’s open records act.  After extended ODE stonewalling, the data were finally supplied.  The result of testing Ohio’s PI scores against the other indices of school performance was reported in this blog, linked here.   The short answer:  The PI did not correlate well with the SAT and ACT scores suggesting major flaws in the logic.  Has that ODE use of standardized test results in 2014 basically changed?

ODE is now building an elaborate edifice of segmented scoring on top of standardized testing that most legitimate educators assert is fundamentally flawed as a basis for assessing learning K-12, and in some instances has become absurd.  Some educators with more courage than Ohio’s composite education community have become proactive in challenging this absurd expression of reform, linked here and here.

The most recently proposed testing of K-3 is considered by legitimate experts on early childhood learning to be wholly inappropriate.  Depending on the survey, up to 60 percent of our public now objects to the present alleged “Common Core” as the basis for baseline K-12 learning in the US.  Some of that objection is likely based on the wrong — anti-Federalism — beliefs, but there is ample basis to question the “Core,” its origins, its validity, and its support by our “billionaire boys club.”  Facts about the present “Core” are linked here.

Bottom line, Ohio has seemingly with little to no intellectual discrimination, and politicized tunnel vision, built a public school rating system on quicksand, and is now going even deeper into dysfunction by building elaborate segmented interpretations on top of porous test footers.  The result so far to critique of Ohio’s education bureaucracy has been its stonewalling.  Was there competence in the present system, the strategy might be putting a hold on the punitive use of what may be simply wrong information, and doing the internal research needed to look at the relationships among all of the testing logged, then seek verification of its validity and reliability in predicting real learning performance before carpet bombing Ohio’s schools.

Decades of overshoot on high stakes testing suggest genuine ignorance among major resources who should be smarter.  An analogy was offered recently in WaPo’s “The Answer Sheet” from the debate over models for reading development.  One side of that argument became extreme, advocating using books that frustrate the learner versus a balanced approach; the example is linked here.   The standardized testing obsession has followed a similar failure of logic, exacerbated by ideology, and the failure to recognize much less respect the law of diminishing returns and Campbell’s Law.

Testing, even the fragmented testing employed is not, has never been the issue.  Use of mechanical, multiple choice testing of fragments of knowledge has always been part of the teacher's formative assessment tool kit.  The issues are:  Comprehensive ignorance of how to assess real learning; deliberate employment of a narrowly conceived accountability tactic initiated with “corporate reform;” privatization of a public educational function creating dysfunctional market control of testing and scoring; and the distortion of reason by ideology, a corrupted expression of that testing designed to create school failures to advance privatization and charter school creation.

Is that the intellectualism that should govern ODE?  Are there needed research and digital modeling skills in ODE to correctly process school performance?  Is there in ODE the core integrity to acknowledge the issues, then correct the game?  Watching ODE’s performances and defensiveness over a dozen years, the answers are up in the air.  A new documentary, countering “Waiting for Superman,” looks at the other side of the coin:  “‘Standardized testing is the new bully in school, pushing and prodding to make the grade, leaving no time or energy for classroom creativity. Inspiration cowers in the corner, a forgotten wallflower of public education,’ says actor Peter Coyote, who narrates the film.”  The "Rise Above the Mark" web site is linked here, and the movie's Trailer 1 here

What’s on the ground now in Ohio’s public systems, and has even greater dysfunction than our public systems' refusals to reform themselves, are the testing and grading scams being politically imposed on Ohio’s schools and children.

A fair strategic assessment of the gestalt of present “corporate reform” is that objections and refusal to conform are building from the grass roots up.  That “wisdom of the crowd” likely exceeds the collective neural capacity of most of our reform education bureaucracies.  The strategic question for Ohio is, when public school assessment and reform sanity overtakes present dysfunction, will the State of Ohio look as stupid nationally as it already does to those who actually understand our public K-12 education challenges?

Monday, September 15, 2014

Public Education Perspective: Leadership & Reality


In the outpouring of rhetoric accumulating around “corporate reform” of our public schools, its standardized testing, and most recently fixation on an alleged “Common Core,” there is a bias that masks key perspectives.  That is, the tendency to hone in on only public education parameters, pretty much ignoring the complex linkages among our systems, and what feeds them and is impacted by their outputs.

As critique of present standardized testing has ramped up, the impact of what feeds our public systems has been given voice.  Specifically, that the socioeconomic, cultural and familial attributes of students play a major role in what happens in that testing.   At one end of that argument is the assertion that standardized testing as a basis for assessing school performance is deeply flawed, reflecting inherent deficits of accomplishment attributable to what a student carries as incoming learning baggage.

On the other end of the public school machine, what happens to their human resource outputs has belatedly started to engage policy makers.  It should have engaged them a long time ago.  It should have engaged our public systems even earlier, where most have dismissed their charges once they have exited their schools.  Ignored has been the most elemental research issue of longitudinal analysis of whether the education provided has been effective in a former student’s next endeavor.

Even further down the road comes realization that what has been achieved K-12 will be on display for decades in human performances in either the private or public sector.  Yet, as public school rhetoric foams, there is little perspective about the other environments it impacts, or the scales of those recipients of our public schools’ outputs.

The following table offers some perspectives of where public education fits in a much larger scheme of our nation’s allocations of its human resources.  There are major stories in the following data, going beyond the implications for public education.  But some top line relationships are revealing, and what they reveal is why the composite private sector has every reason to demand accountability from public education.  (Parenthetically, that is not equivalent to naming present reform “corporate reform,” for that is an inappropriate labeling at least as it has been employed by anti-reform resources as a pejorative descriptor.)


Private Sector Employment

113, 426
Public School Students All Grades

Americans w/College Degree But Imputed Underemployed

Federal/State/Local Governmental Employment

Americans Unemployed

Americans w/Graduate Degree But Imputed Underemployed

Public School Teachers

Public School Administrators and Non-Teaching Employment

Higher Education Administrative & Staff Employment

Private Sector Top Executives

Higher Education Teaching/Research Employment

Americans w/PhD or Professional Degree Imputed Underemployed

Public School Principals

Estimated Public School/Area Superintendents


All numbers are rounded.  Sources are multiple, government and private sector.  Numbers represent different years, but the latest available for the type, and represent the years between 2011 and 2014.  Time differences therefore reflect varying small relative comparative inaccuracies but no basic scale differences.

The most gripping relationship from the table is that the actions of public education top administrators, constituting less than one percent of our nation’s number of top executives – the latter in turn responsible for over 113 million employees and our GDP – impact that private sector’s and our nation’s business performance.  The real kicker is, that many of those public administrators have not been properly trained, or professionally vetted by marginal BOE, and reflect ‘superintendents’ frequently operating with virtually no oversight or real accountability.   There are competent public school chief executives in our nation, but with minimal effort the unprepared, the educationally challenged, the unethical, and the arrogant can be installed, then seen even when every effort is exerted to block school transparency. That is a societal miscue and debacle, and more than ample justification for rigorous public K-12 system reforms. 

In that sense, what is being prosecuted in real time as attempted public school reform is ‘corporate reform,’ but rather than naming for the prosecutors, it should reflect the economic damage an unreformed and change-resistant public school fraction of total systems is imposing on the nation.  Present reform modalities are proving equally destructive of needed K-12 learning, so both sides of the present reform equation need serious revision.

View From the Downstream Real World

Occasionally some research opportunistically surfaces at the right moment in history.  A recent study -- the third annual version just appeared -- puts some meat on the bones of the above assertions about where US public education most needs change.

The report, “AN ECONOMY DOING HALF ITS JOB,” represents findings of “Harvard Business School’s 2013-14 Survey of U.S. Competitiveness.”  Its principal author, Dr. Michael Porter, is considered by many the current dean of business strategic thought.  The survey presents the opinions of a sample of 1,947 senior business executives.  The pertinence for this post was a first in the three-year sequence of studies; the inclusion of a sample of 1,100 public school superintendents.  Their responses to selective questions on the contributions of our public systems to US competitiveness were compared with the executives’ responses, a rare comparative assessment.

While the full study covered a very wide swath of US competitiveness issues, the study questions where superintendent and executive answers could be compared primarily covered:  “Current U.S. K-12 education position compared to other countries;" business engagement in education; and actions taken or not taken by business in support of public schools.

Key findings applicable here:
  • The most strident finding came from a comparison between executives’ and superintendents’ views of how US K-12 education stacked up in comparison to other advanced countries.  In a scaling map of “current U.S. position compared to other advanced economies” X “U.S. trajectory compared to other advanced economies,” superintendents scored the US K-12 education system 55% better on position than the average of all economies, and its trajectory on a par on with other economies.  Contrasting with those views, executives scored the U.S. education system -40% and -70%, respectively, on the two factors compared to the average assessment.  Not an unexpected perception by most system superintendents, but an indictment of their connection to reality.
  • External to this study but reported for reference by the Harvard report, were results of the OECD’s 2013 cross-national study of adult competencies, covering literacy, problem-solving, and numeracy.  The U.S. results showed all three competencies higher compared to other economies as the age of the adult increased.  Americans aged 55-65 performed 5-10% better than the country average except for numeracy; but in age groups 45-54 through 16-24, the performances became increasingly lower as age decreased.  This may be the most vivid finding to date that U.S. public education is failing to perform relative to other advanced economies, and that those deficits have actually increased over two decades.  Is this in spite of reform, or because of alleged reform shifting learning from a more diverse form to narrowly conceived success based on simplistic testing?  Arguably it is both.
  • Discouraging across the board, “only 12% of superintendents characterized their business communities as deeply involved in their school districts.”  “And only 7% of business respondents described their firms as deeply involved in public education.”  Corporate reform obviously does not extend to broad executive involvement with our public schools, even if heavy-handed accountability has been attributed to business’ influence.
  • Superintendents underestimated business’ low engagement in schools, versus business respondents, perceiving 37% not involved, versus 62% of executives stating no involvement.  The same pattern of superintendents failing to perceive executive views stretched across seven other involvement factors.
  •  Lastly, “only 3% of superintendents characterized their business communities as well informed about public education, while 14% described their business communities as misinformed.”  In parallel, 65% of executives expressed deep interest in the mission of a child’s education, while only 35% of superintendents had that perception of executive interest.  It is hardly a mystery why there appears to be disconnect, and tension between public education and the U.S. economic universe as well as with its local constituencies.  The disconnect of almost a century between public systems and higher education is real, and well documented. Further contributors are the prevalence of public system administrator efforts to block school transparency, self-righteousness, and aloofness to the non-education public.   Curious, as much of that high level non-education professional public has better academic credentials than most public school administrators.

Indications for Change

The smallest number of human resources in the above table, hence, the easiest and most logical place to apply some corrective action to change US public education’s trajectory, is self-evidently public school leadership where it has failed.  Another basis for that targeting is this segment is also a major contributor to the refusal or inability of our public schools to grab their bootstraps and initiate internal reform.  One obvious implication; move part of the focus of present reform to where reform should have been initiated with or before NCLB launched – targeting failed and failing public system leadership.

That would, complicating the game, have to either bypass many local marginal BOE, or in concert, trigger BOE reform as well.  Either and both, it is asserted, offer a far more effective reform agenda for public K-12 than beating up teachers with VAM, and students with counterproductive standardized testing. 

There is currently no set of metrics to gauge school leadership deficits (ruling out the false metric of standardized test scores and states' alleged grades, and perhaps sports victories/losses), arguably because of an equally false ‘sacred cow’ historical attribution to superintendents.  But simple observation locally, of some of the ignorance, educational incompetence, and ethical failures projected by that alleged leadership, suggests the target is huge.  Not particularly radical, there are in the contemporary management literature, and being practiced in the private sector, well organized and successful processes for assessing private sector leadership.  The usual education rhetoric, ‘but we are different,’ is malarkey – organizations of all venues at core revolve around the same basic design principles and processes for human resource support, as do the bases for their leadership.

Again, self-evidently, the entire public superintendent genre is not a candidate for the unemployment line, or reprogramming, but nationally our education establishment, and particularly and spectacularly our Federal Department of Education, has flunked management 101 by deflecting wholesale the above issues while narrowly focusing on standardized testing.  Our states are equally responsible, for over multiple decades, refusing legislation to upgrade the quality of local BOE competence and oversight capability.

A strong case exists for sanctioning those public school superintendents who have either tumbled down “Alice’s rabbit hole,” or succumbed to Lord Acton’s dictum, or are unethical.   The dual contentions:  There are many quality professional resources who can be staged to take up that role, most with greater intellectual and ethical values than resources in place and failing; and there is no irrevocable law that requires a school CEO to have issued from the education bureaucracy, indeed, changing that sourcing of competent peak public system management may be the only timely way to jumpstart creative change in public K-12.

Should some fraction of 14-15K human resources, many who because of U.S. societal and systemic oversight are either lacking education currency, or incompetent to lead an education system – all contributing to under-serving 3.1MM teachers and 49+MM children – be wagging the dog?