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Public school self-evaluations are like elections in a dictatorship…

… nobody thinks the regime can afford to show vulnerability. That’s why there’s such a gaping hole in Linda Borg’s Providence Journal article on results for Rhode Island’s new teacher evaluation experiment.

It isn’t just that weak-kneed administrators don’t want to risk the careers of teachers or the wrath of unhappy unions; it’s also that the administrators, themselves, look bad if they’re building “ineffective” organizations. And if they start reporting an honest and negative assessment of their schools, then the only people who can really enforce accountability — those who ultimately hire them and pay their salaries (taxpayers and voters) — might actually begin to do so.

What these results suggest is that there is zero institutional incentive for school districts to evaluate themselves honestly, and much incentive for them to take up the teacher union talking point of “an effective teacher in every classroom.”

  • The Foster school district reported not a single teacher less than “highly effective.”
  • Another seven districts or charter schools reported no teachers less than effective (that is, either “ineffective” or “developing”).
  • Thirty-one of the 50 districts/charters for which there is data admit to no more than 5% of teachers’ being less than effective.
  • Only five schools put their “ineffective/developing” count above 10%.

This simply isn’t credible, and if you think about it, it isn’t surprising that those five systems reporting the worst results are Barrington and four alternative schools. For alternative schools, accountability is enforced, ultimately, by parental choice (limited as it may be), so they can better afford to utilize evaluation tools as intended.

Allowing parents to evaluate their children’s teachers and potentially withdraw funding for them is the only means of real accountability. When that’s the case, administrators don’t have to manage via public report and can actually work with teachers to improve.

The Roosevelt Society 10/2/2013 with Deborah Gist


Here are eight takeaways from last evening’s Roosevelt Society forum with Rhode Island Commissioner of Education Deborah Gist…

8. Finally, Commissioner Gist offered that students don’t necessarily like an easy teacher, despite what the conventional wisdom might be…

Update: School Administration Backs Off the Keychain Bandit

After a TV news report on channel 10 and some time on Matt Allen’s 630 WPRO talk show, the story of the Coventry middle school student suspended for a gun-shaped key fob caught national attention on the Internet, by way of the Ocean State Current, picked up by Instapundit and other libertarian/conservative blogs, and then the Daily Beast, followed by the Huffington Post. Now, by way of the Matt Allen Show, we learn that administrators had had enough attention by Monday:

Keith Bonnano, the boy’s father, said both the superintendent of Coventry Public Schools and the principal of the Alan Shawn Feinstein Middle School called him Monday and assured him that his son would get help with any missed schoolwork. …

They’re also going to allow the boy to accompany his classmates on a field trip to Salem at the end of October, something Bonnano said his son was very much looking forward to.

Additionally, Bonnano will be able to appeal the suspension to have it removed from his son’s permanent record.

Coventry Middle School: Real Violence Versus Toy Gun

An interesting comment to my post on the Coventry keychain suspension:

Well on Thursday my son who is in 6th grade at same school who might I add is 11.. Was stabbed with a pen which went through sweatshirt and draw blood and kicked and then she followed him to bathroom and waited outside for him from 11 yr old girl and guess what I was under understanding she was being suspended and asked if we wanted to press charges and we didn’t because I felt she just need some help and the correct punishment.. We’ll guess what she was back in that school on Friday and after hearing about this story I’m am so mad and feel let down from school system.. I now am setting up meeting with superintendent I’m outraged if we did this we wouldn’t have choices we would be in aci with felony charges what is wrong with this whole system…

Coventry Student Suspended for Keychain

A Coventry student has been suspended from school for carrying a keychain shaped like a gun.

The Government Replaces God at Cranston West

A “Creed” banner to replace the banned “Prayer” banner at Cranston High School West replaces God with the government and a free people should find it deeply disturbing.

10 News Conference Wingmen, Episode 2 (NECAPs & School Choice)

This week, Justin and RIFuture’s Bob Plain argue the wisdom and need for standardized tests as a graduation requirement.

Things We Read Today (54)

Quadrupling down on Rhode Island; finding the American-statist antidote in the Ocean State; school choice as the real civil rights battle of the day; who gets media “support” and why.

Every Step Leading to More Government, Less Self Determination

The government’s continued edging into healthcare and education move the American marketplace in the wrong direction (as people would see plainly if they’d stop and think for a spell).

And They Will Be Divided According to the Plan

The opening chapters of Huxley’s Brave New World resonate uncomfortably with observations of the state of education and popular culture.

Racing to the Top of What? Not Results, Apparently.

While the Rhode Island education establishment engages in spats over the flow of federal dollars, evidence suggests that money and results are not linked.

Friedman Legacy Day School Choice Essay Contest Winners

Yesterday, the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity recognized the two winners of its essay contest on the topic of school choice, as Rhode Island’s offering in the nationwide celebration of Friedman Legacy Day.

School Choice Would Teach Students to Be American

Essays submitted to the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s “Friedman Legacy Day 2013” contest suggest that public schools are preparing students for public dependency, not the dynamic process of overcoming obstacles on which the American dream is founded.

College Loan Interest Rates Doubled Today

The sky is falling! 22 year olds are leaving college with $27,000 of debt and now they’ll have to pay 6.8% in interest on it! For a career path they chose. Can we stop with the hysteria and look at the bigger picture. They have plenty of time to pay it off and look at the long-term benefits.

Private Schools Are Not Just for the Kids of Government Employees/Retirees

A letter writer opposing school choice legislation fails to mention circumstances of his career (and young retirement) that might be relevant to his opinion.

Rainone – Compensated; Plus The Curiously Inconsistent Manner By Which the NEA RI Handles Crime In Its Official-dom

And guess who is the namesake of the NEA RI’s “Union Spirit Award”?

The Good of Public Education

The school choice debate comes down to philosophy and priorities, and the education of the public, in its vast diversity, should come first.

Message From NEA RI To Its Members About Gist’s Contract Renewal

“I believe she will do everything possible to continue to push her corporate, right wing agenda”