When will this ever end? What will be the tipping point? How unfair can we be?

Testing companies need to preserve test validity– that’s the product they are supposedly selling–tests that are STANDARDIZED to measure all students fairly and in the same way. So, they have a choice. Either stop timing these tests for everyone or bring back notification that the extended time test results were obtained through NON STANDARD test administration.

When will this ever end? When will they ever learn?

Silicon Valley –where so much technology, which we now realize can be very addictive, is created, is often for other people’s children.

Many parents in SV don’t allow their OWN to use it, or very much limit their children’s use, and choose schools (private, of course), where technology is not used–even as they keep on selling this stuff to public schools across the US.

In fact, more low-tech private schools are popping but, even as tech sales to public schools for other people’s children grow and grow.

Is this just hypocracy? A double standard? Lack of knowledge? Good business practices? Or something else?

All I know is that it’s scary.

Check out this TED talk also–how these gadgets are DESIGNED to be addictive.

And yet, public schools keep on buying more and more technology for kids. Tests now DEMAND IT!!! See recent NAEP reports.

In the schools, this article cites Google’s push with Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Classroom.


Yes, really scary. The earlier kids get hooked, the more they will be loyal customers for life. Not bad, at tax payer dollars!

Yet, SV (for other people’s children) thinks of itself as being “good” and being for the “good.”


Yes, really scary. Read Joe Clement and Matt Miles’ book, Screen Schooled. This article states, “the co-authors make the case that technology does far more harm than good, even when it’s used to boost scores in reading and math.”

Yet schools continue on their buying spree.


Yes, really scary.

The author speculates that Steve Jobs would have opted his kids OUT of using this stuff.

And the article gives examples of some parents trying to stem the tide for their children.

Where’s the outrage? It’s really scary.

Thank you, Diane, for posting and James Harvey of the Superintendents’ Roundtable, for reminding us. We don’t live in Lake Wobegon where all kids are above average. Honestly, can all kids will be proficient?

Raising false expectations leads to a loss of trust in our schools. Remember 2014 when the NCLB mandated (?) that all kids were to be proficient. How did that work out for us?

Wonderful story.

PBS–proficiency-based schools–is the way forward, as I see it. Let’s help kids BEFORE they fall behind. Let’s get them ready for kindergarten. Here’s a story about early childhood programs in California’s Lindsay Unified School District.

While it’s certainly a step in the right direction, I also believe in early childhood in the home! Recall the so-called “30 million word gap” research. We need home-based supports. Helping parents become better first teachers for their children is key! As an example of a successful program, please check out 10 Books a Home in California.

All good.

When will they (we) ever learn?

And see comments, especially by John Merrow pointing to the many times he raised red flags that went unheeded.

I worry that the next “reform” bubble that will eventually burst, after it damages our schools and students, is the push to put a lap top in front of every little child in the name of “personalized instruction” and 21st century whatever. Where’s objective data to support this costly venture–that’s being pushed by sellers and their hype. Why are critics sidelined? Yet again.

When will we ever learn that if something looks too good to be true, it’s probably not.

In the piece, I write that when the public learns what’s really going on in our schools–step by step–and when they’ve finally had enough–change will happen–and happen fast! The article lays out several areas of deep concern and sketches three broad solutions.

Please feel free to share and repost this piece. The more the better!

An unlikely pair–Jamie and Diane. Thanks for the pickup, Diane.

They agree that we need to bring back real literature for our children. The Common Core’s “Informational texts” are a poor substitute. They do and have already led to declines in student achievement–the dumbing down of America.

Bring back Frankenstein!

Thanks you Jamie and Diane!

Cry the beloved country

Alan Patton wrote a novel, Cry the Beloved Country about South Africa in 1948. Today I cry for our country because it is filled with hatred, vitriol, and voices that do not hear (and have no interest to hear) each other. Where does this all go?

In this article, we’re talking about schools–the one public connector we have always had.

I listened to the 60 Minutes Leslie Stahl interview of Betsy Devos–in disappointment, both for the questions and answers. The questions were surprisingly off-target “gotcha” questions that lacked substance. Many of the the answers lacked specifics.

But my tears flow when I read the comments this article garnered. They are filled with namecalling, vitriol. condescension, nastiness, questioning IQs, lacking humanity, etc. Is this the Washington Post? or am I reading it all wrong so there’s no need for tears? your thoughts.

Read it and pass it on!

I loved this paper! I loved the idea that a group of people from diverse background –all around the country, schools, businesses, teachers, and foundations– are getting together to give their best ideas for reimagining our schools. It’s an easy wonderful read–even though it got a into the weeds a little in the 10 pages of text.

It’s attractive, smart, and hopefully–will spur conversation. Congratulations!

On Tue, Feb 13, 2018 at 8:01 AM, John Merrow wrote:

The emperor has no clothes, and I believe it’s high time that everyone acknowledged that. Proof positive is Washington, DC, long the favorite of the ‘school reform’ crowd, which offered it as evidence that test-based reforms that rewarded teachers for high student scores (and fired those with low scores) was the magic bullet for turning around troubled urban school districts.

But now we know that about one-third of recent DC high school graduates–900 students– had no business receiving diplomas, and that they marched across the stage last Spring because some adults changed their grades or pushed them through the farce known as ‘credit recovery,’ in which students can receive credit for a semester by spending a few hours over a week’s time in front of a computer.

The reliable Catherine Gewertz of Education Week provides a through (and thoroughly depressing) account of the DC story, which she expands to include data from DC teachers: “In a survey of 616 District of Columbia teachers conducted after the scandal broke, 47 percent said they’d felt pressured or coerced into giving grades that didn’t accurately reflect what students had learned. Among high school teachers, that number rose to 60 percent. More than 2 in 10 said that their student grades or attendance data had been changed by someone else after teachers submitted them.”

The DC story was initially reported by Kate McGee of WAMU for NPR. That led to an investigation by the DC City Council and action by Mayor Muriel Bowser.

If you have read “Addicted to Reform: A 12-Step Program to Rescue Public Education,” you have read about Arne Duncan’s “Raise the Graduation Rate” effort, which is prime example of phony reform (along with W’s earlier “Raise the Test Scores” campaign). Both superficial reforms proved to be malignant in their impact upon students, teachers, and schools. Students were lied to about their proficiency, administrators and teachers cheated, school curricula were debased, standards were lowered, and confidence in public schools dropped.

The response to the graduation scandal from members of the ‘school reform’ establishment (which includes Republicans and Democrats) has been to blame “a few bad apples” for misbehaving. Wrong, wrong, wrong! This outcome was inevitable and entirely predictable, because this always happens when a system puts all its eggs in one basket. Too much pressure on a single metric renders that metric unreliable and untrustworthy. But Education Establishment figures from the (right leaning) American Enterprise Institute and the (left leaning) Center for American Progress call for greater accountability, more early intervention for kids who do poorly on tests, and so forth. No one questions the wisdom of the test-based system, as far as I can see.

How did the graduation scam continue for so long under the leadership of Chancellor Kaya Henderson? You will recall that Henderson succeeded the controversial Michelle Rhee, who came to DC in 2007 and left in 2010. Henderson, Rhee’s deputy and closest friend, was routinely described in the media as “A kinder, gentler Rhee.” Unfortunately, people focused on the adjectives, “kinder” and “gentler,” and felt relieved to be free of Rhee’s sturm und drang. Suffering from “Rhee fatigue,” everyone apparently ignored the central point of the description: Henderson=Rhee.

Sadly, the current DC Chancellor, Antwan Wilson, has not moved quickly to take control. Perhaps this is because he–just like Rhee, Henderson, and many other school leaders–is on record as a supporter of what I call the ‘test-and-punish’ approach to education.

So, end of the day, it’s not really about the people but about a school system that is inadequate for the 21st Century. We simply don’t have enough kids to sort them into ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ at an early age. Our schools now look at each kid and ask, “How smart is this child?” (often getting their answer from tests, but also from appearance, income level, and race). Instead, schools should be asking an ethically, morally and socially appropriate question, “How is this child intelligent?” Building on strengths and interests is the right starting place.

When administrators and teachers change student scores so they can pass, the adults are lying to the students, telling them they are proficient and denying them the remedial help they were entitled to. We will never know how many lives were blighted, and those kids may never catch up. In Atlanta educators went to jail, but in most other cheating scandals, no adults suffered.

The DC system can identify the 900+ students who received phony diplomas, but what comes next? Should those diplomas be recalled, and the students compensated with additional instruction? Surely the kids shouldn’t be punished, but neither should they be allowed to keep their diplomas. The principal of one DC high school has been reassigned, but that doesn’t begin to get to the heart of the problem.

The rot starts at the top, but Michelle Rhee and Kaya Henderson are long gone from Washington. And, more importantly, they are not the top. They were just opportunistically riding the wave.

It doesn’t make sense to spend a lot of energy looking back and casting blame. We ought to reject test-based reform as the harmful fraud that it is. That’s the right starting place.

(Addicted to Reform: A 12-Step Program to Rescue Public Education is available at your local bookseller and on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.)


John Merrow
former Education Correspondent,
PBS NewsHour, and founding President,
Learning Matters, Inc.

My blog:

The Influence of Teachers:

And here’s what I wrote back:

Hi John,

Thanks for this important piece. What a depressing (yet totally predictable) story it’s been to follow. Is anyone surprised by it? Really? Our emperor needs real and honest clothes! Who will be the designer?

I write about these issues in the special education arena, and in my book, Special Education 2.0– Breaking Taboos to Build a NEW Education Law, that you mentioned in yours. It’s all a long slog… and so important to our nation.

When will we stop setting impossible targets that don’t help (and actually hurt) teaching and learning in our nation’s classrooms and then blame teachers for not meeting them. Really?

Here’s one of my recent posts.

All the best. Keep up the good work!


Miriam Kurtzig Freedman, JD, MA
Author of Special Education 2.0–
–Breaking Taboos to Build a NEW Education Law
617 510 0248 (cell)