(Guest post by Greg Forster)
A charter school founded by Linda Darling-Hammond and overseen by Stanford’s education school is being shut down by the state for persistant abysmal performance.
I can’t do it. The ed-school hacks tried to make their Cloudcoocooland theories work in real life and it came crashing down in humiliating failure. Twist the knife now? C’mon, it’s just cruel. Not even I can do that.
So I’ll quote Whitney Tilson doing it! From his e-mail blast on Monday:
Normally, a low-quality charter school being denied a full extension of its charter isn’t worth of a STOP THE PRESSES, but this isn’t just any charter school: it’s the one started by Stanford’s School of Education (where my father earned a doctorate, by the way) and, in particular, Linda Darling-Hammond, author of the infamous Teach for America hatchet job (my full critique of her is posted at: http://edreform.blogspot.com/2007/12/obamas-disappointing-choice-of-linda.html). LDH (along with Ravitch, Meier, and Kozol) is among the best known of your typical ed school, loosey-goosey, left-wing, politically correct, ivory tower, don’t-confuse-me-with-the-facts-my-mind’s-made-up, disconnected-from-reality critics of genuine school reform. (Forgive my bluntness, but I can’t stand ideological extremists of any persuasion, especially when kids end up getting screwed.)
LDH and Stanford’s Ed School decided to test their educational theories in the real world, starting a charter school in 2001 to serve the low-income, mostly-Latino children of East Palo Alto. I credit them for this – in fact, I think EVERY ed school should be REQUIRED to start and run, or at least partner with, a real live school. What they set out to do is REALLY, REALLY hard, so I also credit them for having the good sense to start the school via a joint venture with a proven, first-rate operator, Aspire. However, their anti-testing ideology soon got in the way of their good sense:
The two cultures clashed. Aspire focused “primarily and almost exclusively on academics,” while Stanford focused on academics and students’ emotional and social lives, said Don Shalvey, who started Aspire and is now with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Five years ago the relationship ended amicably and Stanford New School was on its own.
It doesn’t take much imagination to guess what happened when, freed of Aspire’s rigor and focus on the critical basics (like teaching children to read properly!), the ivory tower theories ran head on into the reality of East Palo Alto kids. The results were easy to predict: the school fell on its face:
…test results for Stanford New School students are almost uniformly poor. On last year’s Standardized Testing and Reporting Results only 16 percent of the students were proficient or advanced in English and math, an improvement from the previous year. And in a three-year comparison of similar schools in 2007 and 2008 — the most recent state results — the school scored 6, 7 and most recently a 3 out of 10.
LDH cynically tries to explain away this failure by – surprise! – blaming both the evaluation system and the kids:
Ms. Darling-Hammond — who told the board that the school “takes all kids” and changes their “trajectory” — was angered by the state’s categorization of the charter as a persistently worst-performing school. “It is not the most accurate measure of student achievement,” she said, “particularly if you have new English language learners.”
To understand what nonsense this is, see the comparison of Ravenswood to other schools with comparable percentages of low-income and ELL students in Andy Rotherham’s blog post….
This appears to be your classic “happy school”, a phrase coined by Howard Fuller to describe the most dangerous type of school – not the handful of violent, gang-infested high schools, but rather the elementary schools that are safe and appear ok: the students are happy, the parents are happy, the teachers are happy, the principal is happy… There’s only one problem: THE KIDS CAN’T READ!!!
There’s one thing in this passage I have to object to. Every education school should start a charter? Good gravy, cripes, and sakes alive, man! Have you no decency? How many children’s lives do you want to destroy?
Whitney Tilson calls down a plague of locusts on America
Kicking the ed-school hacks while they’re down is one thing. But a nationwide epidemic of schools run by them? Now that’s what I call cruel.