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Boot Camp for Education CEO's

The Broad Foundation is working to remake public education in the image of corporate America. How? By training a generation of superintendents to embrace their agenda.

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Goodloe-Johnson did more than close schools, shuffle students, and pro.mote fake numbers. She also boosted testing, and she pushed to tie teacher evaluations to student test scores—a high-priority "reform" for Broad (and Bush and Obama) which, like charter schools and closing low-scoring schools, has no research to support it.

Standardized testing is the engine of corporate reform and test scores drive almost all of the policies Broad promotes. From the district's central office, Broad-trained managers can't watch the human interactions of teachers and students inside every school to see whether teachers or school leaders are effective. If command and control is to be concentrated at the top, the easiest measure of success is sets of numbers.

The next step after using student scores to rate teachers is to pay teachers according to those scores—"merit pay"—and that, too, is high on the Broad agenda. Merit pay has been carefully studied in two large, controlled experiments, in New York City and Nashville, Tennessee. Both found no benefit, not even in test scores.

The New York program was funded by the Broad Foundation. So—is it time for this "data-driven" foundation to say, "We were wrong"? Lepping laughed at that suggestion. No, she said, the New York program's bonuses were too small, and they were schoolwide—they weren't limited to the specific teachers whose students' scores went up.

The Nashville bonuses were as big as $15,000 and they went only to teachers whose scores rose, but Lepping is still not convinced. We need to keep looking for a merit pay system that does work, she said. "Really, the consideration should be, is it something that teachers want, that would help keep great teachers in the systems," she added.

By that measure, merit pay is a bust. There aren't many teachers clamoring to be paid or evaluated according to their students' scores.

In Seattle, teachers fought back and Goodloe-Johnson compromised: Student scores would not count directly in evaluations, but if students don't raise their scores fast enough, the principal is supposed to observe their teacher more frequently.

Seattle teachers accepted that in their contract, but they were so fed up with their superintendent that they voted no confidence in her at the same meeting.

Closing schools in low-income neighborhoods, exaggerating students' academic shortcomings, trying to punish teachers for low scores—Seattle parents and teachers were up in arms, but Goodloe-Johnson managed to ride out every storm.

Then the state auditor's office discovered long-standing corruption in a school department program intended to help small businesses compete for school contracts. Goodloe-Johnson had been warned about what was happening more than a year earlier, but she didn't stop it. That was the final straw and the school board ushered her out.

She is now deputy chancellor of Michigan's Education Achievement System, which is supposed to improve the lowest-scoring 5 percent of Michigan schools, starting in Detroit. She was chosen for that job by another Broad alum, Chancellor John Covington. Covington was hired after he ran the Broad steamroller through Kansas City, Missouri, closing half that district's schools and "reassigning" half its employees.

Unstoppable?

In Oakland and Seattle, years of organizing by parents and teachers did eventually end with the Broad superintendents leaving town. In Chicago, the fight goes on.

Although Mayor Emanuel and CEO Brizard keep saying they are fighting for the children, most Chicagoans aren't buying it. A Chicago Tribune poll in May found that 40 percent of Chicagoans supported the union, 17 percent were with the mayor, the rest were undecided or supported neither; 86 percent thought teachers should be paid for working longer.