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Re: Edron, er, Edison in NY Times



Re: Edron, er, Edison in NY TimesKathie wrote:
So I am still having a hard time understanding why Edison is so bad. As I said before, the kids are safe, warm and in buildings without broken windows. I am not sure you can say that about many inner city schools.
Yes, the same could have been said for the "house" slaves in the old south...... I guess it depends on how you define "bad". If abuse B is slightly less "bad" than abuse A, does that then make abuse B acceptable (ie. not "bad")???
Linda
----- Original Message -----
From: Humes-Schulz
To: ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU
Sent: Sunday, February 17, 2002 1:15 PM
Subject: Re: Edron, er, Edison in NY Times


Well, in our district, schools are tripping over each other to:

1) implement Success for All and institute scripted learning;
2) establish more rigorous standards for classroom behavior;
3) test more frequently (and our state has even developed computer testing stations so, as it becomes widely implemented, schools could test on an hourly basis if they wanted to);
4) and finally, the scripted daily lesson plans are actually posted on the district website so if it's Thursday, parents and teachers will know kids are on math problem #47.
5) but we don't have honors choir or Friday dance since we have pretty much dumped the arts

So I am still having a hard time understanding why Edison is so bad. As I said before, the kids are safe, warm and in buildings without broken windows. I am not sure you can say that about many inner city schools.

Our district just fired a cafeteria worker for abuse of the federal lunch program -- she was feeding the hungry children of unemployed parents (we are #1 in unemployment in the country). I am reminded of what Mary said (maybe I have yet another source wrong, too!): that very few people anywhere have experienced good educational practices. Sometimes, maybe "just do no more harm" is good enough.

Kathie

-----Original Message-----
From: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List [mailto:ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU]On Behalf Of William Cala
Sent: Sunday, February 17, 2002 11:23 AM
To: ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU
Subject: Re: Edron, er, Edison in NY Times


Kathie,

I was the one who said that we all need to look in the mirror. I'll take Ken off the hook.

I think the objection to the school comes from activities like these:

"teachers follow a common script; swift disciplinary hearings for students who so much as talk out of turn in
class; standardized tests administered by computer every few weeks, with answers transmitted instantly to Edison headquarters in NewYork.."

And like these:

"Parents should also get accustomed to their children receiving law-enforcement-style tickets - but for good conduct - which are the currency for admission to school activities like the honors choir and Friday night dances"

And like these:

"..the teachers follow a curriculum called Success for All,
which provides daily lesson plans that are scripted down to the questions that the teachers are to ask students about particular stories. Each class visits school's media center once a month to log on to Edison's Web site and take exams in reading and math."

Kathie, you are right that we should not criticize a school because of low test scores. In fact, I would say we should NEVER criticize a school based on test scores alone. My problems with Edison schools are epitomized in the quotes above. I think it is a stretch to conclude that the kids are happy at Garfield. It sounds like it MIGHT be better than the public school a child left behind. Sounds like a a trade of one type of abuse for another.

The money being siphoned off of the public schools by this tragic experimentation will make their repair that much more difficult.

Bill




----- Original Message -----
From: Humes-Schulz
To: ARN-L@listsrva.CUA.EDU
Sent: Sunday, February 17, 2002 1:32 PM
Subject: Re: Edron, er, Edison in NY Times


Why is this a horrible dream? These kids are in a safe environment...there are doors on the bathrooms, glass in the windows, a furnace that works, computers in the classroom, there soon will be computers in the home. They are focused on learning. Kids said they LIKED it. Teachers had time to meet as a team to problem solve about a kid and concluded he was lonely. The whole child. You have determined this is a failure and HMO disaster because of low standardized test scores! I am reminded of Ken's comments about looking in the mirror. It is okay for us to doom these schools to the trash heap because of low test scores, but it is not okay for the state to do the same.

We have argued mightily on this list that we need mutltiple measures and a school is more than a test score. I believe -- and I think the kids and their parents believe -- that these kids are better off in this Edison building than in a chaotic, rodent ridden hell hole of an inner city school.

Why do we argue for parental choice in terms of the way we dress our kids and the sex ed classes they attend and the surveys they take and the books they read and the classes they take, but deny parents the right to choice among schools? I don't get it.

Schools are more than a single test score, remember?

Kathie

-----Original Message-----
From: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List [mailto:ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU]On Behalf Of Michelle in Nevada
Sent: Sunday, February 17, 2002 7:04 AM
To: ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU
Subject: Re: Edron, er, Edison in NY Times


B"H

If I didn't know this was reality, I would hope to dismiss it as some horrible dream of a science fiction writer. This is an Educational HMO.

Michelle


From: Ed Levine <eddie185@YAHOO.COM>
Subject: Edron, er, Edison in NY Times




In today's N.Y. Times:

February 17, 2002
Buying in to the Company School
By JACQUES STEINBERG

Flint, Mich., Feb. 13 - An elementary school on a block of boarded-up
houses here offers a glimpse of how Edison Schools Inc. would remake
many of America's classrooms. Its experience is perhaps of most
immediate interest to parents and teachers in Philadelphia, which is
expected soon to surrender dozens of its worst schools as part of the
nation's largest experiment in educational privatization.

Based on a typical day at the Garfield Edison Partnership School
here, Philadelphians can expect 90 minutes of reading lessons each
morning, during which teachers follow a common script; swift
disciplinary hearings for students who so much as talk out of turn in
class; standardized tests administered by computer every few weeks,
with answers transmitted instantly to Edison headquarters in New
York; and, eventually, a complimentary computer in the home of every
child.

Parents should also get accustomed to their children receiving
law-enforcement-style tickets - but for good conduct - which are the
currency for admission to school activities like the honors choir and
Friday night dances.

Still, no one in Philadelphia, where an emergency school board
installed by the state is expected to hire Edison as a consultant as
soon as next month, should anticipate a quick fix. After spiking
upward in Edison's first year, standardized test scores at Garfield -
whose students, like those in Philadelphia, are mostly poor and black
- are now lower than before the company arrived, in 1996. Too, after
performing better in reading and math than the district as a whole
before Edison, Garfield now performs worse. Just 24 percent of the
school's fourth graders passed a state reading test last year. Almost
45 percent of the district's passed.

"Certainly the schools we gave to Edison were schools that were
challenging to us," said Linda Caine- Smith, the deputy
superintendent in Flint, which has entrusted two schools in addition
to Garfield to the company. "But under Edison they haven't always
made the adequate yearly progress they should have."

The performance of Edison, in the classroom and on Wall Street, is
being monitored closely around the country, as more communities
consider hiring the company. The company now manages 134 public
schools in 22 states. It suffered its most bitter defeat last year,
when it lost a vote by parents to manage five schools in New York
City.

Despite their disappointment with the test scores, Flint school
officials are negotiating a three-year extension of the company's
five-year contract. Other communities have been less forgiving. Last
month, the school board in Wichita, Kan., voted to take back two
elementary schools that it had given to Edison five years earlier.
These included a school at which the principal was recently dismissed
on suspicion of encouraging cheating on standardized tests.

Several hundred parents, teachers and students in Philadelphia have
seized on such concerns - as well as Edison's practice of trying to
negotiate a school day as much as 90 minutes longer than the norm -
to try to block Edison's arrival. But the Pennsylvania governor, Mark
S. Schweiker, has expressed confidence that Edison can improve a
troubled school system, and Edison is said to have the inside track
to win two major contracts to help manage the overall system and to
operate most of the 100 schools the board wants to transfer to
private management.

As soon as next fall, those schools could have many of the trappings
of Garfield, which Flint children have attended since 1928, long
before General Motors began closing the assembly lines that once ran
like a roaring river here.

The few teachers who remain from Garfield's earlier incarnation -
most of the staff transferred after the school day was lengthened -
say that the deportment of the 500 students, an Edison priority, has
been the most noticeable change. Fourth and fifth graders who once
cruised the wide hallways as if they were freeways now walk in long
slow lines, arms folded, "so we know their hands are on their
person," says Georgette Parks, who was hired as principal last school
year, after having led an Edison school in Detroit.

Inside the classroom, during the 90 minutes devoted to reading each
morning, the teachers follow a curriculum called Success for All,
which provides daily lesson plans that are scripted down to the
questions that the teachers are to ask students about particular
stories. Each class visits school's media center once a month to log
on to Edison's Web site and take exams in reading and math.

Academic analysts at the company's headquarters - the teachers
repeatedly refer to "New York" as if it were the home office and they
were salesmen - then crunch the numbers to provide the school with
guidance on which students, and teachers, are falling behind.

Though they start the day earlier than friends in other schools and
stay later, Garfield students say they enjoy the rigor and the close
attention.

"It was bad at my old school," said Ashley Callahan, 11, who
transferred to Garfield this year on the recommendation of family
friends. "My old school had fights. The teachers wouldn't do
anything."

Ashley said she enjoyed the Spanish classes that are required of
every Edison student and the programming of the school's
closed-circuit television station, a fixture of every Edison school.
The programming is produced entirely by students.

Like teachers at other Edison schools, Garfield teachers are
encouraged to solve their most intractable problems as a team. Thus,
one morning this week, Barbara Heller took one of her fourth graders
before a committee of five of her colleagues to seek their guidance,
in the boy's presence, on how to stop him from talking constantly in
class.

"He's either unwilling or unable to do what he needs to do," Ms.
Heller said, as the boy convulsed in tears. "Frankly, I don't know
what to do."

After interviewing the boy, the teachers decided that he was lonely,
and they promised to ask his mother if he could stay after school to
participate in activities like the chess club or chorus.

So far, Edison has spent tens of millions at its schools on extras
like closed-circuit television, as well as on the computers it lends
to parents, much to the chagrin of Wall Street, which has grown
bearish on a stock that has lost two-thirds of its value in a year.
[Edison stock closed at $12.46 a share on Friday.]

Ultimately, Ms. Parks, the Garfield principal, knows she will be
judged as much by test scores as by her fiscal management. Though the
number of students passing reading tests at her school doubled to 24
percent, from 12, last year, her first at Garfield, she knows that
they are far from good enough - for the district, the state or "New
York."

"There's always a certain amount of pressure," she said.

Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company

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