Saturday, October 25, 2014

Jeb's National Education Summit

It's almost November and that means it's time to start making our plans to attend Bush III's National Education Summit, brought to you by your friends at Jeb Bush for President 2016 Foundation for Excellence in Education. It's a giant reformsterpalooza. (For some great stories from previous summits, read here and here.)

This year's theme is Unlocking Student Achievement: Choice * Accountability and it provides a great template for how we can peddle all of the regular reformster wares even as we completely scrub them of any reference to the Common Core. Bush III has been scrubbing all of the royal presidential educational advocacy materials lately, having noticed that being a Common Core Adorer is not winning him big love from the conservative wing of the GOP. Note this fundraising letter that completely avoids any mention of Bush III's previous policy BFF.

The national conference may be Common Core Free, but it is still stacked tall with reformy baloney. Here are the sessions you can expect to enjoy if you attend, and to save you time, I'll go ahead and predict the takeaways for each right now.

After Bush III's opening keynote (still working on a title, I guess), will be followed by these strategy sessions:

Measurement 2.0: Elevating students by testing what you teach

"States are adopting more rigorous academic standards" is about as close as we get to acknowledging that the Core exist (though if we're talking in present tense "dumping and distancing themselves from" might make a better sentence middle here).

But add to your stack of 1001 Statements That Prove CCSS and Tests Cannot Be Decoupled this sentence:

A standard without accurate measurement and strong accountability quickly becomes optional.

You can't kill the tests without killing the standards, and don't think for a moment that reformsters don't understand that. At any rate, this session focuses on the search for a super-duper test that is impervious to test prep and rote learning, and which measures critical thinking and depth of understanding. We will hear from four states about their search for this mythical test. Since the four states are Kentucky, Idaho, Mississippi and Florida (Pam Stewart will be there, perhaps to explain why tests should be administered to dying children), so I think we can cut to the chase, which is that nobody yet has the slightest clue how to create this mythically awesome tests.

Autonomy vs. Accountability: The right mix for school choice programs

We're talking about private school choice programs here. Michael McShane will be leading the panel, which includes leaders from FEE, Step Up for Students, and Alliance for School Choice.  Let's go ahead and predict that the right mix is "Let them do whatever the hell they want."

Communicating Reform Part 1: Crafting e-messages people will read and watch

Given the short life and sad demise of the "Learn More. Go Further" PR campaign that Bush and Friends launched. complete with sad sponsored teacher twitter accounts, I'm not sure FEE is the group to give advice about this. But somebody must because " we are confronted by an organized and well-funded opposition dedicated to maintaining the status quo." All I can say is-- somebody had better cough up my share of this well-fundedness, because I am clearly not getting a cut of the money that is buying other public education advocates their summer homes and fancy dijon mustard on their fancy ham sandwiches. I am literally sitting here at my desk in pajamas with a toasted bagel perched atop my desk mess, and shortly the dog is going to demand to go poop in the back yard and I will have to take him myself. I wonder if Jeb Bush has to take his own dog to poop in the back yard. I wonder how all of these reformsters dogs will cope when their owners are all in DC for two days.

In short, "organized and well-funded," my ass.

But @TeacherFaye is going to be here on the panel, so I'm pretty sure the takeaway will be, "Yes, go on and use the twitter on the interwebs, and the young persons will see your message and become convinced by the twitness."

Education Begins with K-3 Literacy: If kids can’t read, they can’t graduate

"because we won't let them" should probably be the rest of the title. FEE has beaten this drum since the first national convention in 2010, and the short form is simple-- flunk all third graders who can't pass your state's standardized reading test. The panel includes Mississippi State Senator Tollson and  Ohio Superintendent Richard Ross; if you are expecting to hear the slightest lick of research por evidence that this test and punish retention plan is a sound and helpful idea, you should just go wait in line with the people waiting to see Sasquatch riding a unicorn across the Bridge to Atlantis.

Takeaway: we should flunk third graders who flunk the state test because eight year olds need to be whipped into shape. Uphill, both ways.

Innovation in the Certification Process: Rethinking teacher licensure

"Rethinking" is a great word. I am rethinking taking my dog out to poop because my wife is now up and if I rethink it long enough, I might get out of doing it. While I do not mean to compare teacher licensure to dog poop, I think the rethinking process is similar. The panel also seems to be interested in rethinking tenure and FILO. It includes John King, so you know this will totally not be about how to rethink your way to an easily managed, low paid, non-licensed teaching workforce.

Making Schools Better Instead of Just More Expensive: How to make your education dollars count

"Despite all evidence to the contrary, there is still widespread belief that school success is tied to school funding," begins this description. "So this panel will discuss how they cut the budgets of high achieving schools in rich neighborhoods down to level of low-achieving schools in poor neighborhoods because it shouldn't make any difference." Ha! Just kidding. This panel is led by Chester Finn. This panel will discuss how to "direct funds where they will do the most good" or, as I read it, how to rewrite funding rules so that generating good test scores gets you funding, because directing funding away from struggling schools so that they can be declared failures and closed is bad education, but damn fine business.

The Next Chapter in Educational Choice: Education Savings Accounts

aka "Maybe If We Try Legislating Vouchers This Way, We Can Finally Get Them Past the Courts."

Not Your Daddy’s Woodshop: Career and technical education in the 21st century

Possibly not stupid-- somebody has noticed that we have a problem filling high skills blue collar jobs. Since we haven't yet figured out how to make jobs like, say, welding as low-skills as making fries, we'll have to come up with a way to train these peoples. "This is definitely not your daddy's woodshop," they say, stopping just short of "And of course your mommy would never take wood shop because, no penis." The head of the US Chamber, heavy promoters of Common "Everyone Has To Go To College" Core will head this panel, so I hope he's taking his cognitive dissonance pills.

Accountability Works Workshop: A-F school grading

Another Bush III fave with no actual facts to back it up. Presumably we'll skip the unit on How To Tweak the System So You Don't Embarrass Your Charter School Friends.

Day II Starts with:

The Civil Rights Issue of Our Time: Access to a Quality Education

This general session is moderated by famous civil rights activist and educational expert Campbell Brown. Since she's only the moderator, presumably she will not deliver her speech on "How to squash uppity black ladies who try to horn in on your civil rights lawsuit action."

For actual panelists we get Andrew Malone of Harlem Success Academy, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and Patrick Dobard or the New Orleans Recovery School District. The blurb suggests that this will be a demonstration of how to appropriate the language of civil rights to promote your business interests as you cash in in the education sector.

Communicating Reform Part 2: Delivering effective messages

Marketing strategy. This is about "how to effectively reach your target audiences with tailored messages." So I'm expecting an update of the classic Charter Messaging Bible.And it should be a good one-- one of the panelists is Felix Schein, president of RALLY, the PR firm that created the successful astroturf group Students Matter for David Welch. Expect some practical branding and messaging advice here.

Bridging the Access Gap: How to bring the best courses to every student, in every state

I last encountered this idea in Michael McShane's walk-and-talk video-- why voucherize entire schools when you can really unbundle and voucherize by individual classes. Charter operators, you should attend this session so that you can understand that when some reformsters look into the future of education, they don't see you.

Building Trust in the Classroom: Protecting student data privacy and security

The big question is why this is not entitled "Doing the Right Thing: Protecting student data and privacy." But in reformsterland, data security is a PR problem, not an actual problem. This session promises to address all the data security issues except the main ones. We're going to talk about securing your on-line gradebook, but apparently not for the wholesale collection, sharing and selling of the data gathered from high stakes testing.

And there you have it

The confab runs from early morning, Thursday, November 20, through Friday afternoon, thereby guaranteeing that the doors will not be darkened by anybody who actually works in a public school classroom. Registration for the event is $499, though you can apply for a scholarship. The conference will be held at the Washington Marriot Wardman Park, so, fancy.

But the organizers want you to know: "Attendees leave the National Summit armed with the knowledge and networks to advance bold education reform in their states." They call it an "uncommon conference" which is kind of hilarious because they have scrubbed every reference to certain common thing, so it is literally un-commoned. At any rate, it "serves as a catalyst for energizing and accelerating the reform movement across the nation. Be there or be left behind."

I would love to be there to watch and learn and write down things I could blog about in a well-funded and organized way later, but I actually lack the funding and I am using my personal days this year to visit my soon-to-be-newborn grandson. Also, somebody has to be here to take the dog out to poop. Priorities, you know.

1 comment:

  1. Well, you got me laughing out loud at this one Peter. Especially the well-funded part. As I write this I sit at my own messy desk with a cup of tea and await the call from my three dogs who will be anxious to be fed in about an hour. Maybe Jeb will volunteer to come over and feed them for two days so I can attend the conference. My funding check seems to be lost in the mail. I would like to apply for a scholarship to the conference just so I could fill out the application and imagine the looks on the faces of the scholarship committee. Thanks for saving me from having to actually attend this farce to know what is going to be said.