Thursday, February 4, 2016

Robert Marzano Takes on Edublogger

Emily Talmage has been working hard for Maine schools. She is a tireless citizen journalist who has dug and dug and dug some more to uncover some of the ugly roots that Competency Based Education has put down across the country, with those roots running deep in her own state (the decision by somebody, somewhere, to roll out the new CBE in Maine, a quiet little state with a big loud governor, must be an interesting story of its own).

At any rate, if you are not a regular reader of Saving Maine Schools just because you don't live in Maine, don't let that stop you. It should be on your don't-miss list.

Apparently, as we've learned over the last week, one reader is not a fan. Here's the story.

Last Saturday, Talmage took aim at Robert Marzano. Marzano has been at the reformster business for over two decades, hopping on the educonsultant train back in the early nineties when Outcome Based Education first reared its unattractive visage, and he's been at it ever since, with a stew of semi-researched recommendations for school reform, teacher observation, and instructiony ideas.

As an early acolyte of OBE, Marzano must be enjoying seeing his ship come in again. He was apparently not so happy when Talmage stood on the dock and told everyone else a few things about Marzano.

Reaction to her post was immediate and loud-- in twenty years, Marzano has given many, many working educators reason to make a "yuck" face when they hear his name. But that batch of responses brought in news from Detroit that the beleagured and supposedly money-starved district just spent $6 million dollars on Marzano's consulting company. Talmage wrote about that, too.  

Six million freakin' dollars in a spectacularly crumbling school district. Do you know what a district could do with six million dollars?

It was about that time that Talmage noticed two things-- the appearance of an Ohio investigation firms ip in her visitor's list, and much more noticeable, an e-mail threat from Marzano himself. 

I assume you know that while you may state your opinions quite freely, false statements about people that are damaging to their reputation are considered slander. In the blog post I read you have a number of such statements about me. 

Marzano took exception to two assertions in Talmage's posts-- first, that he had never taught in a classroom, and second, the whole six million dollar contract thing.

On point one, Talmage learned that she was in error, though it appears she had to do a great deal of digging on her own to confirm that he had indeed taught, though, well-- she found a document where he listed himself as an "English teacher" in "New York City Schools" in 1967-68,-- he graduated from college in 1968, so I'm not sure how that works. After that he spent two years as English Department Chair in a Seattle private school.

On point two, Talmage asked for and received copies of the contract from the reporter whose FOIA request broke the story. The $6 million company is Learning Sciences International which holds the copyright to some of Marzano's delightful teacher stuff, but which is not technically his company-- they give him money, but he doesn't have to work there.

You can read all of this in greater detail on Talmage's blog. I'm not usually one to do what is essentially a repost of other people's stuff, but this is a story that deserves to spread. Plus I'm just impressed by any blogger who can pull an actual threat from a rich and famous reformster.

I asked her how it felt.

A little scary, but exciting too... If he weren't at least a little concerned, I don't think he would have taken the time to respond ... These big shots need to realize that we are on to them.

I also felt a little sorry for him... I honestly think his companies are getting so many contracts right now that he probably didn't realize Detroit was spending so much on his professional development program ... I wonder if it was a little embarrassing for him to have a teacher point it out?

That sounds about right. It's good to know that they are paying attention, they are hearing us, and they can't just sail on thinking that nobody notices or cares what they're up to. Hats off to Talmage for making Marzano take notice.


  1. Ten years ago I was with a group of math and science teachers who had been in PD with their district involving Marzano. They made such fun of his research -- and made it clear to me that he is no kind of actual researcher. He had zero credibility with these teachers, so I've been spared personal knowledge of his work. It is a shame he has been hired by anyone, or that Detroit is spending any money on consulting. They should be supporting their own teachers, not spending money on crap.

  2. The notion that someone (Marzano) created a generic teacher evaluation rubric so awesome that it could be used to accuaretly measure the effectiveness of a kindergarten art teacher in Bed-Stuy AND the AP physics teacher in Scarsdale is beyond proposterous. It disqualifies that person (Marzano) from having anything to do with judging teachers.

    As Alphie Kohn has stated, "The one universal truth about teaching and learning is that there is no universal truth about teaching and learning."

  3. Marzano is the reason I left teaching after a successful 32 years in the classroom. I was a Teacher of the Year for my county, Teacher of the Year for the local Rotary Club, Golden Bell Award winner, and the Freedom's Foundation George Washington Medal. I wasn't a good enough teacher, I guess. My district forced Marzano down my throat until I couldn't take it any more. Now, armed with my Ph.D., I am an independent educational researcher on teacher burnout.

  4. Marzano is the reason I have left teaching after 25 years. I have not had bad reviews. I volunteer at schools in another school district where my own children attend, and when the Marzano approach began to be used to shuffle teachers building to building and the support for resource students dropped I fell apart. I am still waiting for the Administration to acknowledge that I did get a highly effective review and that they input the wrong data about me to the state. Education has failed me and my family.

  5. I have been teaching in the State of Florida since 1999, and I left teaching for good in 2020. The Marzano system punishes special education (ESE) teachers and teachers who are brave enough to tackle Title I schools.

    It is used by administration to intimidate teachers, threaten teachers, forced volunteerism, and force teachers into spending hours of unpaid overtime (e.g., typically 40 hrs above the normal work week) working without compensation.

    I would love to see Marzano visit one of the 5-most challenging schools in the State of Florida and teach in one of my classes. I have had district coaches refusing to return to my class to demonstrate best practices in instruction.

    After one visit, they typically fold up their charts and head for the door--never to return. When I request support, I get emails and and commendations.