Friday, September 11, 2015

MoCo slouches away from solving MCPS achievement gap

Score another one for "the soft bigotry of low expectations" in Montgomery County. The achievement gap between white students and their African-American and Latino classmates has only gotten worse over the last five years, according to the County's own study of its public schools:

"Since 2010, the economic, racial, and ethnic stratification of students among MCPS high schools has increased."

And since 2010, the County Council and MCPS have spent much money, but have failed to take any substantive action - and most certainly have failed to achieve results.

Now we have the latest example of how the impotent Montgomery County political machine "tackles" the tough challenge of the achievement gap - it runs away from it.

Three out of four students can't pass the Algebra I Final Exam? Just get rid of the exam!

That's right. No new strategies, no hard analysis of what's going wrong. Just get rid of final exams, and replace them with those nifty "extra credit" projects, and other age-old tricks used to push struggling kids through the system for decades, cheating them out of a quality education.

Anybody can do a project. Only a student who has learned can solve the math equations on an exam at the end of the semester.

Try handing your college professor or office supervisor that nifty math-themed collage, instead of your final exam or the economic analysis project you were assigned. The results won't be quite as whimsical as they appear to be in the "leadership" realm of our racially and geographically-unequal school system.

A rudderless system prepared to identify a new superintendent "when they get around to it," MCPS is eerily similar in leadership, money-down-the-drain-spending, and results to the ever-popular WMATA (which can't find a leader, either).

The previous superintendent, Joshua Starr, started his MoCo career with a gaudy champagne toast at the Potomac estate of Mitch Rales, a pioneer of outsourcing American jobs to China; spent much of his time hosting an Oprah-style book club TV program at taxpayer and cable customer expense; and was unceremoniously run out of town as a finisher. "Heckuva job, Brownie."

So they have this idea to get rid of final exams that ensure you actually learned what was taught (assuming parents and education advocates stand by and allow the policy change to go unchallenged). What else do they have in their "toolbox"?

A paltry, pitiful $250,000 Children's Opportunity Fund, with no clear mandate or specific uses for that taxpayer money. A fund led by one of the very school board members who presided over the growing achievement gap, by the way. You can't make this stuff up, folks.

Consider that New York City is now ponying up $400,000,000 a year to provide universal Pre-K, widely-accepted to be one of the most obvious and promising ways to reduce the achievement gap, and the contrast couldn't be more clear.

And MoCo's political machine couldn't look worse.

Kids can't pass exams? Get rid of the exam.

Don't like the increasingly-ghastly traffic congestion numbers that might make it impossible to keep approving new development without finally completing the County's unfinished highway system? Just stop counting the cars accurately.

Getting killed by Northern Virginia and DC in job creation? Just use taxpayer money to buy a fake report from EMSI, with fake job numbers that magically show you ahead of NOVA and DC.

Unable to attract a single major corporate headquarters in over a decade? Just use taxpayer money to buy another fake report declaring suburban office parks dead, even while top companies like Google and Facebook are currently booming in suburban office park headquarters.

Farmer's markets and microbreweries; mixing lattes and folding jeans - these are what you imagine your child doing for the rest of his or her life, right? Well, that's what your elected officials imagine them doing, as those are the only private-sector jobs they've created over the last decade. Then they ask, "Why aren't we able to attract young professionals to Montgomery County?"

This isn't leadership. It's slouching. And continuing to deny an equal education to many children in the county isn't just bad politics; it's immoral.

It's easy to ban things. It's easy to tax things. It's easy to politically grandstand with self-promoting legislative resolutions. But leadership and solving the achievement gap are hard. They are difficult. And our current elected officials are clearly not up to the task.

Our leaders have failed their final exam. Rather than get rid of the final exam, maybe it's time the voters get rid of the "leaders".

58 comments:

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Conservative voices don't count in MC and elections have consequences.

Anonymous said...

So tell us your party's position on funding Pre-K, Dyer.

Anonymous said...

Here's what Dyer ignored in the Post article:

"Virginia’s Loudoun County recently dropped a requirement that teachers must give midterms and finals."

Anonymous said...

I agree with Robert. Starr "ran" the Stamford, CT school system (where I lived for 34 years) into the ground. Moving back to MOCO has been very interesting. It seems to be in a steep decline. The planning and zoning boards are turning Bethesda into Anytown, USA, ripping out any character and replacing it with chain stores and restaurants, expensive parking, and crowded roads. Now they want to add several thousand new residents to Westbard with no plan for school accomodation. What a disappointing place to live.

Anonymous said...

Before more comments get deleted, perhaps dyer could do us and himself a favor and post a link to the actual comment policy that gets cited. Goodell style punishments seem to be lacking a bit lately. :)

Anonymous said...

@ 6:04 PM - so move back to Connecticut.

Anonymous said...

And once again, Dyer pathetically tries to link local Democratic leaders to outsourcing, while ignoring his own party's much stronger connections to outsourcing.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

@ 6:20 AM - That's an insult to high-functioning schizophrenics everywhere. Take it back.

Anonymous said...

So Dyer's seems to be arguing that "the MoCo Machine abolished final exams because they hate black people."

Or something...

Anonymous said...

Yep there is not enough high stakes testing nowadays. Something all of us can agree on.

What's your man Hogan's solutions for education. Privatize it with corporate run "public" charter schools? Get rid of waste aka cut funding? Your party's platform seems to be vouchers to private schools and ignore the problem. Perhaps once in a while they have a daring idea like accountability tests and then whining about common core.

Anonymous said...

Wrong question, wrought from age-old, thoughtless defense. Here's a more productive one:

Mr. Dyer, How would you propose to fund the necessary means for upgrading Pre-K? What specific changes would you make to brighten that Maths pass grade, countywide? Inquiring Minds agree that when it comes to science and engineering, actual math competency is paramount. How can we fix this problem? Any citizen with a conscience ought care. Hang the party lines.

Robert Dyer said...

5:15: Is universal Pre-K a "conservative" position?

Robert Dyer said...

5:17: Talk about dodging the issue! My position has nothing to do with a party position. Let's get back to the folks who we're paying 6-figures a year to run this county and MCPS, and holding them accountable for their failures.

Anonymous said...

@ 7:15 AM - You ran as a Republican. Own your party as it exists in 2015.

Robert Dyer said...

5:32: The fact that you have to change the subject just proves the point of my article.

Robert Dyer said...

6:17: Councilmember Hans Riemer taking checks from Mitt Romney's Bain Capital and Danaher Corporation made the link from outsourcing to "local Democratic leaders" years ago. I didn't have anything to do with that. "Corporations are people, my friend!" "Pass Obamacare without the public option." - Hans Riemer 2009

Anonymous said...

You seem to be dodging as well. Can you provide your proposal? You go on a lot about broken systems (I certainly don't disagree often) but a proposed solution would be nice versus just complaining.

Robert Dyer said...

7:18: Do Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren "own their party as it exists in 2015"? Not that I've heard.

Anonymous said...

7:21 AM - Not "changing the subject" in the slightest. You're pretending this is just the MoCo Machine doing this.

Anonymous said...

@ 7:27 PM - Democratic voters like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

Too bad that voters of neither party like you.

Robert Dyer said...

6:45: I've been on the record opposing vouchers for years. It's hysterical how supporters of the current Council and school board have to change the subject to "party" and Hogan. Hogan just took power in January, and had zero to do with County education policy during the last decade.

Robert Dyer said...

7:30: The Republican party had authority over MCPS? Do tell us more about this alternate universe.

Anonymous said...

@ 7:33 AM - Perhaps if your reading comprehension were better, you could actually respond to the comment instead of posting such irrelevant gibberish.

Robert Dyer said...

7:31: On election day 2010, the Gazette searched the County for voters who voted for candidates of the opposite party. They could only find Republicans who voted for Martin O'Malley, and Democrats who voted for Robert Dyer. We were the only two candidates mentioned in the article. Interestingly, the Gazette editors removed the portion of the article about me in the print version. Not surprising, as they were as frustrated about my bipartisan appeal as you are.

Anonymous said...

O'Malley was elected twice. You lost twice.

Kleenex?

Robert Dyer said...

7:35: You just said that Montgomery County's elected officials weren't responsible for the achievement gap, but that a party with no political power over MCPS - the GOP - was somehow more responsible. Only someone out of touch with reality would make such an outlandish claim.

Anonymous said...

Dyer is like that crazy substitute teacher who keeps getting further and further off-topic with each student's question.

Robert Dyer said...

7:39: What about the achievement gap? You're slouching again. Marc Elrich lost something like 9 times, and he's now the highest vote-getter in the County. So your point is?

Anonymous said...

That's the kind of mindset that'll keep the ole algebra finals at an 80% failure rate.

How did this county, so stellar in fields requiring an advanced, working knowledge of mathematics, devolve to a place wherein appearance is preferred to actual competency?! When did our collective ego go renegade with insecurities, that we would prefer to hide incompetencies to cracking down to raise a standard?

How can we be deserving of such high national ranking as so extremely educated and wealthy, yet simultaneously neglect to provide a reasonable foundation for the next generation to reach the same heights?

Glamorous edifices continue to rise, to affirm self-importances and teem already oversaturated schools. Whilst proposed "solutions" badminton over boardroom tables ... like portable trailers, or no schools at all. The highest in the land look back at their future alma maters: "High School? Uh. Here's one lobby and courtyard... where we all failed algebra..."

There is something rotten in the State of Denmark indeed.



Robert Dyer said...

7'44: You're the one off topic. My post is about Montgomery County, the achievement gap, and the elected officials responsible for it. All you've talked about are Robert Dyer, the "Republican Party" that has never held majority power in MoCo, and Hogan, who has only been in office since January, and none of these have anything to do with an achievement gap caused by an all-Democratic Council, legislature and school board. Who's off-topic here again?

Anonymous said...

Robert what is your republican solution? More testing?

Anonymous said...

This American Life covered what happened when suburban schools accidentally mix students from different backgrounds instead of ghettoizing all the students in poverty into the same school..

Anonymous said...

6:17, your line of reasoning is not constructive. Here's why, in two parts:

PART A:

· CLEAN UP THIS MESS.
- But Johnny makes way bigger messes than me [note: incorrect pronoun usage]!
· That may or may not be true, but Johnny is not the one I left in charge, and Johnny did not make THIS mess. YOU did.

PART B:

Robert Dyer can speak for himself, but you shrift his political stances when you imply guilt by party association -- especially when his stances on many issues, including outsourcing, are distinct and poignant.

Anonymous said...

If you look back through your own comment history throughout all posts - you set a precedent in going off topic all of the time with comments about council members and other bloggers and competition and campaign contributions etc. Makes it confusing for is to follow your comment policy. Defamation is allowed or not allowed? Stay on topic of off topic?

Robert Dyer said...

7:53: I've said that universal Pre-K is the most significant step we could take. I would hardly describe that as a "Republican solution." Certainly you need final exams to ensure students have actually learned the material, particularly in a subject like math.

Anonymous said...

Why was the comment policy violated here for this person's comment to be deleted?

Robert Dyer said...

8:11: I don't accept the idea that black and Latino students need rich white people in order to learn. Don't you think every neighborhood deserves quality schools, not just the southwest part of the County?

Robert Dyer said...

8'30: It was a personal attack on me. Violation of comment policy.

Anonymous said...

@ 8:29 AM - I strongly suspect that you do not know what the word "poignant" actually means.

Anonymous said...

8:36 did you listen to the piece?

Anonymous said...

What's your plan for implementation? Not doubting you, just curious how it would work. And are there studies to back up your preference?

Anonymous said...

So personal attack on you = comment policy violation. Personal attack on a commentor or a council member or other person != comment policy violation?

Anonymous said...

So this person's opinion was censored.

G. Money said...

What do you consider to be the differences and advantages of universal pre-k over the existing Head Start program? What would be the difference in cost, and how do you propose paying for it?

Anonymous said...
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Robert Dyer said...

9:54: Where was there a "personal attack" on a councilmember or "commentor"? Perhaps you share the opinion of some on the Council, who declare any criticism of their performance, record or campaign contributions as an "attack". That's what happens when a politician is surrounded by yes men/women telling them how great they are for 4 years. And even worse, a local media that brazenly joins the praise chorus. Fortunately, residents and taxpayers have learned they can turn to this website to get "the rest of the story," as Paul Harvey used to say.

I have not posted any "personal attacks", but such attacks on me will indeed be deleted.

Anonymous said...

Who'd have thought wanting great schools all over the county would be so controversial.

Anonymous said...

So you have never spoken negatively of anyone else?

Anonymous said...

@8:57 You are most certainly correct on that. I'm in a world of pain here. :)

Anonymous said...

7:14 The Spanish Inquisition is through Door #2. Thanks for playing.

Anonymous said...

"That's what happens when a politician is surrounded by yes men/women telling them how great they are for 4 years. And even worse, a local media that brazenly joins the praise chorus."

Somehow I can't picture Woodward or Bernstein typing this.

Anonymous said...

Dyer fantasizes that he is Woodward and Bernstein, but he sure sounds like Nixon.

Anonymous said...

Ok so remember next time you attack anyone else at all in your posts or comments you said it - it violates comment policy and will be deleted.

Chase said...

Let's get real..
Have you ever read anything in local media outlets, other than Dyer's, that could be seen as critical of MoCo leaders, such as Reamer? I don't mean attacks, just any constructive criticism.
They must be batting 1.000
Folks think they'll lose access to the Council unless they're giving daily attaboys. We need some independent voices like Dyer out there.
The old Gazette, Patch, the Post, etc. don't offer that.

Anonymous said...

"a politician is surrounded by yes men/women telling them how great they are for 4 years.

"a local media that brazenly joins the praise chorus."

"Have you ever read anything in local media outlets that could be seen as critical of MoCo leaders?"

"giving daily attaboys"

Dyer and his shill live in some bizarre alternate universe.

Robert Dyer said...

6:46: Every one of those quotes is an accurate description of the political/media situation with the MoCo political machine. Hardly an alternative universe. Even the articles about the Silver Spring Transit Center portray the Council as unwitting victims, while they had oversight authority over the project. Talk about alternate universes...