The Lysistrata Effect: Misogyny, Women and the Presidential Election

If you live in an apartment house you have laundry room and elevator friends. I chat in the laundry room waiting for the spin cycle to end, my neighbor describes himself as a “Reagan-Romney Republican” and he calls me a “Paul Krugman Democrat.”

“I can’t wait for this election to be over – I can’t vote for Trump, I’ve always voted for the Republican candidate, I can’t this time, plus, my wife would kill me – she’s working for Hillary.”

“It’s a secret ballot, how would she ever know?”

“Oh she’d know, my first wife found about my girlfriend and my girlfriend found out about my wife – they always find out.”

This election reminds me of a 5th century play Lysistrata by the Greek playwright Aristophanes.

Lysistrata is an account of one woman’s extraordinary mission to end the Peloponnesian War by persuading the women of Greece to withhold sexual privileges from their husbands and lovers as a means of forcing the men to negotiate peace.

The Lysistrata Effect: the impact of women in this election is unparalleled. The NY Times Chances of Winning metric has Hillary at 92% – the highest percentage since the candidates were nominated. The fivethirtyeight blog predicts Hillary with 343 electoral votes (270 required for a win) and Hillary leads in the popular vote 49 – 42 percent.

My neighbor said, “I can’t wait for this election to be over and we can get back to politics as usual.”

We’re not going back to “politics as usual,” Trump may very well be trashed in this election, he is not going away. The Democrats may very well close the gap in the House of Representatives; however, they will win seats in contested districts and defeat the more liberal Republicans, I know liberal Republican is an oxymoron, they are liberal when compared to the Tea Party Republicans, the Freedom Caucus.  If the Freedom Caucus withholds votes they will be able to prevent Paul Ryan from being elected as speaker and prevent any bill from coming to the floor. Will the mainstream Republicans forgo the “Hastert Rule” and seek Democratic votes to elect a speaker and pass legislation?

Will Trump support Tea Party candidates in Republican primaries to attempt to defeat Republicans who did not support him?

We are entering into a chaordic age, “… the behavior of any self-governing organism, organization, or system which harmoniously blends characteristics of order and chaos.” Perhaps we are moving to a realignment of parties, maybe similar to the Independent Democratic Coalition (IDC) in the Albany Senate.

“You can’t go home again,” you can only look forward, and there is no question that the future is murky. The voting public is alienated from the political system; only 57.2% of eligibles voted in the 2012 election, Of the 35 OECD nations the US is in 26th place in percent of eligibles who vote. There is little question that negative campaigning tears down candidates, too many Americans have no faith in our political system.

James Madison, in Federalist # 51 framed the necessary conflicts between governors and the governed.

 … what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions. This policy of supplying, by opposite and rival interests, the defect of better motives, might be traced through the whole system of human affairs, private as well as public.

What Should Be the First Educational Initiative of the HRC Administration?

Woke up this morning and checked out my phone: emails, tweets (a different world!), and, scanned the NY Times online. Every day the Times have a graphic, the percentages predicting the presidential election outcome. In July Hillary was in the mid-eighties and by mid-September had dipped to the mid-seventies. This morning Hillary hit 89% – the highest Times election prediction.

The Nate Silver fivethirtyeight blog  predicts Clinton 86.4% and 341 electoral votes (270 needed for victory), and, in the popular vote Clinton leads 49% to 42%.

The Third Presidential Debate will take on Wednesday, October 19th in Las Vegas; Chris Wallace of Fox will be the moderator. The tenor of the debates will not change.

Trump has “legitimatized” racism, misogamy and homophobia, voters may think and not use the “N” word, don’t worry, Trump is the surrogate. For the Trump camp the hope is in the lessons from the Brixit and the Columbia plebiscites, the polls predicted “yes” votes and the “no” prevailed in both cases. Are there Trump votes outside of the reach of the pollsters? Trump will be Trump, hoping that the lesson from Brixit prevails.

With pollsters predicting a big Hillary victory will Trump voters throw in the towel and not bother voting, and/or, will the Hillary voters, anticipating a big Hillary win will also not bother to vote?

Hopefully, I’ll feel relieved on November 9th

A couple of weeks after the election HRC, (G-d willing!!) will begin nominating cabinet members. Who will be the Secretary of Education?  I can give you a list of who will NOT be nominated; I have no idea of the nominee.

The first hundred days are crucial for incoming presidents: setting the tone for the presidency. Bill Clinton chose health care reform and stumbled badly. His presidency never achieved the accomplishments he anticipated.  While Hillary may regain the Senate it is unlikely the Democrats will also seize the House. The Republicans have been successful in thwarting Obama, with relatively little voter negativity.  Plus, history shows that midterm elections usually favor the “out” party. In 2010 and 2014 the Republicans thrashed the Democrats in the midterm elections. HRC will have a two year window to convince the nation that she was the “right” choice.

Reducing poverty and supporting the middle class is at the heart of the HRC agenda; however they are heavy lifts (See Brookings Institute paper here)

… graduating from high school, belonging to a family with at least one full-time worker, and having children while married and after age 21—correlated closely with economic success. We call this the “success sequence.” Individuals who follow it almost never live in poverty.

What can Hillary do in the field of education that does not require legislation or will be bipartisan?

For example: the college student debt crisis is acknowledged by both parties; however, the parties sharply disagree on the path.

How do we help students complete high school with the skills needed to pursue their goals? Raising graduation rates will require not just new kinds of high schools, but investment in children at all stages of life: home visiting, early childhood education, and new efforts in the primary grades.[ Home visiting programs improve parenting and connect families to adequate medical care. The effects continue well into adolescence. Similarly, research suggests that low cost interventions like providing parents with books and texting them reminders to read to their children, can have substantial effects on child literacy skills.

All of the interventions listed above cost dollars and a Republican Congress will not support the legislation. In addition, the policies are local, policies that have to be adopted at the state and local levels. The Obama/Duncan efforts alienated teachers and communities; once again, big, bad Washington telling us what to do and how to do it. The best decisions are usually made by teachers and school leaders supported by superintendents and the education hierarchy. Sadly Washington, or Albany or Tweed issue ukases, the troops salute, and very little changes. Race to the Top, 4.4 billion dollars, over $700 million to New York State: is there any evidence that the dollars changed outcomes?

I would suggest a major initiative: Career and Technical Education, former known as Vocational Education, a policy that can be supported by both parties; the new ESSA law devolves policy initiatives to the state level  Bipartisan federal legislation to encourage state and local educational authorities to create paths to employment would play a major role in reducing poverty.

I was speaking with a middle school principal in an extremely poor neighborhood – he asked his counselor to make every effort to guide his eighth graders to vocational high schools.

“My kids need jobs, their path out of poverty is a job and they need skills, high school has to mean something, they need a purpose to continue in school, spending four years learning academics and a skill, an internship, working as an apprentice will prepare my kids to lift themselves into the middle class.”

Packaged federal programs, like P-TECH, sound nice, receive a great deal of ink, and impact a miniscule number of kids; vocational, or, to use the current term Career and Technical Education (CTE) costs money to start and cost dollars to support. CTE programs must link with industries who are the potential employers as well as unions who will be the colleagues of the new workers.

There is no prep-packaged solution, HRC should not make the same fatal mistake that Obama-Duncan made, the paths, and there are many, must be created at the local level.

Schools have never been good at working beyond the boundaries of school buildings; a first meeting rarely results in a partnership. The most effective partnerships are created locally, by a school leader, Manhattan Day and Night Comprehensive High School works with Deutsche Bank, the fifteen International High Schools (all students have been in the country four years or less) work with the Internationals Network, a 401 that raises dollars to support the schools in the network,  public, not charter schools. Conversely Automotive High School has been on the verge of closing for years.

Manhattan Institute sees hope: two research briefs by Tamar Jacoby look to the future:

 Education 2.0: Employers Hold the Key to Better Career Training Vocational Education  and Keeping New York City on the Cutting Edge of Technical Education.

The European Union has well -established vocational education programs in schools as well as retraining programs for adults (Read a detailed report here)

There are at least a dozen high-profile education topics, from pre-kindergarten, the Common Core, charter schools, testing, teacher college preparation, all worthy of examination by the new administration; however; all are riddled with controversy and are best left to local decision-making. The belief that the best road out of poverty is a job is held across party lines and education and the private sector can partner and the nation will applaud.

The losers, the Republicans, will continue to do what has worked, obstructionism, and HRC needs winners, policies that are so popular that opposing them will alienate the citizenry: I believe Vocational Education, CTE is that issue.

How Will the New Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Impact Teachers and Schools?

Fifty states are deeply involved in creating accountability plans required by the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA): what does it mean for teachers and schools?

No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and ESSA both require that states test all students in grades 3-8, identify the lowest achieving schools, establish intervention strategies and NCLB required either transforming, redesigning, closing or converting the lowest achieving schools to charter; ESSA gives states wide latitude in designing intervention strategies.

Under the new law, ESSA, states can use the PARCC, Smarter Balance or a test designed or purchased by states for accountability purposes.  A few states are exploring alternatives: performance tasks or other authentic assessments, perhaps portfolios of student work. No matter the assessment tool the process will identify the bottom five percent and each state must determine an intervention strategy.

Let me repeat – there will always be a bottom five percent; states decide the process that identifies the bottom five percent.  There are 4400 schools in New York State; five percent equals 220 schools that will end up in the bottom five percent. (Actually high schools use a different metric: schools in which a third of students fail to graduate and in the following year schools in which subgroups underperform).

The determination of the bottom five percent is currently based on proficiency, aka, test scores. In the scholarly circles the debate has centered around “proficiency” versus “growth.”

Andrew Ho and colleagues have been sharply critical of proficiency as the sole assessment tool.

Leah Schafer, in When Proficient Isn’t Good: The Deceptive Nature of Proficiency as a Measure of Student Progress – and How to Fix the Funhouse Mirror, summarizes Ho’s position,

First, he says, “these initial proficiency markers are arbitrary, determined by an overwrought, judgmental, and ultimately political process.” The setting of a cut score is ultimately a judgement, as Ho so accurately puts it, “ultimately a political process.” In New York State the Common Core test cut scores that caused the outcry and created the opt-out movement and resulted in the demise of John King was a political decision and, different states set cut scores that vary significantly from state to state.

Aside from distorting comparisons between states, percent proficient can distort perceptions of growth within a state, or district, or classroom. High income suburban schools will all have scores above proficient while high poverty schools will almost always have scores below proficient regardless of the efforts of staffs and districts.

The third problem, Ho explains, raises concerns about achievement gaps — for example, average differences between test scores of white or higher-income students and minority or poor students. When comparing two groups of students, whichever group has percentages closer to 50 percent will appear to progress or regress faster, leading to assumptions about changes in the achievement gap that are incorrect — another illusion.

I urge you to take a deep dive into “A Practitioner’s Guide to Growth Models, (February, 2013), Katherine E. Castellano and Andrew D. Ho, for The Council of Chief State School Officers.

We will probably end up with a combination of proficiency and growth. Some argue, a “growth to proficiency” model – perhaps something like 85% proficiency/15% growth while others argue the opposite 85% growth/15% proficiency. Under the current proficiency model just about all the five percent schools are in the highest poverty zip codes in the state – the “Big Five” (Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, New York City and Yonkers).  Some sort of a combination proficiency-growth model will produce a very different mix of schools; needless to say a potentially hot political topic.

The state plan will be released in the spring, a comment period, final approval in time to submit by the July deadline.

The second part of the plan is the “wide discretion” section – what to do to raise achievement levels in the schools.  The September 28th edition of Education Week takes an in depth look at the options available to states (Check out here)  For example, a school district in Indiana has a “transformation zone;” the California Department of Education spun off California Collaboration for Educational Excellence, with a budget of $24 million to assist low performing schools and districts. A number of organizations, for example Mass Insight and the Johns Hopkins Talent Development Model have had considerable success in school turnaround endeavors.

While the state has wide latitude these efforts must be “evidence-based,”

ESSA lays out three levels of evidence that states can choose to apply to prove an intervention works:

  • “Strong evidence” includes at least one well-designed and implemented experimental study, meaning a randomized controlled trial.
  • “Moderate evidence” includes at least one well-designed and implemented quasi-experimental study. For example, a program evaluation could use a regression-discontinuity analysis, in which researchers might look at differences in outcomes for students who scored a point above and below the entrance cutoff score for a particular program or intervention.
  • “Promising evidence” includes at least one well-designed and implemented correlational study that controls for selection bias, the potential differences between the types of students who choose to participate in a particular program and those who don’t.

In the “strong evidence” category there aren’t too many choices for elementary schools; Success for All and Reading Recovery are two that do meet the requirements, they are expensive, and, highly structured.

“This is a sea change from the highly prescriptive approach to school improvement [under the No Child Left Behind Act] to what can seem like a bit of a Wild West structure under ESSA,” said Mike Magee, the chief executive officer of Chiefs for Change, which has created an ESSA working group of 15 experimentally minded state education leaders. “We have potentially unprecedented flexibility in how states address school improvement—but that’s just another factor in how high the stakes are.”

Another cluster of states are working with Linda Darling-Hammond and others have employed companies that specialize in these efforts, for example 2Revolutions, that calls themselves an education design lab. To the best of my knowledge New York State, for now, is going it alone.

Of course there is an “event” on November 7th that may influence education policy; a new president, a new Secretary of Education, and, perhaps, a new Congress. ESSA will not evaporate, it took fourteen years to change NCLB under two presidents from different parties, and, I believe we will have to wait and see how the law plays out.

Bottom line: a more interesting mix of “five percent” schools and a variety, a wide variety of approaches to school improvement and the impact of the new law on teachers and schools a year or two years away.

Race: Does the Race of a Teacher Impact Student Performance? Does the Race of a School Leader Impact Teacher Effectiveness?

(Five years ago I wrote a blog musing on the impact of the race of a teacher/school leader on student performance. New York City, New York State and advocates nationally are called for increases in numbers of black teachers, especially black males. Schools of education are including “white privilege,” “culturally relevant pedagogy” and “stereotype threat” into course curriculum.  I have reposted an updated version of the original post)

 A federal court judge in a scathing decision ordered the New York Fire Department (FDNY) to change their hiring practices to integrate the work force. Forty years ago the Court established a “disparate impact test” in the Griggs v Duke Power Co. decision,

“What is required by Congress is the removal of artificial, arbitrary, and unnecessary barriers to employment when the barriers operate invidiously to discriminate on the basis of racial or other impermissible classification.”

Since race has no impact on the effectiveness of a firefighter management must institute hiring practices that do not discriminate against protected groups.

Race is a highly sensitive issue:  the subtext of every conversation is race, gender and class. We shy away from discussing race, we fear stepping on toes, being called a “racist,” (or a sexist, or promoting class warfare); ideally we should be engaging in the difficult conversations.

In a graduate education class I was teaching a student expressed, “All whites are racists; the question is how they respond to their racism.” Some were offended, others agreed while many were confused. Observing the students as student teachers was enlightening: a few tried to “relate” by using what they assumed was ghetto language, others were aloof and simply taught the subject matter, a few, very few, managed to gain the respect and engagement of the students.

I know black male teachers who have changed the lives of generations of black students and have met black teachers who reviled their students. One of my black students occasionally references  on Facebook what he learned in my class twenty-five years ago.

What does research say about the impact of the race of the teacher on student achievement?

The education hierarchy is data-obsessed; we collect seemingly infinite bits of data and base every meaningful decision on that data: the granting of tenure, the closing of schools, annual teacher ratings, etc.

The bureaucracy has not collected data relating student achievement to the race of the teacher. In fact there is surprisingly little research in this area.

Dee S. Thomas of Swarthmore College, in a much quoted article  writes,

“… we actually know very little about how differences between a teacher’s race and those of her students affect the learning environment. This study makes use of data from a randomized field trial conducted in Tennessee to produce higher-quality information on this controversial subject than has been available previously.”

“The results are troubling. Black students learn more from black teachers and white students from white teachers, suggesting that the racial dynamics within classrooms may contribute to the persistent racial gap in student performance, at least in Tennessee.”

Thomas goes on to warn us, “… the most important caveat is that this study tells us little about why the racial match between students and teachers seems to matter.”

So, the race of the teacher seems to matter, although we don’t know why. It could be the training of the teacher, it could be the method of assigning students to classes, or we could look at the work of Claude Steele.

In an iconic 1992 article Steele raises the issue of stigma,

“I have long suspected a particular culprit—a culprit that can undermine black achievement as effectively as a lock on a schoolhouse door. The culprit I see is stigma, the endemic devaluation many blacks face in our society and schools.

This status is its own condition of life, different from class, money, culture. It is capable, in the words of the late sociologist Erving Goffman, of ‘breaking the claim’ that one’s human attributes have on people. I believe that its connection to school achievement among black Americans has been vastly underappreciated.”

We may speculate on the impact of the race match of students and teachers; data is interesting, troubling, but does not allow us to draw statistically significant conclusions.

What is the impact of the race of the school leader on teachers?

A just released study  from the University of Missouri is enlightening,

“Teachers are substantially more likely to stay in schools run by a principal of the same race …. Teachers who share the same race as their principal … report higher job satisfaction, particularly in schools with African-American principals.”

“This association may be driven by differences in how such schools are managed, given that teachers who share the same race as their principal report higher levels of administrative support and more recognition than other teachers report.”

* White teachers with white principals received more money in supplemental salaries, such as stipends for coaching or sponsoring clubs, than African-American teachers with white principals.

* In schools with African-American principals, the supplemental salary rates were roughly the same.

* African-American teachers reported much higher rates of intangible benefits, such as administrative support and encouragement, classroom autonomy and recognition for good job performance, when they worked for an African-American principal. The rates were roughly the same for all teachers under white principals.

* The data shows race plays a significant role in the principal-teacher relationship, “It appears that African-American teachers generally have a more positive experience when the principal is of the same race.”

Keiser (the primary researcher) says that previous research has shown that minority teachers improve the educational experience of minority students. Because of this, Keiser believes that her study shows the importance for maintaining the diversity of principals within schools as well.

“Our results illustrate that an important factor in maintaining the racial diversity of teachers is the diversity of the principals that supervise these teachers.  We hope these findings could provide justification for policymakers to undertake targeted at increasing the flow of minority teachers into the principal pipeline.”

Over the Bloomberg-Klein years the percent of minority teachers in New York declined due to the reliance on Teacher for America whose teachers are predominantly white. Principals are selected either through the Principals’ Academy, the Aspiring Principals programs, or, in some instances are promoted from assistant principal positions. The NYC Department has a “principal exam” which moves candidates into the principal selection pool.

Observationally very few of the Academy or Aspiring Principals are Afro-American males.

Does it matter?

Should the Department make special efforts to include minority candidates in the candidate pool? Should they have an informal “Rooney Rule“?

We must not shy away from difficult questions; an ostrich-like “head in the sand” reliance on data is foolish and not productive. We have to address difficult, troubling and politically sensitive issues. Yes, I have worked with highly effective white superintendents and principals in 100% Afro-American districts and schools and totally ineffective Afro-American principals in 100% Afro-American schools.  I can’t remember an Afro-American principal in a predominantly white school.

We live in a “Closing the Achievement Gap” education world. Schools, school leaders and teachers are “measured” by the extent to which the school is “proficient,” and “proficiency” is defined by scores on standardized tests.

Poverty, class, race, funding, ethnicity, school leaders and teachers all enter the equation. We cannot throw up our hands and blame any of the above.  Too many of us in today’s environment are in the “blame game.” The self-styled education reformers blame teachers, teachers may blame poverty, advocates blame funding inadequacies, and issues of race and class hover unresolved.

We live an increasingly diverse world, we are moving toward a “majority minority” nation. Diversity is a complex term. The New York City school system is only fifteen percent white and the overwhelming majority of whites live in white enclaves (Staten Island, Bay Ridge, Riverdale, etc.)  The other eighty-five percent are Afro-American, both American and Caribbean, Asian from China, Korea and other nations and Hispanics from over a dozen nations; all with distinct cultural mores and antagonisms towards other ethnicities. Add the rapidly increasing numbers of inter-racial marriages and recognize that New York City, and many other cities across the nation are both melting pots, cauldrons of ethnicities, some merging, others bubbling. Our teachers and school leaders should reflect the world around them; our diverse student body deserves a diverse teaching corp.

Race alone will not impact student achievement.

In fact in a recent study Harvard professor Tom Kane writes the single most effective intervention, an intervention that far exceeds the impact of a novice versus an experienced teacher are textbooks aligned to curriculum and standards.  (Watch a video of a symposium hosted by David Steiner here and listen to my snarky question at about the 1:08 mark).

The Coleman Report at 50: Was Coleman “Right,” Have We Made Progress? What Have We Learned?

Fifty years after the release of the Coleman Report Johns Hopkins University commissioned fourteen scholars to examine the findings of the report and convened a conference to discuss the research papers. The papers can be read on the Russell Sage Foundation website.

Ten years after the 1954 Board v Board of Education Supreme Court decision called for the end of school segregation “with all deliberate speed,” the pace of desegregation was minimal; however, less than a year after the assassination of JFK President Johnson signed an iconic piece of legislation: the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Under Title 1 of the law federal dollars would flow to high poverty schools; while the pace of school desegregation might be slow at least resources would assist schools in repairing the damage of segregation. The law also required a study to emphasize the “lack of availability of equal educational access.” The law stated,

The Commissioner [of Education] shall conduct a survey and make a report to the President and the Congress, within two years of the enactment, concerning the lack of availability of equal educational opportunity for individuals by reason of race, color, religion, or national origin in public institutions at all levels in the United States, its territories and possessions, and the District of Columbia.

James Coleman, a professor at Johns Hopkins University was commissioned to “conduct a survey and make a report to the President.”

The report concluded that school resource disparities revolving around race distinctively were not large … differences by race within the same geographic space generally were small, too small to account for what today we call the black-white achievement gap.

The report was not what Congress expected and it was released on the 4th of July in 1966, clearly hoping the report would not receive media scrutiny. The findings of the report were “truly groundbreaking … both surprising and, for many, disappointing.”

The key findings:

  1. differences across schools in average achievement levels were small compared to differences in achievement levels within schools;
  2. the differences in achievement levels detected did not align appreciably with differences in school resources other than the socioeconomic makeup of the student body; and
  3. family background factors afforded a much more powerful accounting of achievement differences than did any and all characteristics of the schools that children attended

Read the introductory paper here

Sean Reardon, from Stanford University, looks at the findings of the 1966 report and data today: do the findings hold up to scrutiny?

Rather depressingly Reardon finds “… clear evidence that one aspect of segregation in particular—the disparity in average school poverty rates between white and black students’ schools—is consistently the single most powerful correlate of achievement gaps.”

“This implies that high-poverty schools are, on average, much less effective than lower-poverty schools and suggests that strategies that reduce the differential exposure of black, Hispanic, and white students to poor schoolmates may lead to meaningful reductions in academic achievement gaps”

. “Coleman wrote, ‘the higher achievement of all racial and ethnic groups in schools with greater proportions of white students is largely, perhaps wholly, related to effects associated with the student body’s educational background and aspirations’. In other words, the negative association of segregation with academic achievement disparities appears to have been largely driven by the differences in the socioeconomic composition of the schools where black and white students were enrolled.”

“This study is not new in identifying a strong association between racial segregation and academic achievement gaps. It does, however, provide a much sharper description of the features of segregation patterns that are most strongly predictive of academic achievement gaps. The evidence here very clearly shows that racial differences in exposure to poor schoolmates are linked to achievement gaps. Black and Hispanic students’ test scores, relative to whites’, are much lower when black and Hispanic students attend schools with more poor schoolmates. Reducing school segregation—in particular, reducing racial disparities in exposure to poor schoolmates—may therefore be an effective means of improving the equality of students’ access to high-quality educational opportunities.”

Read the full Reardon paper here

The Reardon paper and the others clearly tell us that the focus on testing driven accountability, perhaps a planned cynical turn away from school integration strategies have been failures. No Child Left Behind (2002) and the Obama-Duncan Race to the Top (2010) assume that transparent testing with harsh sanctions to low performing schools, the encouragement of quasi-public charter schools and the use of dense algorithms to assess teacher performance can end the racial achievement gap. They have not only been a colossal failure, they have turned us away from the core problem – schools segregated socio-economically and racially result in significant academic achievement gaps.

While improving the quality of classroom teaching and school leadership, selecting appropriate high quality curriculum, effective professional development and collaborative school climates are all essential components the Coleman Report and the papers released at the conference all agree – school integration is the single most effective road to reducing/eliminating the academic achievement gap.

The Coleman Report did result in school integration efforts immediately after the release of the report and there were successes, largely in the South. Over the last twenty years the efforts have faded away. The UCLA Civil Rights Project  emphasizes the increase in segregated schools, especially in the Northeast, and, points to New York as the most segregated city. An example: the PS 191 – PS 199 battle on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, probably the most liberal enclave in the nation. PS 191 is an almost all white, high achieving, overcrowded school, PS 199 is an all minority, low achieving, underutilized school a few blocks away. A plan to change the zoning boundaries and move white students to the black school have been met with enormous resistance from the white parents and elected officials.  In other parts of the city and in other cities “controlled choice” have shown incremental progress, (Read about “controlled choice” here)

All the papers are available on the Russell Sage website and the links are available below. I spent an intellectually stimulating and thoughtful day in Baltimore (and the crab cakes were excellent). The conference was recorded and I will reference the link when available. I am an inveterate “question asker,” and I took full advantage of the opportunity. I believe the presenters agreed that the new Every Student Succeeds Act gives states an opportunity to move in a different direction. The law requires that states construct accountability systems and states will have wide latitude, and, hopefully will move away from the NCLB rigid, punitive system. Moving towards greater school integration; however, is an enormous lift,

Take a look at the papers below, contact the authors: use to debate/discuss in your classrooms, for the next year or so a window for change will be open, let’s not let it close without significant changes.


  The Coleman Report and Educational Inequality Fifty Years Later

2(5), pp. i–iii


The Coleman Report at Fifty: Its Legacy and Implications for Future Research on Equality of Opportunity

Karl AlexanderStephen L. Morgan

2(5), pp. 1–16

  1. The Legacy of EEO and Current Patterns of Educational Inequality
Is It Family or School? Getting the Question Right

Karl Alexander

2(5), pp. 18–33


School Segregation and Racial Academic Achievement Gaps

Sean F. Reardon

2(5), pp. 34–57


Racial and Ethnic Gaps in Postsecondary Aspirations and Enrollment

Barbara SchneiderGuan Saw

2(5), pp. 58–82


Still No Effect of Resources, Even in the New Gilded Age?

Stephen L. MorganSol Bee Jung

2(5), pp. 83–116


First- and Second-Order Methodological Developments from the Coleman Report

Samuel R. Lucas

2(5), pp. 117–140

  1. Looking to the Future
Educational Equality Is a Multifaceted Issue: Why We Must Understand the School’s Sociocultural Context for Student Achievement

Prudence L. Carter

2(5), pp. 142–163


What If Coleman Had Known About Stereotype Threat? How Social-Psychological Theory Can Help Mitigate Educational Inequality

Geoffrey D. BormanJaymes Pyne

2(5), pp. 164–185


A New Framework for Understanding Parental Involvement: Setting the Stage for Academic Success

Angel L. HarrisKeith Robinson

2(5), pp. 186–201


Necessary but Not Sufficient: The Role of Policy for Advancing Programs of School, Family, and Community Partnerships

Joyce L. EpsteinSteven B. Sheldon

2(5), pp. 202–219


Accountability, Inequality, and Achievement: The Effects of the No Child Left Behind Act on Multiple Measures of Student Learning

Jennifer L. JenningsDouglas Lee Lauen

2(5), pp. 220–241


Can Technology Help Promote Equality of Educational Opportunities?

Brian JacobDan BergerCassandra HartSusanna Loeb

2(5), pp. 242–271


Connecting Research and Policy to Reduce Inequality

Ruth N. López Turley

2(5), pp. 272–285

If the head of the new President-Elect’s Transition Team called you and asked for advice …

Last week I was at an Manhattan Institute conference: “America’s Accountability Movement: Progress or Retreat:” Marcus Winter, a senior fellow at the Institute presented two brief papers, “School Accountability in NYC Under de Blasio” (Winter’s conclusion: there is very little accountability), and “Choice and Accountability in Education,” followed by a keynote address by Jeb Bush (Bush’s conclusion: vouchers for all – a free marketplace). A panel (Michael McGee, CEO of Chiefs for Change (See Chief for Change evidence policy paper here), Morgan Polikoff, professor at University of Southern California and Marcus Winters moderated by Matt Barnum, a staff writer at The 74, discussing  “New Opportunities for School Accountability,”

Under the new law, the Every Student Succeeds Act, states will have wide discretion in establishing accountability systems: what kind is testing, defining accountability, etc.  About fifteen states have been working with the Chiefs for Change since the spring and another dozen with Linda Darling-Hammond.

The panel agreed that the rigid NCLB system, based solely on proficiency did not work, and, was counterproductive; the unintended consequence was to create both a test prep culture and a concentration on getting kids to the proficiency point (in New York State – 3.0).and ignoring the others. The panelists all supported a growth model – perhaps combined with proficiency; in other words measuring individual student growth, regardless of their place on the proficiency scale.  A school that moved kids from 1.8 to 2.2 would still be far below proficient; however, shows significant growth.

A number of states are working to move away from traditional testing, New Hampshire is moving toward using performance tasks in lieu of the Smarter Balance test. (Check out the Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning and Equity – SCALE – McGee thought that New Hampshire would move to a state-wide performance task system.  Other states are exploring portfolios and other approaches (“authentic assessment”) to define accountability working with Linda Darling-Hammond (See an April, 2016 paper entitled, “Pathways to New Accountability Through the Every Student Succeeds Act here)

Check out an excellent and coherent discussion of the pitfalls of proficiency (“When Proficient Isn’t Good: The Deceptive Nature Of Proficiency as a Measure Of Student Progress— and How to Fix the Funhouse Mirror” here).

:I asked the panelists: “If the head of the new President-Elect’s Transition Team called you and asked for advice – a few guiding principles …”

Jeb Bush (smiling), “Neither of the candidates is going to call me.”

McGee reiterated a dashboard approach to accountability, moving to growth and proficiency along with a greater role for stakeholders at the local level: teachers and school leaders.

Polikoff: Equity, the resource differences between the poorest districts and the wealthiest district is both dramatic and unconscionable.

As I left I mused: do any of these proposed changes actually impact teaching and learning?  As a classroom teacher how would these changes impact me?

The next day I sat in on a panel discussion at CCNY moderated by a CCNY professor, Terri Watson, “A Public Conversation About Testing and School Reform,” panelists included, David Bloomfield, Brooklyn College, Jamaal Bowman, a Bronx middle school principal, Zakiyah Ansari, Advocacy Director for Alliance for Quality Education and R. L’Heureux Lewis-McCoy, a sociology professor at the College. The panel was joined by Christopher Emden, a professor at Teachers College, Columbia University (See recent op ed, “Why Black Men Quit Teaching” here)

The CCNY panel was at the opposite end of the philosophical spectrum. While the Manhattan Institute event focused on the big picture the CCNY panel focused on the impact of the “big picture” on students, parents and teachers. All the panelists supported the opt-out movement and opposed the current testing requirements. I asked: “The Leadership Coalition on Civil Rights,” representing over 200 organizations supports the testing requirements of the new law arguing that removing testing would result in removing the highly visual achievement gap.”  The panelists supported alternatives to the current testing, varieties of alternative assessments; perhaps portfolios. Emden, passionately, called for “culturally responsive pedagogy ”  and the recruitment of more teachers of color.

Both events left me unsatisfied – will changes in accountability or opt-out/testing alternatives/culturally responsive pedagogy actually impact teaching and learning, impact the classroom?

Policy-makers search for solutions, some magic bullet or combinations of bullets that will change the tide: perhaps reducing/ending inequality, recruiting more teachers/school leaders of color or a focus on school/teacher effectiveness; all or some may or may not be impactful but not dispositive.

How much can we actually change?

Psychologist Walter Mischel, conducted the Marshmallow Test research in the 1960’s and tracked the participants for decades: 4-year olds who were able to practice delayed gratification ended up with substantially higher SAT scores and numerous other lifetime positive impacts: should schools actually “teach” delayed gratification in the earliest grades?

David Epstein, in The Sports Gene” explores the roots of athletic success: why are Jamaicans the best sprinters in the world and Kenyans the best long distance runners? Nature or nurture? Is there a genetic component or does the culture of the environment reward success?

In other words are we selecting the most effective triggers for change?

Professor Emden, quoted in a TC publication, cogently suggests,

While recognizing the potential of black male teachers to “serve as powerful role models” and the need for more teachers of color in classrooms, Emdin writes that “they cannot fix the problems minority students face simply by being black and male … Instead of fixating on black male teachers, we need to examine how teachers are trained, their beliefs about young minority men, and how they engage their students. They should be prepared to teach to each student’s unique needs, and to recognize that no student learns best under conditions that make him feel uncared for.

“A better solution is to train all teachers, black and white, to acknowledge the biases they hold about their students based on their race, class, gender, sexual orientation and physical ability. Then they can learn strategies for being effective with these students despite their differences.”

There is no single path, no single bullet, hopefully we can explore the many pathways, build rich toolkits and continue to explore. The master teacher knows that blaming the kid, blaming society is futile. Teachers are writers, producers, directors and critics of a play that will run for one period or one day. What works today fails tomorrow; hopefully, we learn from our failures and our successes.

Coming attraction: Off to John Hopkins for a Coleman Report at 50 conference – what did we learn from the report?

Debate Lessons: Valid, Reliable Research Must Drive Policy Decisions, from Candidates, Ed Commissioners and Board Members

Last spring, without fanfare, Chancellor Rosa created a Research Work Group, co-chaired by Regents Johnson and Reyes, which might be the most important decision made during the last school year. The concept: decisions should be based upon valid research findings.  I know, I know, a radical concept.

Federal law, federal initiatives, state law and regulations are commonly based on a hope and a prayer. In 2002 the No Child Left Behind law, annual testing with punitive threats for schools that fail to meet pre-set goals was based on the belief that fear is an effective motivation to improve school outcomes. If you don’t improve your school will be closed or converted to charter. The Arne Duncan Race to the Top, billions in federal dollars to increase choice, i. e., charter schools, create student outcome-based teacher evaluation systems (VAM) and adopt the Common Core and Common Core-based annual tests. A few years down the road New York State adopted a moratorium on the use of test results and is amending/re-writing the Common Core. The feds dangled dollars to lure states into implementing policies without any research base; in fact, the research base was antithetical to the policy.

At the September 26th Presidential Debate candidate Trump claimed that “stop and frisk,” a policy initiated by former Mayor Giuliani (1994-2002) is responsible for the sharp decline in murder rates in New York City.

The murder rate in New York has dropped from over 2000 per year in the 90’s to 352 in 2015 and 252 murders through September 25, a 5.3 percent decline compared to this time in 2015. “Stop and Frisk” has been dramatically reduced and murder rates continue to drop: Why?  (Read articles here and here)

A study of murder rates in the 57 largest cities shows decreasing murder rates across the board with the exception of handful of cities:  Chicago, St Louis, Houston, Washington DC Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Nashville, Kansas City and Baltimore. Why have murder rates plunged in New York City and many other cities and increased in other cities?

Experts; whether criminologists, sociologists or economists, disagree.

In 2001 the highly controversial Donohue-Levitt hypothesis posited that legalized abortions that followed the 1973 Roe v Wade decision are responsible for decreased crime rates; potential criminals were never born.

States with the highest abortion rates in the 1970’s and 1980’s experienced greater crime reductions in the 1990’s. In high abortion states, arrests of those born after legalization fell relative to low abortion states. Legalized abortion appears to account for as much as 50% of the recent drop in crime.

Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker, in The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined rebuts the hypothesis and argues that over centuries the world has become less violent.

After years of declines the murder rate increased in 2015; however, if we redact the handful of cities in which rates increased the rates continue to decline.

A June, 2016 study from the National Institute of Justice, entitled “Documenting and Explaining the 2015 Homicide Rise: Research Directions,” takes a deep dive into the data and concludes,

.. three plausible explanations of the homicide rise; an expansion of urban drug markets fueled by the heroin epidemic, reductions in incarceration resulting in a growing number of released prisoners, and, a “Ferguson Effect” resulting from widely publicized incidents of police use of deadly force against minority citizens.

The study casts doubt on “plausible” explanations and urges “evidence rather than speculation.”

The cities with increasing murder rates have somewhat higher poverty rates (24.6% to 20.8%), not dramatic; the cities have significantly higher Black populations (40.8% to 19.9%) and lower Hispanic populations (15.2% to 26.4%).  What does this mean?  We don’t know.

If we are to continue the reduction in murder rates and decreases in rates of violent crime we have to understand the reasons for the decline in most cities and the spikes in others.

Sadly one presidential candidate argues “law and order,” whatever that means, is an answer to increasing crime; however, increases are limited to a few cities, the vast percentage of cities continue to see the trend of decreasing crime rates.

In 2013 I was the labor coordinator for a candidate for the City Counsel (He won!) and we were meeting with a union representing police commanders. We decided to begin the interview by addressing what we thought was the elephant in the room: stop and frisk.

The candidate explained that he could not support the current policy of indiscriminate stop and frisks, to our surprise the union leader agreed; numbers of stop and frisks were part of management reports: rating documents. The union leader argued commanders should be given discretion based on data and not required to conduct specific numbers of stop and frisks, most of which were not warranted.

The application of valid research combined with the experience from the field, i., e., teachers and school leaders, supported by the policy makers, I believe, will bring about the outcomes we desire.

We all speculate on policies to reduce the racial/ethnic achievement gap: closing or redesigning schools, charter schools, eliminating funding inequality, highly qualified teachers and school leaders, revised age appropriate standards, adopting more rigorous curriculum, all or some may be part of the magic bullets, or not. We support programs with which we are familiar or comfortable: phonics or Lucy Calkins, the “old” math or the “new” math, etc.; decisions must reflect research findings, and, we must acknowledge that implementation of the policy is also vital.

The Regents Research Work Group has an awesome task.