Fantasy Football and School Report Cards: How Do We Measure Educational Progress? Who Do We Trust? Are Fantasy Football Metrics More Honest Than Tweed Self-Evaluations?


Look carefully, as the weekend approaches you will notice males under forty increasingly text messaging, jumping on and off their computers … are they preparing for the Sunday morning news programs, the Dow, checking the latest national polling results? No … they’re finalizing their fantasy football lineups.
We live in a world of winners and losers.
From sports to reality TV, everywhere we look everything gets a “score,” the world around us is competitive, from hotdog eating contests to rotisserie leagues.
The legislation that created mayoral control was looked upon with suspicion, but not opposition, reminds us of the congressional vote on going to war in Iraq.  We didn’t know the consequences, but, we all felt we should give the new mayors policy “a chance.”
Tweed has adopted a philosophy of
(1) leadership – grant the principal as much authority as legally possible,
(2) school choice, open as many small middle and high schools as space will allow, and of course, as many charter schools as the law allows,
(3) weighted student funding, with a “cheap” teacher bias, and
(4) accountability, defined as annual School Progress Reports with A – F grades.
What educational initiatives are at the top of the Tweed agenda?
In fact, the only two initiatives are School Inquiry Teams and Low-Inference Classroom Teacher Observations. Teachers may have heard of Inquiry Teams, but don’t know what they do, and, have never of the other.
There will be those who disagree with me, but evidence suggests that a dispassionate analysis of these last six years shows a stunning lack of academic progress, even as we poured mind-boggling increases in taxpayer dollars into the school system.
He gets to the crux of the issue when he continues
Reform must take place in the classroom in the form of better instruction and curriculum, conveyed to students by well-trained and literate teachers, using teaching methods known and proven to be effective.
 Tweed simply decided to ignore the classroom, their “carrot/stick” approach does have the vigorous support of some scholars, but scholars who come from the business side, not the education side.
Year 2 of the School Report Card has created a vortex of criticism and serious questioning. The NY Times wonders about the arbitrariness of the underlying assumptions.
Under the radar the New York State Education Department (SED) is rolling out a growth model as the No Child Left Behind measurement in New York State. The growth model would have to be approved by the US Office of Education. The SED is holding open hearings around the State and will have a final plan by the end of October.
The Tweed Environment Surveys failed to ask teachers what they thought of the Chancellor … in June the teacher union conducted the survey, and not surprisingly, teachers gave Joel low grades.
In fact, if you used the rather complex fantasy football metrics to measure the performance of the Department of Education you would probably get results that would be much more acceptable by the public at large.

2 responses to “Fantasy Football and School Report Cards: How Do We Measure Educational Progress? Who Do We Trust? Are Fantasy Football Metrics More Honest Than Tweed Self-Evaluations?

  1. Thanks for the plug, Peter. Unfortunately this was my last column for the Sun — tomorrow the paper ceases publication. I want to thank you, Peter, and all of my friends at the UFT who know how to give praise and take criticism, something that is sorely missing at Tweed. I will keep writing on the schools and hopefully find an outlet for my opinions and contribute to the dialogue.


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