The Blight of For-Profit Education

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Here’s a well-written opinion piece that’s up on Politico today.

For those of you who don’t know, for-profit colleges get most of their money from us, the taxpayers. They do this by going after low-income people who qualify for government assistance. Salespeople for their companies receive commissions for selling their product and then turning them over to “specialists” who help them get their government money, which goes directly to the college.

$40 Billion. This is what this scam is worth every year. Now there’s nothing wrong with a school that teaches trade skills to people who have no interest in going to college. However going after the more vulnerable people in society with the promise of free-government money.

Trying new coffee shops

And the outcomes are not good. Research shows that once these students are signed up and the government money comes in, they do not receive the support they need to finish their education, resulting in high dropout rates.

For a list of for-profit institutions click here.

New York’s APPR

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Here’s an excerpt of a paper I just finished for graduate work concerning the APPRs in New York State.

My Personal View of the APPR


I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” – Abraham Maslow

Meaningful teacher evaluations have been a long time coming. As someone who cares about education and has deep personal convictions about enriching the lives children for the benefit of society, it has always pained me to see first-hand the people in our profession who are “taking up space.”

Fortunately, there are not many of them, at least not where I’ve worked up until this point in my life. However, I know that is not the case everywhere. In some schools apathy and patronage have taken over.

This leads to the question that frames my objection to the APPR process: why is my school being put through this onerous process when we are not the source of the problem?

More simply put, why is the federal goverment treating suburban Long Island like it is inner-city Baltimore. The education “problem” that exists in this country is for the most part directly related to the likely suspects: poverty, family structure and teacher recruitment. (Teacher recruitment is also a direct function of teachers salaries; Long Island teachers are well-paid and there is absolutely no problem finding good people to fill a job here.)

This is not to say that results should not be expected in low-income areas. Quite the opposite, these are the places that need federal support and in many cases federal direction. However Jericho, Manhasset, Great Neck and Syosset are not one of those places. So why are they being treated as if they were? Why is a school district that is named as one of the highest-performing in the country (making their community one of the most desirable to own a house in) being forced to spend time and resources on an instrument designed to bring change to failing schools?

Some people have come to see the light on this matter. Even people who were former champions of the high-stake testing and accountability movements are beginning to realize that they don’t work (Unless of course they are on the take from Pearson or some other private corporation that shills tests to clueless politicians and state boards of education.)

The Future of the APPR

I do not believe that the APPR will be a permanent fixture in our education system, but not for the same reasons that many others feel this way.  Many believe that the APPR will “collapse under it’s own weight.” Educators make no secret about how the APPR contains many examples of Ivory Tower absurdities, however I believe the APPR will change for the following reason:
The people who are profiting from this change in sea level will have maximized their profits from the current direction. This will cause them to “innovate” other tools for legislators to brandish in their efforts to seem tough and forward-looking on education. Every corporation, particularly publicly-traded ones like Pearson, need to show not just profit, but growth in order to maintain investor confidence and market value. Therefore the APPR system (with its menagerie of privately-developed tests and workshops) will either be put aside or augmented with new products. This will be justified with “statistics” from cherry-picked sources that say that America is doing a terrible job of educating its children.
The the cycle of profit will begin again, with our students paying the price.

National Teacher of the Year: “The Revolution Begins with Us”

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Some inspirational words from Rebecca Mieliwocki, who is a 7th grade English teacher in Burbank, CA.

“We have got to stop talking about testing and start talking more about developing, supporting and celebrating teachers,” she said. “Teachers are the architects of the change we’ve been waiting for. We’ve forgotten what a teacher can do that a standardized test can’t.


From the Schools of Thought blog:


Happy Birthday, America

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If ever there was a cause, if ever there can be a cause, worthy to be upheld by all of toil or sacrifice that the human heart can endure, it is the cause of Education.” – Horace Mann, considered by many to be the father of public education in the US


One Room School House on the Prairie

Happy birthday, America. I hope everyone enjoys the day with their families.

Definition of Greed

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In case you were wondering who the greediest people in the world were:

The ACT (Yes, the same company that convinced us that one college-entrance test wasn’t enough) is planning on creating a standardized test for Kindergartners. It’s intended to test them for “career skills.”

I’m guessing part of the business plan is that  test-prep will be available for pre-schoolers. Nice.

This is a “multimillion dollar project” according to ACT officials, so I’m sure they’re already hard at work convincing state officials that our public schools really need this.


Source: AP


Sorry ‘Bout That, Kid: When Tests Fail

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What’s the solution to the following problem?

A standardized reading test has been given to every 4th grader in Florida. They’ve been preparing all year. Pre-exam pep rallies are held. Teachers anxiously await the results only to find……27% actually pass it. Do you:

A) Give out lollipops to 73% of 4th graders, begin summer school

B) Fire a lot of teachers, blame them for the low scores

C) Lower the passing grade so the pass rate magically becomes 81%

If you answered choice C, you’re correct! Or, you’re the Florida Department of Education who hired Pearson to create the FCAT (that’s Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test for those of you who are nostalgic about what it’s like to be 10 years old.)

Oswestry Infant School, Middleton Road, Oswestry

Price tag: $250 million through 2013. I wonder if there’s a refund? $250 million can buy a lot of lollipops….


Welcome to Testing Pearson

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I am starting this blog because I am concerned.

As a teacher of 8 years on Long Island, I have seen a transformation take place. Our schools used to have many friends; organizations, politicians and a public who knew that at the heart of a free society is a robust system of public education.

That is no longer the case.


Politicians and public figures have coalesced around high-stakes testing, weaker teacher unions, shoddy evaluation systems and one-size-fits-all curriculum. Anyone who protests these ideas risks being cast as greedy and corrupt. Dissent has been squashed and there are but a few heroes who speak publicly in defense of our schools.

Any time there are ills in society you can be sure of one thing: there is a salesman in the halls of power who would like to sell the cure.

Pearson Education is part of an international conglomerate that has taken control of the testing, reading and teaching in the classroom. They are training your school officials. They are paying professional educators to sell their products. They are not just taking over small classrooms, but entire state departments of education.

They are getting the contracts. They are getting the money. What are our children getting?

This blog intends to find out, with your help.

Testing Pearson will be less of an editorial and more of an aggregation of news stories and personal anecdotes from around the country. This is not meant to be an indictment of Pearson Education, but rather a conversation about the role of a large corporation in our classrooms.

If you have anything you would like to be shared, please feel free to send it to

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