"All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them."
Galileo Galilei, Italian astronomer & physicist (1564 - 1642)
This website is about our deteriorating public education and what we could do to fix it. Massachusetts' students rank 1st in the US in math. Hong Kong's students rank among the top 5 in the world. The US is 36th, a new low record in math in 2013 (OECD-PISA tests of 65 countries). The best in our country do not come CLOSE to matching even the top 20 in the world. 87% of the questions on the Hong Kong test require a higher level of thinking and knowledge. Only 6% of questions on the Massachusetts test are on the same level. These figures express how woefully behind we are (http://iadvocateforkids.org/PTA/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/CCSShandout4pg-FINAL.pdf, Page 3). Our example, Tennessee is worse than Massachusetts.
A good example is the Knox County, Tennessee school district's excessive spending and "readiness" trend to be trained for a job or to have a chance to complete only the first year of a college or tech school after high school according to ACT. Counting from 9th grade, counting the dropouts reported by the state plus the readiness of those with a regular diploma subtracted from the remainder, more than 80% of children who left high school are not ready for job training or to enter the first year of a college or tech school. How do you think MOST PEOPLE'S CHILDREN will be earning enough money to live on for the rest of their lives? Most may become homeless. With results like this, most of the public's money is not spent in the right places in public education. This is exactly what poor management does. The superintendent and the board have either no idea what to do, or do not act on what it takes to improve the ACT scores that measure the end results. They do not even have an average ACT score objective that is only 5% higher than the last one actually achieved, as the only objective on which their annual performance is reviewed, so that they are FOCUSED on achieving it. Instead they set their own vague objectives and give themselves an excellent performance review. Without the specific measurable objective nothing happens in any organization. They just demand more money every year. The money never solved the low performance problem in the past.
Knox County is not the worst place for education in Tennessee. It is close to average. Just look at the results from its surrounding school districts below. Notice the very high number of administrators per student in each case, especially in large school districts like Knox County. Too many chiefs are a good indicator of poor performance in any organization.
But let's look at some of the basics first to see what creates this situation.
Is it important to be internationally competitive in knowledge as a high school graduate? Why?
Why not just within the USA? Why should we compare our high school performance with other nations?
With airplanes, cars, television sets and radios the world became smaller, and nations became interdependent among each other because the entire world became everyone's market. We see imported products everywhere, don't we? Our companies want to sell their products and services internationally. There is a huge market out there. The best products for the money that customers liked the most sold well, and they were American products through the 50's and the 60's. A few decades later, even the larger companies like an aircraft manufacturer may buy the jet engines in England or in the USA, have the wings manufactured elsewhere, various other parts would be purchased at hundreds of different international companies with final assembly in the USA. We stopped making electronics, televisions, large construction machines and other products because foreign suppliers could make them more innovative, less expensive and more reliable. All because the better trained workforce in other countries could create better, more reliable and less expensive products.
Why don't we purchase only US-made products? Because people or companies will always buy the products that they like. Because the desired quality for the price was no longer available from American companies. Successful companies require and have a well educated workforce, from the low end jobs to the highest, from a good high school education to a PhD in the specific fields that the employer needs. That is a basic requirement for the ability to create winning products which we did well until about the 70's. Then we started seeing a lot of imported products that were preferred by the American customer from the inexpensive to the very expensive. Today we lost entire industries. Look at what happened to the TV industry, electronics and others.
The quality of the product depends on the quality of the workforce, which then depends on the quality of education that the public schools do for the majority through high school. If the American high schools are not producing better educated students than foreign countries, the companies that hire them will be handicapped. The relationship between the quality of high school graduates and the competitiveness of the products of the companies that hire them, clearly shows that our high school school systems are in competition with other countries' high school systems. We are indirectly competing on the high school level with all countries. Their products are winning unfortunately. We dropped to 36th internationally in math in 2014, a new low record in the testing of 15 year olds (OECD PISA test published 2013 covering 65 nations). That is very bad news.
What happened to education spending and performance since 1970?
The chart above shows that since 1970 education spending per student increased aggressively, without any improvement in scores under all administrations of either party. The state tests were made easier to produce higher scores to qualify for No Child Left Behind funds. The ACT, or SAT national tests show what a child has learned from grade one to twelve and the qualifications for job training or college readiness. The readiness of graduates since 2005 was measured with greater accuracy by the ACT, measuring job training or the CHANCE for finishing the first year only of a college or technical school. In 2006 ACT announced that their empirical research indicates that job and college requirements have become the same. The results to date are putting 65-85% of the students (percentage depending on the state), WITH A REGULAR DIPLOMA on the street so that they are not even trainable for a job, per ACT's "readiness" definition since 2006 (http://www.act.org/research/policymakers/pdf/ReadinessBrief.pdf).
ACT's READINESS measurement is accurate, and few understand what it means.
If one wants to understand the ACT Readiness area, read http://usaedustat.com/1actscoresexplained.html (with links to ACT's documents). It explains how the most important test, the ACT, evaluates students, how ACT defines "Career and College Readiness" (ACT CCR) with links to ACT documents. ACT CCR means readiness to have favorable odds (not 100%) to finish only the first year of college or technical school since 2009 or to be trained for a job, since in 2006 ACT published that the requirements for job training and college readiness have become the same.
"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."
"Don't interfere with anything in the Constitution. That must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties" - Abraham Lincoln
1. The US Supreme Court has called education 'the very foundation of citizenship.' That means that we cannot have successful citizens who can ensure our country's success without a good education.
2. The Constitution specifies the purpose and goals of the nation, what that nation stands for and what is important for that nation. Since the Constitution was written many decades ago, the importance of education was not the same then as it is now in the 21st century for survival. State constitutional histories declare education essential to protect our democracy and to protect individual rights.
Which one would be backed by the Constitution?
Would it be correct under the Constitution that THE OPPORTUNITY for public education be provided for all children who are able to learn, so that they become employable and earn enough income for a family of four?
OR, would it be correct under the Constitution if the majority of children after high school (like 80-90% of those who entered 9th grade) were unemployable because of their poor public education?
Ask yourself this: How is a school district compliant with the above in education, if:
80-90% of 9th graders leave high school not ready to be trained for a job, and not ready to even enter the first year of a college or technical school according to ACT. Was THAT the intent of those who wrote our Constitution or are we just ignoring it?
Are our school districts violating our constitutional rights with such extremely poor results, and with spending per student that is higher than the best countries in education worldwide?
Will children who are not prepared to be trained for a job the ones who will be ready to protect democracy? Will such children be able to protect their individual rights? We do not think so. Even joining the military requires a high school diploma and the military's qualification tests with excellent grades.
Are we violating our Constitution with our failing public school systems? The US Constitution has nothing about education in it. Education is delegated to the states. The Tennessee Constitution says "¤ 12. Education; public schools; higher education: The State of Tennessee recognizes the inherent value of education and encourages its support. The General Assembly shall provide for the maintenance, support and eligibility standards of a system of free public schools."
Like in any job, some teachers are poor teachers and many teachers are excellent. Do tenure laws protect the poor teachers? They are certainly not protecting the excellent teachers from interference from Central Management or discipline problems in the classroom where they do not have authority, both of which are cutting into the ability of teachers to do their best. We should measure teacher performance, but based on what we are measuring today in 2014, we are not doing it well. More about these later. And yes, tenure laws are protecting the poor teachers.
Our workforce is not stuck in the 19th century. Our elected school boards and superintendents in our school districts are, along with our funding focused only education laws. The results show that our elected school boards, superintendents either do not know what to do or are ignoring our children's fundamental rights.
These fundamental rights are for a reasonable majority of students to get an education that satisfies the needs of employers and the students' needs for gainful employment. Both of these rights are essential for our success as a community, state or country, and they are fundamental to excellent citizenship and the protection of our individual and national rights, and our ability to be well enough employed to have a reasonably successful life. Look at what your school district produces after we pay for 12-14 years of education for every child! In my county, Knox County, Tennessee 80% of those who entered grade 9 are not even ready to be trained for a job after they leave high school.
Some teachers are poor and some are excellent. The first law suit, Vergara v. California (http://time.com/3533556/the-war-on-teacher-tenure/) was won in 2014 based on poor teachers' tenure violating the constitution by ensuring the employment of poor teachers who in turn "substantially undermine" the education of children. This decision will go for appeal, it may lose on appeal or it may expand in scope and win. In view of the poor results and high spending everywhere, more and broader law suits are likely, especially against the way school districts are managed, the major reason for failure in any activity.
The educational performance in the chart below cannot be described better that with the word horrible. We spent billions for it during the years shown. Some people are living very well on what we spend on education, which is actually destroying the lives of our children and the economy. Isn't there a political leader out there who is willing to correct this situation?!
Spending is above the approved budget every year. We spend more per student than the top twenty competitors in the world whose cost of living is higher. OUR results are extremely poor and the public is unaware.
Our school district spends more money per student than the top twenty countries in education with only one exception - and their cost of living is higher than ours. We have become the 5th largest spender per student in the world as we dropped to a new record low 36th place in mathematics skills. According to ACT and the dropout figures, more than 80% of those entering high school in 9th grade are not ready to be trained for a job or to have a chance to attend the first year only of a college or tech school, after leaving high school. This is a dismal result. Tennessee and Knox County are a lower performer that the US average is, delivering the above disastrous results. One can legitimately question such irresponsible spending of the PEOPLE'S MONEY. For example, we set a new all time low record in the average ACT score in Knox County in 2013. During the same year the approved budget was $403 million, but they spent on education-related expenses $560 million. The board took no action to change the way they have been operating the school system, and expenses vs budget is not reported to the public monthly. When the results are poor, but you get enough funding, much of the money is not getting to the right places in the school system to produce an acceptable level of job and college readiness.
Our school district overspends the approved budget. The school board constantly asks for more money. The board does not inform the people about poor results they have created for years for our children, and the huge amount of money that they spent to satisfy their needs and not the children's needs. If they focused on the children's needs, the results would be much better.
That is why they employ a PR group that is larger than what one finds in multi-billion dollar corporations, to generate positive stories in the newspapers covering up the actual poor performance of the school district. Why does a school district need ANY professional PR people? Think about it.
The public whose money is being spent so irresponsibly for such poor results deserves much better than this. We need laws changed or amended as required to get this poorly performing system on track urgently to what we need in the 21st Century.
The public whose money is being spent so irresponsibly for such poor results deserves much better than this, and compliance with the letter and spirit of the constitution needs to be examined and laws changed or amended as required to get this poorly performing system on track urgently to what we need in the 21st Century.
The example we use is Knox County, Tennessee,
A school district that is 54th of 127 school districts in Tennessee (2010 US Census). Tennessee is 35th-45th in the USA in academic performance depending on the report. The USA unfortunately sank to 36th in 2013 (OECD-PISA tests) internationally. Other nations are passing us. Our public education continues to decline and we are not improving it while other nations have improved theirs. This is hurting us economically because it is a well trained work force that creates competitive products for any customer worldwide today, and our workforce is not competitive. This is one of the important factors that is impacting negatively our national income. Education quality impacts all industries.
"The only thing necessary for the
triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing!!"
Edmund Burke, Irish
In Knox County, Tennessee the average ACT score was 21.9 with 26% readiness of those with a regular diploma in 2008. In 2013, we set an all time low record in the average ACT score at 20.2 and the readiness per ACT for job training or to get a chance only to finish the first year of a college or technical school of those only with a regular diploma was only 21%. 79% are not ready for any lasting employment or further education. Counting from 9th grade entry, add to the 79% dropouts and those who could not earn a regular diploma, and we end up with 80-90% of our children leaving high school not ready. Instead of going up since 2008, we dropped badly. What failed so badly?
The answer of James McIntyre, superintendent is that we went to 100% ACT testing of students causing the drop in the average ACT score because those not taking it were the poorer students. Although his answer seems to be valid, let's look at the facts. We respectfully disagree. The fundamental problem is that the average ACT score and the ACT readiness percentage of regular diplomas was and is extremely low every single year The above percentage of those students who are not even ready to be trained for a job is so low that even a one point ACT improvement would make no difference of significance in the readiness results. However, in addition the facts are that we went from 92% to 100% ACT testing of all students from 2009 to 2010 respectively and dropped 1.3 ACT points, 0.3 points or 30% bigger drop than the state of Tennessee whose average performance was lower at that time than Knox County's performance. We could have been working hard to be on an uptrend in performance for years before James McIntyre was hired as superintendent, and we did not. We knew more than two years in advance that the 100% testing is coming. The presence of a new superintendent, James McIntyre made no difference. We could have, but we did not prepare for 100% of the students having to take the ACT. The drop from 2008 to 2013 was 1.7 points. Does this justify a drop of such magnitude instead of working on increasing our poor results even in 2008 and before? Not in our opinion. The board is in charge by law. Not the superintendents who come and go. They were and are not managing the school system to improve and that mistake is costing us a fortune.
By law, the elected boards of education get at least as much money each year as in the previous year and can spend it any way they please - regardless of performance. Boards to date (before 2014) did not establish any objectives and operating plans to achieve them in order to raise the average ACT scores, and assumed that all that can be done will be done by the superintendents they have hired. Such avoidance of one's responsibility in a position of trust always results in poor outcomes. The results shown above are terrifying. However, more than 30 states managed to cut back education spending since 2008. Their academic results did not go down. See http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&id=4011.
Even with such reductions in spending, the US is the fifth largest spender per student among the industrialized countries in 2013, with the lowest academic performance among those nations. Our own education spending increases did not results in ACT score increases, and it is the ACT results that define readiness for work or higher learning. It is fair to say that the constant request for more money by the board is unjustified in view of the poor results.
The elected school boards and superintendents write their own objectives at the beginning of a school year, always vague or insignificant or unmeasurable. At year end they write up their own performance evaluation against the objectives THEY specified (board approved) and give themselves an excellent performance review. Such a practice never leads to good results. Their income and budget are guaranteed by law to be at least the same as what they received in the prior year. There is no incentive to perform to increase average ACT scores. There is a bloated central management organization with a large PR group to generate only good news to make the board and superintendent look better. This is one important reason for the poor performance - the foxes are in the hen house, and they get paid no matter what happens. The ACT results are so bad that they indicate 80-90% of the children who enter 9th grade are not even prepared to be trained for a job after high school. They cannot communicate properly in English, cannot do basic math and cannot even fill out a job application properly.
We spend slightly more than $10,500 per student in 2014. We are not sure because some education spending is hidden in different cost centers, and the board and superintendent do not disclose to the public the total amount of money that is spent to support the education district. Much less is spent in the schools that perform well, and more than twice what we spend in the better school in the poorly performing schools. The higher spending goes on for decades in the poorly performing schools, and the results do not change from being poor for virtually all students.
The spending is out of control
The dollars allocated by school are unfair, and
The long term performance of poorly performing schools remain poor, regardless of the much higher spending per student in the poorly performing schools. Why spend more if nothing changes in performance?
After 12-14 years of education, the education is costing parents in today's tax dollars at least $126,000 - $147,000 total for each student for 12-14 years. However...think how much that makes the cost of educating just one ACT Ready student. That is what counts. Out of 10 students entering 9th grade, 9 are not ready but we pay for them also, plus the one who is ready. That's ten times the cost of one, or $1,260,000 - $1,470,000 for 12-14 years or $105,000 for one year to develop ONE READY STUDENT for job training or to have only a chance at finishing the first year of a college or technical school. Failing products or services always raise the cost of products and services that work well, and this situation is representing an enormous failure. That is the cost of developing only one student who leaves high school, ready for job training or further learning without remedial training.
SOLUTION1: report to the public on the school district's website the cost of developing one ready student with a high school diploma per ACT's definition of readiness counting from 9th grade entry, establish a specific objective to reduce this cost by a specific percentage for the board and superintendent.
SOLUTION2: The board's and superintendent's most important two objectives need to be, but never are,
An average ACT score that is at least 5% higher than the last one actually achieved, although a 5% growth is not much, and
A monthly report covering year to date actual spending vs the year to date budget that covers ALL education district related expenses regardless of what cost center the expense belongs.
Both the poor performance and constant exceeding of the budget in spending has to stop, and the above objectives and actual results reported to the public monthly.
Any other objectives are less important and are subordinate to the above objectives which are the most important objectives of any school. Why? Because the ACT result is the one official measure that shows what students have learned from grade one to twelve. Also because such an ACT score objective would focus the board and superintendent on the task of improving ACT scores, and would motivate them to do something about the poor results. The most important objective that is the key indicator of success and is expressed in numbers has a big advantage. One cannot create a positive story for the public if one does not meet a numeric objective that is the key indicator of readiness for the workforce after high school. Numbers do not lie and cannot be misstated. Present the average ACT score objective vs the actual average ACT result achieved, and the spending vs the year to date budget in the newspapers, media and on the school district's own website. The public needs to know that these are the board's and superintendent's achievements vs their objectives.
The school district uses the percentage of students getting a diploma as a measure of accomplishment. The ACT Readiness percentage of regular diplomas showed in 2013 that only 21% of the diploma holders were ready to be trained for a job and 79% were NOT READY. Clearly the diplomas are not worth the paper they are printed on, and show something that is worth nothing. Like touting the achievement of higher scores on the state tests that are much easier than the ACT and produce higher scores - but the student's knowledge is as low as ever. Why use graduation rate under these conditions as an objective instead of using an average ACT score that is 5% higher than the last ACT score actually achieved? Because the easy tests' inflated results for the public create the impression that the superintendent is doing a good job. The PR created false positive impression important while the child cannot get a job after high school, or is the TRUTH that is important? Nothing can be improved if one cannot admit exactly where they are at the start of the effort to improve and if the effort to change is not based on facts.
There are good superintendents. But not with results like above. Unless the system is unmanageable. Superintendents are silent about what is unmanageable. When you are silent and do nothing, you own the problem.
Between 1995 and 2013 the number of our students increased only 13%. But the superintendents increased the number of administrators in Knox County, Tennessee with the approval of the board BY 164% DURING THE SAME PERIOD. Central management grew and in 2013 we set an all time low average ACT score record at 20.2. Remember that 80-90% of those children who entered 9th grade leave high school without being prepared to be trained for a job.
SOLUTION: reduce the number of administrators to 1995 levels or 1% (for central administration) and 2.5% (for school administration) of total employees, a standard presented in some charts below, whichever is lower.
What did the tremendous increase in administrators accomplish in ACT test results? Nothing. The results went down.
How can boards of education during this period ignore the results and make such a terrible investment WITH OUR MONEY when the future of our children is at stake?
More importantly why do we allow such school district management to continue for more than two years?
Is "EXCELLENT EDUCATION FOR ALL CHILDREN" a reality? What is the purpose of schools? What is the point in spending so much money on children who do not want to work in school and will end up unemployed mostly?
Should not parents also feel some consequences for poor student performance and disruption of the teachers' efforts along with the board and the superintendent? Some states have penalties for that.
We need to decide what our schools will do and will not do. We the public are not paying for a babysitting service and false stories about performance that is failing 90% of those who enter 9th grade.
When superintendents, supervisors or managers get paid the same and keep their jobs for many years with the above poor ACT results and high spending, why are we spending the people's hard-earned tax dollars to keep them and yet demand additional millions for new programs with a history of such requests never having increased the average ACT score? We have to understand that many ideas presented sounded good. However, what counts is the raising of the existing average ACT scores to date. If past programs did not raise it, where is the assurance that a new program proposed by the same people without an operating plan and an average ACT objective will do so?
SOLUTION: every additional money request and the annual expense budget submitted for approval to include an increasing average ACT score objective along with a school level operating plan to achieve it. Additional money requests to be justified on the basis of ACT score increase in the current and coming school year.
In any activity or business, WHEN THE RESULTS ARE BAD, AS OURS ARE, MUCH OF THE MONEY DOES NOT GET TO THE RIGHT PLACES TO IMPROVE THE ACT SCORES. It is the excessively large administration and their support expense that is taking substantial dollars away from the teachers and their needs, who in turn are the ones to improve the poor results. Since the ACT score is the best indicator of how well school districts prepare our children, WHY ARE WE KEEPING ADMINISTRATORS WHO ARE NOT INCREASING THE ACT SCORES?
SOLUTION: don't keep administrators who have not increased the average ACT score in their area for 3 years.
Since WW2, organizations have found and management schools pointed out that instead of central management focus, transferring the majority of central management decision-making authority to those who produce the results (the schools, the operating units) is far more effective. We are not delegating authority to the schools for hiring, firing, accounting, spending approval if within approved budget, budget planning, and IT, and meeting an academic achievement objective that is higher than the achievement of the prior year. We should do that. Discipline problems can ruin a school day for an entire class. We are not giving teachers authority to decide the punishment immediately on discipline problems as they occur and to supply teacher needs to allow them to be free to do their best in the classroom. We are not giving teachers sufficient authority to excel, or fail if they are not good enough.Why are we not doing these things to help teachers improve classroom performance? Management, who failed to date, must believe that teachers cannot do better, and they are wrong.
SOLUTION: decentralize central management decision making to principals of schools.
We consistently overspend by 28-38% the approved budget plus capital and interest expenses every year, producing poor results out of high school as measured by ACT year after year. Just look at the graphs below. We are the fifth largest spender in the world per student, yet we are 36th in math. Therefore money is not the problem. The sources are the OECD 2013 report, the 2013 Tennessee Dept. of Education Statistical Reports and the Report Cards. Why do we allow such undisciplined and wild spending practices with such bad ACT results?
SOLUTION: report to the public year to date approved budget vs actual spending monthly with not more than a 30 day delay, covering ALL DOLLARS SPENT IN THE INTEREST OF THE EDUCATION DISTRICT.
Approved budgets mean nothing. Just look at the second chart above that includes numbers from ACT reports and the Tennessee Education Department's Statistical Report to the Governor and see how much we overspend beyond the approved budget. Their slogan is "Excellence for all children". There is no excellence here. Of those children who entered 9th grade, such elected boards and their superintendents damage the future of 80-90% of our children AND the economy, unknown to the public, covered up by stories from the school districts' large PR group. TO MORE INFORMATION.
SOLUTION: unless justified by agreed upon average ACT score increase, spending more than the approved budget must impact negatively half of the board's and superintendent's performance review.
The poor quality public school output is the result of what teachers accomplish in the classrooms since grade one. School districts' central management can suffocate the ability of teachers to do their best by creating bad morale with their actions. That is what is happening. What do three high performing countries do to retain teachers long term? The chart below explains. See also What brings success in other countries.
We need performance evaluation for everyone including teachers. The annual teacher performance evaluation needs to be fair. It is not fair today in 2014. The currently used one hour teacher observations four times per year are inadequate, unfair and can be prejudicial. Objectives work only if they are measurable indicators of performance, if they are mutually supportive and related through all management levels, starting always at the top in an organization - not just on the bottom.
SOLUTION: Even more important than teacher objectives, we need an average ACT score objective AND a year to date monthly Expenses vs Budget objective for the board and superintendent with the ACT objective being 5% higher than the last average ACT score achieved, for performance evaluation purposes - as the only two primary objectives. Them writing up their own objectives and then writing their own performance review explains the poor results. They are not focused on ACT achievement and expense control. There is much more information of importance about teachers: click here.
The suggestions that follow are for poorly performing national public education systems. They are not important for US public education systems that are doing well, e.g., above an average 25 ACT level. It is this average ACT score level that represents a higher than 80% readiness for job training or college or technical school entry counting from 9th grade. Isn't that the minimum of what we must achieve?
It is the board that is in charge and is responsible for the results under the law. The superintendent, their only employee, is to make sure that the objective set by the board is met. Vague objectives will always be met especially if you do your own performance evaluation - and that is the case. If the people in charge are not motivated to increase ACT scores with a specific average ACT score objective, there is no motivation and no results. They get paid just the same. That is what we have.
Why would anyone be motivated to put in the extra effort to correct a poorly performing education system,
If their income is guaranteed,
If they have no specific measurable academic objective to meet,
If they receive at least the same amount of money to spend as before regardless of results by law, and
If they can spend the money in any way they want by law; even on a large professional PR group that turns out only positive news for the public who are unaware of the truth?
That is what we have in Knox County, Tennessee.
The above charts show Knox County, TN performance. One can see from such a high percentage of graduates not being ready, the results are very poor. Teacher morale is very low. The ACT tests show what students learn from grade one to twelve. Such a measurement, as a target score with growth since we are so low, should be the objective of boards of education and superintendents such that they are performance-reviewed based on a specific measurable ACT achievement. Numbers cannot lie. Teacher performance evaluation is faulty www.usaedustat.com/1teacherchallenges.html. Teachers are told what they have to do and how they have to do it in the classroom. Teachers have no power to control the classroom behavior and discipline cases of bad behavior. No one could do their best under such conditions and we need their best. The chart below shows Knox County, the State of Tennessee and the USA's performance for the past five years in average ACT score and job/college readiness.
The most important figure is the readiness percentage subtracted from 100%: those who are not ready. Those who are NOT ACT CCR ready, plus dropouts plus those who did not get a regular diploma are not only not ready for job training (per ACT's 2006 finding that college readiness and job requirements have became the same), but are also not ready to complete even the first year of any college or technical training. They will end up with minimum wage, unemployed and possibly homeless. It is most important to understand that more than 80% of children who enter 9th grade NATIONALLY have not been ready for years (90% in low performing states like Tennessee, our example), and their employment future looks dismal. This is what happens when elected school boards and superintendents do not even have an average ACT (or SAT) score as their most important objective to achieve, based on which their performance evaluation will be judged. They make up their own vague objectives and evaluate their own performance - and this is the result we get. THIS IS A MAJOR PROBLEM. THERE IS NO INCENTIVE FOR ACT ACHIEVEMENT.
In the chart below "What % of column 1 is higher than column 2" refers to how much higher actual education-related spending is in column 1, than the "unapproved" public budget spending in column 2. Unfortunately the "approved" budget at the start of the school year did not appear in these reports in the Tennessee Dept of Education's Statistical Report to the governor. Clearly the "approved" budgets for school districts are of no importance - a very bad practice in spending discipline.
"TOTAL CURRENT EXPENDITURES" are what the school system presents in public as its budget before a school year starts. The approved budget for the Knox County School System for 2013 was $420 million. The public never saw in the papers actually how much they spent after the school year started. What they actually spent under "TOTAL CURRENT EXPENDITURES" was much higher, $474.9 million and published for the Governor in the 2013 Tennessee Statistical Report by the state education department in 2014. Who approved such overspending? It appears that there is no discipline and oversight associated with the budget to stay within it like the citizens and businesses have to do.WHAT MAKES IT EVEN MORE DISTURBING IS THE FACT THAT THE ACT SCORES ARE SO POOR THAT 80-90% OF THOSE WHO ENTERED 9TH GRADE, LEAVE HIGH SCHOOL UNPREPARED TO BE EMPLOYED. THE PUBLIC IS SIMPLY NOT INFORMED OF THIS FACT, AND THE SCHOOL DISTRICTS CAN HAVE A PR STAFF TO FLOOD THE PUBLIC WITH POSITIVELY SOUNDING NEWS. Source of financial information on spending is www.tn.gov/education/data/doc/asr_1213.pdf, Tables 48 and 49. See other Tables to see details of the totals.
Under a different heading called "GRAND TOTAL OF ALL EXPENDITURES" in the Statistical Report, Knox County Schools spent a whopping $560 million total, not $474.9 million as shown above, that includes capital and interest expenses the school system spent in 2013. But even this is not the total. For example, legal expenses spent on behalf of the school system is included in a different county cost center, and God only knows what else resides hidden anywhere else. WHY THE SECRECY? What other education related spending is hidden and where? It is very disturbing that it is virtually impossible to tell how much this education system is actually spending every year, AND ON WHAT.
Our point is that we do not see any reason for not publishing IN OUR NEWSPAPERS the entire amount of dollars this and other counties are spending for the education system.
How can such irresponsible spending be allowed to continue without any penalties on the board and superintendent at minimum? In the business world they would be prevented from overspending by higher authority, and fired or jailed for the purposeful misleading of the shareholder public about the results, and the overspending. Why do we tolerate such superintendents and their poor results year after year?
The education system does not inform the public of the poor performance (e.g., the all time low record in average ACT score in Knox County, Tennessee in 2013), and at the same time the US is the fifth highest spender per student in education, which under "maintenance of effort" laws must be (?) maintained, regardless of performance. Knox County, Tennessee spends more money per student than the top twenty highest performing nations, except one, and their cost of living is higher. Education districts appear to have no incentive to investigate how to improve performance since their objective is not a specific average ACT (or SAT depending on the state) objective to be met along with school level operating plans that measure monthly academic performance objectives. The poor outcome is not surprising under such circumstances.
80-90% OF THE STUDENTS WHO ENTERED 9TH GRADE ARE NOT READY PER ACT'S DEFINITION TO BE TRAINED FOR A JOB OR TO ENTER A COLLEGE OR TECH SCHOOL. THIS IS A VERY POOR RETURN ON THE PUBLIC'S INVESTMENT, AND WARRANTS SOME THINKING ABOUT WHAT SCHOOLS WILL STAY OPEN AND WILL BE CLOSED.
More than 30 states cut back education spending since 2008. See http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&id=4011. Even with such reductions in spending, the US is the fifth largest spender per student among the industrialized countries, with the lowest academic performance among those nations.
When the results are poor, the money is not getting to the right places.
Our schools in Tennessee produce more than 80% of those students who earned a regular diploma, who are not even ready to be trained for a job according to ACT. In Knox County, Tennessee, the county we use as an example, we set an all time low ACT score record (with superintendent James MacIntyre, and board chairs Karen Carson, Lynn Fugate). People who care (and/or don't know what to do) DO NOT DO THIS. Other states are not much better. A few are worse.
As presented above per the Tennessee Education Dept. Statistical Reports, approved budgets are outspent every year by a huge amount, and mean nothing. This is the people's money, the spending beyond approved budget's needs to be investigated. People who care and planned well DO NOT DO THIS. Other states are not much better. A few are worse.
According to Fortune Magazine (http://fortune.com/2014/06/10/most-corrupt-states-in-america/), Tennessee is the third most corrupt state in our country. No wonder we overspend the people's money every year in education and produce the third worst results from the bottom at the same time within the USA. Internationally, we dropped to 36th place in math - that's the bottom of the industrialized countries.
We need a forensic audit to identify exactly where the money went and why it was not getting to the right place in the school district, destroying most of our children's employability, our workforce and our economy as a result.
PROPOSED PROGRAMS COSTING ADDITIONAL TENS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN EACH STATE BY SCHOOL DISTRICT MANAGEMENT, DID NOT AND DO NOT DELIVER HIGHER ACT OR SAT SCORES. They are the only tests that show the real end of high school results. COULD THESE KINDS OF INEFFECTIVE ACTIONS BE ACCIDENTAL AFTER MORE THAN 40 YEARS? No, they cannot and they require uniform statewide control via laws.
SCHOOL DISTRICT PR CAPABILITIES: There has been a significant increase in PR professionals over past decades within school districts to present "good" news and make sure that the poor ACT or SAT results are kept from the tax-paying public who pay the bills.
THIS EFFORT GOES SO FAR THAT SCHOOL DISTRICTS LIKE KNOX COUNTY, TENNESSEE, DISTRIBUTE THE PR CAPABILITY OVER SEVERAL DIFFERENT GROUPS AND "PARTNERSHIPS" TO INCREASE THE NUMBER OF PR PEOPLE SIGNIFICANTLY, HOPING THAT THIS INCREASE WOULD BE HIDDEN. WHY COVER UP THE RESULTS THAT COUNT TO THE PUBLIC WHO ACTUALLY PAY THE TAXES TO FUND THEIR CHILDREN'S EDUCATION? The management people make a good living in the school districts and do not want to risk that with bad news. There is no state requirement to promote or publish the tests that are more meaningful (ACT or SAT or NAEP) with the same or higher frequency than the weaker state tests that show higher scores because they are easier tests. The exception is the new Common Core Test and many oppose it for this reason only. The Common Core test results must be published to the public with its scores in the original form. New York State was the first to publish it in August 2013.
TEACHERS: The school results SHOULD depend on the education, quality and motivation of teachers. They would, if:
the required laws were changed in the state to give teachers full authority to deal immediately with discipline problems, with punishment that the student and their parent would not want to experience again, and if
they had the freedom of teaching the best way they know how without an enormous amount of paperwork they have to create by hand.
We do not have all that as yet. The teachers' university performance is an important start and the best international countries in education do not hire teachers who are not in the top 1/3rd in their university performance - with a Masters degree in the field that they want to teach.
We have some teachers whose subject knowledge and teaching methodology needs help through a continuing education program. Education systems that perform well and have the best reputation attract the best volunteers.
Unfortunately, in our systems teacher morale is poor. That is always the result of poor management on top. Our school districts try to create a good public image with professional PR stories in the media - not with results that count. We are dealing with the challenges that must be solved in this area on a separate page at http://www.usaedustat.com/1teacherchallenges.html.
MANAGEMENT PROBLEMS ARE RAMPANT: THIS IS THE WORST PROBLEM IN OUR PUBLIC EDUCATION SYSTEMS. Promotion to higher levels from teachers upward, are on the basis of friendships with someone in central management or nepotism, INSTEAD OF BEING BASED ON EXCELLENT JOB PERFORMANCE AND READINESS FOR THE NEW JOB. Titles do not make a manager or supervisor, yet management training before promoting someone into a management or supervisory position is nonexistent in education. It is also rare to see a person among the elected school boards who have management experience even at the level of one tenth the size of the school district in number of employees and budget size annually who actually had experience producing good results. They are not trained in basic management skills like interviewing a person for a superintendent position, do not even realize the need for such a skill, and tend to hire superintendents in their own image and experience. It is very common to find superintendents without the management experience that would be required for the size of the school district.
The best indicators of good management are called OPERATING RATIOS and they need to be within normal boundaries. They are well documented in management books based on research. You will see some awful, unreasonable abuse in the chart below that explains why standards must exist in operating ratios. What you see in the chart below is typical of poor management, and it is extremely costly both directly and indirectly. For example too many people in central management compared to total employees can create huge problems. This area is generally stacked with friends and nepotism is not uncommon when they become large. At that point they protect their kingdom and survival most of all, create reasons and activities to justify their size and to make it even larger, and the management talent in education at the superintendent level is so rare that they generally are helpless with it. The results are outrageously aggressive hiring, late decisions, bad decisions and they become a major contributor to poor academic results. They also hide their size in various ways. One of the most common way is to publish under central management a minimum number of people but hiding carefully who is controlled by them and who report to them and not a school's management organization. If they are not directed by the management organization of a school, they will be directed by central management. The following chart shows some excellent examples from Knox County, Tennessee's school district, and it is shocking. Centralized management slows everything down. They can be and we experienced them threatening to teachers. They generally build walls between themselves and the schools and are autocratic in nature to defend their existence. The best way to improve performance is to delegate virtually all decision making to principals of the schools, like budget planning, preparation and progress management vs budget objective, educational progress management vs educational objectives, purchasing of supplies to meet teaching needs, accounting, personnel matters with hiring and firing decisions, discipline decisions and its delegation to teachers for effective classroom management, IT technical support, and school accounting, where the principal being responsible for delivering measurable results must be the decision maker, since school profiles and challenges will differ. There must be no interference from the superintendent if the principal makes decisions within the applicable policies for these functions.
THE RESULTS OF POOR MANAGEMENT are teachers treated without respect, unprofessionally, restricted in their jobs resulting in the poor ACT score results, fooling the public with higher scores from the much weaker state tests, unemployable high school graduates in large numbers like more than 75% of those with a regular diploma not being ready to be trained for a job. Teachers have very low morale. People with low morale cannot do their best. There are major problems in the classroom that remain unsolved because teachers are given no authority to solve them. Vague unmeasurable objectives on the board and superintendent level, politics replacing real performance and achievement of real objectives like an average ACT or SAT score; covering up of bad news about the important tests because their scores are poor, and publishing only news for the public that sounds positive is actually very damaging. As an end result, such school districts produce the majority of high school graduates WITH A REGULAR HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA, such that 74-86% of the students (depending on the state) with a regular diploma are NOT EVEN READY TO BE TRAINED FOR A JOB according to ACT. All of this is created by school districts that are managed very poorly on the elected board and superintendent level. The great majority are like that unfortunately. THEY ARE ACTUALLY CREATING AND RUNNING FAILURE FACTORIES, INSTEAD OF GRADUATES DEVELOPED READY FOR JOBS OR FURTHER EDUCATION. http://www.schoolsmatter.info/2011/12/broads-jim-mcintyre-gets-2-earfuls-from.html.
CONCLUSIONS: The needed improvement of our education results depends on how quickly we will recognize both our management and teacher challenges, and act to solve them all at the earliest. When 250 teachers show up at a board meeting, in an autocratically managed school district, that is very significant. In business, if you see a complaint, there are more than ten behind it with the same feelings who did not want to go public. That makes this entire school district's teachers very dissatisfied: http://www.wate.com/story/23897839/knox-county-teachers-voice-opposition-to-new-evaluations.
Fixing our poor education cannot happen without the public being informed of all the truth about education. Public support for changes is very important, and that is why our school districts have substantial numbers of full time professional PR staff on board, some more than we have seen in billion dollar corporations. One could legitimately ask why even one is needed in any school district to develop articles for the media that put the school district into a better light than what the entire truth really would about the school district's performance.
With the skyrocketing spending and no improvement in results since 1970, nothing like this happens accidentally and uncorrected for 5 years, let alone for more than 40 years.
One wonders whether or not we have a very influential group behind this effort to destroy our public education and our children's future with it. Who wants us dumbed down through public education? OR...DO WE JUST HAVE A VERY OLD, DISORGANIZED EDUCATION SYSTEM IN PLACE THAT REQUIRES A COMPLETE RESTRUCTURING BY LAW?
Is the education system so badly organized by law and system, that it is in need of significant change in management practices, and in laws to define a productive "business" framework for school districts with focus only on higher education achievement for our children who want to learn, instead of pouring money into those who cannot or do not want to learn.
If we want baby sitting services, or to teach children who do not want to or are unable to learn, maybe they belong to a different place, that we the citizens should not be obligated to excessively finance - since we do not have enough of those who could be ensured of a better future.
Today, we are on the way to become a poor shadow of what we once were, with our children and grandchildren without a job and a future.
Our public education has been and is damaging us more than any other internal or external enemy could. We created it, and only we can change it for the better.
Please look at this eighth grade test from 1912. How many eight graders could pass it today?
We cover our international position first, then how we are doing in the USA, and then our example Tennessee and an example county in Tennessee: Knox County. We have a quick overview of twelve countries in 2011 below. More further down on the recent academic results of 65 countries in one study (we are 36th in math) and 136 countries in another study below (we are 47th in math). We used to be on top. We are not doing well today. See recent international performance.
Please note that older information indicated that the US was the second largest spender per student and 32nd in mathematics of 65 countries. The 2012 OECD-PISA test results published in December 2013 indicates that the US is the 5th largest spender per student, and 36th in mathematics of 65 countries.
WE BECAME THE FIFTH HIGHEST SPENDING NATION PER STUDENT IN 2013, WITH THE LOWEST SCORES AMONG THE INDUSTRIALIZED COUNTRIES
According to the World Economic Forum, the US dropped to 47th of 138 nations in 2013 in math and science readiness when graduating from high school, although the US EDUCATION SYSTEM is 28th in CAPABILITY to deliver a suitable workforce (http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GITR_Report_2013.pdf, page 279).
Since December 2012 the US ranks below the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) average (international testing that covers high school achievement results in 65 member and associate member countries) in every category. And as the WSJ notes, the US has slipped in all of the major categories in recent years.
The results from the 2012 OECD-PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) tests, That were released December 2013, show that teenagers in the US slipped from 25th to 31st in math since 2009 (of the OECD member countries only, 36th of all those tested); from 20th to 24th in science; and from 11th to 21st in reading, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, which gathers and analyzes the data in the US. OFTEN THE US RESULT IS SHOWN WITHIN THE OECD MEMBER COUNTRIES ONLY TO SHOW A BETTER RANKING, SUCH AS 31ST IN THIS CASE IN MATH INSTEAD OF 36TH WITH ALL 65 PARTICIPATING COUNTRIES.
Here are the top 36 countries of the 65 total in each of three subject areas tested:
BUT IS LACK OF ENOUGH MONEY SPENT ON EDUCATION OUR PROBLEM IN THE USA?
It appears that we keep dropping lower in education results every year, and we are very low now. Is it because we do not spend enough money per student on education? No, because we are the 5th largest spender per student.
When an organization produces bad products, such that more than 79% of the products produced do not work; and the same poor results just keep repeating for more than a decade; one would have to be insane to keep them operating the same way as they did for years. Amazingly there are no financial obstacles for such a poorly performing organization in one field: education. We just keep paying them OUR money. THOSE WHO APPROVE IT DO NOT CARE. They do not even commit to achieving an average ACT score each year that is the state standard and measures accurately what children have learned from grade one to twelve, and how ready they are for learning a job or at least doing a year of college or tech school.
They automatically get at least as much money every year as what they spent the previous year AND DO NOT TELL ALL OF THE TRUTH TO THE "STOCK HOLDERS" BUT ONLY GOOD NEWS. And 79% of the "products" not working is not good news. They don't tell the public about that.
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE BAD RESULTS? It is the school districts' elected boards of education, the superintendent of every school district - if they have bad results. Less than 50% of students with a regular diploma who are not qualified for ACT Career and College Readiness is an extremely bad result. There are government problems contributing to bad results also. For example to effectively deal with discipline problems, it needs to be adjudicated immediately by the teacher in the classroom. The appropriate law needs to change to allow for that and to reduce the conditions under which today's public litigiousness may be exercised. Normally top management people and board members would be writing letters asking for a change in the law and be on the door steps of politicians to solve all such problems because the situation is destroying the entire company - and in this case the public, our children's future and the economy as well. HAVE OUR BOARD MEMBERS AND SUPERINTENDENTS DONE THAT? WHY NOT?
WITHIN THE UNITED STATES:
Massachusetts' students rank 1st in the US in math. Hong Kong's students rank among the top 5 in the world. The US is 36th, a new low record in math. The best in our country do not come CLOSE to matching even the top 20 in the world. 87% of the questions on the Hong Kong test require a higher level of thinking and knowledge. Only 6% of questions on the Massachusetts test are on the same level. These figures express how woefully behind we are. In high school results we are on the bottom of the industrialized nations, with 74% of of those with a regular high school diploma not being ready to be trained for a job in 2013 according to ACT's report. Reference: http://usaedustat.com/1actscoresexplained.html. The ACT has several decades of reliable history of measuring student performance. It's current "readiness" benchmark for job training or to have a 75% chance to finish the first year of college or tech school only requires a specific minimum grade achievement in four subjects.
The charts below show the average 2013 ACT score rankings by state.
PARCC is a new test that focuses its conclusions on English and Math test results. PARCC is formed by a few former Achieve Inc employees who developed the American Diploma Project to improve education in 2009, and people from US public education. PARCC has been established to compete with the Common Core Curriculum and its test which is a continuation of the American Diploma Project. PARCC supporters are typically those who are against the Common Core Curriculum and test. The Common Core Curriculum is an effort of Achieve Inc (former governors and business leaders) and ACT.
The NAEP is a long standing national test given every other year. It's rigor/strength is similar to the ACT and SAT. The following chart shows the NAEP test result about how poorly we have done in elementary education during 2012-2013. 42-58% performance range is an "F" OVER A SIX YEAR PERIOD, although in 2013 Tennessee showed the highest NAEP improvement in the US growing to just under US average. What is important is what level of knowledge our schools deliver to our children, and that not above 90% but under 60%. The NAEP rigor is in the same class as the ACT and SAT. Children enter high school with a poor foundation, especially in basic math and reading. As the graph indicates, this is poor performance followed by poor high school performance with 74% and 82% of high school graduates in 2013 in the US and in Tennessee respectively, with this large percentage of students with regular diploma not even ready to be trained for a job according to ACT's 2006 and 2009 definition of readiness. Very poor performance.
We have a unique situation in that US education results are very poor and keep going down compared to the international competition, our workforce is weakening so much that attracting employers with tax incentives no longer works in the lower performing states. If we do not improve significantly, we could end up discouraging all employers who are able to move elsewhere.
A QUICK LOOK AT A TYPICAL SCHOOL DISTRICT EXAMPLE IN THIS WEBSITE: KNOX COUNTY, TENNESSEE.
Looking at the State of Tennessee first, it must be recognized again first that ACT's "College Readiness" does not mean college completion readiness. This area is not well understood by people even in public education management. It only means a 75% chance for such a student to finish only the first year of a college or technical/vocational school based on ACT's 2009 definition, and it also means readiness to be trained for a job, since ACT announced in 2006 that according to ten years of empirical research (comparing students ACT scores to the job or college position they achieved within 4-5 years thereafter) shows that college readiness and readiness to be trained for a job became the same. The actual ACT documents about this subject can be found in our menu at usaedustat.com .
The readiness area must be understood in the context of how low end jobs were replaced and will continue to be replaced by robotics, and how new technologies, like computers, have changed job prospects and the way job requirements have increased as a result, with both of these trends continuing into the future. For this reason, the ACT readiness definition applies to today and the next few years only at best. ACT will adjust the readiness benchmark qualifying scores in the future for this reason, as they have done in 2013 recently. The requirements of employers for employees will increase aggressively, requiring much better educational results from high schools than what we have today and today's results are poor even for today. The high school results need to be ready as preparation for the upcoming approximate 35 years of working life of a child for job training or for continuing education, covering at least 80% of graduating classes. We are very far from that.
The chart below shows Tennessee's ACT readiness and also average ACT scores for each of the past five years. The ACT readiness score of 18 is unacceptable. It means that only 18% of students with regular diplomas are ready to be trained for a job or to have a chance to finish the first year of college or Technical school, and 82% are NOT READY for any of these options. The average ACT score went from 20.6 to 19.5 during the same five year period. Tennessee education output from public schools is in a very bad shape based on these figures.
Although Tennessee established a new teacher performance evaluation program starting in 2012, it is highly questionable in achieving better results, because average ACT score or ACT readiness percentage of regular diploma objectives have not been put in place on the education board and superintendent level, who have been failing for decades to produce acceptable results at public expense. Such a difference does nothing more than creates conflict between teachers and the management above the school principals.
It is a typical example of how poor an education an average school district provides for the public's money, yet they spend more per student than the top international performers. The graph below shows the average ACT scores with a red line for our example, Knox County, Tennessee for the past 14 years. The blue line for the past 7 years in the graph with the right side being its scale, shows the percentage of high school graduates WITH A REGULAR HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA who are not even ready to be trained for a job (74-81% NOT READY), or finish the first year of a college or tech school only, according to ACT's report. This result is very damaging to the future of the current young generation. Sadly, this is higher than average performance in Tennessee, and almost average in the USA.
In the chart above, a similar trend in administrator increase is common everywhere. For example, in the Knox County, Tennessee school district, according to the Tennessee Statistical Reports and Report Cards between 1995 and 2013 the number of students increased 13% (from 52150 to 58940), but the number of administrators increased a whopping 164% (from 166 to 438) while the ACT score in the same period went from 22.2 to 20.2. 20.2 was an all time low average ACT score for this school district, and was not even mentioned to the public.
The current superintendent was hired in 2008. When asked about the poor ACT results, he always refers to this: "today 100% of the students have to take the ACT test, whereas before a smaller percentage took it." He was hired by the board of education in 2008. The following graph shows the exact percentage of students who took the ACT in every year and what the average ACT scores were in every year. It is the board of education chair and the superintendent who are responsible for the results in that order in every school district. According to the figures, the average ACT scores went down since 2008, with the exception of one small increase in 2012, and then a drop in 2013 to set an all time low record. Such a downtrend since 2008 is not an example of good management by the board or the superintendent, and the buck actually stops with the chair of the board of education under the law.
A KEY ISSUE WITH EDUCATION LAW AND ELECTED BOARDS OF EDUCATION: The law lacks a framework for the management of a school district and does not mention performance achievement and operating plan basics for compliance and that is very damaging. As presented by the Cato Institute study before, spending per student increased every year but education results declined since 1970!
Let's put political correctness aside. That means that our education results degraded general public knowledge as a group. School board members are representative of the public. How well are they prepared to be an effective guide for school performance? A few are, but in general the voting majority is not. Elected board members do not have a voting majority that is educated and experienced in management topics like selecting a superintendent, objective determination and setting, the psychology of motivation, and management by objectives for even half the size of their school district head count and annual budget. Unfortunately they are also unaware of how to interview professionals successfully as superintendents for multi-million dollar budgets and more than 100 employees, and the result is superintendents who are also unfamiliar with the same management topics that are very important for achieving success in a school system. An extreme example of this is a board approving a superintendent who managed food service, security, accounting, taught in a high school for one year, but never managed a single school like a principal. This superintendent is to manage a school system with 8,000 employees and a half billion dollar budget. The same board also accepted the headhunter's background check, who gets a $100K commission approximately if this person is hired as superintendent. The experience level of the candidate is insufficient for good performance, it does not benefit the school district but hurts it, however, it will benefit this superintendent's resume for the future.
In the "ACT Readiness Reports" starting with those who entered 9th grade, only 88% received a regular diploma and only 18% of them left high school ready to be trained for a job. THIS is disastrous performance.
One ACT point reduction is explained by the district going to 100% student testing from a specific year, but the small student increase, the drop in the ACT score, the extremely small percentage of 9th graders being prepared to be trained for a job after leaving high school, AND a huge increase in administrators is not an indicator of an operation where the elected boards and superintendents did an acceptable job managing the school district. It is evidence of them wasting several billion dollars of the people's money.
Think about what the low US high school performance will do to your children and grandchildren - and our nation. A study of 114 key US industries show that
foreign products (imports) in 111 industries of the 114 are
gaining in the US market 5% each year against US products
On what basis can anyone condone, and approve (as a county Commissioner or mayor) monies of the people to be spent in hundreds of millions of dollars every year, without demanding that an ACT score objective be met for such monies that is at least 5% higher than the last average ACT score achieved, and that such an objective also be made THE board's and superintendent's performance objective, counting at least 60% of their annual performance evaluation?
Don't we have an implicit responsibility to the public to do so?
Don't we also have an implicit responsibility not to mislead the people whose money we are spending?
Don't we have an implicit responsibility NOT TO USE ONLY the much weaker and meaningless TCAP state scores to call the superintendent a Miracle Maker as a local paper did, while not mentioning the all time low score on the ACT test achieved in 2013, whose results mean a disastrous future for 79% of those children who earned a regular diploma?
THE FUTURE OF EDUCATION LOOKING AHEAD FIVE TO TEN YEARS:
What is certain in this world is change. Teachers are the part of the education system who deliver the necessary level of knowledge to our children to get them ready to learn more for higher level jobs, or to be trained for a job by an employer. Today, the best lectures, the best tutorials are available from the Internet from the best minds on ANY subject (go to "Great Learning Tools" in the menu above). TODAY, the best universities like MIT and Stanford offer the public for their child to learn on the Internet and earn a fully accredited high school diploma OR MORE, for much less money than what public education is costing us per student (Example 1: http://www.pgbovine.net/advantages-of-name-brand-school.htm, Example 2: http://ohs.stanford.edu/, Example 3: http://www.lincolnonlinehs.com/index-landing.php?gclid=CKKey_KCs7wCFZRr7AodGH8A6g). It should be very obvious to everyone that primary and secondary education will change, and the old schema of public education that is producing poor to mediocre results will disappear whether we like it or not. Who are the best positioned people to take advantage of this opportunity? They are the great teachers of today who understand this picture, and who want to deliver an excellent result: high school graduates who match the best international performers in the world. Nothing remains the same. Things are changing faster and faster in fact. Public schools will not go away. Some will change and become excellent. Others will disappear. In the best performing nations like Finland, Canada and Singapore, public schools are very successful. In Finland even private schools are financed by the government and their standards are controlled by the government. Any fears about people like Bill Gates or Common Core Curriculum and its test are totally unfounded, spread by people who want to preserve status quo.
No changes would come if the results were not so damaging to the great majority of our children's lives and to our economic future.
THE TRIO THAT WANTS TO PRESERVE STATUS QUO AT ANY COST:
Boards of education in education districts, teachers unions and foundations that solicit funds from the public to support only the education districts, do promote the state of education in a much more positive light than what reality is. Many people in the management of these organizations make an excellent living from our schools' poor performance by pressing for and getting more money "to save our children". The system worked a hundred years ago, but it is not working well enough today. THERE IS NO PERSONAL INCENTIVE FOR THEM IN THE SCHOOL DISTRICTS TO DO OTHERWISE. Boards and superintendents having to meet an average ACT or SAT score objective would change that in a hurry.
THE UNSOLVED DESTRUCTIVE DISCIPLINE PROBLEM IN THE CLASSROOM: Imagine working in an office where a few employees call your boss derogatory four-letter names to his/her face and pour pee in his/her coffee behind his/her back or throw various objects or even feces at him or her; all of this in front of other employees. Can you imagine what would be done immediately with such an employee in any place of employment? He or she would be fired immediately. This is done to our teachers (the "boss") by a minority of students ("employees") and it disturbs the entire class for a day or more in each and every case. The worse the school, the more often this happens. Unfortunately we have many such poor schools. The teachers can report it to the principal but can do nothing about it. The offending student may be sent home, but will be back the next day, a hero now to a few other kids. The teacher's authority suffers another blow and he/she becomes an easier target, because he/she has no authority. How can anyone expect a teacher to have high morale and do their best without any authority to deal with such behaviors on the spot? How could anyone achieve anything under such barbaric conditions? See more important data about teachers at www.usaedustat.com/index.html#howareteachers.
GOOD PERFORMANCE RESULTS ONLY FROM SETTING THE CORRECT OBJECTIVE, MAKING IT A PERSONAL PERFORMANCE OBJECTIVE FOR THE BOARD, SUPERINTENDENT AND CENTRAL MANAGEMENT LEADERS SUCH THAT IT COUNTS FOR AT LEAST 60% IN THEIR ANNUAL PERFORMANCE REVIEW, AND THE IMPORTANCE OF HAVING AN OPERATING PLAN TO ENSURE THE ACHIEVEMENT OF THE ANNUAL OBJECTIVE.
A measurable objective has to exist first, one that is a key indicator of the entity's successful operations. The objective cannot be vague, like increase the number of graduates in a school system, because just getting a diploma does not mean that all graduates with a diploma are ready for job training or to enter a college or technical school. The objective also needs to include a numerical target, in this case the percentage or number of students graduating. Unfortunately in virtually all states in the USA only a small percentage of high school graduates with a regular diploma are prepared to be trained for a job (24% according to ACT in 2013), or to go on to further learning. The school systems promote the percentage of diplomas achieved in order to look good, but not the readiness figures. Furthermore, some states created their own readiness definition of high school graduates, that present better results, than the readiness figures published annually by ACT that tests students nationally and conducted empirical research since 2000 in order to provide precise readiness indicators.
For testing, ACT, SAT and NAEP are the reliable national tests. For percentage of high school graduates with a regular diploma, who are ready for employment training or to finish only the first year of a college or technical school, the ACT is a reliable source.
Objective setting must start on top of an organization, as with a school board and the superintendent and then trickle down through the management layers to teachers, in order for the entire organization to be in harmony to work toward the same objective. Unfortunately education is unique in not investing in management training, and therefore management problems are common (e.g., low teacher morale, autocratic management styles, poor results). Again the objective must be THE key indicator of the school system that measures academic performance, such as an average ACT or SAT score, or ACT's Career and College Readiness Percentage of Regular Diplomas, for the school district or a high school. For elementary schools the state test would suffice, provided that the average raw score is used for an objective and not a "cut score" that is used to "translate" the poor raw scores to better looking scores for the public.
If one wants good performance, then such objective like an average ACT score must constitute at least 60% of the annual performance evaluations for the board, superintendent and central management senior staff at minimum. Lastly a professionally prepared operating plan per school and for Central Management is essential with monthly objectives, to ensure that the school district ACT, or SAT annual objective is achieved.
“Things may come to those who wait...but only the things
left by those who hustle.”
WE HAVE FAILURE FACTORIES WITH VERY FEW EXCEPTIONS. THE RESULT IS A WORSENING WORKFORCE AND EMPLOYERS EXPANDING ELSEWHERE OR LEAVING.
Note in this chart below shows EDUCATION EXPENSES SKYROCKETED SINCE 1970 BUT THE SCORES WENT NOWHERE, AND NO PRESIDENT OR GOVERNOR TOOK CORRECTIVE ACTION TO REVERSE THIS TREND. However, look at what happened to men's salaries with various levels of education since 1970. They took a dive. Something is very wrong here: More than four decades and no action to resolve the problem.
PUBLIC SCHOOL SPENDING IS GURANTEED BY LAW TO INCREASE WITHOUT ANY CONDITION RELATING TO PERFORMANCE ACHIEVED:
Public school spending per student is guaranteed by law to be as high as the maximum a school district ever received in prior years, regardless of the results produced; they have no performance-based risk or salary reduction risk based on achieving or not achieving an objective, based on a national test like an average ACT score or a specific percentage of regular diplomas under ACT's Career and College Readiness report. Why? Because the school board and superintendent create their own vague objectives, AND they do their own performance evaluation (the board just approves the superintendent's). WHAT KIND OF EFFORT CAN BE EXPECTED WITH SUCH AN "INCENTIVE" RIGHT ON TOP OF AN ORGANIZATION? For example a superintendent can perform so badly that he/she sets an all time low record in ACT scores, deliver high school graduates with regular diplomas 79% of whom are not even ready to be trained for a job according to ACT's Career and College Readiness Report, and the board will give him an excellent performance review and guarantee his/her $250K+ annual compensation package for four more years - every year, giving away the public's hard-earned tax dollars for the superintendent's poor performance. Who would want to see any change that risks their job under those conditions? This system actually rewards poor performance.
"The only thing necessary for the
triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing!!"
Edmund Burke, Irish
Medium and larger school districts have a substantial number of full-time professional PR people (6-8) for promotion against any change and to keep convincing the public that the school district is performing well, by simply ignoring the test results that are the most important but show a bad score. Why does a school district need to spend money on more than one such PR person, instead of spending that money in the classroom? Many have more PR professionals on staff than what multibillion dollar corporations have, and have enough money to mount an advertising campaign to ensure that the public opinion is positive about what our public schools are doing, and to defeat any legislator or legislative attempt to change the status quo.
IT APPEARS THAT EXCELLENT INNER CITY SCHOOL PERFORMANCE IS POSSIBLE:
New York is one of the best performing states in education in the USA. The best example for excellent inner city performance is a charter school network called the Success Academies in New York City. See also THIS. In 2006 a charter school was formed in Harlem, NYC, the Harlem Success Academy, that scored 5th and 6th in reading and math tests in New York State by 2009. The inner city parents, who many think do not care, beat their doors down to get their children into this school. In December 2013 they have 20 schools with approximately 80% black children, the rest Hispanics, all from poor families, with plans to open 100 by the end of this decade (up from 40 in the original plan). New York State was the first to publish to the public the new Common Core Test results in August 2013. The Common Core Test scores are published unadulterated by law, without "cut scores" that are normally used with state tests to show higher scores (like a 45% score is presented as a "B"). New York State published them first in August 2013 (47 states will do so by 2015). Reference: http://excelined.org/common-core-toolkit/information-common-misconceptions/.
THERE IS NO DOUBT THAT CURRENT LAW IS TOO SUPPORTIVE OF STUDENTS WHO ARE A DISCIPLINE PROBLEM AND PERHAPS IN OTHER AREAS AS WELL THE LAW IS BURDENING THE EDUCATION SYSTEM.
If that is so, then what requests have boards and superintendents sent to the governor's attention and to legislators to change the laws that load the public school system with unreasonably bad behavior by a few, resulting in poor performance for many additional children, by disturbing the teachers' ability to teach and the students' ability to learn more. Should such a child be part of the public school system reducing the school districts' performance or should they be part of a special school system? In fact, should some of them be schooled at all? For what end if they will be unemployable? Our schools should not be a baby sitting service. We are just asking the question if the schooling for some children should be different such that they do not drag down the teachers and the other children who are willing to learn.
The public was shocked with average public school performance in the 35-45% area with New York State's Common Core test results in 2013. But the Harlem Success Academy, now called Success Academies (Ref. 1, Ref. 2, Ref. 3) scored more than twice as high, with poor inner city children. What is important to note is that this school has a proprietary continuing teacher education program in place. Why don't our state public school leaders learn from the top international and domestic performers? They all produce superior performance with less spending per student.
The public was and is not made aware of our disastrous performance WITH THEIR MONEY. But they were informed of all news that sounds/looks good, however insignificant, via newspapers and media.
The outcome for our survival depends on whether or not the public will become aware of the truth or not, because public support is essential for any change. So far the public was not given the information that shows how poorly we are doing, and what that will do to the upcoming generation's life.
"Learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast of change. And the most pressing task is to teach people how to learn."
Peter Drucker, 1909-2005, Father of 21st Century Management By Objectives
A Few Basic Questions Before Getting Into Details:
Why is education important?
It appears that the income of a person depends on his/her education increasingly each year. The education needs to be in a field that is in demand by employers. Software, personal computers and robotic automation replaced many jobs at the low-salary end during the last twenty years. The new generation of robots that we will start seeing from 2015 have much greater capabilities and will replace many jobs increasingly between 2015 and 2020 that required more than just a high school education. This trend is going to impact not only our 3.9 million high school graduates annually, but dropouts, those who "completed" high school but did not earn a regular diploma, and a significant part of the existing US workforce of 144 million as their jobs will go to automation.
Jobs depend on employers' satisfaction with the knowledge of those who graduate from high school - and the entire workforce. They have not been satisfied for more than a decade and feel that insufficient progress has been made. This has become a handicap to attracting new jobs. The ACT and SAT scores represent school achievement and must increase aggressively.
New technologies also create a large number of new jobs; these jobs require more education with university degrees. We not only must raise high school diploma standards, but we must raise the education of those past graduates in the work force who are able and willing to learn more in order to protect their future employability with remedial training. If we do not, we will not have the money to support the growing number of unemployed and welfare recipients and will face very serious social disorders.
Why is a high school diploma important?
ACT published in 2006 that the requirements for a high school graduate with a regular diploma for learning a job or to enter a college became the same. Unfortunately a high school diploma itself is not as valuable as it used to be because today more than 75% of the children who earn a high school diploma in the USA are not ready to be trained for a job according to ACT as of 2013. Details are presented at 1actscoresexplained.html. Based on the poor "job or college readiness percentage" of regular diplomas, the "percentage of high school diplomas achieved" has been a very poor goal in school districts, although it is used everywhere in the USA as of 2013. However, the high school diploma is a vitally important GATEWAY to getting a job, being accepted by the military or entering any school for further learning. That also means that not having a high school diploma is an automatic pathway to poor employment possibilities, no employment and for one to become homeless.
Why does our education system have to be internationally competitive?
Today, we are one of the worst in primary and secondary education in the industrialized world. Interestingly more than 80% of the best universities in the world are in the US, but more and more of their graduates are foreign students who see more opportunity at home than in the USA and return home. Our students were among the best during the 1960's. The world has become "smaller" in many ways since 1970. The entire world is the market place for almost all companies in the world. Customers will buy the best products at the best price everywhere, regardless of where the products were created. The creation of such winning products requires many scientists and engineers with advanced degrees. To have such engineers and scientists in large enough numbers, the high schools in the country must graduate very well-qualified graduates to enter such high demand university programs. Because of the decline of our high school performance, our ability to develop scientists and engineers with advanced degrees diminished, reducing our competitiveness in developing winning products in all industries. As a result we have lost entire industries to foreign competitors. As a result we also lost jobs, income and tax income to fund government programs. This is why even the high schools must be competitive with the high schools of the very best nations in education. See backup facts about this area here and much more about why internationals are outperforming us 1internationalperformance.html.
How is the public misinformed?
“A lie told often enough becomes the truth.”
Lenin (1870 - 1924)
Disinformation or misinformation is created not only through repeated lies, but also by presenting news frequently that sounds good although it may be meaningless. In both cases the entire truth is not presented, especially the truth that is more important and significant for the good of the public. Unfortunately, it is very common in the way education districts and the media present our education results.
It stands to reason that if a school district is spending $500 million per year, including ALL education-related expenses not disclosed to the public, like capital and interest expenses, AND the fact that their ACT Career and College Readiness percentage of regular diplomas is only 20% (meaning that 80% with a regular diploma cannot even be trained for a job), a large portion of the money is not being spent correctly to produce good results, and they have serious management problems.
We feel that the public who pays their hard-earned tax dollars for our public education system, deserves to know the entire truth about how well their children are educated, and what the education they receive will do to prepare them for a reasonably tough but successful life to be able to maintain a family of four. The important thing is not just to present good news to make a good impression on those who pay the bills, as we currently do. The important thing is to tell the truth, the good and the bad, so that we can together go after what is not going well and correct it. I fear for what is happening to our country.
Is a good grade or grade-improvement promoted by a school district or newspaper or the media always means the truth about our children's education?
Are articles in the local newspapers, that are telling the population how great a job the school district is doing, always truthful and tell the entire truth?
Unfortunately, not. Positive comments about state test-based scores are meaningless, except for Florida. Florida's state test rigor is in the ACT, SAT, NAEP rigor whereas other state tests are much weaker. Such state tests are weak for the purpose of showing higher grades, and the difference is so great that an A or B grade can mean a failure in reality. Such tests are used to qualify for federal aid dollars and to create the impression for the public that the school system is doing well, when in fact it is doing poorly.
Many of the new Tennessee elementary school standards are working. The NAEP represents high rigor testing every other year and its improved record setting scores are much more significant than the much weaker state test scores called the TCAP.
GRADE IMPROVEMENT sounds positive, but it may or may not be important. The maximum ACT score is 36. As the average ACT score increases, it does not represent a proportional increase in the regular diploma holders' readiness to be ready to be trained for a job. For example, an average ACT score of 21 means that only about 20% of those with a regular diploma will be ready to be trained for a job, and 80% will NOT be ready to be trained for a job. But the situation changes fast once we get the average ACT score above 22. To achieve an 80% readiness for job training or to finish only the first year of college or a technical school those with a regular diploma would need to be close to an average ACT score of 24. Job trainability readiness that it is not something to celebrate. A 0.5-1.0 average ACT increase at the lower numbers do not change job training readiness much. But such a change above an average ACT score of 22-23 brings big improvement in the "readiness" percentage of regular diplomas for job or college training.
Unfortunately our poorly performing school districts make any improvement positive news, sometimes so extreme that a publisher in Knoxville, Tennessee called the superintendent a Miracle Maker for an A or B Tennessee state test result that is absolutely meaningless. The Tennessee state test (TCAP not the NAEP) is too easy in order to produce high grades, but in reality it represents F level performance for a 45-50% score when compared to ACT's measurement for job or college readiness; not an A or B. Under the same superintendent also in 2013 we set an all time low record in the average ACT score at 20.2 that represents only 21% of the regular diplomas being ready for job training or to complete only the first year of college or a tech school; with 79% of those graduates with a regular diploma not being ready. They are minimum wage candidates. But the publisher chose not to mention that, when the ACT score was the more important information. This is what journalism has become in many places. We are presenting that article as an example further down below. The point is that the public is informed only by what appears to be good news, but they are not told about the bad results that really count. One can legitimately wonder why such journalism misrepresents the results coming out of our schools, when we, the public, are paying for it.
Teachers: Why don't we motivate them, respect them, help them improve subject knowledge and teaching methodologies at school district expense, give them total authority over the classroom including the immediate decision to punish students for discipline violations that are destructive to class performance, then let them do their best?
Faster technological changes and faster employer requirement changes for potential employees ensure that that we will all see more job changes, with changes accelerating in the future. That mandates continuing education for a life time, a fact that was incorporated even into actual preschool training as early as 20 years ago in Japan and in Finland. Children entered first grade knowing that jobs can be enormous fun, and that you will be learning new and interesting things all your life. That set an excellent attitude for attending school, before the first grade started.
Our example school district, Knox County, Tennessee is the home of Bill Haslam, Governor of Tennessee. The county's performance is above average in Tennessee but below average in the USA. He was involved in interviewing and selecting the superintendent at this school district. It is possible that this county is getting special attention with new ideas, such as the new teacher evaluation from the state, that is creating challenges, being new. We think that it needs some serious work done by people with substantial management experience.
How can anyone do a fair evaluation of teacher performance without the outrageous discipline problems being solved first? Speaking of teacher performance evaluation, how fair would it be if your boss came and watched you for an hour 2-4 times annually and based on that decided how well you performed the entire year? That is how teacher performance was and is evaluated. Your peers would know much more about how you perform. In the top performing countries in education such as Finland and Singapore, there is no teacher performance evaluation. Maybe they know better how to manage education to success. Maybe we could learn from them a thing or two.
School district boards of education and superintendents write their own "easy-to-meet" objectives, then prepare their own performance reviews at year end which the same school district board approves. No wonder performance is poor. Their objective needs to include an average ACT score that is at least 0.5 higher minimum than the last one achieved. This objective must count at least 60% of their total performance evaluation. There can be no improvement without such an objective on both the board and the superintendent. Only then will they focus other employees below them on achieving the same objectives.
Sadly, we are very poor in education results, and under the state laws the school boards and under them a superintendent is responsible for the outcome. If they cannot accept that responsibility, it is a serious state problem, we would like to know how many letters they have written to our law makers and governors to change what prevents them from doing a more successful job.
We would recommend that all interested parties read the 2012 OECD-PISA report published in December 2013. It is an excellent document covering the latest trends and success factors in the education results and practices of 65 countries (http://www.oecd.org/pisa/keyfindings/pisa-2012-results-overview.pdf) with many points relating to what produces good results in teacher evaluations. We are not doing well in this report. We need to recognize that teachers enjoyed protections via tenure because of the poorest management skill levels in the central management of our school districts. A sound performance evaluation is a must and certainly the old system of observation a few times a year by one person was a very poor way to evaluate anyone's performance. Teacher-student relationships are very important, motivating students is very important, and student accomplishments compared before a course starts and after it ends is very important. We could learn from other nations who are doing very effective teacher evaluations without a single evaluator's personal prejudice. Such professional evaluations make good sense and would be accepted by the teachers who are well suited to teaching and are good, confident performers. The best performance comes from people who are well matched to the profession and are happy in it.
Although top countries in education Singapore and Finland do not have teacher performance evaluation, performance evaluations are a very important management tool, UNLESS like Singapore and Finland education gets the top graduates volunteering with a masters degree in the subject they would teach, followed by tests to establish suitability for the teaching, plus additional post graduate training in the latest teaching methodologies, none of which we do. Performance evaluation ALWAYS starts from the top, using THE key indicator of success measured. In education. That would be an average ACT or SAT score for "end of pipeline" or end of high school measurement of what students have learned from grade one to twelve. For example an average ACT score objective that is at least 0.5 point higher than last year's average score would be the most productive way to go. That objective would normally trickle down through various management levels to teachers. We created a teacher evaluation system that makes no management sense in a few areas and it drops the already low teacher morale further down. No one can be evaluated fairly based on objectives that they cannot have control over. Yet at the same time, performance objectives must be measurable and they must start on top, at the board and superintendent level. Instead, boards and superintendents decide to give themselves vague objectives (there are actual examples in this website), and then they prepare their own performance reviews, giving themselves excellent ratings, give the superintendent a four year contract/guarantee, when the results are deplorable. This is not a positive professional move. The poor results confirm that. Just think about this has been doing to our young people.
Lack of teacher authority to handle discipline problems on the spot in the classroom is a major disruptor to classroom effectiveness and destroyer of teacher morale. This is reality: Little Johnny is bad in school, the parent thinks that Little Johnny never lies, so the parent mistreats the teacher and the board and superintendent do not back the teacher AND do not give the teachers the authority to decide and act at the time of the offense. That in turn damages teacher authority. We better decide in every state what the purpose and goal of our school districts is, and stick to it with a firm hand. Our suggestion is below. TEACHERS ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT RESOURCE WE HAVE ON WHOM THE FUTURE SUCCESS OF OUR CHILDREN DEPEND. WE CANNOT JUST REPLACE THEM. Some elected board members and superintendents do not seem to understand that. Money is NEVER among the top three reasons for low morale, yet we go to a money solution immediately, which never works. Those other top three reasons for low morale have to be fixed first. References: http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/organization/motivating_people_getting_beyond_money, and http://www.forbes.com/sites/martinzwilling/2012/01/10/8-ways-leaders-can-motivate-employees-beyond-money/. Fixing the top three reasons for low morale provides the quickest performance improvement - but you have to survey teacher satisfaction by an independent party and be willing to admit that you don't know some things well enough in management as well as you should and do something about it. "Humble pie" and honesty works. Then send people who manage to management training programs that are very good. Titles are not enough. Without this step nothing will work well enough. This video is representative of how teachers feel in Knox County, Tennessee and elsewhere: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MRmcBJXEOcA. An extraordinary event took place at a December, 2013 school board meeting in Knox County, Tennessee. THIS IS AN AUTOCRATICALLY MANAGED SCHOOL DISTRICT WHERE JOBS ARE THREATENED IF A TEACHER SPEAKS UP. 250 TEACHERS ATTENDED THIS BOARD MEETING TO SPEAK ABOUT THEIR WORKING CONDITIONS. THAT TAKES EXTRAORDINARY COURAGE. In addition while the major newspaper in Knoxville, Tennessee does not want to publish the truth about the education districts poor performance, a smaller local paper published this about the teachers' problems: http://www.metropulse.com/news/2013/nov/20/war-teachers-2-teachers-revolt/ to their credit.
Why did we allow a bloated central management to form? When bloated, they just build walls to protect themselves, create morale problems, interfere with the actual operations to appear to be useful, like any good ole' boys' network.
Why, because we do not know or do not pay attention to normal operating ratios in the organization. People are hired into Central Management organizations based on friendships, nepotism and in a few cases based on professional need. Central managements do not have a turnover of people, they tend to grow larger. School boards also do not have a turnover regardless of behavior. For example in approximately 2008 a board member was sued for sexually harassing a cleaning lady in one of his schools. The school system paid more than 90% of the adjudicated settlement and the board member stayed on the board until the end of his term because the case was "dismissed". I heard from teachers as well about him. It cost the school district more than $110K.
The actual size of central management is protected very well. You have to investigate indirectly, looking for all those people who are not reporting to and not taking direction from and are not performance reviewed by a school principal or supervisory people who work for that principal. Those are all the employees who take direction from Central Management, and the number can be much higher than normal published by the American Association of School Administrators or academic researchers who do research on education management.
Superintendents can convince the voting majority of an elected board to retain an expensive consulting organization to "investigate" a subject to obtain exactly the answers the superintendent wants, if the school district hires the consulting firm and the school district specifies what they want the consulting firm to report on. It will cost only a few hundred thousand dollars of the people's money from the district budget of several hundred million. Not a big deal. And the superintendent gets the exact answer he wants.
The autocratic style of a bloated Central Management has been a problem for teachers for years. Like a fox in a hen house contract, in 2000, a Texas consulting firm, MJLM, was retained by the board of education to ascertain that the Knox County, Tennessee Central Management is not bloated but normal in size. MJLM selected and compared the Knox County school district to only 6-7 other school districts of similar size in the entire USA. In subsequent years, two Board of Education members and even a publisher in an article stated several times that "two" consultant reports confirmed that the Central Management staffing is normal, but they could not identify the consultant reports or supply its appropriate pages. We managed to get a copy of the 2001 MJLM report in 2010 and spoke to MJLM. In 2010, the superintendent, issued a memo to a county commission member using the 2001 MJLM report as proof/supporting evidence, that Central Management staffing was at a normal level in 2010! Compared to the Central Management size supported by the American Association of School Administrators and other management publications on the same subjects for school districts, the superintendent's own published figures are more than three times normal size. Compensation databases indicate that the real staffing level of central staffing is far larger beyond the superintendent's published numbers.
Knox County, Tennessee is the only large school district in Tennessee that does not have and never had a single charter school disapproving all prior applicants except one. However, in 2010, the Board (chair: Indya Kincannon) and the superintendent (James McIntyre) approved a charter school, the Knoxville Charter Academy which was backed by the Iris Foundation. When googling the Iris Foundation, one finds that it is fully controlled by the Islamic Gulen Movement of Turkey. The googling presents a highly suspect and undesirable history with multiple posts. If it took us not more than 15 minutes to find this out through Google, why couldn't the superintendent and the Board chair do the same before they approved it? Now that this poor decision has been made public, this charter school may not open, because the original board decision cannot be defended. This is what extremely bad decisions look like, along with the consistently poor academic results and the misrepresentation of real performance to the public. We are in 2014 now and without a single charter school.
In April, 2010, a person, Steve Dobson, identified some potential abuse of our tax dollars within our school district's Central Management organization. More than half of the IT Department employees are former teachers who are not IT qualified, yet they appear to make at least 50% more money than the IT qualified employees in the same positions. We are in a recession, and many teachers were laid off, with little impact on Central Management. The postings at schoolmatters.knoxnews.com web site are self-explanatory, unless the school district uses its influence and has it deleted. This is a Web site associated with the local newspaper, who always say only positive things about local education performance, when, in fact, it is poor.
The above and all the symptoms cited here are evidence of lack of management knowhow both within the board of education, among superintendents and within Central Management. It is therefore, vital to establish the suggested organizational framework within laws and policies on the state level for every single school district, or the needed improvement will not happen regardless of how much money is poured into a dysfunctional education organization. See backup facts about this area here 1bloatedcentralmgmnt.html.
If you want your children and grandchildren to live a good life in this beautiful country, check the facts you read about on this website. If you agree with what we are presenting, then think about standing up and talking to others about it and writing to your own governor to take some serious action to make our education system one of the best in the world again and eliminate all the unnecessary spending. Our future depends on it.
Why do we keep operating schools that produce 95% failures? Especially when we spend REPEATEDLY FOR MORE THAN TEN YEARS two times as much per student as what we spend on students in schools that perform well?
We think that this is a clear abuse of the people's money. We have to decide what the purpose of our schools is and put students who cannot or are unwilling to work some place else with the right services to make them productive. Such students create a learning environment for all students that is performing poorly. Spending 20% more is justifiable. If we cannot motivate students to do better, when Success Academies (Ref. 1, Ref. 2, Ref. 3) could achieve fantastic results in Harlem with poor black kids, it is time to start looking at why management is so poor and change them. No one would throw away their own money like this, why are we throwing away the public's money?
Look at how much the spending per student differs school to school in Knox County, Tennessee, and how the money allocated compares to the ACT score (black line). Some school districts are better, some are worse - nationally.
The following graph shows all high schools' ACT scores over fourteen years in Knox County, Tennessee. An average score under 22 represents that more than 70% of those students with a regular diploma are not ready to be trained for a job or finish the first year of a tech school or college. Any school average under ACT 22 is very poor. This school district spends about $500,000,000 in 2014 and has about 50,000 students.
If we already spend in this school district much more per student than the top 20 best performing countries in the world (which we did being the second largest spender per student in the world since 2011), and
If we produce high school graduates 79% of whom are not ready to be trained for a job or finish the first year of a tech school or college according to ACT,
If nothing has been done to decrease the above 79% absence of readiness by our school boards or political leaders for decades (nothing changed because nothing effective has been done), then
How can the public expect anything better? School boards have not improved figures like the 79% absence of readiness in decades. Therefore we would not suggest that ANY improvement promised by school boards and superintendents will increase the ACT averages and readiness percentages.
Imagine the huge number of students such a school system produces, who will have a very poor life as a result of their poor education. Many of our children and grandchildren are and will be among them, because we did not demand better for our money.
"Readiness" means ACT's definition of "Career and College Readiness". Some states, e.g., Kentucky, use the same "Career and College Readiness" terminology, but they use a much easier formula they developed to show a much higher percentage of regular diplomas being "ready" for job training or to finish only the first year of college or tech school. ACT has more credibility in our opinion.
Look below at the chart that shows how our workforce is bleeding out; the results of our poorly managed school districts: the increase in people since 1990 who are no longer in the work force.
The following chart shows a disturbing increase since 1990 in those people who are without a job, a better measure than unemployment figures based on who receives unemployment benefits. This increase corresponds also to the education and workforce quality downturn long term. Source: US payroll dropout reports.
Our leaders talk about job creation a lot, but the fact is that no employer will hire anyone unqualified/insufficiently educated for any job. This is true today and in the future for all new jobs. No employer will offer a job unless the candidate has a job history with good references, education and experience to guarantee that such a potential employee will be able to do an excellent job. Job openings do exist. Well enough educated potential employees need to exist FIRST before an employer can offer a job. They do not exist in sufficient numbers thanks to the poor results our public elementary and high schools are delivering - with very few exceptions. We are certainly spending enough money on them.
So that anyone understands this situation well, we have approximately 92 million of the former labor force who are not employed in 2013, including those who no longer receive unemployment and therefore they are not on the unemployment records. That is a lot of people. Source: US payroll dropout reports. We have only 145 million employed (http://www.dlt.ri.gov/lmi/laus/us/usadj.htm) from a population of about 320 million. The reason: poor education coming out of high schools.
We hear from US companies more and more often that they do not value tax and property incentives any more from the states, because the available workforce is poorly educated. State leadership is aware of this everywhere. They are looking to expand elsewhere. Yet there is no action taken yet that would improve the only thing that counts: average ACT or SAT scores.
“Our progress as a
nation can be no swifter than our progress in education. The
human mind is our fundamental resource. ”
John F. Kennedy
(1917-1963) Thirty-fifth President of the USA
UNFORTUNATELY THIS IS WHAT WE HAVE:
WHEN WE NEED THIS!
WE START WITH THEM... AND THEN, OUR SCHOOL BOARDS AND SUPERINTENDENTS DO THIS TO MOST OF THEM...ON OUR DIME AS THEY BLAME OTHERS.
PLEASE...JUST LOOK AT THE EVIDENCE WITHIN THIS WEBSITE. IT IS UNBELIEVABLE...BUT THIS IS WHAT IS HAPPENING AND IT MUST CHANGE.
"The most pressing task is to teach people how to learn."
Peter Drucker, 1909-2005, Father of 21st Century Management By Objectives
WHY WE MUST IMPROVE URGENTLY: It Is A Good Idea To Peak Into The Future With The Videos Below To Understand Why Better Education Than What We Currently Have Is Absolutely Vital For The Future Existence Of Our Children.
Dr. Michio Kaku, world famous scientist, in "America has a secret weapon":
What will the future look like? The reason for more education:
...and if you would like to understand more about the future in depth, here is Dr. Kurzweil, a world famous scientist.
“Our progress as a
nation can be no swifter than our progress in education. The
human mind is our fundamental resource. ”
John F. Kennedy
(1917-1963) Thirty-fifth President of the USA
Copyright(c) 2008-2014 V. Spencer
This is a work in progress.