(Condensed) D.C. Schools: A Portrait of “Corporate Education Reform” Failure

23 Oct

This summer the National Academy of Sciences produced a lengthy report for the city of Washington D.C. documenting the effects of their 2007 Public Education Reform Amendment Act (PERAA).[1] The report is a powerful set of data and observations that damn “Corporate Education Reform.”

What is “Corporate Education Reform”?

In 1996, Louis Gerstner, CEO of IBM, hosted the National Governor’s Association conference at the IBM conference facility in Palisades, New York. This conference with the exception of one Asian man was an all white, all male conference made up of 49 CEO’s and 40 governors. There were no educators involved.

At the conference, the Governors established their own non-profit and non-governmental corporation called Achieve Inc. Gerstner was named Achieve’s chairman. Achieve Inc. subsequently supervised the writing of both the Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards. While Bill Gates’ Council of Chief State School Officers owns the copyright for Common Core, Gerstner’s Achieve Inc. owns the copyright for the Next Generation Science Standards.

Former Assistant Secretary of Education, Diane Ravitch, is the first person I noticed calling this education reform movement led by super-wealthy business men with no education experience or training “corporate education reform.”

Eliminate Local Control and Privatize

In 1968 D.C. finally got democratic control over their schools only to experience complete loss of parental control with the passage of Public Education Reform Amendment Act in 2007. Mayor, Fenty became czar of education.

In 1995 and 1996 New Gingrich and Bill Clinton teamed up to start the privatization of education process in D.C. by weakening the elected school board and establishing charter schools.

“… by 2014, the percentage [of charter schools] was 44 percent. PCSB [Public Charter School Board] reports that there are approximately 100 individual charter schools, governed by 61 chartering organizations, which function as school districts, …” Pg 31

With almost 50% of the D.C. students in charter schools governance in certain aspect of education is not possible. As the report says:

“There are no standardized formats or definitions in charter schools’ budgets or audits … In addition, the charter management organizations’ accounts are not open to the public ….” (Page 72)

Charter schools are making matters worse; public money is spent with no oversight.

“The U.S. Department of Education has recently reported that that D.C. is among the worst school systems in the nation in providing appropriate educational opportunities for students with disabilities, and it has the worst record of any state in the country for meeting federal special education goals.” (Page 131)

The report notes the D.C. schools have a “crisis in absenteeism” and:

“D.C.’s public schools have had among the worst on-time graduation rates in the country.” (Page 154)

The report also says that charter school gains in test performance over time do not match public schools.

“The EDCORE analyses by sector also showed that, although both DCPS [D.C. Public Schools] and charter students showed improvement, the magnitude of the gains were higher for DCPS students in every year.” (Page 177)

Mayoral Control and VAM Evaluation

In 2007, the city of Washington D.C. completed its embrace of “corporate education reform” when Mayor Fenty assumed total control of all public schools and named Michelle Rhee, a Teach for America alumni with limited experience, chancellor. She made standardized testing and value added measures (VAM) the dominant factor in evaluating schools and teachers.

Education reporter, John Merrow, summed up Rhee’s tenure of just over three years running D.C.’s schools:

“To date, nearly 600 teachers have been fired, most because of poor performance ratings.

“After just two years of Rhee’s reforms, 33% of all teachers on the payroll departed; after 4 years, 52% left.”

“Some of the bloom came off the rose in March 2011 when USA Today reported on a rash of ‘wrong-to-right’ erasures on standardized tests and the Chancellor’s reluctance to investigate.”

Outcomes for the D.C. schools are some of the worst in the nation. Their scores on NAEP [National Assessment of Education Progress] testing still lag the nation. The problem has never been schools or even “corporate education reform.” The problem is rampant poverty.

The problem is rampant and unaddressed poverty.

One Response to “(Condensed) D.C. Schools: A Portrait of “Corporate Education Reform” Failure”


  1. (Condensed) D.C. Schools: A Portrait of “Corporate Education Reform” Failure | N2teaching's Blog - October 25, 2015

    […] Source: (Condensed) D.C. Schools: A Portrait of “Corporate Education Reform” Failure […]


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