Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Are Milken Award Winners Best Choice for School Ideas?

The Governor has sought "teacher input" for his ideas on changing education from a very limited group of teachers- Milken Award winners. Since we live in times where liberal Hollywood artists give travesties like "Brokeback Mountain" every award they can invent, perhaps it would be wise to consider what it means when liberal education foundations present awards....

By Debbie Pelley, click time below for article.


Blogger Debbie Pelley said...

Huckabee Wants Teacher Input from Milken Award Winners

· Milken Awards Are Presented on the Basis of Innovation, Not On Test Scores or Academic Achievement

· Teacher Performance Pay Will Be Based on Teacher Staff Development, Not On Test Scores

· Milken Awards Are Given to Educators Who Incorporate Global UNNESCO Curriculum

· Teachers Have Already Spoken Secretly Through Arkansas Surveys

· Educational Reforms Will Bankrupt the State of Arkansas which pays a greater percent of their income in taxes than 42 other states (See research below.)

Suddenly after several years into his educational reforms, Huckabee supposedly wants teachers’ input before he calls a special session.1 After announcing this only days ago, he has already finished his first meeting in secret with nine preselected award winning teachers. 2 Not ONLY did Huckabee restrict input to just nine teachers out of the entire state of Arkansas, but he also laid out further restrictions; these teachers must be teacher-of-the-year award winners or winners of the Milken Award, meaning they have to be approved by the ADE. 3

The Milken Foundation provides the money for the Milken awards, but the selection of the awards is made by the State Department of Education in each state. (Not many people are aware of that fact). 4 Evidently Huckbee confined his committee to teachers who will rubber stamp his and the ADE's suggested reforms. (The Milken Educator Program Coordinator in Arkansas is Janinne Riggs, Assistant Director of Professional Development 5.

In 1995 a $25,000 Milken award was given to a principal of Ridgecrest High School in Paragould, Arkansas by then ADE Director Gene Wilhoit; a blue ribbon panel appointed by the state department made the selection according to the newspaper.6 This principal had implemented so many innovative techniques encouraged by the Arkansas ADE that according to the local paper, “The high school’s standardized test scores have decreased since he became principal in 1990, becoming the lowest of any school in the county.” Tenth Grade Language Arts had dropped to 35%. 7

These low scores did not deter the ADE from bolstering their innovative programs by presenting him with the $25,000 Milken award. However, the paper reported that the district before the innovative changes “had racked up the strongest scores on the exams given statewide to 4th, 7th, and 10th grades.” 8

The following year, in 1996, one year after receiving this Milken Award, this principal and his superintendent left the school amid a great deal of controversy. According to the paper, in 1997, board director "Dr. John Honeycutt noted that with the change in administration last year, the district has undergone a 'philosophical change of back to the basics.'" 9

There had been incredible excitement and a great many newspaper articles in the Paragould area in 1993 when this school became one of the first 21 schools in the nation to become “Break the Mold” schools “ based upon a wide variety of criteria such as innovative programs already in place in the district,” the superintendent reported. 10

Many teachers warned that these programs would not work, but their counsel was ignored. I was very familiar with this situation because parents had come to me for help in fighting this now discredited Outcome Based Education (OBE) program to which the principal publicly subscribed. The local paper used the headline, "OBE draws praise form Shewmaker." 11 The name OBE has been totally discredited because of its failure in so many places like Paragould, but the aspects of the program are still burgeoning in Arkansas and the nation. They just keep changing the names so legislators and people don't recognize them.

The school had received so much attention that the superintendent of the school was privileged to travel to Washington to address the chief of staff for domestic policy under the Clinton administration. This is the message the paper reported that the superintendent was going to tell them in Washington. “Schools can no longer wait until a child is five years old to begin the educational process. The schools must be there for the EXPECTANT PARENTS to provide information and support, and must then provide a safe and healthy environment for the newborns and preschoolers to give all children an equal start in school.” 12

The ADE considered these types of reforms worthy of a Milken Award, but the community had different ideas. There were several volatile town meetings in their debate over these OBE “innovative” ideas and low scores, and the superintendent and principal both left amid great controversy in 1996. 13

. Huckabee just announced that an innovative teacher performance pay plan is an "absolute must." 14 Is anyone surprised that the Milken Foundation created a complementary initiative to the Milken Educator Awards known as Teacher Advancement Program (TAP) which is a performance-based compensation model (as well as some other surprising characteristics - see below - that citizens of Arkansas should know.) However, some will find it surprising that the primary achievement by which teachers will be compensated under teacher performance plan, according to Milken Foundation articles, is based on how well teachers implement staff development and NOT on student test scores. (Also see research and quotes on this below) Staff development was the cornerstone of OBE as well. 15

The teacher committee will allow Huckabee to claim, based on this input of nine Milken Award teachers', that the teachers in Arkansas support his teacher-performance pay plan. This is the way ADE has worked in Arkansas now for years – using hand-picked teachers for developing standards and pilot programs, pretending they represent the teachers across the state.

The Milken awards have also been given all over the nation to teachers and principals who incorporate another innovative program, the International Baccalaureate Program (also called IB, IBP, IBO and MYP - to be discussed later in this article) into their curriculum, a program that the ADE just implemented just this year, 2005. That program is a UNNESCO type of Advanced Placement global curriculum created in Geneva, Switzerland. 16.

So what is IBP? One critic describes the program this way: "No longer are American children learning about the structure of a federal republic compared to a parliamentary democracy. No longer are children learning the difference between capitalism and socialism. No longer are children being taught why the United States became the most powerful economic engine the world has ever known. Instead, they are being taught that with less than 5 percent of the world's population, the U.S. uses 25 percent of the world's resources and produces 25 percent of the world's pollution. They are being taught that the U.S. is the No. 1 terrorist nation. They are being taught that the rest of the world is mired in poverty because of the greedy capitalists in the United States." 17 This program will be discussed in more detail later in the article.

In fact if you know the educational innovative jargon (which very few, even teachers, do), you could go through each Milken award winner in the state and the nation given on the Milken website and find just how many awards have been given to the teachers who jump on the ADE's bandwagon of innovative ideas. 18

It is also interesting to note that at a power-point presentation given to an Adequacy legislative committee in 2003 (also in booklet form) this statement was made as part of their recommended plan: "Gain control over the process of compensation, directing it towards the goals we have set for the process." That seems to be exactly what Huckabee has set out to do with his plan to implement "state salary schedules for superintendents and coaches and a state-run payroll system for local schools." 19 I am sure these Milken Award teachers will back Huckabee's plan. See this link, p. 10 of a 106 page power-point presentation designed for Arkansas by Adequacy experts, Picus and Odden 20 (If this link doesn't work see endnotes for another way of accessing it.)

And on what does the Milken Foundation base its Teacher Advancement Program (TAP) performance pay plan? Not on test scores but professional development. Following are their own words: "We have learned that for a performance pay plan to succeed, certain conditions must exist: All teachers must understand both the standards by which they are being judged as well as the scoring rubrics used to measure those standards; every teacher must be evaluated multiple times by trained and certified evaluators (both master teachers and the principal); and most importantly, high-quality, ongoing professional development opportunities must be made available so that teachers are prepared to meet these rigorous professional standards. 21 More quotes and information given on this matter later in article.

In The Joint Committee on Educational Adequacy adopted on August 19, 2003, the Adequacy recommended a type of merit pay for teachers called Differentiated Compensation for Teachers at a cost of $283 million. ($277 million would give teachers a 15% raise according to Picus and Odden Adequacy power-points presentation, p. 8, and that would go to teachers instead of to experts and bureaucracy.) They also adopted recommendations for expanded staff development at a cost of $44 million ($100 per student). These recommendations would have to be voted on by entire legislature to become law. These recommendations have not become law YET. 22 They did add $22 million to staff development by law. They always implement these innovations by phases.

This is evidently what Huckabee is trying to get passed now. The adequacy experts, Odden and Picus that recommended the $283 million plan, have contracted again with the state of Arkansas for a $450,000 study. Their power-point presentation (106 pages that was also presented in booklet form to legislators) that was given to the committee in 2003 can be found at this link which will verify the information below. 23

I hope Arkansans will keep in mind this question: Is it really worth bankrupting the state of Arkansas to implement innovative ideas that have failed in the past and in all probability will fail in the future? Arkansas ranks 49th in median income. Arkansans already pay a higher proportion of their income in taxes than 42 other states in the nation (ranks eighth from the top). Arkansas actually ranks number ONE in the nation in the amount of state and local sales taxes allowed. At least one entity in Arkansas is paying that highest rate in the nation, 11.5%. 24 (2004 State Tax Revenue comparison and Comparison of State and Local Retail Sales Taxes, July 2004 compiled by Washington Department of Revenue.) http://www.taxadmin.org/fta/rate/04taxbur.html


Even the experts selling these innovative ideas, including Arkansas' Picus and Odden adequacy experts, speak in terms of IF these reforms work. In their final report in which they give a cost price of 283 million for the KSBP program, the reports says, "If KSBP (Knowledge Skills Based Pay) works, we can document" such and such successes. 25

A detailed study was just released from the University of Arkansas indicating that Arkansas students score slightly above the national average on standardized tests. 26 On the national NAEP test, numerous state scores clump together in a very small range because of the Bell curve factor. To raise scores significantly will be so costly that it will bankrupt the state, and our children will need to move to other states for economic advantages.

For rest of article and more research on topics at the top of this email, see this link http://www.wpaag.org/Huckabee%20Wants%20Milken%20Award%20Winners'%20Input.htm or go to www.wpaag.org and click on first new item on home page, Why Huckabee Wants Input ofMilken Award Teachers, or read forthcoming emails.

Debbie Pelley, Retired Teacher


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