Thursday, July 10, 2008

The TFA responds to accounting fraud failures

The Quick and the Ed

But the Office of Inspector General at the US Department of Education has charged TFA with failing to account for half of the $6 million the organization received in federal discretionary grants between 2003 and 2005. The IG's office scrutinized a sample of the federal funds and concluded in a reported released last month that "TFA did not fully comply with applicable laws and regulations..." The organization "could not provide adequate supporting documentation [for half of its expenditures] because it lacked sound fiscal accountability controls," the IG's office wrote, adding that, "On several occassions, we requested additional documentation from TFA's Vice President of Accounting and Controls, but she never provided us with adequate supporting documentation or an explanation of the expenditures."
A newly hired TFA alumni responds:

"Like oh my God, you know...

Accounting rules are like, so contributing to the achievement gap. Totally.

If more teachers were, like, totally more like us, then everything would be like sooooo cool.

I mean its not like we are sending alumni to Wall Street or anything... well even so, that is just like, so unfair.

Gag me with a spoon. you know?"

I might vote for Obama after all...

Jackson's Obama comments almost went unnoticed - Los Angeles Times

Anyone who can piss off Jesse Jackson deserves at least a second look after all, besides McCain is mutating into Bush Lite.

What my kids and the military taught me about teaching...

Last year, one of my daughters asked me to help her study for a social studies test she had at school the next day.

We got out her text book and I asked her what we were studying. "Unit 3" she said. I flipped to Unit 3, and realized that Unit 3 consisted of three chapters, each at least 10 pages long. It seemed to cover the entire history of the United States up until and including the Revolutionary War.

The tears started almost immediately. She correctly deduced that there was no way she could cover the whole unit in one night.

I asked her if her teacher had highlighted any areas to key in on, but my daughter couldn't remember.

I told her to just skim read the Unit and concentrate on the main points. I was met with black stares. She had no idea which were the key points and which was just fluff.

Flash forward a week later...

My daughter brings home the test, and she has gotten a C-. I decided to look over the test and see what was covered, but as far as I could tell it was nothing but a quiz of random facts from the Unit. There was no rhyme or reason to it. Trivial matters were covered, but questions about key events were missing. As far as I could tell, she would of had to have memorized the entire Unit to get an A.


The Air Force is very big on professional development of the enlisted force.

As soon as an Airman gets selected to be an NCO, he/she is immediately sent to Airman Leadership School, and enrolled in a "Train the Trainer" course. The professional development, both residence and computer based is reinforced through each state of an NCO's career.

This continuous professional development is one the key reasons our enlisted force is the backbone of the most competent and powerful military forces ever assembled.

In ever single professional development course I have taken, one of the key themes that we are taught in training and mentoring is the establishment of training objectives and measurable goals.

When I am assigned a new Airman, I am required to sit them down and specifically state my expectations. I have been trained to make the expectations easily measurable, and not subjective.

When I develop training plans, I have to write a specific goal, and then define a measurable evaluation. Before conducting any training, I tell my trainee's exactly what I expect them to be able to accomplish upon completion of the training.

It's my responsibility to break down the task, and to go over each step. I am to assume nothing, and develop the tasks so that someone with zero experience will be able to accomplish the task upon completion of the training.

If upon evaluation, my trainee can not perform the task to the measurable objective then I immediately schedule remedial training.

I do not give up or make excuses.

I am continually trying to improve. If someone doesn't get something, I assume that it's because I haven't explained it clearly.

If my Airman were not to get trained properly, my bosses and my commander would hold me responsible.


If I were to conduct my training or mentoring like most teachers teach, I would be fired.

If I were my daughters teacher, I would clearly communicated as to what information they needed to know out of the Unit.

I would of conducted evaluations of my students through out the Unit, and if I had detected an area of weakness, I would of immediately gone back to reteach the material before I moved on to the next section.

By the time my students had taken the final exam, they would of been quizzed and reviewed on the key themes and facts.

My test material would not of been a surprise to the students or the parents.


My example is not uncommon, with the only exception of spelling and math tests.

I coin this method of teaching and testing, "Gotcha education".

Plagiarizing myself...

Backed Halibut... hmmmm

To save time and effort, I am just going to post the comments I made at other websites.

On eduwonkette: The Rhetoric of Reform: Does Research Count?

It's not like private school or charter school teachers get any different training that public school teachers.

To me this is a no duh study.

It's basically the same result when you randomly place low SES students in middle class schools.
Vouchers or school choice are only useful if parents choose a school that uses effective teaching practices. Then again, it would be so much simpler if public schools improved their teaching techniques.

If our government is going to spend money on studies, someone needs to do a long term study on which education schools produce teachers who have the greatest effects on student achievement.

Who wants to bet that the results show that education schools that concentrate on the mechanics of teaching do much better than the schools that concentrate of edujargon?

Actually, hold of on doing the study, I smell a great thesis paper for my graduate studies in a few years.

More from eduwonkette: Guest Blogger Mica Pollock on: Everyday Antiracism: Getting Real About Race in School#comments

Arguments that race isn't biological are naive see... Lewontin's Fallacy. The critical debate is whether IQ/intelligence/academic ability is genetic, but to focus on that question misses the boat when it comes to education.

Education standards should be set based on the premise that they are achievable by all students regardless of their ability (speed of learning) or starting point. Once we have accepted this, the key then is to figure out how to get all students across this line.

I am probably spoiled and naive when it comes to addressing race due to my upbringing (adopted multiracial family) and to the Air Force (most successfully integrated organization in the world), but I realize that there are probably some system/organizational changes to made to provide every student with the proper opportunities and outlook.

However, I am convinced that the key to improving education outcomes for disadvantaged groups just aren't going to be solved by addressing race. Simply put, it all boils down to the curriculum and pedagogy. There are right ways and wrong ways to teach. It’s just that middle/upper class students have the advantage of parents and an environment that can compensate for the shortcomings.

As to ability grouping, it really comes down to a simple premise.

Ability grouping is better for low, middle, and high performing kids in absolute terms. The problem is that in comparative terms, the differences between the groups get relatively larger and larger.

Our system has subtly decided that it's better to keep the relative differences smaller instead of making greater performance gains for all groups. Ironically, given NCLB's measuring stick of all kids getting above a certain line, the system works against itself. Talk about cognitive dissonance.

No comments allowed... if you must call me an idiot, do it at the original website.