Texas is known for having Independent School Districts. Independent school district is an oxymoron. In the past the community was involved in the schools their children attended. Parents assisted when there were special programs.
As a science teacher, I often asked for parent volunteers if I was going to make a science field trip. In the late 70s, I taught science in Hudson ISD. A small school district near Lufkin, Texas. I was one of two science teachers and we decided to take students on a Saturday field trip to mine for minerals nearby. The school had a free bus but no bus driver. No problem, I took the necessary training and became a licensed school bus driver. So one Saturday we loaded up the bus with interested kids and parents and off we went. The materials we found displayed and discussed in our classes the following week. Not every class was studying rocks and minerals but kids who went on the field trip were allowed to share their experiences with students in their science class. I don’t remember what we found but the kids considered them valuable.
One day a student brought a very large tarantula spider to class. He had purchased it at a pet store. This was a shy student and was not very popular. But the spider may have changed his life. To the amazement of everyone, including me, he put his hand in the cage and allowed the spider to climb up his arm around his neck and down his other arm. The girls squealed. The guys just stood back, but did not offer to let the spider get on them. The boy moved up in the social pecking order that day. The students learned a great deal about Tarantula’s and the administration was supportive. Could this happen today in Hudson ISD ? I doubt it.
The administrators of the majority of Texas Public schools are spending money on programs that have little to do with the basics–reading, writing and arithmetic. Instead, teachers are subjected to different programs designed to fix all education problems; CSCOPE: provide a one-size-fits all program so that every student is equally educated; Lead Your School: The Fundamental 5 provides a formula for quality instruction in every classroom; Capture Kid’s Hearts, claim that if you have a kid’s heart you have the kid’s head.
Each of these programs cost a lot of money –hundreds of thousands and in some cases millions over a short time period. Classrooms are papered, not with educational posters but with posters from each of the different programs, such as what a student should say instead of, “I don’t know that.” If a student is not behaving, the teacher is suppose to ask, “What are you doing?” Student is to stop hitting another student in the head and say, “I am smashing this kid in the face with my fist.” To this the teacher says, “What should you be doing?” In response the student says.”Writing the formulas for chemical compounds.” And so forth——–This is how discipline is handled.
Why are superintendents and school board members using education funds to bring in private consultant groups to train their teachers? Lead Your School is the name of a consulting group that administrators are paying with title funds. As previously mentioned, Marlin ISD has paid over $150 thousand dollars to Lead Your School for professional development. This is interesting since this same school district still purchases the remnants of the CSCOPE managing System, which also has professional development. Both CSCOPE and Lead Your School have specific things that teachers MUST do each school day. In fact, monitors come into classrooms to make sure the teacher is following the regimented plans of CSCOPE as well as the Fundamental Five Formula from Lead Your School. These are two separate organizations with separate dictated programs for teachers to follow. What the public is not being told is that teachers are resigning from public schools–some find positions in private schools, some just get out. The administration in Marlin ISD was not upset when 3/4 of its staff resigned at the end of the 2012-2013 school year. Teachers who were not willing to be submissive to the program were not wanted. Actually, quality teachers are not wanted. Veteran teachers are especially vilified throughout the schools using CSCOPE and Lead Your School program.
I have pondered on why administrators are so blatantly misusing the education money they have been trusted with. Are they supporting each other? By this I mean that administrators are starting consulting groups which hire retiring administrators. “I’ll scratch your back if you will scratch mine.”
The CSCOPE Instruction Material that was purchased by about 80% of Texas Public schools had never been evaluated. The program had no documented results that it was effective, yet Texas school superintendents chose to not purchase text books and payed a subscription fee to the Texas Education Service Centers for CSCOPE materials instead. CSCOPE monitors were hired to make walkthroughs of classrooms to make sure teachers were following the CSCOPE schedule.
Now in addition to CSCOPE monitoring, administrators are paying the Lead Your School group–another group without any accountability–that charges a lot of money to train teachers to use five steps in designing their lessons every day. More monitoring–now the walkthroughs are called POWERWALKS– Teachers are to be on the CSCOPE schedule, have the TEKS for the day written on the board, have the Fundamental 5 objective written in a specific place on the board, etc………….. With the fundamental 5 formula teachers are also to be in the PowerZone. Any teacher caught standing in front of the class giving directions to the entire class would be written up. Any teacher caught sitting at his/her desk without students surrounding the desk would be written up. Teachers are to be roaming around the room, helping individual students who are in groups. There are actual pictures in a book showing where teachers should be when the observer makes his/her powerwalk through the classroom. Some observers bring cameras and take photos to document errors.
The material used by the Lead Your School group is a book written by Sean Cain and Mike Laird called The Fundamental Five: The Formula for Quality Instruction. These authors present a formula containing 5 practices that must be used in every lesson every day. It is very possible that many superintendents and principals do not recognize these practices as something that any teacher worth his/her salt is already doing. This is because many superintendents and principals were coaches are athletic directors. In Cain’s book is is a description of teachers sitting behind their desk sending emails or doing something that doesn’t include the students. The student assignment being to read the text book and answer the questions at the end of the chapter. This is the description given of teachers who are not properly supervised–who do not have powerwalkers checking to make sure they are following the five fundamental processes.
The Lead Your School Program as well as the CSCOPE Instructional Program promotes the ideas that:
- teachers are lazy and slothful
- teachers only do their job if they are constantly being monitored and evaluated
- teachers don’t have the skills to provide quality instructions, thus they need CSCOPE scripted lessons as well as the fundamental 5 formula
- no matter the success of a teacher, they must switch to the fundamental 5 formula process if they are to be rated as a good teacher
One would think the fundamental 5 formula would be some new revolution. The five steps are below. What is new is that school administrators are being allowed to force teachers to either shape up and follow the steps or ship out.
1. Frame the Lesson –Write the objective of the lesson on the board.
2. Work in the Power Zone–Where teacher can be within the room—anywhere except in a position that denotes authority.
3. Students in Frequent, Small-Group, Purposeful Talk about the Learning— There is the assumption that students are well disciplined and spend each second of the class period absorbing and giving out information directly related to the objective of the day. That students can form groups and have meaningful exchange of information and then be alert and ready for the next drop of information that they are hungering to receive.
4. Recognize and Reinforce–In other words, sum up the lesson–teach and reteach. An exchange between the teacher and student or even better–a flip class would be that students provide a summary for the class.
5. Students are to Write Critically–Sum up the lesson. Students are to consolidate the information from group discussions and whatever the teacher presents and write up a summary in their own words.
Every teacher in every subject must use this same order to design lessons for every day. Powerwalkers will be around to determine if teachers are doing this. Powerwalkers have to be paid–thus more money spent on making sure that teachers follow the dictated program.
Another premise for the CSCOPE as well as Fundamental 5 formula is that students attend trade schools because they have not been trained by a quality teacher. All students have the ability to learn, it is the fault of teachers that they do not. Lead Your School compares an average teacher with a good teacher. The good teacher uses the fundamental 5 formula consistently, with high-frequency and high-quality every day.
With instructional practices other than the fundamental 5 formula, students are forced to attend trade schools or community colleges or a state university. Following is an excerpt from The Fundamental Five by Cain. Notice that anything less than going to an Ivy League school indicates an education by poor teachers, those not following the fundamental five formula. Also notice that the quality of a students education is decided by teachers and there no mention of student responsibility.
Is Sean Cain a graduate of an Ivy League School? While Cain considers those attending a trade school as being improperly educated, he will not be calling an Ivy League graduate when he needs a plumber.
The Sean Marcus Cain holding the Teaching Certification shown has a lot of managing certifications but his only teacher training is in generic special education. If this is the record for Sean Cain, the author of The Fundamental Five, are we to assume that all of his special education students hold Ivy League degrees?
I object to any program that degrades trade schools or community colleges.
I object to any program that is presented as being the only way a person can be a good teacher.
I object to administrators who purchase and subject their teachers to such programs. These administrators need to justify this expenditure. These administrators need to be accountable for the purchases they make. Is there a reason that school superintendents are moving from one school district to another? Are they purchases materials and moving on? If so, why?
It is time for communities to set up a few powerwalks through the offices of school superintendents and other school administrators offices. There is a new scam in education–technology supervisors. Who is the technology supervisor in your school district? What are their certifications? What is their job description?