Who Does the Montgomery County School Board Think It Is Working For?

Valerie Strauss, Washington Post, January 30, 2015

{snip}

County residents pay hundreds of millions of dollars in property taxes to help fund the public school system. They elect the members of the board, too. Given that, it seems clear that the eight-person board owes the public a candid and detailed explanation–right now–about why the guy they brought in as superintendent in July 2011 as the worthy successor to the somewhat legendary Jerry Weast is no longer the right man for the job.

If you’re coming to this cold, here’s what’s going on: Four members of the eight-person school board have decided they do not want to give Superintendent Joshua P. Starr a new four-year contract, and it takes five to make it happen. Starr has until Feb. 1 to write the board a letter telling them he wants another term.

Why did the four members apparently come to this decision? Well, they aren’t saying. At least not to the public who elected them. They have decided that Starr’s fate is a “personnel matter” and county residents don’t get to know what’s going on. Why is deliberation about the status of a high-ranking public employee by public officials a secret personnel matter?

Starr was brought to the district at a time of enormous change and was charged with maintaining the luster on the gold-plated brand of the Montgomery County Schools. Demographics were changing–with a growing number of low-income and English-Language Learners (70 percent of whom don’t speak English at home)–and the state was pursuing several major school reform efforts at the same time, including the Common Core State Standards. Anybody who thought that the brand would not collect some tarnish was kidding themselves.

Starr, a believer in addressing the social and emotional needs of children as an integral part of the academic pursuit, took some public stands on issues on which most of his colleagues stood silent: He called for a three-year moratorium on standardized testing, recognizing the corrosive effect that testing was having on teaching and learning, and was opposed to using standardized test scores to evaluate teachers. (Montgomery County is famous for its teacher evaluation system, developed under Weast, that gives no weight to standardized test scores. And for those who believe that adults can’t know how students are doing in school without test results, they can be reassured that Montgomery County students still take a mountain of standardized tests, despite Starr’s view.)

The Washington Post has learned that there are apparently several reasons some of the board members want to replace Starr. One is that they don’t think he has articulated a clear enough vision about how to close the achievement gap between white and minority students.

What that means exactly is unclear. Starr, when asked once in a hearing what he was doing specifically about the achievement gap, responded that everything his administration does is aimed at helping close that gap. What that means is that there is no single thing any superintendent can do to close the gap. There is no silver bullet. When Michelle Rhee became chancellor of Washington, D.C., Public Schools in 2007, she had a very clear vision of how to close the achievement gap–fire teachers and principals, evaluate them by student test scores and give merit pay to those who got high test scores. Today, the achievement gap in the District is as big as in any big city in the country.

The notion that any superintendent can “close the achievement gap” without help from health and counseling professionals outside the system and appropriate social policy is something of a fantasy, which, unfortunately, is one shared by many school reformers around the country today.

{Snip}

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  • D.B. Cooper

    Yes indeed! It is time to get rid of this white male yes man. If he’s too afraid to say what really needs to be done, then he should be replaced with the most incompetent minority quota they can find. White liberals like him are part of the problem, and people like him are really big obstacles to get past.

    • TomIron361

      I would love to see bums like Joshua starr rectally impaled along side the road – I mean that only in the best way.

    • propagandaoftruth

      “Starr, when asked once in a hearing what he was doing specifically about the achievement gap, responded that everything his administration does is aimed at helping close that gap. What that means is that there is no single thing any superintendent can do to close the gap. There is no silver bullet.”
      If this is an accurate comment, let me explain something here…
      This man works in a field that is dominated by Marxists. These Marxists have decided that since America cannot be torn apart by pure class conflict (darn it all), race will have to do. And gender. And whatever else they have in their big black garbage bag of excuses they use to beat on White men every eff up THEY make.
      Yes, White Genocide is the agenda of education.
      Yes, “progressivism” is duckspeak for “liberal”, which in the American context is in effect duckspeak for some iteration of “Marxist” and Marxism has dominated education for decades.
      So if the guy dares to be in his heart of hearts something other than a crypto-Marxist liblefty, or even has tendencies but is actually devoted to being a good education administrator…
      Sounds like from the quote he was engaged in an heroic struggle to protect hard working front line teachers and preserve some kind of standards…
      Believe me, other than Bon maybe, NOBODY is more cynical regarding ejucayshun than I, but…
      There are a few trying to fight the rot.

      • Sick of it

        Preserving standards through a moratorium on standardized tests? That’s certainly one way to make blacks appear to be our equals…on paper. Of course, many of the tests out today are garbage and need to be replaced with something real. I’ll always grant that. The GRE, for instance, is a complete joke.

        • propagandaoftruth

          I love standardized tests, but here’s the rub…

          1. We cannot use standardized tests to educate for standardized tests and consider that education.

          2. Standardized tests will NEVER end the achievement gap.

          3. The achievement gap is all that standardized tests measure worth worrying about.

          4. The standardized tests consistently point out the achievement gap.

          No amount of preparation for standardized tests has ever consistently or appreciably lowered the achievement gap. Only cooking the books.

          5. Standardized test results can be cooked, but only so much.

          Practice for standardized tests ultimately results in bored to death bright students and bored to death stupid students and never fixes the achievement gap. Oh yeah, and bored to death average students too.

          Basically nothing can ever get rid of the achievement gap short of genocide. Slow style…education style…

          Understand limitations and understand the futility of this parasite we call education. Standardized tests…pfff.

          • LHathaway

            “The achievement gap is all that standardized tests measure worth worrying about”.

            haha, I think you just said the only purpose for standardized tests is to help erase the ‘achievement gap’. It has probably come to that, actually, hasn’t it?

      • LHathaway

        MR. DB Cooper, I’m sorry to say, has a better take on this one. This guy Starr is the chief ‘crypto-marxist’ around (if he is more of a ‘crypto-marxits’ than the other school board members, the previous ones, or his possible replacement, I don’t know, but he is one). You make some good points, though, as you often do.

        • propagandaoftruth

          My realistic expectations of education are very low.

          An intellectually slimy cad who tries to maintain standards and shelter harried frontline teachers sounds about as good as it gets.

          DB’s a good old boy. I’ve been feeling ornery today. He probably understands.

    • TruthBeTold

      He reminds me of SCTVs’ Nathan Thurm.

      Or the real world Jonathan Gruber.

  • Two words: Purple Line.

    If it comes to be, then all bets are off for that county’s public schools until the end of time.

    • me

      One word: SEGREGATION.

  • dd121

    This is really what’s wrong with “no child left behind”. You can’t dictate this and then fire people when the goals aren’t met. The blacks aren’t “left behind”; they ARE behind and no government edict is going to magically erase the 15-20 point IQ gap with whites.

    • me

      Soon, there’ll be mandatory lobotomies for all White and Asian school children in the name of ‘egalitarian’, socialist ideals, to make the Negro children ‘equal’.

  • Ed

    Kind of stunned the WaPo editorial board would admit that closing the achievement gap is practically impossible let alone something one man could do. Maybe there is hope yet.

    • LIBERTYSINCURSION

      I thought the Wa-Post said that Barry Obama was gonna close the racial “ejumakashin” gap in not just a single bound, but he would even do it faster than a speeding bullet as well, you know, during that 2008 election cycle? In fact, I believe they declared that Barry Barrack Hussein Obama Soetorro was the long awaited “Superman” who had come to save the day? Not only that but that he was also going to order God himself to lower the d#%m sea levels NOW!, and instantaneously end all racial strife the world over! How? Simple! By merely stepping his black foot into the White house, and as sure as a brown foot will illegally cross our borders entirely unchallenged 68 times every other second. That’s just what happened, and it all worked out just swell too.

    • LHathaway

      The writer is just trying to get out in front of race realists . . . It did sound like ‘race-realism’ at the end, didn’t it? Perhaps that is why AmRen ‘snipped’ the article there, ending it.

  • bubo

    Need to make white kids dumber somehow. That’s the only way to close the gap.

    • LexiconD1

      Most schools already do this, by gearing the curriculum to the dumbest kids in the class. If your kid is the smart one, your kid is the one who loses.

  • JohnEngelman

    they don’t think [Joshua P. Starr] has articulated a clear enough vision about how to close the achievement gap between white and minority students.

    – Valerie Strauss, Washington Post, January 30, 2015

    Jushua P. Starr should say, “As soon as my critics can show me a public school superintendent who has closed the achievement gap in his school system, I will study what that public school superintendent did, and use those sucessful policies in Montgomery County.”

  • BlueSonicStreak

    Well, the achievement gap is obviously the fault of educators. After all, according to my anthro instructor, there are NO reputable studies of any kind that suggest any sort of intellectual gap between races. Zero, zip, zilch.

    We were tested on that fact today, so it is fresh in my mind.

    • Sick of it

      I have a hard time believing that guy is qualified to teach your class.

      • BlueSonicStreak

        To be honest, I have a hard time knowing how to respond to a flat, “there are NO reputable studies,” stated as fact. I guess if you automatically rule out any studies that say otherwise as not reputable…

        I wrote in a question about this on our quiz, so I will have to wait until we get them back to see if he wrote me an answer. I’d rather talk about it with him than get the mark, really. I want to know why he’s so confident about this.

        • me

          Or, you could ask your idiot, lying ‘professor’ if you can get your money back, since he’s a pos propagandist with a political agenda. He IS a big part of the problem.

  • JohnEngelman

    Montgomery County is one of the richest counties in the United States. What is infuriating about this nonsense is that the upper middle class white liberals who are ruining what used to be an excellent public school system send their children to all white private schools.

    • evilsandmich

      70 percent of whom don’t speak English at home

      Whatever they’re doing down there is disgusting…

  • JohnEngelman

    The failure of No Child Left Behind should have made it clear that “the achievement gap between white and minority students” is due to genetic differences. It cannot be closed.

  • Who Me?

    Schools where black children could learn from teachers that look like them, along with all the other students who also look like them, would help them immeasurably–of course, providing this perfect environment for them would mean that all the white children would be deprived of the black children’s vibrant, enriching diversity, but sometimes you gotta lose something to gain something.

    • TomIron361

      Didn’t we try that once and it worked very well?

    • ejXinMI

      Got my vote. We need to get some of those wily Super Bowl advertisers to create a snappy, and delicious campaign so the population will accept it.

  • Luca

    Next on the agenda, let’s examine differences in impulse control, violence and discipline inequities. I’m sure there must be a way to close these gaps too.

  • Pelayo

    County
    residents White people pay hundreds of millions of dollars in property taxes to help fund the public school system.

    Fixed

  • LIBERTYSINCURSION

    “One is that they don’t think he has articulated a clear enough vision about how to close the achievement gap between white and minority students.” – A few simple corrections < the spontaneous outbreaks of honesty kind of correction ) of such a narrative defining sentences exposes the lie. (( Edit// – "One is that they don’t think he has articulated a clear enough vision about how to close the achievement gap between whites and Asians, and some of the other minority students." )) Narrative collapse! It's that easy, which is exactly why you won't see it anywhere near the main stream mediocracy!

    • LHathaway

      The writer Did explain how Mr. Starr will reduce the achievement gap: reduce (if not eliminate) testing and also by “addressing the social and emotional needs of children”. He wants to reduce the gap by reducing testing and addressing student’s social and emotional needs, and not by actually expecting them to learn.

  • Maximo Partagas

    No child left behind needs to be renamed, “we will not let whites achieve unless negroes do”.

    • Raymond Kidwell

      No child left behind increases achievement gaps and has been mostly scrapped and on the way out. What they do is grade a school based on its test scores and other measures, then withhold funding if the scores are low. So an inner city black school will have low scores. That means less funding, which means lower scores etc. Good teachers don’t want to work in low achieving schools, because for one they get bad marks for the poor performance of their students.

  • MBlanc46

    “The notion that any superintendent can “close the achievement gap”
    without help from health and counseling professionals outside the system
    and appropriate social policy is something of a fantasy, which,
    unfortunately, is one shared by many school reformers around the country
    today.”

    The notion that any superintendent, short of cheating, can close the racial achievement gap is a fantasy. The notion that anyone else can close it is a fantasy. Low IQ students are going to perform like low IQ students whoever the superintendent, whatever the circumstances. We might actually improve our educational system if we’d ever acknowledge that fact.

  • RacialRay

    Despite paying absurdly high property taxes here on Long Island, half of which goes to the local public schools, we took the extra precaution of putting our children through private schools, instead. There was no push for social justice for the “disadvantaged” and no achievement gap to be artificially conquered. A simple, broad-based intelligence test to gain admission and formidable tuition cost kept all but the best of the best out of their high school.

    Not coincidentally, the student body was, and remains, blindingly white, and there is still a waiting list twice the size of current enrollment at my sons’ alma mater. Opting out of public school education for my children was the best [email protected] investment I ever made.

  • ncpride

    Blah, blah, blah. This reminds me of the former Superintendent of Char-Meck schools in NC that lasted all of what…two years? With black run Charlotte, I knew it was only a matter of time before that White man would bail. I just know he left there a race realist, and if he didn’t, he’ll never learn. Just wish for once, ANY of them would tell the stone cold truth about the ‘achievement gap’.

  • Steve_in_Vermont

    Short answer. The public is looking at being someone in who will solve all their problems, making it unnecessary for them to get involved. Think Obama and “Change we can believe in”. How’s that working?

  • libertarian1234

    There will always be a black achievement gap between blacks and all other races until the leftist social engineers dumb down the curriculum to the black level, which amounts to about the 7th grade for high school grads.

    Coming up with gimmicks like: No child left behind; school choice; charter schools; and common core just haven’t worked.

    But I’m still waiting for somebody to point out the achievement gap between blacks and Middle Easterners, Hispanics, Indians…American and Asian…..S.E. Asians and N.E. Asians.

    When will they address that problem? And why have they refused to address it up to this point?

  • WR_the_realist

    The notion that any superintendent can “close the achievement gap”
    without help from health and counseling professionals outside the system
    and appropriate social policy is something of a fantasy, which,
    unfortunately, is one shared by many school reformers around the country
    today.

    The notion that any superintendent can “close the achievement gap” without a long term program in eugenics is something of a fantasy, which, unfortunately, is one shared by the Washington Post and every other part of the mainstream media today.

  • Speedy Steve

    I think Joshua Starr’s real surname is Stern. But that aside, he had a thankless task and was doomed to failure by genetics. Even with a zillion doller budget, he stood a snowflake’s chance in hell of making the campesinos of Gaithersburg and Kensington, along with the Section 8 bastards, into college material. Sadly, he’s not honest enough to stand before the microphone and cameras and say, “very few minorities are capable of being educated beyond the 5th grade. Their parents should buy them lawn maintenance tools for Christmas.”

  • Speedy Steve

    So, we’re not likely to see Latin and Greek being taught to 11 year-olds like they did in England 50 years ago. Besides that we were using applied trigonometry at age 13.

    • BlueSonicStreak

      Which is a tremendous and lamentable loss for basic language skills.

      When my family looked at homeschooling, the general opinion of the homeschooling community on how to build a curriculum was basically, “throw out anything educators have come up with since the early 60s.”

  • SFLBIB

    The notion that any superintendent can “close the achievement gap”
    without help from a good hickory switch and parents who value education is something of a fantasy.

    • Even then, we can have all the good hickory switches and education-valuing parents we want. An 80 IQ is still an 80 IQ.

      I do agree very much that the superintendent of a public school district is largely irrelevant, unless he or she is an exceptionally horrible one. For instance, I couldn’t tell you offhand the name of the superintendent of the nice white comfy suburban St. Louis public school district where I live to save my life.

      But it is only in urban NAM areas where there are these lofty impossible expectations on public school district superintendents. In reality, just as the sid of white suburban public school districts don’t matter, those of urban NAM districts don’t matter either. The biggest factor by far in what will make a good district good and a bad district bad is racial composition and student IQ averages and SDs.

      Corollary to that, there is this mentality that the constant turnover in sids in large urban NAM districts is somehow a detriment, that that somehow creates “instability” that makes students unable to learn. And (sarcasm on) of course I have personal experience in that regard. When I was in the second grade, every day, I fretted that I’d be able to learn the multiplication tables that day because of who the superintendent was or was not or that there would be a change in that office that day. (sarc off)