Thursday, December 31, 2015

Public Education 2015: The Year in Review

The year 2015 was one of exciting developments in the area of K-12 public education in America. Unfortunately, most of the excitement was of the type felt while witnessing a multi-car pile-up on the freeway. Several of the worst crashes are detailed below.

Record-breaking snow fall in New England prompt school officials to order snow shoes for all elementary school pupils so as not to miss a single day of learning, which would render the children unready for career and college.

Turkish Islamic scholar and preacher Fethullah Gülen, CEO of the largest charter school chain in America, contributes $5 million to Ohio congressional candidates, who pledge to support bills to translate the PARCC and Smarter Balance assessment instruments into Farsi so that Gülen charter school teachers can teach to the test.

Basis charter school CEO Michael Block receives a special allocation of $2 million from the Arizona Senate Education Committee to underwrite his lawsuit against the Michael Block management company for having supplied Basis schools with inferior teaching staffs. Block’s legal team, headed by Peter Block, retract their pro bono offer and agree to pursue the case.

Temp agency Teach For America CEO Wendy Kopp answers charges that TFA “teachers” use their 2-year tenure as a “resume builder” by releasing the names of three TFA grads who took positions in charter schools in 2014.

Nationwide Opt Out movement leaves thousands of classrooms empty as students, parents, and teachers take to the streets to protest over-testing. Pearson PLC statisticians promise to “impute scores of missing high school students by applying logistic regression model predictions to the missing students Kindergarten attendance records.”

Billionaire Bill Gates summons 100 big city school superintendents to Redmond, Washington to gauge response to his new small schools project. After declaring the first small schools project an abysmal failure, Gates plans to redouble his commitment to the idea and confer generous grants on those districts who limit high school sizes to 5 students. One hundred superintendents rise as one in grateful praise for Gates’s newest insight.

Scientists at the American Institutes for Research release study that shows that the first two hours of the school day – from 5:30 am to 7:30 am – account for less than 1% of the day’s learning due to students’ somnambulant state. Study recommendations include delaying the start of school until 5:45 am, so as to ensure that high school grads will be college and career ready.

The American Association of University Professors releases the results of a 14-day study that pronounces 99% of America’s high school graduates “not ready for college.” AAUP petitions the federal government to create a special loan program to support all Freshmen while they complete two semesters of remedial courses.

The National Association of Manufacturers issues a statement in response to Common Core supporters that they have “not the faintest idea what skills will be needed by persons entering the workforce of 2025.”

Nothing happened in public education in the month of August as tens of thousands of teachers treated their union thug representatives to cruises on their yachts in the Mediterranean and Caribbean.

All branches of the US military are joined by the NCAA, the American Association of Community Colleges, and the McDonalds Corporation in an announcement that they will no longer accept diplomas granted by K12 Inc and Pearson-owned Connections online academies as evidence of successful completion of high school requirements.

Billionaire Bill Gates summons 100 big city school superintendents to Redmond, Washington to announce his latest reform for the U.S. education system. Value-Added-Measurement (VAM) of administrators will tie superintendents’ salaries to districts’ pretest-posttest standardized test score gains. One hundred superintendents remain silently seated as one.

A special committee of the American Educational Research Association on Value-Added-Measurement (VAM) of teachers issues a report of its two-years’ deliberation that recommends that all tests used to fire teachers be “valid and reliable.” When quizzed by reporters on just how valid and reliable such tests must be, the committee chairperson reports that the members could not agree. Pearson PLC and the American Institutes for Research praise the hard-hitting committee report.

ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson informs the U.S. public school system of their responsibilities: “I’m not sure public schools understand that we’re their customer—that we, the business community, are your customer. What they don’t understand is they are producing a product at the end of that high school graduation…Now is that product in a form that we, the customer, can use it? Or is it defective, and we’re not interested?” Tillerson pledges $3 billion to the Better Business Bureau to conduct a nationwide evaluation of the entire K-12 education system. Charter schools will be exempted since they have proven their worth by having survived in a free market.

President Barak Obama signs the Every Student Succeeds Act into law with its retraction of No Child Left Behind excessive testing requirements. Chastened by the hugely successful Opt Out movement, outgoing Secretary of Education Arne Duncan informs state authorities that if compliance falls below 95% with the ESSA mandated annual assessment that the government will takeover all public schools in the state and turn them into self-storage lockers.

Gene V Glass
Arizona State University
University of Colorado Boulder
National Education Policy Center
San José State University

The opinions expressed here are those of the authors and do not represent the official position of the National Education Policy Center, Arizona State University, University of Colorado Boulder, nor San José State University.


  1. Tillerson clearly reveals how the 0.1% think about the rest of us and that to them we were put here to serve only their interests and that translated to more money and power for them while we can all starve and be loaded down with debt.

  2. Many thanks to Gene for this summary of the ugly private war on public education underway. Parental Opt-Out movement was the best news last year. Let's turn the tables in 2016, put the billionaires and their cronies in govt. on the run, build more Opt-Out, try to bypass the insider teacher union chiefs so that rank-and-file teachers en masse can join the opposition and raise hell before "professional educator" becomes a quaint fossil in a museum.

  3. After reading the statement "Turkish Islamic scholar and preacher Fethullah Gülen, CEO of the largest charter school chain in America ...." this post lost its reliability and truthfulness for me. Gulen is not a CEO of any charter school in the US. I appreciate the efforts to make this review possible but I warn people who read this to be cautious about the accuracy of the information.

    1. Dear Anonymous. It's satire. I guess it fails by not revealing itself as satire. My apologies.

  4. I got useful information from this post.

  5. Parental Opt-Out movement was the best news last year. Let's turn the tables in 2016, put the billionaires and their cronies in govt.Good post.