Turn Back the Wheel---It Takes Ganas, Ch 9

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Chapter 9 of It Takes Ganas: Jaime Escalante's Secret to Inspired Learning

In any other field, practices as successful as Escalante's would be universally praised and widely copied. Retailers or architects or hairdressers or surgeons getting wind of such incredible results from their colleagues or competitors would do all they could to deliver them to their own clients. Instead, Escalante was driven from his job and his celebrated methods summarily supplanted with the old status quo, which had proven itself a complete failure. When questioned about the decision to discard Escalante's methods, the new school principal declared that her system was fine: "We don't need any help." This unfathomable fiction resisted effective challenge from students, parents, and the school administration. Garfield High dismantled a spectacular and historic program and replaced it with a dud.

Can other teachers in other schools achieve Escalante's results? If they can, why don't they? Given the top-down control, testing obsession, and societal difficulties that so undermine today's public schools, where is the pathway forward to a system that is effective, fair, and cost-efficient? One that students, parents, educators, and policymakers all agree does the job right and does it well?

The solution isn't money. Since the beginning of the Great Society programs of the 1960s, America has spent more than a trillion dollars on K-12 education. If money were the answer, the problem would have been solved. Only Switzerland, Norway, and Austria spend more money per student than the U.S., and many countries spend far less and get far better results. Nor is the answer top-down control and policy management. All the political and administrative tinkering over the past three decades has done far more harm than good. A look back at Jaime Escalante's methods reveal a set of simple tools and techniques. Can any teacher be an Escalante? Can any educator or school replicate his results by adapting his practices?

To answer those questions we can start by recognizing that everything Escalante did, any teacher can do. When we look at what is working in education today – at schools that deliver the results students and parents are clamoring desperately for – Escalante's methods are front and center. There are variations, of course, depending on the many variables that differ from one school or classroom to another, but the essence of the Escalante way is the core around which everything else is built. The only non-negotiable requirement is ganas.

One of the roadblocks against widespread adoption of Escalante's methods is that despite their demonstrated success, they are not popular in the world of professional educators. As Mary Poplin of Claremont Graduate University observes, "Escalante's methods are not rocket science, so they are reproducible. His personality may not be, but anyone with his vision and passion for what students could become could implement his work within the context of their own personality."

"Nevertheless his methods are not reproduced because his pedagogy – direct, guided instruction or what we may call traditional education – is unpopular. The academically respected and trendy methods, dominant for about thirty years, are radical constructivism and critical theory. These encourage teaching practices such as 'inquiry based methods' which use a good deal of hands-on activities, cooperative learning, experimentation, and dialogue."[1]

Despite the academic preference for more progressive teaching styles, direct instruction, Poplin says, has "been shown in research over and over to be more successful in increasing achievement, particularly for students who come to school with less background knowledge (students of parents who are not college educated, students of color and students who live in poverty)."

Poplin supports the position advanced in "The Lost Tools of Learning,"[2] a 1947 essay by Oxford scholar Dorothy Leigh Sayers. In that essay, Sayers championed teaching students how to solve problems rather than filling them with rote facts. Problem solving, she believed, was a skill that would serve them well all their lives, while mere information was of little use in the short term and likely to be of no use at all in the long term. As timely as this debate is, it has been going on before most of today's students' grandparents were born.

"If we are to produce a society of educated people," Sayers wrote, "fitted to preserve their intellectual freedom amid the complex pressures of our modern society, we must turn back the wheel ... to the point at which education began to lose sight of its true object." The ultimate objective, she believes, is learning how to learn:

"Do you ever find that young people, when they have left school, not only forget most of what they have learnt (that is only to be expected), but forget also, or betray that they have never really known, how to tackle a new subject for themselves?"

Sayers and Escalante could scarcely have been two more different people. Sayers was a woman Oxford graduate (a rare bird in the early 1900s), a writer of crime fiction, a translator of Dante's Divine Comedy, and an essayist. Escalante was a down-to-earth immigrant, a former short-order cook, self-taught in English, and a math teacher. Yet they both saw the essential value of consistent standards, high expectations, and a focus on problem solving.

Poplin notes, "Escalante was working in a system that, with the exception of his principal, Henry Gradillas, did not value his insights, his methods, or his virtue of hard work for himself and his students."

Proof of the power, validity, and continuing appeal of Escalante's methods is that innovative, maverick educators keep developing alternatives to failed public school programs using some version of the Escalante template, and students and parents keep flocking to them and away from the status quo in ever greater numbers. These trailblazers are not necessarily copying Escalante directly, but whether they know of his work or not, they arrive at the same remedies he used. What worked for him works everywhere. Much of it, as Sayers wrote, is a simple matter of turning back the wheel.

Whole Language

An instructive example of moving ahead by turning back comes from California's disastrous experiment with whole language teaching. Traditional direct instruction, like Escalante and his contemporaries used and Mary Poplin champions, is the time-tested method of teachers passing along knowledge by lecture, demonstration, and direct engagement. Whole language, its advocates claimed, lets children absorb knowledge in a more natural and "humane" way, giving them more control. It also de-emphasized spelling and grammar on the grounds that children should have the creativity to come up with their own solutions. It also supposedly helped level the playing field for poor students and those with limited English.

California adopted whole language instruction in 1987. Young children were encouraged to discover phonics, spelling, and grammar on their own. But by 1999 fewer than 40 percent of fourth graders were reading at grade level, with minority students fairing even worse. As one analysis put it, "Instead of being taught to read, they are encouraged to discover reading. It doesn't work ... many people believe that a whole generation of youngsters has been lost in one of the most disastrous educational experiments on record."[3]

Even in the face of overwhelming evidence of failure, some educational researchers and policymakers continued to defend whole language instruction. This is the same blinkered institutional mindset that Escalante and his supporters faced when naysayers, seeing irrefutable proof that the low standards and expectations replacing Escalante's program got inferior results, insisted, "We don't need any help."

As Chico Marx, when caught with his hand in the cookie jar, put it in the film Duck Soup: "Who you gonna believe? Me or your own eyes?" Our eyes tell us that whole language instruction is a fraud and that traditional approaches to literacy work far better. And yet, the thrall of ideology can cause us to disregard what should be blazingly obvious for all to see. Thus Kenneth Goodman, a language professor at the University of Arizona and one of the founders of the whole language movement, calls criticism of the method "part of a whole attempt to privatize education in the name of phonics," a scheme by cultural conservatives to discredit public education and ramp up support for private school vouchers.[4]

Goodman is not alone in heedlessly supporting whole language instruction. Jerome C. Harste, professor of language education at Indiana University, vowed, "They're not scaring me into going back into direct teaching." Stephen Krashen, professor emeritus of education at USC, believes that lack of access to books in California schools had more to do with poor reading skills than whole language instruction.[5] Others have condemned phonics as a way to sneak the Bible back into public education. One of the founders of PERT, Parents for Education Reform Today, was accused of being a tool of the religious right. Ironically, she is a Jewish Democrat who founded the group because she saw children who did not know how to sound out words. Some teachers smuggled in their own phonics lessons out of desperation.[6]

Thousands of teachers across the country shared the experience of Ann Edwards, a 20-year veteran first grade teacher in California. For years her phonics lessons produced a class that was "excited, happy and engaged in discovery," she recalled. "Now my students are disaffected and unhappy ... with whole language you invite the child to learn to read. You don't give them any rules, you don't give them any guidelines. The students are in charge and, frankly, the students should not be in charge."[7]

Decades earlier, President Johnson's Project Follow Through spent $500 million to learn the most effective teaching method for disadvantaged students. It found that direct instruction was "the only method that even came close to elevating poor readers to the fiftieth percentile in achievement. Child-centered approaches that diminish the teacher's role in the classroom and reject the teaching of basic skills finished in the basement."[8]

California abandoned whole language and returned to phonics in 1999. Marion Joseph helped start the drive back to phonics when she realized her granddaughter couldn't sound out words. As a former member of the California State Board of Education, she declared, "Having been the nation's leader in the giant experiment into untested theoretical learning, it is now our obligation to climb out of the hole and have instructional programs based on real scientific evidence. And the evidence is that phonics works ... I'm one of the most liberal individuals around and this is not about a political ideology. It is about teaching children to read."

Changing to whole language required a fortune in teacher training and textbooks. At the time California, spent $2.6 billion a year on textbooks. Changing back required another fortune, with consultants charging up to $1,000 a day to retrain teachers.[9]

Achievement Despite Circumstances


Escalante's principles succeed in every place and time wherever a teacher is willing to uphold them. One educator who quietly and humbly applied these principles to students the system had passed over was Marva Collins. Born into the segregated culture of Alabama in the 1930s, Collins moved to Chicago in 1959 to work as a substitute teacher in inner-city schools. In 1975 she spent part of her retirement savings to start Westside Preparatory School. Her goal was to teach black children that the school system considered learning disabled. Her curriculum and approach followed the principles that Dorothy Sayers endorsed and that Jaime Escalante practiced in his classroom every day: a logical question-and-answer format with high and consistent standards for everyone. She charged $5,500 a year for tuition when Chicago public schools were spending $11,300 per pupil. President Ronald Reagan cited her achievements, and she was awarded the National Humanities Medal.[10]

Another educator who moved ahead by turning back the wheel is the late Thaddeus Lott (who sadly died as this book was in preparation). He transformed schools in Houston's poor Acres Homes neighborhood where he was born and lived. When Lott arrived as principal at Mabel B. Wesley Elementary in 1975, only 18 percent of third graders scored at grade level in reading on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills. Five years later, 85 percent were at grade level. In 1996 100 percent passed the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS), compared with a state average of fewer than 70 percent. The school had expected mediocrity from their poor minority students and that is what they had produced. Lott had other expectations.

Policy Review's 1998 feature on Thaddeus Lott's success was titled, "No Excuses":

"To achieve this astounding turnaround, Lott eschewed popular nostrums – computers, school-to-work initiatives, parental involvement – for the basics: a proven curriculum, rigorous teacher training, strict discipline, high expectations of teachers and students, and a fervent belief that any child can learn."

"'It's a myth,' says Lott, 'that if you're born in a poor community and your skin is a certain color that you can't achieve on a higher level.'"

Given his outstanding results at Wesley, Lott was invited by the Houston school district to manage his own mini-system of four charter schools, three elementary and one middle school. His first step was to create an environment that encouraged learning: clean classrooms and halls with cheerful colors, "a staff of professionals who treat students with respect, and students who understand what type of behavior is expected of them." In many cases this meant wholesale replacement of teachers and other staff members, which his contract allowed him to do.

He introduced the Direct Instructional System for Teaching and Remediation (DISTAR) in place of the whole language approach, even though it was not approved by the state, and non-charter schools had to buy it with precious discretionary funds. This curriculum was made up of "structured drills and sequential lessons, each building on the last," with a reading program based on phonics. In violation of state standards – which he could do only as a charter school – he brought lower-level elementary textbooks to his M.C. Williams Middle School when students from other elementary districts could not do grade-appropriate work. (Lott's local students were snapped up by magnet and private schools looking for high-achieving minority children, treating Wesley as a feeder for their programs.) Also, like Henry Gradillas at Garfield High, Lott found that achievement builds self-esteem, not the other way around.

He imposed a strict behavior code requiring students to walk single file, with no fighting or class disruptions allowed. Said Lott, "We can't let one or two students disrupt the educational experience." Rod Paige, Lott's boss as superintendent of Houston schools, concludes, "If I had to choose any single foundation of his success, it is his intense desire to cause children to learn." Escalante would be pleased.[11]

In 2011 Mary Poplin led a team that studied 31 highly effective teachers in "the most economically depressed neighborhoods in Los Angeles County."[12] Teacher effectiveness was based on student scores on the California Standards Test for two or more years. This group of 31 saw 51 percent of their students move up a level, 34 percent maintain their level, and 15 percent drop a level. Teachers were male and female, black, white, Latino, Asian-American, and Middle Eastern-American. Their ages ranged from 27 to 60; their years of experience from three to 33. What did these great teachers, seemingly so varied as a group, have in common that made them great?

The first characteristic they shared was strictness. Teachers and students both knew it was strictness for a reason. One student wrote, "I think Mrs. E. is such an effective teacher because of her discipline. People might think she is mean, but she is really not. She is strict. There is a difference. She believes every student can learn."

The study continued, "Teachers didn't use the students' backgrounds as an excuse for not learning, and yet they were not naïve about the challenges facing some students ... These teachers neither taught to the tests or ignored them; tests were simply another resource."

The study defined six common elements these teachers all shared. The list has a familiar ring:

Where will teachers like this find a warm welcome and encouragement to practice their proven skills? One place they're likely to be received with open arms is charter schools.

Charter Schools

Charter schools loom large in the contemporary history of education. They have developed and prospered by offering parents and students the choice of traditional, consistent, high standards in the Escalante mold over the lax and failing alternative offered by many public schools. If the ranks of public schools had been populated by thousands of Escalantes, it is possible that the charter school movement would never have launched – because it would not have been necessary. Parents and students desperate for a quality education created the demand for charter schools; enterprising educators have gone to work to satisfy that demand.

Charter networks tout high, consistent standards for academics and behavior, support from administrators, lots of time for learning, individual attention, and local control and flexibility. They also typically include music and other arts, foreign language, and other life-enriching subjects that so many public districts have jettisoned in the quest for higher test scores. Escalante circumvented bureaucratic rules he thought got in the way of learning. In choosing charter schools, parents and students attempt to bypass counter-productive rules so that effective learning can take place.

Today there are over 6,000 charter schools serving over 2.5 million young people, about five percent of all public school students in America. An even more telling testament to their popularity is that more than half a million students are currently on charter school waiting lists. One of the highest profile charter networks in the country is KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program)[13], which began with classes in a single Houston school in 1994 and now enrolls nearly 70,000 students in 183 schools from coast to coast.

KIPP stresses core principles, known as the Five Pillars, as well as standards of excellence. These are all classic Escalante: high expectations, no excuses, a safe and disciplined learning environment, a commitment from parents and teachers to excellence, extra time for academic studies, local control, and a premium on results. According to KIPP, although 95 percent of their students are minority and 87 percent are low-income system wide, 44 percent of KIPP graduates have completed a four-year college degree within ten years of finishing the eighth grade; the national average for low-income students is 9 percent.

Success Academies[14] was founded in New York by Eva Moskowitz, a former city councilwoman. She lost a bid for Manhattan borough president in part because the United Federation of Teachers was angry over hearings she held to question work rules embedded in the union contract. Her objective was to give poor and minority students the same college opportunities as children whose parents could afford tutors and private school.

Long days, strict discipline, and parental commitment are key requirements at Success Academies. Kids get candy for correct answers, and can win Nerf guns and board games for high test scores. As a result the students, who are overwhelmingly low-income and minority, ranked in the top 1 percent in math and the top 3 percent in English language arts Common Core tests in New York State. Demand is high for places in Success Academies' thirty-two schools. In 2015 the company took in 22,000 applications for 2,668 openings. As with all charter schools, any student who lives in the district can attend. If there are more applicants than places, the vacancies are filled by lottery.

One attraction for administrators is that the company handles a lot of the paperwork that inundates public schools. "Because so many administrative functions at Success are handled by the organization, principals have a lot of time to observe teachers."

Despite its track record, Success Academies has remained controversial. A New York Times feature described a system "driven by the relentless pursuit of better results, one that can be exhilarating for teachers and students who keep up with its demands and agonizing for those who do not." For those who fall short, there's "effort academy," described as "part detention, part study hall."

Stringent rules of behavior lead to high suspension rates. Success Academy Harlem 1 and Public School 149 share the same building, yet 23 percent of Success students were suspended for at least a day in 2014 compared with three percent of public school students. Moskowitz explained, "Often the suspensions are really to get the parents and the school to be on the same team, that there's a serious issue. If we don't intervene when they're 13, that's going to be a bigger problem."

Moskowitz, like Escalante, Lott, and other successful educators, is confident that student performance and satisfaction depend on reaching high goals, not being coddled with low standards and expectations. "We believe self-esteem comes from mastery," she says.

Alternatives that Lead to a Quality Education

While charter schools are growing in popularity and influence as a way to improve American schools, alternatives exist that display refreshingly unorthodox thinking. Jacqueline Edelberg is a former political science professor who was dissatisfied with the elementary school choices she had in the Lake View neighborhood of Chicago. When she and a friend visited Nettlehorst Elementary[15], the principal, Susan Kurland, asked them what it would take to get them to send their kids there. The two moms returned with a five-page list; they and the principal immediately got to work.

Kurland and a core group of eight mothers removed signs about loitering and trespassing, put up posters, renovated the library with donated materials, and persuaded a muralist to paint one of the hallways. As Edleberg says, "We changed the climate first. It's hard to be disenfranchised in a climate of care." The women gave baskets of peaches and gift certificates to teachers. Some teachers were grateful while others, resentful of the mothers' intrusions, threw them away.

Working the neighborhood, the mothers lined up afterschool programs in music, dance, martial arts, and other enrichment activities. As parental involvement increased, poorly performing teachers left the school. The first year, 300 families came to an open house and 78 signed up for tuition-based preschool. Transforming the school's atmosphere and standards, Nettlehorst raised its profile in the community. In sum, significant positive educational outcomes resulted because dedicated and determined parents refused to settle for the status quo, and a perceptive principal was willing to listen and help.

At the same time that parents and students are chasing after a quality education, some policymakers were making efforts to turn back the wheel themselves. Senator Lamar Alexander (R, Tenn.), former Secretary of Education, endorsed a plan to address some of the problems of No Child Left Behind in 2013. "By removing many of the federal, state and union rules and constraints placed on traditional public schools, charter schools liberate teachers and principals to use their own good judgment to help children learn what they need to know," he said. "I would think teachers would be knocking the door down to teach at charter schools, because the whole point is the magic word good educators always want; autonomy."

The next year he supported a bill to "invest more federal funds in the replication and expansion of high-quality charter schools with a proven record of success, while still giving states the flexibility to invest in innovative new models." Among other advantages, he noted that charter school are "stripped of many federal, state and union rules and constraints placed on traditional public schools" and "make almost a year-and-a-half's worth of progress in a single school year" because there are more hours of instruction.[16]

In December 2015, Congress replaced NCLB with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Though it retains standardized testing requirements, ESSA returns authority and accountability for educational progress back to the states. This is the first time since the 1960s that control of education has moved away from the federal bureaucracy. As the new legislation is implemented, its supporters believe it will improve educational opportunities and results in public schools by diminishing the top-down process that has removed decision making ever farther from the classroom. ESSA may eventually prove to be a turning point in the revival of American public education.

In the meantime, if we can list the characteristics that dramatically increase the likelihood that children will get an excellent education – and we can – what is stopping us from putting in place even more of the people and systems with those characteristics? The sheer size and complexity of the educational apparatus in America makes it hard to imagine changing it fully. From a distance, it looks like a massive monolith that operates above and beyond the power of any one person to fathom. Its implied message is that it is unchanging and all-powerful, much as the sci-fi movie monsters from the 1950s: "Your weapons cannot harm me; I cannot be defeated!"

But looking closer, that monolith is made up of thousands of school districts controlled by local school boards. In many cases those school boards are elected. By supporting visionary and energetic board members, by voting for better people when they come along – or by serving on the school board yourself – you have access to one of the most important levers of educational influence. Within the districts are the schools themselves with their principals, assistant principals, counselors, and teachers. Most schools have a Parent-Teacher Association staffed with volunteer parents and community members. PTA participants are in a position to guide or influence what goes on in the classroom.

Since the trend in American education has been increasingly top-down, the advocates of good education have to address the top of the chain as well. Important here is the ballot box. Bureaucrats exercise considerable control over education policy, but bureaucrats are ultimately beholden to elected officials, and voters vote for these officials. Not that change at the top is easy – inertia, bureaucratic red tape, and special interests have significantly undercut grassroots efforts at top-level change. But parents and educators need to use what power they have to change the government's approach to education. The big challenge is finding out where in the labyrinth of government a particular policy is spawned and protected, and how to go about ferreting it out and dismantling it.

Turning back the wheel always means putting teachers back in charge. In every age, effective education has depended on effective teachers. While we can't copy Jaime Escalante's ebullient personality – which wouldn't work in every situation anyway – we can replicate his methods. His methods are not rocket science; they're common sense. But they take dedication and intelligence and a passion for the teaching craft. Too many high-caliber people are attracted to other fields besides teaching because of better pay and better treatment. One key ingredient for reproducing Escalante's success is making it easier for top people to choose teaching as a career.

The National Football League and Major League Baseball spend millions every year recruiting top players. They follow promising recruits, sometimes even before they enter high school, identifying high achievers, offering special training, bidding for their services, and paying them well. A good teacher is at least as important as a good running back. The basics of supply and demand mean no teacher will ever earn an NFL salary.

But American education could take a valuable lesson from pro sports. Set up an organization to scout for promising teacher prospects and field inquiries from people interested in teaching. Nurture them, encourage them to follow a teaching track, help them with tuition in exchange for the chance to work it off later in the classroom. Set them up with mentors, pay them like the professionals they are, reward them for excellent performance and time in service, ease them out with dignity if they fail. Pay for it all with some of the hundreds of millions currently misspent on high-stakes testing. Instead of spending to assess teaching outcomes, spend to improve actual teaching.

In 1979, Finland moved teacher preparation training out of teachers' colleges and into universities. Teacher training programs recruit from the top quarter of high school graduating classes; those who earn a master's degree in teaching are typically in the top 10 percent. All teachers complete a three-year master's program funded entirely by the government. According to a 2013 report in The Guardian, "Finnish teachers' starting salaries are lower than in the US, but high-school teachers with 15 years' experience make 102% of what other [Finnish] college graduates make. In the US, that figure is 62%." Yet overall Finland spends 30 percent less per pupil than the United States on education.[17]

A New York Times editorial later the same year quoted a report by the National Council on Teacher Quality, which found that American teacher training programs were by comparison "an industry of mediocrity." The report rated only 10 percent of more than 1,200 programs as high quality, adding, "Most have low or no academic standards for entry."[18]

While Finland spends less on education, it also has no national standardized tests and children are allowed to play for fifteen minutes out of every hour of the school day. Pupils don't start school until age seven. They all study music and at least two foreign languages. In the Programme for International Student Assessment, a standardized test given to 15-year-old students in forty countries around the world, Finnish students consistently score at or near the top. On the 2015 test, Finland came in sixth in reading and twelfth in math. The US was twenty-fourth and thirty-sixth respectively. Norway, a country demographically similar to Finland but whose education policy is closer to the US model, ranked twenty-second and thirtieth.[19]

Finnish educator Pasi Sahlberg is a scholar, Harvard visiting professor, and author of the bestseller Finnish Lessons 2.0: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland? Finnish journalist Anu Partanen wrote of her countryman, "For Sahlberg what matters is that in Finland all teachers and administrators are given prestige, decent pay, and a lot of responsibility ... There are no lists of best schools or best teachers in Finland. The main driver of education policy is not competition between teachers and between schools, but cooperation."[20]

It is essential for American public educators to fill their ranks with the best teachers applying the best practices. Otherwise, students and parents will keep heading for the exits in ever increasing numbers. As Mary Poplin reminds us of teachers like Escalante, "Sometimes the stars make the rest of us look bad, and that's hard to take. But if we are smart, we will follow their lead."[21] Ann Davis, principal of Thaddeus Lott's Osborne Elementary, puts it more plainly. "I'm in the education business. If I'm not doing my job, I need to be put out of business."[22]

SOURCE NOTES

1. Mary Poplin quotations from author interview (3/16/15)
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2. "The Lost Tools of Learning" by Dorothy Leigh Sayers at gbt.org/text/sayers.html
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3. Quotation criticizing whole language instruction from "Whole Language, Half an Education?" by Gayle M.B. Hanson, Insight, February 8, 1999
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4. Kenneth Goodman quotation from "ABCeething: How Whole Language Became a Hot Potato In and Out of Academia" by Christina Duff, The Wall Street Journal, October 30, 1996
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5. Stephen Krashen reference (op.cit.)
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6. PERT founder reference from Duff (op.cit.)
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7. Ann Edwards quotations from Hanson (op.cit.)
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8. Project Follow Through reference from "No excuses" by Tyce Palmaffy, Policy Review Jan/Feb 1998
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9.Marion Joseph quotation and cost figures for California textbooks and consultants from "The California story: A very costly lesson" by Howard Libit and Mike Bowler, Baltimore Sun, November 3, 1997
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10. Information about Marva Collins from "Marva Collins, Educator Who Aimed High for Poor, Black Students, Dies at 78" by Sam Roberts, The New York Times, June 28, 2015
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11. Information about and quotations by Thaddeus Lott from Palmaffy (op.cit.);see also "Sounds Bad, But It Works" by William Raspberry, The Washington Post, March 30, 1998
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12. Study of highly effective teachers by Mary Poplin from "She's Strict for a Reason ... " by Mary Poplin et.al., Phi Delta Kappan, v92 n5 February 2011
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13. Information on KIPP at kipp.org
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14. Information on Success Academies and Eva Moskowitz from "At Success Academy Charter Schools, Polarizing Methods and Superior Results" by Kate Taylor, The New York Times, April 6, 2015
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15. Information about Nettlehorst Elementary from "Nettlehorst Elementary School's Remarkable Turnaround" by Beth Wilson, Chicago Magazine, January 10, 2011
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16. Quotations from Sen. Lamar Alexander at alexander.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/ followed by keywords
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17. Information on Finland from "Finland has an education system the US should envy – and learn from" by Linda Moore, The Guardian, February 15, 2013; see also "What we can learn from Finland's successful school reform" by Linda Darling-Hammond, NEA Today, October/November 2010
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18. Quotations about teacher mediocrity from "Why Other Countries Teach Better," The New York Times, December 17, 2013
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19. 2015 PISA results from "Pisa tests: Top 40 for math and reading" BBC News, March 25, 2015
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20. Pasi Sahlberg quotations and commentary from "What Americans Keep Ignoring About Finland's School Success" by Anu Partanen, The Atlantic, December 29, 2011
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21. Mary Poplin quotation from author interview (3/16/15)
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22. Ann Davis quotation from Palmaffy (op.cit.)
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