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New Reformer Group Created for Ed School Deans

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Benjamin Riley, formerly of the NewSchools Venture Fund (which invests in charter schools and other “reform” ideas) has put together a group called Deans for Impact. This group will advocate for data-based decisions, perhaps including test-based evaluation of teachers (VAM).


Here is the group’s website.


Paul Thomas comments on this group in this post. These deans, he says, are announcing that they want to ruin their own field with data, data, data, without waiting for the feds to make them do it.


He writes:


Accountability seems to be a SF [science fiction] plague, spawned in the bowels of government like the root of the zombie apocalypse.

Pick your analogy, but the newest round isn’t really any different than all the rounds before.

The USDOE announces accountability for teacher education, in part using value-added methods drawn from student scores on high-stakes tests.

NEPC [National Education Policy Center] offers an evidence-based review, refuting accountability based on student test scores as a way to reform teacher education.

But in the wake of misguided bureaucracy and policy, possibly the most disturbing part of this pattern of doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results is that educators themselves invariably line up demanding that we be allowed to do that same thing ourselves (including our own continuous complaints about all the bureaucracy with which we gleefully fall in line).


And Thomas adds:


Let’s be clear, instead, that accountability (a lack of or the type of) has never been the problem; thus, accountability is not the solution.


Let’s be clear that while teacher quality and teacher preparation obviously matter, they mostly cannot and do not matter when the teaching and learning conditions in schools prevent effective teaching, when children’s live render them incapable of learning.


Mercedes Schneider also wrote about this new reformer organization. As you might expect, Schneider delves into Riley’s background at NewSchools Venture Fund. She also analyzes the funder of “Deans for Impact.”


She writes:


So now, Riley has started a “venture” using (according to EdWeek) a one-million-dollar grant from the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. Ironically, in 2013, the Schustermans also donated over one million dollars to Teach for America (TFA), whose temp teachers are “trained” in five weeks and who are assumed prepared because, after all, they are “talent.”

In 2013, the Schustermans also supported Stand for Children (SFC) for $2.3 million; the Gates-Walton-Broad-funded NewSchools Venture Fund (NSVF) for $500,000; the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) for $25,000; KIPP charter schools, for over $100,000; Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education (FEE) for $50,000, and Gates-Walton-Broad-funded Education Pioneers (EP) for $500,000. All of these organizations are known for devaluing education via privatization and test-score worship.


And now, thanks to Riley and his Schusterman million, we have deans who are willing to follow a guy who helped draft legislation to create teacher-prep charter schools.


Be careful, O Deans of Impact.


If teacher-prep charter “academies” are somehow worked into your traditional teacher training programs, your programs run the risk of being supplanted by a privatized substitute.


Higher ed charter co-location.


Already, you have agreed to play the test-score-driven, common-metric game easily recognized as a privatization gateway. Too, Riley is advertising that he wants to “remain relatively small,” which makes you sound like an unsuspecting petri dish for a man who wishes his GREAT legislation might find a testing ground.


Perhaps not. Perhaps I am wrong.


But watch out.


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