Thursday, August 13, 2015

Can Kriner Cash Raise Test Scores? -- Why Doesn't Anyone Ask?

After All It's All About Test Scores, Right? 

In characteristic fashion the Buffalo News today features another hagiographic profile in ed reform listing all the things they find swell about Kriner Cash Buffalo's Superintendent of Schools in waiting. Nearby, another article quotes NYSED figurehead MaryAnn Elia saying Buffalo has work to do in improving it's test scores. Standardized Test Scores, according to oafs like Elia and the corporate sponsors of NYSED, are the ultimate expression of learning and the only true measure of George W Bush's timeless question "Is our children learning?" High stakes test scores are the only measure Elia and her ilk are really interested in.

I am loath to connect the dots here friends but it doesn't take proficiency in Common Core Calculus to connect them. The Commissioner of NYSED has postured, flexed and flinched in B-Lo's direction now on several occasions. She's on record with repeated threats that Buffalo better improve or else. And by that she means test scores better go up. She has also recommended her old Florida pal KC for the Superintendent's gig saying he'd be sure to fix the mess we've all made of things here in B-Lo.

If you read the News article today you'll notice right away where these dots are I'm talking about and it shouldn't take a NASA ID tag or a Nobel Prize winner to connect them. One of the shortcomings the News article mentions of Kriner Cash's past employment is described as "inconsistent academic achievement."  Now wait. Doesn't this imply that as a Superintendent in past employment Kriner Cash was not able to deliver the type of solid and sustained improvement NYSED is demanding from "struggling schools?"

Here's the section that deals with Cash's weak spots :

Academic achievement in Memphis was inconsistent under his tenure. Board members acknowledged both academic gains and setbacks on standardized tests, which lagged behind the state average. Graduation rates rose considerably but then regressed. In 2008, the year Cash started as superintendent, Memphis had a graduation rate of 66.9 percent. That grew to a historic high of 72.6 percent in 2011, but fell back to 67.6 percent by 2013, the year Cash left the district. A net gain overall of .7% in graduation rate isn't going to get any schools in Buffalo off the schnide. Yet this is the guy the State Commissioner all but ordered the Board to hire.

To be more specific then, the single most important item the state will be looking at to decide the fate of dozens of Buffalo schools -- standardized test scores -- is an area Kriner Cash has had mediocre to lousy results in as a Superintendent elsewhere. Yet here he stands on the brink of being installed as Superintendent with nobody to say him nay.

It's clear why Quinn, Sampson and even Carl the Churl would support this candidate. He's cracked from the same mold as all the other Broad Academy, Gates indoctrinated ed reform players and shares their privatization agenda. It will be win/win for this crew as Cash can use an iron fist and a ham hand against the union under receivership with Kriner Cash as the receiver. He'll be granted extraordinary powers to cut and paste the teacher's contract and hire and fire at will. And when the scores don't improve sufficiently for NYSED and the privatizing buzzards swoop down we can be sure Quinn and Sampson and Paladino will have plenty of friends among them. Just the kind of scenario that makes two developers and a prison warden turned privatizer's mouths water. We won't bother to speculate on how Pierce and McCarthy will respond. We have seen through observation they will vote as they are told by the 3 stooges.

I can't help but wonder though why Tigg-Harris, Nevergold and Kapsiak, all of whom have actually spent careers in education, would be on board with such a candidate whose agenda is clearly antithetical to the one they've espoused since taking their seats on the board. Sharon Belton Cottman, a banker, has expressed her happiness that Kriner Cash would even consider coming to Buffalo. This statement baffled me as she paints Buffalo as some backwater hillbilly hell nobody of any refinement would come to on a dare. If it's good enough for us and for her and her Board mates, why is she so giddy that  Kriner Cash might find it good enough for him? Is he lofty or something? And why are she and her board minority voting block so eager to embrace a candidate who espouses the philosophy of corporate education reform that Sampson, Paladino and Quinn also embrace? I don't get that either.

So the Commissioner recommends a guy with virtually no record of success in improving standardized test scores when test score improvement more than any other factor will determine whether dozens of schools are closed and/or turned over to privatizers. None of the board of education members seem to make this connection even though the privatization newsletter aka Buffalo News somehow even seems to have noticed. His supporters make a lot of fluff generalizations about him: He's an idea man. He has passion. He's a fighter. He wears nice lapel pins. But the one thing nobody can say about him is the one thing we need to say about the incoming Super: This guy knows how to improve test scores. He has a record of bringing up test scores everywhere he goes. Because like it or not friends, that's what our schools are going to be judged by, not Passion or ideas or fighting. None of that stuff is going to make a damned bit of difference to NYSED when they come with their bean counters and number 2 pencils.

I'm finding it a little weird that I'm seeing this as a classroom grunt but none of the people in a position to make decisions seem to have noticed. Or are they looking at something I'm not seeing? 


  1. Other than cheating induced test score gains, I would challenge you to find an urban US public school district that has made marked improvement in test scores. The cut scores in New York State are set up to produce 70% failure rates.

    Abigail Shure

  2. Of course, that makes perfect sense if you want to close the schools. Use test scores against them when you know damned well they're nearly impossible to improve.

  3. The deformers know the test scores are bullshit. After all, Cuomo said it himself.

    All they need are some snake oil salesmen like Cash to sell the cure.