I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Friday, June 13, 2014

More Reformy Billionaires Wasting Money: Jersey City Edition

Last week, I told the story of how New Jersey's reformiest billionaires, David Tepper and Alan Fournier, are planning on wasting at least $3 million on a "principals training" program in Jersey City run by SUPES, an unaccredited, for-profit group with a tainted past and questionable qualifications.

Obviously, Tepper and Fournier don't get a lot of good advice on how to spend their hedge fund earnings winnings. Maybe they ought to listen to some principals who've actually gone through SUPES training -- like these principals in Chicago:
Catalyst: How were the sessions?
LaRaviere: At the first one, I sat around for about an hour being encouraged to tell other people how great they were, and hearing them be encouraged to tell me how great I was. I left feeling like I wasted my time. It did not get any better as the weeks progressed. The second was about marketing your school. A very polished gentleman led the workshop – Dallas Dance from Baltimore.
Click through to read about how Dance shouldn't be allowed to train puppies, let alone principals.
He made the statement that perception is reality. You have to alter people’s perception of your school. I told him and everyone gathered that I altered the perception of my school by doing what it takes to increase our student achievement. I told him it seems to me that CPS is more interested in changing people’s perception of CPS than with changing CPS itself. And the fact they paid you $20 million to come in and took money from my students and gave it to you to tell me how to market my school is evidence of that fact. That, I believed, was going to be my last training. [He was then switched to another cohort.] The new one was the best one I had been to. Principals were talking to each other, getting ideas from each other. I’ll never forget, at the end, the guy who ran it said “I know I went off script and let you guys talk.” I realized the reason it went so well was he decided to stop and not do the SUPES curriculum and actually just let us talk to each other. CPS didn’t have to pay SUPES $20 million to put principals in a room together and let us talk to each other. [emphasis mine]
Oh, my. Well, if not SUPES, what then? I have had my problems with Grant Wiggins in the past, but I'll admit this principal has a point:
Parrott-Sheffer: The language [on the opt-out form] was intimidating. Anyone who can read between the lines can see--if you don’t go and your school doesn’t perform as well as we expect, we are coming after you. ..  If you’re spending $20 million, we should have the best people here. We should have Grant Wiggins [a nationally-recognized assessment expert] here for a week teaching people how to do unit planning and lesson design. If you gave him a million dollars, I bet you could get him for half the year, and then some. 
LaRaviere: Bring in [Stanford University education professor] Linda Darling-Hammond.   
Adams: Customize it for principals. 
Parrott-Sheffer: Do it from the best, not some wackadoo person you found in Wisconsin. I mean, come on. CPS doesn’t do anything based on who is the best person doing the work.
For the $3 million Tepper and Fournier are putting down, Jersey City could have a truly world-class leadership training program -- one that sent principals to any number of our terrific, accredited schools of education at one of New Jersey's great colleges or universities. They could bring in great people to lead great seminars; they'd be the envy of every other district in the state. The best school leaders would be lining up to get a job in JC.

But when you've got so much money, you really don't have to worry much if you're wasting it or not, do you?

Guess I'll waste some on SUPES!

h/t @srikanta07 on the Twitter machine.

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