The Mythological Morrison Miracle
Third in a series on the collapsing future of Nevada education
Expanded from the 4-22-2012 Daily Sparks Tribune
Updated 4-24-2012 Dr. Morrison is in Charlotte, NC, today signing his contract to accept the superintendent position.
Updated 4-29-2012, 5-7-2012, 5-13-2012, 5-20-2012, 6-24-2012
Corporate Propaganda Research Archive
Everybody knows the dice are loaded.
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed.
Everybody knows the war is over.
Everybody knows the good guys lost.
Everybody knows the fight was fixed.
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich.
That's how it goes. Everybody knows.
Everybody knows the scene is dead
But there's gonna be a meter on your bed
That will disclose
What everybody knows.
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The next Washoe County school superintendent will be tarred, feathered and crucified.
He or she will be playing against a stacked deck dealt by the very outgoing Heath Morrison who is departing for the land of St. Jesse Helms but leaving us with a new gospel.
"We obviously want someone to continue the strategic plan," Ken Grein, chair of the Washoe County School District Board of Trustees, told the Reno Gazette-Journal. (4-17-2012)
Earlier this year, Dr. M was named superintendent of the year by his professional club. He scored after manufacturing a two-touchdown increase (56 to 70 percent) in the high school graduation rate in just two years.
Alas, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is, but people believe what they want to believe. The chamber of commerce needs positive press clippings.
Grein told the Associated Press last week that Morrison "has raised the bar on what the board expects from a superintendent." (Daily Sparks Tribune 4-20-2012)
The next guy will need a very well-stocked bar.
Morrison's goal for year three is one percent.
A single point. A 71 percent graduation rate.
So says NevadaReportCard.com, the Nevada Dept. of Education website. (Scroll down to Washoe County School District 2010-2011.)
No wonder the extroverted marshal got the hell outta Dodge City. By his own admission, his purported progress will prove unsustainable.
The RGJ's Fact Checker analysis, which rubber-stamped Morrison's assertions, brought this online comment from Susan Nunes of Medford, Oregon: "I will believe an outsider before I will believe anybody from WCSD. Of course the figures came about because they counted the students differently than previous years. I call it 'cooking the books' to make Morrison look like he was the one responsible for the higher graduation rates. Remember, it's not because students suddenly got serious about school and decided they were going to graduate; it's because the district decided to use a different 'accounting' method. Now you could argue Morrison is 'responsible' for the graduation rate going up, but it's extremely misleading to use methodology to claim you are a miracle worker. You are not going to change the transient character of much of the student body. It doesn't make sense. Eli Broad Academy people are trained to 'cook figures' to make themselves look good. This is one example of it."
Eli Broad is a Los Angeles billionaire who founded a controversial school for administrators which Morrison attended.
The District Accountability spreadsheets and summaries on the Nevada Dept. of Education website underscore Ms. Nunes' suspicions.
The Washoe graduation rate fell from 77.4 percent in 2009 to 71.9 percent in 2011.
However, a Sept. 14, 2011, WCSD press release entitled Graduation Rate Improves for Second Year in a Row states "In addition to the overall increase for WCSD, graduation rates for student sub-groups increased in nearly all instances and showed evidence of narrowing the achievement gap."
But if you believe data that WCSD filed with the Nevada Dept. of Education, Hispanic students showed a 5.1 percent decline from 2009 to 2011, as did blacks (-1.7), American Indians/Alaska Natives (-5.1) and whites (-3.1). The overall graduation rate dipped by 5.4 points to 71.9 percent. (NevadaReportCard.com, Washoe County, 2008->page 27, 2009->page 26, 2010->page 24.)
Page 47 of the WCSD 2011 Data Summit report insists that the "graduation rate for student population" went from 56 percent in 2009 to 70 percent in 2011; American Indians/Alaska Natives 44/50/49; Hispanic 40/45/55; Black 42/50/54; White 63/73/78.
"The data represents (sic) the four-year cohort rate, which calculates the graduation rate based on following students who started ninth grade in 2008 and who graduated four years later in 2011," the 14 Sept. 2011 press release states.
"This comes after a four-year period (2006-2009) when the graduation rate remained stagnant between 55 and 57 percent," the press statement continues.
So do we have one set of books using percentages of actual seniors who graduated and another "cohort" set reporting the percentage of ninth-graders who made it through four years?
If so, how can the Morrison cohort rate go up when the senior class rate has dwindled three years in row, even for whites?
The district needs to disaggregate the data and start over to present the taxpayers with a clear picture rather than keep two sets of books.
I've seen this show before. Meredith Willson wrote the script in his Broadway hit The Music Man.
Supersalesman and con artist Prof. Harold Hill invents a new problem, "the presence of a pool table in your community," then proceeds to solve it by selling the residents of River City a non-existent marching band to "keep the young ones moral after school."
Dr. Morrison "became an imaginative accountant instead of a superintendent," Stead resident Bob Hellen commented at the RGJ Facebook page.
The Music Man has left town and we've still got trouble right here in River City no matter which set of stats you believe.
A one percent solution is no solution at all.
Update 4-24-2012 Dr. Morrison is in Charlotte, NC, today signing his contract to accept the superintendent position.
WMD DEPT. This Wednesday, April 25, Nevada will remember workers killed and injured on the job as local unions take part in national Workers Memorial Day. Among other things, speakers will highlight the Silver State's abominable safety enforcement due to (surprise, surprise!) underfunding. The gathering happens at 4:30 p.m. at the Victorian Square Amphitheater in downtown Sparks.
This year's WMD commemoration will be held at 4:30 p.m. PDT on Wednesday, April 25, at the Victorian Square Amphitheater in downtown Sparks, Nevada. Stay tuned to the Barbwire and tell a friend.
If you want to participate, contact the chairman of the Northern Nevada Central Labor Council's WMD Committee.
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Be well. Raise hell.
Andrew Barbano is a 43-year Nevadan, chair of the Nevada César Chávez Committee, producer of Nevada's annual César Chávez Day celebration, first vice-president and political action chair of the Reno-Sparks NAACP, labor/consumer/civil rights advocate, member of Communications Workers of America Local 9413/AFL-CIO and editor of NevadaLabor.com and JoeNeal.org. As always, his opinions are strictly his own. Check local listings for other Nevada cable systems. E-mail email@example.com. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks Tribune since 1988.
The above column is third in a current series on the collapsing future of Nevada education >
We don't need no education
We Don't Need No Education, Part VIII
Eighth in a series on the collapsing future of Nevada education
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Barbwire by Barbano / Expanded from the 4-8-2012 Daily Sparks Tribune
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Click here to view on demand plus other programs from the 2009, 2010 and 2011 Barbwire.TV archives
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Dennis Myers / Reno News & Review / 4-26-2012
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John Merrow / LearningMatters.TV / 7-6-2011
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Maureen Downey / Atlanta Journal-Constitution / 5-9-2011
"Interesting Charlotte Observer story this weekend on whether the schools there are under the control of philanthropist Eli Broad, whose foundation, the Broad Foundation, has given Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools almost $3.3 million in recent years. (Broad has been a big funder in Georgia as well, and recognized Gwinnett last year with its highly coveted prize for being the nationís top urban district.)..."
Who's the power behind Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools?
If you follow the money, you'll find the Broad Foundation. And skeptics are questioning its clout.
Ann Doss Helms / Charlotte Observer / 5-8-2011
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Seattle Education / 4-19-2011
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Schools Matter / 4-4-2011
Demonizing Public Education
Diane Ravitch / Education Week 10-26-2010
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Harper's Magazine; May 2008; page 43
Phillips has authored numerous books on history and politics over the past 40 years. His most recent, Bad Money: Reckless Finance, Failed Politics and the Global Crisis of American Capitalism, was published by Viking on April 15, 2008.
NAOMI WOLF: Fascist America in 10 Easy Steps
There are some things common to every state that's made the transition to fascism. Author Naomi Wolf argues that all of them are present in America today.
Johnson, Chalmers; REPUBLIC OR EMPIRE? A National Intelligence Estimate on the United States; Harper's magazine; January, 2007. I love it when heavy hitters validate what I've been saying for years in the tiny Sparks Tribune.
Barlett, Donald L. and Steele, James B.; America: What Went Wrong? (1992); America: Who Really Pays the Taxes? (1994); America: Who Stole the Dream? (1996) ; Andrews & McMeel/Universal Press Syndicate.
The Orwell Diversion by Alex Carey
Excerpted from the book available below
ORDER Taking the Risk Out of Democracy
Corporate Propaganda versus Freedom and Liberty
By Alex Carey
Edited by Andrew Lohrey
Foreword by Noam Chomsky
University of Illinois Press
SEE ALSO: Lapham, Lewis H.; Tentacles of Rage: The Republican Propaganda Mill, A Brief History; Harper's Magazine cover article; September, 2004, page 32.
By one conservative estimate, the corporate right has spent about $3 billion over the past three decades manufacturing public opinion to suit big business goals. Lapham's number covered the early 1970's to the present day. Alex Carey noted that by 1948, anti- New Deal corporate propaganda expenditures had already reached $100 million per year, not adjusted for inflation, for advertising alone. (Carey, ibid; page 79)
Adjusted for inflation, that 1948 $100 million becomes $801,659,751.04 in 2005 dollars.
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BARBWIRE: The Nevada Republican Party Becomes Communist, 3-30-97
A prescient Plato on the dangers of oligarchy
The sands of time do not cloud the long memories of the sheiks of Araby
Rinfret, Pierre A.; Peace is Bullish; Look magazine, 5-31-1966
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Copyright © 1982-2012 Andrew Barbano
Andrew Barbano is a 43-year Nevadan, editor of NevadaLabor.com and JoeNeal.org; and former chair of the City of Reno's Citizens Cable Compliance Committee, He is producer of Nevada's annual César Chávez Day celebration and serves as first vice-president, political action chair and webmaster of the Reno-Sparks NAACP. As always, his opinions are strictly his own. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Barbwire by Barbano premiered in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune on Aug. 12, 1988, and has originated in those parts ever since. Tempus fugit.
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