POORLY PERFORMING PUBLIC SCHOOLS
ARE A GREAT OPPORTUNITY
FOR A CERTAIN TYPE OF CON MAN

There are unfortunately many con men who could be anyone: attorneys or even ministers, or employees within an education district as a principal or superintendent or a foundation in education fund raising. The schools promote themselves as "doing well, with a B average", and the public believes them. The con man meets well-to-do people in the community and sells them the idea that we do not have enough money for education. So people will donate thousands of dollars. The truth is that our government is one of the biggest spenders per student for education in the world, but more than 80% of high school graduates are prepared only for a minimum wage job. Many such foundations (not all) make big money by taking advantage of this situation, by retaining an unusually large percentage of donations. This is done with the full support of the school superintendent, the school represents the con man as a donor, the real donor makes the check payable to the con man, and the con man retains from the donation a big percentage.

Public education spends a huge amount of money. With the bad results, education districts become a magnet for getting money out of individuals and corporations claiming that our children are getting destroyed because the schools are not getting enough funding. With us being the fifth highest spender internationally and having dropped to 40th in performance, the facts do not support such a claim, but the people we are talking about could sell peanut brittle to people with bad false teeth. That kind of claim touches everyone, because they do not know that we dropped in education to 40th in the world, when we are the fifth highest spender per student. They don't know that the poor results are the result of school districts wasting a lot of money with gigantic central management organizations and that teachers are poorly trained compared to other nations. They don't know that teachers and management employees come from the bottom third of education and without any management training. They don't know that such people retain huge percentages of the donated money and get a commission from the education districts to boot.

 

But that is education management, including boards of education. Boards are elected from the general public. It would be unfair to expect them to know things that are important tools in management, and the state education departments are not informing them about such things.



People who don't know enough and do not want to learn, make up things and/or will not stand up because they lack confidence. They cannot be expected to do so, because this is a common human trait.



Con men don't know enough of the subject they talk about, but have courage, can talk about something that is untrue confidently, because even the governor does not seem to know how to improve education.



Con men get promoted, even if they had bad prior results, because senior management is untrained about such behavior. Many times such managers in education do not know the subject in question and cannot tell when someone tells them about things that are not true. Such victims of con men are afraid of asking questions for a simple reason: they do not want to look foolish to other people. Problems go unsolved and 3 out of 4 children's lives are destroyed because there will be no jobs for them. If con men changed and learned about a subject about which they claim expertise, they could become much more successful.



Uneducated or insufficiently educated people think that the con man is very smart and he is. He just takes on things he cannot do and that can go on for many years if he also works for people who don't know how to do what's needed. Unfortunately the education organizations' management people are mostly like that.

 

Let us describe an example. The person in question is reporting to the superintendent. He is in charge of school performance. He is asked "Do you have any objectives and operating plans relating to ACT score achievement? May we see them?" It turns out that he doesn't even have objectives and has no plan but this was his exact answer in writing:
"The ACT is an important focus 1) for college readiness and 2) to measure the effectiveness of our K-12 system in preparing students for life after high school. Mr. XYZ (superintendent) has made raising ACT scores and closing the gap between ACT scores and graduation rates a focus of his tenure. We have already met with a representative from ACT and we are piloting some work around the ACT and a predictor assessment called Aspire for 6 middle schools this summer. If this pilot yields positive results we will look at the possibility of expanding that work. We have action steps aligned to Mr. XYZ's priorities around Increasing Student Achievement, Creating a positive culture and eliminating disparities. Our Research, Evaluation and Assessment Team have set some preliminary metrics to those priorities and principals will set annual goals that will be monitored monthly next year in their principals' performance contracts. We are also anxious to receive and analyze our first full set of test data in two years this fall. We are prepared to adjust and respond to any trends we see in that data."

 


For most people his answer sounds very well informed, but he does not have what was requested. He makes the answer sound very professional and high level, with things that are not relevant. Plans are about what you as a person believe you will achieve in the coming year. After all you are above many schools in this case. So plans are about the future. Tests are about the past. State tests one cannot use as a planning base line, because they have been dumbed down to show good grades for less knowledge than what the curriculum specifies. The state test is also new. On the other hand the ACT has been used for many years, it has never been dumbed down, so that would be the right test to use as a base line in the past. The plan has to go into detail about what ACT score growth can you accomplish, and what actions you need to undertake to improve individual school performance, teacher education and support to enable the teachers to do better, weeding out poor performers, educating those who could be successful in teaching who are measured as a good candidate for the teaching profession, what you need in tools to enhance and improve learning, training teachers to excite the children about what they teach, change things to maximize teachers' time for preparation, ensure that they are compensated fairly, tough rules for discouraging those who interfere with learning and teaching, measure individual teacher GPA achievement with a class using a starting base line established based on attendees past performance records, and management training for principals and assistant principals. There need to be monthly objectives to measure progress against a plan with monthly objectives. The person above is very smart, very clever politically which is easy with management without management experience, but he is totally unsuited for the job he has. In addition, his record as a principal was very poor. So both the person who promoted him and this person are a bad choice for their jobs. Such mistakes destroy an organization.

 

There are four important reminders in/for management:
  • When spending is high and results are low, money is not being spent in the right places.
  • The entire staff of Central Management, is not to exceed 2% of the total number of employees in the school district.
  • When a new employee is added, justify with what improvement in the ACT scores will result from the addition. Similarly, identify how and what every single Central Management employee contributes to ACT score increase. Get the Central Management employees down to 2% of all school district employees, excluding food service and plant related employees.
  • People who work for you don't do what you expect. Not purposefully, but habitually. They do what you inspect. You need to know directly, personally what is happening.


We mention in the opening page of this website, usaedustat.com, that in some states, e.g., Tennessee, counting the students from entering 9th grade, 84% of those students are not even ready to be trained for a job when graduating from high school with a diploma. 84%! Many education districts are that bad or worse including Knox County, Tennessee. Even 20% would be excessive. Look for a detailed explanation of this figure in page one of usaedustat.com.

 

In the Knox County, Tennessee school district, in 2013 the grand total expenses spent was $560 million, covering about 88 schools. That's $1,500 per student, higher than the top 20 countries' with the highest educational performance with one exception (average ACT score equivalent in the 27-31 score range internationally vs 20.2 in Knox County, Tennessee and with 98-100% college or job training readiness internationally vs 21% of those with a regular diploma in Knox County, Tennessee). It is this huge amount of spending with extremely poor results that attracts con men, who appear, by the way, to be outstanding members of society. Sources: ACT's Readiness Report for 2013, the State Education Department's Statistical Report for 2013, and the 2013 State Report Cards.

There are a few exceptions among the school districts, who do well at or just above a 24 ACT average.

 

New York State was the first to administer the Common Core Tests in all its schools in August 2013. This is better, but not enough compared to the internationals with whom we are competing. Public schools and charter schools, some very good past performers scored better and representing to the public through newspapers how excellent they are, scored only 40-50% readiness that 50 years ago in the USA or in many other countries today would be considered a failure. One charter school chain, Success Academy Schools in New York scored an amazing 90-99% for several years now passing even a good number of private schools. What is even more amazing is that they have mostly black and a small percentage Hispanic students from poor families in the inner city areas of NYC, who produced such outstanding results with its 22 schools in 2013. They had 32 schools a year later, 41 in 2016 and committed to have 100 schools in a decade. They clearly manage and teach differently than our typical public or typical charter schools. Doesn't that mean that we could learn from them and have much better results? Absolutely. Why don't we hustle to do exactly that? Instead, we have poor results and con men.



If the political leadership cared, the ACT scores would have increased aggressively a long time ago and we would see average ACT score objective on every single board and its superintendents against which their performance evaluation would measure. Instead the boards and superintendents prepare their own objectives excluding the ACT results, AND PERFORM THEIR OWN PERFORMANCE EVALUATION GIVING THEMSELVES GREAT MARKS. THE BOARDS GENERALLY APPROVE THE SUPERINTENDENT'S DRAFT.

 


A confidence man or woman (con man) is one who gains the trust, or "confidence", of his/her victims in order to manipulate the targeted individual for donations of money, based on a lie or "expert opinion" that is not true and misrepresents the truth, or mixes some insignificant truth with misleading claims. School districts are a magnet for them, because there are many who are not well prepared to fix the bad education system. They can con even a governor unless he/she is very well informed about the subject in question. There are a few con man who are outright evil with incredible mental powers. There is only one way to identify them. They project and even "create" false evidence on the Internet about how nice, religious and intelligent they are. Such con man can create enormous damage on a large scale to today's children and our society. They are evil people who will do ANYTHING to rise, and they are masters at creating a false picture of their expertise. Remember always that people talk, but the talk can easily be untrue, because such con man present an image of a person who is religious and incredibly smart. Check how good a job they have done ever. Their past performance will show what they are. If they have produced very bad grades on tests, they will try to eliminate the use of such a test and convince decision makers that the test is not valid. It is amazing how they plan and execute their own personal plan while ignoring the enormous damage they do to children's future. They can con the tax paying population easily into donations and retain a large portion of the money for themselves.

 

A number of foundations who want to "better education" or "better the county" (with education being the biggest part of the budget) are con men. In order to protect their income they will even threaten those who want changes to the county education program "to make it better". They threaten verbally of course, and they could be of any profession including even former lawyers or ministers, or superintendents. The initial threat could be simple like "We will run you out of town if you interfere with us in the way education is being managed." Such bad people have very strong personal ambition, but have no morals, and having preached false information, they cannot survive. God knows what they really are, and they will not last.



To fool the public, Tennessee Report Card TCAP results show B or C for performance. The test is weak and used for elementary school only. Yet the students cannot read or do even basic math. The NAEP is the national test for elementary school student but those results show poor performance. The confidence men talk only about the TCAP results. The Tennessee Report Card also shows the ACT test results at the end of high school. They show that 79% of the graduates with regular diplomas are not even ready to be trained for a job. No profession is immune. We have seen former ministers of churches, lawyers, school superintendents, and others in this confidence man role. School systems are not immune, because parents are willing to do anything to "save our children" from failure and to provide them with a "world class education" and the necessity of "investing in our children's education" - as confidence men promise. The choice of tests in making such claims is important. Some are so easy that the grade they provide is high, but the child is very far from becoming ready to learn the subject. They fool the public. The only state test that is the proper "strength" or "rigor" is Florida's state test. When any person asks for supporting votes or more money by claiming to "save our children", with "World class education", "Excellence for all children", so "invest in your children's education", while the school district doesn't even have an ACT score objective, ANY school year, the school board committed to reach - an alarm should go off. Support those people who tell you the real truth and the schools that measure their own performance with tough national tests and produce good results. Have them put their opinion in writing. You will find that they are totally wrong. They do not want to plan in writing because they actually don't know how to do what they should do and cannot deliver good results, and they do not want to learn how to do learn the truth about how to do things correctly. They feel that such willingness would make them look bad.

 

Confidence men also use statements that impress you and mean nothing - but they need more money to implement those "great" things they mention.



The key question to ask from such people is "WHAT IS YOUR PLAN TO REACH AN ACT SCORE THAT IS 10-15% higher than last year's score? How much will it increase the average county ACT score for the coming school year? May I see a written plan about that ACT score commitment from the superintendent, along with an operating plan to reach the ACT score objective in writing please?" Confidence men or con men will avoid any such things to be put into writing, and will come up with excellent reasons not to do so, or answer with claims or excuses that are false but would require a highly experienced person, generally in management of big businesses, to see that.

 

Unfortunately, poor performance and a huge guaranteed budget regardless of performance is the most ideal situation for con men to con school district management. Although generally they will not take money from the schools, they will:

  • Claim that the schools are not getting enough government funding thereby hurting the education of our children,
  • An agreement authorized by a superintendent with them can open the door to unsavory financial transactions,
  • The money they are given produces no improvement which we are sure they promise when soliciting the funds from citizens,
  • But it is an excellent way for the con men to make a lot of money, so the con men benefits the most


Copyright(c) 2008-2018 V. Spencer
This is a work in progress.