EAPS 745 Student Critiques of Networking High Performance
in New York's Secondary Education

  • Eileen Borden: Notes the Compact implementation has emphasized intra-district and local building reforms that may preclude districts from expanding their collaborations to inter-district arrangements. Believes the Regents do promote a stability that is needed in New York reform but wonders if educators feel any "wave" of expectation or just disorganized noise. The book lacks concrete examples of how keiretsu actually works in American networks and that keiretsu nets may well leave out the little and weaker "companies." Discussing allocation pattern measures emphasizes the have-have not settings in New York. This discrepancy plays out "viciously in step four of decision rules" where Bulls-eye discussions create a "trickle down" theory. Interprets "dim" as areas where large concentration of low or no points instead of areas where districts overlooked in state wide implementation efforts. Given the reaction on Long Island last fall, Eileen thinks the process of forming alliances should proceed without too much "noise."

  • Debbie Chicorelli: Keiretsu will not work unless the fundamental belief in local control is changed. Choice in how the local district is run is "the last vestige of local control in a world of big business and government." ( Sergiovanni, et. al). BOCES are seen as governmental entities in themselves and not the cooperating group of neighboring districts network. BOCES are seen as a place to farm out hard problems so that each district can work on its own Regents. Believes the Regents focus is necessary to compensate for the "feel good" evaluations, the AFT argument that "happy teachers make happy children" and the lack of accountability interest in the average intelligence majority of children. Wonders why SED not doing this kind of detailed, multiyear analysis as a matter of course. Interprets "dim" as a reference to poor performance.

  • Dorothy Donlan: Wonders if keiretsu can bridge between Japanese and American cultures, whether business focused networking makes sense to children focused educators, whether Americans will help one another and be motivated to cooperate. The networks that exist are sports councils but school districts exist in isolation. Site based management and shared decision making committees have increased the isolation tendency. Believes state wide comparisons too discouraging for upstate; suggests regional comparisons and thinking of secondary schools by size and location before performance. Felt the study started with the premise to identify the top ten percent and manipulated decision rules to reach the goal instead of patterning 649 cases, then identifying n=67 as the "top ten" percent of the group. Thought presenting Bullseye districts in alphabetical order without specific point count had merit even though it would create impression of speculation rather than hard data analysis. Interpreted "dim" as an insult being given to schools in the north country who "already know they cannot stack up to schools on Long Island." Discussed BOCES as possible option for networking districts and finances from state as a necessary dangling carrot.

  • Eric Isselhardt: Felt the book lacked essential definitions, particularly the concept of structure was not explicated. This failure made the meaning of keiretsu application hard to diagnose and oversimplified the political process of New York State. Felt the decision rules and "steps" inferred a methodology but the core rationale for each step was not addressed. Utilized W. Sewell ( Amer Journ of Sociology, 98, 1992) theory of structure to discuss the two areas of definition; system wide policies and goals that provide unity and (b) overall organizational elements. Noted the need to specify the equivalent of Chomsky's (1971) "deep structure." Eric argued that the very resources schools use and produce have fundamentally changed by technology and that keiretsu should be used to develop systems for the ongoing culture of change.

  • Ruth Lang: Noted that American business had some skepticism whether the balance between cooperation and competition could be reached and whether management concerns for profit could be translated into what's good for students. Noted that the larger BOCES districts were already functioning like keiretsu arrangement with shared services between districts. Recommended cooperation about staffing by the creation of a team of member teachers moving to the school with a particular change initiative. Was skeptical whether the most achieving districts would share with any other district and suggested the text inference that districts might re-constitute themselves would overshadow the rest of the text and bring discussion to an end. Noted the problem with official state reporting using estimates and perceptions. Gave example of self reported data being so suspicious that SED personnel would not create or use statistics because it was sure to create a political document. Noted the issue of "Herricks" type districts that deliberately de-emphasized Regents diplomas would be hard to network with and retain local autonomy. In general, thought the network of Bullseye districts as leadership and SED as liaisons might work because public needs models of actual high performance. Doubted whole state could change by 2003 if start with 10 percent of the districts.

  • Karen McSharry: Noted that the New York State of Learning had concluded for the past three years that achievement and performance differences were a function of socio-economic and racial differences of the students tested. Although there is a general concession to the disparities of rich-poor as a major determinant, the discussion of increasing performance and "raising the bar" occurs in an era of diminishing resources. While the Networking book fits the recent political climate to promote Regents, there is a danger of using a single measure that "straight jackets" creativity( Nehring, Darling-Hammond) and Compact for Learning intentions. Doubts equity can be shelved when the results of Bullseye identification are a set of rich, white suburban districts. Karen seems to believe that vertical keiretsu concept is credible for school networking even if though the Japanese culture and business focus are acknowledged. Horizontal keiretsu is more unlikely as political tensions increase competition and not collaboration among very top districts. Also questions whether a true state wide Regents reform agenda can be implemented with five percent of the districts leading.

  • Martin Miller: Agrees with the idea that New York State needs the Regents as a "steady platform" to rebuild public education and that achievement driven reforms must model on high performing schools. Also believes that the Bulls-eye documentation means that high quality does not have to be re-invented only re-emphasized. Notes the questions of modeling business in education and that horizontal sharing is okay while vertical keiretsu would not be a good reform method. Had problems understanding the audience that the Networking book was written for and lack of explanation of the Appendices. Thought practical issue of Networking use would rest with why high performing districts would offer help and whether low performing districts would accept help.

  • John Polnak: Could not see the incentives that would induce high performance districts into networks. While leagues are an appealing idea, cooperation would seem to imply extra time, talent and money. Suggests possibility of "league" money being allocated through BOCES on a "rfp" basis of distribution. Believes use of official state data makes sense in today's political climate. Felt that the decision rules were too numerous and complicated so that the book argument was weakened. Feels that specific rank ordering of districts should not occur because educational policy for implementation only needs broad categorization. Was upset that Madrid-Waddington was called Madrid-Washington and took offenses at the "dim" north country discussion. Felt "dim" was interpreted as "backward" not overlooked.

  • Art Recesso, Jr.:Argues that keiretsu organizations can become too concerned with internal organization and cohesiveness about control of lines of production that "rival organized crime families." Also questions whether profit incentive can be approximated with districts focused upon academic acheivement. Believes technology provides a better concept of networking secondary education interests than district jurisdiction identities. Would look to the internet networking as changing the meaning of bulls-eye to the hub of information exchange and getting questions of performance circulated .

  • Delilah and Roberto Reyes: Noted that Yoshida argued that Japanese cooperation and harmony based upon "natural and geographic impediments" as precondition for keiretsu. Argued that New York "structural impediments" of political realities and norms not a Japanese equivalent because no premise of mutual good or ethical obligation to level playing field. Talked of Albany attracting the Giants as a temporary keiretsu example but skeptical about viability of persistent and sustained structures because of union contracts, local politics, etc. did not believe that money (equity) and minority(democracy) could be shelved while focus on performance( Regents reform) in real political climate. Does not believe SED will align themselves with any effort that differentiates or ranks districts. Suggests that the inability to "skim" and make simple the arguments of the book will detract from its acceptance by busy administrators and policy makers.

  • RoseMarie Rosen: Several questions about Networking will be as a work of analysis and as a call for action center on the accountability of public education. Do not have common expectations for good spending or even outcomes. The text asserts that a vision of accounting must document performance but the last fifteen "at risk" years have created an image problem and a fiscal preoccupation to do with less. Open consideration of performance is against the norms of schools and community. Teachers unions can speak of wages, benefits, custodial issues and bureaucracy but it cannot differentiate its membership. Can collaborative keiretsu networks replace the state preoccupation with merger and consolidation? This kind of political issue may hold promise to focus the critical practicalities of financing, representative membership and so forth if a network was formed. Standards have evolved from registration review (Ambach) through waivers and decentralization (Sobol) to examinations and testing( Mills). The issue of the "bar high enough" is a different question for Bulls eye and no point districts. The value of using "college bound" as a focus is that it is deliberately limited and does not pretend to encompass all of the secondary experience. The core problem is that Regents focus generally ignores urban children. As the New York Times said "efficacy is not enough." A vision of performance and a belief in student potential is only about 10 percent of what success means among the most difficult and needy children.

  • Andreea Serban: noted there was no empirical testing of the keiretsu concept in educational settings and the applicability of business networking in Silicon Valley was problematic for direct comparisons with education. Questioned Saxson's assertion that the networking of business was a "sense of community" as much as a desire for profit maximization. Noted that the fast pace of technology development forced cooperation because no one company can keep up. Andreea used the Netscape and Java collaboration on Java script development and Netscape and Microsoft collaboration on hypertext markup language development as examples of cooperation to keep ahead of competitors and how such efforts outpaced the more established National Center for SuperComputing - which created the first Internet browser, Mosaic - in industry leadership. She used this discussion to contrast the "service" (Blau and Scott) education organizations operating without profit and asked what incentives would Bullseye districts have to network with anyone. Even if incentives were offered, the "level playing field" of fair competition could not be achieved. There is no way "equity" and raw redistributive politics can be shelved for a discussion of performance. Felt that the use of the term indices (e.g., Shavelson's development of indicators ) was too pretentious and should use measures instead. The key test of an indicator system is whether data can bridge between policy design and implementation strategy.

  • Ted Smith: Notes that vertical keiretsu is now operating in State Education Department and horizontal keiretsu might be discussed in BOCES arrangements of specialized programs or in high school, colleges and SAT company networks. Suggests that you could argue that New York public education suffers from too much keiretsu already and should abandon state imposed "cooperative" efforts of all kinds. Believes the greatest contribution of Networking is to demonstrate that SED should have done this analysis but did not. The SED code is if we don't look for problems, we do not have problems. The data confirms that the general assertions about socio-economic status and performance was right. Complaints about methodology will come from other rich suburban districts but rural and city districts will be very quiet. On the practical level Ted raises the question if increased performance expectations will continue with the current legal expectation that remediation will be provided for those that don't keep up. Under current way of thinking about public education he cannot see the "carrot or the stick" in terms of what Bulls eye districts would engage in networking. Using the "regionalization" issue in the Capital region as an example he also does not believe the parochial focus of local boards, teachers and administrators will buy the "league" of like districts idea.

  • Shireen Yadegari: Sees text as effort to mobilize reform and that standard testing is needed to stop the further disparities in promoting quality education state wide. Remains uncertain whether local initiatives mean tailoring image of production to what local community sees or considering what students need most. Believes network idea valid despite district's "dog-eat-dog" approach to accountability. Points out that most of the characteristics that relate to high and low points are not controllable by districts. Described how the two group approach ( full and close groups) results in a different ranking of individual districts than a simple adding of full and close points together. Also notes the problem of looking at points calculation too close sets stage for ranking discussions more than networking. Believes the keiretsu idea would be a "hard sell" and has grave reservations about "selling" any educational idea.

  • Constance Spohn: General approach was to assess the practical translations of concepts to the likelihood of actual utility by New York State educators. Argued that the networking idea should be compatible with the Tech Prep, School to Work and Goals 2000 expectations for "regional consortia" in curriculum development. Pointed out that districts might engage in horizontal keiretsu forums for a variety of reasons; to "outshine" other districts, to position for money allocations or to maintain and reinforce independence from the rest of the group. Noted the business idea of "benchmarking" performance against industry standards and the potential of "best-in-class" standards to form leagues of districts. Questioned what keiretsu "reciprocal stock ownership" would be in education. Noted possibilities in BOCES and PDK/IRI services for fees arrangements. Asked who would be the "main company" in a network of districts. discussed BOCES, union Teacher Centers and area membership organizations like CASDA as possible options. In general, liked the idea of "matching" districts of equivalent performance and context on a state wide basis but questioned (a) what would be the incentive structure for target districts to work with low and no point districts and(b) whether equity and democracy discussions could be "shelved" while establishing groundrules about Regents performance.

  • Instructor/Author Response

    At least seven major points made by the 745 group that lend themselves to revision of the text in the upcoming second printing revision: