Pearson to Host Orwellian Conference NEXT WEEK!

Hurry! Next week, Pearson is hosting its annual online learning conference, and there’s still time to register.

If you can get yourself to Amelia Island by Tuesday, you can consider yourself among “the nation’s top educators, administrators, and corporate leaders.” Become a corporate sponsor, and you’ll see your products advertised throughout the conference.

Find out if you will disrupt or be the disrupted. Learn how you can grow results with GRIT. Get strategy tips on out how to gain stakeholder buy-in for your blended learning program. Take a virtual tour with Tom Vander Ark of the shift to digital learning.

On Tuesday, you’ll have a chance to “demystify” competency-based education by launching your own program using Pearson’s very own CBE playbook and assessment system (TM).

Later that day, learn how competency-based education “seamlessly integrates academic, industry sector and workforce readiness competencies into a contextualized curriculum design and assessment strategy involving the teaching of academic skills against the backdrop of specific subject matter to which these skills are applied, aligned and vetted by state industry experts.”

Confused? Disturbed?


Not to worry. Ample time will be provided for question and answers with panelists.

For those interested in data-mining, attend a session with Pearson representatives called “CBE Meets Data-informed Learning Design.”

Or just watch this YouTube video here to find out how Pearson would like to measure how much your pupils dilate to see how well their programs are working.


If you’re a teacher feeling a little shaky about leaving your brick and mortar school behind to become an online teacher, you can attend a session called “Self-Efficacy and Isolation: Guiding Teachers in Making the Transition” for some coping tactics.

Then it all gets really awesome on Wednesday night.

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Beachside bonfire, good eats and Polynesian dancers? Count me in.

Sound too good to be true?

It gets even better.

At the end of the conference, you’ll get a digital badge that you use to showcase what you learned and how you enhanced your professional development.

That’s right. No one will know that you really attended a trade show.

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Hat Tip: Morna McDermott 🙂





















Marzano Says Detroit Contract Untrue. Reporter Proves It is.

A few months ago, I discovered an IP address in the list of referrers to my blog that linked to a private legal investigative firm in Ohio.

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It struck me as odd, but I told myself that I was being paranoid and soon forgot about it.

This Sunday, the IP address showed up again.  I posted two  blog posts about Dr. Marzano over the weekend, and each seemed to have hit a nerve with teachers around the country. Very quickly, they garnered about 20,000 views.

This time, I wondered aloud if I should be worried about the IP address.  Some said yes, others said no.  One friend speculated that the firm may have been hired to build a libel case against me.  Another wondered if perhaps they were “blog-chasers,” looking to gather clients by sending posts to high-profile individuals.

The following day, an email from Dr. Marzano was waiting in my inbox.

 Dear Ms. Talmage,

Someone sent your recent blog post to me. I assume you know that while you may state your opinions quite freely, false statements about people that are damaging to their reputation are considered slander. In the blog post I read you have a number of such statements about me. For example, it is false that I have never been a teacher. I was a high school teacher and coach.  It is also false that I was paid $6,000,000 by the Detroit public schools. I did make a brief one-day presentation for them a while back but the honorarium fee I was paid had three less zeroes than you report. Please be advised that I will monitor your blog for false statements about me or my organization and take legal action if they continue.


Bob Marzano

Did Buckeye Legal Investigations send it to him?  The timing sure makes me wonder.

Here is how I replied:

Dear Dr. Marzano,

Thank you for your email.  It is not my intent to slander you, but rather to give voice to the many concerns that teachers around our country have right now about how and where our district resources are going, and how we are being treated as professionals. I wonder if you would answer two questions for me: When and where did you teach, and for how long? Is this article giving false information?  It is where I learned of the 6 million dollar contract.  Thank you, Emily

I also wrote to the Detroit news station to ask if they could confirm the contract.  A reporter wrote back right away to tell me that she had obtained the contract through a Freedom of Information Act request, and would send me a copy.

Dr. Marzano wrote back very quickly.  Here is what he said about his teaching experience:

 My personal classroom experience was in New York and in Seattle from the late 60s to the mid-70s, primarily at the high school level (with a brief undergrad stint at the elementary level in Milwaukee).

I was, of course, asking for more specific information.  So I kept digging, and eventually found a copy of his CV embedded within an award application, showing that he taught in a New York City public school from 1967-1968 prior to graduating from Iona College in ’68, and then spent three years as Chair of the English Department at an all-boys Catholic school in Seattle.

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My apologies, Dr. Marzano. I stand corrected.

As for the Detroit contract, here is what he wrote:

I believe they are using my system for teacher development. I also believe the district has contracted with Learning Sciences International. That is not my company, but they do use much of intellectual property. I can’t imagine that they received a $6,000,000 contract, but if they did, such money does come back to me. My guess is that classroom teachers know the name Marzano is associated with the strategies and made inferences from there. Your link is the first I’ve seen of that story, and I’m going to look into it immediately.

Learning Sciences International, located in West Palm Beach, Florida along with Marzano Research and Learning Sciences Marzano, owns the copyright to Marzano’s iObservation, and is the official provider the Marzano Teacher Evaluation Model.

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Below are the contracts that were sent to me by Kimberly Russell of WXYZ in Detroit:

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Over the course of the 2015-2016 school year, Detroit Public Schools agreed to pay Learning Sciences International a total of $5,626,388.  An additional $497,114 was paid in 2014.

Across the country, parents and teachers are growing angrier at the disconnect between the real needs of school districts and how funds are being spent.  In the case above, the money would have been enough to pay at least 22 teachers for five full years.

Instead, students in Detroit are now attending classes with 40-50 students, while teachers are wrestling with a development program that many feel is interfering with their ability to teach.

Is this Darnell Earley’s fault for signing the contracts? Is it Marzano’s fault for marketing expensive teacher development programs to districts seeking to comply with current policies?  Or is it all just another sign of the harm being caused by the current corporate takeover of our public schools?

Probably all three.

There is, however, no question the time has come to ask teachers and students in Detroit what they could truly use in their classrooms.














Why Computer Science for All?

President Obama’s recent announcement of a $4 billion initiative to bring computer science to all has many people scratching their heads.

“The message is that computer knowledge is needed in many professions. (The president mentioned auto mechanics and nursing.) But this is computer use, and does not require knowing how to program and design software,” writes Dr. Stephen Krashen in a letter to the New York Times.

According to the White House, we have a shortage of technology-trained workers – but this is a claim that Krashen and many others say is false.

So why 4 billion for this initiative? Certainly, there are many who would enjoy and benefit from computer sciences classes, but is it really worth this price tag – especially when school buildings are crumbling and class sizes are growing nationwide?

As with recent federal education initiatives, the ed-tech industry seems to have had a heavy hand in the plan.

“Coding is at the intersection of tech ed and EdTech,” Hadi Partovi, CEO of, told Tom Vander Ark in this article. “People ‘get’ online computer science.”

“It may be easier to sell blended computer science than blended math,” Partovi added.

Blended learning refers to a combination of online and in-person learning – a model that ed-tech investors like Vander Ark, who recently advised the Digital Learning Now Council, are eager to expand.

At the same time, Vander Ark believes that coding will be important as “machine learning” grows.

“Once we realize that machine learning is running in the background of our lives, we may be unhappy with the status quo because algorithms can only infer our behavior. You currently can’t tell the Zappos algorithm that you just bought sandals and don’t need another pair.”

(Apparently it’s not enough to just close the advertisement?)

Casting more doubt on the value of the plan is news that the White House initiative  has partnered with two India-based IT offshore firms for financial assistance.

According to this article, the two companies, Infosys and Tata, delivered IT services to Southern California Edison and Northeast Utilities, where employees said they were forced to train foreign workers to take their jobs.

Sara Blackwell, a Florida attorney representing laid-off Disney IT workers explains: “Thousands of tech American workers are being fired and replaced” by firms “that are offering money to help educate Americans.”

Ron Hira, associate professor of public policy at Howard University warns that “any rational IT worker would tell young people to stay away from the IT profession.”

Meanwhile, Brad Smith, president of Microsoft, called the computer science for all effort a “social imperative” for schoolchildren.

What do you think?  Do we need computer science for all?












Detroit: Crumbling Walls, Millions for Marzano

On Saturday, I wrote about Dr. Marzano.

Since then, teachers from around the country have told me how wasteful and insulting they find his latest professional development scheme.

Teachers with many years of experience are told to take down their classroom rules and replace them with “Codes of Conduct” and “Standard Operating Procedures.”  During workshops, teachers are asked to self-assess their understanding of material by placing stickers beside their names on a wall chart. Those in the Reinventing Schools program are told to come up with a “shared vision” for their school – but the shared vision must “align” with that established by the district administrators.

Meanwhile, teachers in the iObservation program are under the grip of Marzano’s 60-point plan.

“It doesn’t matter if it makes sense for the teacher to use it or not,” one teacher told me. “We’re forced to use the model or risk a negative evaluation.”

“Teachers of students with severe and profound disabilities have to pretend to employ the strategies,” another told me.

Most staggering, however, came news from Detroit.

Under emergency manager Darnell Earley (now famous for his role in the Flint water crisis), Detroit recently signed a $6 million year-long contract with Marzano’s consulting services.

Perhaps you’ve seen some of the latest pictures from Detroit schools:





Detroit is also undergoing a severe teacher shortage.

So why pay Marzano $6 million, when these resources are clearly needed elsewhere?

“We’re using funds that were earmarked only for development,” Earley told a local new station.

Sorry, Earley.

“The funds may be used to hire teachers, but not for administrative purposes such as Human Resources,” a spokesperson from the State Superintendent of Schools told the news station.

Fortunately, Detroit teachers aren’t ones to lie down and roll over. At at least one school, teachers dressed in black for a day of protest that they called “Mourning Marzano.”


We’re mourning with you, Detroit.