Saturday, June 18, 2011

Ruben Brosbe's Blame Game

I might have missed one of Ruben Brosbe's epic blog posts had it not been for a mention in one of the comments in Gotham Schools. You see, usually I follow Ruben's exploits by reading GS itself, as they publish everything he writes, including his most vapid and feckless reflections (on second thought, that pretty much is everything he writes). This time, I had to go directly to his blog, after which I had my browsing history scrubbed with hydrochloric acid.

As it turns out, poor Ruben's students once again stunk up the joint with their standardized tests. If you recall Ruben's past disasters, he scored in the bottom half of teachers twice even when he was compared only to other newbie teachers. He refused to disclose his third year numbers (despite insisting that the city release everyone else's) but we know from his blog posts that he still did a piss poor job. And from his latest bird dropping, we know that Ruben's kids did poorly for the fourth consecutive year. Luckily for Mr. Brosbe, he managed to escape to the 3rd grade where he will not receive a fourth consecutive turd of a TDR. But to show you the kind of fearless guy he is, he still wants everyone else's data put in the papers. What a guy.

Apparently, out of 26 students, Ruben had to assemble eight promotional portfolios, which means eight of his students failed to meet the minimum cuts scores set by the city for promotion. EIGHT. (For the record, I did not have a single student below the cut, and as a middle school teacher, I have more than 90 students, not just 26). To help Ruben understand the magnitude of his blowout, about 31% of his students failed. Had I produced similar results, I would have had 28 students below the cut.

Now, as I have stated many times, any teacher can have a bad year, which is only one of the reasons why I think TDR scores are a farce. But RB has now had FOUR consecutive bad years, and unless I am as bad at math as one of Ruben's charges, that means he must either receive tenure this year or be let go. So far, he has not mentioned putting his resume together, so he probably got tenured despite his crappy results. That is exactly what Asshats4Education, of which RB is a charter member, says they want to prevent.

A4E also claims that there are NO EXCUSES for bad scores, and one would assume that would apply to RB as well. Despite that, Ruben's blog post is full of excuses for his terrible results. Here are some of the lowlights:

  • The title of his post is "Looking for Lessons When Your Students Fail". Pardon me? According to Asshat scripture, children are never to blame for failure. If a child fails, the teacher simply didn't do enough, and that applies to RB, as well.
  • His drivel continues: "These portfolios are meant to show that in spite failing the ELA or math exam, these students are still at level 2, i.e. approaching grade level. Unfortunately, this just isn't the case for most of my kids who failed, since the majority are ELL's, including several newcomers." Isn't RB responsible for his kids' scores? They can't speak English? Boo hoo...that's just another one of those lazy teacher excuses.
  • RB further laments: "Two of my students who I consider "high 2's" or even 3's didn't mean (sic) the cut-off." In other words, Ruben really has no clue where his students are at. This is inexcusable. He should have differentiated their instruction according to their ability, and apparently he had no idea what their level was.
  • RB also teaches "...a girl who has been in my school since kindergarten, and while her reading improved from a level B to level G this year (from kindergarten to first), she still hasn't grasped phonemic awareness." He teaches third grade and hasn't gotten this student out of first grade reading? That is another failure, which Ruben excuses by claiming "I can take some pride and consolation in the knowledge that I've instilled a love of learning in this girl that I hope will last." Actually, since data is everything to RB and A4E, I'd say this is scant consolation. She's not making grade level, but Ruben continues to make excuses.
RB closes his whine by saying that, " Sulking or self-flagellation will not get us far though." I have mixed feelings about this, as I have twice called Ruben the king of self-flagellation, here and here. It's good to know that he reads this blog and gets some of the truth about himself. On the other hand, it sucks knowing that RB is still out there, getting tenure while trying to get far better teachers than himself fired.

And Ruben, on a personal note, there is no need to self-flagellate. I will be happy to continue doing it for you, as long as you continue to spout your garbage.

And South Bronx School will happily join me. Along with the legion of commenters on GS who have your number (which, I am sure, is well below the cut score).


B said...

As a second-year third grade special education teacher who currently teaches in an ESL CTT, Ruben's information raises many concerns.

According to him, "Unfortunately, this just isn't the case for most of my kids who failed, since the majority are ELL's, including several newcomers".

HOWEVER, ELLs are able to get an extension to pass through the next grade up to five years, according to the laws, when it comes to ELA. With Math, a student has two years in the states before they are subjected to the pass/fail cut. Unless his entire class are full of ELL students, that means a good number of his monolingual students also failed either ELA and Math.

So this tells me one of two things:

1) Out of the 8 who didn't pass, all of them didn't pass the math or some of his monolingual students did not pass either the ELA or Math on top of the ELLs who didn't pass the Math.

2) If the extensions are put into place on the ELLs, and judging by the 8 out of 26 portfolios he has to assemble, that may mean that many more ELLs are not reading on grade level and may have failed the ELA... so Ruben's situation may be a lot worse than advertised.


I hate comparing myself to other teachers because we all have different classes, different students, and different situations we all deal with. However, since Ruben and I have similar classes (except mine has 8 students with IEPs and 31 students all together) and his organization feels the need to do such a thing through TDRs and other things, I'll do so.

My class had 30 students, 27 ELLs, and 8 students with IEPs during the testing days. More students passed the Math exam this year (25 out of 30) than last year, despite the increasing difficulty of the test this year. This includes 6 out of my 8 special education kids passing, which is a big accomplishment. Unless Ruben with 8 out of 26, I only have to prepare 5 portfolios out of 30.

I need to continue to grow and prepare my students better as my years of experiences go on (that post is linked to my name here), but I was able to get many of my students to be motivated and learn this year. The improvements need to come within me and, though many people tell me otherwise, I don't blame anyone else but myself on these things.

Maybe Ruben should do the same if he puts his money where his mouth is.

Anonymous said...

If you look at my comments that I left our dear friend Ruben in the last week, I gave him some interesting information and asked some relevant questions.

Anonymous said...

In some way, I think I may be defending Ru-Ru here. For that, I beg your forgiveness and will beat my head against the wall as soon as I'm done writing. Ugh. Anyway, here we go:

I have been teaching third grade for years. Every year, we see many failures. Across the entire grade. I have an excuse though and I want to share it: the crippling poverty that pervades every aspect of my students' lives makes it nearly impossible for them to cope with life at all, let alone a useless test. Mom/"dad" in jail, kid touchers sleeping on the couch, Doritos for dinner, crack, daily beatings, etc...

Perhaps that is why Mr. B's kids fail? I know that's why mine do.

Or maybe he really is just a suck ass teacher. I know I work my patoot off to no avail. At times, I know that the stability I offer in my classroom has made all the difference in the world to my students. After a hard night of keeping mom's head out of the toilet after drinking too much, they can come to me, have a good cry and a hug, eat half my lunch, and then take a nap.

I spend a lot of time on the phone with ACS, btw.

Am I defending Ru-Ru? Am I really the suck ass teacher? Thanks for your awesome blog. You are as a refreshing as a lime infused Corona on a Friday evening.

B said...

Anonymous, I understand that and totally agree with you on all those points. The same can be said in my classroom.

However, the baselines of Ruben's organization aligns directly with the baselines of the corporate reformers, stating that teachers are expected to be miracle workers and can single-handedly overcome the effects of poverty, broken homes, and many other issues in order to get these children to pass the state tests. If not, those teachers should get the heave-ho.

If you preach a mandate, you should be judged based on the same mandate you preach.

I wish I could be more sympathetic to Ruben's cause, but if you're part of an organization that states that teachers should be judged based on a mechanism like standardized tests and your scores don't make the grade, you're digging your own grave.