Deborah Grill’s testimony transcript from the March 16th meeting of the SRC

Deborah Grill
Click the picture to view the video of Deborah’s testimony.

I have spoken here before against the District’s use of the so-called Relay Graduate School of Education to train principals and assistant principals.  I am now concerned that the District is going to use Relay to recruit and train teachers (Resolution A-2).

Relay is not affiliated with any legitimate college or university.  It was founded by three charter school networks to train teachers in their charter schools.    Relay’s teacher preparation has been described by Ken Zeichner,  the Boeing Professor of Teacher Education at the University of Washington and member of the National Academy of Education, as “a very narrow preparation to engage in a very controlling and insensitive form of teaching that is focused almost entirely on raising student test scores.”  It is  based on Doug Lemov’s Teach Like a Champion which focuses on practice to the exclusion of theory.  According to Zeichner, “There is no credible research that supports the use of Lemov’s methods with students.”

Last year the state Department of Education denied Relay’s application to offer its New York-approved Master of Arts in Teaching in Pennsylvania for a number of reasons. The first and foremost being “Relay failed to demonstrate a sufficient understanding of the requirements for approval to offer courses through an education enterprise that would lead to a MAT degree.” In other words, Relay’s understanding of the state requirements for approval was so lacking that they couldn’t fill out the application correctly, even after being given several chances.  Yet, this is who you want to train your teachers and principals.

According to the DOE, Relay failed to provide evidence that it would employ a sufficient number of qualified personnel for operating in Pennsylvania.  In fact, the three proposed members of Relay’s Pennsylvania advisory committee didn’t have  a “background in higher education administration or in the assessment of higher education program quality.”  Two of the three proposed advisors were employed at Mastery Charter school,  the proposed site for Relay’s operation raising “concerns about their independent advisory capacity.”

The DOE went on to cite insufficient evidence of the teaching of research techniques and results.  Relay actually tried to pass off  the teaching of classroom assessment techniques as academic research.  Since Relay doesn’t teach research they have no need for a physical library.  All of their resources are online with no access to resources that have not been digitized.

Relay has no one on its faculty with a doctorate, engages in no research, has no library, and has no relationship to the advancement of knowledge in education.  If Relay is a school of education, then it is the McDonalds of teacher preparation with a limited menu and low overhead.   Philadelphia’s students, teachers and principals deserve more that a diet of educational fast-food.   I urge the SRC to deny this  contract.

Also see:
SRC hires teacher-prep program over protests | Inquirer – March 16, 2017