Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Chat with FayetteABC

When the Fayette County Board of Education meets Monday night, somewhere toward the end of the meeting, 10 minutes will be spent discussing issues raised by a parent group calling itself Fayette Advocates for Balance in the Classroom (FayetteABC). At present, FayetteABC boasts 300+ signatories - representing more than 14 schools and 16 Fayette County zip codes - on a petition which calls test-driven instruction into question.

To better understand where FayetteABC is coming from, I met with Dr. Erik Myrup, one of the group's co-founders, in his office high in the Patterson Office Tower at the University of Kentucky, where he serves as an assistant professor in history. Also in attendance was one of Myrup's top advisers, three-year-old Lars Myrup. And historian David Hamilton, an old friend and colleague from my days at Cassidy, stopped by briefly. We spent just under an hour and a half together.

Erik Myrup grew up in Salt Lake City until he was 18. He completed a Mormon mission, serving in Brazil. After that he went off to Yale University, as a 21-year-old freshman, where he met his wife Cheryl who had also served an LDS mission in Taiwan. They were married and lived in Taiwan for a couple of years teaching English and editing textbooks.

The Myrup’s taught in a buxiban. In Taiwan, the kids go to school, and then, after school, they go to the buxiban, which is where they catch up on all the other things they didn't get in school.

“So we got this group of kids that are highly pushed by their parents. And their parents come from fairly high socioeconomic backgrounds, and they're sacrificing everything to try to get their kid to keep up with somebody else,” Myrup said. “And then we’d go to baseball games and we'd see these kids who were from a totally different background than the ones who are taking these international tests that America is being compared to. They had mechanic’s kids (who were going grow up to become mechanics) and they’re chewing beetle nuts, which are like tobacco, and these are not the kids that were in the buxiban.

Myrup returned to Yale as a graduate student and lived in Lisbon, Portugal for two years while he was conducting research for his dissertation. He came to Lexington four years ago from Greeley Colorado where he had taught at the University of Northern Colorado for a year.

Myrup says FayetteABC is trying to keep a fairly narrow focus on test-driven instruction. “We know that testing is not going to go away. There are always going to be numbers. But people need to understand the limits of what that data is actually saying. And a school, and a teacher, and a child shouldn't be judged totally on that. We need to take a much broader set of things into account. And of course, the data can be manipulated, Myrup said.

Myrup shared how FayetteABC got started and says the group is essentially “just some parents that came together." Myrup and his wife Cheryl are the parents of two fourth-graders and a kindergartner at Glendover Elementary School, plus 3-year-old Lars, pictured above with his father.

For four years now, Myrup has been volunteering in each of his children's classes on a weekly basis. He does dramatic readings from literature [The Hobbit, Wind in the Willows, Roald Dahl…] with voices – and, from the sampling I heard, he’s very good. This year, in his children’s fourth grade, he read throughout the first semester. But in the second semester, the testing activity schedule got to be too much. He shifted to short stories because of the interruptions to the schedule.

Myrup appreciates his having been involved with his children during their early developmental years. His graduate preparations in history took eight years, instead of the more typical five years, largely because of activities he was involved in with his children. Myrup's wife worked full-time and he would read to the kids for as much as two hours a day. “It took me eight years to get through grad school. It didn't take me long as it took you, [laughing] but it took a long time, Myrup said. [In fact, it took me 13 years. But in my defense, I was serving as a principal at the time.] He says he can look back now with no regrets about how he spent his time.

Myrup says the experience at Glendover has been very very good. We've experienced some very good teachers, but some have been better than others. “Our sense is that as the children have gotten older and moved on…it has become all about the test. I think when they were younger the teachers were able to shield them a little bit more. It wasn't all test-driven instruction like it is now,” Myrup said.

He thinks the district has made some changes that have led to this situation. “My sense is that the school board played a part in this. One of the things we want to do is to try to make changes," Myrup said.

He notes that Fayette County schools Superintendent Stu Silberman is being replaced at the present time and FayetteABC does not want their concerns to be focused on his administration. Silberman will begin leading the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence beginning in July. "We want to go forward," Myrup said.

But has Silberman driven much of what FayetteABC is concerned about?

"I think that he's played a role in that…I think it's a reflection of administrators who are very quantitative. They look at numbers; they're taught to do that. And maybe they have not been in the classroom for a while…A teacher in the classroom has a very good sense [of what children know] regardless of what the data points show.

KSN&C: Wait a minute. Let me challenge you on something. You went to Glendover. You chose Glendover. You knew where your kids were going to be attending school based on some assessment of the school, I'll bet you. Why did you choose Glendover?

Myrup: In part, because it was close to work. We didn’t look, though, at the test scores but we had good recommendations. And we liked the fact that it had kids from all over the place…because of UK. Our twins had grown up with that in Portugal and we speak some different languages, so we liked that… We didn't do all that much research but we knew that Glendover had gotten good recommendations from people we trusted.… Our kids have done well. We could have had them try to get into SCAPA. We have a short story writer, and artists, and we did look at that. But we said, ‘No. We like it here.’ And [one of the girls] tested into [the gifted program]... And we went and looked at it, but again, we like [Glendover]. The last thing we want for these little girls… is to take them out of an environment where they are dealing one-on-one with kids from all sorts of backgrounds, and put them in a classroom where all the kids think and act like you do. Some time back, we had gone to the district office and asked what goes on in terms of gifted and talented. We were told that you take these tests and if you get a certain number, then you get in. And I remember the one person, (I think this was like a volunteer, or a part-timer - I mean this was not an administrator) whose children had come up through the program, and had a good experience. And this person said to us, ‘Your child is a frog. And they have been surrounded all their lives by monkeys. But they can't talk to monkeys. And you put him next to other frogs and they can suddenly say, ‘ I'm not different…’ [Laughing]. But the last thing I want this to become is a harping on gifted and talented. Ultimately every child is gifted with unique talents—many of which go unrecognized in our current system. In any event, you've got a huge number of kids who've got needs and they try to come up with a variety of ways to meet those needs. But the truth is…the opening of gifted and talented classes has every bit as much to do with raising test scores [at particular schools] as…

KSN&C: Gee, you think?

Myrup: I think so, but I'm a skeptic. [laughing]. That's just who I am.

KSN&C: Well the gifted program in Fayette County has been around since about 1980. But they kind of took on a new life around the time Fayette County was implementing magnet programs. And those magnet programs were specifically designed to try to attract students who would not normally choose a particular school, and in that way balance building usage and transportation issues and all of that. So I suppose there is some residual validation to your suspicions.

But let me take you back to Glendover. So now you've selected a school. Your kids are going to school. They are having a good experience. You're running into some pretty good teachers...and all that stuff. But you start seeing some things that raise concerns that the school - this school that you like - is just a little too focused on testing. What kinds of things are you seeing?

Myrup: Well, the thing that got me… they had an assembly. And we were never aware that this is an assembly that they have in the fall. My sense is that all the schools have them, although, in talking to the superintendent, he insists that this is all a local thing, and that there is complete local control, and that they want to celebrate. But in our school, the way it worked: they called the assembly; the tests and been taken the previous year; and they have these designations – distinguished, proficient, apprentice, novice. I guess some kids, we found out, don't get anything at all. Anyway, they announced [each child's name] one by one, and it flashes what their [designation]is up on the screen. It's announced to the whole school. And then that child comes forward and picks up their [certificate]. Our daughter knew this was coming. It's so surreal. We were dumbfounded. I kept saying, ‘This can't possibly be right.’

KSN&C: Class rank for fourth-graders?

Myrup: …and the kids and teachers we talked to about it didn't like it. And of course we talked to [principal] Cathy Fine, and she was embarrassed about it. I mean, she said, ‘We just want to celebrate. We’re instructed to celebrate.’ And that's what led me to think that this isn't just an approved-locally sort of thing.

KSN&C: Like someone else says what you're going to do, and you determine how?

Myrup: Yeah. I assume they're told they have to do something, based on some mandate. But they've got some local control. But to have an assembly? But anyway… I wrote a fairly scathing letter at the time and pulled my kids out. The teachers told us they would be sure to let us know when it was going to happen. The original plan was to have [my kids] come to my grad course here, although at the time we ended up with sick kids and we couldn’t bring them over here. But it disturbed me as well because, as a university professor, I would never do such a thing with college kids. It would be against the law!

KSN&C: That occurred to me while you were saying it.

Myrup: Yeah. You teach. It would be against the law. And these designations—distinguished, proficient, novice, and so forth—are really euphemisms... Children aren’t dumb.

KSN&C: Oh no.

Myrup: And one of my daughters was terrified. She said, “Dad, what if I don't get distinguished?... I'll be embarrassed in front of all…” But we asked a bunch of parents at the time, and we jabber little bit. A lot of parents weren't…

KSN&C: … not crazy about it?

Myrup: No. They weren't upset…They said, ‘Shouldn’t we celebrate?’ Not everybody. But this is sort of what started us off. …finding like-minded parents.

KSN&C:
My experience has been that people at the top don't mind keeping score, as a general rule.

Myrup: I was dumbfounded. In my letter I say, this would be against the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act…

KSN&C: That's the one.

Myrup: One of the points I made in my letter was that this is basically using peer pressure to try to motivate children.… And scare them, and reward them, I guess.

Together with others, the Myrup’s would go on to found FayetteABC. And Myrup himself would eventually end up on the telephone with Silberman a couple of weeks ago, leading to FayetteABC’s inclusion on the board agenda for May 23.

Myrup indicated that he was grateful for the time that Silberman took to speak with him—nearly an hour and a half—but that he wasn’t necessarily satisfied with all of the superintendent’s answers. One of the points that Silberman made, according to Myrup, was that the problems he was describing could all be solved locally by a school council. “The implication was that this wasn’t a district problem, but a problem of individual teachers.” Myrup indicated that he was "really mad" when he got off the phone and that he wrote Silberman a letter, in response. (Additionally, he visited with each of his children's teachers to discuss his conversation with the superintendent and to assure them of his support. He said the last thing he wanted was for anything he said to come back against the teachers in any way.)

Myrup noted that Silberman responded to his letter quickly, acknowledging that the district has many wonderful teachers. More generally, Myrup noted that Silberman “said everything I wanted to hear": That test-driven instruction isn’t a good thing; that he prizes other things; that the district puts a lot of money and resources into languages; the arts and sciences; and that he does not support the idea of a teacher teaching to a test. “These are all the things that we wanted to hear,” Myrup said, “but we still feel that a great deal more could be done at the district level to solve these problems. Ultimately, the superintendent sets expectations for principals and principals do the same for teachers, and eventually these pressures make their way into the classroom and are placed upon the shoulders of our children, taking away everything that is fun, exciting, and inspiring about the learning process.”

FayetteABC spent about two months doing research before launching their website. Some of the parents in FayetteABC have backgrounds that allow them to do educational research and they are conversant on the work of Ravitch, Rothstein, Koretz, and others. So far, more than 300 folks have indicated sympathy with the FayetteABC message, but some teachers are reluctant to join in openly.

“We've had a teacher say to us, 'I would sign it, but I just can't,'" Myrup said. “We've even had a teacher who signed [our petition] contact us in say, “Can you please take my name back off?” What they say is, “I don't want to put my principal in a bad light. I don't draw attention to my school.”

Among the research FayetteABC looked at was the TELL Survey data for Fayette County. That data suggests that Fayette County teachers don't feel there's an atmosphere of trust and respect in the schools.

“My child's kindergarten teacher showed me this list of data that she needs to gather for each child. And I thought, “Wow. Do you know how much time that takes? What wasted time. And that's kindergarten. I can't imagine what they're turning in for the fourth-graders…(The [MAP tests] are tools that can be used to diagnose, but basically, [teachers are] required to turn in all these numbers. Of all the people it's the teachers who can speak to the data and whether it's being misused,” Myrup said.

So Myrup had a conversation with Silberman, and he said the kinds of things they had hoped he would say, yet they believe he has led the district to where it is. And now, FayetteABC is focused on the next superintendent and they are about to have a chat with the board.

How are they to know if the next superintendent is what they are looking for, or simply someone able to talk a good game?

“You roll the dice,” Myrup said. “Some things are out of your hands and the board will have to make the best judgment they can based on the information they have. We know this is a problem…and we don't pretend to have answers. We will say that we want balance. And we really want there to be discussion,” Myrup said. That discussion would ideally include administrators, citizens and teachers coming together and not being afraid to speak honestly and openly.

Myrup believes that if administrators knew they had public backing, and the school board members knew they had public backing for ratcheting things down, that they would get a lot more than they would without that public backing.

Myrup sees hope in the school board’s hiring process, which appears to be open enough that the public will have a week or two to take a look at the candidates before the board makes a final decision. That will allow enough time to create a verifiable track record of the finalists that will give the board some basis for hiring.

FayetteABC sent out an e-mail message to each board member this week. They would like to speak to each member before Monday’s meeting and for each of their 300+ petition signers to show up. Of course, it's one thing for people to sign a petition. It's another thing for them to show up. The present level of fear expressed by teachers, though, is a cultural marker. It says something about what life is like in the Fayette County schools.

Myrup seemed skeptical of Silberman’s attempt to distance himself from the various manifestations of the push for higher test scores. So far, he does not see the situation getting any better. The heat is still on and indications are that it will remain so.

Myrup noted that test scores are an incomplete measure of assessment and should always be accompanied by additional sources of data. “In the current system, the whole assumption is that test scores provide some magically precise way to compare schools, and that a nudge up or down is indicative of progress or decline. The reality is that the scores are indicative of a student’s ability to navigate a very narrow set of parameters, and that the scores themselves are not meant to be precise but to speak to larger ranges. A child at any given moment will fall somewhere…within a particular range. So [answer] one test question and you move a certain number of points.” One of Myrup’s daughters scored in the 99th percentile when she took the MAP back in the fall. (That’s the one time when teachers hope that students don’t do too well.) Then she got five fewer questions correct in the spring and instead of scoring at the ninth grade, as she had, the fourth grader only scored in the eighth grade. Based on a simple reading of the numbers, he noted, she would appear to have failed to make her year’s progress. And yet, as he also pointed out, a closer reading of the data would show that her final score fell within the standard deviation for her stanine. “Scores can easily be misused and misinterpreted,” he maintained.

Myrup noted that in their conversation, Silberman assured him that common sense needs to be taken into account when looking at the numbers of individual students, but Myrup is still skeptical that this truly happens at every level in the district. “I suspect, in all good faith, when you're [the superintendent] trying to make changes…you set the big picture... And then what happens is you’ve got underlings that don’t truly understand what the numbers mean and crank up the pressure, and you’ve got principals that are scared,” Myrup said.

As for Monday’s meeting, Myrup says, “Our main thing is that we want…to introduce [to the board] the idea that a number doesn't always mean what we think it says. If we can just get that just the whole idea that there's more going on – that the most important things a child is going to learn in school are not going to be things you can measure; certainly not the way that we do." Quantitative numbers are going to exist. But you have to take some of that with a grain of salt and understand the limitations and caveats that accompany their use, Myrup believes.

As a principal, I liked data. It gave me a lot of good insight into how things were moving programmatically, but most of it I ignored because not all data is really useful to you in planning. But invariably you'll see something that will wake you up and you'll say, ‘Hey, that oughtta be better,’ or you'll ask, ‘Why is that happening?’I would look across all of the data, inferentially, and ask myself, ‘What story does this tell?’ It may cause me to change focus, put money here instead of there, bump up this instead of that. Data is a useful tool. But on some level, the impulse to quantify everything kind of dehumanizes the educational process in some sense.

“It's About People [is] the mantra of the district. 'It's about kids.' But somewhere along the way the bigger picture is that it has become about test scores, Myrup said. “Kids come to school and they don't think the whole purpose of learning is to be creative, or to be inspired. I think the idea of the teacher inspiring a child was totally lost in test-driven instruction.”

People may not agree with everything Myrup says, but much of the goal of FayetteABC is to create a dialogue where one presently does not exist - between citizens, teachers, administrators and parents. “Ultimately, we all want what's best for these kids,” Myrup said.”Everybody has a stake. To iron these things out we have to have dialogue. We have to bring these things out into the open.”

CORRECTION: This article was edited to resolve several journalistic issues in the original. Most significantly, the author included some information in the first posting that was not intended for inclusion. That error was the author's and it is regretted. Some spelling and language corrections were also made.

41 comments:

Anonymous said...

How can anyone question Mr. Silberman? Isn't Mr. Silberman an educational reformer? Isn't Mr. Silberman one we should follow blindly?

Anonymous said...

Has Dr. MyricK changed his mind? Are teachers (I'm at Glendover) allowed to sign the petition or not? I looked over the list and saw the name of a teacher, but he said earlier he discouraged teachers from signing Why was Emily Szkely allowed to sign? Was it because her husband is a professor at UK? I don't understand why he is discouraging teachers to refrain from signing this!

Anonymous said...

Add me to the list of educators who once again feels left out. At first I was attracted to Fayette ABC. Under Stu, I was definitely forced to teach to the state-mandated test. Under Dr. Myrick, I'm expected to sit back, inspire kids, but not engage in the act of signing a petition. How arrogant is this?

Anonymous said...

I think that most of us will agree that the architect of Fayette County's "Extreme Testing" policy was none other than Stu Silberman himself.

As I read the interview with my junior colleage at UK, I was amazed that Mr. Silberman seemed to imply that he was not responsible for the testing mania the has smothered Glendover students. And class rank in the elementary school? How could Mr. Silberman not have been involved in this scheme? My daughter who attends a nearby school told me her principal told her that colleges are looking at middle school records to assess the fitness of prospective applicants. (Not true) All of this is a reflection of what our superintendent wanted during his tenure in Lexington --- in addition to his place in a revised edition of Larry Cremin's "The Transformation of the School."

The slogan "The buck stops here" is associated with an American president. Should it not apply to the superintendent of Fayette County Public Schools? Having worked with Mr. Silberman, I am aware of his chameleon-like personality. He is very adept at telling each group what it wants to hear. When he speaks to Methodists, he seems to imply we need religion in our schools. When he is at Bracktown, he is concerned about African American achievement. When he speaks to the ACLU, he is an exponent of civil rights in the classroom. I see him as nothing more than a rather second-rate intellect who knows how to manipulate public opinion. Without making a named reference to another egomaniac, Mr. Silberman's grip on the newspapers, his silencing of dissent at the instructional level, and his evening rallies --or are they board meetings?--- at Central Office remind me of the tactics of an obscure Austrian war veteran who led his nation on a course of self destruction. Our schools deserve better that Mr. Silberman.

Most readers know this and so do I.

Richard Day said...

May 22, 2011 10:49 AM & May 22, 2011 12:18 PM: Teachers, clearly, have not been prohibited from signing. My sense is that FayetteABC does not want to encourage any teacher to do anything that might cause themselves trouble. If you agree with the group's position and want to sign your name to it, I say sign it. 1) It's past April 30 and too late for you to be fired, and 2) it is refreshing when teachers avail themselves of the first amendment.

May 22, 2011 1:16 PM: I don't see a Cremin connection, but perhaps like you, the one thing I can't accept is the idea that Silberman did not direct virtually every aspect of the district's vision and plan for implementing it. One might disagree with his views, but clearly his leadership is his greatest strength.

Anonymous said...

Myrup is awfully proud of himself for formulating this argument. And all by himself!

Are you kidding me? This guy doesn't think it's fair game to expect his daughter to get a year's growth at the end of a year of instruction?

I can't disagree with him enough, and think I might start a petition for parents who believe teachers and principals should be accountable for student learning. I think there are more of us than his 300.

Anonymous said...

Do you know if in Dr. Myrup's History classes at UK he followed the traditional "test and papers" grading system, or if he allowed his students to demonstrate their learning in cool and creative ways? A bit hypocritical on his part if he didn't.

Erik Myrup said...

Greetings! I just wanted to respond to some of the comments here with a few quick words. I also may write more later.

First, I would like to speak to anyone who is concerned that FayetteABC has not actively encouraged teachers to sign our petition. Please know that this was a reflection of our own limited understanding as parents. Notwithstanding constitutionally guaranteed freedoms, we worried that our district's teachers were in a very vulnerable position. In this regard, we didn't want anyone to feel pressured to sign a document that could possibly be used against them in any sort of administrative dispute. Having said this, the last thing that I would want would be for a teacher to feel that I was trying to prevent them from having a voice in these important matters. As a father, I firmly believe that our teachers have a far better sense about what is happening in our children's classrooms than anyone else. Our signers come from a broad spectrum across the district as a whole, and I am obviously not in a position to speak for everyone--nor have I ever been in a position to prevent anyone from signing the petition. (It’s all online and I actually know only a small percentage of the signers personally.) For my part I apologize if teachers--or anyone else--felt that their voices were being stifled. Please know that this was not at all my intention. If you believe in our petition and are comfortable making your support public, I would very much encourage you to sign. (And if you have any other concerns about how we have approached this problem--or anything else--please feel free to communicate with me in any manner that you feel comfortable.)

Secondly, I would like to speak to current comments about Stu Silberman. Please know that while I am critical of particular approaches and policies in Stu's administration, I am personally very grateful to him for the sacrifice and service that he has rendered our county. As an assistant professor at the very beginning of my career, I can only imagine what it is like to lead a district of this size. While I am sure that Stu and others can look back on gratifying memories that (hopefully) make their service worthwhile, I can only imagine what being a superintendent must be like. Certainly it is a position that holds a great deal of power. And yet, given my own inclinations I would think that it is a terribly thankless job with an ever growing number of frustrations! Please know that Stu personally took the time to speak to me for an hour and a half in the middle of what I am sure was a very busy day. (I was simply calling to speak to one of the district's administrative assistants, and five minutes later I was on the telephone with the superintendent.) Of course he didn't agree with everything that I had to say--I didn’t agree with his point of view, either. And yet, we were very much able to talk these things through. Please be assured that there was little if any rancor in our conversation and subsequent dialogue.

My sense is that many readers have very strong feelings about these matters. As I indicated above, I would be the last to prevent anyone from giving voice to their concerns. And yet, I worry that our public discourse often turns into personal disputes that have little to do with the tenets of our different points of view. Although I am not in a position to speak for everyone who signed FayetteABC's petition--much less the district's many teachers, principals, parents, and others who have an interest in this debate--please know that I harbor no ill will towards Stu Silberman or anyone else who might disagree with my concerns or point of view (which as a father obviously extend beyond the broad-based support we are cultivating for FayetteABC).

Again, if I failed to live up to any of these ideals, I can assure you that it was not intentional and please accept my sincere apologies.

--Erik Myrup
E-mail: erik.myrup@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Dear Richard,

On the way to UK like many teachers, but wanted to get this out. Is not Stu Silberman's leadership style (What some consider his greatest strength) simply the by-product of his bullying, threats, and intimidation?

Richard Day said...

Thanks for the question. This is probably the position I take that confuses folks the most.

Silberman's leadership style is not my style. But I don't think there's any doubt who's in charge in FCPS. He has, in that sense, shown strong leadership, particularly in contrast to prior leaders. I'm not sure I know the extent to which intimidation, etc., may be employed. I hope it's not, but I sure hear about that from a lot of sources - some awfully close to him.

But I should also acknowledge that leading a school sometimes requires the administrator to make some people uncomfortable and even unhappy. Change is needed in a lot of cases. We need leaders who are strong enough to drive the program. That's goes double for a large school system.

It must also be noted that while some may disagree with his approach, it seems to have been widely accepted by a substantial percentage of the Fayette population.

Love him or hate him, for many, Stu is the very model of a modern major school reformer.

Anonymous said...

I'm a (former) student of Dr Myrup's and to those who somehow doubt his own teaching style and classroom methods, I can only say that he is one of the best teachers I have ever had the pleasure of being taught by. He's an interesting lecturer and, what's more, he allows for more flexibility and creativity within written assignments than most professors I have been taught by in the past. I for one believe my education has been the better for it.

Anonymous said...

As a student of Dr. Myrup's, I feel as if I must address the questions that have been raised about Dr. Myrup's classes, specifically his teaching and methodology. Dr. Myrup does not simply stick to a traditional grading schema based on tests and papers. While they play a role, Dr. Myrup encourages a more creative approach to learning and the undergraduate and graduate level. You don't just analyze a primary source document, you actually get to create one. In my case it meant forging an old document and aging it with coffee and tea. Others, told a fictional account based on their document. The end result was perhaps the most rewarding I have had in all my studies (I am a phd student). You had to know the value of a primary document, it taught you how to criticize sources, and how to integrate real life sources into your narrative while proving a larger point about history and humanity. The document could serve to challenge existing sources, corroborate them, or serve as some sort of missing link. Anyway, the assignment got students thinking about history in a meaningful way. The assignment also let creativity shine, it was an outlet for students who may have trouble with more traditional assignments, but were certainly capable of understanding concepts. In the classroom Dr. Myrup is perhaps the best teacher I have had in college. He presents the material in a unique and engaging way. He integrates both the audio and visual into the classroom seamlessly. They never take the main focus away from the professor, but only add to his effectiveness. Dr. Myrup even integrates the food from other cultures into his lessons, from chocolate to Brazilian beans, to cashew juice, Dr. Myrup makes the past come to life. Dr. Myrup is as genuine as they come, always taking time out of his busy schedule to talk about a book or some obscure aspect of history. Yet this is not a service reserved for graduate students, as there is often a line to speak with Dr. Myrup containing both undergrads and graduate students. When it comes to tests, Dr. Myrup is more than fair allowing students to shape their own arguments and draw their own important conclusions, as long as they can support them. All of his grading comes back with a plethora of helpful and encouraging comments. There are no bubbles, and no standardized testing procedures leading to impactful learning, not just learning a test.

Thomas said...

Anonymous was in such a hurry to label Dr. Myrup as a hypocrite that he missed the whole point. The point here is not whether traditional classroom evaluations are used, but whether rankings based upon statewide, standardized tests ought to be the center of the curricula. Dr. Myrup recently won a major teaching prize at UK and he is, in my view, one of the best teachers on campus. He cares deeply about his students and he knows how to let them know this. He does use exams and papers to evaluate progress and he encourages students to be creative in their approaches to them. But this is not the issue. The issue is whether the pursuit of statewide, standardized test results ought to shape day-to-day instruction in the classroom. The answer is "NO"! I am a PhD student at UK and an experienced, certified secondary social studies teacher.

Anonymous said...

In response to an anonymous question:

Dr. Myrup is a WONDERFUL professor. I have taken two classes with him and I have never had a professor more dedicated to moving away from the traditional "tests and papers" sort of classroom. In fact, he actually forces his students to flex their creative muscles in written assignments- no easy task in a subject like history. He does an excellent job of balancing quantitative and qualitative learning in his classroom. Many other professors at UK would do well to learn from him, and his concerns about the schooling of his children are completely valid.

Laura Formisano said...

I do not have a child in elementary school, (though, I have undergone many many standardized tests in my years of schooling and have my own choice opinions about those.)

I am here to respond to the anonymous comment left on May 22nd, when someone questioned if Dr. Myrup used "cool and creative ways" to get his students to demonstrate their learning, and that he was a "hypocrite" if he didn't. As a student of Myrup's, I can assure you that we did and he is not. I took a class of his in Spring 2010 as a junior as well as History major, so you can imagine I've had quite a few history professors in my time at UK. The class itself was History of Brazil, which admittedly, was not a subject that typically would have been my first choice but I took the class because I had heard such positive things about him from other students as well as colleagues of his. While Myrup had to adhere to the grading scale UK has set up, he did use different tactics to test our knowledge and understanding of the subject matter, such as writing much more creative papers rather than your standard research one, yet while still providing guidelines to follow to ensure the proper research had been done and the academic material would still find it's way into the paper, just maybe not perhaps in the typical foot noted manner many classrooms see on a day to day basis. We read other sources rather than just textbook materials and had lively discussions that the entire class engaged - from day one, I never heard a negative word about Professor Myrup, and I can tell you as a student who's been on campus for 4 years, that is a rare thing indeed. We got to meet all of his children (some of the most well behaved I've ever seen), enjoyed traditional Brazilian food from time to time and yes, we were read some of the class material in Myrup's special voices (something a classroom full of twenty somethings still really enjoy, surprisingly.) Suffice to say, Myrup's was one of the most enjoyable classes I have ever taken - not only did I find the subject matter more interesting than I would have originally imagined, but he did manage to teach us in "cool and creative" ways, and much of the knowledge he imparted has been happily retained.

John said...

There are two separate issues being raised here on this blog and in the comments section: the quality of Dr. Myrup as a teacher and the efficacy of standardized testing.

On the second issue I have mixed views, but lean a bit towards believing in the importance of standardized tests. There are basic things that students should know, and it’s important that that knowledge should be demonstrated.

In mildly disagreeing with Dr. Myrup on the main issue, I hope I can convey with greater authority his qualities as a teacher. His credentials are impeccable. As a grad student who has taken part in examining prospective professors, we look specifically at their likely qualities as an instructor (quality of scholarship is the other major focus). In doing so, Dr. Myrup is the specific person we measure to the candidate. The candidate who displays the greatest interest and propensity towards being a teacher (beyond their interests as a researcher) is described as the “Myrup-esk” candidate. Having taken a course from him, I can say with certainty that he is able to integrate creative writing assignments and class room discussions into the curriculum that gets the student to think critically about the subject matter.

Hunter Martin said...

I had professor Myrup for HIS 206 History of Latin America from 1492 at the University of Kentucky. His teaching and testing methods are highly unconventional but they are extremely effective. The testing method he used forced me to permanently remember the information I had learned instead of simply committing it to short term memory and "mind dumping" it after the test.

I can honestly say Professor Myrup is the best educator I have ever had the opportunity to learn from at any level of schooling. The environment of his classroom is so exciting and refreshing. He brings history to life and makes it exciting to learn.

I can also say that he is one of the most difficult professors I have had. For a 200 level class, we easily did the same amount of work at a 400 level. Every day I went to class I felt pushed to do my best. I felt pushed to actually learn the information instead of simply BSing my way through the material like most students end up doing throughout college.

Every day in class I felt both motivated and excited to learn. Professor Myrup is not only a wonderful teacher, but a wonderful person who truly cares about his students.

When I missed an entire week of class due to a back injury, Professor Myrup took the time to meet with me and personally go over all of the information that I had missed. Most teachers wouldn't even notice I had been gone and would care even less if I missed what was taught in class.

He is an upright and caring man and a gifted educator who brings passion to the classroom...and occasionally milk and cookies.

Hunter Martin said...

I had professor Myrup for HIS 206 History of Latin America from 1492 at the University of Kentucky. His teaching and testing methods are highly unconventional but they are extremely effective. The testing method he used forced me to permanently remember the information I had learned instead of simply committing it to short term memory and "mind dumping" it after the test.

I can honestly say Professor Myrup is the best educator I have ever had the opportunity to learn from at any level of schooling. The environment of his classroom is so exciting and refreshing. He brings history to life and makes it exciting to learn.

I can also say that he is one of the most difficult professors I have had. For a 200 level class, we easily did the same amount of work at a 400 level. Every day I went to class I felt pushed to do my best. I felt pushed to actually learn the information instead of simply BSing my way through the material like most students end up doing throughout college.

Every day in class I felt both motivated and excited to learn. Professor Myrup is not only a wonderful teacher, but a wonderful person who truly cares about his students.

When I missed an entire week of class due to a back injury, Professor Myrup took the time to meet with me and personally go over all of the information that I had missed. Most teachers wouldn't even notice I had been gone and would care even less if I missed what was taught in class.

He is an upright and caring man and a gifted educator who brings passion to the classroom...and occasionally milk and cookies.

Anonymous said...

I had professor Myrup for HIS 206 History of Latin America from 1492 at the University of Kentucky. His teaching and testing methods are highly unconventional but they are extremely effective. The testing method he used forced me to permanently remember the information I had learned instead of simply committing it to short term memory and "mind dumping" it after the test.

I can honestly say Professor Myrup is the best educator I have ever had the opportunity to learn from at any level of schooling. The environment of his classroom is so exciting and refreshing. He brings history to life and makes it exciting to learn.

I can also say that he is one of the most difficult professors I have had. For a 200 level class, we easily did the same amount of work at a 400 level. Every day I went to class I felt pushed to do my best. I felt pushed to actually learn the information instead of simply BSing my way through the material like most students end up doing throughout college.

Every day in class I felt both motivated and excited to learn. Professor Myrup is not only a wonderful teacher, but a wonderful person who truly cares about his students.

When I missed an entire week of class due to a back injury, Professor Myrup took the time to meet with me and personally go over all of the information that I had missed. Most teachers wouldn't even notice I had been gone and would care even less if I missed what was taught in class.

He is an upright and caring man and a gifted educator who brings passion to the classroom...and occasionally milk and cookies.

Leslie said...

+JMJ+

I too have had Dr. Myrup as a professor at UK and I have nothing but positive things to say about my experience in the classroom. I enjoyed the first class so much I decided to take a second class taught by Dr. Myrup and to my disappointment he is not teaching any courses I am able to take in the fall!

As stated above Dr. Myrup is an awesome teacher who makes learning fun, which as a college student I rarely come across teachers who care about the students experience in the classroom. He has a wealth of information about whatever topic is discussed and a true passion for teaching. He allows free range of creativity on his writing assignments which allows students to research and write about what they are truly interested in and offers them an opportunity to present it in a way they find best.

Not only are Dr. Myrup's teaching styles effective he also reminds students before every test that we will do many more important things in life than take his tests! A teacher who is truly concerned about the education of students rather than the scores they achieve on a test is much needed in todays education system.

Also as a testament to Dr. Myrup is the amount of information I have actually LEARNED from his class. After taking Dr. Myrup's class I was able to apply what I had learned to other classes as well. I don't know that I have ever retained as much information from one class as I have from his. I do not want to make his classes sound easy though because they are not. I had to dedicate more time to his classes than most others but because I enjoyed learning I didn't mind! I even found myself bringing up random facts about the history of Brazil to my roommates because it had somehow applied to our conversations!

Aside from the quality of professor Dr. Myrup is I hold his opinion in high regard because he is very educated and has genuine care for the issues he advocates. He is truly dedicated to education at all levels and he is one teacher many others could learn from. If all teachers took the time to implement more effective teaching styles that students responded too and put less stress on tests scores true education would take place. Even if my grades on tests or papers were higher in other classes, the amount of information I learned in Dr. Myrup's classes far surpasses any score received because my education as a whole was enriched.

I would not be able to thank Dr. Myrup enough for contributing to my education and for just being an honest good person.

Anonymous said...

I'm the anonymous, and a she, not a he.

Funny, I reread my post, and I just can't see where I questioned Dr. Myrup's teaching credentials or practices. I only said IF he doesn't practice what he preaches, THEN he's a hypocrite.

Clearly he isn't helping you scholars with your critical reading skills. D for Myrup!

Anonymous said...

I am pleased Dr. Myrick is aware that teachers could get into trouble with Stu and his staff (Jack Hayes, who is not leaving) over the signature board. Of course, then I was baffled at what seemed like a retreat into the familiar American custon of "praising the adversary." (The testimonial praising Stu seemed contradictory)

My hope for FayetteABC is this:

1) That the signers of the document reflect all classes of Lexington society. There sure are a good many UK professors signing!

2) That Dr. Myrick does not discuss this issue with his students, who have no vested interest in the testing "octupus."

3) That Dr. Myrick's religious convictions will enable FayetteABC to include ---and reach out to-- parents of all sexual orientations.

Anonymous said...

Someone stained a piece of paper and burned the edges, to learn about primary documents? Isn't that a third grade Art project?

Let me guess, you learned for perpetuity that primary source documents are sometimes (but not always) O-L-D.

Next week, PVC tubes and feathers: we're going to make blowguns! Don't forget your crayons!

No wonder UK is second tier.

Anonymous said...

I heard Myrick and the UK people who signed his survey are going to lead the charge to stop UK from using test scores in the admissions process. True? How many other colleges are already doing what he proposes?

Anonymous said...

I certainly hope our next leader of Fayette County schools takes a totally different approach in his/her leadership. As a retired teacher from this system, I can tell you that no one I know is sorry to see him go. I worked as a remediation teacher for several years, helping students who were struggling in the regular classroom. At the end of the year, I highlighted in my plan book the amount of time my students missed my class due to testing and it amounted to about 20%. How am I supposed to TEACH these children when they spend so much time taking tests. One of the previous comments was very accurate about Silberman-he will tell you exactly what you want to hear. The testing environment really ramped up when he came on board, and anyone who has worked in the system will tell you that.

ADG said...

Anyone who would question the efficacy of Dr Myrup's teaching methods should probably retract their statements as they are embarrassing themselves. I have never seen a professor with his level of dedication. He grades in a manner that can only be described as tough but fair. Dr. Myrup not only conveys the information well but ties it into the overall themes of history addressed by the class. I learned vast amounts of information regarding the birth of the African slave trade and the consequences it held for the development of the new world as well as much much more(colonialism,Portuguese expansion into the Atlantic,the British abolitionist movement,the Asiento,syncretic religious traditions, the role of the French Revolution in the birth of the Haitian nation,the rise of Central and South American Caudillismo). Actually, when I stop to think of all the things I learned in his class I realize that there is no way I could sit and type it all as it would take all night.Dr Myrup's class (HIS 208) clarified parts of history for me that it was not even intended to address. His pedagogical technique is impeccable as is his repertoire with his students. As I said before, say what you will about Dr. Myrup's views on standardized testing. Unfortunately for his detractors they will have to find another avenue of attack because the integrity and efficacy of his teaching methods are ROCK solid. The man possesses immense teaching talent, end of story. I learned an absolutely massive amount of information that I not only retained but synthesized. Everybody really appreciated the class and his level of dedication(LONG essay and I.D. tests graded and photocopies of your exam emailed to you less than 24 hours after the test with constructive comments and critiques). University of Kentucky is FULL of incredibly talented professors and TA's that never fail to impress me and blow me away with their knowledge and dedication. Erik Myrup really is one of the best. Anyone who has studied under Dr. Myrup, or their relatives, will probably not have much respect for anyone attempting to bash his teaching methods as they automatically know the detractor has no idea what they are talking about. My parents got tired of me talking about how great the class was and telling them about the InconfidĂȘncia Mineira in Brazil and other topics we studied in the course. Anyone who would attempt to disparage Dr. Myrup is doing a great disservice to our community, our college, and a talented professor. He is UNIVERSALLY LIKED and respected for his dedication and no nonsense approach to not only ensuring his students learn, but also understand, the material he teaches. Shame on anyone who speculates otherwise as they are making assertions that are laughably untrue in a way that makes them look very foolish.

Stephen Pickering said...

My, such fierce words typed under the armor of Internet Anonymity.

As several of the other students above have stated, I have little knowledge of the state of Fayette County Educational Reform and, while I personally have little fondness for standardized tests (I did quite well for myself, thank you), I will admit that I have little to offer that others better informed would find of interest. But I do know quite a bit of Dr. Myrup, and I would like to add my own voice to the growing chorus of support that you can see directly above.

First, my credentials for that choir position. I am a doctoral student in the University of Kentucky's History Department (exciting stuff, I know). Dr. Myrup has kindly agreed to be a member of my committee, though as an "outside" member, he is aware that our research interests rarely overlap in any concrete way. As part of his agreement to join my committee, he asked me to sit in on one of his undergraduate classes (a 300-level, which is intermediate for undergraduates) and simultaneously fulfill an independent study that was at graduate level. Therefore, I have actual experience of Myrup as a teacher at both levels, as well as a personal relationship with him that has developed over numerous formal and informal meetings in the department over the past few years.

So, let me be blunt: regardless of what you might think of Dr. Myrup's opinions regarding educational reform, if you believe he is a hypocrite, a fake, a pot-stirrer with no real commitment to what he believes, you are wrong. I have been at the University of Kentucky for eight long years (undergraduate and graduate, before you smirk), and I have seen no teacher with a greater commitment to the art of pedagogy than Dr. Myrup--and I say this after having had numerous wonderful teachers. In approach, Dr. Myrup is fairly atypical, mixing historical fiction readings with the traditional nonfictional history, leading surprisingly lively discussions on materials (which is a dying artform, sadly), and engaging students' creativity in ways that most professors do not. I will not say that I loved all of this--creative writing is rather a new trick for an old dog used to the facts and figures of graduate school--but his mixture of approaches gave room for various students to play to their strengths, and, most importantly, made undergraduates eager to come to his classes to a degree that is exceedingly rare at a college level.

He works hard at this job, and this is the point I would like to have taken from this post if no other, because he truly cares about education, not just for his children, but for others as well. He has a too-open office door, and many have been the times that he's invited me in to discuss my research when I knew he could desperately use the time to work on his own research. And I would like to think I'm special, but it's actually better to know that I'm not; he does this for all of his students. And really, if you need any further proof, just visit his listing on the often shark-infested waters of ratemyprofessor.com; he not only has exemplary ratings, he also has a chili pepper!

So, again, feel free to question his ideas and arguments regarding education; he would want you to. But make sure that you do not make a mistake in extending that same skepticism towards his beliefs and practices.

Anonymous said...

Glendover is a fabulous school and while teaching to the standards (which are tested) is an expectation of IAKSS there is so much more going on at Glendover for children. I choose to send my children to Glendover because I believe in public education.

If the Myrup family is so unhappy, it seems that home schooling may be their best option.

Anonymous said...

Let's spend a little less time insulting teaching styles and realize that their are MANY ways to teach... but we all have the Program of Studies as content to teach and the Core Content test to help make sure it is taught. Rather than fight the fact that we WILL assess students in many ways- not only to hold us accountable that children are really learning what they need to learn but also to help drive our instruction- maybe FayetteABC can work with parents/schools to come up with ways to celebrate that they think would be appropriate. I hate to think that kids and schools are not recognized at all... We work hard! If schools should not have an assemby to celebrate- what would be appropriate? We do spend time saying it is important that all children make growth so how should we celebrate when we grow?

Anonymous said...

While I grew up in the Madison Co. school district and can not speak towards that of Fayette Co. I know from experience how everything is focused on standardized testing. Having my mother as an educator who was always involved in my schooling she too placed an importance on the system, but firmly disagreed with it's purpose.

I have also had the joy of being taught by professor Myrup on two occasions. I can say that he is by far the most dedicated, understanding, creative, and learned educator I have had at the University of Kentucky. I have never been more interested in anything than when he teaches. He makes stories relate able and easy to comprehend at any level. He looks outside of the box on how to help his students understand what he is trying to teach. He makes class enjoyable and fun! Most professors cancel class if they are going to be gone, Myrup Skyped our class and lectured from Portugal. Can you say dedicated?

And to add, from what he has shown us in class, he is an amazing father who is very involved in his children's lives. He will tell anyone a story about his children and even involves them when he brings them to class. His door to his office is covered in his daughters art work.

I have nothing but good words to speak on behalf of Professor Myrup and believe that he is the real deal as an educator, father, and advocate for Fayette Co. education.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the rhetoric has become too heated yet, but I wish someone, perhaps Richard, could explain how all these UK grad/undergraduate students of Dr. Myrick's are learning about FayetteABC.

As a former graduate student myself, I was never interested in my professors' personal crusades. Why are Dr. Murick's students entering this discussion. Who let them know that there is this blog?

I continue to be grateful for being able to post anonymously, and I desperately want to believe Dr. Myrick is doing the right thing. But there are mixed messages of praise and condemnation for Stu that don't seem compatible. If, as Dr. Myrick explained, several teachers are afraid to sign the petition, what kind of man would praise Stu, who is also the architect of the "testing octupus" in our county?

Andrew Fordham said...

I am currently a student at the University of Kentucky in the Secondary Social Studies Education program. Over the years I have taken Dr. Myrup's classes twice and enjoyed both greatly. He teaching style allows students to learn creatively and become involved in what they are learning (as shared by other bloggers who have had the privilege to learn from him). I praise his approach in the classroom and would take him again in a heartbeat. When I become an educator I would have no problem drawing from his example in and out of the classroom.

Now, I would like to comment on this situation about testing. I completely understand how nice a set of data can be when one is trying to better a school. It can create a base for growth; however, I also understand that in this race for better test scores and more funding certain educational values could be lost. I do not feel that education is completely negatively influenced by these tests; just the problem persists when a district may put more emphasis on which school has the better score (or where they fall on the spreadsheet versus other schools) instead of the significance of educational points that may have been passed over in class due to standardized test prep. As long as educators can be instructed to use class time to prepare for standardized tests I believe that this issue will always be somewhat of a problem.

All my best to Dr. Myrup and his wonderful family

Deborah said...

I am also a satisfied parent at Glendover school . My husband and I became interested in the school because its website had an international flavor and talked about life-long learning rather than meeting proficiency goals. We had also heard good things from other parents. We visited the school and were impressed by the quality and variety of work on the walls. The assignments seemed interesting and challenging, not lock-step in line with a posted standard. I have not seen more beautiful and inspiring children’s artwork anywhere. The atmosphere of the school was calm and there seemed to be respectful relationships among staff and children. We were aware that the school did not have the highest test scores in the city but took that as a sign that there might be less intensive test preparation ( as a former teacher, I am well aware of good and not so good ways of raising scores) not that the school was less good. We purchased our house specifically because of Glendover.

As a parent, I trust what I see and what I hear from other parents with intimate experience of a school more than I trust test scores. Admittedly, had the Glendover scores been very low, I might have had reservations.

I am so grateful to the many wonderful teachers at Glendover. Our children have grown by leaps and bounds. Overall, I believe that they have learned as much or more by being at Glendover than they would have at an expensive private school. I love that they go to school with children from all over the world and love watching all these children spill out of the school at dismissal , chattering happily. Our children are in good hands every day and on some days treated better by the Glendover staff than they are at home…. Staff devote their private time to provide children with extra opportunities like overnight trips, jump rope club, the talent show and international night to name just a few. Parents I know at other FCPS schools have also described some wonderful teachers and it is my understanding that the county attracts an especially talented pool due to relatively high salaries. I am not sure but think we have the Fayette County Board of Education and the Fayette County taxpayers to thank for that. I am appalled by what I see as frequent disrespect in the media for teachers. There are few more challenging or important jobs.

That being said, I do feel that the quality of education at Glendover would be even better were the children not required to take so many additional tests beyond what is already required by the state. I have not seen the benefit of these extra tests for my children and they take time away from other work that could be done. For example, the computer lab is taken much of the year for MAP testing. The annual goals set by these tests do not have any meaning for my children. It is not my sense that the teachers chose these additional tests or think they are necessary though I do not know for sure. I also do not like the test score assembly, especially the isolation of children who have not scored proficient. I like the idea of an assembly that celebrates learning but would rather the assembly incorporate many elements with perhaps the school total test score being a component if the SBDM thought it served a purpose. The school does so many things to celebrate student’s accomplishments, academic and otherwise.

I am curious to know what other FCPS teachers think about the extra tests. I do not like them but am only one person (though it seems that over 350 other people may also note like them….). Do you get useful information from these tests? Are the sacrifices of time and attention worth this extra information?

Thank you, Richard for hosting this discussion. It is a more extended and interesting discussion of teaching than I have seen publicly in quite some time. I would love to sit in on Dr. Myrup’s class!

As a final note, I wish we could have these discussions without personal attacks. I do not see their purpose in helping us all to make sense of complex issues.

Anonymous said...

I am a Glendover parent. There is too much testing there, for sure. I believe this is not the problem of the principal, but Mr. Silberman. I am disturbed by the fact that so many are afraid to criticize him. I actually wish FayetteABC would be more stern with him. I am still afarid to sign the petition lest it be known who my kids are.

I, too, wish we could all be kind in this forum, but kindness is not always an American trait. But for that matterr, neither is fear. I am fearful to call Glendover's principal about testing. I am fearful of Stu. I think he is not a stable man and that he has become progressively worse since his biking accident. I would not go above saying he is vindictive. He is clearly a man who wants to be remembered as a reformer, and no parent is going to stop him.

I wish Richard Day would address the problem of fear in Fayette County Public Schools. There is no "free speech" when it comes to being a parent in the school system

Richard Day said...

May 24, 2011 8:23 PM: Well, I'm not sure how much I actually know, but I'm happy to shed what light I think I have on the issue.
As for how Dr. Myrick's students learned about Fayette ABC and the blog, I don't know. But I assume Dr. Myrick discussed the issue with them in class, or out of class. While it is probably unusual for a history class to find KSN&C, several education classes certainly have, at UK, Georgetown and at Eastern. While I would love to tell you that everyone knows about Kentucky School News and Commentary, fact is, we're a niche blog that averages somewhere around 2,500 2,700 unique visitors a month-depending on how well I do my job. It's not everybody's cup of tea.
To be honest with you, Dr. Myrup doesn't impress me as much of a crusader. On the contrary, I see him bending over backwards to raise his issues in as conciliatory a manner as possible. In fact, you are not the only reader to have questioned why he's being so careful not to go after Stu Silberman. I think a lot of people feel that way. I know that a few board members I've talked to in recent years feel conflicted from time to time, as have I. We are all a mix of strengths and weaknesses trying to find our way through very complex, and changing, circumstances.
I will even go so far as to say I felt some kinship with Myrup’s approach. While he disagrees with some things he sees going on, I don't get the sense that he's mad at anybody. But contrast that with teachers who work in Fayette County schools and have felt disrespected or trampled upon, and we see more passion in the commentary. I feel quite certain some teachers would like others of us who are more removed to feel their disgruntlement ourselves.
It is probably also good to remind everyone that Stu Silberman did not invent the current administrative philosophy, although he may be seen as one of its strongest adherents. To some extent, even powerful large district school superintendents are beholden to the powers above them to manage programs in a way that not only make the schools better but that leaves the district in good standing according to whatever yardstick the state of Kentucky is using at the moment. You have to follow the law-all the time. Of course Kentucky's new accountability system is still in transition at this time but we know it will feature some amount (a little less apparently) of standardized testing.
I'm glad you've found KSN&C to be a useful venue for discussing topics that impact our schools. Thanks for your comments.

Anonymous said...

To Deborah from Glendover,

I am a teacher very afraid to speak about anything that deals with educational policy publicly. While my principal knows I do not trust Dr. Silberman, I would never challenge him publicly. I invite you to look at the look on Silberman's face as he introduces Dr. Myrick. It is positively sinister and reveals how he views dissent. If you want to get a take on this man and see what he stands for, I'd recommend the book "Anti-intellectualism in American Life" by Richard Hofstedter.

Dr. Silberman strikes me as a man who suffers from delusions about his leadership. Almost everything he does is centered around the spotlight. Remember that first photo opportunity that showed him opening a child's locker? Since that time, I have never seen him in the hall of my school or in my classroom.

Dr. Silberman's empahasis on test preparation is so formulaic that it robs students of creativity, as Dr. Myrick says. It's amazing how "Stu" can pull his teachers into the lockstep of practice tests. I do hope you, as a parent, will speak up to your principal and your school board member. Morale is low in our school district. Many of my colleagues are taking early retirement!

Anonymous said...

I find it difficult to separate the word "hubris" from Dr. Silberman.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Myrup's ability to garner so much support from his former students speaks volumes to the quality of his teaching and to his genuine commitment to education.

I am a junior studying history at UK and this past spring I took HIS 580, the history of Brazil, with Dr. Myrup. I see no need to reiterate all the praise given above, but I would just like to speak as another voice of support for his refreshing and inspiring methods of teaching.

Anonymous said...

Why are the students praising hsi teaching? Let's speak to Dr. Myrick's ability to affect change here in FCPS. This testing crap is ridiculous. Three learning checks, testing extended over a week, strategies given to bubble tests correctly. This has gone too far in FCPS. Isn't time for the board members we elected to take a stand? Their silence says a lot.

Anonymous said...

I think that when you focus solely on the test, the student learn only the information required for the test then later in their school life they will be asked things they probably didnt learn but "should" have to use on universal test like the ACT and SAT. students learning should not be limited or focused for a particular test that is biased because everyone knows the end of the year is focus on the cats test materials and nothing else.

Marielander said...

My sense of it is that Dr. Myrup and the rest of FayetteABC are trying to support not only students, but teachers themselves. Few of the latter came to their profession to teach children how to properly fill in a multiple choice bubble, I think. Certainly measuring and assessing progress is important, but instruction should not be geared primarily towards that end. The test is supposed to be a tool to help evaluate progress, not the point of the journey.

I'm another one of Dr. Myrup's former students. I, like the others, gladly attest to the care and attention that he gives to his students. His lessons are carefully planned and pitched to different learning styles - moreso than many college professors who tend to favor one style or another exclusively. In our graduate course, he encouraged us to consider how we, as future educators, might teach a subject with consideration towards creativity and quality. I went to public schools, K-12, and the teachers who made a real difference in my life were the ones who challenged me to think in new ways. The ones who cared about my development.

It's been my sense that Dr. Myrup got into education because its something he feels passionately about and I'm not surprised to see him act to try to address an imbalance between the attention to testing and learning. It's an important conversation to have and I hope that all sides consider it earnestly.