Say something! The time for silence is gone! We are trying to start a revolution! We are trying to take back our public schools!
Your daily Jennifer Clarke…
When I stand at the front of a classroom at look out at the sea of faces in front of me, a voice in my head pushes me to reach them. I hope in the deep recesses that I found the right words…the right metaphor…the key to unlocking each one of them.
The saddest truth is, none of us get to each one. We don’t reach them all. We can’t. And words are not the answer every time anyway. We do teach courses, and the curriculum we carefully craft and scaffold, toil and model, and build as we see their faces in our minds while building lessons and grading papers well into the night during in the darkness of our home offices, recliners in our living rooms, and tables at the local coffee houses, push us to ignite sparks of interest in learning.
But just because we can’t reach them all, doesn’t mean we stop trying. And for all of those who dismiss the importance of class size, take the statistics and data out for a minute, and let’s just talk about the real world application.
Let’s say, for example, I have 27 kids for 45 minutes. In that time, I am to teach a complicated lesson on understand the rhetorical impacts of political speech, have them understand logical fallacies, and be prepared to locate and deconstruct them in a speech by going through all the levels of Bloom’s taxonomy in one lesson. And if this isn’t being tested on a standardized test, it is a waste of everyone’s time anyway.
Now, nevermind that all of these kids may well be at very different levels, and the mere mention of that sentence may require a great deal of reteaching to even begin to foundation for the lesson which could take anywhere from 1-3 class periods. When we are talking class size, and the amount of students who many need individualized attention and focus, it makes a big difference. Every child is expected to meet the standard, and I must be able to assess each individual student’s level and gauge their growth to get them to the standard level. In 45 minutes. All of them.
Another issue is teacher-student engagement. The corporate mentality of” leave your problems at the door is fine” for work, but this is unacceptable in a school environment. These are children and adolescents, and a major component of a teacher’s job is being so many things other than a “curriculum facilitator.” When a teacher is shuffling students through a mind-numbing scripted curriculum, all involved will be on auto-pilot. Remove the passion from the equation, and the sparks that have ignited true creativity and thought will go with it.
An increase in class size cannot, surely, be an adequate measure to a pressing need for our children’s current educational crisis. Teachers must have a manageable workload, time to engage with and invest in each child in the room. A sufficient amount of time to assess and get to know their students, and the freedom to develop real relationships with them and help them build on their strengths.
If you think class size doesn’t matter, ask reformers where their kids go to school. See how quick your child can get in, or if there is a waiting list.
“… a reminder last week about the ethics regulations surrounding gifts to public school teachers. In it, he outlines the financial restrictions around direct gifts to teachers. He also encourages parents to give gifts to the classroom, school or school organizations in a teacher’s name. If you’re worried that a donation to the school won’t feel personal enough, here are some ideas teachers and students should enjoy…”
“Because quality public schools are essential to our economy and our democracy, our state is supposed to assure all children access to a sound education. Sounds great. But how can we provide excellent education without excellent teachers? We’ve heard this month that teacher turnover is steadily increasing and that applications to schools of education are down. The situation has gotten so much publicity and generated such public outrage that North Carolina Republican leaders have promised to make changes in the upcoming short session..”
Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/12/11/3452963/local-boards-must-take-lead.html#storylink=cpy
“If passed by the state Senate, it would affect all candidates offered positions by traditional district schools, charter schools and cybercharter schools. Applicants would be barred from employment if the screening revealed the presence of illegal drugs…”
Say something! The time for silence is gone! We are trying to start a revolution! We are trying to take back our public schools!
Your daily Jennifer Clarke…
From curriculum, to assessment, to evaluation, to dianostics, to materials, to homeschool platforms, Pearson is one-stop shopping in education. Make no mistake, education is undeniably for sale.
The United States, once proudly, a nation standing upon the principal that literacy lead to liberty, has abandoned the rights of our children in pursuit of profit. And Pearson has seized the opportunity to package a product to fill every corner of the school house.
Whereas, education has been historically viewed as a right to every child within our nation’s borders, politicians are now pushing for a profitable, privatized reform that will naturally exclude the most needy of our children to gain access to a public education. To be fair, even our largest class of citizens—the middle class, will find difficulty in securing a solid education for their children. The curriculum and tests being “sold” under duress to our schools (not sure if being forced to purchase materials from Pearson in order to take tests developed by Pearson to adhere to laws backed by politicians funded by Pearson is exactly free-market enterprise), are strikingly limited in the for profit charters and privates schools that are coincidentally exempt from many of these statutes that public schools must follow. Guess where these reformers and politicians’ children go to school—I can tell you their children are not trying to understand how 265 can be rounded down to 200. (CC Math Example)
You may work for a company, and when you do, you abide by their rules. You are trained to do as they say when on the clock. This cannot be in education. Education must maintain no alliance with any corporation. Sponsorship, alliances, and monopolies of any kind threaten the integrity of the educational environment. Having students regurgitate a wrote pattern or an arbitrary established standard is not education, and it is only this type of business modeled thinking that can be measured in quantifiable data.
The freedom of thought and exploration must be protected and preserved. When education is bought and sold, then our children become products, and teachers must mold them to fit the company ideal.
“There has been a pushback against standardized tests in Texas public schools. While the Texas Legislature cut back on the number of tests in high school this year, some parents and teachers here in Houston think standardized tests still carry too much weight. This week while the Houston school board was preparing for its next meeting, there was a different kind of meeting going on outside in the cold rain…”
“When Miami-Dade’s 2012 elementary science teacher of the year finally got her annual evaluation last May, she was confused Despite the top honor from her peers for her work with Howard Drive Elementary fifth graders, the official record ranked Julie Rich as barely effective due to her students’ poor test results — in reading. ‘It makes no sense,’ said Rich. ‘I’m just trying to get a fair evaluation. I felt really offended by this because I’m not even being judged by the subject I teach.’ Nor are thousands of other Florida teachers…”
“A big reason America is falling behind other countries in science and math is that we have effectively written off a huge chunk of our population as uninterested in those fields or incapable of succeeding in them. Women make up nearly half the work force but have just 26 percent of science, technology, engineering or math jobs, according to the Census Bureau. Blacks make up 11 percent of the workforce but just 6 percent of such jobs and Hispanics make up nearly 15 percent of the work force but hold 7 percent of those positions. There is no question that women and minorities have made progress in science and math in the last several decades, but their gains have been slow and halting. And in the fast-growing field of computer science, women’s representation has actually declined in the last 20 years, while minorities have made relatively small gains…”
Say something! The time for silence is gone! We are trying to start a revolution! We are trying to take back our public schools!
Your daily Jennifer Clarke…
We are teachers!
A former student called me a hero this weekend. I told him kindly I do not accept that label. I am not a hero. I am a teacher. He said I have done so much more because I have forever impacted his life, and I have lost so much fighting for the rights of my students. I told him he has misunderstood the role of an educator. I told him I am quite simply a teacher, and that is all. The system is broken, and I am injured by the system, yes, but I am, in fact, merely a teacher, not a hero. And any teacher not fighting for the rights of their students, failing to protect their safety as mandated reporters, or not working to unleash their creativity and passions for life is failing in his or her role as educator. I should not stand out as a hero, but rather, the others should stand out as failures. Do not call me a hero. Please, just call me a teacher. That is the label I love.
“What happens if enough New York parents say they don’t want their kids to take tests?… We’re well into the second decade of the accountability era of public education, during which federal programs like No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top have prodded state school systems to raise standards. In New York City, Mayor Bloomberg has spent a dozen years bringing data analysis and standardization to what once was a decentralized system. Adding an extra layer of assessments to those mandated by No Child Left Behind, the system now tests kids year round instead of at the start and end of school years..”
“Its sponsors say it is an urgently needed and long-overdue package of reforms for a burgeoning system, but critics contend that Pennsylvania’s hotly debated charter-school bill would speed the decline of some conventional public schools. The legislature is expected to act soon – perhaps in the next few weeks – on Senate Bill 1085, which would embody the first major changes since the once-experimental schools began expanding rapidly across Pennsylvania in the late 1990s. This year, the Philadelphia School District alone will pay $708 million to charter schools. One element of the proposal is a cut in the taxpayer funding formula for the state’s 15 cyber charters – online schools that have been plagued by scandal and low academic achievement. But a growing band of public-education advocates is rallying against the bill. While supporting cuts for cyber schools, the opponents say other parts of the bill would speed an already rapid exodus of students from public schools to charters.
“… Only a quarter of the academic work force is tenured, or on track for tenure, down from more than a third in 1995. The majority hold contingent jobs — mostly part-time adjuncts but also graduate assistants and full-time lecturers. And the Service Employees International Union, with members in health care, maintenance and public service, is moving hard and fast to add the adjuncts to their roster, organizing at private colleges in several urban areas..”
“Fledgling Doral College got a $400,000 windfall two years ago that helped the small start-up open its doors. The “grant” came from Doral Academy Charter High, a publicly funded school run by the same company. The deal helped Doral College stay in the black and furthered a joint effort with the charter school to establish an in-house dual-enrollment program. But the transaction also caught the eye of Miami-Dade school district auditors, who have spent the last year questioning why and how a school funded by the state could hand hundreds of thousands of public dollars to an unaccredited, private college.
Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/12/03/3795275/charter-schools-400000-grant-to.html#storylink=cpy
“Major California school districts fear they will be shortchanged millions of dollars in funding for their low-income students under new state rules requiring them to verify family incomes every year. Officials in Los Angeles, San Diego, Fresno and elsewhere are scrambling to collect verification forms but said that hundreds of families have not yet turned them in — potentially jeopardizing funding that school districts are counting on this year. At stake, for instance, is $200 million in L.A. Unified and $6 million in San Diego…”
“New York City Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio is considering a number of candidates to be his new public schools chancellor — a decision that is one of the most visible and important he will make as he staffs his new administration — and it seems like every day there is a new rumor about who is still on his list and who isn’t. The de Blasio transition team hasn’t said anything publicly about any specific candidates, though the mayor-elect told The Observer Sunday that he was taking his time to make a decision…”
“Almost 17,200 additional students packed into North Carolina schools this year while the number of teachers dropped, according to new payroll data, leading to what some advocates say are larger class sizes that inhibit learning…”
“Halfway through the school year in the suburban New York community where I live, the kids are somehow getting by without field trips, a cut in before- and after-school activities, as well as other nips and tucks in staffing and programs. But it’s not as bad as it could have been. In the spring, when voters rejected a school district budget that was $3 million richer than the current spending plan, it was a shock on the order of a massive meteorite wiping out our prestigious zip code. Letters flooded into the weekly newspaper. Email blasts and robocalls surged through the wires. Mailings from community groups arrived daily…”
“Rhee, Nicholas Kristof and Arne Duncan exaggerate test results again to advance an ugly anti-public school agenda… Last month, global consulting business McKinsey & Co. published a report concluding that the market for data in education from both public and private sources represented a new business venture worth between $900 billion and $1.2 trillion in annual economic value worldwide, about a third of it in the United States…”
“… Now, Chicago students and parents are beginning to fully comprehend the consequences of the closures and “welcoming schools,” and unsurprisingly, their real-life experiences are vastly different to city officials’ claims. Some Chicago families complain of overcrowding and an overall lack of support during the transition…”
Say something! The time for silence is gone! We are trying to start a revolution! We are trying to take back our public schools!
Your daily Jennifer Clarke…
Where Have the Administrators Gone?
The sound bytes are relentless. Teachers must be held accountable. Teachers must be evaluated. Teachers must be held to higher standards. Teachers must be measured by quantifiable data. Teachers…Teachers…Teachers…
Okay. So the problems fall on the teachers. Why have the leaders of our schools not been added to the equation? Setting aside the ridiculousness of these theories about how you could even begin to measure a teacher’s effectiveness through student scores for one moment, a very important component of the success of any organization falls on the leadership of that organization, so why then, has the narrative been glaringly absent of discussion about educational administration?
There are several factors that fall to administration that impact education. Notably, a large component of student success is classroom management. And yet, with all of the push for data and reports, legislatures are pushing schools for lower disciplinary numbers. There is no methodology for collection, sadly, and so the effects of this have left teachers with classrooms unsupported by administrations. How then does a teacher cope with students who know there are no consequences? Additionally, the reports of cheating on standardized testing are rampant throughout the nation, and one of the figureheads of the reform movement, Rhee, has been accused of participating herself. Yet, when the chips fall, administrators remain largely free from consequence. Yet, according to these reports, often these cheating incidents are allegedly administrator lead.
There has been a movement from the school centered administrator to the, business modeled, politically aware, spin doctor, skilled at double talk and more conscience of what is happening in the outside of the school walls than inside. These “Broadesque” administrators serve no benefit to our schools. Instead of spending time in classrooms and understanding the challenges of their school environment, they are preparing the way for their own careers. Many administrators and superintendents now make in the six figures while teachers are struggling to survive. They are developing double talk and spin, while teachers are searching for the language to teach to tests that make no sense. They are pitting teachers against parents, while students are crushing under the pressures of reform.
It is time for administrators to leave the political arena, stop playing for favors, and start supporting their students.
Teachers are not the problem! Poverty is a good place to start, followed by the under-funding of our schools… and, oh ya, … the corporate privatization machine that is spreading lies and collecting billions…
Anastasia Dawson in the Tampa Tribune…
“A sweeping majority of Florida’s teachers seem to be performing to the highest standards in the classroom, the newest round of evaluations say. However, some education experts say those findings contradict new reports on student achievement, and hint at bigger problems with the state’s accountability system. According to the state Department of Education, 98 percent of Florida teachers received an “effective” or “highly effective” rating for their work in 2012, and only 0.2 percent were considered “unsatisfactory.” The ratings should be good news, Ruth Melton, director of legislative relations for the Florida School Board Association, said at their meeting this past week. But it also raises questions about why “more bad teachers aren’t showing up,” she said.
Jennifer Clark weighs in on the Illinois pension situation…
Destroyed is not “Fixed”
By Jennifer Clarke
“The essence of propaganda consists in winning people over to an idea so sincerely, so vitally, that in the end they succumb to it utterly and can never again escape from it.”–Goebbels.
We must be constantly aware of the dangers of propaganda. Rhetoric ought not obscure reality. Time to wake up. No more playing nice. Turn off your television. Turn off your ipad. Stop social networking for a minute. Please, take the blinders off and your head out of the sand. Read, listen, and pay attention. What is happening may not affect you today, but it will affect you. As Elie Weisel, author, Holocaust survivor, and Nobel Peace Prize winner, suggests that indifference is a danger to humanity because it is a “trap” wherein mankind will remain unless “shaken up.” We are trapped, and it is time to be shaken up.
What happened in Illinois recently was an absolute travesty, and it is happening everywhere. Scott Stantis mocked the breakdown in an editorial cartoon published in the Chicago Tribune on December 3, 2013:
Essentially, the pensions of public servants, teachers, police, firefighters, are gone. GONE. This is worthy of national discussion as it is happening in states across the nation. Wages and benefits for public servants are on the table for state legislatures as if they were excess.
There are several vantage points from which this should be viewed. First, in addressing taxes, many citizens, of course, would love to pay less in taxes; however, these citizens also do not want to sacrifice any personal liberties or freedoms. So I ask you now to take a moment and determine what are the priorities for where these taxes should go? Investing in public services such as education to understand those rights and liberties, law enforcement to protect those rights and liberties, and emergency services to enable you to enjoy those rights and liberties, is certainly important
When thinking about the people who fill these positions, the politicians try to paint them as greedy. But reigning in reality for a moment, when we consider the great amount of public money spent on career politicians’ salaries and pensions versus public servants such as police officers, firemen, and teachers, the disparity is alarming. Teachers are required to hold a degree and certifications generally requiring four to eight years of school depending on the types of degrees and certifications held. Many statisticians will tell you that the average teacher salary is $54,000.00, but I can count on one hand the amount of teachers I know that make above $42,000.00, and frankly, the majority I know, make around $35,000.00. These are educated individuals with degrees working full time jobs as professionals with years in their fields. This average varies greatly from state to state. Pensions are based on the amount you earn per year, and thus, your pension varies greatly as well. Additionally, in most states, teachers are unable to draw social security, so their only form of retirement is their pension. While in my case, I invested in IRA’s, they hold essentially no value due to the economy, so losing my pension, in essence, means I work until I literally die—maybe in my classroom. In front of your children.
Adding to the “greedy” narrative is the idea that teachers want too much and they have too much time off for too much money. Time to dispel another myth. Quickly of course, and back to the task at hand. During the regular school session, teachers work around the clock. During school hours, they are working with children from 7:45-3:45 with a 25 minute lunch, often eating with children. The “planning” period is rarely used for planning, but instead is used for meetings, conferences, parent contacts, paper work (which is never ending), etc. On the rare occasion it is used for planning, it is not enough time. Then given that elementary teachers have anywhere from 22-40 students, and that number increases by grade level to the 200s into high school, the amount of time spent constructing lessons for EACH INDIVIDUAL STUDENT (because in the US we teach them all, unlike other countries, as we should), and must consider their needs, appropriate accommodations, modifications, assessment measures, current pedagogical philosophies, and the countless methodologies and approaches to be used, all of this must be applied and considered when planning and preparing each lesson for each day, and the standards, objectives, assessment measures, scaffolding, modeling, and instructional approaches must be considered and analyzed. No one does this for teachers, and even “lessons in a box” have to be altered and adjusted for each individual student. Add to that grading, entering grades, and behavior documentation, teachers do not just work 8 hours a day, and in my experience, it was often 12-14 during the school year.
Oh, the ever present “but you get so much time off.” No, they do not. Teachers do all of this work during the holidays and weekends too. And add to that all of the teachers that are taking your children to extra-curricular activities and summer camps and conferences, and well, they are working. Additionally, they are attending continuing education that is required for them to maintain those certificates so that they can continue to teach. And frankly, most teachers work two or three part time jobs just to make ends meet.
So, a little perspective is necessary. Teachers are not greedy. They are not asking for a six figure salary and a pension that will allow them to live in the lap of luxury, as many of these politicians do, in fact, have. But they are asking for pay that will allow them to feed their families and perhaps do it with only working ONE job that they did receive an education (and continue to receive one) for, and dedicate a great deal of their lives to do. They don’t want the moon and the stars, but being able to survive and perhaps cut out a little time with their families should not be too much to ask. Politicians don’t mind giving it to themselves, and much more; the propaganda machine against public servants is ugly, and simply unwarranted.
Before we continue, think about this question, do you believe money can corrupt people? Even without conspiracy theories, (because I am not on a conspiracy theory track). It is glaringly, and appallingly obvious what is happening, the only way it cannot be seen, is if people are continually choosing to remain indifferent.
So back to the image. Stantis paints a painful picture. Illinois certainly “fixed” the public servants. Imagine the difference between a wild dog and domesticated dog. What is the difference in a human’s feelings when approached by them?
If you meet a dog in the wild, you are in his territory. He will stand his ground. You must make a decision in accordance with what he does. But a domesticated dog is different, and this is what Stantis has made appallingly and painfully clear.
I think of the film Grown Ups, and the family pet of Kevin James’ character. The poor pooch’s vocal chords had been cut, and as he barked, he was ridiculed, and the sound was irritating. Throughout the film, he was essentially disregarded as the others consistently yelled at his “master” to shut “the turkey” up. Sadly, this is what has happened to your children’s teachers. They have been rendered voiceless. Their unions have been overtaken by powerful politicians who have bought them out or stomped them out. The media has played into the “Teachers are turkeys” mentality by sharing the media moguls’ and profiteers’ ideas of selling your children’s educations for profit vilifying educators and only reporting on the stories of bad or fallen teachers continuing the narrative of unions protect bad teachers and your school s are failing. (There is a great deal of money to made in privatizing education, and the material available is vast—“Google it.”) People would come out in droves to speak out against the inhumane practices of cutting the vocal chords of an animal, and all the while, your children’s teachers have been left without a voice.
Quite obviously Stantis’ plays on the idea of “fixed” as in spayed or neutered, but in effect, teachers across this nation have been, for all intents and purposes, castrated by the Departments of Education, Local, State, and National Leadership, and have been rendered completely powerless to do anything to change it. When political and editorial cartoons are reminiscent of Goebbels, it is time to start paying attention:
These children have conformed to the status quo. Does this make you comfortable?
Teachers do not feel comfortable with what reformers are pushing, and for good reason. We want to see students be more than factory line workers, or paper pushers in cubicles just to silently continue to line political pundit’s pockets. Because we know they can be more. We want the systems of democracy upheld. We want to preserve the fundamental rights and freedoms of this nation for the youth, and we want to secure equity in access to education for everyone regardless of ability, wealth, or race.
I know many of you have seen or heard this:
The same can be said of teachers. And it is for this reason, you should be thankful for them, and politicians need to quiet them.
Do not think for a moment you are not being manipulated. You are. These reforms in education are bad for your kids, and because teachers are saying just that, they are the enemy. But ask yourself, are politicians knowledgeable about education? Are celebrities? Are billionaires? Who is willing to stand up and fight for children? And what is happening to them as a result?
I am not saying that our politicians are Nazis. I am not saying our politicians are fascists. But to disregard the fact that the same tools are being employed to “persuade” the masses would be naïve. Think about your life today. How often do you say, “I would love to get involved, but I just don’t have the time.” Do you really think this is not on purpose?
Our politicians are systematically eradicating the rights of the worker, the rights of the family, and the rights of the individual, to perpetuate their profits, line their pockets, and continue their “political careers.” There was a time when being a representative was not about a career. Do you remember this? It was about representing your constituents. When was the last time you felt represented? When was the last time you felt that your representatives even understood what you experience? How many days did you work this year? How many days did your representative work? Do you have any form of secure retirement to look forward to? Do they? It starts with education, and teachers are targeted, but when the good ones are gone, and education is scripted, how will your children know they have rights? And what then?
Truthfully, at this point, if politicians want to save taxes, it is their own exorbitant salaries and pensions that can be minimized without being cut, and they can still live lives without sacrificing food on their tables. Let’s be really honest about what we are facing and quit playing politics. It is time.
If we continue to keep our heads down trying to make ends meet because that is the scenario they have built for us by diminishing our rights, then we have forfeited those rights. This nation is ruled by the people, and while they have money, we have masses. So stop make excuses, and start making changes.
We are not domesticated animals. We have liberties, rights, and freedoms guaranteed in our governing documents, and we need to exercise them. You are not castrated. We have the right to say we will not accept or tolerate this. We must use them. Until we do, the politicians will continue counting on our apathy. An uninformed and unmotivated people will succumb to the corruption of its leaders.
“On back-to-back days in October, two U.S. teachers were killed at the hands of students: Michael Landsberry, in Nevada, and Colleen Ritzer, in Massachusetts. Both taught math. The student charged with killing Ritzer had recently moved there from Clarksville. The deaths of these teachers highlight a dimension of school violence that is too little discussed. Often, teachers are the victims of violence. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, during the 2007-08 school year, 7 percent of teachers reported being threatened with injury by a student. Four percent of teachers reported having been physically attacked…”
Expect this ugly trend to continue as the privatization of our schools continues…
Reema Khrais at WUNC – North Carolina’s Public Radio…
“An annual report shows that more North Carolina teachers left their jobs in 2012-13 than in previous school years. Out of the 95,028 teachers employed, 13,616 teachers left their districts, resulting in an overall state turnover rate of about 14 percent, or about one out of every seven teachers. ..”
People can lie to themselves all the they want, but teachers are leaving and our children will be hurt…
Mathew Haag in the Dallas Morning News…
“More than 20 percent of Dallas ISD teachers left the school district during Superintendent Mike Miles’ first year. In the 12 months through July, 2,018 of the district’s almost 10,000 teachers retired, quit or moved from DISD, according to district records. The 20.5 percent departure rate increased from the previous year, when almost 18 percent of the district’s teachers left. The rate was almost 13 percent in 2010-11. Most of the teachers who left during Miles’ first year school took jobs in other Texas districts. Those 488 relocations compared with 307 during the previous year…”
“… If we want to improve teaching quality and student learning within the 40 lowest performing schools, then we must devise, and adhere to, a strategic plan. Whereas I’m a fan of this enterprise, I’m skeptical about extending the school day for the lowest performing public middle schools – three of the four in Ward 8 alone – to bolster student performance. My skepticism doesn’t stem from my desire to work less. I can assure you, I’m a workaholic with no desire to seek professional help. In fact, if an extended school day guarantees an increase in student learning, then I would be more than willing to “give it a go.” That said, if an extended school day is inadequately implemented, i.e. simply adding minutes or a class period the current school day, then this approach will exacerbate school specific challenges, and not diminish them…”
All in the family – Michelle Rhee’s current hunband and ex-husband are in on the billion dollar scam…
Seth Sandronsky at Counter Punch…
“Something Stinks in Sacramento… Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, Rhee’s husband and never a classroom teacher, backed Sen. Calderon’s SB 441, which failed to pass out of committee. The mayor’s education non-profit, Stand Up for Great Schools, a 501(c)(3) non-profit that accepts hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Walton Family Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the big-box retailer, also supported SB 441, which teacher unions opposed… One of the states where StudentsFirst operates is Tennessee. There, Rhee’s ex-husband, Kevin Huffman, is a GOP governor’s appointed state head of public schools. StudentsFirst’s political donations have swayed lawmakers to evaluate teachers based on their pupils’ standardized test scores. This policy fits with American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) model legislation for education reform…”
“Education reform lightning rod Paul Vallas – who courted controversy helming school districts in Philadelphia, New Orleans and Chicago — isn’t on the ballot tomorrow. But a school board election in Bridgeport, Conn. – the latest district to tap Vallas to oversee reforms — could effectively spell his fate. Tomorrow’s vote will offer the latest referendum on the bipartisan, billionaire-backed mainstream education reform movement, and on a multi-year effort by local Democrats – aided by the likes of Michael Bloomberg and Michelle Rhee — to defeat or disempower labor-backed dissenters…”
“The first grade teacher tests her students in reading at the start of school. Amazingly, none of them do very well, which is a bit strange because some of them have been reading well for a year. Children who are strong readers bring home very simple books, as dictated by their scores. One child is an avid reader of chapter books but still plows through the simple texts provided. At the end of the year, the children are retested and miraculously they have all improved more than a grade level. The teacher is deemed superior based on these scores…”
Please read and share a comment. Please join this conversation. It is time for us to bond and to fight.
Our teachers are one of our most valuable national treasures… They are the soul of our future prosperity. They are more than our smart, passionate, skilled and educated, … they are our our smart, passionate, skilled and educated who are also willing to give all they have for almost nothing in return… It is time to pay them their due… Please forward this essay to every teacher you know… because they all share the same pain inside right now… and most of all, because they have the answers – not the politicians and the corporate pirates. It is time for them to stand up and speak, and for all of us to finally listen to them…
In a letter to the President, one teacher has the courage to speak up for all of us… Please support her…
Jennifer Clark – I will not remain silent
Dear Mr. President:
I am one of many teachers who has a story to tell. We need to be heard. Our voices speak not only for us but for our students and our very own children. We want to inspire our students, from all cultures, from all socio-economic backgrounds, from all neighborhoods, to love learning. We want to show them it is possible to succeed and their voices matter. Currently, they are seeing the very people who are to inspire them to never give up, silenced and in fear of retribution for going to bat^0^ for them. We are fiercely fighting to protect the system we were impassioned to enter for the benefit of the youth of this nation, and we are fighting to preserve the fundamental rights and freedoms promised to us and everyone of those young hearts that enter our classroom doors.
We have watched billionaires and politicians systematically dismantle the foundation of democracy, and as we have been stripped of our basic constitutional freedoms within the educational system, we have been left powerless to save it. Now, we toil as this new system of “education” breaks the backs of our children, and you, sadly, seem grossly misinformed about the damage it is doing to the nation’s youth you once seemed so proud to protect.
The problems with the reform movement are so many, and I know you are getting many letters that will list them all, so I want to reach out to you in another way. I think it is important that you hear my story, just as it is important that you hear so many others. I encourage you to research further into my writings online, (Jennifer Clarke; Jen Leigh; Yahoo Contributor; gopublicschool.com; BAT Blog) as you will find a wealth of knowledge and research about the harms of this educational “reform” movement not only written by me, an educator, but many other educators who can give you real life consequences of this movement. But I ask you to see how much I (like so many others) have sacrificed for education, and I ask you then to determine who is acting in the best interest of these kids—teachers who do it for passion or reformers who do it for profit?
At the end of September, 2013, I had a seizure in my kitchen, I fell, hitting my head on the tile and had a large hematoma and a concussion. Since that time, I have had several black outs, severe headaches, and dizzy spells. I have been undergoing tests on my brain and heart. Doctors believe I have an underlying medical condition that has a stress trigger. To date, all tests have shown healthy brain and heart. I have no recollection of that night, and I was in and out of consciousness for more than 1/2 hour. My husband said every time I came to, I kept asking if I was still a teacher, as if the entire past six months were just a bad dream. I have since found a lump in my neck the neurologist said he is concerned my cancer may be back and the tumor may be pressing on something in my neck/head region causing the symptoms including the numbness and paralysis of my face and headaches that lead to the migraine diagnosis I received a year ago. We are finishing the in home EEG and EKG testing, and I go back to the cardiologist and neurologist and oncologist. No answers yet on what is happening with me medically. Wait and see…you know.
After a student reported a threat against me at school in April, 2013, my life there began deteriorating. Two students reported hearing the threat. But Bxxx (principal) and Jxxx(assistant principal-disciplinary) said he denied it and the two reporters could be lying, so they weren’t going to do anything. The student continued to harass me, and ultimately, I asked to have him removed from my class. He told me he knew where I lived, and a few days later, my gate was opened and my dogs let out. He began raising his hand in class and mockingly telling on other students for threatening him and telling me to write them up. Students were joining in with him and mocking me while I was trying to teach.
I asked Bxxx to remove him from my class. According to the handbook and the TEA (Texas Education Agency), there was supposed to be a meeting with me, administrators, the student, and his parents. That never happened. He was supposed to be placed in another class (if his making the threat didn’t already require that he be placed in DAEP), or in DAEP. None of that happened. He hadn’t turned in much all year, was failing the class, despite me working diligently with him one on one during class time, the student refused to go to tutorials, never had consequences for that (despite policy), and he was still getting to be an attendance aide (despite policy), was still leaving school early (despite policy), and his parents never returned any of my contacts to them. And once he was removed from my class, instead of having to finish the curriculum and take summer school, like he should have because he did not have a 60 (according to policy), and had done nothing to try to pass, the administrators let him do credit recovery for the entire school year, and walk at graduation (again despite policy). Also, because he kept walking outside my classroom, and intentionally being near me in the halls, Bxxx told him he had to stay away from me, or he would be disciplined, but he didn’t follow that, and he wasn’t disciplined for that either. Someone also put deer estrous in my car. I didn’t put it together until much later, but kids were constantly saying my room smelled like pee. Apparently it was me. We tried everything to remove the smell from my car and couldn’t. I can’t drive until March now, so it is sitting with baking soda in it and we are hoping that will get it out. More humiliation. I reported to Bxxx and Jxxx that he wasn’t following the rule about staying away from me, and by this time I had contacted the union, and they had asked for the videos showing the student’s interactions with me, and that the videos be preserved, but the principals did nothing and would not give the videos to my union rep.
The student was spreading the information about his threat and lack of punishment and telling everyone how he was above the law and no one could touch him to students. I was being bombarded by questions, challenges, and concerns. I reported this to Bxxx and Jones, and Bxxx just told me he couldn’t control what the student says. I told them this was going to cause problems because it was going to cause division amongst students and my job was already getting difficult, but my concerns fell on deaf ears. Students were coming to me regularly at this point. Since legally, I can only not speak about discipline, and I was in a horrible position, I decided I would correct students who were misinformed, and try to deflect the rest. Since no disciplinary measures had occurred, I was not breaking any statutes or laws. I was being challenged regularly by students who already didn’t really like me, and students who were friends with the student were making it all but impossible for me to teach. But my sophomores were amazing. They obviously knew, but they didn’t say much. All of a sudden, I had an outpouring of notes, support, and improved behavior for all of my sophomore classes. My seniors, however, were challenging me, cursing at me, speaking over me. It was a nightmare. I repeatedly asked for assistance, and I was ignored. There were times that I literally received no response at all.
When campus police finally got involved, the student started threatening other students not to talk, and Bxxx and Jxxx didn’t even act to protect them. I started telling every student not to speak about it around me and to take their concerns and issues to Jxxx, Bxxx or Nxxx (campus police officer). I just couldn’t stand to speak or hear about it anymore. I don’t know how many of them went, but one of the students who went to Nxxx when he was threatened not to speak said Nxxx didn’t even take his statement, and one of the girls who came to my room in tears over what students were saying about me said Jxxx made her feel completely stupid for trying to talk to him.
I realized that I was no longer welcome on this campus. Any authority I had in my classroom was gone. I would not be supported and could not continue. I turned in my resignation effective the last day of school. My union representative told them he would not accept any more delays on producing the video, and he wanted them, and when he said that, he was presented with an ultimatum. The district would buy out my contract and in exchange will give me references based solely on my last evaluation (which was nearly perfect from Pxxxx (assistant principal-administrative), and agree that I have fulfilled all duties under my contract. They wanted me to work that Friday and then not return to campus. In exchange I was to drop my formal grievance. I was devastated. I was already heartbroken at having to resign. I did not want to walk away from my kids. I felt like I was being thrown away. I asked my union representative if there was any other option. He told me they wanted me to “take it to the house.” He explained they were blaming me for the discord amongst students. I was furious. I had warned them what would happen. I had begged for their intervention to stop this. And they were blaming me. I was utterly devastated. He said if I didn’t take it, they would most likely put me on administrative leave. I told him I had not done anything wrong. He said I didn’t have to, they would find a reason and justify it. It happens all the time. I knew if that happened, any chance I would have of ever teaching again would be gone. If you check the administrative leave box on an application, it gets thrown away. So I knew I had to take it, but I told them I would not return on Friday, it was counterproductive. I told him that if they were blaming me for the news spreading, my presence could only hurt me, and there was no way I could face all of my kids and maintain professionalism. I would break down. I had barely been able to maintain myself as I was in that environment for the past month, I couldn’t return on Friday. So I asked that someone meet me that evening so I could clean out my room and turn in my keys. In the rush I forgot to get all of my documents I had created off the computer, and I had asked that someone meet me up there so I could or that someone save them on a flash drive, but of course it never happened. Four years of intellectual property, completely gone. I have seen an email produced by Gxxx Mxxx (assistant superintendent) since then that warned of me potentially destroying my room. All I could think is how little these people know me. Part of the reason the board voted to approve this agreement is because Mxxx Kxxx (superintendent), as again I have seen in an email produced since that time, represented to them that there were no corroborating witnesses to the original threat. I am sure that since Bxxx and Jxxx refused to perform an official investigation, that is what they told him. Who knows?
If after I left campus, and the student got to graduate, I had been left alone, that would have been the end of it, but sadly, apparently there is a sadistic nature to some people, and they had to go kicking sand in my eyes. After I left the school, the harassment continued to my property. My husband and I had gone to the beach and were driving back through Labelle, and he noticed the back tires didn’t seem right. I want to say that I am lucky I was not driving the truck alone and that my kids weren’t in the car, or we could have been hurt. He pulled over and noticed the bolts in the back tires were gone. We had to hitchhike to a hardware store and get new bolts so he could secure the tires for us to drive home. Charges against the student were filed at the DAs office who told me they were pressing charges on terroristic threat, and would be reviewing retaliation against a public servant, and I needed to get a restraining order. The student contested the restraining order because his dad wants him to be a police officer like him. The restraining order was filed in June. They agreed to the temporary one until the time of trial, but to date, I have been denied a trial date. The DA’s office now claims that they have no record of any charges being filed against the student. Then I was tailgated by a sheriff’s department vehicle, where the student’s dad works, and at that point, our fear level reached it absolute height. We got the video from the gas station where I pulled in for my safety, and my husband went to the Sheriff and complained, and my attorney filed a complaint on my behalf. Then, we decided we needed to move for our safety. We tried to secure a mortgage, but BC would not send me my payroll records, and so that fell through. Then despite agreeing I had fulfilled all of my duties, they docked my pay, and only sent me $62 for June. Then a truck started stalking my house–my neighbors reported it to me because a strange truck (we live on a dead end street, so it is unusual for vehicles to drive down over and over again that don’t belong there) kept coming down the street and stopping in front of my house–it had been happening for three weeks, and we again had to call the Sheriff, who said “I have no idea who it could be,” and said something about a stalking case, but the truck never showed up again. Then we sent a document request under the Open Records Act to BC, and I filed a complaint with the TEA. The TEA denied my complaint, but the rep called me back and said he felt I had been manipulated into a no win agreement and should follow up because the agreement barred me from pursuing a claim through the TEA. Then BC refused to produce docs and we had to go through the Attorney General who ordered them to produce records, and they represented they had destroyed the videos which they had a written request to preserve.
At this point, I had enough and filed suit. It is pending in federal court. I decided that people can’t just abuse the law and destroy lives and not have to face that. I have been denied due process in every step of this, and that is reprehensible. I do not want anyone else to ever have to go through this. I also have been working on my advocacy group which is a sister organization to my consultant company. Just last week I found out I was named 2014 Person of the Year through Who’s Who, and a press release will be going out soon. I plan to use this to make a difference for teachers, students, and the educational environment. School should not be a place of suffering. Ever. Until teachers are given the right to speak up to protect themselves and their students from violence and educational malpractice without fear of retribution, the educational environment will remain at risk, and as a result, students are at risk.
To add further difficulties, a local youth minister has admitted to abusive sexual relationships with minors. These minors are our kids. Our students. He admitted it. That is important. Anyway, the original outcry was with another adult, but I have been supporting and helping. Somehow, in the community, being what it is, the situation got blamed, yes BLAMED, on me. Not the offender who admitted what he had done, not the original reporter. Me. People are actually being supportive of the offender and his wife, who (his wife) I believe in good faith based on evidence and testimony has ratified and facilitated him in his crimes. They are blaming the first victim, and don’t yet know about the other victim, but when they do, they will change their tune because they “like” the second victim. This is what happens when education is restricted to scripts and data collection. Society’s sense of values and morality will fall to the way side. And the result will be harmful. Instead of accepting reality, and supporting and protecting the kids in the community, they are supporting and helping the “broken man and his hurting wife” who are playing their roles well at the moment while the corrupt OC sheriff office has not arrested the perpetrator despite two admissions even after CPS and BCPD said they would do nothing.
All that being said, I quickly became enemy number one because I was an easy scapegoat; and how dare I, an already fallen teacher, hurt a precious and loved youth minister in the community. Cognitive dissonance will be perpetuated by an inability to develop critical thinking. A failure to preserve teacher autonomy in classrooms, and a failure to allow teachers to continue to support their students and allow time for meaningful engagement is truly detrimental to society. This child would have gone on as a victim, and who knows how many countless others if it were not for teachers. She has no parents to speak of, was destroyed by the youth ministers she reached out to, and teachers intervened and saved her from this nightmare.
What happens when the connections between teachers and students are broken because their interactions are scripted and limited for the purposes of profit-driven data analysis? If it saves even a small fraction of children from living in nightmares, isn’t that enough?
My husband had been having trouble understanding the difficulties I have in leaving my house–the stares, the challenges, etc. He has begged me to leave teaching behind because it has in effect, destroyed our lives, but I cannot. Teaching is never a just a job. It is a passion, a calling. We do not do this for any reason other than to love, inspire, and educate the youth of this nation. That is not something we can turn our back on. No matter how much money the reformers throw on their pretend and faulty data, the well will eventually run dry. We will not. We will never give up on our kids.
Once I began working to protect the youth in my community, the harassment against me intensified. One evening, I had people come to my house asking that I stay quiet about the youth minister’s crime. I kid you not. I told them they were knocking on the wrong door. The entire community could curse my name. I will never stay quiet about anything that threatens the safety of the youth in our community, and I will never turn kids away who come to me for help.
Do you know why kids continue to reach out to me? Because I don’t sell them out–to me, they are not pawns. I don’t sacrifice them for power, for popularity, for politics. I love them and if they need me, I will be there. And I tell you now, no teacher will sell their education.
The “concerned citizens” left. But the next day the victim contacted me and told me they were requesting a meeting with her and asking for her silence. I intervened and put a stop to it, and reported it to the police, since witness tampering is a crime. But all they got was a “talking to.” Anyway, at that point, my husband said, enough. He saw what I am fighting, and called me a saint. Which I am definitely not. We started looking immediately for an apartment out of the area for me, and I am safely out of harm’s way. Once the house sells, we will all be reunited.
This is what teaching has done in my life. I will remain dedicated to the youth in this nation while corruption, criminals, and corporate reformers are destroying the lives of the youth, and teachers like me are shut out of the conversation. We will continue to fight until the reformers grow weary or run out of money.
We will educate, empower, and we will win.
We will not give up on our students. We will not give up on education. We will not give up on our kids.
You would do well to remember that. Your teachers once fought for you.
“New York State United Teachers, with local unions and advocacy groups, announced Thursday an upcoming effort to lobby Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the state Legislature, the state Education Department and the Board of Regents to end testing in pre-kindergarten through second grade. In New York City and some upstate districts, young children are taking bubble tests or online exams, even though some of the children can’t yet hold a pencil or use a computer, union leaders said during a conference call Thursday…”
Roxanna Elden via Valerie Strauss in the Washington Post…
“As political debates about education become more public and more polarized, it can seem like educators don’t agree on much. In spite of a few divisive issues, however, teachers still share a lot of common ground. Below are four statements on which almost all teachers agree – no matter what they think of the Common Core State Standards…”
“Pittsburgh Public Schools superintendent Linda Lane wants Teach for America — which has deployed 32,000 college graduates without education degrees to classrooms nationwide for more than two decades — to help the district fill 15 to 30 teaching vacancies next fall. Hiring teachers through the alternative certification program would be a first for the district, which has faced teacher furloughs in recent years.
“About one in five Harvard seniors applies to Teach for America. However, only a ‘minuscule’ percentage of the class actually studies education, according to Harvard Graduate School of Education Dean James Ryan.What accounts for this difference? Why are so many of America’s brightest students apparently interested in teaching but not availing themselves of the training their school has to offer?…”
“Just as parents are grappling with how to keep their kids safe on social media, schools are increasingly confronting a controversial question: Should they do more to monitor students’ online interactions off-campus to protect them from dangers such as bullying, drug use, violence and suicide? This summer, the Glendale school district in suburban Los Angeles captured headlines with its decision to pay a tech firm $40,500 to monitor what middle and high school students post publicly on Facebook, Twitter and other social media…”
“A crime is happening in our schools every day. And it’s not the type of crime that hall monitors or security cameras can solve. At issue: Only 39% of public schools have wireless network access for the whole school. But perhaps the greater offense—up to this point, at least—has been apathy. At work and at home, most of us live our very wired, connected lives—moving between Wi-Fi zones as we give little thought to the millions of schoolchildren around the country who go to school every day without internet or broadband connections, without access to 1:1 computing, and without the benefit of modern handheld learning devices. Angry mobs of parents should be storming schools with pitchforks over this critical issue of broadband access, …”
“Dozens of pre-kindergartners were suspended last school year in Maryland, with the most suspensions in Baltimore, highlighting a little-known practice that some education experts say is too extreme for toddlers who are just being introduced to educational settings. The number of out-of-school suspensions in Baltimore for children ages 3 and 4 nearly doubled since the previous year to 33, according to data provided by the city school system…”
“Many Americans have come to doubt the proposition that college delivers a path to prosperity… On a pure dollars-and-cents basis, the doubters are wrong. Despite a weak job market for recent graduates, workers with a bachelor’s degree still earn almost twice as much as high school graduates…
“It sounds a little Kafkaesque. The cash-strapped Philadelphia School District has been stuck with a $305,000 bill from a controversial cyber charter school that shut down last month. Solomon Charter School on Vine Street agreed to surrender its charter to the state Department of Education on Oct. 30, in part because its program for seventh through 11th graders was housed in a building that shared space with a sex-offender clinic. But Solomon also was under fire because it had enrolled 200 elementary students this fall – even though it was authorized to serve students only from the sixth through 11th grades…”
“The largest charter-school operator in Texas, an organization with a solid academic record but lingering allegations of connections to a controversial Muslim cleric, is seeking to expand to the District next year. The D.C. Public Charter School Board is scheduled to vote Monday on whether Harmony Public Schools should be allowed to open a science- and math-focused school in Washington in fall 2014. Harmony runs 40 Texas charter schools that enroll more than 25,000 students.
“She’s a teacher — an excellent teacher, one who loves and inspires students and is loved and inspired by them. But teaching high school English is more and more of a burden and less and less of a joy as education reform has been rushed into practice. It’s true that out of 27 industrialized countries, American 15-year-olds rank 26th in math, 17th in science, and 12th in reading. We are 22nd in high school graduation rates among industrialized countries, and fewer than half our students finish college. Obviously, something has to change. But the adoption of the Common Core State Standards is starting to make less sense than I once thought it did…”
“On Nov. 18, Danielle and Tim Karlik plan to keep their teenage daughters home from the Jordan-Elbridge schools for National Keep Your Child Out of School Day, a nationwide protest of the Common Core educational standards. Nov. 18 marks the start of American Education Week. That day the Karlik girls, Tatum, 15, and Abbey, 13, will stand with their mother in silent protest at the New York State Department of Education in Albany…”
“Tens of thousands of dollars spent at Pittsburgh’s finest restaurants, top-flight catering at every staff and school meeting, administration and board retreats to exclusive resorts and spas. That’s just for starters. Your tax dollars went to cell phones for board member spouses, and even to develop another school out of state…”
“There’s plenty of research that says the struggles of poverty — from hunger’s impact on brain development to the stress of not knowing where you’re going to sleep at night — impact student achievement.But, even controlling for income, achievement gaps between black and white students and Hispanic and white students persist, evidenced by a recent analysis of standardized test results in Ohio. In that study, poor white kids outperformed black kids from both poor and wealthy families.Through changing birth rates and through Schools of Choice moves, growing numbers of schools can tout the diversity of their student body. And schools love to talk about diversity. But they need to start talking about race, because their celebrated diversity will continue to grow…”
“The negative impact of poverty on a child’s educational achievement is indisputable. Whether the metric is school grades, state assessments, the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), the SAT—the scores of low-income children are far lower than those of their wealthier peers. The reasons for that gap—and how our nation should respond—is the subject of heated debate and is explored by filmmaker Jyllian Gunther in the award-winning documentary, The New Public….
“… the loophole that allows homeowners to deduct their local property taxes from their federal taxes. This amounts to a big federal subsidy that benefits schools in affluent neighborhoods way more than it helps poor schools. Once you add that in, it appears that more federal funds go to pay for education in rich school districts than in poor ones…”
“Dozens of struggling Miami-Dade schools benefitted in recent years from the forced transfers of hundreds of teachers, according to newly published research. Beginning in the fall of 2009 and ending in 2012, principals in 73 schools identified and transferred 375 low performing teachers “in the best interest” of the school district. The result: test scores improved notably under new teachers who stepped in to replace those transferred…”
Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/11/11/3746849/study-struggling-miami-dade-schools.html#storylink=cpy
“The nation’s largest union panned the Friday afternoon announcement that Illinois’ Democratic governor is tapping an education reform lightning rod to join his reelection ticket… As I’ve reported, Vallas is currently serving as superintendent of Bridgeport, Conn., schools, following past stints helming school districts in Philadelphia, New Orleans and Chicago – each marked by conflict with critics of the bipartisan education reform consensus. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported in 2006 that Vallas was ‘blasted’ by the majority of the School Reform Commission, the agency overseeing city schools, for ‘his handling of a deficit that will force midyear cuts in the school system.’ In New Orleans, PBS noted in 2010, ‘charters have exploded’ from 2 percent to a majority of city schools. In Tuesday school board elections framed by activists as a referendum on the education agenda of Vallas and Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, a dissident faction grew to a bare majority of the board’s nine seats, putting Vallas’ future there in jeopardy…”
“The administration at Loudoun Valley High School is under investigation for reports of bullying and verbal harassment of teachers, many of whom say they have been pressured to change students’ grades. After hearing repeated reports of verbal abuse and even demands to manipulate grades by Principal Sue Ross, the Loudoun Education Association prompted Loudoun County Public Schools to hire an outside attorney to look into the allegations…Teacher after teacher, some with as many as 28 years of experience, spoke of an atmosphere of fear at the high school where educators who give poor grades are singled out by Ross, threatened and berated until the grades are improved…”
For many out there in the general public, the teacher evaluation issue is not a big deal. Teachers know better..
A 2010 story from Ian Lovett in the New York Times…
“When his body was found in a ravine in the Angeles National Forest, and the coroner ruled it a suicide, Mr. Ruelas’s death became a flash point, drawing the city’s largest newspaper into the middle of the debate over reforming the nation’s second-largest school district…”
“The Los Angeles Unified School District has lost a key round in a legal battle to keep the performance ratings of individual teachers confidential The 2nd District Court of Appeal declined this week to consider the case after a lower court ordered the school system to turn over the information to the Los Angeles Times. The newspaper had sought the ratings through a public records request. The school system withheld the information, citing the privacy rights of employees…”
There are some very sick people at the Los Angeles Times…
The once respectable Los Angeles Times is leveraging its dwindling platform to attack individual teachers under the guise of data transparency. The editorial board won a court case allowing them to use a highly contentious, self-designed algorithm to rank the best and worst teachers in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Neither the suicide of one of the shamed teachers, nor the wide-spread criticism of the statistical methods have aroused the editorial board’s better judgement.
Many school districts, such as the LAUSD, estimate teacher performance based off of their students’s standardized test results. So-called “value-added modeling” attempt to estimate a teacher’s relative abilities based on how they expect students to do given their past performance.
The school district will be forced to release the data on teacher evaluations to The Times for publication. While I’m all for transparency of government data, there’s a few glaring problems with value-added scores that the public might not be aware of.
1. Value-added measures are as unstable as a chain-smoker on a flight from LA to Japan. Teacher ratings often swing wildly from year to year and are sensitive to tiny changes in the statistical methods. The University of Colorado at Boulder’s National Education Policy Center found that only about half (46.4%) of LAUSD teachers retained their same effectiveness rating under slight tweaks to the model [PDF].
Specifically, the NEPC added measures of school ranking and early elementary grades into their own value-added model to see how it might disrupt the rankings (and it did). There’s many reasons why such variables might not have been originally included: adding in past performance and school transfers makes it difficult to know what in the history of student ultimately led to their current abilities.
Statistical geeks can debate the best models, but if a series of very reasonable decisions leads to radically different rankings, it’s way too unstable to shame a teacher in a national newspaper.
2. Standardize tests suck at measuring the value of a teacher. “Test scores largely reflect whom a teacher teaches, not how well they teach,” notes Stanford Professor Education, Linda Darling-Hammond. “In particular, teachers show lower gains when they have large numbers of new English-learners and students with disabilities than when they teach other students.”
The LA Times appears oblivious to this well know fact. In an email, a representative tells me, “Research has repeatedly found that teachers are the single most important school-related factor in a child’s education.”
False. Parenting, motivation, and IQ are at least as important, if not vastly more important, to the success of a student than a teacher. Teachers can bring out the best in a student, but a child from a broken home and with an abuse parent just isn’t going to do as well.
3. It’s not okay to shame everyday citizens. Assume for a moment that the LA Times pulled off a statistical miracle and overcame all of the criticisms of value-added methodology, it’s still awful to shame people.
Here was the Times explanation to me
“The Times is committed to reporting on the issues and events that are important to Southern Californians and education is of primary concern to our community. We published the “Grading the Teachers” series and value-added data analysis because parents and the public have a right to some form of objective evaluation of LAUSD teacher effectiveness. The Times value-added rating, which was based entirely on public-record information, should be considered as only one component in overall teacher assessment.”
That’s a beautiful theory, but in practice the list paints targets on teachers’ backs for tiger-moms and paparazzi press. When the New York Post publicized the name of the “worst teacher”, reporters hounded her and family.
If we lived in a perfect marketplace ideas where nuance was currency and readers spent more than 30 seconds on a post, The Time’s might have a better case. But, we don’t, and their sloppy editorial decisions are going to hurt innocent teachers.
“The rumor mill started up this week soon after Portland Public Schools opened up its substitute pool. The district recently sent out notices to various graduate schools, such as Western Oregon University and Portland State University, to let their networks know about open substitute spots for educators in the following subjects: foreign language; Spanish, Japanese, Russian, Chinese immersion; health and physical education; math; special education; music and the arts; dual language arts and social studies; science; elementary; and media specialist…”
Lyndsey Layton and Michael Alison Chandler in The Washington Post…
“Bill de Blasio, elected mayor of New York City this week, intends to dial back or abandon many of the education changes outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg aggressively implemented in the nation’s largest public school system….”
“… In American public schools, the principal is the most complex and contradictory figure in the pantheon of educational leadership. The principal is both the administrative director of state educational policy and a building manager, both an advocate for school change and the protector of bureaucratic stability. Authorized to be employer, supervisor, professional figurehead, and inspirational leader, the principal’s core training and identity is as a classroom teacher. A single person, in a single professional role, acts on a daily basis as the connecting link between a large bureaucratic system and the individual daily experiences of a large number of children and adults. Most contradictory of all, the principal has always been responsible for student learning, even as the position has become increasingly disconnected from the classroom…”
“… Unlike many Texas charters, particularly KIPP and IDEA public schools — which both formed with a mission to reach economically disadvantaged communities — Basis and Great Hearts tend to end up with student bodies that are disproportionately affluent and white…”
“The St. Paul school district has changed its special education program in a big way, moving hundreds of students from separate special education to general education classrooms. Mainstreaming those students gives them equal access to education, district officials argue. Some teachers, though, worry the plan is hurting kids and putting teachers in danger. The new effort is focused on children diagnosed with emotional and behavior disorders, known by the shorthand EBD. About two-thirds of St. Paul’s 900 EBD students are African-American. No one is sure why, but recent national studies have theorized it’s because of inequities in early childhood education, or racial bias in special education referrals..”
The writings, passion and love of Diane Ravitch inspired us to start this site in an effort to amplify the voices and issues involved with our greatest national treasure – our public schools. Ms. Ravitch is under the weather… Can you send her a note to cheer her?
“We hear a lot about the responsibility of teachers in the effort to help students achieve, but what about students themselves? In this post, a public school teacher (who asked not to be identified because she fears she could be targeted by her bosses), writes about the complexities of her job and what frustrates her — about students…”
“The Los Angeles Unified School District has lost a key round in a legal battle to keep the performance ratings of individual teachers confidential. The 2nd District Court of Appeal declined this week to consider the case after a lower court ordered the school system to turn over the information to the Los Angeles Times. The newspaper had sought the ratings through a public records request. The school system withheld the information, citing the privacy rights of employees…”
“Google the phrase ‘education crisis’ and you’ll be hit with a glut of articles, blog posts and think tank reports claiming the entire American school system is facing an emergency. Much of this agitprop additionally asserts that teachers unions are the primary cause of the alleged problem. Not surprisingly, the fabulists pushing these narratives are often backed by anti-public school conservatives and anti-union plutocrats. But a little-noticed study released last week provides yet more confirmation that neither the “education crisis” meme nor the “evil teachers union” narrative is accurate. Before looking at that study, consider some of the ways we already know that the dominant story line about education is, indeed, baseless propaganda. As I’ve reported before, we know that American public school students from wealthy districts generate some of the best test scores in the world. This proves that the education system’s problems are not universal — the crisis is isolated primarily in the parts of the system that operate in high poverty areas. It also proves that while the structure of the traditional public school system is hardly perfect, it is not the big problem in America’s K-12 education system. If it was the problem, then traditional public schools in rich neighborhoods would not perform as well as they do…”
“It’s one thing to talk in the abstract about North Carolina being 46th in teacher pay. It’s another thing when your seventh-grade daughter brings home a letter from a 10-year veteran teacher at her school explaining that it has become financially untenable for him to support his family and that he is leaving to find work in another state…”
Educators across North Carolina staged a walk-in to protest the current state of public education. Teachers wore red, gathered in front of their schools Monday morning and marched in together. Parents and members of the community were invited to observe classroom activities and to participate in after-school discussions about education policies. The movement was backed by the North Carolina Association of Educators in an effort to raise awareness against the recent cutback of government spending on public education…”
Those who work in local schools are as frustrated as those on the outside, trying to make sense of the upheaval. Educators are exasperated with cyclical attempts at school reform that are hastily embraced and poorly developed. Administrators are tired of begging for money. Property owners are sick of school levies. Parents are dismayed with eliminated programs, laid-off faculty and staff, and pay-to-play sports. Students are numb and joyless about learning. They’re guinea pigs for revised expectations, exams, and for-profit education. Public education is at a crossroads. It needs advocates to sustain it as an indispensable public service. Fortunately, a grass-roots campaign is forming to raise awareness of what’s at stake in public education. Groups of stakeholders, calling themselves Friends of Public Education, are mobilizing in several states, including Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois. Their mission is to become informed activists in defense of public schools.
Those who work in local schools are as frustrated as those on the outside, trying to make sense of the upheaval. Educators are exasperated with cyclical attempts at school reform that are hastily embraced and poorly developed.
Administrators are tired of begging for money. Property owners are sick of school levies. Parents are dismayed with eliminated programs, laid-off faculty and staff, and pay-to-play sports.
Students are numb and joyless about learning. They’re guinea pigs for revised expectations, exams, and for-profit education.
Public education is at a crossroads. It needs advocates to sustain it as an indispensable public service. Fortunately, a grass-roots campaign is forming to raise awareness of what’s at stake in public education.
Groups of stakeholders, calling themselves Friends of Public Education, are mobilizing in several states, including Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois. Their mission is to become informed activists in defense of public schools. Read more at http://www.toledoblade.com/MarilouJohanek/2013/11/02/New-group-befriends-beleaguered-public-education.html#DMImK1UVCSYTZAqU.99Those who work in local schools are as frustrated as those on the outside, trying to make sense of the upheaval. Educators are exasperated with cyclical attempts at school reform that are hastily embraced and poorly developed. Administrators are tired of begging for money. Property owners are sick of school levies. Parents are dismayed with eliminated programs, laid-off faculty and staff, and pay-to-play sports. Students are numb and joyless about learning. They’re guinea pigs for revised expectations, exams, and for-profit education. Public education is at a crossroads. It needs advocates to sustain it as an indispensable public service. Fortunately, a grass-roots campaign is forming to raise awareness of what’s at stake in public education. Groups of stakeholders, calling themselves Friends of Public Education, are mobilizing in several states, including Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois. Their mission is to become informed activists in defense of public schools.
Michael Maher and Paola Sztajn in Raleigh’s News and Observer…
“…The current public discourse often paints teachers as ineffective, sub-professionals who likely had no other choice than to teach. These substandard professionals, the current discourse goes, need more and more accountability through testing, performance regulations and report cards to make sure they are performing their craft in an “effective” manner. After all, those who can, do; and those who can’t, teach – or so the current discourse is trying to prove. This image of a less-than-qualified student who goes on to become a low-performing professional does not match the reality we experience every day…”
Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/11/06/3346796/fallacies-realities-about-teachers.html#storylink=cp
“A veteran Long Island high school teacher says he scored ‘ineffective’ in the state’s new professional job evaluations and considers the designation a ‘badge of honor’ — the first case the state teachers’ union says it knows of an individual educator coming forward publicly about a low rating…
“The vast majority of Michigan K-12 schools get between $7,000 – $8,000 per pupil every year. But there are some schools that get more…a lot more. We’re talking about roughly a $5,000 difference between the richest schools in the state and the poorest schools….”
“Yesterday I went to a PD session in which we looked at the senior English test, a test that counts not for the kids taking it, but rather for the teachers giving it. This is important to us because, as ESL teachers, our students who tested advanced will have to take the test, the test to test the teachers, the test they give before the test to test whether the teachers prepared the kids to to take the test again. You see, fully two days of instruction are lost as we explore whether or not your teachers suck, and if so, just how sucky they may be. This particular test to test the teachers before the test is an argumentative essay. This, we’re told, is completely different from a persuasive essay. Why? Well, in a persuasive essay, I would just make an argument and try to persuade you to accept it. Ah, you say, that’s an argumentative essay? Well, you’re completely wrong. In fact, I learned yesterday that in an argumentative essay, you give the counter argument and explain why it sucks even worse than the teachers who failed to demonstrate that their students could improve on the test after the test to test the teachers before the test…”
“It didn’t slow his triumphal march to reelection. But the image of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie jabbing his finger at a teacher who asked him a question on the campaign trail infuriated educators in the state and across the nation. This afternoon, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten called on Christie to apologize for acting like a ‘bully’ and turning on public school teacher Melissa Tomlinson ‘in such a hostile and intimidating way.’…”
“Las Cruces teachers and administrators are banding together to challenge state-mandated teacher evaluations, even planning a protest and considering establishing their own policy regardless of state rules. The evaluations, which launched this fall, have been a source of contention for months. Two lawsuits have already been filed against the state Public Education Department, which designed and mandated the evaluations.
“If education is a poor child’s best shot at rising up the ladder of prosperity, why do public resources devoted to education lean so decisively in favor of the better off? The anguished and often angry national debate over how to improve American educational standards, focused intently on grading students and teachers, mostly bypasses how the inequity of resources — starting at the youngest — inevitably affects the outcome…”
“A $1-billion plan to put an iPad into the hands of every Los Angeles student and teacher could prove difficult to financially sustain after about three years, based on figures provided by the L.A. Unified School District. The district’s description of funding options emerged during a Board of Education meeting Tuesday at district headquarters….But the rollout, at 41 schools so far, has encountered problems, including more than 300 students deleting security filters so they could visit any website. In response, the district suspended use of the iPads off campus. The iPad project is to be funded with one-time, school construction bonds paid back over about 25 years. The devices have a guaranteed life of three years…”
“The outcome of Tuesday’s mayoral election may be largely a foregone conclusion, as Public Advocate Bill de Blasio (D) is expected to trounce former transit director Joe Lhota (R). But major questions still hang over certain aspects of an impending de Blasio administration, among the more notable of these: Who will he put in charge of the nation’s largest school district?…”
Jennifer Johnston at the Vanderbilt University News…
“Moving better teachers into needy schools was a positive step toward increasing equity among schools in the district, the researchers concluded. “We want to have good teachers in front of low achieving kids,” said lead author Jason A. Grissom, assistant professor of Leadership, Policy and Organizations at Vanderbilt’s Peabody College of education and human development. “Getting effective teachers into those classrooms is one of the best means we have for increasing how much students learn.”
“For some high-achievers at Stuyvesant High School, flunking their latest test is no big deal. A group of students at the elite high school in lower Manhattan pledged to opt out of the English tests that were administered today, saying they’re opposed to the exam’s purpose. The tests are low-stakes for students, but they’ll be used to grade teachers on new evaluations being rolled out this year…”
“Just about anyone who opposes the Common Core national curriculum standards, currently under serious fire in New York, is either a kook or a self-interested schemer. That, at least, is the impression an impartial observer would get from listening to many Core supporters. But the reality is quite the opposite: Education thinkers from across the political spectrum are taking on — and apart — the Core…”
“We need to find a way to integrate free-thinking into the curriculum and encourage teachers to step back and allow students to figure things out for themselves instead of dumping information on them and considering memorization mastery of a subject. In the end, it’s not necessarily what are children learn that is paramount, it’s how they learn it..”
“Chris Christie managed to inject some news in his largely suspense-free reelection race when he got into a heated confrontation with teacher Melissa Tomlinson, who challenged him on education at a weekend event. A member of the country’s largest union, the National Education Association, and of the fledgling Badass Teacher Association, Tomlinson teaches at New Jersey’s Buena Regional middle school. In an Election Day interview, she told Salon “the crowd cheered when he shouted at me,” and “I left shaking.” What follows is a condensed and edited transcript of our conversation on Chris Christie, teachers’ unions and education reform…”
“The vast majority of teachers are working overtime without the tools or budget to manage the plethora of issues inside and outside the classroom. On top of that, administrators who only compound the situation by micromanaging the wrong things make the lives of teachers completely untenable with their lack of support…”
“Perhaps the most vexing question facing Michigan’s new evaluation system is how to compare teacher performance when students in one class may be far more advanced than students in another. So-called “value-added data” is intended solve that dilemma, by taking into account such factors as poverty and a student’s past performance to determine a teacher’s impact on student growth…”
Jennifer Clark at the official blog of the Badass Teachers Association
Please bookmark and check it daily!
“This is for every teacher who refuses to be blamed for the failure of our society to erase poverty and inequality, and refuses to accept assessments, tests and evaluations imposed by those who have contempt for real teaching and learning…”
“… I have watched the battles over Common Core, high stakes testing, privatization of education, and dismantling of public schools. I have heard how this reform is negatively impacting our kids, and I have read the research, the articles, and I have studied. I have listened to Michelle Rhee, Arne Duncan, Bill Gates, President Obama, and all of the other power players, and their empty promises. I have also supported Mark Naison, and supported Diane Ravitch, and shared blogs and information from the Jersey Jazzman and Love Light and BATs, and Gopublicschools, and Lace to the Top, and every other voice trying to be heard for the actual benefit of our kids. And I am deeply saddened…”
“Excessive testing is taking the life out of education, according to a group of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students who dressed like zombies and marched from the district’s headquarters in Chicago to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office at city hall Friday evening…”
“The overwhelming evidence now shows that S.C. is experiencing the same social dynamics that characterize the U.S. —an increase in child and family poverty, a widening gap between the affluent and the working poor and poor, and a slow recognition that public schools tend to reflect and perpetuate those inequities instead of helping children overcome them. For S.C., these messages about re-segregating schools, increasing populations of impoverished students, and rising numbers of English language learners (ELL) should signal an end to current public discourse and policy related to education reform…”
“… In the last 20 years we’ve seen an increase in the amount of standardized testing used in American schools. The country now spends $1.7 billion every year administering such tests. By the time students graduate from a public schools in Texas, they will have spent 34 full school days taking examinations. Students test for 32 days in Tennessee, and 28 in California…”
“Gov. Chris Christie’s official Facebook page is awash in comments attacking him for his treatment of a teacher during a campaign stop this weekend. Christie and Buena Regional Middle School teacher Melissa Tomlinson had a brief exchange during a campaign stop in Somers Point Saturday when Tomlinson asked the governor why he referred to some of the state’s schools as ‘failure factories.’ Accounts differ, but Tomlinson said the governor snapped at her, telling he is ‘tired of you people.’…”
Adolfo Guzman Lopez at KPCC – Southern California Public Radio…
“With a new computerized field test five months away, California education officials are trying to get a handle on whether schools will be ready, but fewer than one in four have returned a survey on the state of technology in their classrooms. The state has given public schools $1.25 billion dollars to get ready for the tests and otherwise gear up for new Common Core standards…”
Ani McHugh is a HS English teacher; parent; supporter of public schools; blogger. Against privatization, high-stakes testing, union-busting, and bad ed reform… Her must-read blog is Teacherbiz…
“As if it weren’t enough that the image of Chris Christie screaming at a New Jersey public school teacher went viral within hours of the November 2nd exchange, Time.com posted an excerpt from a new book (to be published November 5th) by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann–called Double Down: Game Change 2012–that reveals some very damaging information about the controversial NJ governor…”
“No school board in the country has gone as far with as many controversial education reforms — the nation’s first suburban school district voucher program, subsidizing private and parochial school tuition for wealthy families, tops the list — as the seven-member majority solidified four years ago in this conservative suburb. And no other local school board election anywhere in the country has so galvanized parents and politicos and attracted national attention and the financial resources of outside groups, all convinced that Tuesday’s votes here can be an inflection point in the national debate around an education, a critical test case of just how far reform can go…. Most of the support has come from the group Americans For Prosperity, the main advocacy arm of the conservative billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch, which has spent around $350,000 trying to convince voters that the reforms are working, mostly via television ads… Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Aspect Energy CEO Alex Cranberg, both ardent supporters of vouchers, have also contributed heavily to the campaign supporting the conservative board members and candidates….”
“The letter from Matt Brown said he understood why she was giving it up. And he was glad. That heartfelt note became a post on Brown’s blog. Soon, it had gained 1,200 “likes” on Facebook. It seemed to have meant something to people, so Brown said he figured he’d send it in to the editorial page at The News & Observer, which subsequently published it on Oct. 12. (See it here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/10/12/3277055/one-nc-husband-whos-happy-his.html) The opinion piece became the most popular story page on the newspaper’s website in 2013. Half a million people have read it — most who found it through Facebook — and more than 600 have commented, said Eric Frederick, managing editor of newsobserver.com In an interview last week, the Browns, who live in Raleigh, N.C., say they have been overwhelmed by the response…”
Ashley T. Powell, a journalism senior, in The University of Arizona’s Daily Wildcat…
“School districts across the nation are trying to incorporate computer tablets, like iPads, into classrooms. Giving students the power of the Internet at their fingertips and an ability to read course material without lugging heavy books around may sound practical, but the cons of having iPads in classrooms outweigh the pros for both students and teachers…”
“…Christie has been pursuing a corporate-influenced school reform agenda that attempts to improve troubled urban schools by ignoring the problems of underfunding and poverty and instead uses methods that won’t ultimately improve student performance, such as evaluating teachers by test scores….”xzxxxx
“Get those No. 2 pencils ready. In the Pittsburgh Public Schools this school year, a total of more than 270 tests — required by the state or district — will be given to students in kindergarten through 12th grade. In fourth grade alone, there are 33 required tests, just shy of one a week on average and the most of any grade level. That’s still about 10 fewer tests than fourth-graders took last year. The district has no choice for some of them; the state mandates them. In fourth grade, the state requires the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment tests in math, reading and science (three tests), and the GRADE test, a standardized reading test published by Pearson required for recipients of Keystone to Opportunity reading grants (three tests). Beyond that, fourth-graders also take DIBELS Next, a brief oral standardized test of reading fluency (three tests); reading module tests that are hybrids created by the reading publisher Macmillan/McGraw-Hill and district staff (15 tests); reading unit tests, also hybrids, (five tests); and math benchmark tests created by district staff (four tests). Some tests help to diagnose students’ needs or see if they’ve learned what’s been taught. The reading modules and unit tests also account for most of the reading grade. The PSSA results are part of teacher evaluations…”
” In one poor school district in Colorado’s San Luis Valley, students take classes in a bus garage, using plastic sheeting to keep the diesel fumes at bay. In another, there is no more money to tutor young immigrants struggling to read. And just south of Denver, a district where one in four kindergartners is homeless has cut 10 staff positions and is bracing for another cull…”
“When Joshua Bass, an engineer, sent his son to iSchool High, a Houston charter school, he was expecting a solid college preparation, including the chance to study some college courses before leaving high school. Instead, the Basses were shocked when their son came home from the taxpayer-funded school with apparently religiously motivated anti-science books. One of these books blamed Darwin’s theory of evolution for the Holocaust…”
“That’s what Chris Christie shouted today while his wife smiled at a New Jersey public school teacher who dared approach him at the Rutgers football game and ask the question, “Why do you portray New Jersey Public Schools as ‘failure factories?’ Someone even snapped a picture of the incident and posted it to twitter… Everyone knows Chris Christie just loves to be rude and shout at people. Shouting at public school teachers is a ‘thing’ of his that he enjoys. 99% of the time the people he chews out are women. The teacher who was bold enough to ask Christie this question admits she was shaking when he jabbed his finger in her face and shouted at her, but she’s still proud of what she did. We’re proud of her too. It’s a shame Christie will most likely be relected governor on Tuesday, which is probably why he felt it was no big deal to be photographed shouting at a single woman who dared to ask him a question. So nice to see what he really thinks of his constituents and how he treats them….”
“Students at New Jersey’s most resource-starved public schools walk down hallways covered in mold, take tests in asbestos-filled classrooms and trod across floors peppered with rodent droppings. And when these students visit different districts for sports matches or debate club meets, the inequalities are thrown into sharp relief as the students come face-to-face with the basic cleanliness and safety offered by a majority of the state’s educational institutions. Last Wednesday, a powerful photo exhibit stationed in front of the New Jersey State House displayed the ugly truth hiding inside some of the state’s most dilapidated schools, many of them located in urban areas…”
Sarah Carr of the Hechinger Report via The Miami Herald…
“In Chris Kirchner’s freshman English classes at Coral Reef Senior High School, novels like To Kill a Mockingbird and The Great Gatsby have been squeezed off the syllabus to make room for nonfiction texts including The Glass Castle and How to Re-Imagine the World. For the first time, students will read only excerpts of classics like The Odyssey and The House on Mango Street instead of the entire book. And Kirchner will assign less independent reading at home, but will require students to write more essays, and push them to make connections across multiple texts…”
“We are all painfully aware of the elimination of teaching positions and requests for class-size waivers that resulted in 2011 due to state cuts to public education. What is only now becoming apparent is the impact of those cuts on the teaching profession. Education has always been a high-stress, low-paying profession that 50 percent of newcomers abandon after five years, but we have always had the luxury of being able to count on a steady stream of new recruits. It now looks as if that is no longer the case. In 2012, teacher certifications in Texas plunged 24 percent and the state has little chance of reaching its 2015 teacher certification goals, according to the latest status report on the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s education plan to close the education gaps adopted in 2000..”
“Luis Gaytan, the 5-year-old son of Mexican immigrants who speak Spanish at home, was so terrified by kindergarten that he would barely talk — prompting classmates to tease that he didn’t have a tongue. In the last two months, at Granada Elementary Community Charter, Luis has gained a growing command of the language in a class of students with a mixed range of English ability. His father, Jorge, is convinced that his son is learning English more quickly because he hears it every day from more-advanced classmates…”
Carol Burris via Valerie Strauss in The Washington Post…
“Why are some kids crying when they do homework these days? Here’s why, from award-winning Principal Carol Burris of South Side High School in New York. Burris has for more than a year chronicled on this blog the many problems with the test-driven reform in New York… She was named New York’s 2013 High School Principal of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York and the National Association of Secondary School Principals, and in 2010, tapped as the 2010 New York State Outstanding Educator by the School Administrators Association of New York State. She is the co-author of the New York Principals letter of concern regarding the evaluation of teachers by student test scores. It has been signed by more than 1,535 New York principals and more than 6,500 teachers, parents, professors, administrators and citizens…
“The Orange County school system is investigating a charter school that wrongly threatened to dismiss students for failing the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Tests, or FCAT. The school, Cornerstone Charter Academy, retracted the threat Thursday, blaming a “poorly written letter” from the principal to parents. Still, the move was enough to spark a new round of allegations that charter schools, which are privately managed but receive taxpayer funding, inflate their state-issued school grades by “cherry picking” students…”
“The core problem with standardized testing is the goal it pursues in the case of ‘high-stakes’ testing — regulated assessments which are used in the making of critical decisions, including whether to award or withhold a diploma, as well as to rank students. I experienced firsthand the impact that these ranking systems can have on a student’s success and potential for mobility. My elementary school used standardized testing and placed students into different groups: ‘enrichment’ and ‘learning assistance….”
“Peter Deutsch, the driving force behind South Florida’s controversial Ben Gamla charter schools, is a six-term former Democratic congressman with a unique status: He lives more than 6,000 miles away in Israel as an expatriate. Even so, Deutsch’s Ben Gamla schools have racked up hefty public funding — more than $10 million for nearly 1,800 students last school year alone…”
Terrence T. McDonald of the The Jersey Journal at NJ.com…
“New Jersey billionaires who seek to revamp the state’s education system are again pouring money into a Jersey City election, with a Far Hills hedge fund manager donating nearly $10,000 to the four school board candidates backed by Mayor Steve Fulop…”
“Looked at from several different angles, New Orleans public schools have a comparatively high percentage of possible cheating on standardized tests, The Lens has found after reviewing the most recent state data available. Testing experts who reviewed and approved of The Lens’ methodology offered a broadly accepted rationale: Cheating tends to increase when standardized tests are used for rewards and punishments of schools, teachers or students. For a variety of reasons, New Orleans schools have more riding on the outcome of test scores than public schools elsewhere in the state…”
“School officials have become so uneasy about state plans for collecting student data — and what they call potential ‘student profiling’ — that several districts are dropping out of the Race to the Top initiative to try to avoid its requirements. ‘There are real concerns about profiling students, since the state wants us to provide disciplinary records, economic and social data, and more,’ Rye Neck Superintendent Peter Mustich said. ‘Student data is sacrosanct. It’s disturbing to me that we don’t really know where the data will go.’ Superintendents say they don’t understand why the state wants about 400 categories of data, including student pregnancies, single-parent households and disciplinary records…”
“Whether you teach at an elementary school, a middle school, a high school, or an alternative school, this message is for you. This message is for ALL teachers, regardless of zip code or socio-economic status. This message is for ALL teachers, albeit your first year or one year removed from retirement. This message is for ALL teachers: Never forget how much you matter. Never forget that you’re making a difference…”
“Arizona: Where mediocrity is good enough. Not exactly the motto you want on your license plate. But when it comes to funding K-12 education, it’s honest. There’s clear evidence our state isn’t reaching beyond the middle. A new study puts Arizona students near the global average for math and science, and behind most U.S. states. The knee-jerk reaction to news like this is to blame the schools and teachers. If only they tried harder or had more competition. If only we continue the beatings, morale will improve and so will performance. But as a kindergartener could tell you: That’s just not fair. Arizona ranks near the bottom nationwide when it comes to per pupil spending. During the recession, Arizona cut more from K-12 education than all but two other states…”
Paul C. Gorski via Valerie Strauss in The Washington Post…
“Here is an excerpt from a new book called ‘Reaching and Teaching Students in Poverty: Strategies for Erasing the Opportunity Gap,’ by Paul C. Gorski, associate professor of integrative studies at George Mason University. The book, which draws from years of research to analyze educational practices that undercut the achievement of low-income students, is part of the Multicultural Education Series of books edited by James A. Banks and published by Teachers College Columbia University…”
Howard Blume, Stephen Ceasar and Teresa Watanabe in The Los Angeles Times…
“L.A. schools chief John Deasy will continue to lead the nation’s second-largest school district through June 2016, the district‘s legal counsel announced Tuesday, ending days of speculation about his future. Deasy, 52, received a satisfactory evaluation from the L.A. Unified Board of Education during a nearly five-hour, closed-door meeting. Last week, he told some high-level district officials he would resign amid reports that he was frustrated by a new school board majority that challenged his policies and philosophy…”
“You may not approve of the teachers walkout, or ‘walk-in,’ planned for next week, but you cannot blame them for being frustrated to the point that they feel they must take some action to bring attention to the current state of affairs. North Carolina public school teachers have been grossly underappreciated by state lawmakers for a number of years. And this past year has been particularly painful for teachers. While North Carolina regularly ranks near the bottom when it comes to teacher pay in the United States, the state’s biennial budget enacted over the summer eliminates teacher tenure, freezes teacher salaries for the fifth time in six years, ends automatic pay increases for teachers who get master’s degrees and reduces funding for teachers’ assistants…”
“The fangs have come out in a fight over education reform in New Mexico with top APS officials sharing some ugly tweets about top state officials. On one side, Gov. Susana Martinez and Education Secretary-designate Hanna Skandera say they’re all about students succeeding. On the other side are Albuquerque Public Schools top officials, who recently tweeted pictures painting Martinez and Skandera as vampires ‘sucking the life out of education.’ It’s a passionate topic, the subject of a rally of teachers, parents, and students last week at Del Norte High School…”
“Oregon experts say migrant workers, who mainly come from California and Washington, now tend to stay for years in one place – a stability change that is boosting their children’s education. Before the Migrant Education Program started in 1966, more than 90 percent of migrant students dropped out of school nationwide. Last year in Oregon 55 percent graduated in four years, compared to 69 percent of non-migrant students. Most migrant students in Oregon are Latino, though some are Russian and Native American. Oregon ranks No. 5 in states with the most migrant students as of 2011.
“Early one morning in July, former CNN anchor Campbell Brown appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, pen in hand, notes fanned out in front of her. Viewers might have mistaken her as a fill-in host, but Brown had swung by 30 Rock in her new role as a self-styled education reformer, a crusader against sexual deviants in New York City public schools and the backward unions and bureaucrats getting in the way of firing them. “In many cases, we have teachers who were found guilty of inappropriate touching, sexual banter with kids, who weren’t fired from their jobs, who were given very light sentences and sent back to the classroom,” Brown, the mother of two young sons, explained. Brown was there to plug her new venture, the Parents’ Transparency Project, a nonprofit “watchdog group” that “favors no party, candidate, or incumbent.” Though its larger aim is to “bring transparency” to how contracts are negotiated with teachers’ unions, PTP’s most prominent campaign is to fix how New York City handles cases of sexual misconduct involving teachers and school employees—namely by giving the city’s schools chancellor, a political appointee, ultimate authority in the process….The former CNN anchor says her nonprofit seeks to protect kids from predators in the classroom. Its real agenda may be union-busting… PTP spent $100,000 on an attack ad questioning whether candidates like Bill de Blasio and Joe Lhota had ‘the guts to stand up to the teachers’ unions’… Brown failed to disclose that her husband sits on the board of the New York affiliate of Michelle Rhee’s education lobbying group….”
“Large numbers of children don’t feel safe in the hallways of Camden schools, say they lack essential textbooks and technology, and don’t believe they are being prepared for college or careers, according to findings of a survey released Monday. About a third of the students surveyed – around half of them in some schools – expressed a desire to attend a different school. Teachers polled also expressed dismay at the appearance of their buildings, and a quarter of them said students in their schools do not care about learning…”
“Starting as soon as next school year, zeros may be banned as grades from Wake County schools, and students could be guaranteed the right to hand in late work for credit and retake exams to get higher scores. School administrators said Tuesday that the district should overhaul its grading policy to make sure the marks reflect what students know, not how well they behave. Senior officials told school board members that the current system in which students can get grades as low as zero is too punitive…”
Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/10/29/3323896/wake-schools-looking-at-grading.html#storylink=cpy
By Lydia Mulvany in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel…
“Nearly four-fifths of the more than 500 students receiving taxpayer-funded subsidies to attend private schools through a new statewide voucher initiative were not previously attending public school, the state Department of Public Instruction said in a release Tuesday. Of the students receiving vouchers in the $3.2 million Wisconsin Parental Choice Program, 73%, or 371 students, attended a private school last year, 21%, or 106, went to a public school and the rest were either home-schooled, came from out of state or were not in school at all, such as incoming kindergartners. The percentage of students in the program already attending a private school was higher than the 67% the state projected in August. Though the spirit of the voucher program is to give options to low-income families saddled with a poor public school, public school students do not receive priority over other types of students in the statewide program according to the legislation governing the program, DPI spokesman John Johnson said. Siblings of students who received vouchers do get preference, he said….”
“Against the backdrop of tony Rittenhouse Square, protesters with the Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools and like-minded organizations donned Halloween costumes Tuesday afternoon for a festive rally against the city’s 10-year property tax abatement. The abatement, which became law about 15 years ago, applies to all newly-constructed or improved properties in the city. But, according to a report released Tuesday by PCAPS, the program will deprive Philadelphia schools of millions in property tax revenue in the coming year, with three buildings in Rittenhouse Square alone accounting for $2.1 million of the loss…”
Against the backdrop of tony Rittenhouse Square, protesters with the Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools and like-minded organizations donned Halloween costumes Tuesday afternoon for a festive rally against the city’s 10-year property tax abatement.
The abatement, which became law about 15 years ago, applies to all newly-constructed or improved properties in the city.
“School districts should not let the educational lure of new technology roll over fiscal common sense. Los Angeles’ experience with a program to put iPads in students’ hands offer an example of a financial tack to avoid. Districts should not put taxpayers in debt for decades to pay for short-lived equipment. The Los Angeles Unified School District in August began giving students tablet computers for use in class and at home. The move was part of the Common Core Technology Project, a $1 billion plan to use high-tech tools in learning. The district proposes to provide every student in the district with an iPad by 2014-15. The first phase of the project has so far distributed more than 23,000 devices to 40 schools across the district. Plans call for expanding the program to include the entire district in following months. The rollout brought trouble, however, as students skirted security filters to surf prohibited websites, and questions arose about the program’s cost and finances. Beyond the startup flubs, the most troubling aspect of the program is how the district funded the $50 million first phase of the project. Los Angeles Unified paid for the initial steps with school construction bond money — borrowing that district residents will pay back over 25 years…”
“I get asked a lot about what it’s like to teach in the public schools while knowing the truths about corporate education reform. Obviously, the two worlds collide. And I have spent many a night trying to figure out how to describe it – and how to write about it – so that you might also know what it feels like.This is my attempt for those of you who do not teach in the public schools today. It is surreal. It is so strange to watch the world crumbling down around you with such harshness and such coldness, while inside the walls of the school we continue to carry on, care for the children and fight to give them what every child deserves.As teachers, we fight to support one another – as human beings and as professionals. We fight to keep it together as we watch the corporate snakes slither in through the cracks and the crevices in our building.We shudder and hold the children close to us when others open the door wide and let the corporate snakes glide across the floor and make our building their own…”
“Testing of public school students in a New York City suburb was canceled on Monday after someone anonymously posted several of the exams on a public website, officials said. The breach of test security in the Montclair, N.J., school district was discovered by a parent on Friday, leading to a ‘full legal investigation,’ said Penny MacCormack, the superintendent. She said that only ‘teachers and senior staff here would have password access’ to the secure web portal that contains the exams…”
“For years, a school principal’s job was to make sure students were not creating a ruckus in the hallways or smoking in the bathroom. Vigilance ended at the schoolhouse gates. Now, as students complain, taunt and sometimes cry out for help on social media, educators have more opportunities to monitor students around the clock. And some schools are turning to technology to help them. Several companies offer services to filter and glean what students do on school networks; a few now offer automated tools to comb through off-campus postings for signs of danger. For school officials, this raises new questions about whether they should — or legally can — discipline children for their online outbursts…”
“The campaign for unfettered expansion of charter schools in Pennsylvania has greatly intensified given a bill pending in the state Senate that would give life to a large number of deeply ill-advised proposals. Senate Bill 1085 is being sold as a comprehensive reform of Pennsylvania’s charter schools, and it truly puts forward a number of game-changers. Whether they amount to reforms, however, largely depends on how one feels about drastically undermining the state’s public school system and placing an even greater burden on taxpayers. Charter schools are privately operated, much like private academies and parochial schools. But the latter largely get their money from student tuition. Charter schools, on the other hand, are heavily subsidized by public tax money from tuition paid by public school districts for each student who leaves a district to attend a charter school. That tuition paid by school districts also fully funds the pensions of charter school employees. But, for some reason, the state also directly funds a minimum of 50 percent of charter school pensions costs. This is known as the so-called pension ‘double-dip.’…”
Michele Kerr via Valerie Strauss in The Washington Post…
“Classroom dynamics are complicated, and progress in student achievement comes in many different forms. Here’s a personal look at how one teacher helped one child at risk of failing, and what success looked like. This was written by Michele Kerr, a math teacher at Kennedy High School in Fremont, CA. This post comes from her blog….”
“The Broward County School District’s latest Facebook status update: It’s allowed, at least for some. Teachers and district employees — but not students — can now use district computers to log onto previously blocked sites like Facebook and YouTube. A new school district policy opened the door for social media saying it “realizes that part of 21st century learning is adapting to the changing methods of communication.”
Nick Ulferts, a junior English at Illinois State, in The Vidette…
“Ask just about any education major at Illinois State how they feel about standardized testing, and they probably won’t give a very positive response. While the polarizing topic will be under debate for years to come, Standardized testing has a tight grip on the education field today. Much to the dismay of many, it’s likely that this type of testing is here to stay for a while. Unfortunately, standardized testing to some extent exists at the university level as well. Since grade school, it has been a necessary evil that we have all had to experience. However, education majors will soon be introduced to a whole new type of standardized assessment, one that will determine whether or not they can be a teacher in Illinois. The Educational Teacher Performance Assessment, or edTPA, is a new type of assessment that teachers will soon have to take and pass. Essentially, it is an extensive portfolio that includes requiring prospective teachers having to film themselves student teaching. The portfolio is shipped to Pearson, an education company, for evaluation. One cannot be a teacher in the state of Illinois without passing this assessment. It also costs $300 to take. While it may not be a “test” in the traditional sense, edTPA is built on the same principals of standardized and high stakes testing. This, coupled with other flaws, makes the assessment very questionable. As a result, I believe that the edTPA isn’t the answer to evaluating aspiring teachers…”
“Before the Cleveland school district’s teacher shortage leaves a lasting sour taste in the mouths of voters who’ll be asked to renew a hefty school levy in less than four years, CEO Eric Gordon needs to quicken the pace of hiring qualified teachers. At the same time, current district employees have to reduce their absentee rate, as Gordon pointed out in an internal email earlier this month.
“In the latest show of support for Syracuse teachers, parents stood outside several schools across the city this morning, greeting the educators with smiles, signs and silcone wristbands. At other schools, parents dropped off the wristbands for distribution to the teachers. The dark blue wristbands said “Thank you!” on one side and “I am appreciated” on the other. The giveaway grew out of a website created by Tina and Melissa Lesley-Fox, who also did chalk drawings outside five schools earlier this month to provide messages of support after many city teachers received disappointing — the parents say inaccurate — performance evaluations…”
“The fallout from the Philadelphia School District’s budget crisis continues: as of Monday, 139 teachers were moved to new schools – seven weeks into the term, and shortly before students’ first report card grades are due. “Leveling” – the process of moving teachers based on schools’ enrollment – occurs every year. But it’s been particularly painful this year, with fiscal concerns spurring more changes than usual as schools aim to keep class sizes at or under their maximum: 30 for the lower grades and 33 in higher grades…”
“Recently, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said you’re either “moving forward with courageous reforms” and “piloting new and better assessments” (the graduate school term for “standardized tests”), or you’re one of the “arm chair pundits who insist our efforts are doomed to fail.” Duncan exposed his own fallacy when he said, “Many people in the real world, outside the beltway and blogosphere, have tuned out this debate.” Actually, the opposite is true. In the birthplace of the legislative dumpster fire known as No Child Left Behind, most Texans are lining up against test-driven reforms. Pressured by local school boards, parents, and superintendents, the Texas legislature rolled back the number of tests required to graduate from high school from 15 to 5. Lawmakers even made it illegal for testing lobbyists to give them campaign contributions, a rare move in a state notably hostile to limits on lobbying, business or campaign contributions…”
“I have been reading tax forms — 990s, the form of the nonprofit organization (no 1040s for them). It might sound boring, but I guess that all depends upon whose tax forms they are. Two 990s are the subject of this post. The first is the 2011 (August 2011 to July 2012) 990 for Michelle Rhee’s reform lobbying organization, StudentsFirst (SF). The second is the 2011 990 from the lesser-known SF sister organization, StudentsFirst Institute (SFI). Both forms were signed by Michelle Rhee on June 13, 2013 and filed with the IRS in Ogden UT on June 18, 2013…”
“Segregating young children for whom English is a new language according to their fluency levels produces the best academic results, according to most research. So the Los Angeles Unified School District has little choice in the matter. As a result of a settlement with the U.S. Department of Education, which had accused the district of doing poorly by its English learners, the district was required to submit an evidence-based plan for improvement, and that plan calls for sorting the students by English skills. And yet there is reason for concern, especially considering American public schools’ long and shameful history of labeling, separating and tracking students from the youngest grades on the basis of race and other characteristics..”
“The New York State Education Department, responding to concerns that standardized exams in reading and math have become excessive and unwieldy, will seek to ease the burden of testing. Under the plan, students struggling in English would be given exams in their native languages. A math test would be eliminated for some eighth graders. Students with disabilities would take tests matched to their level of instruction, not their age. The proposals are modest, but they represent a rare concession from state leaders, who have faced attacks from parents and teachers in recent weeks over the rollout of a tougher set of standards known as the Common Core…”
Jared Shelly in the Philadelphia Business Journal…
“An interesting name has been floated around as a possible Philadelphia School Reform Commission head: Ed Rendell. The former governor and mayor has been named as a potential successor to Pedro Ramos who recently resigned, according to Newsworks. Will he even consider taking the position?…”
“Critics of current trends in education reform, such as historian Diane Ravitch, often complain that they are up against a phalanx of business executives and rich investors more interested in making money than improving schools. These people, the critics say, march in lock step to replace our traditional public schools with charters, vouchers and online campuses so they can squeeze profits out of taxpayer dollars. That sense of unity among the corporate types has been shattered in the past few weeks by a bitter quarrel between two of the reform movement’s most prominent leaders. One is hedge fund manager Whitney Tilson, one of the original founders of Teach for America and Democrats for Education Reform and a long-time board member of the KIPP charter school network in New York City. The other is Jeanne Allen, founder and president of the Washington-based Center for Education Reform since 1993 and a former candidate for the Maryland General Assembly…”
“It’s so common to see studies about the United States’s lackluster academic performance compared to other countries, it’s barely newsworthy anymore. The American education system, the story goes, is mediocre. A new report from the National Center for Educational Statistics complicates that picture a bit. It attempts to rank how individual states compare internationally, and shows a wide gap between the highest-performing states and the lowest: Massachusetts does quite well against other countries, while Mississippi, Alabama, and the District of Columbia do poorly…”
“Pearson’s Common Core System of Courses, meant to eventually become the district’s primary instructional resource in both math and English/language arts for kindergarten through 12th grade, currently consists of just a few sample lessons per grade, resulting in widespread frustration and confusion among classroom teachers. In addition, the amount the district is paying to Pearson remains a mystery, leading to increasingly pointed questions from the school system’s divided school board, which called a special meeting to discuss the overall iPad initiative next week…”
“John King Jr., who occupies the office of New York State Commissioner of Education, is an excellent example of how the present misguided movement to “reform” public schools is well on its way to a failing grade. Mr. King has but one year of public school teaching experience and is not even a certified teacher in New York state. While he endorses this bogus evaluation system that puts gifted teachers’ careers at risk for not having their students score at the “magical” examination levels that he demands, his own children attend a private school that does not use standardized testing materials and doesn’t promote the “Common Core” that politicians demand of our public school faculty. So, just how did Mr. King get hired? He was crowned by Chancellor Meryl Tisch, a billionaire who is “connected” to Columbia University president Susan Fuhrman. If you continue to “follow the dots,” you will find that Fuhrman is on the board of Pearson. Pearson has made more than $2 billion selling standardized testing materials to public schools…”
“School officials said Friday they did weigh the $100 million offer, but weren’t comfortable with selling to one buyer and cutting out public input over the fate of the buildings, many of which are landmarks in their neighborhoods. Then, in a meeting this week with Clarke, Mayor Nutter learned about the offer. The mayor said Clarke didn’t tell him the name of the would-be buyer, so Nutter’s staff asked around – and discovered the bid came from Municipal Acquisitions in the nation’s capital. Nutter said he looked up the company online and called its chief executive, Jon Kling. They’re now trying to set up a meeting in person, sometime next week…”
chool officials said Friday they did weigh the $100 million offer, but weren’t comfortable with selling to one buyer and cutting out public input over the fate of the buildings, many of which are landmarks in their neighborhoods.
Then, in a meeting this week with Clarke, Mayor Nutter learned about the offer.The mayor said Clarke didn’t tell him the name of the would-be buyer, so Nutter’s staff asked around – and discovered the bid came from Municipal Acquisitions in the nation’s capital.
Nutter said he looked up the company online and called its chief executive, Jon Kling. They’re now trying to set up a meeting in person, sometime next week. Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20131026_A__100_million_offer_for_those_shuttered_Phila__schools__Clarke__Nutter_want_to_know_more.html#CDd1mHrCKWQjskvL.99chool officials said Friday they did weigh the $100 million offer, but weren’t comfortable with selling to one buyer and cutting out public input over the fate of the buildings, many of which are landmarks in their neighborhoods. Then, in a meeting this week with Clarke, Mayor Nutter learned about the offer. The mayor said Clarke didn’t tell him the name of the would-be buyer, so Nutter’s staff asked around – and discovered the bid came from Municipal Acquisitions in the nation’s capital. Nutter said he looked up the company online and called its chief executive, Jon Kling. They’re now trying to set up a meeting in person, sometime next week.
“One of California’s poorest school districts, the Coachella Valley Unified southeast of Los Angeles, is currently rolling out iPads to every student, pre-kindergarten through high school. It’s an ambitious effort that administrators and parents hope will transform how kids learn, boost achievement and narrow the digital divide with wealthier districts. But, as with tablet efforts across the country, this one faces skeptics and obstacles. Some wonder if its projected benefits are being grossly oversold…”
“When Dallas ISD decided to close 11 schools over the past two years, district leaders promised to keep the doors locked, alarms set and lawns mowed. The grass still gets trimmed every so often, but vandals and thieves have trashed Pearl C. Anderson Middle Learning Center in South Dallas. Graffiti covers walls outside H.S. Thompson Learning Center. And raccoons infested Julia Frazier Elementary School. Residents who opposed the closures, an effort to save about $11 million, worried that the buildings would become magnets for vandals and thieves…”
“A combination of technology and a concentrated focus on positive behavior have made a significant dent in the number of school discipline problems at Clements Middle School. Joy Scavella, principal of Clements, said the number of discipline referrals in the classroom has declined significantly since the school installed a new camera and software system that allows teachers to record classroom activities…”
“While the concept is new, it’s possible that the P-tech model may actually shift the definition of secondary education itself. In the Brooklyn school, 40% of the kids are on track to actually complete the 6-year curriculum in 4 years. If the 6 Year High School becomes the norm, it will be the biggest reset for education since the U.S. made high school itself mandatory after WWII. That’s when we realized that shifts in the global economy had made education beyond 8th grade essential. It’s not hard to make the argument that we’re at another such inflection point now…”
Kaitlin Pennington at The Center for American Progress…
“Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association, or NEA, came out against single-salary teacher-compensation systems at an Education Writers Association, or EWA, event held earlier this month in Chicago. “Let’s get rid of step-and-lane,” he declared. “I don’t like it. It forces people to work for peanuts when they start, and if you stay there 30 years, you get all the way to, depending on the state, $40,000, $70,000, or $80,000. Step-and-lane pay scales, which tie teachers’ salary increases to years of experience and to the number of higher-education credits earned and degrees attained, have long been a hot topic of debate in education-reform circles. The step-and-lane pay scale was created to address inequities for teachers who were traditionally provided little in the way of salary, security, or fairness, by standardizing teacher pay. While step-and-lane pay scales are the most frequently used compensation system, the NEA has developed a Professional Growth Salary Framework. The framework’s goal is to examine effective practices, student outcomes, and other factors for its local affiliates to consider before advancing in collaboration with districts…”
“Regardless of where you live in the United States, educating our children is an issue that is probably a part of the daily news cycle. Whether it’s a new state or national learning standards, such as the Common Core State Standards, or reforms to teacher preparation and evaluations, or the condition of our schools and technological structure, education is undergoing an immense change. To ensure that our children receive the best education we have to offer, we as parents have some obligations to our kids and to educators…”
“Over the last five years, the number of students enrolled in K-12 schools has gone up by 1.6 percent, and to keep up with that growth, the country would have needed to hire an additional 132,000 teachers, according to analysis from the Economic Policy Institute. But instead, over that period the U.S. slashed 258,000 jobs in local education, a group mostly made up of teachers (although one that also includes counselors, administration, and aides). That leaves the country with a deficit of 389,000 educators…”
Luke Largess in a letter to the Charlotte Observer…
“Last Friday’s Observer reported the misgivings of superintendents and school boards over the end of teacher tenure, and the challenge in determining who will be the 25 percent of teachers to be offered four-year contracts with $500/year pay raises. Sunday’s editorial also discussed these issues. But the Observer disserves this important discussion by continually repeating two Republican myths about these coming changes. The first fable is that tenure must end because only 17 tenured teachers were fired in the 2011-12 school year. That number, from a line in the annual Department of Public Instruction report on teacher turnover, ignores the full DPI report and the story it tells…”
“Several hundred packed into a middle-school auditorium in Albany on Thursday to sound off on the state’s newly implemented Common Core standards, as the Education Department kicked off the first of its revamped forums on the more-stringent student requirements. Sixty-seven parents, teachers and students each took a two-minute turn at the microphone, with most criticizing New York’s rollout of the standards while calling on state Education Commissioner John King and other officials to slow down the process. The forum was filled with spirited applause as speakers knocked the tougher standardized tests that are a key part of the curriculum, which was implemented for the first time last year for third- through eighth-graders…”
“U.S. public schools are now enrolling a record number of homeless children and youth — over 1.1 million — with the largest populations in California, New York, Texas and Florida, new data from by the U.S. Department of Education show. The news comes on the heels of a new study showing that a majority of students in public schools throughout the American South and West are poor for the first time in at least four decades…”
John Owens reviews Diane Ravitch’s amazing new book, Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public School…
“If you want to do one thing this year for our children, our nation and our future, buy a copy of Diane Ravitch’s brilliant and engaging new book, Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools…”
“Amid growing alarm over the slipping international competitiveness of American students, a report comparing math and science test scores of eighth graders in individual states to those in other countries has found that a majority outperformed the international average. But the report, to be released Thursday by the National Center for Education Statistics, an office of the Education Department, showed that even in the country’s top-performing states — which include Massachusetts, Vermont and Minnesota — fewer students scored at the highest levels than students in several East Asian countries…”
“Los Angeles schools Supt. John Deasy has told Board of Education members that he plans to resign in February, according to high-level district officials, including some who asked not to be named. The reaction from the office of board President Richard Vladovic left little doubt. ‘We are shocked,’ said Mike Trujillo, a spokesman. ‘Dr. Vladovic is shocked, saddened and surprised.’ Deasy, 52, was not immediately available for comment, but his departure would end the relatively brief tenure of a leader who made his mark with aggressive, sometimes controversial policies in L.A. Unified, the nation’s second-largest school system…”
Most educators are more exposed than ever under CC. They are now evaluated in an entirely different and somewhat arbitrary fashion because their ratings are linked to student performance. That is a rough thing to gauge because not all learners are capable of progressing at the desired speed. So many are deficient from the start … for a whole batch of reasons such as poverty, English challenges, learning disabilities, home life issues like drug use, alcoholism, neglect, and abuse of all disgusting shapes … and healing programs available to them are determined by the wealth-factor of their district. About the only constant from district to district is the teachers … the humans that measure moments, evaluate kids, clean their wounds perhaps … and then determine a route to success that is seldom evenly paved.
I’ve said this a million times: they’re not making cars there … where quality control is a sort of antiseptic effort. These are human beings and human beings … even children … arrive at the school door loaded with human variables. And teachers are human beings, too … with the same sort of baggage you and I lug around. Jesus, teaching’s not a hammer-and-nail project. I wish it were that easily done … where all we had to do was measure, measure again … and then bolt stuff together into a seamless perfect. It ain’t that. Not at all.
Remarks about teachers being sold on CC is not accurate. Many have and will speak out. This is new territory for them. They’re as concerned for their jobs as anyone. They have mortgages and cars to pay off … and kids to get through college … and so forth. They’re real goddamn people. They’re a prideful bunch, too. Like you they want to be stars at what they do … no one walks into a classroom with the goal of mediocrity tattooed in their mind. Yes, there are dreadful teachers. Like there are dreadful lawyers and doctors and nurses. And they should be shoved out the damn door asap. But that’s another issue entirely … for a later discussion.
The assessment of parents as sort of clueless clods unable or unwilling to pay attention to their children’s learning situation is also off the mark. Yes, there are lame parents who don’t give a crap … but there are lots and lots who do. And they’re the ones speaking out now … and it’s only begun. Not sure if you have kids yourself … but I’ll tell you something as a dad myself … screw with my kids and I visit horror on you. Lots of parents feel absolutely threatened by elements of Common Core … the data mining, the rigidity of certain techniques, the cluelessness of curriculum choice that in some cases are disgustingly inappropriate. BUT there are lousy parents, too. Parents who think that school is a miracle center where all of their own child-neglect can be panacea-ed by these very teachers you mock. Jesus, teachers do work miracles … but not of the Biblical sort. They can’t do the Lazarus thing or the water-into-wine thing either. However, they make small miracles that pile up over a school year … and, in the end, they hold their noggins high because they sure as hell made a difference in the lives of lots and lots of kids.
I have no idea what “navigate the system” means. I’m serious. The main way parents see to the proper education of their kids is to sacrifice and buy homes in wealthy districts that can afford all sorts of programs … enrichment and remedial … to see to student needs. The funding issue is at the core. As long as a kid’s educational opportunities are dictated by the address on the mailbox we’ll never erase any of this disparity. No one navigates the system” … you’re either in a sweet spot or you’re not.
CC is for wholesale re-engineering of every district … successful or not. And it pays no heed to the socio-economic gaps I mentioned above. ALL kids can learn and have a life well lived … but they don’t all learn at the same speed and in the same way. I’m rock-solid against this babying crap that pays kids in worthless esteem baths for simply signing their name or sitting up straight. That’s crap-nonsense. I want kids to sweat school at times … just as real life makes us all clammy now and again. There’s nothing wrong with failure if it serves a purpose … and many times failure does just that. I think every school should be clear-clear with meaningful expectations and consequences about everything from learning, effort and discipline. But I also think that kids deserve realism when it comes to their situations … and the condition they are in when they bump into the classroom door. They are not all properly prepared for what takes place inside that room … and they need different prescriptions in order to succeed. No one knows that assessment and those remedies better than the teacher who sees those youngsters day-in-and-day-out. These far-away, beard scratching, pointy-headed theorists … like the ones who pasted CC together like asses … think they’re the new Socrates. They’re fools … and, if you want, I’ll supply you with endless examples of their asinine doings. I’ve got tons to show you … and then you’ll understand.
We all want all kids and schools to thrive and succeed. I wish there was that sort of Dorothy moment when we could just click our heels and all that’s miserably real vanishes. But the world is not so folksy or magical. Educating kids is a bear of a job … especially when you have a population as diverse as we have here in Port Chester and other locales around New York.
Please take a look at this new group in New Mexico…
Kris Nielsen @ The Chalk Face…
“New Mexico has one of the masters of Chiefs for Change, Hanna Skandera, in the chief’s seat of their education department. They are under her thumb and trapped under her policies, which she brought with her, straight outta Florida and straight from Jeb. This week, Albuquerque BOE member Kathy Korte organized and held a rally there to ask that she stop the reckless testing and punitive measures against New Mexico kids and schools. She responded that she was “disappointed” that they aren’t all towing her line…”
“Without doubt the poster person for the reform movement has been ex-chancellor of the Washington, D.C. public school system Michelle Rhee, who rocketed to the limelight of American consciousness with her grandiose portrayals in the popular press and the major documentary film ‘Waiting for Superman.’ Rhee is known as none other than ‘America’s most famous school reformer.’ But it is Rhee’s spectacular rise and fall that in many ways symbolizes the fallen arc of the education reform movement. This month, that trajectory sank even lower…”
“Last month, I got an email from a recruiter. An associate of Teach For America, citing a minor leadership role in a student organization as evidence that I “have distinguished [myself] as a leader here on Harvard’s campus,” asked me to meet with Harvard’s TFA representative on campus. Dropping phrases like “race and class,” “equal opportunities,” and “educational injustice,” the recruiter promised that I could have a significant impact on a classroom in an underserved community. I have thought for many years about teaching high school history. But I stopped replying to this email after a few exchanges. I am not interested in TFA…”
“… Among the many half-truths and untruths in her screed is the insinuation that students who score badly on the New England Common Assessment Program tests, i.e. urban students, have been subject to ‘years of poor, inadequate education,’ while students who do well have teachers who, by contrast, ‘provide great instruction that engages students on many levels and teaches key academic skills.’ This malicious slur on urban teachers is the ultimate in hubris from a young woman who spent a handful of years teaching in an elementary school and since then has glided up the professional ladder on the shoulders of right-wing politicians and millionaires like Jeb Bush and Eli Broad. If there are any urban teachers who didn’t know what the commissioner thought of them before, they know now…”
“As you know if you teach at a U.S. public school – or even if you just read the June 2013 New York Times feature about it – a consortium of state boards of education recently decided that we should have uniform standards about what we teach our kids. Hence, the alliteratively-named “Common Core curriculum” is here. While you probably know that this curriculum is going to bring with it an increase in standardized testing, what you might not know is that the curriculum is also going to bring with it a strong push to have computers grade student writing. As I write this, about a half-dozen companies are vying for government contracts to do just that. Each of them has brought together a team of statisticians, linguists and computer programmers to produce the best possible software capable of automatically grading essays. The reason for the push is both grim and obvious: money…”
“Members of a supposedly disaffected generation are protesting standardized testing. Parents are refusing to let schools give their kids the tests. Teachers are refusing to administer the tests. School boards are begging for relief from testing mandates. That’s all nice, say the dwindling number of defenders of linking accountability to standardized testing, but if we got rid of tests what would you replace them with? It’s a fair question, and it’s one that a group of 23 rebellious school districts are determined to answer. If they succeed—and it’s a big if—then American schoolchildren might enjoy an education system judged by something other than a bubble test…”
“Los Angeles school district officials acknowledged Tuesday that they understated the cost of providing iPads to students, but also said the deal could ultimately save millions of dollars. The L.A. Unified School District hopes to provide a tablet to every student and teacher, and, for months, has reported the cost as $678 per device. But a revised budget released Monday found that the tablets could cost as much as $770. The previous amount, officials said Tuesday, did not include taxes and a mandatory recycling fee. Once those costs are added in, the price rises to about $744, said Daphne Congdon, a district information technology administrator. The cost rises to $770 if the district buys fewer than about 520,000 devices, because it wouldn’t qualify for a volume discount until it pays Apple Inc. $400 million. The price of the tablets was one of many budget items that came up at back-to-back L.A. Unified meetings Tuesday. For some key questions, district staff said they had no immediate answers and promised they would be able to report more at a meeting next week…”
“Has the ‘Hunger Games’ invaded our schools? Not the movie, of course, but its premise: competitors battling it out for the grand prize. In this case, that prize is a pay raise. A new ‘Hunger Games’ themed YouTube video by the North Carolina Association of Educators describes the new law as ‘teacher versus teacher in a fight for decent pay.’ ‘They’re out to get each other,’ says Emily Klinedinst, a teacher and president of the Pitt County Association of Educators. ‘There’s no helping each other. It’s ‘One of us is going down. It’s not going to be me.’ You know? And I just don’t want to see that with teachers.’ School districts have until June 30, 2014, to comply with a new state law, which says they must choose only 25 percent of their top teachers to get a four-year contract with built-in annual raises that total $5,000. All other teachers will get one-year contracts and those who accept the raises would forfeit their tenure. All tenure would end in 2018…
“More than 90 percent of teachers across the state scored either effective or highly effective on their performance evaluations, state Education Commissioner John King announced at a news conference in Albany today. The numbers did not include teachers in New York City, which is a year behind other districts in its teacher rating system. The preliminary statewide results showed that just 1 percent of teachers were rated ineffective, while 4.4 percent were rated “developing.” Nearly half — 49.7 percent — were rated “highly effective,” while 41.8 percent were rated effective. That’s in stark contrast to Syracuse’s numbers, where 7 percent of teachers were rated ineffective and 33 percent were rated developing. Only 2 percent were rated highly effective. Rochester had similar teacher ratings to Syracuse’s, the teachers’ union leader there has said…”
“Hundreds of Portland Association of Teachers supporters rallied outside Monday’s Portland School Board meeting to protest the district’s recent call to mediation as the two sides negotiate a new contract. Portland Public Schools and the Portland Association of Teachers have been negotiating for a new labor agreement since April but still remain stuck on several issues, particularly wages, health insurance and a limit on teacher workloads…”
“This ongoing tug-of-war has reached a critical stage: Our inability to find solutions to the problems facing education has harsh consequences, particularly for students caught in the ever-widening achievement gap that claims far too many children of color. The longer we bicker, the more they suffer. But finding solutions in today’s political climate has proven to be difficult. Every player in the education conversation — teachers, administrators, board members, reformers, and community activists — has handed out and been on the receiving end of verbal bruising, hostility, and misrepresentation. We all say we are on the side of students, but are any of us willing to stop blaming each other for systemic failures and work together to figure out what students truly need? And ironically, in the midst of the din, parents are reminding everyone that they are not willing to be on the sidelines of these debates. We are, after all, talking about their children, but are any of us willing to put down our agendas and listen?…”
“More than 120 authors and illustrators of books for children — including Maya Angelou, Judy Blume and Jane Yolen — urged President Obama in a letter sent Tuesday to curb policies that promote excessive standardized testing…”
“Nearly two decades ago, a landmark study found that by age 3, the children of wealthier professionals have heard words millions more times than those of less educated parents, giving them a distinct advantage in school and suggesting the need for increased investment in prekindergarten programs. Now a follow-up study has found a language gap as early as 18 months, heightening the policy debate…”
Hillsborough County, FL (Tampa) is home to the 8th largest district in the country with 15,000 teachers and a $3 billion budget. The Gates funded teacher evaluation system is an emotional nightmare for teachers… Here is Florida BAT Admin. Mike Weston with some note on what is coming soon to your district…
EET – Enraging Effective Teachers
By Mike Weston
Hillsborough County Florida is ground zero for Bill Gates’ attack on public school teachers. Three years ago, Hillsborough adopted a Gates funded teacher evaluation scheme, misnamed “Empowering Effective Teachers.” Enraging Effective Teachers is more accurate. The system involves a VAM score and classroom observation by “peers” (turncoat teachers looking for that admin job). Teachers are graded against the Charlotte Danielson rubric; a tool never intended for evaluation.
Last school year, a survey was given to teachers regarding the new system. Less than 25% responded. Through a public records request, I obtained the freeform comments submitted by some respondents.
Here is a sample of what they said:
The EET process is highly discouraging and is going to force me to find a new job…
The system is basically negative…
EET does not empower teachers. It does not make them more effective either. What it does do is hurt school morale.
I see the process as nothing more than the creation of a new level of bureaucracy to harass older teachers and stifle creativity and individuality. Teaching is an art form and Danielson is no artist.
The process is demeaning and strips away individuality of teachers.
I think that the evaluation system is a terrible addition to Hillsborough County… The stress levels of the teachers have gone through the roof due to this system. I believe that the people in charge of EET are completely aware of this and continue to ignore it…
A quick picture of a “fake” unrealistic lesson doesn’t realistically measure my performance…Teachers are constantly under a microscope…without so much as a job well done.
EET is still demoralizing instead of empowering!
This is going to destroy teachers.
EET is a tool to undermine the strength and support of the teacher’s union while providing a subjective evaluation of teachers with a punitive rather than constructive purpose.
This process is a massive, cumbersome bureaucratic maze that does little more than consume district resources… It does nothing to deal with all of the obstacles that the state and the district put in my way every single day.
I do not believe the pressure caused by this system has improved the effectiveness of teacher performance. I see a demoralized faculty. This system causes teaches to forget their love of the children and their profession.
It destroys motivation, teacher collaboration, attitude and everything good about choosing this profession.
I think this whole EET evaluation process is degrading and demoralizing. There is no other profession that is under scrutiny as much as teachers and this evaluation process makes us feel like we are never doing a good job.
You can fire teachers for not being effective…why not principals and AP’s…they just get moved!
The EET observations are very subjective. If you are working with an administrator who does not like you, you have a serious problem. They are able to write anything they want and teachers can’t do a thing about it. Administrators are allowed to use hearsay in their evaluations which is quite unprofessional.
Teacher moral is at its lowest due to the EET. Teachers give their all for the students in our schools and we are repaid with an ineffective, demoralizing evaluation system.
I continue to think the peer portion is a waste of money and time. Peer feedback has yet to really be anything useful for myself or any of my colleagues. More funds should be used on the mentor portion as that is more effective and necessary.
This process seems to create a rather adversarial and counterproductive work environment; which is not conducive to instructional or professional development progression.
Peers adjusting their scores and lowering them to match the Principal’s lower score is not fair. If she is calibrated and rates the teacher according to what she observes that should be the score that is averaged.
Most of the questions that were asked in this survey were flawed. We were asked if we ‘understood’, a component of EET rather than if we agreed or disagree to a certain aspect of it.
Three years ago, I was ON FIRE! I never dreaded coming to school and I felt like I was impacting and making a difference in the lives of so many students. The new evaluation system and the stress that comes along with it has made me feel unappreciated and unrecognized.
Nothing has gone right. It is demoralizing and it does not make “bad” teachers better and it makes good teachers not care.
I do not make any where near enough money to be constantly degraded and insulted with this evaluation system. This job is no longer enjoyable. Our schools now have a toxic environment. I would and have strongly discouraged any young person from going into the teaching profession.
The only thing that EET has accomplished is to drive teachers out of the classrooms.
Feedback from peers is not useful. What is said in face to face meetings doesn’t really match what appears on the evaluations.
Teachers continue to feel punished for elements out of our control such as students’ poor social skills, behavior, and other factors that are outside of our academic realm to solve.
Peer evaluations seem arbitrary and capricious, and provide little or no feed-back which can be put into practice. EET seems to have little impact on student learning and a very negative impact on teacher morale. A very sad and wasteful experiment.
The EET process has created the lowest teacher morale I have witnessed in 18 years of teaching. I don’t trust the process. I don’t trust the reasoning given to us for the evaluation system. I don’t believe this system “Empowers” anyone. I think it degrades teachers.
There are hundreds and hundreds more. The most frequently used words include; demoralizing, degrading and destroy. The three D’s of EET.
Michael Weston is a candidate for Hillsborough County School Board, the nation’s 8th largest…
“… What’s warped is the idea that lawmakers can motivate North Carolina’s 95,000 public school teachers by fiat. What’s really warped is thinking you can motivate them by fiat after doing nothing to improve average pay that ranks near the bottom in the nation…”
Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/10/19/3295363/no-tenure-law-undermines-good.html#storylink=cpy
“… Susan Fahey Glisson has been a school librarian at Tecumseh Elementary in the Jamesville-DeWitt school district for the past 14 years, but last year she did something she never thought she would do with her students. She tested them. She didn’t want to, because she believes the library should be a refuge from all the testing that goes on in school these days. But she did. She even tested them on things they were never taught, fully expecting them to do poorly. ‘How demoralizing is that?’ she said. ‘To sit kids down and give them a test on something you have absolutely no expectations they’ll do well on?’ It made no sense to her, but she had no choice. Like the vast majority of teachers across New York, Fahey Glisson underwent a new, state-mandated teacher evaluation last year. Because the state required part of the evaluation to be based on student improvement, teachers like Fahey Glisson had to develop their own “student learning objectives” to measure that improvement. That involved testing students in the beginning of the year on things she hadn’t taught them yet, then testing them again at the end of the year. Their improvement was factored into her evaluation. The exercise, in Fahey Glisson’s eyes, was a waste of her time and a disservice to her students…”
“Wednesday night, the House and Senate passed a deal ending the government shutdown, raising the debt ceiling, and extending legislation that broadened the federal definition of ‘highly qualified teachers’ to cover those in programs like Teach for America. That barely noticed inclusion was the latest coup for the bipartisan, corporate-backed education reform agenda pushed by groups including Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education – which now faces an IRS complaint brought by opponents on the left. In a Tuesday letter to the IRS’ acting commissioner, ProgressNow New Mexico alleged that FEE “has failed to disclose payments — or as the Foundation calls them, scholarships — for public official travel on its Form 990s as required by the IRS.” ProgressNow executive director Patrick Davis argued that ‘it is possible these unreported payments to the government officials may be deemed to provide a private inurement in violation of IRS regulations.’…”
“Teach for America is best known for sending bright young college graduates to teach for two years in poor communities. But it’s much more than a service organization. It’s a political powerhouse. With a $100 million endowment and annual revenues approaching $300 million, TFA is flush with cash and ambition. Its clout on Capitol Hill was demonstrated last week when a bipartisan group of lawmakers made time during the frenzied budget negotiations to secure the nonprofit its top legislative priority — the renewal of a controversial provision defining teachers still in training, including TFA recruits, as “highly qualified” to take charge of classrooms. It was a huge victory that flattened a coalition of big-name opponents, including the NAACP, the National PTA and the National Education Association. But it barely hints at TFA’s growing leverage…”
“A Washington Heights elementary school has canceled the new standardized multiple-choice tests for the youngest public school students — after more than 80% of parents opted to have their kids sit out the exam.…
Jersey Jazzman via Valerie Strauss in The Washington Post…
“In recent years we’ve seen the rise of big money being poured into local school board races from well outside the district, or city or even state where the election is being held. Millions were spent, for example, in Los Angeles school board races earlier this year. In April I published a piece by a teacher in New Jersey who blogs under the name “Jersey Jazzman” about the financing of a local school board campaign, and here is a new one, about another election and the same pattern of outside funding. A version of this appeared on the Jersey Jazzman blog…”
“Seattle school board candidate Suzanne Dale Estey and her supporters are poised to raise more money than any other school board candidate in state history – even though a Washington state law passed last year put a cap on campaign contributions in school board races. That’s because although campaign contributions are capped, donors can give to political action committees that support the board candidates. That has raised questions about whether a handful of rich donors could sway the school board races this year. Seattle real estate developer Matt Griffin, who supports Suzanne Dale Estey and Stephan Blanford, is one of those donors. Griffin could give Dale Estey and Blanford $1,800 each for the primary and general elections combined. But because the state’s new school board campaign finance laws don’t apply to independent spending, Griffin also gave $30,500 to a political action committee to elect Dale Estey and Blanford…”
“A couple of months ago, Cornelius Elementary School librarian Pam Liley gave an apt description of a teacher pay system N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory came up with after lawmakers scrapped the state’s teacher tenure plan. She called it McCrory’s “Hunger Games for teachers” – a reference to the novels and movies that have the poor fighting in competitions against each other for their survival. McCrory’s idea – establish a $30 million innovation fund to provide $10,000 stipends to 1,000 of the state’s top teachers (about 1 percent) – didn’t get anywhere. But the N.C. legislature’s changes, with the same twisted theme, are being implemented. This summer, the General Assembly voted to end all teacher tenure by 2018. Next year, up to 25 percent of the state’s teachers – those school systems deem the top teachers – will be offered four-year contracts and a $5,000 pay raise for that period. All other teachers will be hired on one-year contracts, with no possibility for tenure. Those teachers already with tenure will be asked to give it up by 2018…”
“While teachers and municipal workers deserve a raise, there certainly were more pressing educational issues in New York City and the nation facing students and parents — and I argue facing teachers as well. They include school closings, charter schools, teacher assessments, and poor performance on new standardized tests, especially by black and latino students. My own experience with the leadership of the UFT during the past four decades is that while they consistently promote better education for students, especially when they are negotiating new contracts for teachers and want parental support, they inevitably drop all other demands in exchange for a pay raise, or in this case, for retroactive pay. The two national teachers’ unions should definitely have more influence on education in the United States, but they share some of the responsibility for their own futility. Part of the problem is their schizophrenic nature as both bread-and-butter unions and as professional organizations that advocate for just and effective educational policies…”
Do you love current events? How about standardized testing? Since the answer to both of those questions is sure to be a big yes, here’s a series of questions concerning the controversy surrounding state Education Commissioner John King’s disastrous Oct. 10 forum in Poughkeepsie on the implementation of the Common Core standards. Please use a No. 2 pencil. Time limit: 35 minutes…”
If you had $50,000 or more to invest in the privatization of public education, you could have been welcome at a recent meeting in Philadelphia of self-described school reformers. But if you’re an educator or parent interested in strengthening public education, you’d be out of luck, because that closed-door meeting was limited to deep-pocketed donors and investors — and it wasn’t meant to discuss how to restore funding to help children in Philadelphia’s resource-starved public schools, or to address the educational and financial failures of the city’s charter schools. Far from it — it focused instead on “education investment strategies” and how to “support rapid charter school growth.” And in Boston last week, Jeb Bush convened the annual summit of his Foundation for Excellence in Education, which an independent monitor calls “a dating service for corporations selling educational products — including virtual schools — to school chiefs responsible for making policies and cutting the checks.”
“… Marking the latest chapter in California’s fierce language wars, the furor over class placements for those learning English raises the controversial question of which is more effective: separating students by fluency level or including them in diverse classes. Critics are also upset that the change is coming two months into the school year, after students have bonded with classmates and teachers have developed classroom lessons and routines. Opponents blame the district and local schools for the disruption. Although the district adopted segregated classes as official policy for all schools in 2000, it has not been widely practiced or enforced, according to officials from both L.A. Unified and the teachers union. But that changed this year. L.A. Unified settled a complaint by the federal Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, which contended that the district had failed to provide adequate services to students learning English…”
Jack Schneider and Heather Curl via Valerie Strauss in The Washington Post…
“Most educational policy elites, whether in government or in the nonprofit sector, mean well. They pursue careers in education, rather than in business, because they want to help children, and because they believe in the power of schools to promote opportunity. Certainly there are exceptions to the rule; entrepreneurial third-parties, for instance, are often more interested in making a buck than in making a difference. On the whole, however, education is a field of good intentions. Yet policymakers tend to come from a relatively privileged slice of American society. And they tend to possess a set of beliefs and assumptions distinct to their background. This is not, in every instance, a significant problem. Effective budgeting practices, for example, are likely to look the same regardless of a person’s upbringing and experience. But in most cases, the fact that decision-makers inhabit a different world from students—and particularly, poor students—is a matter of great significance….”
“… This assertion, made it the very beginning of the book, is precisely what ravitch will be attacked for in publishing this. But those who attack will not tell you that this opinion, is shared by the overwhelming majority of education professionals throughout the country. This was not always the case. And reformers had control of their message true media such as newspapers cable and network TV and even the movies. Regular people, practitioners of Education, made up their minds for themselves and those minds share that opinion….”
“In a recent Washington Post article entitled “Four Decades of Failed School Reform,” Pat Welsh — a retired 43-year-veteran teacher from Northern Virginia — discussed the various education initiatives that have come down the pike over his career in the classroom, none of which had any noticeable improvement on either teaching or student outcomes. For this 10-year-veteran public school teacher, reading Mr. Welsh’s catalog of failed initiatives yielded an exasperating realization: The last three decades of reform have been just as fool-hardy as this current one. And it’s not just in the D.C. metro-area. In New York City, our most recent and controversial reform has included the rolling out of a set of standardized tests called Measures of Student Learning — or MOSL. (My colleagues keep pointing out that this sounds like the name of a klezmer band.) MOSL’s mission is two-fold: First, to evaluate teachers, as students’ standardized test scores comprise 20 percent of their teacher’s yearly “rating” (the number by which the teacher will be judged effective or ineffective) through NYCDOE’s “Advance” initiative; second, to evaluate the school itself, based on the improvements in students’ scores from one sitting, in September, to the second, sometime next spring…”
“Remember all the times that “reformers” like Arne Duncan, Bill Gates, Wendy Kopp, and Joel Klein have said that the answer to poverty is to “fix” schools first? Remember their claims that school reform (more testing, more charters, more inexperienced teachers, larger classes, more technology) would vanquish poverty? For the past decade, our society has followed their advice, pouring billions into the pockets of the testing industry, consultants, and technology companies, as well as the over-hyped charter industry, Teach for America, and the multi-billion-dollar search for a surefire metric to evaluate teachers. But what if they are wrong? What if all those billions were wasted on their pet projects, ambitions, and hunches, while child poverty kept growing? The latest study, reported by Lyndsey Layton of the Washington Post, reports a staggering increase in child poverty across the nation. The majority of public school students in the South and the West now qualify for free or reduced price lunch. By federal standards, that means they are poor. The United States has a greater proportion of children living in poverty than any other advanced nation in the world. We are #1 in child poverty. This is shameful…”
“In America, what you earn depends largely on your success in school. Unfortunately, your success in school depends largely on what your parents earn. It’s an intergenerational Catch 22 that’s at the heart of modern poverty. Keep that in mind while looking at the monstrously depressing map up above, which comes courtesy of a new report by the Southern Education Foundation. In 2011, there were 17 states where at least half of all public school students came from low-income families, up from just four in 2000. Across the whole country, 48 percent of kids qualified as low income, up from 38 percent a decade earlier…”
“… This overwhelming desire to help students is a common thread among all the teachers I speak with. They all cared for their students deeply, but even this couldn’t keep teachers like Hayley or Emma in the classroom. Simply put: everything else—the workload, the emotional toll, the low pay—was just too much…. ”
David Plotnikoff from Stanford’s Graduate School of Education…
“… Given the damning case he presents, Haertel’s conclusions are measured and prescriptive: teacher VAM scores should not be a deciding factor in personnel decisions. There should be no fixed weight assigned to the scores, he says, and principals and teachers should have the option to ignore the scores entirely if they have good cause to suspect they are invalid….”
“The coarsening of our culture — this time tea party-style — was evident again recently when state Education Commissioner John King was shouted down during a public meeting on tough new federally imposed education standards. Nonetheless, King went too far in canceling four remaining town hall meetings around New York, scheduled to give state education leaders more feedback on the Common Core curriculum. The behavior of parents at the Poughkeepsie meeting last week was uncivil to say the least. Yelling and screaming may be fine for Buffalo Bills games, but it’s not for a forum organized to air public concerns and allow King to answer questions about such a critically important issue…”
“The steady defunding of public education in Georgia over the last dozen years or so is nothing short of shameful. Not only is this practice devastating to our economic future, it damages our ‘interior quality of life’ — our ability to understand the world we live in through exposure to what another era called ‘the best that has been known and thought,’ subjects like history, literature and science. This climate also diminishes respect for educators in the public eye, lessening the likelihood that our best and brightest graduates will seek a career in teaching…”
Read more here: http://www.macon.com/2013/10/18/2724784/fennelly-undermining-our-future.html#storylink=cpy
“… Zais’ proposal would create workload burdens that prevent teachers from giving students the attention they need to succeed academically. Presented with increasingly impossible working conditions, teachers and administrators will flee the profession in droves from burnout and exhaustion. It’s unconscionable to facilitate this partisan agenda for smaller government on the backs of our students. Zais’ proposed elimination of 40 — count ’em, 40 — essential state provisions is a step in the direction of a completely unregulated school environment. Pure chaos. And that sends a message to students that their needs take a back seat to political expediency…”
Read more here: http://www.thestate.com/2013/10/18/3043904/hicks-zais-bag-of-tricks-too-scary.html#storylink=cpy
Jamie Vollmer is a former business executive and attorney who now works to increase public support for America’s public schools. His new book, Schools Cannot Do It Alone is available at www.jamievollmer.com…
The Blueberry Story: The teacher gives the businessman a lesson…
“If I ran my business the way you people operate your schools, I wouldn’t be in business very long!”
I stood before an auditorium filled with outraged teachers who were becoming angrier by the minute. My speech had entirely consumed their precious 90 minutes of inservice. Their initial icy glares had turned to restless agitation. You could cut the hostility with a knife.
I represented a group of business people dedicated to improving public schools. I was an executive at an ice cream company that had become famous in the middle1980s when People magazine chose our blueberry as the “Best Ice Cream in America.”
I was convinced of two things. First, public schools needed to change; they were archaic selecting and sorting mechanisms designed for the industrial age and out of step with the needs of our emerging “knowledge society.” Second, educators were a major part of the problem: they resisted change, hunkered down in their feathered nests, protected by tenure, and shielded by a bureaucratic monopoly. They needed to look to business. We knew how to produce quality. Zero defects! TQM! Continuous improvement!
In retrospect, the speech was perfectly balanced — equal parts ignorance and arrogance.
As soon as I finished, a woman’s hand shot up. She appeared polite, pleasant. She was, in fact, a razor-edged, veteran, high school English teacher who had been waiting to unload.
She began quietly, “We are told, sir, that you manage a company that makes good ice cream.”
I smugly replied, “Best ice cream in America, Ma’am.”
“How nice,” she said. “Is it rich and smooth?”
“Sixteen percent butterfat,” I crowed.
“Premium ingredients?” she inquired.
“Super-premium! Nothing but triple A.” I was on a roll. I never saw the next line coming.
“Mr. Vollmer,” she said, leaning forward with a wicked eyebrow raised to the sky, “when you are standing on your receiving dock and you see an inferior shipment of blueberries arrive, what do you do?”
In the silence of that room, I could hear the trap snap…. I was dead meat, but I wasn’t going to lie.
“I send them back.”
She jumped to her feet. “That’s right!” she barked, “and we can never send back our blueberries. We take them big, small, rich, poor, gifted, exceptional, abused, frightened, confident, homeless, rude, and brilliant. We take them with ADHD, junior rheumatoid arthritis, and English as their second language. We take them all! Every one! And that, Mr. Vollmer, is why it’s not a business. It’s school!”
In an explosion, all 290 teachers, principals, bus drivers, aides, custodians, and secretaries jumped to their feet and yelled, “Yeah! Blueberries! Blueberries!”
And so began my long transformation.
Since then, I have visited hundreds of schools. I have learned that a school is not a business. Schools are unable to control the quality of their raw material, they are dependent upon the vagaries of politics for a reliable revenue stream, and they are constantly mauled by a howling horde of disparate, competing customer groups that would send the best CEO screaming into the night.
None of this negates the need for change. We must change what, when, and how we teach to give all children maximum opportunity to thrive in a post-industrial society. But educators cannot do this alone; these changes can occur only with the understanding, trust, permission, and active support of the surrounding community. For the most important thing I have learned is that schools reflect the attitudes, beliefs and health of the communities they serve, and therefore, to improve public education means more than changing our schools, it means changing America.
“… Multiple studies link music study to academic achievement. But what is it about serious music training that seems to correlate with outsize success in other fields? The connection isn’t a coincidence. I know because I asked. I put the question to top-flight professionals in industries from tech to finance to media, all of whom had serious (if often little-known) past lives as musicians. Almost all made a connection between their music training and their professional achievements. The phenomenon extends beyond the math-music association. Strikingly, many high achievers told me music opened up the pathways to creative thinking. And their experiences suggest that music training sharpens other qualities: Collaboration. The ability to listen. A way of thinking that weaves together disparate ideas. The power to focus on the present and the future simultaneously…”
“… I spent my first 2 years in education as an ELA teacher at a KIPP school in New Orleans while also taking classes as part of a post-bac teacher certification program at one of the best universities in the Crescent City. I have read, and used as a source for a presentation on charter school efficacy, the original CREDO report, and I am in full agreement with your assertion that charter schools are, at best, at par with TPSs in terms of efficacy – not better. It is not only your research that has supported this assertion, and as you know, there is, in fact, a wide body of research that suggests the exact same thing. And, as a formally-educated educator, I am well versed in research study methodology, and always look at the methodology prior to considering the veracity of the findings of a study. Faulty methodology = faulty findings. And the methodology of the CREDO report is nothing short of air-tight as study methodology can be…”
“Of the 6.4 million kids who have been given diagnoses of A.D.H.D., a large percentage are unlikely to have any kind of physiological difference that would make them more distractible than the average non-A.D.H.D. kid. It’s also doubtful that biological or environmental changes are making physiological differences more prevalent. Instead, the rapid increase in people with A.D.H.D. probably has more to do with sociological factors — changes in the way we school our children, in the way we interact with doctors and in what we expect from our kids…”
“A majority of students in public schools throughout the American South and West are low-income for the first time in at least four decades, according to a new study that details a demographic shift with broad implications for the country. The analysis by the Southern Education Foundation, the nation’s oldest education philanthropy, is based on the number of students from preschool through 12th grade who were eligible for the federal free and reduced-price meals program in the 2010-11 school year…”
“Seniority, in the modern education reform lexicon, is among the dirtiest words. Senior teachers are not only ineffective and greedy and never put interest of the children over their own, but they are in fact downright evil, a persistent drain on state and local economies and a threat to our national security! By contrast, ‘effectiveness’ is good and since seniority and effectiveness are presumed entirely unassociated, the simple solution is to replace any reference to seniority in current education policies with measures of ‘effectiveness.’ If only it were so simple.This modern eduction reform mantra grossly misinterprets the relationship between seniority and effectiveness, presumes currently available measures of effectiveness to be more useful than they really are at sorting ‘good’ from ‘bad’ teachers, ignores that the proposed solutions have in many cases been found not to solve the supposed problem, and is oblivious to the broader literature on teacher labor markets, compensation and the quality of the teaching workforce…”
Dr. John Jackson and Susan Gobreski in the Huffington Post…
“Each day, parents across the country send their children to school with the expectation that they will be safe and cared for while they learn. On September 25, the father of Laporshia Massey, a sixth-grader at Bryant Elementary School in Philadelphia, learned the tragic extent to which his daughter’s school was not equipped to support her: Laporshia died after having an asthma attack at school. Due to budget cuts, there was no school nurse on duty that day. Instead, her teacher told her to stay calm, and a staff member drove her home after school. Her father immediately recognized how serious her symptoms were and rushed her to the emergency room. Laporshia collapsed on the way there and passed away at the hospital. Laporshia’s family believes that having a nurse on site that day might very well have saved her life. Trained to recognize when a student is in need of emergency care and to provide it, a health professional is a critical resource that no school should be without…”
“You’ve sort of got to give Mayor Emanuel credit for constantly looking for new and exciting ways to gut public education in Chicago. It may be his greatest legacy. Let’s see—he closed 50 schools. He’s fired hundreds of staffers. And he’s ordered round after round of budget cuts that have left schools so broke they can’t afford toilet paper or librarians. Now he’s settling on a new strategy—charter schools! Actually, the strategy of killing unionized public schools by diverting their students to nonunionized charters is not new—it’s a national mania. But as always, Mayor Emanuel’s unafraid to go where no one else would dare. In this case, he’s proposing to put a Noble Street charter school in an abandoned lumberyard right across the street from Prosser High School in Belmont-Cragin, at 2148 N. Long. If that doesn’t eventually knock Prosser out of business, I guess he can always call in the building inspectors…”