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An open discussion of public school issues.

California trial – The corporate war on public education…

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February 20th, 2014

Julie Gutman Dickinson at The Huffington Post…

“Are job protections for teachers to blame for educational underachievement among low-income students of color in California? That’s the provocative question ostensibly at the heart of Vergara vs. California, which seeks to invalidate the tenure, due process and seniority rights of hundreds of thousands of educators. Astute observers of the nation’s escalating education wars, however, may be asking another question: When did it become permissible to use the welfare of children as a fig leaf for an all-out legal attack on teachers?…”

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Teachers union slams ‘botched’ CCC implementation…

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February 20th, 2014

“The nation’s largest teachers union is pulling back on its once-enthusiastic support of the Common Core academic standards, labeling their rollout ‘completely botched.’ National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel said he still believes the standards can improve education. But he said they will not succeed without a major ‘course correction/ — including possibly rewriting some of the standards and revising the related tests with teacher input…”

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Music education for creativity, not a tool for test scores…

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February 19th, 2014

Sarah McCammon of NPR’s Morning Edition…

“… music should be seen as an essential part of education and not an extra. That’s an argument music education advocates will continue to make as they push back against the movement toward more testing…”

Listen to and Read it.

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Connecticut’s standardized testing – A lot of flying monkeys…

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February 19th, 2014

Margaret Cibes at CT News Junkie…

“Connecticut’s standardized testing system ranks and labels public school students, schools, and districts in a way that purports to both evaluate student performance and identify students’ academic strengths and weaknesses. However, behind the Wizard’s curtain lie a lot of flying monkeys – flawed calculations that do very little to identify which skills students have and which they need to improve…”

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Does CC focus on ‘close reading’ make sense?

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February 19th, 2014

Aaron Barlow via Valerie Strauss in The Washington Post…

“Depending on whom you ask, the Common Core English Language Arts standards are either exactly what U.S. schools need, or exactly what they don’t need. Here’s an argument for the latter opinion, by Aaron Barlow, an associate professor of English at the New York City College of Technology…”

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Teachers in Portland, Oregon, reach deal averting strike…

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February 18th, 2014

Teresa Carson of Reuters…

“Teachers and management in Oregon’s largest school district reached an agreement in principle on Tuesday on a new contract, averting a strike planned for this week that threatened to disrupt classes for 28,000 students in Portland.The accord, which followed a 24-hour-long bargaining session overseen by a state mediator, capped 10 months of contentious on-and-off negotiations over staffing levels, wages and other issues…”

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Medford, Oregon teachers strike continues…

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February 18th, 2014

Teresa Thomas in The Mail Tribune…

“The Medford School District hired 24 more substitute teachers over the holiday weekend and shifted some classified support staff to elementary schools to balance out the adult-to-student ratio for another week of modified classes under a teachers’ strike, district officials said. Schools were closed Monday in observance of Presidents Day, but classes resumed today… Substitutes may be in high demand by the end of this week if Portland’s 2,900 teachers decide to walk Feb. 20 as threatened. The Portland Association of Teachers and Portland School District have until then to negotiate a contract and avert a strike in Oregon’s largest district…”

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Portland teachers strike: Last minute talks…

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February 18th, 2014

Nicole Dungca in The Oregonian…

“No news was good news Monday for Portland Public Schools administrators and teachers as negotiators from the two sides continued trying to avert a strike. Bargaining teams for Oregon’s largest district and its largest labor group have been negotiating over a new contract for more than ten months, and members of the Portland Association of Teachers plan to strike Thursday if no deal is reached….”

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Strike? Showdown looms for St. Paul schools, teachers…

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February 18th, 2014

Anthony Lonetree in The Star-Tribune…

“St. Paul’s teachers enter a pivotal week of contract talks with a possible strike-authorization vote looming and with growing support from parents and others in their push to take their next labor agreement beyond traditional wage-and-benefit issues. On Tuesday, many of those supporters are expected to be on hand and dressed in red when the school board — resistant to proposals it says could cost $150 million — makes strike preparations by voting on a resolution that sets the stage for school closings, layoffs of nonessential employees and possible extension of the school calendar once classes resume, post-shutdown.

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The American public school under siege…

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February 18th, 2014

Michael Brenner in The Huffington Post…

“A feature of the Obama presidency has been his campaign against the American public school system, eating way at the foundations of elementary education. That means the erosion of an institution that has been one of the keystones of the Republic. The project to remake it as a mixed public/private hybrid is inspired by a discredited dogma that charter schools perform better. This article of faith serves an alliance of interests — ideological and commercial — for whom the White House has been point man. A President whose tenure in office is best known for indecision, temporizing and vacillation has been relentless since day one in using the powers of his office to advance the cause. Such conviction and sustained dedication is observable in only one other area of public policy: the project to expand the powers and scope of the intelligence agencies that spy on, and monitor the behavior of persons and organizations at home as well as abroad…”

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Magnet schools find a renewed embrace in cities…

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February 18th, 2014

Motoko Rich in The New York Times…

“Nearly five decades ago, as racial tension raged in cities, magnet schools were introduced here and elsewhere as an alternative to court-ordered busing in the hope that specialized theme schools would slow white flight and offer options to racial minorities zoned for low-performing schools.Magnet schools never quite delivered on that desegregation promise, and in the past couple of decades they have largely fallen off the radar…”

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Common Core now has critics on the left…

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February 17th, 2014

Al Baker in The New York Times…

“The Common Core has been applauded by education leaders and promoted by the Obama administration as a way to replace a hodgepodge of state standards with one set of rigorous learning goals. Though 45 states and the District of Columbia have signed on to them since 2010, resistance came quickly, mostly from right-leaning states, where some leaders and political action groups have protested what they see as a federal takeover of local classrooms. But the newest chorus of complaints is coming from one of the most liberal states, and one of the earliest champions of the standards: New York. And that is causing supporters of the Common Core to shudder. Carol Burris, an acclaimed high school principal on Long Island, calls the Common Core a ‘disaster.’…”

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Vergara lawsuit bad for teachers and students

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February 17th, 2014

Ann Katzburg in The Contra Costa Times…

“Once again, the funding sources for those who are attacking teachers are coming from millionaires and billionaires whose real agenda is to privatize public schools. Public schools serve the public. Excluding the voices of the community and real education stakeholders by using the courts to rewrite education laws and scapegoat teachers is unfair. The exclusion of meaningful input from our parents and educators in decisions that affect education is the real agenda of the Vergara lawsuit. Educational change occurs when all stakeholders have a voice, including parents, administrators, teachers, students and community members…”

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How ‘data walls’ in can humiliate young kids…

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February 17th, 2014

Valerie Strauss in The Washington Post…

“Today’s version: data walls, where teachers are making lists of all kinds of data — very often student test scores and grade data — and putting them up for display so everybody can revel in the glory of data. The use of ‘data’ to ‘drive instruction’ has become a mantra among many school reforms in recent years, and, as one manifestation, teachers in states across the country are being encouraged to create these data walls. They are even getting professional development in how to create them. Some include the names of students — even kindergarteners…”

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Outdoor learning: Education’s next revolution?

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February 17th, 2014

Laura Smith at Salon.com…

“If you’ve been out of school for a while, your memory of time spent in classrooms may be bathed in a nostalgic glow. In reality, though, you probably spent a lot of your time looking at the clock, bored out of your mind. Most students are expected to sit in chairs and pay attention for as many as eight hours per day — and that’s even before taking homework into account. Considering these long hours, it’s no surprise that many students report feeling bogged down by drudgery. An Indiana State University study found that nearly half of students feel bored every day, half of students report skipping school at least “once or twice,” and 20 percent consider dropping out entirely. Disengagement is — and perhaps always has been — one of education’s greatest quandaries…”

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Schools should be teaching kids how to use the internet well…

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February 17th, 2014

Abigail Walthausen in The Atlantic…

As schools begin to plan for the benefits of improved connectivity, it is important to consider the responsibility of giving students guidance in becoming productive citizens of the web. New curricula must acknowledge the many-headed hydra that is social media: Its forms range from the mundane distraction to be overcome to the 21st century communication skill to be mastered. Integration of conscious social media use as well as policies that provide more free and unfiltered Internet access are two ways of modeling best practices and actively teaching Internet skills within schools…”

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New England slow to adopt virtual schools…

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February 17th, 2014

Paige Sutherland in The Boston Globe…

“While hundreds of thousands of students across the country attend virtual public schools, New England has been slow to adopt the high-tech education model as states weigh how to manage the schools and judge their performance.”

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GPS Reader Viewpoint – Mike Weston…

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February 14th, 2014

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 Hillsborough County School Board candidate Mike Weston with some notes on what is coming soon to your district…

If Excessive testing is worthwhile, it must be worth doing to excess!

How the nation’s eighth-largest school system tests ‘em ’till they cry!

Michael Weston

At a recent meeting where we called parents and taxpayers to action about common-core, I was presented a rumor that Hillsborough County Florida would be field testing the PARCC test. I live in Hillsborough County; I am a former teacher in the county, I attend every School Board meeting (in fact I am running for School Board), and I try to watch our reformy, test and data crazed district like a hawk. Given that Florida has pulled slightly back from PARCC; at least to the point of no longer acting as Fiscal Agent; I found this rumor unlikely.

Two current School Board members I contacted were unaware of any such breech of Board policy, but said they would look into it. Two days later, the news comes back that sure enough, Hillsborough County Schools will be administering the entire PARCC to at least two classes in every school.

So how does this come to be? Yes, Florida has long been at the bleeding edge in the attack on public schools. Hillsborough County is the unlucky recipient of Gates Foundation largess in the form of mega-bucks to evaluate teachers into retirement or submission. Yet, in September of 2013, under pressure from his own party, our Republican Governor issued an Executive Order stating among other things:

‘WHEAREAS, the (PARCC) assessments, as designed today, do not meet the needs of our students or the expectations of state leaders in their cost effectiveness, length of testing time, prescriptive computer-based testing requirements, and excessive involvement by the United States Department of Education; and…’

… a seeming breakthrough in Florida’s deform attack on our students. Not so in Hillsborough County it appears.

The Superintendent of Hillsborough County Schools has yet to meet a test she does not want to administer. Slightly over a year ago, our School Board was interminably debating whether to sign off on various anti-testing resolutions. This superintendent advised the Board that “we do not want to deprive teachers of valuable data” by eliminating tests. Respect for the needs of teachers became the rationale for testing our kids to tears. As a teacher, I was compelled to take the podium and denounce her reasoning. I stated that teachers were awash in a flood of data they could never use (not long after I was informed my contract would not be picked up for the following year; surprise, surprise; but that is for another story…).

Our Board did eventually sign off on a modified version of the National Resolution on High Stakes Testing sponsored by the Florida Association of School Boards. This resolution proclaims that:

‘WHEREAS, Florida’s high stakes testing structure hampers efforts to promote innovation, creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking.’

‘WHEREAS, the over-reliance on Florida’s high-stakes standardized testing is undermining Article IX, Section 1 of the Constitution of Florida…[paramount duty of the state to make adequate provision ... for a uniform, efficient, safe secure, and high quality system of free public schools...]‘

Perhaps the term “high-stakes” has our superintendent confused. The PARCC field testing could be considered as “no-stakes”. Two weeks of “no-stakes” testing is OK.

I called several local print journalists and discovered that they knew about, but apparently had not reported on, this overabundance of testing excess. The NPR website State Impact Florida, in January 2014, had queried Hillsborough County schools about this, learning that

‘The PARCC trial run will help the district prepare parents for what to expect when the state switches to a new Common Core-tied exam next year.’

Huhhh? PARCCing two classes per school, for two weeks, will prepare parents for the outrages to follow? How many parents? Two classes worth per school I suppose. This is the kind of nonsense explanation that politicians and bureaucrats feel we should welcome. Their appreciation for our intellect is underwhelming.

The District had more nonsense for State Impact, and thus us, to swallow.

‘PARCC will also test Hillsborough schools’ ability to deliver the online exam.’

Florida has not selected a common-core exam! If common-sense prevails, they never will. Why are we going to test our ability to deliver an exam that we likely will not deliver? Why did State Impact not ask this question?

‘PARCC will replace the Stanford Achievement Test the district normally uses. The district can double-check FCAT results against the nationally-normed Stanford exam to see if scores match up. PARCC can serve the same purpose.’

In Hillsborough County, our children are special enough to be given extra exams. Our superintendent administers the Stanford test in addition to the standardized exams (FCAT) required by the state. Should the FCAT show a failing on the superintendent’s part, she has the Stanford results to slice, dice, parse and farce until she can show a favorable result. It’s for the kids.

But wait! FCAT is going away. Common-core is coming. Common-core test XYZ will replace FCAT. PARCC will replace Stanford. Do I have that right? Yes.

The logical implication is that we will give the PARCC test to our students in order to “validate” whatever common-core test the state eventually chooses (or not). Two complete common-core tests. That at least is the explanation as given to State Impact. Is this really the plan or were these words merely more gobbledygook to justify the current abuse.

Did I mention the PARCC is two weeks of testing?

Did I mention we have yet to choose a common-core test?

If we pay by the question, might Florida’s new test be four weeks long? The effective school year is almost over for Hillsborough County. We are about to enter “test season”. Once test season begins, no high school teacher can count on a full classroom. By mid-March, testing disruption will slow actual content delivery to a virtual standstill.

In spite of public opinion, in spite of the Governor (a reformy type at that!), in spite of her bosses, the Hillsborough County School Board, our superintendent of schools is doubling-down on testing.

Perhaps I am simple. I may just like simple things. The following seems simple to this simple guy:

Our job is to teach! Testing is not teaching!

Michael Weston

What do you think? Read and share comments here…

* A note form us at GoPublicSchool.com… – For the record, Mike Weston is not in any way affiliated with our site. We are a group of concerned teachers based in Florida, Georgia, New York and California striving to create a place where teachers and parents can speak their minds about our public schools. Two of us called Michael for a cup of coffee and listened to his side of the story, did some research, and now we support him. We deeply believe that teachers on school boards is something that needs to happen. It needs to happen all over this country. Click on the ad on this site and read the information posted there. Decide for yourself. Ask a teacher. Contact Mike directly. Make a small donation. Get involved. Whatever you decide, whatever you find in your heart, … do something. Our schools need you.

Again, We believe that the voice of the American teacher has been virtually silenced. We can attack this problem in a very direct way by electing classroom teachers to school boards all across this land! Wherever you are in America, we hope that you work towards this goal in the coming months!

Thank you!

Know of another teacher running? Let us know!


Big $ – Who exactly is buying our public schools…

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February 14th, 2014

Jessie Ramey at Yinzercation…

“The way some of them throw around the green stuff, you’d think corporate-style education reformers were made of money. Oh wait. Some of them are. As Big Money plays a bigger and bigger role in shaping public education, it can be hard to keep all the players straight – from wealthy individuals, to foundations, superPACs, astroturf groups and corporations. Here’s a handy reference guide…”

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Are our high schools are a disaster?

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February 14th, 2014

Laurence Steinberg at Slate…

“Every once in a while, education policy squeezes its way onto President Obama’s public agenda, as it did in during last month’s State of the Union address. Lately, two issues have grabbed his (and just about everyone else’s) attention: early-childhood education and access to college. But while these scholastic bookends are important, there is an awful lot of room for improvement between them. American high schools, in particular, are a disaster. In international assessments, our elementary school students generally score toward the top of the distribution, and our middle school students usually place somewhat above the average. But our high school students score well below the international average, and they fare especially badly in math and science compared with our country’s chief economic rivals. What’s holding back our teenagers?…”

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S.F. seen as model in bilingual education…

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February 14th, 2014

Jill Tucker in The San Francisco Chronicle…

“In the 15 years since voters essentially banned bilingual education in state schools, teaching English learners to read, write and do arithmetic first in their native language has nearly disappeared from California classrooms. Since Proposition 227 overwhelmingly passed in June 1998, it’s been all about learning English, first and foremost – but not in San Francisco. Nearly 30 percent of the city’s 17,000 English learners are in bilingual education programs, compared with 5 percent on average statewide, according to the most recent data available. And it’s working, according to a recently published Stanford University study commissioned by the San Francisco Unified School District…”

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The school that Is changing American education…

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February 14th, 2014

Rana Foroohar at Time.com…

“Two years ago, I visited a school in Brooklyn called P-TECH, the Pathways in Technology early college high school, which seemed very much like the future of education to me. It knitted together educators and job creators, and gave kids not only a high school degree, but a two-year associates degree and a job guarantee at one of the country’s top blue chip firms, IBM. In my latest piece in TIME, I look at how the amazing educators and “innovators” (that’s the P-tech word for students) behind this school are changing ideas about what secondary education in America should be. For a taste of what that looks like, check out our video on the school, which was the site of President Obama’s first visit to Brooklyn last year, above.

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Common Core – Asphyxiating education…

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February 14th, 2014

Robert Koehler at The Huffington Post…

“Things are getting worse in the American classroom, not better. The experts and the special interests purporting to fix the educational system are continuing, instead, to asphyxiate it…

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Snow Day? That’s Great. Now Log in. Get to Class.

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February 14th, 2014

Al Baker in The New York Times…

“As classrooms become more electronically connected, public schools around the country are exploring whether they can use virtual learning as a practical solution to unpredictable weather, effectively transforming the traditional snow day into a day of instruction…”

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The problem with school ‘choice’…

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February 13th, 2014

Jessie B. Ramey, of the University of Pittsburgh, at Alternet…

“We don’t need more choices in public education. We need great public schools in every community, that any parent would be happy to send their children to, and that meet the needs of local families. We don’t really have any choice at all if our local public school is not a high quality option. Choice is a free market ideology. Markets do a good job making stuff and selling it. But they also create extreme inequality, with winners and losers. Choice alone doesn’t guarantee quality: you can stick five kinds of dirt in those cereal boxes and offer them as a ‘choice,’ but nobody wants to eat that. Pennsylvania teacher and blogger Peter Greene comparesschool choice to the drive to mediocrity in the cable TV industry and explains, ‘Market forces do not foster superior quality. Market forces foster superior marketability.’ The parent-as-consumer model promotes school choice as an individual choice, abrogating our responsibility as citizens to provide great public schools for all children. Public schools are community institutions that must meet the needs of communities. As education historian Diane Ravitch explains…”

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NY – NYSUT, lawmakers react to common core changes…

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February 13th, 2014

Kelly McCarthy at WBNG-12 in Binghamton…

“Members of the New York State United Teachers are disappointed with Common Core recommendations released Monday and approved Tuesday by state education committees. The teachers group said the proposed changes only skim the surface of the real problems facing teachers and students with the new standards. The only delay included in the plan is for high school graduation requirements. The state committees want to extend the date for when students will have to pass the higher test scores to graduate from 2017 to 2022. That means students currently in third grade would have to pass the full Common Core standards…”

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A fight is brewing over tests in the Common Core age…

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February 13th, 2014

Lyndsey Layton in The Washington Post…

“Testing season begins soon in U.S. public schools, requiring millions of students to spend days answering standardized questions in math and reading, as mandated by an outdated federal law. But this year is filled with tumult. Educators are questioning the purpose of testing, lawmakers in several states are pushing back against federal regulations, and a momentous standoff between California — the state with the largest number of public school students — and the Obama administration looms.

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NC – Teachers know their work isn’t a numbers game…

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February 13th, 2014

Jeri Rowe in The News & Record…

“She sees Raleigh wanting to run public schools like some corporation where numbers rule people’s fate. With this tenure law, along with the thinking among a majority of the legislators, she worries that state education officials will rely too much on test scores to determine whether a teacher is effective — or not…”

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LA teachers use Facebook to expose ‘Third World’ school conditions…

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February 13th, 2014

The Stream Team at Aljazeera America…

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“Would you rather have a personal iPad in class or a water faucet that works? Two Los Angeles teachers assert that their school district has neglected basic upkeep and repairs in favor of purchasing expensive tablet computers, leaving classrooms in a condition reminiscent of a “Third World” country. To highlight deteriorating conditions at the L.A. Unified School District, Matthew Kogan and another unidentified teacher created the Facebook page “Repairs Not IPads.” The site shows damning images of the schools and criticizes the district’s budget spending plan — namely, the $1 billion iPad program that would provide a portable computer to every student and teacher. In December, the site displayed a photo of a large cockroach crawling on a plate near a dirty faucet. On Monday, there was a picture of a toilet completely disconnected from the wall…

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Vergara sisters take the stand…

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February 13th, 2014

Mark Harris in The LA School Report…

VergaraSisters2-VergaraTrialDay12-2-11-14-e1392171957843

“Beatriz and Elizabeth Vergara, sisters at the center of a state lawsuit in their name, Vergara vs. California, took the witness stand today, describing chaotic classrooms with inattentive and hurtful teachers in their middle school. The sisters, who now attend high school at Cesar Chavez Learning Academies, an LA Unified school in San Fernando, are two of nine student-plaintiffs challenging state laws on teacher seniority, tenure and dismissal that they say violate their constitutional right to a quality education. Beatriz, the lead plaintiff, is 15; Elizabeth, 16…”

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St. Paul teachers prepare for potential strike…

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February 13th, 2014

Steve Patterson at KSTP – ABC5

“We’re learning more about what a potential teacher strike in St. Paul could look like — and what brought the two sides to the brink. If the St. Paul Federation of Teachers votes to strike on Feb. 24, and the union’s executive board then votes to authorize a strike, the school district says all schools would be closed, all before and after school activities would be canceled — including sports — and 2,500 workers who aren’t teacher would be furloughed. The school year could also be extended, and graduation could be delayed…”

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Portland schools gear up for possible teachers strike…

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February 13th, 2014

Jennifer Anderson in The Portland Tribune…

‘There’s less than a week left for those future meetings to occur. PPS and PAT have been bargaining for 10 months, trying to reach a settlement on the last several issues with the help of a mediator since October. The district has 48,000 students and 2,800 teachers. The teachers’ union members met Feb. 7 to authorize a strike beginning Feb. 20…”

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GPS Reader Viewpoint – Mike Weston…

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February 12th, 2014

CC – The wrong focus now…

I am greatly troubled by the rushed implementation of the common-core standards.

With common-core comes an entire new student testing, school grading and teacher evaluation paradigm; things Florida already does poorly. There are many arguments against common-core, but the one I find most compelling is the most simple: “Standards are not a major problem in education”.

Ask anyone what they consider to be the greatest problem in education. You will hear answers like: lazy kids lazy parents lazy principals lazy teachers grade inflation watered down classes calculators teaching to the test etc. You will mostly hear about the who and how; not the what.

The most controversial, most expensive and most extensive endeavor in the history of US education, does not even address a major concern. With tweaking, our Florida Sunshine State Standards would be of world-class caliber. There are many higher return investments we can make other than a complete revamp of standards and thus curricula.

Michael Weston

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TX – Teachers fearful to come to school; blame administrators for chaos…

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February 12th, 2014

Drew Karedes at Houston’s KHOU 11 News…

“Teachers at a local high school say it’s become dangerous for them and students, and some are blaming administrators. Houston Federation of Teachers believes administrators are causing an out of control atmosphere at James Madison High School. The school is located at 13719 Whiteheather in southwest Houston. Teacher’s union grievance director Joanna Pasternak says she’s been contacted by several teachers who believe the school is on a downward spiral. ‘When students learn there are no consequences for bad behavior, behavior gets out of control,/ explained Joanna Pasternak with Houston Federation of Teachers. Pictures taken this week show profanity etched in graffiti around the high school. Pasternak feels the graffiti symbolizes a bigger picture at the school that needs to be told. She claims teachers are being told to count students as present even if the students walk out of class after a couple of minutes…”

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Pay cuts, end of tenure put North Carolina teachers on edge…

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February 12th, 2014

Dave Dewitt at NPR…

“No state has in teacher salary rankings in the past 10 years, and some of the other changes in public education are unprecedented. The state is being watched closely by education policymakers across the country, and teachers …”

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How public schools can fight back against inequality…

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February 12th, 2014

 Greg J. Duncan and Richard J. Murnane in The Atlantic…

“Rising income inequality over the past 40 years has imposed a double burden on schools serving low-income children. First, the technological changes and globalization that have fueled inequality have also increased the skills required for good jobs—which means that schools need to teach higher-level skills if their graduates are to secure jobs that pay middle-class wages. And second, increasing income inequality has led to residential changes that have concentrated poor children in one set of schools and higher-income children in another…”

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N.J. education chief moving to private sector…

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February 12th, 2014

Leslie Brody at NorthJersey.com…

“New Jersey Education Commissioner Chris Cerf, who helped broker a landmark tenure law with the state’s large and powerful teachers union, is stepping down to rejoin the private sector. He said Monday he will leave his $141,000-a-year job on Feb. 28 to become chief executive of Amplify Insight, a division of Amplify, an education technology firm run by his former boss, Joel Klein, who was New York City schools chancellor. Cerf was Klein’s deputy from 2006 to 2009.

New Jersey Education Commissioner Chris Cerf, who helped broker a landmark tenure law with the state’s large and powerful teachers union, is stepping down to rejoin the private sector.

He said Monday he will leave his $141,000-a-year job on Feb. 28 to become chief executive of Amplify Insight, a division of Amplify, an education technology firm run by his former boss, Joel Klein, who was New York City schools chancellor. Cerf was Klein’s deputy from 2006 to 2009.

- See more at: http://www.northjersey.com/news/NJ_education_chief_Chris_Cerf_stepping_down.html?page=all#sthash.s3Fhpa9L.dpufNew Jersey Education Commissioner Chris Cerf, who helped broker a landmark tenure law with the state’s large and powerful teachers union, is stepping down to rejoin the private sector.

 

He said Monday he will leave his $141,000-a-year job on Feb. 28 to become chief executive of Amplify Insight, a division of Amplify, an education technology firm run by his former boss, Joel Klein, who was New York City schools chancellor. Cerf was Klein’s deputy from 2006 to 2009.

- See more at: http://www.northjersey.com/news/NJ_education_chief_Chris_Cerf_stepping_down.html?page=all#sthash.s3Fhpa9L.dpuf

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NY – Education bloat exists in middle…

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February 12th, 2014

Gregg Weinlein in The Times-Union…

“Once again the controversial issue of high-salaried district superintendents has made its way to the forefront of discussion regarding school budgets. Television news reports, chatter among community members, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s criticisms and newspaper articles intensified the argument that the salaries of school superintendents are much too high. The problem is, to focus on only the superintendent within the organizational structure of most school districts is missing the bigger fiscal picture.

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NY – Cuomo says education board’s plan dilutes teacher reviews

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February 12th, 2014

Al Baker in The New York Times…

“Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo attacked state education officials on Monday for what he saw as an attempt to water down a new teacher evaluation system that was one of his earliest legislative triumphs. The governor’s message was delivered to the State Board of Regents, which sets education policy and appears likely on Tuesday to give teachers more leeway to contest poor evaluations. But he could have also been addressing the State Legislature, which appoints the Board of Regents and whose leading members of both parties last week called for a more significant change to the evaluation system…”

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Maine should say ‘no’ to virtual charter schools…

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February 12th, 2014

An editorial from the Portland Press Herald…

“Public schools exist for one reason and one reason only. People can argue about the best ways to teach, the right subjects in the curriculum or the menu of extracurricular offerings, but in the end, the point of a school is to educate students.  Corporations also exist for one reason, but it’s not the same one: They exist to create value for shareholders. They don’t mind if their customers are happy – they don’t tend to last long if the customers aren’t – but customer satisfaction is not essential. It’s the shareholders that matter, and without profits, the corporations are out of business. This makes public schools and for-profit corporations a bad fit.

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Oregon – Medford schools to re-open without striking teachers…

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February 12th, 2014

Liam Moriarty at Jefferson Public Radio…

“The Medford public schools are re-opening this morning. But most of the district’s teachers will be out on the sidewalks picketing rather than in the classrooms. After nearly a year of stalemated negotiations – and five days after teachers first walked off the job – Medford schools are open again, despite the ongoing strike by the Medford Education Association…”

Read and listen.

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NYT profile – Philadelphia school chief William R. Hite Jr.

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February 12th, 2014

Jon Hurdle in The New York Times…

“William R. Hite Jr., superintendent of schools here in one of the nation’s poorest cities, is known as a man who prefers collaboration to confrontation, but he has spent the academic year taking no prisoners. He laid off almost 4,000 workers to close a $304 million budget gap and threatened to keep school doors locked until officials found stopgap money to ensure what he considered a basic level of security for students. He says he was just warming up. Since joining the district in October 2012 from his previous post as superintendent in Prince George’s County, Md., Dr. Hite has battled what he called a perfect storm of cuts, in which state reductions coincided with the ending of federal stimulus dollars. He had to close 24 school buildings, forcing the relocation of thousands of students to unfamiliar schools that often lacked basic personnel like guidance counselors and secretaries. Only about a quarter of the laid-off staff members have been rehired…”

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Common Core – 13 1/2 minutes of must-see video…

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February 11th, 2014

The Assessment Landscape – Chris Tienken

Christopher Tienken, Ed.D. is an assistant professor of Education Administration at Seton Hall University in the College of Education and Human Services, Department of Education Management, Policy, and Leadership. He has public school administration experience as a PK-12 assistant superintendent, middle school principal, director of curriculum and instruction, and elementary school assistant principal. He began his career in education as an elementary school teacher.

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Christopher Tienken, Ed.D. is an assistant professor of Education Administration at Seton Hall University in the College of Education and Human Services, Department of Education Management, Policy, and Leadership. He has public school administration experience as a PK-12 assistant superintendent, middle school principal, director of curriculum and instruction, and elementary school assistant principal. He began his career in education as an elementary school teacher. – See more at: http://christienken.com/#sthash.KXy9BoIz.dpuf

It is time to solve this – Portrait of Inequality…

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February 11th, 2014

From the Children’s Defense Fund…

“Black children in America are being pushed deeper and deeper into an abyss of poverty
and despair.”

Read it.

Spend some time here…

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Oregon strike – Substitutes prepare for class…

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February 11th, 2014

From KOBI-TV NBC5 in Medford…

“Buses were loaded with hundreds of substitute teachers Sunday. Student, Pascal-Jumeax Brasseaur and teachers rallied around the school district to see who will be filling in starting Tuesday.

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Poverty, politics, racism and school reform…

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February 11th, 2014

Cami Anderson…

“Newark’s inconvenient truth: Our poorest neighborhoods, disproportionately African American, contain some of the lowest-performing public schools in the country and have for a long time. A child in the South or West ward is virtually guaranteed to be in an elementary school where only 30 percent of students can read — or in a high school built for 1500 students with only 500 enrolled and a graduation rate below 30 percent. It is often said that a society should be judged by how it treats its citizens in greatest need. By this standard, Newark is failing miserably. The achievement gap that separates economically disadvantaged students and students of color from their more advantaged peers is real and the facts in Newark are especially stark…”

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Baltimore County schools begin technology initiative…

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February 11th, 2014

Liz Bowie in The Baltimore Sun…

“From sprawling Los Angeles to tiny Talbot County on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, educators are experimenting with the next wave of technology in schools: a tablet or laptop in every student’s hand. The results have drawn national attention — for both their embarrassing failures and their successes. Now Baltimore County is moving ahead with a five-year, $150 million rollout that will make it the first large school system in the state to plunge into the ambitious and potentially risky initiative. School leaders nationwide argue that they must keep pace with their tech-savvy youngsters and provide students more equal access to technology…”

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Montana – Classroom teacher is new lieutenant governor…

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February 11th, 2014

Mike Smith in The Montana Standard…

“Montana is getting a dedicated classroom teacher who knows education policy at all levels as its lieutenant governor, some colleagues and Democratic state lawmakers say. Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock announced Monday that he chose Angela McLean, 36, an American history and government teacher at Anaconda High School, as Montana’s next lieutenant governor…”

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Portland teachers vote to strike…

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February 11th, 2014

Elizabeth Thiel

Elizabeth Thiel at Labor Notes…

“Portland, Oregon, teachers have voted nearly unanimously to strike. Over 2,800 members of the Portland Association of Teachers (PAT) packed the Arlene Schnitzer Concert hall Wednesday evening for the stand-up vote, while hundreds of community members rallied outside in the freezing cold with signs that read ‘We’ve Got Your Back’ and ‘Support Our Teachers.’ The union represents about 2,900 teachers, counselors, school psychologists, and coaches. “What’s going on in Portland Public Schools (PPS) has shed light on a bigger problem: that for too long, education has been underfunded by design,” said teacher Adam Sanchez during debate before the vote. ‘It’s time to demand that the money flows into the classroom—not to corporations, not to testing and textbook companies, not to bureaucrats and high-priced consultants.’…”

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Portland, Oregon, teachers have voted nearly unanimously to strike.

Over 2,800 members of the Portland Association of Teachers (PAT) packed the Arlene Schnitzer Concert hall Wednesday evening for the stand-up vote, while hundreds of community members rallied outside in the freezing cold with signs that read “We’ve Got Your Back” and “Support Our Teachers.”

The union represents about 2,900 teachers, counselors, school psychologists, and coaches.

“What’s going on in Portland Public Schools (PPS) has shed light on a bigger problem: that for too long, education has been underfunded by design,” said teacher Adam Sanchez during debate before the vote. “It’s time to demand that the money flows into the classroom—not to corporations, not to testing and textbook companies, not to bureaucrats and high-priced consultants.”

- See more at: http://www.labornotes.org/2014/02/portland-teachers-vote-strike#sthash.L5PZAoiH.dpufPortland, Oregon, teachers have voted nearly unanimously to strike. Over 2,800 members of the Portland Association of Teachers (PAT) packed the Arlene Schnitzer Concert hall Wednesday evening for the stand-up vote, while hundreds of community members rallied outside in the freezing cold with signs that read ‘We’ve Got Your Back’ and ‘Support Our Teachers.’ The union represents about 2,900 teachers, counselors, school psychologists, and coaches.’What’s going on in Portland Public Schools (PPS) has shed light on a bigger problem: that for too long, education has been underfunded by design,’ said teacher Adam Sanchez during debate before the vote. ‘It’s time to demand that the money flows into the classroom—not to corporations, not to testing and textbook companies, not to bureaucrats and high-priced consultants.’…”

 


FL – Are teachers ‘just scared?’

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February 11th, 2014

“Lake County school superintendent Susan Moxley in the wake of the district’s class-size violation controversy last week called for anyone who suspects wrongdoing within the district to report it. But Lake school union chief Stuart Klatte said many school teachers who work under annual contracts are afraid for their jobs and face pressure from principals to simply do as they’re told. ‘You are pretty much at the mercy of your principal so if the principal says ‘please do this’ and that principal decides whether you have a job next year or not, you’re going to be more likely to say yes,’ Klatte said. ‘I think that is one of the biggest problems,’ he said. ‘Is a lot of the teachers are just scared.’…”

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Opt Out Orlando – 3 Super-moms making a difference!

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February 10th, 2014

“Frustrated her children’s school went “just insane” with test preparation, Sandy Stenoff decided last spring that she’d had enough. The Orlando mother had her third-grader skip FCAT, Florida’s key standardized test. It was a difficult decision, she said, even for a parent who had recently joined with two other moms to be the founding force behind Opt Out Orlando.The group is dedicated to discussing options to the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test and other high-stakes exams. It is part of a small but growing movement that has sprouted up across the state and nation…”

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New documentary takes on standardized testing, Common Core…

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February 10th, 2014

Jaime Franchi in The Long Island Press…

“The documentary Standardized: Lies, Money, and Civil Rights: How Testing is Ruining Public Education, the brainchild of producer and former teacher Daniel Hornberger, is a powerful artistic translation of this both cerebral and passionate battle. It stars real-life parents, teachers and experts from across this country testifying as to how schools are being destroyed by this federal education mandate—the Obama Administration’s answer to predecessor George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act. The groundswell of protest from parents and teachers is quickly reaching critical mass, causing politicians who had previously dismissed critics of the reform to reconsider their positions. In New York, State Education Commissioner John King faces a vote of “no confidence” by the teachers’ unions for implementing the program. Standardized’s cinematic examination of the effects of high-stakes standardized testing on schoolchildren and the multi-billion-dollar industry perpetuating it comes as the battle here on Long Island is really heating up…”

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Common Core – Students getting sick as a result of anxiety over tests…

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February 10th, 2014

Rebecca Klein in The Huffington Post…

“Standardized tests are really stressing New York students out. Like, really stressing them out. According to a recent survey conducted by The New York State Parent Teacher Association (PTA), a vast majority of parent and teacher respondents said that students have been more stressed out over test-related issues than in previous years. The survey shows that 78 percent of students in grades 1–12 who receive additional educational support as a result of a disability, past test performance or other factors are more stressed out this year than other years. In addition, 75 percent of students who do not receive additional educational support are also more stressed out..”

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“What I’m Learning as a Teacher in Finland…”

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February 10th, 2014

Tim Walker at The Teachers.net Gazette…

“These days, people often ask if I’m experiencing culture shock. It’s a legitimate question. Just a few months ago, my family and I moved from Boston to Helsinki, Finland. To be honest, the culture shock isn’t so dramatic—especially since my wife is a Finn.But I’m definitely experiencing classroom shock—a shifting of my pedagogical mindset—as I settle into my new job as a 5th grade teacher at a Finnish public school.My family and I plan on living in Finland permanently, but I can’t help but think about what I’d do differently if I returned to an American classroom. Talk about reverse-classroom shock! I’ve already identified three big shifts I’d make right away…”

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Asking for pay to go up, Fairfax teachers dress down…

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February 10th, 2014

T. Rees Shapiro in The Washington Post…

“… Teachers say their frustration stems from the fact that Fairfax, regarded as one of the nation’s premier school systems, now lags in average salary behind other school divisions in the Washington region. The average Fairfax teacher could earn about $7,500 more per year working over the county line in Arlington and about $6,900 more over the Potomac in Montgomery County, according to the 2014 Washington Area Boards of Education guide. Seeking to highlight the pay disparity, a group of teachers in the Woodson English department began brainstorming ideas, Sebunia said. One teacher mentioned that maintaining a second wardrobe of professional attire to wear to school was becoming a hefty expense…”

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St. Paul teachers union considering strike vote

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February 10th, 2014

Mila Koumpilova in The Pioneer Press…

“St. Paul public school teachers might soon be asked to vote on a strike, the union says.  Leaders of the St. Paul Federation of Teachers said they will decide Monday whether to put a strike to a membership vote after eight months of often contentious contract talks.  The union and school district reportedly made progress in nearly 12 hours of negotiations Thursday, but union President Mary Cathryn Ricker said a strike authorization vote would be considered when the executive board meets Monday…”

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Teachers’ jobs are getting harder, compensation is stagnant…

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February 10th, 2014

Lynn Bonner and Jane Stancill in The News & Observer…

“North Carolina’s teacher pipeline is leaking at both ends. Public school teachers are leaving in bigger numbers, while fewer people are pursuing education degrees at the state’s universities. It may be too soon to predict a shortage, but the trends could spell trouble for public school classrooms…”

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/02/08/3600665/teachers-jobs-are-getting-harder.html#storylink=cpy

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White students get better teachers in L.A., researcher testifies…

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February 10th, 2014

Howard Blume in The Los Angeles Times…

“Black and Latino students are more likely to get ineffective teachers in Los Angeles schools than white and Asian students, according to a new study by a Harvard researcher. The findings were released this week during a trial challenging the way California handles the dismissal, lay off and tenure process for teachers. In the study, professor Thomas J. Kane concluded that the worst teachers—in the bottom 5%–taught 3.2% of white students and 5.4% of Latino students. If ineffective teachers were evenly distributed, you’d expect that 5% of each group of students would have these low-rated instructors. A similar pattern held when Kane looked at teachers rated in the bottom half: 38.5% of white students had such an instructor; the number was 48.6% for African American students and 52.2% for Latino students.

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Tennessee teachers push back on evaluation process…

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February 10th, 2014

Lucas L. Johnson II in The Boston Globe…

“When Tennessee was competing for a half-billion dollars in federal education money, teachers agreed to allow the state to ramp up its use of student test scores for evaluating educators. But since winning the $500 million Race to the Top competition in 2010, teachers say the state has gone too far in using student test scores to assess their performance…”

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NY – Bill would require every child to get a psychological test…

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February 7th, 2014

Berkeley Brean at WHEC-10 in Rochester…

“Would you let your child be tested like this? After several school shooting including in Newtown, CT., there is now a bill in the New York State Assembly that would require every child in public school to have a psychological examination before they could go to school. The test would be mandatory whether or not a child showed signs of emotional or psychological problems. According to the bill, the results of the test would be attached to a child’s health certificate.

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Baton Rouge’s rich want keep poor pupils out…

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February 7th, 2014

Margaret Newkirk at Bloomberg.com…

“In East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana, middle-class and wealthy neighborhoods want an educational divorce from a neighboring community where four out of 10 families live in poverty. Saying they want local control, they’re trying to leave the 42,000-pupil public-education system. They envision their own district funded by property taxes from their higher-value homes, which would take money from schools in poorer parts of state-capital Baton Rouge, home of Louisiana State University. They even want their own city…”

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School systems outsourcing search for substitutes…

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February 7th, 2014

John Dyer in The Boston Globe…

“Early in the morning, before thousands of children arrive at schools throughout Boston’s suburbs, administrators make calls to find hundreds of substitute teachers. It’s no easy task…”

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Stop tenure tyranny!

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February 7th, 2014

la-ol-teacher-tenure-20140205-001

“My mother retired recently from teaching under pretty much the best possible working conditions one could expect in an American high school: She taught high school French in an Ohio suburb that is at least 90% white, ranging from middle to upper middle class. By the end of her career, she was relatively decently paid. Her students weren’t hobbled by poverty or challenged due to not having mastered English. Since French was an elective, her kids pretty much wanted to be there (though the possibility of having the class cut because of low enrollment was a worry)…”

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Durham teachers stand against four-year contracts…

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February 7th, 2014

Gregory Childress in The Herald-Sun…

“About 96 percent of the teachers at Durham School of the Arts have signed a letter vowing to not accept four-year contracts and annual bonuses they would receive in exchange for giving up tenure. Several of the school’s teachers and dozens of supporters gathered in the DSA atrium Wednesday morning to join a statewide movement against a new state teacher-tenure law…”

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Baltimore teachers ratify new contract…

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February 7th, 2014

Erica L. Green in The Baltimore Sun…

“Baltimore teachers voted Thursday to ratify a three-year contract that will give them annual raises of 1 percent and opportunities for promotion, but leaves uncertainty about evaluations and a career ladder that was introduced three years ago…

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Arts teachers in LA County schools decreased by 10 percent…

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February 7th, 2014

Mary Plummer at KPCC – Southern California Public Radio…

“A report to be released Thursday by the Otis College of Art and Design shows the number of arts teachers in Los Angeles County fell by about 10 percent in the 2011-2012 school year, the most recent data examined. The 2013 Otis Report on the Creative Economy looked at figures from the California Department of Education and found more than 200 arts teacher positions disappeared between the 2010-11 school year and 2011-2012 in Los Angeles Count…”

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Horrifying! Testing culture – Over the edge…

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February 6th, 2014

Family of dying Orange County student asked for

proof from hospice to exempt him from FCAT test…

WFTV-9  in Orlando, Florida…

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Portland teachers vote to walk out Feb. 20

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February 6th, 2014

From Newschannel 8′s KGW.com


“Teachers at Portland Public Schools voted to strike Wednesday night. A spokesman for the Portland Association of Teachers told KGW the vote was nearly unanimous. Teachers are required to give the district at least 10 working days notice before they could walk off the job. They voted to set the walkout date for Thursday, Feb. 20. If the district’s teachers walk off the job, it would be the first time in Portland history…”

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Blame and bully – Teachers unfairly forced out…

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February 6th, 2014

Kurt Kuban in Michigan’s Observer and Eccentric…

“… The implication was the teachers informed their students to do poorly on the test so they would show improvement when they took the test again in the spring. As a result of this conclusion, the district offered Warnock and Traxler a deal – resign and get paid for the rest of the year. With little union backing, they decided to accept the deal, which included a stipulation that they would not be able to seek future legal damages against the district.Supporters of the teachers say the investigation was unfair and amounted to a witch hunt…”

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Mother of dying, disabled boy fights to opt-out of testing…

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February 6th, 2014

Out. Of. Control.

Scott Maxwell in The Orlando Sentinel…

“Last night, I spent time with Ethan Rediske – an 11-year-old-boy who, doctors say, is in the final days of his life. His lungs are filling with fluid. The only noise he makes is an occasional moan. His parents can do little more than comfort him. Yet his mother, Andrea, had to also spend some of Ethan’s final days convincing the school officials that Ethan is not capable of taking standardized tests — the FCAT equivalent for the disabled — since he is barely alive. Now, Ethan could never take these tests. He has severe brain damage and cerebral palsy. He couldn’t even make purposeful movements with his arms. He is also legally blind. But in this test-obsessed state and country, Ethan’s teacher (who would visit his home, read to him and use his hands to make art projects with glitter and glue) was required to administer tests measuring his progress — and the teacher’s supposed competency.”

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Vergara v. California: The agendas, the facts…

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February 6th, 2014

Ben Spielberg at 34Justice…

“Ted Boutros believes corporations that destroy lives with reckless policies should suffer minimal financial penalties in court.  Boutros’s partner, Marcellus McRae, proudly defends white-collar criminals.  Eli Broad pretended to support Proposition 30, a ballot initiative designed to prevent massive cuts to public education, while secretly funding the No on 30 movement.  All three of these individuals and the rest of their well-funded legal team, however, hope their deployment of nine California students as the listed plaintiffs in Vergara v. California will convince a judge that they care about the plight of low-income children.  Their narrative self-serving and convenient, they argue that the massive income inequality they actively exacerbate has nothing to do with the achievement gap, that it is instead “grossly ineffective teachers” who ruin poor kids’ lives.

TEACHERFIRINGS-jpg-thumb-609x472-5768

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Teacher commitment that cannot be evaluated…

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February 6th, 2014

John Nichols in The Nation…

“Teachers, parents and students are pushing back against high-stakes testing, over-testing and the fantasy that education is made better by preparing for, conducting and evaluating tests…”

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NJ – First ratings for 20,000 teachers

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February 6th, 2014

Leslie Brody at NorthJersey.com…

“The New Jersey Department of Education ushered in a new era for teacher evaluations statewide Tuesday by issuing ratings for roughly 20,000 teachers tied to students’ growth on state tests. Education Commissioner Chris Cerf said these ratings served as a “trial run” and would not count this year. Even so, many teachers in tested subjects have been anxious to see their scores, which will make up 30 percent of their overall evaluations next year. The New Jersey Education Association has repeatedly protested that the ratings should not be used unless they are proved to be valid reflections of performance.

The New Jersey Department of Education ushered in a new era for teacher evaluations statewide Tuesday by issuing ratings for roughly 20,000 teachers tied to students’ growth on state tests.

Education Commissioner Chris Cerf said these ratings served as a “trial run” and would not count this year. Even so, many teachers in tested subjects have been anxious to see their scores, which will make up 30 percent of their overall evaluations next year. The New Jersey Education Association has repeatedly protested that the ratings should not be used unless they are proved to be valid reflections of performance.

- See more at: http://www.northjersey.com/news/243725941_N_J__issues_first_ratings_for_20_000_teachers.html#sthash.B19rhcFx.dpuf

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Truth about Shanghai schools: They’re terrible

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February 6th, 2014

Saga Ringmar in The Guardian…

“The western world watches China’s rise as a formidable world-power with a mixture of awe and apprehension. Sci-fi films depict a futuristic world where Baidu.com is the new Google and Mcdonalds has been replaced by Grandma Wang’s Dumpling Emporium. And yet again Shanghai is number one on the Programme for International Student Assessment’s (Pisa) 2012 ranking list of international education, and the US is once again at a low rank, this time 36th place. The US is desperate, and naturally the Chinese educational system seems like an answer. But let me tell you – this is not the case. I know; for two years I attended a local Shanghainese high school and this is the truth: they are terrible…”

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Many teachers blame students’ study habits…

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February 6th, 2014

Donna St. George in The Washington Post…

“Many Montgomery County teachers blame student study habits for the high failure rates on math exams, according to a survey that also revealed educators’ concerns about grading policies that make it possible to fail a final exam but still pass a course. As county schools officials continue to delve into the causes of students failing some math finals at a rate of more than 50 percent, teachers say that many students choose to skimp on exam preparation and don’t know how to prepare for a test that covers material that spans several months…”

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A call to ignore exams when evaluating educators…

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February 6th, 2014

Al Baker in The New York Times…

“A year after a switch to new standardized tests for public school students caused passing rates to plummet, leaders of both political parties in the New York Legislature on Tuesday called on the state to back away from plans to use those exams to grade teachers. In synchronized statements, Democratic leaders of the State Assembly joined Republicans in the State Senate to propose that the tests, which are aligned with the new curriculum standards known as the Common Core, be excluded, for now, from the state’s new teacher evaluation system, which Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed into law in 2012…”

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So just who is Tiffany Hardrick?

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February 6th, 2014

From Bob Braun’s Ledger…

“Daryn Martin, the leader of the parent-teacher organization at Ivy Hill School, may go to jail because of a criminal complaint filed by Tiffany Hardrick, an assistant superintendent of schools in Newark who co-founded a New Orleans charter school.  So it’s a good time to ask just who this Dr. Hardrick is, why is she in Newark, and why she left New Orleans. The answer is–she is another one of Cami Anderson’s misguided appointments of an educator with a, well, unusual past…”

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Blame and bully – Tampa unfairly fire special education teacher…

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February 5th, 2014

Kim Kuizon at FOX 13 News…

“Ingrid Peavy’s dream was destroyed in a single vote. The Hillsborough County School Board ended the Pierce Middle School teacher’s career with the district after one of her ESE students slipped off school grounds and walked five miles home…”

FOX 13 News

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Tech’s diversity problem Is apparent as early as high school…

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February 5th, 2014

Claire Cain Miller in The New York Times…

“In three states, not a single girl took the Advanced Placement exam in computer science last year. In eight states, no Hispanic students took it. And in 11 states, no black students took the test…”

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Can we fix the race problem in school discipline?

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February 5th, 2014

Molly Knefel in Rolling Stone…

“… While study after study has documented racial disparities in school discipline in districts across the country, the guidance’s federal data illustrates the sweeping extent of the problem. So what can we do to make our schools fairer? The federal guidance recommends a number of best practices to ensure that schools recognize, reduce and eliminate disproportionate treatment of students of color and students with disabilities, while fostering a safe and supportive educational environment. Here are a few of the best ideas:…”

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When is school reform not enough?

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February 5th, 2014

Ann Evans de Bernard at Education Week…

“My state of Connecticut, like many others across the country, has received much attention lately for its so-called school reform movement. The movement targets primarily children of color in poor neighborhoods, using low test scores as the justification, and then creates unilateral plans for improvement, as if the children were part of some prewar colonial empire. The millionaires who are sponsoring school reform, in turn, pretend their paternalistic views on “other people’s children” are benevolent…”

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NYC mayor strikes a major blow to charter schools…

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February 5th, 2014

Owen Davis at Alternet…

“Newly elected New York mayor Bill de Blasio, wearing a broad and slightly goofy smile, dwarfs the infinitely vilified outgoing mayor Michael Bloomberg, who seems somewhat bemused himself. For 12 years it was Mayor Bloomberg, standing at the forefront of a national education reform movement, who overshadowed Bill de Blasio and his progressive ilk. Bloomberg considered New York the ‘poster child’ of free-market education reform as he seized mayoral control of the district, closed nearly 200 ‘failing schools’ and opened about that many charters. But as de Blasio settles into office, his administration has already dealt major blows to one of Bloomberg’s sacred cows. Late last week, newly appointed schools chancellor Carmen Fariña announced that the Department of Education would redirect $210 million from charter schools and independent nonprofits to fund de Blasio’s pre-kindergarten initiative. …”

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Boston parents prepare to protest school budget cuts…

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February 5th, 2014

James Vaznis inThe Boston Globe…

“Parents across Boston are mobilizing to protest possible budget cuts at their schools for the next academic year, writing letters to school and state officials, turning out at School Committee meetings, and starting a Facebook page to advocate for additional funding. The possible cuts, which vary from school to school, include classroom aides and other positions, supplies and materials, and funding for specialized programs such as Playworks, which provides organized games and activities at recess as a supplement to physical education…”

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Parent resistance to collective standardized tests…

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February 5th, 2014

Nat Hentoff in the Daily Journal Online…

“Huge numbers of students must take high-stakes standardized tests that may shape the rest of their lives. These tests, however, take no account of the differences among the individual students. For particular examples, the tests don’t recognize the students’ home lives, or the visual or hearing problems that have impeded their learning. Those students often failing these tests are lower-income blacks and Hispanics, and students with special needs such as English language difficulties. But many other children fail them too…”

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South Dakota – Low pay leads to lack of teachers…

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February 5th, 2014

KDLT.com, South Dakota News

“School districts across the state are reportedly having trouble finding qualified teachers. A recent survey sponsored by the Associated School Boards and School Administrators of South Dakota shows a majority of superintendents are experiencing the problem, and pay could be the cause…”

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VA – Bill undermines science, teachers

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February 5th, 2014

An editorial from the Virginian-Pilot…

“The theory of evolution is science. Creationism is not. Neither is intelligent design. Both are philosophical ways to reconcile religious belief with what evidence shows about the natural world. For that purpose, America’s long tradition of religious tolerance argues there should be no quarrel. But the application of religious belief to the realm of public science education threatens damage to both. A bill proposed by Staunton Del. Richard Bell would also injure truth in labeling. According to observers, it’s the first legislation of its kind in the commonwealth…”

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Why Vergara won’t solve the real teacher problem…

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February 5th, 2014

Ellie Herman in the LA School Report…

“We need to look seriously at the reasons good teachers leave schools in low-income communities in such disproportionate numbers. It’s a common misconception that teachers leave because of the students themselves. But though the work can be challenging, it can also be also be uniquely, profoundly rewarding. When I taught in South L.A., I was so frequently moved by my students’ courage, dignity and persistence that my son asked me to stop telling inspirational stories that ended with ‘ … and then I cried.’…”

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Portland teachers’ union: Subs bullied by PPS…

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February 5th, 2014

It may get ugly soon in Portland as a possible strike closes in…

From KOIN in Portland…

“The back-and-forth wrangling continued Tuesday, as the teachers’ union accused the school district of ‘threatening and bullying Portland substitute teachers.’ The Portland Association of Teachers announced in a news release that it filed a labor complaint with the state Employment Relations board against Portland Public Schools ‘charging the district with unlawful behavior and providing evidence to support its charge.’ According to PAT, the district has ‘violated the law’ by threatening substitute teachers who refuse to cross the picket line during a potential strike…”

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New! Must read Ani McHugh!

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February 4th, 2014

Ani McHugh from her must-read blog, TeacherBiz

“Written testimony to the NJ State Board of Education for Lobby Day–February 5th, 2014″

“I ask you to consider these questions: would you want your own children to be subjected to the reforms being implemented in New Jersey?  Do any parents wish for their children to go to a school that relies too much on standardized testing–and cuts programs and personnel in the name of raising test scores? Do any children look forward to going to school and taking–or preparing for–standardized tests? Do the reforms being implemented in New Jersey foster in our children a love of learning and a love of school? Do these reforms send the message that even children who are not high achievers in math and Language Arts can be exceptionally smart, successful, productive, worthwhile members of society? And could–or should–the worth of the teacher who had the most profound impact on your life be measured by standardized test scores?…”

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A teacher exposes ‘value-added’ idiocy…

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February 4th, 2014

Valerie Strauss in The Washington Post…

“VAMboozled is a blog about teacher evaluation, accountability and value-added models written by Audrey Amrein-Beardsley, associate professor at Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University. The following post was on her blog, from a teacher in Arizona who is not identified. The teacher reveals the idiocy of the ‘value-added’ method of evaluation teachers, involving the use of student standardized test scores as a key measure. This teacher raises a question that teachers in other states have also confronted: She will be graded on test scores of students she didn’t teach. As  Amrein-Beardsley notes the story told by the teacher ‘is becoming a too familiar story.’…”

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Miami – Police union publicizes crime in schools amid negotiations…

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February 4th, 2014

David Smiley in The Miami Herald…

“The union representing schools police officers is reporting a marked increase in the number of guns seized from within Miami-Dade County Public Schools in the first half of the school year. But police brass say those numbers are inflated, even if confiscations are trending upward. The disconnect reflects a new and unusual union media campaign that is as much about contract negotiations as school safety…”

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/02/03/3911075/union-publicizes-crime-in-schools.html#storylink=cpy

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FCC to boost fund for broadband in schools…

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February 4th, 2014

Cecilia Kang in The Washington Post…

“The plan to be announced Wednesday by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is to increase to $2 billion from $1 billion the portion of the E-Rate program for broadband grants. The FCC said the two-year increase in broadband grants will not come from an increase in rates charged to wireless and phone customers. Consumers’ monthly bills include a line-item charge for the federal Universal Service Fund, which includes the $2.4 billion annual E-Rate program…”

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Stealing from teachers…

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February 4th, 2014

Adam Kirk Edgerton at The Huffington Post…

“When teachers sit down to complete their federal taxes this year, they will see one big change: the $250 classroom supply deduction. The failure to extend this tax break for teachers has gone largely unnoticed. It should be a source of outrage…”

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NC group urges teachers to reject contract offers…

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February 4th, 2014

Emery P. Dalesio in The Charlotte Observer…

“A group representing North Carolina teachers said Monday it is expanding efforts to fight a state law that phases out job protections in place for more than 40 years in favor of employment contracts that supporters say will promote sharper classroom performance…”

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2014/02/03/4660967/nc-group-urges-teachers-to-reject.html#.UvBaf_ZycSU#storylink=cpy

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Preschool push moving ahead in many states…

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February 4th, 2014

Richard Perez Pena and Motoko Rich in The New York Times…

“Preschool is having its moment, as a favored cause for politicians and interest groups who ordinarily have trouble agreeing on the time of day. President Obama devoted part of his State of the Union address to it, while the deeply red states of Oklahoma and Georgia are being hailed as national models of preschool access and quality, with other states and cities also forging ahead on their own. With a growing body of research pointing to the importance of early child development and its effect on later academic and social progress, enrollment in state-funded preschool has more than doubled since 2002, to about 30 percent of all 4-year-olds nationwide.

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‘Broken schools’ – or broken debate over education?

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February 3rd, 2014

Amy Laura Hall in the Durham Herald-Sun…

“If you want effectively to undermine the complicated, daily work of teachers and custodians and counselors and school traffic cops, you first need to destabilize people’s confidence in the solvency of the overall system.  You basically need to create the educational equivalent of a run on the bank.  People are hearing through grapevines as disparate as National Public Radio and Fox News that public schools are “broken” and in need of a superhero leader-ish leader to come in and rescue them…”

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Educators excluded from school reform conversation

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February 3rd, 2014

James D. Mervilde in The Indianapolis Star…

“Money spent educating our children is an investment. Our leaders have been penny-wise and pound-foolish in managing that investment. Their lack of wisdom has had dire effects upon children, despite the heroic efforts that educators apply every day in Hoosier classrooms. I would submit to Arnie Duncan that educators have been telling the truth about education. It’s time for Duncan and our Indiana officials to begin telling the truth about what works, what does not, what it will take to build a system that we need, and just how we will work together to build it…”

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Despite increased security, school shootings continue…

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February 3rd, 2014

AP Education Writer Kimberly Hefling at PBS.org…

“There’s been no real reduction in the number of U.S. school shootings despite increased security put in place after the rampage at Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012. In Pennsylvania and New Mexico, Colorado and Tennessee, and elsewhere, gunfire has echoed through school hallways, and killed students or their teachers in some cases. ‘Lockdown’ is now part of the school vocabulary.An Associated Press analysis finds that there have been at least 11 school shootings this academic year alone, in addition to other cases of gun violence, in school parking lots and elsewhere on campus, when classes were not in session…”

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Funds meant for charters may be diverted to Pre-K…

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February 3rd, 2014

Javier C. Hernandez in The New York Times…

“New York City’s schools chancellor announced her intention on Friday to shift money away from charter schools to help pay for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s expansion of prekindergarten programs. The chancellor, Carmen Fariña, in describing the Education Department’s $12.8 billion capital plan, said she would seek to redirect $210 million that had been reserved for classroom space for charter schools and other nonprofit groups. The money, spread out over five years, would instead be used to create thousands of new prekindergarten seats, helping fulfill Mr. de Blasio’s signature campaign promise.

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In Vergara vs. California, L.A. supt. a star witness — for both sides…

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February 3rd, 2014

Howard Blume in The Los Angeles Times…

“In a groundbreaking trial over teacher job protections, Los Angeles schools Supt. John Deasy was the early star witness — for both sides. The case, Vergara vs. California, challenges a set of laws that affect how teachers are fired, laid off and granted tenure. Advocates contend that these regulations hinder the removal of ineffective teachers, diminishing the quality of the teacher workforce — an effect, they say, that disproportionately hurts low-income and minority students. This outcome make these laws unconstitutional, they contend…”

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KY – Pension reform leaves out teachers…

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February 3rd, 2014

An editorial in The Courier-Journal…

“… And it’s important to note here that unlike other state employees, teacher arenot covered by Social Security. That’s worth repeating: Teachers are not covered by Social Security and get none of those benefits when they retire.When Social Security was established in 1935, public school teachers were excluded. And though states were allowed to opt in in later years, Kentucky and some other states did not, instead relying on teacher pension plans they had created in lieu of Social Security…”

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Fight over effective teachers shifts to courtroom…

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February 1st, 2014

Jennifer Medina in The New York Times…

“They have tried and failed to loosen tenure rules for teachers in contract talks and state legislatures. So now, a group of rising stars in the movement to overhaul education employment has gone to court. In a small, wood-paneled courtroom here this week, nine public school students are challenging California’s ironclad tenure system, arguing that their right to a good education is violated by job protections that make it too difficult to fire bad instructors. But behind the students stand a Silicon Valley technology magnate who is financing the case and an all-star cast of lawyers that includes Theodore B. Olson, the former solicitor general of the United States, who recently won the Supreme Court case that effectively overturned the state’s ban on same-sex marriage…”

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Why Common Core isn’t the answer…

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February 1st, 2014

Marion Brady via Valerie Strauss in The Washington Post…

“The Common Core State Standards have become targets for criticism from all corners of the political spectrum for various reasons. Here’s a different take, from Marion Brady, a veteran classroom teacher, who has written history and world culture textbooks (Prentice-Hall),  professional books, numerous  nationally distributed column…”

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Common Core standards – Gates paid for everything…

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February 1st, 2014

The great Diane Ravitch…

“The Gates Foundation has spent $200 million or so to pay for the Common Core standards. Gates paid for everything because the U.S. Department of Education is prohibited by law from doing anything that might control, direct,or supervise curriculum or instruction. Of course, this did not stop Arne Duncan from shelling out $350 million to pay for new online tests of the Common Core…”

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A public boarding school for the arts…

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February 1st, 2014

Deborah Fallows in The Atlantic…

“The 240+ South Carolina students are a natural match with this very specialized residential school. They steep in their identity and passion as young artists. (There are 5 arts tracks: dance, drama, visual arts, music, and creative writing.)…”

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What it feels like to be a teacher in NC…

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January 31st, 2014

Katie Mgongolwa at The Huffington Post…

“I am the 14 percent. I am one of many teachers in North Carolina considering leaving the profession. I don’t want to. It hurts to voice this. But we are entering a time of darkness in education in the Tar Heel state. We are forced to wonder if an administration plagued with controversy has purposefully attempted to devalue North Carolina public education in order to make the next generation passive and uneducated, if not outright ignorant…”

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LA school officials in the dark over computer inventories…

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January 31st, 2014

Annie Gilbertson at KPCC – Southern California Public Radio…

“Los Angeles Unified School District officials said they don’t have a complete accounting of computers at schools because they stopped counting during budget cuts – and a new survey meant to get an accurate accounting is incomplete, according to records, statements at public meetings and interviews…”

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Schools starve students to punish deadbeat parents…

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January 31st, 2014

“Picture this. School-age children with rumbling tummies move their styrofoam trays in an orderly lunch line. It’s Tuesday, and at Uintah Elementary School in Salt Lake City that means one thing for excited youngsters: pizza day. Students fill their trays with deep-dish pepperoni slices and napa salad and head to the lunch lady for checkout. That’s when tragedy struck for about 40 of Utah’s smallest residents, according to The Salt Lake Tribune. If a student’s lunch money account wasn’t paid up, the cafeteria workers were instructed to confiscate the child’s lunch. Because of sanitary issues the lunch couldn’t be given to another student, so it was thrown away instead, while a hungry child watched. The child was then sent on his or her way, with a piece of fruit and a carton of milk…”

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Ed. Dept. allows public charter schools to hold weighted lottery…

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January 31st, 2014

Lyndsey Layton in The Washington Post…

“The Education Department on Wednesday reversed a long-standing policy and will now allow public charter schools that receive federal grants to give ­admissions preference to low-income children, minorities and other disadvantaged students. The move is designed to try to preserve racial diversity in schools that are attractive to wealthier families. Schools will be able to conduct a “weighted lottery” that gives preference to certain groups…”

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A Push for French in New York Schools…

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January 31st, 2014

Kirk Semple in The New York Times…

“In the fugue of tongues on New York’s streets, French has never been a dominant voice. And as surging numbers of Asian and Latino immigrants continue to tip the balance of foreign languages toward Chinese and Spanish, the idea of learning French, to some, may seem kind of quaint, even anachronistic. Yet in the city’s public school system, the French dual-language program, in which half the classes are in French and the other half in English, is booming. Eight public schools offer a French/English curriculum for about 1,000 students, making it the third-largest dual-language program, after Spanish and Chinese. And demand continues to grow, with two more schools scheduled to join this year and at least seven groups of parents in different areas of the city lobbying their schools to participate…”

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Boston – Three nonprofits to take over schools…

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January 31st, 2014

James Vaznis in The Boston Globe…

“Massachusetts education officials who are poised to take over four schools in Boston, Holyoke, and New Bedford announced Wednesday that they have selected three nonprofits and a superintendent with records of boosting student achievement as receivers, under a first-of-a-kind experiment in the state. In Boston, the state is tapping two education nonprofits that already have relationships with the city’s school system: Unlocking Potential and Blueprint Schools Network…”

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Will Portland teachers vote to authorize a strike?

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January 31st, 2014

Nicole Dungca in The Oregonian…

“Portland Association of Teachers leaders sent a message Wednesday night announcing a strike vote on Feb. 5. The walkout would be the first teachers strike in the history of Oregon’s largest district. Union leaders say members appear united. Those leaders referenced results from their “pre-strike assessment” last week, in which teachers at every school hold individual interviews with colleagues to gauge how willing members are to walk out…”

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Early Childhood Ed.: Lots of talk, not much action…

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January 31st, 2014

Laura Bornfreund and Conor Williams in The Atlantic…

“Business leaders, law enforcement, retired military leaders, charitable foundations, and Nobel-winning economists—not to mention President Obama—support better preschool. Why hasn’t there been more progress?…”

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Suspensions, expulsions fall in California public schools…

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January 31st, 2014

Sharon Noguchi in the San Jose Mercury News…

Suspensions and expulsions in California public schools fell dramatically in 2012-13, the result of schools’ deliberate efforts to seek alternate discipline and reduce racial disparities in punishment…”

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Michael Weston – The teacher tenure debate is a distraction…

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January 30th, 2014

Michael Weston is a teacher. He is also a candidate for the Hillsborough County School Board. Hillsborough County, FL (Tampa) is home to the 8th largest district in the country with 15,000 teachers and a $3 billion budget.

The teacher tenure debate is a distraction…

Michael Weston

The entire teacher tenure debate is a distraction. All tenured teachers have is a continuing contract with right of due process. It is no harder to fire a teacher than a DMV clerk. Teacher detractors want to claim that tenure keeps our schools full to the brim with “bad” teachers.

This cannot be supported. It is just another tactic to keep focus from the real issues in education. As long as we are tricked into finding solutions where there is no problem (teacher performance), we are kept from facing up to the difficult truths. Throughout history, the real wrongdoers must find a scapegoat for the duped public to vent on.

Today, the education deformers want you to despise the very person you entrust your child with every day. It is sickening.

* A note form us at GoPublicSchool.com… – For the record, Mike Weston is not in any way affiliated with our site. We are a group of concerned teachers based in Florida, Georgia, New York and California striving to create a place where teachers and parents can speak their minds about our public schools. Two of us called Michael for a cup of coffee and listened to his side of the story, did some research, and now we support him. We deeply believe that teachers on school boards is something that needs to happen. It needs to happen all over this country. Click on the ad on this site and read the information posted there. Decide for yourself. Ask a teacher. Contact Mike directly. Make a small donation. Get involved. Whatever you decide, whatever you find in your heart, … do something. Our schools need you.

Again, We believe that the voice of the American teacher has been virtually silenced. We can attack this problem in a very direct way by electing classroom teachers to school boards all across this land! Wherever you are in America, we hope that you work towards this goal in the coming months!

Thank you!

Know of another teacher running? Let us know!

What do you think? Read and share comments here…


‘American Child’s Education Bill of Rights’

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January 30th, 2014

Valerie Strauss in The Washington Post…

“Calling modern school reform “catastrophically misguided and ineffective,” civil rights icon James Meredith is launching what he calls the American Child’s Education Bill of Rights, a 12-point declaration of obligations that he says the nation owes every public school child…”

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Certainly Mr. Gates can fix this by evaluating teachers…

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January 30th, 2014

Certainly Mr. Gates can fix this by evaluating teachers…

These are the schools and children no one cares about..

FOX 13 News

“Teachers explain math and science and mentor students, but on Tuesday at Gibbs High School, the best use of one teacher’s time was as a human barricade. She stood between two female students until several minutes of screaming and circling turned physical, the girls punching and kicking and hair-pulling as they fell to the floor of their classroom….

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Why some teachers may question ‘new’ education trends…

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January 30th, 2014

Katrina Schwartz at KQED…

“Often frustration with the public education system is directed at teachers, even when they are following the standards and guidelines set out by the government. Everyone from politicians, to non-profits to parents tell teachers how to do their jobs better. So it’s no surprise that when the federal state education officials or school superintendents announce a new initiative that not all teachers are ready to jump on the new trend. Education has a long history of reform, each succeeded by another, and teachers have learned to pick and choose carefully where to put their energies…”

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How Ohio public school ratings foster false comparisons…

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January 30th, 2014

From Policy Matters Ohio…

“… We found that the majority of the highest-rated schools serve very different populations than the districts in which they are located, generally enrolling fewer children with disabilities and fewer economically disadvantaged students. Many of these schools have selective enrollment policies, offer smaller class sizes, require applications, or engage in other practices that lower-performing public schools generally cannot follow. Some schools, particularly charters, enroll substantial numbers of students from other school districts, usually suburban or in some cases exurban districts….”

We found that the majority of the highest-rated schools serve very different populations than the districts in which they are located, generally enrolling fewer children with disabilities and fewer economically disadvantaged students. Many of these schools have selective enrollment policies, offer smaller class sizes, require applications, or engage in other practices that lower-performing public schools generally cannot follow. Some schools, particularly charters, enroll substantial numbers of students from other school districts, usually suburban or in some cases exurban districts. – See more at: http://www.policymattersohio.org/topschools-jan2014?utm_source=January+22%2C+2014+Top+Schools+release&utm_campaign=Top+schools+1-22-14&utm_medium=email#sthash.M2UhHW8g.dpuf

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Teachers oppose Va. bill challenging mainstream science…

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January 30th, 2014

Michael Alison Chandler and Michael Laris in The Washington Post…

“Virginia science teachers are opposing a bill in the General Assembly they say would open classroom doors to lessons challenging evolution, global warming and other mainstream scientific views…”

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Teachers union sues Denver Public Schools…

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January 30th, 2014

Zahira Torres and Kevin Simpson in The Denver Post

“A class-action lawsuit filed by the Colorado Education Association on Wednesday challenges the state’s teacher effectiveness law, citing concerns with a provision that it says has allowed Denver Public Schools to edge out qualified teachers. The lawsuit follows months of wrangling between the school district and the teachers union over the ‘mutual consent’ provision of the 2010 education reform law that implemented a new system for evaluating teachers…”

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Michael Weston – Local! Local! Local!

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January 29th, 2014

Michael Weston is a teacher. He is also a candidate for the Hillsborough County School Board. Hillsborough County, FL (Tampa) is home to the 8th largest district in the country with 15,000 teachers and a $3 billion budget.

Local! Local! Local!

Michael Weston

I would like to say that I am fearless, but tonight scared me.

A candidate forum was held for a group of School Board candidates in my county (full disclosure – I am running for School Board in this same county, but for a different seat than this group). Seven of 11 candidates showed and answered a set of questions. One had the answers right. One was close. The others were either unelectable, clueless or downright scary.

When I hear some say “put an effective teacher in every classroom,” I know they are evil, clueless or both. This is channeling Michelle Rhee; who falls in the evil category. To focus on teachers is to prove you a) have no understanding of the real problems facing education, or b) have an agenda bearing little to do with education improvement.

Your local School Board races are important. Pay attention. Run yourself. Support good candidates. The evil ones always seem to have plenty of financial support.

We are not winning the fight for children in Washington nor in the State Houses. We have to fight at the local level.

And yes. The candidate with the right answers was a – you guessed it – teacher.

 

* A note form us at GoPublicSchool.com… – For the record, Mike Weston is not in any way affiliated with our site. We are a group of concerned teachers based in Florida, Georgia, New York and California striving to create a place where teachers and parents can speak their minds about our public schools. Two of us called Michael for a cup of coffee and listened to his side of the story, did some research, and now we support him. We deeply believe that teachers on school boards is something that needs to happen. It needs to happen all over this country. Click on the ad on this site and read the information posted there. Decide for yourself. Ask a teacher. Contact Mike directly. Make a small donation. Get involved. Whatever you decide, whatever you find in your heart, … do something. Our schools need you.

Again, We believe that the voice of the American teacher has been virtually silenced. We can attack this problem in a very direct way by electing classroom teachers to school boards all across this land! Wherever you are in America, we hope that you work towards this goal in the coming months!

Thank you!

Know of another teacher running? Let us know!

What do you think? Read and share comments here…


Half of public school students nationwide are now low-income…

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January 29th, 2014

Michelle Chen at TruthOut…

“Immigrants have long looked to public education as the pathway to prosperity, through schools that offer their kids a springboard to the American Dream. Yet many learn the hard way that the Dream can easily crumble into myth, as hopes of academic achievement are stifled by inequality, in school and at home. The math on schools and inequality betrays that myth. About half of public school students nationwide are now low-income—a rate that has risen steadily since 2000, according to a new study of 2011 data by the education philanthropy Southern Education Foundation. The unprecedented figure represents the number of students, from preschool to grade 12, who qualified for free or reduced-price lunch in 2010 and 2011. (This threshold is a proxy for economic hardship—equivalent to an annual income below 130 percent of the poverty line, or less than $30,000 for a family of four.)…”

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L.A. Unified unprepared for computerized state test…

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January 29th, 2014

Howard Blume in The Los Angeles Times…

“The nation’s second-largest school district is woefully unprepared to administer new state standardized tests by computer, a survey of Los Angeles Unified schools has found. An internal district report, obtained by The Times through a California Public Records Act request, indicates that fewer than a third of Los Angeles schools said they were ready for this spring’s tests, which for the first time will be given online. The survey comes amid a $1-billion effort to provide every student, teacher and administrator with an iPad or other computer. That effort has been delayed even though the Board of Education agreed this month to buy as many of the tablets as needed for testing…”

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NC schools worried about reading requirement…

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January 29th, 2014

Gary D. Robinson in The News and Observer…

“Local school superintendents and legislators complained Tuesday about the execution of reading assessment standards third-graders must meet before getting promoted to the next grade, which are stressing out students and teachers alike. The state’s top educator sought to ease worries that most of the state’s 105,000 third-graders would have to attend reading boot camps this summer and suggested an alternative assessment method was more workable. But Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson acknowledged the new way of doing things was placing new pressure on students and educators to succeed…”

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/01/28/3571483/nc-schools-worried-about-reading.html#storylink=cpy

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Holding Duncan to a higher standard…

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January 29th, 2014

Jason Stanford in The News Virginian…

“… Amid all this mediocrity comes Pearson, the company that makes millions on standardized testing contracts in Florida ($254 million), New York ($32 million), and Texas ($468 million), among many others. This month Pearson executives met with Barack Obama and Duncan at the White House to discuss ways to help low-income students get into college. I’ll match every dollar Pearson makes if you don’t think the solution that Pearson proposed was more testing…”

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Use public money for public schools…

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January 29th, 2014

Ron Fuhrer in The Anchorage Daily News…

“The week of January 26 – February 1 is promoted as School Choice Week by organizations that advocate for the privatization of public education under the guise of giving every parent the opportunity to choose the right school for his/her child no matter social economic status. However, the tale of vouchers has been told repeatedly and the moral of the story is that they result in some children being harmed and taxpayers being taken to the cleaners. Let’s take for example the recent news out of Milwaukee, Wisc. On January 14, 2013 the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported that LifeSkills Academy, a K-8 voucher school, abruptly closed its doors in December…”

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Read more here: http://www.adn.com/2014/01/27/3294292/compass-use-public-money-for-public.html#storylink=cpy

The Public School Where Prayer Is Everywhere

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January 29th, 2014

Andrew Cohen in The Atlantic…

“A federal lawsuit filed last week in Louisiana contains some of the most startling allegations you will ever see against public school officials accused of unlawfully turning their school into a bastion of Christian belief. In western Louisiana’s Sabine Parish, one family alleges, teachers preach Creationism and mock the theory of evolution, routinely lead their students in Christian prayer, give extra credit for Christian responses to assignments, and actively question or deride the religious beliefs of non-Christian students and parents…”

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New GED fails to measure skills that matter most…

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January 29th, 2014

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/01/28/3898904/seed-school-of-miami-to-open-as.html#storylink=cpy

James J. Heckman, John Eric Humphries and Tim Kautz in The Seattle Times…

“America’s largest high school is not a building but a test. The General Educational Development test is a seven-hour exam that allows high school dropouts to show they are equivalent to high school graduates. GED certificates account for 12 percent of high school diplomas issued in the U.S. Can a test replace four years of high school?…”

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SEED School of Miami to open as Florida’s first public boarding school…

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January 29th, 2014

David Smiley in The Miami Herald…

“After years of behind-the-scenes efforts, Florida’s first ever public boarding school is coming to Miami-Dade County. The campus, on the edge of Indian Hammocks Park in Kendall, is envisioned as Miami-Dade’s version of the renowned SEED School in Washington D.C. — a free prep-school made famous in a 2010 documentary lauding charter schools called Waiting for Superman. After a planned opening in August, students will leave their poor urban neighborhoods to study and live in four concrete-block buildings now under renovation — going home only on weekends…”

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/01/28/3898904/seed-school-of-miami-to-open-as.html#storylink=cpy

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Lessons for de Blasio in New Jersey’s Free Pre-K…

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January 29th, 2014

Javier C. Hernandez in The New York Times…

“Officials across the country, including Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York, are looking to efforts like those in New Jersey as they seek to broaden access to free, full-day prekindergarten. President Obama embraced the policy last year, and politicians in several states, including Maryland, Texas and Washington, are considering ambitious expansions. Though experts differ on the long-term benefits of preschool, the programs in 31 low-income districts in New Jersey are widely acknowledged for strong results. But they are also more expensive and intensive than what many officials — including Mr. de Blasio and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York — have proposed…”

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NJ – Teachers sue over suspensions…

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January 29th, 2014

Peggy McGlone in The Star-Ledger…

“Five Newark school principals suspended for speaking out against a controversial school reorganization plan filed a federal lawsuit today charging that their constitutional rights to free speech were violated. In addition, one school’s parent-teacher organization president joined the suit, saying the district’s refusal to allow him to enter his children’s school was also unconstitutional. The six are seeking a restraining order against Superintendent Cami Anderson and the state-operated school district…”

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Obama’s empty rhetoric on education…

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January 28th, 2014

Stephen Lurie in The Atlantic…

“… His words for the nation have been well intentioned and popular, but the results, like at Dillon, have been incomplete or unsuccessful. In both the understanding of America’s educational needs, and the resulting approach to reform, the President’s educational rhetoric has been distinctly cosmetic…”

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Adults cheating on tests…

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January 28th, 2014

An editorial from the Philadelphia Daily News…

“It will take awhile before the book is closed on the investigation into test cheating in Philadelphia – and a sad book it will be. Last week, the district fired three principals for their role in rigging tests results. In all, district investigators identified 138 educators working in 27 schools, including three charter schools, as being involved in cheating.

T WILL take awhile before the book is closed on the investigation into test cheating in Philadelphia – and a sad book it will be.

Last week, the district fired three principals for their role in rigging tests results. In all, district investigators identified 138 educators working in 27 schools, including three charter schools, as being involved in cheating.
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/opinion/20140127_DN_Editorial__PUT_TO_THE_TEST.html#b5U46uLVwvcvGbht.99T WILL take awhile before the book is closed on the investigation into test cheating in Philadelphia – and a sad book it will be.

 

Last week, the district fired three principals for their role in rigging tests results. In all, district investigators identified 138 educators working in 27 schools, including three charter schools, as being involved in cheating.

 

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/opinion/20140127_DN_Editorial__PUT_TO_THE_TEST.html#b5U46uLVwvcvGbht.99

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Bad idea – Bill to offer an option to give vouchers…

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January 28th, 2014

Motoko Rich in The New York Times…

“Senator Lamar Alexander, who served as secretary of education under President George Bush in the early 1990s, plans to introduce a bill on Tuesday that would give 11 million children from low-income families federal money to spend on any kind of schooling their parents choose, as long as it is in an accredited institution…”

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L.A. – Parents’ campaign leads to reforms…

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January 28th, 2014

“Rosa Estrada wanted some serious changes at her child’s Cudahy elementary school. She joined efforts last fall demanding new leadership amid complaints that the principal had failed to address campus bullying, boost academic performance or work collaboratively…”

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NJ – How the governor can help our schools…

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January 28th, 2014

Ani McHugh at NorthJersey.com…

“One day after he vetoed a bill to study the implications of mandating full-day kindergarten across the state, Governor Christie said that New Jersey’s public schools are failing and in need of drastic, sweeping reforms — specifically, longer school days and an extended academic calendar. Many advocates of education “reform” push this issue as part a political, social and financial agenda — one that has little to do with student achievement and more to do with weakening teachers’ unions and facilitating charter proliferation in the Garden State.

ONE DAY after he vetoed a bill to study the implications of mandating full-day kindergarten across the state, Governor Christie said that New Jersey’s public schools are failing and in need of drastic, sweeping reforms — specifically, longer school days and an extended academic calendar.

Many advocates of education “reform” push this issue as part a political, social and financial agenda — one that has little to do with student achievement and more to do with weakening teachers’ unions and facilitating charter proliferation in the Garden State.

- See more at: http://www.northjersey.com/news/opinions/mchugh_012814.html#sthash.5urfHL6O.gRMSnidg.dpufONE DAY after he vetoed a bill to study the implications of mandating full-day kindergarten across the state, Governor Christie said that New Jersey’s public schools are failing and in need of drastic, sweeping reforms — specifically, longer school days and an extended academic calendar.

 

Many advocates of education “reform” push this issue as part a political, social and financial agenda — one that has little to do with student achievement and more to do with weakening teachers’ unions and facilitating charter proliferation in the Garden State.

 

ONE DAY after he vetoed a bill to study the implications of mandating full-day kindergarten across the state, Governor Christie said that New Jersey’s public schools are failing and in need of drastic, sweeping reforms — specifically, longer school days and an extended academic calendar.

Many advocates of education “reform” push this issue as part a political, social and financial agenda — one that has little to do with student achievement and more to do with weakening teachers’ unions and facilitating charter proliferation in the Garden State.

- See more at: http://www.northjersey.com/news/opinions/mchugh_012814.html#sthash.5urfHL6O.gRMSnidg.dpuf

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Students won’t learn? Go visit their parents…

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January 28th, 2014

Jay Mathews in The Washington Post…

“Caleb Rossiter once told his math students at H.D. Woodson High School in the District that they would not be allowed into his classroom without their homework. It didn’t work. ‘The kids learn early that there are no consequences for not doing homework or even class work in high-poverty schools, since they eventually pass without doing any,’ Rossiter said. This is true of many schools in our nation’s big cities. Plenty of suburban kids also find they can ignore assignments and still get by. Many experts, including the U.S. secretary of education, lately have been putting some of the blame for this on parents..”

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LA Times – Protect good teachers, fire bad ones…

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January 28th, 2014

An editorial from the Los Angeles Times…

“State laws that make it nearly impossible to fire even the worst teachers make for poor educational policy. The same is true of laws that require teacher layoffs to be decided on the basis of seniority, and that give principals only a year and a half to decide whether a new teacher deserves the extraordinary protections of tenure. It seems pretty obvious: Incompetent or uncaring teachers shouldn’t be allowed to keep their jobs. On Monday, a trial will begin in a lawsuit that claims California’s teacher protection laws unconstitutionally deprive students of equal access to a quality education…”

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New York teachers turn on Common Core…

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January 27th, 2014

Stephanie Simon at Politico…

“The board of the New York state teachers union this weekend unanimously withdrew its support for the Common Core standards as they have been implemented — a major blow for Common Core advocates who have been touting support from teachers as proof that the standards will succeed in classrooms nationwide…”

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Louisiana public school pushing Christianity…

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January 27th, 2014

Andrew Cohen at The Daily Beast…

“A Buddhist family sued Sabine Parish School Board for violating their right to religious freedom. The lawsuit contains a shocking list of religious indoctrination…”

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Publically funded, teaching creationism…

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January 27th, 2014

Chris Kirk at Slate.com…

“…A large, publicly funded charter school system in Texas is teaching creationism to its students, Zack Kopplin recently reported in Slate. Creationist teachers don’t even need to be sneaky about it—the Texas state science education standards, as well as recent laws in Louisiana and Tennessee, permit public school teachers to teach “alternatives” to evolution. Meanwhile, in Florida, Indiana, Ohio, Arizona, Washington, D.C., and elsewhere, taxpayer money is funding creationist private schools through state tuition voucher or scholarship programs. As the map below illustrates, creationism in schools isn’t restricted to schoolhouses in remote villages where the separation of church and state is considered less sacred. If you live in any of these states, there’s a good chance your tax money is helping to convince some hapless students that evolution (the basis of all modern biological science, supported by everything we know about geology, genetics, paleontology, and other fields) is some sort of highly contested scientific hypothesis as credible as ‘God did it.’…”

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Ads lure NC teachers to Virginia…

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January 27th, 2014

From WRAL in Raleigh…

“Low morale and no pay increases within the past five years have contributed to an increase in teachers leaving North Carolina schools. But Virginia wants them. The Western Virginia Public Education Consortium is advertising an upcoming two-day teacher recruitment fair in community newspapers across North Carolina. The classified ad announces vacancies in 17 Virginia school districts…”

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Students Matter active in California lawsuit…

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January 27th, 2014

Sharon Noguchi in The San Jose Mercury News…

“On Monday that argument will get its day in court. In a potentially landmark case, a Silicon Valley-based group, Students Matter, is challenging the state’s tenure, dismissal and layoff laws for teachers. While the lawsuit is based on California’s constitutional protections, it has drawn attention across the country as interest has grown in upending age-old ways of public education. Reformers says practices such as tenure, developed to protect teachers from politically motivated firing and retribution, have grown into lifetime job guarantees that stymie improvements in teaching and learning…”

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Texas public schools are teaching creationism…

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January 27th, 2014

Zack Kopplin at Slate.com…

“When public-school students enrolled in Texas’ largest charter program open their biology workbooks, they will read that the fossil record is ‘sketchy.’ That evolution is ‘dogma’ and an ‘unproved theory’ with no experimental basis. They will be told that leading scientists dispute the mechanisms of evolution and the age of the Earth. These are all lies…”

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D.C. school system forms task force to study student testing…

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January 24th, 2014

Emma Brown in The Washington Post…

“After years of complaints from parents and teachers about too much testing in D.C. public schools, Chancellor Kaya Henderson on Thursday announced that a new task force will work to ‘help put testing in the proper perspective.’ The move comes amid national debate about the role of standardized tests and in the wake of a newly signed D.C. law that requires the city’s traditional and public charter schools to create policies limiting the number of practice tests they administer to students…”

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The defiant parents: Testing’s discontents…

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January 24th, 2014

Rebecca Mead in The New Yorker…

“… Teachers invigilating the exams were shocked by ambiguous test questions, based, as they saw it, on false premises and wrongheaded educational principles. (One B.N.S. teacher, Katherine Sorel, eloquently details her objections on WNYC’s SchoolBook blog.) Others were dismayed to see that children were demoralized by the relentlessness of the testing process, which took seventy minutes a day for six days, with more time allowed for children with learning disabilities. One teacher remarked that, if a tester needs three days to tell if a child can read “you are either incompetent or cruel. I feel angry and compromised for going along with this.” Another teacher said that during each day of testing, at least one of her children was reduced to tears…”

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St. Louis – Don’t abandon, our neighborhood public schools…

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January 24th, 2014

“St. Louis’ largest charter school experiment was a failure — an academic fiasco for children and a financial boondoggle for the city. Last year in Ohio, of the 17 charter schools that failed, nine only stayed open for a few months — again, as in St. Louis, forcing students to search for a new school. And New Orleans’ school system — a potpourri of traditional, charter and voucher schools — is perpetually promoted as a success, but in reality, there is simply no clear evidence that charter schools — which comprise the majority of New Orleans’ schools — have been the elixir for improved student performance. Missouri children deserve better…”

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Declaring war on teachers’ rights won’t improve schools…

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January 24th, 2014

Gary Ravani at EdSource…

“Last year a group calling itself Students Matter filed a lawsuit, Vergara v. the State of California. The lawsuit  challenges a number of labor protections for California’s teachers, including due process rights for dismissals and seniority rights during layoffs. The suit, which goes to trial next week in state Superior Court, and its backers’ publicity strategy fit firmly within the unfortunate recent tradition of wealthy anti-union ideologues masquerading as civil rights crusaders and education reformers.

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Respect at school in decline, survey shows…

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January 24th, 2014

Greg Toppo in USA Today…

“Compared with when they were students, Americans today believe that there’s a lot less respect in the hallways of the nation’s schools. A new Harris Poll out Thursday finds that fewer adults believe teachers respect parents or students — and that fewer believe parents and students respect teachers. In other words, just about every relationship in a school has soured a bit…”

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Minnesota’s teacher basic skills test would be scrapped…

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January 24th, 2014

Christopher Magan in The Pioneer Press…

Advocates for eliminating the tests say it is not an accurate measure of competency, has cultural bias and accommodations have not been made for test-takers with disabilities. They say it also serves as an unnecessary hurdle for out-of-state teachers or non-native English speakers who come to Minnesota to work in language immersion programs.…”

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Philadelphia principals fired in cheating scandal…

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January 24th, 2014

Motoko Rich in The New York Times…

“Three Philadelphia Public Schools principals were fired last week after an investigation into test cheating that has implicated about 140 teachers and administrators, a spokesman for the district said Wednesday. The action follows years of investigating the results of state standardized math and reading tests taken from 2009 to 2011. The investigation, conducted by the school district and the state department of education, in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Office of Inspector General, identified 33 schools — including three public charter schools — where an analysis of test answer sheets found a suspicious number of wrong answers that were erased and made right…”

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Ten Demands of the “BATS March on Washington…”

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January 23rd, 2014

BAT leader Dr. Mark Naison from his must-read blog With a Brooklyn Accent

1. End all federal support for Common Core Standards. 2. End all federal grants that require teacher and school ratings based on student scores; end high stakes testing. 3. End federal incentives to close and privatize community schools and stop preferring charter schools over public schools…”

Join them on the mall in DC…

BATS Teachers March on Washington on July 28, 2014

Bad Ass Teacher

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Teacher’s column on education reform goes viral…

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January 23rd, 2014

Kathleen Megan in The Hartford Courant…

“When Elizabeth Natale wrote an opinion piece for the Courant last Sunday venting her frustrations with education reform, she didn’t expect it to go viral, resulting in emails of support from teachers and parents across Connecticut and the country. Natale, an English teacher at Sedgwick Middle School in West Hartford, wrote that she was considering quitting a job she loves because of “government attempts to improve education” that are “stripping the joy out of teaching and doing nothing to help the children.”

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Teachers need more hours to learn from each other…

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January 23rd, 2014

Kevin Chase in The Seattle Times…

“Picture a medical practice where all the doctors have been preparing to implement a new set of rigorous patient-care standards. This group has been meeting for a few hours every week to learn about the latest practices and to teach each other new ways to make treatments more effective based on their experiences. Now imagine a new rule that prevents them from meeting. We find ourselves in this very situation in the state of Washington today — not in the medical field, but in public education…”

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Some parents, educators are rethinking role of AP…

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January 23rd, 2014

Liz Bowie in The Baltimore Sun…

“Designed a half-century ago to give a few thousand elite students a chance to skip introductory college classes, Advanced Placement is now the required portal to college for any ambitious teen. But its widespread acceptance as a national gold standard has altered the nature of high school for students like Boltz, some critics say. They see an education system that rewards top students who take 10 to 12 AP classes during their high school careers — the equivalent of more than a year of college — but narrows the choice of classes they can take and creates undue stress…”

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Florida education chief: School grades to stay…

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January 23rd, 2014

David Smiley in The Miami Herald…

“Public school superintendents hoping for a reprieve from the state’s polarizing school grading system won’t get any support from Florida’s education commissioner. Commissioner Pam Stewart said flatly Tuesday that she is opposed to a request from local schools chiefs that the state suspend the issuance of school grades while grappling with new, controversial learning benchmarks and bringing in new statewide exams to replace the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test…”

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/01/21/3884176/florida-education-commissioner.html#storylink=cpy

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How teachers deal with a longer school day…

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January 23rd, 2014

Sara Neufeld in The Atlantic…

“Mayor Rahm Emanuel and public school officials faced a predicament two years ago. They wanted to fix the fact that Chicago had one of the shortest school days in the nation. But they didn’t have the money to pay the city’s 20,000 teachers to work more. To make their plan economically viable—and to end a weeklong teachers strike that resulted partly from their proposal for longer teacher hours without a proportionate pay increase—they agreed with the union to rearrange the workday. Before the change, teachers were typically required to arrive at least a half hour before their students each morning. They often used that time for staff or parent meetings and collaborating with colleagues. Now, more than a year after the strike, teachers are only contractually bound to arrive and leave at the same time as students. Dozens of educators in the city say that the revised schedule has made two hallmarks of any successful school—teacher collaboration and training—more difficult…”

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The cheating scandal in Philly…

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January 22nd, 2014

Kevin McCorry at WHYY’s Newsworks…

“Following years-long investigations by both the Philadelphia School district and the state, 138 Philadelphia educators have been implicated in what’s become one of the largest high-stakes-testing cheating scandals in the nation. Last week the school reform commission fired three district principals, and further disciplinary announcements are expected soon. The educators allegedly conspired and then acted to improve students’ standardized test scores from 2009 through 2011 by erasing wrong answers and replacing them with right ones…”

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Beware! Pearson’s plan for education is coming…

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January 22nd, 2014

Alan Singer in The Huffington Post…

“In the United States school districts are traditionally organized and funded locally. Parents, teachers, and school and district administrators usually only think about state and national issues when they feel pressed from above by state imposed budget cuts or federal demands for curriculum change and new assessments. Much of the opposition to Common Core and Race to the Top arose because parents, teachers, and administrators felt local prerogatives were being undermined by unwarranted pressure from above. But an examination of the Pearson publishing mega-giant’s plan to control public education in Great Britain makes clear, the greatest threat to local initiatives in public education may be from powerful global corporations. Beware! The Pearson Plan for education in the United Kingdom may be coming to a country near you — unless we can stop it now…”

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End the senseless cycle of school suspensions…

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January 22nd, 2014

Linda Mangel in The Seattle Times…

“… Students who get kicked out of school are sent home with no educational support or counseling, only to return hopelessly behind in their classwork and more alienated than when they left. The result is that these students fall further behind, fail classes, drop out and all too often land in the juvenile justice system. Worsening the problem is the fact that students of color and special education students are disciplined more harshly and more frequently than their peers, even when engaged in the same conduct…”

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Students should be tested more, not Less?

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January 22nd, 2014

Jessica Lahey in The Atlantic…

“Testing is terrible for learning, destroys student and teacher morale, and impedes opportunities for productive, meaningful teaching. This oft-repeated axiom has become accepted as true without proof. Opposition to testing and all its associated ills has led to an over-generalization of the word “test” and an unwarranted reputation as the embodiment of all that is wrong with American education. One researcher believes we are throwing a very effective learning tool out with our educational bathwater, and asserts that we should be testing students more, not less…”

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CPS to use TIF funds for teachers…

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January 22nd, 2014

Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah in The Chicago Tribune

“Chicago Public Schools said it will tap into $21.5 million in surplus tax increment financing funds to hire extra teachers for arts and daily physical education classes. Last week, the financially strapped district announced that it planned to finally comply with state requirements for daily physical education for kindergarten through 12th grade. Officials said how the extra gym classes would be paid for was still being worked out. Now officials say TIF money allocated by the city in November will be used to pay for 84 physical education teachers and 84 art teachers for schools in need. Many of those same positions were cut earlier this school year by principals facing declining enrollment and cuts to their budgets…”

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Anchorage District lays off 6% of teachers…

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January 22nd, 2014

Michelle Theriault Boots

“The Anchorage School District announced Tuesday that it will lay off 6 percent of its teachers, increase class sizes and ask secondary teachers to take on instructing another class during the school day as part of unprecedented cuts aimed at closing a $23 million budget gap…”

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Outside the lines – of the standardized test bubble…

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January 21st, 2014

From the wonderful blog Random Thoughts of an Outlaw Educator

“When I was student teaching, I had an experience that left me in tears and immoblized for days afterward. It started well enough– with what I thought at the time was a cultural difference I didn’t fully understand. It ended badly. Let me tell the story. I student taught at a new construction school in what folks called “Crack Row” in the historic Pittsburgh neighborhood of Homewood. 100% African American, free and reduced lunch, a terrible academic record. I had asked for an urban setting- the rougher, the better. After having taught poetry at my kids’ school, East Hills International Studies Academy, I thought I was well prepared. That school was in the middle of the projects. Our poetry club went from 30 kids after school to culling grad students from Pitt and other parents to teach Kindergarten-Fifth grade. We were a huge part of the school culture, the Principal loved us, the kids loved us, we got grants from Heinz Endowments– it felt a lot like success in an inner city school. I got this, I thought…”

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Josh J. Middleton – Do as we should, not how we are mandated…

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January 21st, 2014

Do as we should, not how we are mandated…

By Josh J. Middleton, EdD

For over a decade school districts would wait to hear from their respective state departments of education regarding AYP status for each of their schools and the overall district. As we all discovered, each state could set the threshold for passing, and in small districts if a group or subgroup fell below a certain number of students, that data was not considered in the AYP status.

In my state there was resistance from the start from the Office of Public Instruction. Part of it was their perspective of “surely this will go away soon” and some of it was the feeling shared by districts; “they want us to do what?” Though not as lengthy as the Obamacare/ACA law, NCLB had plenty of intricacies that caught us all off guard throughout the life of the law. In the end, test scores as a whole and as subgroups, along with percentage of students taking the test and graduation rates factored into Adequate Yearly Progress status.

 For 8 years of the NCLB era I had the honor with working with a progressive school board and a great team of teachers, administrators, and support staff. The board took the time to educate themselves on NCLB, attended state school board workshops, worked well with our unions using interest based bargaining and met quarterly at Labor-Management meetings.

Sure there were occasional bumps, but we kept students and student learning at the forefront of conversations regarding school improvement.

 The board gave me the latitude to go much deeper each year than simply reporting on NCLB and Adequate Yearly Progress. In fact, my administrative team and I minimized AYP as the sole indicator of our success. We developed a District Report Card that captured meaningful data that was not withheld from staff, board or community, but shared opening so our School Improvement Plans would in turn be meaningful.

By using a District Report Card or portfolio, we could track over the years the progress or digression of certain metrics. Aside from the known subgroups found in NCLB, we delved into the Student Transient/Mobility Rates, Student participation rates in clubs and sports, Attendance Rates for all grades, Attendance Rates for teachers and administrators, student demographics, post-secondary attendance, and a mountain of assessment data from NWEA’s Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) given twice a year with immediate, same day student results. Each principal would share his or her portion of the report card with the various School Improvement Committees to plan and implement interventions. When I say the teachers and principals would plan and implement, I sincerely say they took ownership of researching best practices and utilizing these actions to help their students.

I do not want to imply I had the corner on this market. Many effective schools mine for meaningful data. My overarching point is this: AYP was important, but we did not live and die on our NCLB status, but rather doing the work that would have the greatest impact for students using the multiple points of data rather than one set of test scores. Creating such an environment took commitment first from the board, teachers and administrators with a strategic plan, including effective communication with parents and the community. In the end, what were we really doing? Doing what Dr. Phillip Schletchy advises with school reform: Change the culture first and allowing the structure to follow. If you attempt to change the structure first, the culture will not make a permanent change since they were not involved in the decisions regarding structural changes. Seems like the latter is what the US DOE is doing these days. Trying to change the structure before changing the culture. But in my mind, a culture changes at the local level with some state support, while the US DOE needs to stay out of the school reform business altogether.

Josh J. Middleton is a retired educator, current adjunct professor at Montana State University. Core belief: Most important relationship in a school is between student and teacher. Twitter – @drjoshmiddleton

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5 Newark principals suspended…

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January 21st, 2014

Peggy McGlone in The Star-Ledger

“Five Newark public school principals were suspended indefinitely on Friday, including four who spoke at a community meeting opposing proposed changes to the state-run school district, according to two sources who sought anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the press…”

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Michigan – Education reform: a bait and switch…

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January 21st, 2014

James Bell in The Lansing State Journal…

“… The switch is nearly complete. The only element left is to watch local control of urban education disappear into the devouring mouth of centralized state control. Then your child’s education can be turned over to for-profit companies who will reduce teachers’ salaries further. Profits will flow out of Michigan to large education corporations. Michigan’s tax dollars will be funding a corporate executive’s home in California, ski lodge in Aspen, and beach home in the Caribbean. Then the “switch” will be complete. Is this the work of reformers or radicals destroying locally controlled public education?

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Georgia schools at breaking point after years of cuts…

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January 21st, 2014

Lee Shearer in The Augusta Chronicle…

“Georgia’s 180 public school districts have not only managed to keep on going as state legislators and governors cut billions of dollars in public school funding since 2002, they’ve actually managed to raise student achievement scores. But many school systems are at a breaking point, say a growing chorus of administrators and parents…. School funding was cut by a cumulative total of some $7.6 billion since 2002; this year and for the past few years, by about $1 billion a year, according to Claire Suggs, an analyst with the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute. In the same time period, the percent of public school students who are economically disadvantaged has grown from 45 percent to 60 percent…”

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VA – ‘We’ve lost control of the school…’

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January 21st, 2014

Brittany Hughes at The Danville Register and Bee…

“According to Kathy Grantier, the environment at Bonner Middle School is one of the worst she has seen in more than three decades of teaching. Grantier currently teaches sixth grade language arts and U.S. history at Bonner Middle School. After 34 years of teaching in Danville Public Schools, she is now less than a semester away from retiring, and said she wants to use the time she has left to speak out about the problems at the middle school…”

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Education over incarceration…

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January 21st, 2014

Robert E, Johnson in The Detroit News

“While none of us can be certain what Dr. King would think or what he would say about today’s most pressing societal issues, we can and should raise the question and challenge ourselves to consider some answers. I would suspect that he may be dismayed by the rise of anti-intellectualism in America. He believed education had both a utilitarian and moral purpose, and he may be very concerned about where we stand now and how we arrived here. I feel it’s also safe to say he would be deeply troubled by changes in our national attitude about reducing support for education while increasing funding (with very little conspicuous debate) for incarcerating so many of our young people. Indeed, it is not difficult to feel concerned about the curious link between cutting funding for K-12 and higher education in America while creating new prisons to warehouse those who have failed the system and those whom the system has failed…”

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‘Stealing’ a better education for your kids…

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January 21st, 2014

jazeera America…

“… More and more, high-performing school districts are cracking down on boundary-hoppers and hiring a kind of suburban border patrol, private detectives equipped with high-tech tools, to sniff out education thieves…”

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The Ed. Dept.’s strange new report on teaching…

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January 21st, 2014

Valerie Strauss in The Washington Post…

“One of the most controversial issues in public education today is the use of ‘value-added measures/ to evaluate teachers and principals. What these measures, known as VAM, purportedly do is to calculate the ‘value’ of a teacher in student achievement through complicated formulas that use student standardized test scores as a base. Assessment experts have repeatedly warned that VAM should not be used for any high-stakes decisions because the results are unreliable but that hasn’t stopped school reformers from VAM anyway in systems across the country, with support from the Obama administration…”

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Stop the Silence! The Daily Jennifer…

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January 20th, 2014

Say something! The time for silence is gone! We are trying to start a revolution! We are trying to take back our public schools! Join us! Get involved now! Say something! Jump into the conversation!

Your daily Jennifer Clarke…

Untitled1

The Mark of a Man

The mark of a man doesn’t reside in his wealth or degrees. Cliché. Yes. And undeniable. The wealth of our congress unabashedly and unreservedly is made up of millionaires. People who have made fortunes on being career politicians. Lobbyists and corporations have bought the voice of the people.

 And when education got thrown into the ring of items for sale, so did our liberty. Time and time again, on blog after blog, in article after article, teachers, activists, and parents have said “Stop selling our kids’ education.” But the voice of the people has been drowned out by the millions and billions up for grabs in the political arena.

 Educators have a job to do, and that is to educate children in how to think, how to learn, and how to be productive citizens aware of world beyond the limits of their own experiences. Each day, our legislators take away more of the tools that enable teachers to do this job, and they whittle away at the securities within the profession that enable teachers to survive while doing so.

 All around us, neighborhood schools are being closed down. Students first is grading public schools on arbitrary data in an attempt to convince mom and dad to join the charter movement so schools can make profit, and yet, kids are turned away from these schools when they don’t “have what it takes.”

Do not be deceived. This is perhaps, one of the biggest fights we face today. It affects the very fabric of our society. An uneducated populace will be governed, and the voice of the people will be lost.

 Speak up. It is your turn.

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Everything you need to know about Common Core…

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January 20th, 2014

The Great Diane Ravitch via Valerie Strauss’ best education blog in America, in The Washington Post…

“Diane Ravitch, the education historian who has become the leader of the movement against corporate-influenced school reform, gave this speech to the Modern Language Association on Jan. 11 about the past, present and future of the Common Core State Standards…”

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High-school students to unplug for three days…

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January 20th, 2014

From the education blog of The Seattle Times…

“… These habits are becoming so pervasive that growing chorus of educators is worried about the fallout of techno-glut on kids’ brains — their ability to plan, retain information and communicate face-to-face. On Monday afternoon at precisely 2:15, Issaquah High mounted its response: a Tech Timeout Academic Challenge, in which 600 of the school’s 2,000 students disconnected from cell phones, iPads and all social media for three days…”

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Chinese data: Its schools might not be so great…

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January 20th, 2014

Jay Mathews in The Washington Post…

“… has let the Chinese inflate the quality of schools in Shanghai, which had the top overall PISA scores worldwide. Even worse in my view, PISA founder Andreas Schleicher has apparently been promoting Chinese claims of high scores in other provinces, with no public proof..”

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NJEA: New evals scare teachers…

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January 20th, 2014

Amanda Oglesby in The Daily Record…

“Throughout New Jersey, teachers and administrators are bracing for the first set of evaluations that tie staff reviews to student performance.State teachers feel ‘terrorized’ by the changes, said Michael Cohan, director of professional development and instructional issues for the state’s powerful teacher’s union, the New Jersey Education Association…”

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Boston seeking black teachers…

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January 20th, 2014

James Vaznis in The Boston Globe…

“A decline in the number of black teachers in Boston public schools has put the city in violation of a federal court order, prompting officials to step up efforts to recruit and retain teachers of color. For the first time in years, school officials are launching an aggressive marketing campaign that includes posting advertisements on the T, in national education publications, and on a new website that will go online soon. They plan to tap alumni networks of current employees who graduated from historically black colleges or other campuses with diverse student populations. The goal, school officials say, is to establish a teaching force whose demographics reflect the student population…”

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Josh J. Middleton, EdD – Great leaders take care of the yuck…

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January 17th, 2014

Great leaders take care of the yuck…

By Josh J. Middleton, EdD

In research on instructional leadership conducted in 2011, there were a number of interesting themes that emerged. I believe all are relevant in this era of accountability, but one in particular that I want to share was the position taken by superintendents and principals. The study examined 11 districts and their leaders whose students significantly outperformed the state over a five-year period on the state mandated criterion referenced tests administered each spring. Results from these CRT tests determined Adequate Yearly Progress under NCLB. Also required by the state were School and District Improvement Plans that were written and updated each year on state generated templates.

Here is where is gets interesting. As one of the 11 superintendents shared with me, he stated, “It is my job to take care of the yuck.” When asked to define “yuck” he replied anything that the state or feds send that I can take care of instead of impeding on teachers and students academic learning time. The incredible finding was that ALL 11 superintendents (and their principals) took that same position. Did that mean there was no teacher collaboration on School Improvement Plans? Absolutely not. What it meant was each of these districts had two sets of plans. One completed by the administration to satisfy the state/feds. A second one, or “real” one that teachers and administrators developed for their specific schools and districts. Why? The state templates were considered a bureaucratic exercise that could allow someone at the state level to check a box indicating completion by that district, then filed away. The superintendents did not want to waste teacher time on a template that did not address their district’s needs. One size does not fit all, and I commend those educational leaders who did not use staff time to fill out a less than meaningful state templates, but instead decided to “take care of the yuck” THEN work with staff on their own designed School Improvement Plans. Oh, if only our state and federal agencies would listen to those in the field!

Josh J. Middleton is a retired educator, current adjunct professor at Montana State University. Core belief: Most important relationship in a school is between student and teacher. Twitter – @drjoshmiddleton

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The truth about charter schools… is worse than you think…

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January 17th, 2014

Jeff Bryant at Salon.com…

“Imagine your 5-year-old boy went to a school where he was occasionally thrown in a padded cell and detained alone for stretches as long as 20 minutes. Or you sent your kid to an elementary school where the children are made to sit on a bare floor in the classroom for days before they can “earn” their desks. Or your kid went to a school where she spent hours parked in a cubicle in front of a computer with a poorly trained teacher who has to monitor more than 100 other students. Maybe you don’t have children or send them to private school? So how do you feel when you find out the local school that you pay for with your taxes is operating a scam that diverted millions of dollars through fake Medicaid billing. Or the school used your tax dollars as “grants” to start up other profit-making enterprises … or pay lavish salaries – $300,000, $400,000 or more – to its administrators … or support a movement linked to a reclusive Turkish cleric being investigated for bribery and corruption. Welcome to the world of charter schools…”

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Should Mayor de Blasio unravel Bloomberg’s reforms?

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January 17th, 2014

Diane Ravitch vs. Bruce Fuller in The New York Times…

Ravitch – “… Mayor de Blasio should fulfill the true promise of mayoral control by making sure that every school has regular access to the city’s social services and to a health clinic so that children get regular medical checkups. Every school should be a community center that serves families as well as children. Bill de Blasio has the chance to be a national leader in the revitalization of public education. Having been a member of a local school board as well as a parent of children in the public schools, he understands that public schools function best when they have the resources they need for the children they enroll and a collaborative relationship with parents and the local community…”

Fuller – “… Is this the end of student testing? Are teacher evaluations over? Will charter schools be shaved back? Will the teachers union regain its power over classroom staffing? Although I didn’t agree with all of Bloomberg’s policies, de Blasio should think twice before dismissing what the former mayor accomplished..”

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Five big education stories to watch in 2014…

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January 17th, 2014

Owen Davis at Alternet…

“… In 2014, several new and ongoing education battles will show whether the privatizing trends of the last decade will reverse in the years to come or simply stall. In courthouses, statehouses, and school communities nationwide, larger trends and crucial precedents are coming into view. These five stories will help define the shape of education to come…”

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Lockdown Is the New Fire Drill…

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January 17th, 2014

Jack Healy in The New York Times…

“For students across the country, lockdowns have become a fixture of the school day, the duck-and-cover drills for a generation growing up in the shadow of Columbine High School in Colorado and Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Kindergartners learn to hide quietly behind bookshelves. Teachers warn high-school students that the glow of their cellphones could make them targets. And parents get regular text messages from school officials alerting them to lockdowns…”

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Slashing health benefits for Georgia teachers…

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January 17th, 2014

Tim Callahan via Maureen Downey in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution…

“Thousands of teachers and other state employees are venting their concerns via the Facebook group TRAGIC,  Teachers Rally Against Georgia Insurance Changes, which already has nearly 9,000 members. And they’re calling Gov. Nathan Deal, who is trying to woo them this election year with promised raises. But many teachers tell me any raise will be wiped out by furlough days and increased health costs…”

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NC – Teachers fight over loss of tenure, new contracts…

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January 17th, 2014

Dave Dewitt at WUNC – North Carolina Public Radio…

“… Across the state, many teachers have vowed not to accept the four-year contracts, if they are offered. At some schools, the entire faculty has banded together and signed petitions agreeing to turn down the longer contracts and raises. Some elected officials are hearing what teachers are saying…”

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7,000 NOLA teachers, laid off after Katrina, win court ruling

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January 17th, 2014

Danielle Dreilinger in The Times-Picayune

“In a lawsuit that some say could bankrupt the Orleans Parish public school system, an appeals court has decided that the School Board wrongly terminated more than 7,000 teachers after Hurricane Katrina. Those teachers were not given due process, and many teachers had the right to be rehired as jobs opened up in the first years after the storm, the court said. The decision was unanimous…”

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Matt Jungblut – What happened to our teachers?

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January 16th, 2014

What happened to our teachers?

Matt Jungblut

A friend of a friend on Facebook asked (probably thinking it was an innocent question) ”LoL, what has happened to our teachers?”

My response was: Selina, what happened is…

1. Common Core.

2. Increased standardized testing.

3. Teacher evaluations being heavily tied to those scores.

4. TFA undercutting traditional teachers and their years of training before setting foot in front of a class.

5. Unions failing their members.

6. The media (and now public perception) of teachers not working hard and drawing HUGE salaries.

7. The current economy not allowing many parents to be involved with their children’s education.

8. Corporate interests privatizing many parts of education.

9. Idiotic education ”reformers” such as Michelle Rhee, John King, and David Coleman.

10. A president who has done as much damage to public education as his predecessor, with the appointment of Arne Duncan and Race to the Top.

These are ten reasons why many excellent teachers have left the profession (I quit because of these reasons) or are completely handcuffed in the way that they can now teach. If you have children and cannot afford Sidwell Friends (Obama’s kids’ school) or a Montessori (John King’s kids’), or a similar high quality private school, your child’s educational experience stands to be very inferior (and much more test based) than yours was.

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Michelle Rhee’s doomed Twitter Q&A…

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January 16th, 2014

Elias Isquith at Salon.com

“Apparently having learned nothing from last year’s #AskJPM and #AskRKelly debacles, controversial education reformer Michelle Rhee announced on Wednesday that she’d be answering questions from folks on Twitter using a hashtag of her own: #AskMichelle…”

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Florida moves forward with new standardized tests…

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January 16th, 2014

Kathleen McGrory in The Miami Herald…

“The start of the new year means the start of a herculean task for the state education department: choosing, and then deploying, the next generation of standardized tests. The time frame is tight. But state education officials say they are on schedule to replace the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, or FCAT, within 18 months…”

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/01/04/3852643/florida-moves-forward-with-new.html#storylink=cpy

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Standardized Testing – The Musical!!!!

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January 16th, 2014

“Creative Allusions Productions will be performing “Standardized Testing – The Musical!!!!” under the direction of producer and instructor Peter Maier tonight. The production pokes fun at the infamous exams that many high schoolers are forced to take while integrating music, dancing and a plot that follows eight teenagers as they explore their friendships and their individualities – all over the course of one test…”

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Feds issue guidelines against bias in school discipline…

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January 16th, 2014

“Federal officials kicked up their campaign against discriminatory school discipline policies last week, issuing first-ever guidelines for school districts on how to avoid racial disparities in student punishment. In a 23-page letter, officials with the U.S. departments of justice and education said they recognized that schools must use discipline to promote a “safe and orderly” environment but that federal data and investigations showed that African Americans were punished more harshly and frequently than whites in similar situations. Black students without disabilities were three times more likely than white peers to be expelled or suspended, according to data collected by the education department’s Office for Civil Rights…”

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Give Teachers Raises

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January 16th, 2014

An editorial in Jackson, Mississippi’s Free Press..

“As long as we have had a public-education system, we have debated how much public-school teachers deserve to paid. The answer is simple: a whole lot more than they’re earning now. Nowhere is this truer—or more urgent—than in Mississippi, which pays its teachers the least among all southeastern states and second least in the nation. Taken together with our numerous other education challenges, which include trailing much of the nation in terms of student test scores, high school graduation rates, college readiness and other measures, any soul brave enough to sign up to be a teacher in Mississippi probably deserves a medal…”

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Teachers object to weakened licensing rules…

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January 16th, 2014

Eric Weddle in the Indianapolis Star…

“The debate over controversial new teacher licensing rules — favored by Tony Bennett, former state superintendent of public instruction, and opposed by his successor, Glenda Ritz — is heating up again. Teachers and college of education deans blasted the rules at public forums this week, strongly questioning changes that would allow college graduates with a B-average to earn ‘adjunct’ K-12 teaching licenses by passing one test, and reducing requirements for principals and superintendents.

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Meet Carmen Fariña…

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January 16th, 2014

Javier C. Hernandez and Al Baker in The New York Times…

“Carmen Fariña was known for her meticulous demands. It was the early 1990s, and Ms. Fariña, a hard-charging educator with an irrepressible Brooklyn accent, was on a mission to shake up Public School 6 on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, already one of the most prestigious in New York City. She held assemblies on bathroom behavior. She popped into classes daily and nagged staff members about dull bulletin board displays. She prodded teachers she considered a poor fit to leave. She ended a popular gifted program, and asked some of the city’s most assertive parents to do the unthinkable: keep a distance from classrooms…”

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What’s at Stake in Privatizing Education…

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January 15th, 2014

Ann Robertson and Bill Leumer at Counter Punch…

“… The vast preponderance of evidence unambiguously supports the conclusion that the corporate culture in all its forms is antithetic to education. And this doesn’t even take into account the inevitable and prevalent corporate corruption that has infused education in the past several decades where the well-being of students is sacrificed for the pursuit of profits. But those who champion it, including the Obama administration, Bill Gates, and all the reactionary education foundations, display little regard for the conclusions of scientific studies. In their fanatical zeal they have demonstrated a willingness to impose a corporate culture despite the resistance of protesting parents and teachers. Lacking rational justifications, they shamelessly make recourse to force, closing community schools, for example, over the objections of the families they serve. There can be little wonder that these zealots display no interest in the indispensable role our public schools play in nurturing students into citizens who are prepared to participate in a democratic society. For them, democracy only serves as an annoying hindrance to producing compliant workers who will follow the example of the politicians and uncritically dedicate their lives to serving their corporate masters.”

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Study questions benefit of gifted education programs…

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January 15th, 2014

Jeremy Hobson at Connecticut’s WNPR…

“… Gifted and talented programs are in place to remedy that, and they’re heralded as a breeding ground for high-performing students. Three million kids nationwide are placed in these exclusive programs — and parents view them as important to their kids’ futures. But a recent study published in the American Economic Journal found that for students who barely qualify for the gifted programs, and for their peers who just barely didn’t, there was no difference in test scores…”

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6 Ohio school districts ‘scrubbed’ student data…

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January 15th, 2014

Jennifer Smith Richards The Columbus Dispatch…

“Six Ohio school districts improperly tossed out the absences and test scores for more than 4,000 students, which might have led to better-than-deserved school report cards for the districts, the Ohio Department of Education said yesterday. Employees in those districts, which include Cincinnati, Cleveland and Toledo, will be referred to the state’s Office of Professional Conduct. That division investigates educator wrongdoing and can move to suspend or revoke educator licenses. It will find the individual wrongdoers, department spokesman John Charlton said…”

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Standardized testing = standardized students…

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January 15th, 2014

An editorial from University of California-Riverside’s Highlander…

“In the last decade, we have become obsessed with evaluating and reevaluating the success of our students. With the United States slipping further and further behind the rest of the world, politicians have decided that the status quo can’t stand. Unfortunately, the status quo has been replaced with something worse: excessively standardized testing. For grade-school students over the past years, scratching a scantron with a number two pencil has become far too familiar. Tests seem to constantly appear in class curriculums in order to assess the material that is being taught. However, the process of “testing” students has created an unrealistic strategy of learning. The result is an overly structured way of expanding the minds of younger generations that doesn’t expand them at all. There is a routine that has permeated the way students learn: memorize, then test your ability to memorize. But this has warped education into a process of factual recognition rather than appreciation for the knowledge itself. It is difficult for students to appreciate the opportunity to learn when educational structures are inhibiting their desire to explore subjects because of the infamous standardized test. For some reason, sitting and staring at paper and a scantron for two weeks straight doesn’t make students interested in learning…”

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The influence of Michelle Rhee and Chris Christie…

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January 15th, 2014

John Eidelson at Salon.com

“A new progressive education group, formed to fight business-backed bipartisan education reform consensus, announced Tuesday it was filing  Freedom of Information Act requests regarding for-profit groups’ influence in federal policy…”

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