"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilisation, it expects what never was and never will be...nor can they be safe with them without information. Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe." – Thomas Jefferson

Friday, April 22, 2011

2011 Medley #2: Lawmakers, Detroit, Florida, and more.

I did this before...on April 9, 2011. I had too much to write about so I just put links to articles and blogs and wrote a bit about each. For lack of something better to call it, and in deference to my musical past, I've labeled it a Medley. Since April 9 was the first, this is Medley #2.

Stop labeling teachers, label the lawmakers

by John Kuhn

John Kuhn, the Superintendent of Perrin Texas public schools has emerged as a national voice for real education reform. He writes and speaks about Texas, but his words ring true in other places as well.
...where is the label for the lawmaker whose policies fail to clean up the poorest neighborhoods? Why do we not demand that our leaders make “Adequate Yearly Progress”? We have data about poverty, health care, crime, and drug abuse in every legislative district. We know that those factors directly impact our ability to teach kids. Why have we not established annual targets for our legislators to meet? Why do they not join us beneath these vinyl banners that read “exemplary” in the suburbs and “unacceptable” in the slums?

Michigan Emergency Manager Robert Bobb Issues Layoff Notice to All Detroit Public School Teachers

Yes. You read that right -- ALL teachers.
This is nothing short of a coordinated effort between the billionaire foundations pushing school reform and Tea Party conservatives intent on slashing benefits and ending collective bargaining rights. Public schools are under assault by the forces of privatization, and public school teachers face benefit and salary cuts while the very rich are promised tax cuts.

Why Become a Teacher Today?

If someone asked me if they should pursue a career in public education, and they hadn't already made up their mind, I would hand them this article.
By Walt Gardner
There was a time when teachers were respected, even though teaching was never a career for those who sought power, fame or wealth. What teachers had was pride. But rarely a day goes by when teachers are not subjected to another round of bashing. It's little wonder that their morale is at an all-time low. I wrote an op-ed about this subject that was published in The Christian Science Monitor on Apr. 6 ("The beatings will continue until teacher morale improves").

I'm not saying that no one will want to become a teacher in the years ahead. But teaching should not be a default choice. Instead, it should be the No. 1 choice for the most talented and inspirational in this country.

Resistance to test-based school reform is growing

Hope? This blog post has links to local groups fighting for public education.
By Valerie Strauss 
...judging teachers by student test scores is bad assessment and bad policy. It’s disturbing that the people who most need to understand this — the folks in Washington and state capitals who are making the laws, Republicans and Democrats alike — don’t.

Florida’s Testing Success: An Inflated Reputation?

Why doesn't it surprise me that politicians and business people, who know nothing about education yet insist on tinkering with it, would falsify and twist facts to fit their agenda? The bottom line in corporate America is money. That's what they're interested in...that's what they care about.
What was going on? In 2006, Haney found that Florida had suddenly started flunking large numbers of third graders. Because of the new retention policy, low-achieving third graders were still in third grade when the NAEP 2005 fourth grade math test was given. With only the higher-achieving students taking the test, the scores jumped.

What’s more, the state flunked a much higher proportion of Black than White students—no wonder the achievement gap shrank.

In Public School Efforts, a Common Background: Private Education

Do you know where people like John A. Boehner, President Obama, Michelle A. Rhee, Bill Gates, and Arne Duncan went to school? Would it surprise you to learn that they didn't go to public schools? Why do we assume that people who never attended or taught in public schools know how to "fix" them?
Does a private school background give them a much-needed distance and fresh perspective to better critique and remake traditional public schools? Does it make them distrust public schools — or even worse — poison their perception of them?
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