"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

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

2011 Medley #3: Myths, Duncan, Teachers as Criminals, Poverty

There's too much again...too many important points to be made.

Five myths about America’s schools

Contrary to common myths, 1) our schools are NOT failing, 2) Unions DO NOT defend bad teachers, 3) Billionaires DO NOT know what's best for education, 4) Charter schools are NOT better than public schools, and 5) effective teachers are important, but NOT the magic bullet.


Mr. Duncan, you are a shining example

I've said it before...Arne Duncan is a Sociology Major/Basketball Player. He doesn't know beans about education.
Your lead sentence, “I have worked in education for much of my life”, immediately establishes your tone of condescension; for your 20-year “education” career lacks even one day as a classroom teacher. You, Mr. Duncan, are the poster-child for the prevailing attitude in corporate-style education reform: that the number one prerequisite for educational expertise is never having been a teacher.

Criminalizing Teachers

In an earlier entry I listed this as a P.S. but it's important. Los Angeles schools actually seems to enjoy making teachers look and feel like criminals...
...at the end of the process, our principal looked at all of her evidence and decided that she had failed. After that meeting, our Human Resources representative accompanied her back to her classroom to get her purse, where I and a few other colleagues were waiting for her in case she needed our support. As they arrived, Ms. HR informed us that she was not allowed to talk to us, and we were not allowed to talk to her. A security officer joined them, and then my friend was escorted out of the building as though she’d been accused of a crime.

(A judge later found the principal’s claims of her poor performance in the classroom completely baseless. His 40+ page decision explained in detail how virtually all of the evidence collected against her was either laughably flimsy, or supported her contention that she was, in fact, a very good teacher.)

...Even if there had been merit in the attempted dismissal, she hadn’t been accused of breaking the law. She hadn’t behaved in a threatening or hostile manner. In truth, there was no evidence to suggest she’d done anything wrong. So why call security? What was the point of treating this woman– who had exclusively devoted over two decades of her life to teaching needy kids– like a suspect? What kind of organization would humiliate people like this, in front of their peers and community, for no good reason? I wrote my resignation letter as soon as I got home.

Ten things teachers need to reclaim their profession
  1. Allow our teachers to use best practices rather than canned programs
  2. Permit teachers to adjust and modify their lessons to fit their students’ knowledge and skills rather than prepare them for high-stakes testing.
  3. Test score ‘data’ can only become relevant when interpretation for individual students is corroborated by their teachers
  4. Abolish all goal-setting based on annual high-stakes testing scores.
  5. Eliminate both scripted and paced lesson mandates
  6. Eliminate all punitive policies that pronounce harsh judgments on students, teachers, schools and districts based on unchallenged interpretations of student test scores.
  7. Codify regulations against administrative use of direct and/or implied threats of repercussions to those teachers who follow their State Standards for the Teaching Profession rather than curricular and/or pedagogy directives which utilize a script-like pacing without allowing for teacher modification and adjustments to fit the classroom clientele.
  8. State Standards for the Teaching Profession should be the guiding principles for all teacher evaluation protocols used by administrators.
  9. Teachers should have the freedom without fear of recrimination to express their professional opinions inside and outside of school sites regarding school practices and policies.
  10. Develop an enhanced parent-teacher communication protocol complete with translators for second language learner parents who are not fluent in English.

Missing the point on poverty and reform — again
In the current climate, anybody who raises the issue of how poverty affects students runs the risk of being labeled as:
  • a defender of the status quo
  • someone who uses poverty as an excuse for bad teachers who are protected by bad teachers unions
  • someone who believes that certain kids cannot learn as well as other kids.
None of those are true.

Teacher Evaluations Based on Test Scores Will Requires Dozens of New Tests
Bloomberg's school CAO Shael Polakow-Suransky (Class of '08) has marched out the plan in New York City, this one with a price tag of over $60,000,000 for testing companies to develop tests for grades 3 through 12 (twice a year) in math, science, English, and social studies.

These tests come on top of the annual NCLB testing and the end-of-course Regents' Exams. Initial implementation is planned for this Fall, even though no community or teacher input has been sought or received, and no validity or reliability has been established for these tests that the testing industry is still cooking up. And what happened to the new Chancellor? The last time we saw him, Mr. Wolcott was walking his grandson to school and preparing pink slips for 4,500 NYC teachers.
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