"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

Saturday, June 18, 2011

2011 Medley #4: Privatize, Poverty, Evaluations, Good Teachers

Duncan to America's Public Schools: Give Us What We Want Or You're Dead

cm, this is what I'm talking about...

The ticking (time bomb) mentioned in this is the fact that NCLB requires that all children be "average" by 2014. To prevent that, Duncan, the US DOE, greedy corporate "reformers", and states around the country are privatizing public education.
This is the deal being offered now by the Gates and Broad Foundations through their "dummied-down" stooge, Arne Duncan. Give your permission, public educators, for unlimited growth of segregated corporate welfare charter schools, sign up for evaluating your teachers to be deprofessionalized and evaluated by student test scores, pay the billionaire tech boys to stock you up with data systems for constant surveillance, monitoring and year-round testing, and dump your curriculum and instruction for the Bill Gates's national plan, and sure--Arne will come right down into your basement and make the ticking stop. Otherwise? Well, Arne knows how much you love your children and your job and your house.
Poverty=failure

References included
Studies show that American students from well-funded schools who come from middle-class families outscore students in nearly all other countries on international tests. Our average scores are less than spectacular because the US has the highest percentage of children in poverty of all industrialized countries (over 20%; in contrast, high-scoring Finland has less than 4%).

Poverty means inadequate nutrition, inadequate health care, exposure to environmental toxins, and little access to books, all of which are strongly associated with lower school performance. If all of our children had the same advantages middle class children have, our test scores would be at the top of the world.
New Report Offers Withering Critique of MA Plan to Evaluate Teachers Based on MCAS Scores

Evaluating teachers using tests scores will cost waste more money and use a scientifically invalid measurement for grading teachers.
  • It will require districts to use MCAS test scores to judge educators.
  • It will require districts to evaluate every teacher in every grade and subject with two “assessments” each academic year, forcing districts to make or purchase dozens of new tests at a time of budget cutbacks and teacher layoffs.
  • It relies on pseudo-scientific “growth” or “value-added” measures that are unable to adequately distinguish good teachers from bad, according to a report from the National Research Council and studies by independent experts.
  • It will increase pressure to teach to low-level tests and drive good teachers away from working where they are most needed; and
  • It will damage the learning environment by forcing teachers to “compete” for high-scoring students instead of cooperating to improve learning for all.
Joel Klein vs. those status quo apologists
There is, however, no evidence that the gains observed in New York City outpaced what was observed over the same time-frame in other urban school districts that were not led by the current wave of reformers.

In other words, NAEP scores in reading and math rose just as much in districts led by “apologists for the failed status quo” as they did in the district with the greatest concentration of “reform talent” in the nation. Head-to-head with Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, the District of Columbia, Houston, Los Angeles and San Diego, in fourth- and eighth-grade reading and math, New York City gained more on NAEP between 2003 and 2009 11% of the time; gained less on NAEP 28% of the time; and was statistically indistinguishable from the comparison city 61% of the time. This is not strong evidence that the package of reforms promoted by this new cadre of school leaders in New York City resulted in better outcomes for children than the reforms pursued in other districts.
The 12 qualities great teachers share

If you're a teacher you MUST read this. I hope it will make you feel good about what you do. Notice that "teaching to the test" and "data crunching" are not included on this excellent list.
So what makes a great teacher?

1) Passion for teaching...
2) Love of kids…
3) Love of their subject...
4) Understanding of the role of a school in a child’s life...
5) A willingness to change...
6) A work ethic that doesn’t quit...
7) A willingness to reflect...
8) Organization…
9) Understanding that being a “great teacher” is a constant struggle to always improve…
10) Enough ego to survive the hard days...
11) Enough humility to remember it’s not about you...
12) A willingness to work collaboratively...
Jazz, Basketball, and Teacher Decision-making

One of the most interesting articles I've read in a long time...what happens in a teacher's brain when he/she is teaching? How often do teachers have to change their behavior by making quick decisions about instruction? Think about how "scripted teaching" limits opportunities...
In short, teaching because it is a “opportunistic”–neither teacher nor students can say with confidence what exactly will happen next–requires “spontaneity and immediacy” (Jackson, p. 166, 152).

Effective teachers, then, like top jazz musicians and basketball rebounders improvise–decide on the spot–as they deal with both the routine and unexpected in the art of teaching.
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