"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, November 15, 2011

2011 Medley #13

Billionaires, Research and Current Reforms, Charters, Teacher Effectiveness, Blaming Teachers, Poverty, Stalinizing American Education

Billionaires for Education Reform
...our public schools have never before been subject to such a sustained assault on their very foundations. Never before were there so many people, with such vast resources, intent on dismantling public education. What does this mean for the future of public education? What does it mean for our democracy?
Research doesn’t back up key ed reforms
There is no solid evidence supporting many of the positions on teachers and teacher evaluation taken by some school reformers today, according to a new assessment of research on the subject.
Reports on charter schools expose new problems
Solutions to problems that in turn cause at least as many new problems aren’t really great solutions, are they?
See Also National Study of Charter-School Management Organizations Finds Varying Practices and Impacts

In Tennessee, Following the Rules for Evaluations Off a Cliff
...the state is requiring teachers without test results to be evaluated based on the scores of teachers at their school with test results. So Emily Mitchell, a first-grade teacher at David Youree Elementary, will be evaluated using the school’s fifth-grade writing scores...
...“How stupid is that?” said Michelle Pheneger, who teaches ACT math prep at Blackman High and is also being evaluated in part based on writing scores. “My job can be at risk, and I’m not even being evaluated by my own work.”
What Studies Say about Teacher Effectiveness
Research has shown that the variation in student achievement is predominantly a product of individual and family background characteristics. Of the school factors that have been isolated for study, teachers are probably the most important determinants of how students will perform on standardized tests.
NY Times Continues to Blame Schools and Teachers for Poverty and Penury
The Business Roundtable's Rube Goldberg plan for evaluating teachers in Tennessee (and other venues with RTTT money) has met with almost universal disdain, a response that has brought CEOs running out of their penthouses to dictate responses for the corporate media editorial pages.
Proof there is no proof for education reforms
...when Education Secretary Arne Duncan was asked by an Education Week reporter about the evidence base for the policies of his department, he replied, “So I would argue the whole turnaround stuff is relatively new but I think there’s a lot of scientific evidence that the status quo doesn’t work and that’s the evidence that I’m looking at.” That is akin to saying, “I know my child is ill so I will give her any new medicine I happen to have in my cabinet.”
Mathis: Poverty is No. 1 driver of education achievement gap
...the National Bureau of Economic Research recently posted an analysis that showed that a 2 percent increase in unemployment results in a 16 percent increase in schools not making adequate progress. Most troubling, in a nation driven more by self-interest than the common good, the expanding economic gap between the top 1 percent and the remaining 99 percent is a harbinger of an increase in the achievement gap rather than a decrease.
Stalinizing American Education
The similarities between contemporary American educational reform and Soviet educational reform of the 1930s are as striking as they are discomfiting.

Why is current American educational policy so focused on punishing teachers rather than helping students? In examining the credentials of the individuals in the Secretary of Education’s cabinet, those who are guiding the educational reforms that will inexorably alter the character of American public education for the foreseeable future, one characteristic becomes apparent—none of the members of the cabinet listed below has ever worked as a teacher in a public school.

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