"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

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

So, what have unions ever done for us?




Help Wanted

I retired after teaching for 35 years. If I were starting out again would I do the same thing over? Would I go back to school after spending a few years in the world of retail music to become a teacher? What if this, by P.L. Thomas at Schools Matter, was the job description...

U.S. Department of Miseducation

Wanted: 21st century teachers for public education in the U.S.

Experience: N/A

Education: undergraduate degree (no education degrees considered)

Certification: N/A

Job Description: Teachers will be required to implement Common Core Curriculum in order to prepare students for the state and national tests administered each academic year. Teachers will be assigned 40 students per class. Teacher benefits will not include due process or academic freedom, and each year the bottom 25% of teachers will be dismissed.

Compensation: Teachers will receive a minimum base salary based on working 3/4 of a year and determined by each state and then awarded merit pay based on the outcome of student test scores. Those test scores will rank all teachers' effectiveness and determine the bottom quartile to be dismissed each year.

Who Should Apply: The best and brightest who seek to work in a competitive environment and want a rewarding profession.
I don't know if I would have left the music business to become a teacher, or, having spent all the time in school working on a teaching degree and license, Master's degree, computer and reading specializations and Reading Recovery certification, I would have stayed.

A career in education was good for me. I learned a lot about myself and the struggles I had as a student. I hope I did some good over the length of my career. I hope that my understanding of what it meant to be a struggling learner gave some encouragement to those who were struggling. I hope that I helped students find their way to success. Truthfully, though, I'm not sure I would do it again.

How will we get the best and the brightest when we, as a nation, tell our children that being a teacher is not worthy of decent working conditions? Which best and brightest scientist will give up a job in the private sector for the frustrations and the disrespect that accompany teaching chemistry or physics to teenagers? Which best and brightest journalist will give up the success and stability of a steady job at a magazine or newspaper for the day to day struggle of trying to teach 8 year olds to read and write...knowing that their job depends on the ability of the children to parrot back the right answers on a multiple choice test? Who is going to choose special education when their job depends on student test scores? Who is going to choose to teach in high poverty areas where their job depends on how children who are hungry, or tired, or living on the street do on a test?

Where are the best and brightest going to come from and why would they choose teaching in America's public schools?

Maybe there will be young people who, despite the low pay, weakened employee position, and public disrespect, still want to capture the joy of learning and pass it on. Maybe some of the best and the brightest will give up solid salaries and support for test prep and long, unacknowledged hours of planning and grading. Maybe someone will be able to work around the test-insanity and push towards privatization that's captured the country and feel success helping one student at a time learn to read, write or cipher.

Wouldn't it be better to attract young, capable teaching candidates with good working conditions, and stability so half of them won't quit in the first five years? Wouldn't it be better to make a career in education stable enough so people will stay, gain experience and be around to mentor new teachers? If we want the best and brightest teachers we need to make the career more appealing...not less.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Indiana DOE Gives Public Schools Away

The Indiana State Department of Education proposed that the state take over four high schools and one middle school in Gary and Indianapolis. By "state takeover" the DOE means that the schools will be run by private companies and eventually become charters. The superintendent of Indianapolis schools has threatened a lawsuit.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett said he had mixed emotions in asking the State Board of Education to approve the takeover of a Gary high school and three Indianapolis high schools and a middle school. But he said the step is necessary for the students’ sake. The schools have been on academic probation for five years because of poor test scores.

“This is not about blame, this is about the future,” Bennett said at a news conference in Indianapolis. “Our intent is to use everything we have in this state to restore these schools to what they should be for the students in these communities.”
The state intends to use "everything" they have for the schools? Does that include restoring the funding cuts passed by the legislature and signed by the governor? Do we have to go through the list again? Superintendent Bennett, Governor Daniels, State School Board...listen carefully please:

1. Test scores should not determine the success or failure of a school, but if you're going to use test scores remember that the most reliable determiner of test success is family income. It's poverty -- a failed society, a failed economy...not a failed school.

2. Charter schools do NOT perform better than regular public schools.

3. Replacing staffs and administrators does not improve schools.

May I suggest that the state follow the lead of the world's education leaders, Finland for example. Reduce our poverty level to that of Finland's (or most of the other industrialized nations of the world) and we will have solved the main problem.

When students in Finnish schools have academic problems are the schools closed? Are the teachers fired? Are the unions dismantled? Are the administrators shuffled? No. The students are given more support. The schools are given more support. Teachers who are having trouble are given support. When they need help they are helped. The entire system benefits.

Are we serious about helping students or are we just manipulating the system to increase privatization of our school system?

In Indiana this year, the legislature passed laws which include a voucher program, increased charters and various things to weaken teachers and their unions, none of which help students and most of which suck money away from the public schools and into the coffers of private corporations or parochial schools.

In 'Comprehensive' school reform? Not without preschool, Karen Francisco, a blogger for the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette wrote;
...charter school supporters got what they wanted by keeping quiet about the millions in public school support being siphoned off to parochial schools through vouchers.
She was speaking about the fact that Indiana doesn't do a very good job of supporting preschools, another proven method of helping students, and the charters, private and parochial schools are going to have to deal with children who come to school with deficits...just like the traditional public schools.

The point is, however, that closing schools, busting unions, and pushing vouchers and charters is not about student success. It's about taking the schools of Indiana (and elsewhere) out of the hands of the public and putting them into the hands of corporate "reformers."

Monday, August 22, 2011

Mirror of the National Character: The Nation's AYP

"A nation's greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members." ~ Mahatma Ghandi

Corporate and political critics of the nation's public schools often state that it's the responsibility of schools to prepare our children to compete in a global economy. As true as that might be, it's equally true that the responsibility lies with the government...with parents...with all of society and with each of us individually. It is disingenuous to blame public schools, public school teachers, and teachers unions for the entirety of the problem. In addition to improving curriculum and instruction in our public schools we, as a nation, also need to attack the most important factor in low school achievement: Childhood poverty.

The case against poverty has been made over and over again. In Poverty and Potential: Out-of-School Factors and School Success, David Berliner of Arizona State University, wrote
As wonderful as some teachers and schools are, most cannot eliminate inequalities that have their roots outside their doors and that influence events within them. The accountability system associated with NCLB is fatally flawed because it makes schools accountable for achievement without regard for factors over which schools have little control. In part, for this reason, NCLB is failing to show reductions in the achievement gaps on which it is focused. A broader, bolder approach to school improvement is indeed required. It would begin by a reasonable level of societal accountability for children’s physical and mental health and safety.
Berliner lists 11 strategies which would do more to close achievement gaps that just focusing on schools. The gaps, he writes,
might shrink more readily if we spent our nation’s precious resources on such strategies...
The strategies are:
  • Reduce the rate of low birth weight children among African Americans,
  • Reduce drug and alcohol abuse,
  • Reduce pollutants in our cites and move people away from toxic sites,
  • Provide universal and free medical care for all citizens,
  • Insure that no one suffers from food insecurity,
  • Reduce the rates of family violence in low-income households,
  • Improve mental health services among the poor,
  • More equitably distribute low-income housing throughout communities,
  • Reduce both the mobility and absenteeism rates of children,
  • Provide high-quality preschools for all children, and
  • Provide summer programs for the poor to reduce summer losses in their academic achievement.
"The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children." ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

P.L. Thomas, at Schools Matter, wrote in his latest blog entry, Childhood Well-Being: A Mirror of the American Character that
...we mask and avoid ascribing accountability for childhood poverty to the powerful in the U.S., we also maintain a Utopian claim that public education can and will eradicate that poverty if we simply increase standards, find the right tests, weed out bad teachers and replace them with elite teachers, and eradicate the influence of teachers’ unions.
Thomas continues, citing statistics comparing us to other "rich" nations.
  • According to a study for UNICEF from 2007, the U.S. ranks 20th out of 21 industrialized countries in child well-being.
  • The U.S. fares poorly in income equity when compared to other countries: “To no one's surprise, the ratio between rich (households in the top 10% of the income distribution) and poor (those in the bottom 10%) is considerably larger in the US than in any other rich democracy.”
The way we treat our children is, as Thomas' title suggests, a mirror of our national character. With nearly 25% of our children living in poverty the method we have chosen to deal with this is to withdraw services for the poor, cut school funding, and allow the rich to increase the percentage of national wealth they hold.

Schools don't operate in a vacuum. The outside world has its impact. Until our nation decides to deal with the growing economic inequities between rich and poor and the level of poverty in our society, the achievement gaps will continue to plague our schools. Harping politicians may get votes by blaming schools, teachers and teachers unions, but nothing will erase the fact that teachers and schools alone can't make up for all the ills of society.

"...the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children..." ~ Hubert H. Humphrey

~~~~~

I strongly recommend Thomas' post, Childhood Well-Being: A Mirror of the American Character, and the included references and links.

Corridor of Shame - a documentary about the neglect of South Carolina's Rural Schools.
A 60 Minutes piece about children in poverty
The Children's Defense Fund's State of America's Children® 2011 Report
Kid's Count 2011

And at the end he includes a list of Recommended readings...
Recommended:

“Poverty. Just Say It,” truthout
“One in Four California Families Can't Afford Food for Their Kids,” New America Media
“Children in Poverty: How Are Kids in Your State Faring?” PBS Newshour
“Class Warfare: Fact checking pages 1 through 100”
“Poverty and education reform—and those caught in the middle,” The Hechinger Report
“Americans Don't Realize Just How Badly We're Getting Screwed by the Top 0.1 Percent Hoarding the Country's Wealth,” AlterNet
“Children are hidden victims of the economic crisis, report says,” LA Times
“What No School Can Do,” James Traub
“Poverty worsens, and children are hit hardest,” The Tennessean
“Taxing the Poor”
Summer 2011 Issue of PATHWAYS: A magazine on poverty, inequality, and social policy
“On Turning Poverty Into an American Crime,” truthout
James Baldwin on Education

Sunday, August 21, 2011

2011 Medley #8: DOE Waivers for NCLB, Tests in Kindergarten, Bill Gates on Philanthropy

Why states should refuse Duncan’s NCLB waivers
If they accept the deal, states will lock in ever more counter-productive educational practices based on the misuse of test scores, including linking teacher evaluation to student scores. Those policies could be hard to dislodge should Congress decide not to endorse Duncan’s “Blueprint” when it eventually does reauthorize the federal law. States that refuse to sign on to Duncan’s reform program, however, will be denied waivers, Duncan said, and will then continue to be subject to the continue the NCLB charade of seeking “100% proficiency” of students in reading and math by 2014. Neither choice will help children or schools.

Kindergarten teacher details ‘lunacy’ of standardized tests for kids
I am spending so much time recording “formative” assessments that I don’t have time to evaluate the meaningful assessments and plan for instruction, much less time to actually teach! I now have to give a total of more than 27,000 check marks or grades for my class of 25 students per year. This is not counting the stars, stickers or smiley faces I put on their work each day.

Bill Gates Reflects on His Philanthropy
[Gates] said that "the educational achievement of K-12 students is not at all predicted by how strong the union rules are." Yet in states where teachers are heavily unionized, like Massachusetts and Minnesota, students post the highest scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as the nation's report card. Conversely, in states such as Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi, where virtually no union contracts exist, students have the lowest NAEP scores.
Stu's NOTE: Check out the poverty levels in the states listed above. Massachusetts and Minnesota rank #14 and 4 in the US poverty level (where #1 - New Hampshire - has the least poverty and #51 - District of Columbia - has the greatest level of poverty). Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi rank # 45, 49 and 50 respectively. Gates keeps talking about teacher quality, which, of course, is important, but he and his billionaire cronies don't believe poverty makes a difference.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Arne Duncan, How Dare You!

The race for President is in full swing. President Obama sent his friend, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, after one of the Republican front runners.

Valerie Strauss reported...
Arne Duncan blasts Rick Perry and Texas schools

Education Secretary Arne Duncan, coming out early and tough against Texas Gov. Rick Perry, said he feels “very, very badly for the children” in Texas who go to public schools under Perry’s administration.
Duncan was correct in what he said...
  • Perry is the one governor who is most at odds with the Obama administration's education policies. He even opted Texas out of the Race to the Top program.
  • Texas has seen massive increases in class size
  • Texas has cut funding -- the recently approved state budget included $4 billion in cuts to public schools, even though an extra 80,000 students are expected this academic year.
  • The effects of education cuts as well as slashes in Medicaid will fall disproportionately on Latinos, who make up 49 percent of K-12 public school students in the state.
  • Texas ranks 42nd in per-pupil spending in the United States and 43rd in high school graduation rates
This is all true. Perry has taken the public schools in Texas, already reeling from Bush's so-called Texas Miracle (see this debunking of said miracle), and damaged them even more.

What angers me, though, is that Arne Duncan is self-righteously blaming Perry while the Obama administration, under Duncan's leadership, has continued and increased the damage caused by No Child Left Behind.

Where are the rest of the Republicans?

At least Perry, unlike most Republicans, has the consistency to decry the massive federal intrusion into education caused by No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top.
Even as other Republicans have found bipartisan ground with Obama on education reform, Perry has repeatedly criticized Duncan’s Education Department, accusing it of attempting a “federal takeover of public schools” with the Race to Top competition in which states vied for federal funds by promising to implement specific education reforms.
(So where are all the Republican cries for "less government" when it comes to the destruction of America's public school system? Perry seems to be the only Republican voice who is consistent with the otherwise constant conservative voices shouting about how the government is too big.)

Are Teachers in Obama's Electoral Pocket?

Anthony Cody, in his Living in Dialogue blog has suggested that the Obama administration needs to firm up support among teachers before they just assume that we'll all follow in lock step and vote him into a second term. This despite the premature endorsement from the NEA.

In President Obama on Shaky Ground with Teachers: Can He Firm Up Support? Cody said,
From the start, Secretary Duncan has specialized in doubletalk. He has given innumerable speeches calling for us to avoid teaching to the test, at the same time his policies mandate that teacher pay and evaluations be based in part on test scores. When President Obama called for a reduction in standardized tests this year, Secretary Duncan insisted he was "on the same page," even though the Department of Education has put in motion a tremendous expansion of the frequency, scope and importance of tests.
How dare Secretary Duncan blame someone else for hurting public schools. He is the one wearing the corporate collar which is sucking the life out of public schools everywhere and crushing the spirit of public school teachers around the country.

Where was Duncan, defender of public education, when
It seems to me that if President Obama really wants our support he'll do what he should have done after his first week in office -- Dump Duncan.

Mr. President, play basketball with him if you want, but put a real live teacher in the Secretary of Education's chair.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Baseball Interlude: Two of the Good Guys

If you know me, you know that baseball is a passion of mine.

Since early in the 19th century baseball has mirrored American history. During the Civil War, after spending the day shooting at the enemy, soldiers would play ball in the evenings...rank didn't matter...officers played alongside enlisted men.

Nearly 100 years later, Major League Baseball became one of the first modern national institutions to break the color barrier and include black players. In the late 40s and early 50s black players from the Negro Leagues joined the previously all-white major leagues. Players like Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron, and Willie Mays integrated the Major Leagues in a precursor to the Civil RIghts movement of the 60s.

But like any business, baseball has had its ups and downs...from the moral high point of Jackie Robinson entering the game...to the low point of the steroid scandals of the last two decades.

Players, too, have ranged from hero to goat. Players like Robinson, Hank Aaron and Cal Ripken Jr., are symbols of persistence and courage, while those like Ty Cobb, Joe Jackson and Pete Rose exhibit the moral failings to which humans can fall. Baseball is a human sport and has been painted with the brushstroke of humanity for good or ill.

In the last week, two of the positive role models in major league baseball have appeared in the sports news -- one who brought honor to himself after achieving a feat accomplished by only 7 other players in the sport's history and one who was honored for his achievements just months after his death.

Jim Thome Joins the 600 Club

Yesterday, Jim Thome, a 40 year old power hitter for the Minnesota Twins, became only the 8th major league player in history to reach a career total of 600 home runs.

Thome has achieved this over a 20 year career without fanfare, steroids or publicity. He did it with hard work and good, solid skills day after day, year after year. The short video of his comments after he achieved this milestone show a man who is humbled to be in the same class as players like Mays and Aaron.

How important is this? The game in which he hit home run number 600 (as well as number 599 earlier in the game) was played in Detroit. When Thome hit home run number 600 the game came to a halt and tens of thousands of Tiger fans rose in a standing ovation to this opposing team's player to honor his accomplishment.

You can see the post game interview with Thome here.

Ron Santo 1940-2010

Ron Santo, the late broadcaster/cheerleader for the Chicago Cubs and former All-Star Cub 3rd baseman, was honored with a statue outside of Wrigley Field. Santo's story was one of courage and hard work. He played his entire career with type one diabetes.

An ESPN Chicago obituary on December 5, 2010 read
Santo was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes when he was 18. But he kept it from the team until he made his first All-Star Game in 1963, and fans didn't know about his diabetes for years after that.
Melissa Isaacson, in her December 11, 2010 column, Saying Goodbye, wrote,
Santo was lauded for bringing awareness as well as millions of dollars to research for Juvenile Diabetes. But his countless private pep talks with people affected by the disease resonated just as deeply. 
Santo was a diabetic, a double-amputee and a cancer patient, a symbol of courage for working at all, much less in a job that required the physical stamina of a major league broadcaster, and among those he inspired was the man was who presided over his funeral service, Holy Name's Monsignor Daniel Mayall, a fellow diabetic. 
"One of my heroes," said Mayall, "while I was learning to live with the disease. … Ron was the voice of the Cubs but he was also the face of hope. … Ron was the poster boy of hope."
Jeff Santo said, "He was giving a lesson on how to play third base, and he said this: 'When the ball is hit, you should always be moving forward on the ball. Never stay back on the ball and let the ball play you. You play the ball.' That's how he lived his life. He never stayed back on the ball."
Every challenge, all the adversity that came his way, he charged it like he was making a play at third base, grabbing it with his bare hand and firing it to first base.
Here's a video of the unveiling...with comments from former teammates, his fellow broadcaster, and family members.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

*Vote for me!

America's public school system is the foundation of our republic. We depend on our public schools to help our children grow into responsible and knowledgable citizens. The current administration and those of the recent past have shown that the two major parties have neither the desire nor the ability to run the nation's public school system. *Therefore, I hereby declare my intention to seek the office of President of the United States of America.

We need a President who attended public schools, who worked in public schools and whose children attended public schools -- ME!

**Campaign Platform

1. Standardized tests will no longer be used for grading schools, teachers, or school districts. Teachers may use standardized tests to help them guide their teaching if they choose, however, teacher observation, documentation of student work, and performance based assessments should be the primary tools for assessing student achievement in a classroom.

2. Charter schools and vouchers for private schools do nothing to improve public education. Charter schools don't perform any better than regular public schools and vouchers for private schools drain much needed funds from the public schools. Public schools are fundamental to our democracy. The corporatization and privatization of America's schools must stop.

Charter schools are not, by definition, harmful to public education, however, the current administration is expanding the Charter school system at the expense of public schools. Schools which need improvement will NOT be closed and replaced with Charters. Rather, help and resources will be provided to schools so that they may improve. A Presidential Advisory Board for the Improvement of Public Education will be formed for this purpose.

3. Closing schools, firing staffs, state takeovers of schools and conversion to charters are not reforms. Proven reforms such as pre-K programsfull-day Kindergarten, smaller classes, parent involvement, experienced teachers, a well-rounded curriculum and evaluation systems that go beyond test scores will be used to help schools improve.

4. Schools need to be fully funded. The public education system in America is too valuable to be abandoned. Schools need to be supported, not closed. All schools need fully funded libraries.

5. Parents should be involved in their children's schools. Parents need a voice in local, district, state and national levels. All Education Roundtables must include parents of public school students, public school teachers, as well as members of the community.

6. Schools which serve students living in poverty have lower achievement. Public schools serving middle and upper middle class families achieve at rates which lead the world. Therefore poverty must end. The effects of student poverty will be addressed with adequate prenatal care, adequate childhood health care, food and nutritional support, job programs, and public services including libraries. The United States must never again be the leader in childhood poverty.

7. From this day forth the Secretary of Education of the United States will be someone who has been successful as a teacher in an actual public school classroom.

8. All public school teachers, after a probationary period, will be guaranteed due process.

The following people will be nominated for the Presidential Advisory Board for the Improvement of Public Education (in alphabetical order).
Suggestions

My administration will welcome reasonable suggestions. If you have any ideas for platform planks please feel free to suggest them.

It's time to elect an administration led by someone who understands public education. It's time to end the corporatization and privatization of our nation's school system.



**I have borrowed (and expanded) some of my platform points from Parents Across America

*No, I'm not really running for president. It would be nice if we could get someone in office who could do all the things listed in the platform, above, but in order to do that we also would have to elect pro-public school candidates to local, state and national offices. A president can't do everything on his/her own, even if he/she wanted to. Please do not send campaign contributions. Support your local public schools, contribute to a local food bank, or support pro public education organizations instead.
(spoof)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Additional Video from SOS

Additional Video from SOS...

(and more at:
http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/living-in-dialogue/2011/07/save_our_schools_rocks_the_cap.html)

Where is adequate yearly progress for the politician? Will we have 100% employment by 2014? Will all the children have decent health care and roofs over their heads by their deadline?


Jose Vilson's poem: Not On the Test!




Taylor Mali: What Teachers Make

(also at: http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=10150334982913475&comments)




More:

Hastings Teachers Association

2011 Medley #7: The War Against Educators

Here are three powerful messages about teaching in the United States. Read these and then answer the questions:
  • Where will the next generation of teachers come from?
  • Who will commit to a de-professionalized career in education?
  • How will the current educational "reform" affect public education in America? 
Firing LIne: The Grand Coalition against teachers
With the zealots’ mix of certainty and fervor, ed reformers have made this a wretched time to be a public school teacher. Indeed, fewer and fewer people are interested in trying. In the last seven years, the number of Californians seeking to become teachers dropped 45 percent (California Watch, December 14, 2010). In 2011, due to declining interest, Yale ended both its undergraduate teacher preparation and certification program and its Urban Teaching Initiative, a tuition-free M.A. program for students committed to teaching in New Haven’s public schools. Teachers all over the country—in affluent districts as well as high-poverty schools—are dispirited. In New York City, 50 percent of all new hires leave after five years in the classroom.
Rewriting the Attack on Teachers by Lawrence O'Donnell, a political analyst on MSNBC.
I spent a few years after college as a Boston Public School teacher, and I loved it but I was never committed to it -- committed to it as a career. I moved on to easier, better paying jobs like this one...Teachers who have committed their lives to the classroom deserve better than our politics has given them...
What Is Wrong With This Picture?
All across the country, education is under attack on numerous fronts. No matter where you look, educators are to blame for the economic woes in many states. This is extremely puzzling to me, as it is well known that this downturn in our economy was a result of misguided, unregulated, or greedy practices of the private sector. Educators then became the scapegoats as a message of "shared sacrifice" swept the country.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Not everything that counts can be counted...

"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." -- Albert Einstein

Rupert Murdoch wants to replace teachers with computers. He said "you can get by with half as many teachers."

Jersey Jazzman, a New Jersey teacher wrote a list of things that computers can't do...things you need teachers for. It's one of the best lists like this I've seen...
I present to you, Rupert, a list of all of things a computer can't do that a teacher can:
  • Listen.
  • Give a hug to a five-year-old who scraped her knee. 
  • Give notes to a 17-year-old who slept through the last lecture class because he was up all night working to support his family. 
  • Care. 
  • Coach the JV girls basketball team to a 3-14 season, but make the #12 girl on the squad feel like she was the deciding factor in those three wins. 
  • Direct the seventh grade talent show, and watch as the other kids' jaws drop when that shy girl who always wears her hair in her face belts out a show-stopper. 
  • Take the high road when, during a call about a seven-year-old's behavior problems, a parent breaks into an obscenity-filled tirade that ends in tears. 
  • Teach a third grade class that putting away materials properly is the most important job an artist has. 
  • Find a way for a kid with cerebral palsy to play kickball. 
  • Command respect. 
  • Counsel and console a first-year colleague who swore she'd never raise her voice in her classroom, but just did. 
  • Volunteer to lead yet another committee on yet another state-wide initiative with yet another professional-development goal. 
  • Bag everybody's jacket, hat, backpack, and mittens separately to prevent another outbreak of head lice. 
  • Break up a fight before it starts between two two-hundred-and-twenty-pound football players over something so stupid that neither can remember exactly what it was. 
  • Stand on conviction. 
  • Share in the pride an eighth-grader feels when she finally figures out what "x" is. 
  • Make pain au chocolat sound so good that it's worth learning French just to order it. 
  • Help a 15-year-old see that he has something in common with Hamlet. 
  • Move a class of six-year-olds around a mound of puke and out the door. 
  • Listen.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Diane Ravitch Protests the Status Quo

Diane Ravitch spoke at the Save our Schools March last weekend. Some highlights...
  • Today we join to protest the status quo. The status quo of high stakes testing, the status quo of attacks on the teaching profession, the status quo of privatization. The status quo is wrong; don’t let them say you’re defending the status quo; the status quo stinks!
  • Carrots and sticks are for donkeys, not professionals.
  • We protest the idea of turning education into a race. Education is a right, not a race.
  • Free public education, open to all, with no lottery, is a cornerstone of our democracy.
  • The shame of our nation is that we lead the developed world in child poverty...Our problem is poverty, not our schools.
  • Education policy should be designed by educators, not by politicians.
  • Secretary Duncan, the achievement gap begins before children arrive in school for the first day.
  • Great schools can never be built on a foundation of fear, punishment and threats.
Watch it, below...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Jonathan Kozol at the Save Our Schools March

Jonathan Kozol spoke at the SOS March on July 30. His message was clear.

I still have to listen to people here in Washington who insist to me that class size doesn’t matter… I always ask them where their own kids go to school. Typically in Washington, they go to very costly private schools where class sizes seldom rise higher than fifteen….

Here’s what I believe: the Senators and the President send their own kids to those kinds of schools; fifteen children in a class. If very small class size and the individual attention this allows a teacher to devote to every child, if this is good for the children of a senator or President or a CEO then its good for the poorest child of the poorest part of America.

Listen to his entire message (part 1) here and (part 2) here...



Monday, August 1, 2011

Matt Damon at the Save Our Schools March

Matt Damon spoke to the parents and teachers at the Save Our Schools March and National Call to Action.

Parent's Across America has a report here...the full transcript is here.



"...So the next time you’re feeling down, or exhausted, or unappreciated, or at the end of your rope; the next time you turn on the TV and see yourself called “overpaid;” the next time you encounter some simple-minded, punitive policy that’s been driven into your life by some corporate reformer who has literally never taught anyone anything. … Please know that there are millions of us behind you. You have an army of regular people standing right behind you, and our appreciation for what you do is so deeply felt. We love you, we thank you and we will always have your back."

~~~

Matt Damon: Stop The War On Teachers

Update from Think Progress

Think Progress interviewed Matt Damon at the SOS March: