"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

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Thoughts About the Chicago Teachers Strike - Part 5

There's talk that the strike will end Friday...and hopefully the kids will be back in school on Monday. I don't know what the CTU had to give up...but...

I hope that they didn't give up fighting against using test scores to evaluate schools and teachers. We know that the tests are not valid for those purposes. The voices of the testing experts in Chicago, Georgia and all over the country have repeated over and over again that it's a misuse of the tests. My fear is that the facts won't matter and the privatizers are so eager to line their pockets with public money they don't care what they do. It doesn't matter who they hurt...children, teachers, principals...they just want the money.

I hope they didn't give up fighting for adequate educational services for their students. The 1% aren't satisfied with schools that have large class sizes, no libraries, lack of art, music and physical education. The rest of us shouldn't be satisfied with that either. All children, no matter what their parents' income, should be guaranteed a public school complete with the arts, books, and plenty of room to run and grow. Our nation's future adults deserve to have a chance...all of them.

I hope they didn't give up fighting for adequate social services for their students. How can we accept the levels of poverty in this country? What other nation would allow a fourth of all their children to live in poverty? We need to provide the services they need to survive.

I hope they didn't give up demanding reasonable class sizes. The average class size in private schools is 18...all children deserve that. We have become a nation of selfish misers, only thinking about our own...only thinking about today. Children, especially poor children and children who are not native English speakers, need more help...not less. I've taught classes of 37 and 38...there's no way to reach all the children. Someone is bound to get lost. The fewer students per class, especially in the younger grades, the better chance a child has.

I know they had to give up some things...I've been at the negotiations table...I know you have to give up some things you really don't want to give up...

The Schools Chicago’s Students Deserve: Research-based Proposals To Strengthen Elementary And Secondary Education In The Chicago Public Schools
3. In CPS, 86% of students are eligible for free or reduced lunch. The relationship between poverty and academics is well documented, but CPS pays little attention to ameliorating poverty’s effects. Poverty is rising in the city, and the percentage of students who are lunch-eligible does not capture the fact that many who were poor before are now even poorer. While CPS has a well-developed program to identify schools to be put on probation, closed, consolidated or turned-around, it does not have an equally robust program for supporting schools in trouble...

...Family income and wealth play a major role in students’ educational development. CTU recognizes that CPS cannot tackle all the housing, health, transportation, and employment inequities that intersect school issues and shape student’s performance in schools. However, as CPS students are 86% low-income and 87% African American or Latino, CPS has a moral and ethical responsibility to put school-level policies in place to mitigate racial and economic inequities.
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CTU chief: Deal likely today but classes may not resume until Monday

Thank you Chicago teachers for telling the world what America's teachers already know -- that our children are being cheated by "reformers" who don't know anything about education. Thank you for standing up and making someone listen.
Fran Feeley, 44, a librarian at Inter-American Magnet School, said he had "mixed-feelings" about the news. While Feeley doesn't want the strike to carry on, he said certain issues need to be addressed.

"I don't accept the idea that charter schools and vouchers and testing kids eight weeks a year is going to solve the problems facing the public schools," he said...

Christopher Barker said he too is ready to be back in the classroom. “I feel like everything has slid a week back,” he said.

Barker, who teaches math and humanities at George Manierre Elementary School, said he needs to finish evaluating his new students, call parents and build his student library.

One of the first things on the agenda, however, will be talking to his students about what the strike meant. “Is there anywhere that you go in life when you do have to speak up for yourself when there’s a perceived injustice?”
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A Chicago Teacher Writes: The Joy of Finally Fighting Back
By Anthony Cody on September 13, 2012 11:06 AM
Guest post by Katie Osgood.

There is jubilation on the streets of Chicago.

When the teachers of Chicago rise up, they are not defending politics or ideology, they are speaking for actual human beings. They are crying out for the child who could not get appropriate special education services due to lack of staff. They are speaking for the many kids being punished, held back, treated like failures by the cruel standardized tests. They are saying "no" to the truly outrageous class sizes which prevent too many of their most fragile students from getting that individualized attention they deserve. They are begging the district to hire more of the support staff like social workers, nurses, and counselors their students desperately need. They are exposing a system that views students who struggle as liabilities and schools as places of cutthroat competition.

Chicago's teachers are saying "no more". I thank them, and the parents and students, for their sacrifice. The joy of people power is infectious. I hope it spreads.

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I Ruined Everything (& Why It Was More Work Than You Thought) @INTERNETTAXTROLLS

The media doesn't really tell the story...comments on blogs and news articles reflect the hate and anger that people direct towards teachers. It's born of a jealousy...perhaps because teachers love their work...perhaps because teachers have organizations to help them.

This is not a new article, but it's an answer to all those haters.
So do it. Reduce my pension. Make me poor, since I don't qualify for Social Security. Make my medicine unaffordable. Make my raise contingent upon proof that my art lessons somehow improved state math scores. Continue firing at my feet to see how long you can make me dance. It still won't change the fact that life did not work out as you planned and you're now a bitter little turd. AND I will STILL...love my job, because I am rocking this for all the right reasons. After you take every tool and incentive and support away from me, and millions like me, you won't suddenly have anything great that you don't already have. And then you will be terribly disappointed to find out that this isn't a scam after all. Whether decorated or destroyed, inside every school we run on something you can't legislate, isolate, measure or destroy. Much to your inarticulate all caps despair.

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Letter from CTU President Karen Lewis: ‘Students Suffer in Low-Performing Charter Schools’
The Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is so cash-strapped that it plans to close and consolidate under-utilized schools, with rumors that it could be upwards of 120 schools this coming year. Many people would consider this to be fiscally prudent. Mayor Emanuel is of course going to blame the soon-to-be agreed upon new union contract.

What the public does not understand, however, even though both the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times have been writing about it for months, is that CPS is also simultaneously planning to open 60 new charter schools in the next few years. That decision was made last year under the “Gates Compact” in which CPS went into an agreement with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to increase charter schools in Chicago.

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Standardized test scores are worst way to evaluate teachers
The way that CPS plans to use test scores in teacher evaluation, referred to as value-added, is so incredibly flawed that almost no one with a knowledge base in this area thinks it’s a good idea.

The National Research Council wrote a letter to the Obama administration warning against including value-added in Race to the Top federal grant program because of a lack of research support. The Educational Testing Service, an organization that stands to benefit tremendously from any expansion of testing, issued a report concluding that value-added is improper test use.

These are the people who know the statistics, and none of them thinks the models work.

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Unions Are Necessary to Rebuilding Our Middle Class
Last year the middle class received the smallest share of the nation’s income since these data were first reported, according to U.S. Census Bureau numbers released today. The middle 60 percent of households received only 45.7 percent of the nation’s income in 2011, down from the historical peak of 53.2 percent in 1968.

The declining share of income received by the nation’s middle class has been driven by stagnant incomes for middle-class earners coupled with rapidly rising incomes for the highest earners...And then there is another often overlooked dynamic: the decline of labor unions.
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Melting the Rubber Stamp: Chicago’s Unelected Board of Education
The seven members of Chicago’s Board of Education, along with CEO Jean-Claude Brizard, are, in theory, responsible for the governance of the city’s schools. In reality, they are only accountable to the man that appointed them—Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

As anyone who has ever witnessed a board hearing knows, members like Hyatt heiress Penny Pritzker and former Northwestern President Henry Bienen, when they bother to show up at all, nod indifferently to public testimony, toy with their smart phones, and reliably vote in the interests of their boss. This past winter, after the board voted unanimously to close or turnaround 17 schools, frustrated parents burst into tears, and community members chanted “Rubber Stamp!” until CPS security escorted them out of the room.

Unwilling to accept such belligerent disregard for community input, education organizers and activists have launched a campaign for an elected, representative school board. Communities Organized for Democracy in Education (CODE), a coalition of education groups, circulated petitions this summer to put the question to Chicagoans in an advisory referendum: should the Board of Education be elected instead of appointed by the mayor?

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Stop the Testing Insanity!


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