"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, August 15, 2013

2013 Medley #17

Bill Gates, Reading Wars, Poverty,
Chicago, Common Core,
Jim Horn

BILL GATES, MEDDLER

Gates pours millions in new grants to change teaching profession

Bill Gates is still meddling with public education...throwing his money around ("but you can't solve problems by throwing money at them"), damaging the American public school system in the process, and NEA is buying right into it. What strings are attached to the more than $6 million in grants for the NEA Foundation for the Improvement of Education? The NEA leadership team has already caved on Common Core (in fact almost $4 million is for common core lessons)...what next?

Take a look a where else money is going...aside from a few school systems, Gates is giving money to "reformers" like Stand on for Children and Educators for Excellence.

Valerie Strauss had this to say,
Harvard University got $1.6 million to “test a new model of teacher evaluation that increases teacher ownership and buy-in, reduces administrative burden, and provides an auditable artifact to ensure and maintain reliable scoring.”

...After already spending hundreds of millions of dollars on the subject of teacher evaluation, it is interesting that the foundation seems to think teachers need to have more ownership and buy-in of the assessment process. Really now, it didn’t have to take hundreds of millions of dollars to learn that, of course, and it doesn’t take $1.6 million to Harvard either; the model has long existed in, for example, Montgomery County, Md., where teachers lead the successful evaluation system (without the high-stakes use of standardized test scores). Any good teacher in any school could have told the Gates folks that for free.
I think it would be nice if Gates changed his plan...start giving his millions in grants to local public schools so they could stay open and improve...like in Philadelphia or Chicago...you know, where real children live and real public school systems are in trouble because of "reformer" meddling.

In the meantime, I'm going to write to my friends in NEA and let them know how disappointed I am that they have sold out...
The NEA Foundation for the Improvement of Education
Date: July 2013
Purpose: to support a cohort of National Education Association Master Teachers in the development of Common Core-aligned lessons in K-5 mathematics and K-12 English Language Arts
Amount: $3,882,600
Term: 20
Topic: College-Ready
Regions Served: GLOBAL|NORTH AMERICA
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Washington, District of Columbia

The NEA Foundation for the Improvement of Education
Date: July 2013
Purpose: to support the capacity of state NEA affiliates to advance teaching and learning issues and student success in collaboration with local affiliates
Amount: $2,426,500
Term: 26
Topic: College-Ready
Regions Served: GLOBAL|NORTH AMERICA
Program: United States
Grantee Location: Washington, District of Columbia

Danny Westneat: Bill Gates, have I got a deal for you!

Maybe this will work for Bill. Here's a suggestion that he put "his money where his mouth is." Danny Westneat has suggested that Bill send his own children to a school that is built on "reforms" he approves of...specifically, larger class sizes. Westneat wonders if Gates is willing to try it with his own kids. I'd add a few other things, as well...aside from larger class sizes, maybe Bill would send his own kids to a school with...
  • hours of the day spent in front of online learning programs
  • beginning teachers who haven't wasted their time getting education credentials -- a five week summer course is good enough
  • focus on reading and math...no need for the arts or physical education
  • testing, testing and more testing
Right. I didn't think so. "Large classes, poorly trained teachers...good for other (aka poor) children...not mine."
Smaller classes just haven't worked, he said.

"U.S. schools have almost twice as many teachers per student as they did in 1960," he said. "Yet achievement is roughly the same."

Gates called for an end to state caps on how many kids can be in each classroom.

Now let me clarify: Gates is suggesting larger classes in public schools. Not private schools such as Lakeside or the ones his own kids attend today.

READING WARS

Literacy experts say reformers reviving ‘reading wars’

We've been using the "reformers" reading programs for more than a decade. You would think that we would have seen some progress by now.
So with one stroke NCTQ limits the teaching of reading to teaching the “scientific“ reading program, the same one which failed for 13 years in NCLB and it limits teacher education programs to training teachers in this one true method. And who needs reading research if the fundamental questions are already answered?

THE REAL PROBLEM: POVERTY

California test scores: the real problem and the real solution

"Reformers" complain that we spend so much money on our schools...more than other countries (which is false), and we get poor results. Maybe if we didn't spend so much money on testing we'd have enough money to offset the effects of poverty.
...let's attack the real problem: Poverty. Nearly 25% of students in school in the US live in poverty, which means inadequate diet, lack of health care, and little or no access to books. The best teaching in the world is of little help when students are hungry, ill, and have nothing to read.

PANTS ON FIRE


Byrd-Bennett's sleight-of-hand on charter schools?

Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett (another Bennett?!) said that closing the 50 schools in Chicago was not being done to make more room for charters...
Barbara Byrd-Bennett has promised that no school closed this year will be handed over to a charter. -- Chicago Tribune (April 23, 2013)
Yeah...right!
Even while some 30,000 students, most in African-American communities,were being targeted for ejection from their so-called "underutilized" schools, and even while neighborhood schools were facing draconian budget cuts, the plans were already being laid to open dozens of new privately-run, non-union schools, Most of the new charters will open on the northwest and southwest sides, but many will be put in the very same neighborhood as closed schools.

COMMON CORE

Why Common Core Standards Will Succeed

Actual results don't matter. All that matters is that public schools are shamed and then privatized.
Even though there is little evidence that state standards have increased student academic achievement...

Even though there is little evidence that countries with national standards do not necessarily score higher on international tests than nations without national standards...

Even though there is little evidence Common Core standards will produce the skilled and knowledgeable graduates that employers and college teachers have demanded of public schools...

Even though there is little evidence that state and national officials have resolved tough issues in the past when it came to curriculum standards...

With all of these “even thoughs" (and there are more), Common Core standards will succeed. How can that be?

The short answer is that evidence of success doesn’t matter much to those who make policy decisions.

THE MISMEASURE OF EDUCATION

Jim Horn, of Schools Matter @ The Chalk Face, and Professor of Educational Leadership at Cambridge College, in Massachussets, has a new book. Check out the reviews below...high praise from some good people.

The Mismeasure of Education

Publisher's information:

With new student assessments and teacher evaluation schemes in the planning or early implementation phases, this book takes a step back to examine the ideological and historical grounding, potential benefits, scholarly evidence, and ethical basis for the new generation of test based accountability measures. After providing the political and cultural contexts for the rise of the testing accountability movement in the 1960s that culminated almost forty years later in No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, this book then moves on to provide a policy history and social policy analysis of value-added testing in Tennessee that is framed around questions of power relations, winners, and losers.

In examining the issues and exercise of power that are sustained in the long-standing policy of standardized testing in schools, this work provides a big picture perspective on assessment practices over time in the U. S.; by examining the rise of value-added assessment in Tennessee, a fine-grained and contemporary case is provided within that larger context. The last half of the book provides a detailed survey of the research based critiques of value-added methodology, while detailing an aggressive marketing campaign to make value-added modeling (VAM) a central component of reform strategies following NCLB. The last chapter and epilogue place the continuation of test-based accountability practices within the context of an emerging pushback against privatization, high stakes testing, and other education reforms.

This book will be useful to a wide audience, including teachers, parents, school leaders, policymakers, researchers, and students of educational history, policy, and politics.

Reviews

"When the Obama Administration decided to spend the billions it got for schools as part of the stimulus package to launch the Race to the Top program and the NCLB waivers, forcing many states to adopt teacher evaluation based on changes in student test scores, leading experts warned that this “value added” system did not have a reliable scientific basis and would often lead to false conclusions. This sobering and important study of the long experience with this system in Tennessee (where it was invented) shows that it did not work, was unfair, and took attention away from other more fundamental issues." Gary Orfield Distinguished Research Professor, UCLA, Co-Director, Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles, UCLA

"If The Mismeasure of Education offered only its penetrating new look at Conant and Coleman, it would be worth the price. But that’s just the beginning. Horn and Wilburn uncover the obsessive instrumentalist quantification and apocalyptic rhetoric soapboxed by both liberal and conservative political elites. Their autopsy of value-added accountability reveals the pathology of ed reform’s claim about teachers not being good enough for the global economy." Susan Ohanian Educator, Author, Activist

"A well-researched (and frightening) look at examples of shameful pseudoscience in America, the latest manifestation of which is value-added assessment for determining teacher competency... A well-documented and thorough analysis, inescapably leading to the conclusion that student test data cannot be used to determine teacher effectiveness. A must read for policy makers enamored of the idea that value added assessments will do what is claimed for them. They do not!....An excellent and scholarly history of how we got to an educational-testing/industrial complex, now promoting invalid assessment strategies that are transforming education, but not for the better. A scary book that should be thoughtfully read by those who value America’s greatest invention, the public schools." David Berliner Regents' Professor Emeritus, Arizona State University

"The Mismeasure of Education is a magnificent work, an elegantly written, brilliantly argued and erudite exposition on why the “what,” “how” and “why” of effective teaching cannot be adequately demonstrated by sets of algorithms spawned in the ideological laboratories of scientific management at the behest of billionaire investors... This book will serve as a sword of Damocles, hanging over the head of the nation’s educational tribunals and their adsentatores, ingratiators and sycophants in the business community... The Mismeasure of Education will have a profound resonance with those who are fed up with the hijacking of our nation’s education system. This is a book that must be read by everyone interested in the future of our schools. It is a book that advocates real educational justice, for student, teachers, administrators and the public; it is informed by impressive scholarship and compelling argument. It is surely to become a classic work." Peter McLarenProfessor, GSEIS, University of California, Los Angeles, Distinguished Fellow in Critical Studies, Chapman University

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All who envision a more just, progressive and fair society cannot ignore the battle for our nation’s educational future. Principals fighting for better schools, teachers fighting for better classrooms, students fighting for greater opportunities, parents fighting for a future worthy of their child’s promise: their fight is our fight. We must all join in.
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Stop the Testing Insanity!


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