"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, February 27, 2014

2014 Medley #6

Money, Privatization, Teacher Evaluations, Tenure, Teacher Expertise, Public Education Funding

IN IT FOR THE MONEY

"Anyone who denies that the "reform" movement isn't abetting a wholesale transfer of public monies and property to private concerns is either corrupt or willingly obtuse."

The above quote is from Education "Reform": The Endgame by Jersey Jazzman, a.k.a. Duke. It pinpoints the main goal of the privatization movement -- money. They're not in it for students. They're not interested in improving the nation's education process. They want money.

Big money...
The fine, reformy folks who love to claim that they don't have any skin in the game -- the ones who either implicitly or explicitly call out unions and teachers for acting out of self-interest -- seem to do awfully well for themselves. Why, there's Eva Moskowitz, brave crusader against the terrible teachers unions (according to the bible of the ruling class, the Wall Street Journal), pulling down nearly half-a-mil a year even as she decries the "bullying" UFT. There's Chris Cerf, off to greener pastures at Rupert Murdoch's Amplify after sending NJ's schools down the reformy path. And there's Joe Bruno, pulling down more than $400K for arranging financing for charter school construction. 
It gets worse...more money, union busting. Read the rest...includes a great clip of George Carlin telling the truth.


PRIVATIZATION

Dan Casey: Privatize teachers? It could happen

Are we going to be privatizing and/or outsourcing, teachers? Will we be hiring temporaries to fill slots...contracting with some teacher-supply corporation to teach the hard to teach students, to save money on salaries and benefits...

Think it can't happen?
So I asked him: When he started on the school board in 1995, did he ever imagine he’d be faced with the question of outsourcing nurses, cafeteria workers and bus drivers?

His answer was no. Yet here we are.

TEACHER EVALUATIONS

Florida Outrage! Junk Science Ratings Will be Released to Media

Once you allow legislators to dictate that teacher evaluations should be based on student test scores all manner of nutty things can happen...

Do we increase standardized testing to include every subject, every year -- art, music, health, for example? Or do we rate teachers based on test scores from students they never taught?
The following notice was sent to all teachers in Florida from the State Commissioner of Education, letting teachers know that their names and evaluations will be released to the media. Most teachers do not teach tested subjects and grades, so their ratings are based on the test scores of children they never taught. [emphasis added]



TENURE MEANS DUE PROCESS

The Vergara Case and Other People’s Children: A Teacher’s View

It's all about so-called "tenure." "Tenure," for most K-12 educators, is simply another word for due-process. Due process is a fundamental principle in American justice. When an individual is faced with a loss of life, liberty or property, due process assures that he or she is "entitled to adequate notice, a hearing, and a neutral judge."

Due process, when it relates to public school educators means that, before a teacher is fired, proof of their incompetence, immorality, or other offense must be presented. This means that the burden of proof of a teacher being unfit for work is upon the administration. There are some things which can be done to insure that poor teachers are removed from the classroom -- something which everyone, even teachers unions, want -- for example...

1. Improve the quality of administrators. Incompetent administrators who don't know how to evaluate teachers, or who don't keep adequate records are the main reason that "bad" teachers remain in classrooms. If you can't show that a teacher is not doing his or her job, then why should we take away they're livelihood?

2. Improve evaluation procedures. Most testing experts agree that test scores aren't a valid measure of a teacher's quality. There are evaluation procedures which can be used...and have been used with great success...until "reformers" have decided that real evaluation doesn't fit their agenda. See

Creating a Comprehensive System for Evaluating and Supporting Effective Teaching by Linda Darling-Hammond

Helping Teachers Help Themselves and Peer Assistance and Review
Teaching in the Los Angeles Unified School District is an exercise in futility these days. Watching this court case unfold with its Trojan Horse arguments about the best education for students is like hearing the 1% argue that what the financial system needs is less regulation so that the poor people of the country can be free to achieve their American Dream.

Their words are all about “liberty” and “justice” and “equality”, but it is obvious who reaps the benefits of those terms.

THE WORK TEACHERS DO

You think you know what teachers do. Right? Wrong.

Valerie Strauss published a guest post from teacher-turned-attorney Sarah Blaine explaining why teaching is so difficult...
I spent a little over a year earning a master of arts in teaching degree. Then I spent two years teaching English Language Arts in a rural public high school. And I learned that my 13 years as a public school student, my 4 years as a college student at a highly selective college, and even a great deal of my year as a masters degree student in the education school of a flagship public university hadn’t taught me how to manage a classroom, how to reach students, how to inspire a love of learning, how to teach. Eighteen years as a student (and a year of preschool before that), and I didn’t know shit about teaching. Only years of practicing my skills and honing my skills would have rendered me a true professional. An expert. Someone who knows about the business of inspiring children. Of reaching students. Of making a difference. Of teaching.
The article is making the rounds on social media and education blogs...and teachers can relate. We understand that the billionaires and policy makers who are orchestrating the direction of public education in America (towards privatization) have no clue what it's like to be in a classroom. The nation's "highest ranking educator," Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, has never attended or taught in a public school. He's not an educator. People like Bill Gates, Jeb Bush, and the Walton Family are lobbying and buying the privatization of public education without knowing anything about it. Teachers understand this. Sarah Blaine gets it. People don't know education simply because they were students once...

Nationally, people like Duncan, Gates and the Waltons (and in Indiana, people like Behning, Pence, Long and Kruse), minimize and demonize teachers. They do so because they don't have the ability to teach. They do so because they don't have any education experience and don't have the credentials or the understanding to make educational policy. They do so because by minimizing the education and expertise of teachers they try to make their own ignorance and inexperience less obvious and justify what they do to public education.
...you [non-educators making education policy] did not design curricula, plan lessons, attend faculty meetings, assess papers, design rubrics, create exams, prepare report cards, and monitor attendance. You did not tutor students, review rough drafts, and create study questions. You did not assign homework. You did not write daily lesson objectives on the white board. You did not write poems of the week on the white board. You did not write homework on the white board. You did not learn to write legibly on the white board while simultaneously making sure that none of your students threw a chair out a window.
I agree completely...
  • While simultaneously decrying the overwhelming number of "bad" teachers some "reformers" tout the benefits of firing experienced teachers in order to replace them with 5 week trainees.
  • Other "reformers" blame the teachers unions, though high union membership is not correlated in any way with low student performance, whereas, poverty is. Those same "reformers" call poverty an "excuse."
  • President Obama, through Secretary Duncan, has encouraged privatization of schools, calling for closing "failing" schools -- otherwise known as schools attended by students with high levels of poverty. The current administration in Washington blames schools for not overcoming the effects of poverty...something it hasn't done either.
...all without the benefit of public education experience.

...all without understanding what it's like to teach in a public school.



FOCUS INDIANA: FINANCIAL UNCERTAINTY

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #174 – February 26, 2014

Governor Pence has clearly favored private schools over public schools in the competitive marketplace of schools which we now have in Indiana. When public schools are kept in a perpetual state of financial uncertainty and budget cutting, they have a hard time competing with private schools for parent selections, especially when parents are often looking for small class sizes when they choose a school...

The Governor’s plan to eliminate $1 billion in business property taxes to help businesses has threatened schools, cities, towns, libraries and county governments with the latest self-inflicted crisis of financial instability. For public schools, that translates into more difficulty in competing in the school choice marketplace...This is no time to give public schools another financial headache through a new round of funding cuts resulting from changes in the business property tax.
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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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