"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, October 8, 2015

Finally, I Rant about NEA's Endorsement of Hillary

Ok...so it took a while and everyone else has probably already said everything there is to say about the NEA supporting Hillary for President in the primaries, but I was looking around at blogs and I read one that triggered a rant.

The stimulus that finally got me going was a guest blogger on Lily's blog who was Proud to Be an Educator for Hillary.

I have nothing against the teacher who wrote the blog and I did follow her link to Hillary's Education platform on NEA's server which said all the right things...well not all of the right things, but some of the right things. Missing, however, was detail about how those things would be accomplished and what they would be replaced with...for example,
Hillary Clinton supports reducing the role of standardized tests in public education, and she supports NEA's push to create an opportunity dashboard, understanding the multiple measures that we must address and monitor to truly close the opportunity achievement gaps between students. She has committed to fighting to provide equal opportunity to have access to arts education, school nurses, librarians, and counselors, and funding so all students can succeed, regardless of their ZIP code.
Sounds great, right? Reducing the role of testing is something I would like to see, but what about teachers being evaluated by test scores, loss of due process, and loss of collective bargaining rights? What about the connection between poverty and low achievement?

Furthermore, how does her policy differ from that of Bernie Sanders? Martin O'Malley? Lawrence Lessig (did you even know he was running? Read Republic, Lost)? or other candidates?

Mrs. Clinton may indeed be the candidate we ought to support, however, I think we need to have more information before we endorse someone.

Here's what I wrote as a response to An Educator for Hillary (I've fixed a couple of typos, added a link, and made one sentence bold).
The NEA board has decided for the rest of us that there is no need to get any assurances that our endorsement for a candidate will bring support for public education other than some vague references to "every child and teacher will get support."

What is Hillary's stand on Charter schools and the massive amounts of corruption which privatization has brought to so many states and school districts? More accountability? What does accountability mean for charter schools? More tests? Publicly elected school boards? Open enrollment or will Charters still be allowed to skim the cream? Will charters still be allowed to hire "teachers" with no credentials?

What is Hillary's stand on the Common Core? We know Lily loves it, but that doesn't mean that it's not developmentally inappropriate. What about the cut scores manipulated by state houses and governors in order to "prove that public education is failing?" What about the overuse and misuse of standardized testing -- both Common Core related and otherwise?

What is Hillary's stand on vouchers? Will there be any attempt to do away with public tax money going to religious schools?

What about due process for K-12 teachers (aka tenure)? Collective bargaining? Where are the details to Hillary's education platform? What about test based evaluations? What about Teach for America?

Why didn't we get (or get to see) the details BEFORE we endorsed someone?

In 2008 we endorsed President Obama who "sincerely" told us that we didn't devote our lives to testing...we devoted our lives to teaching and teaching is what we ought to be allowed to do. That, and a "seat at the table" was enough for us...endorsement done. Look what we got...Arne Duncan -- who never set foot in a public school as either a student or a teacher -- and Race to the Top which doubled down on No Child Left Behind's labeling of low test takers as losers. Arne Duncan, who cheered when an entire school full of teachers in Rhode Island were fired because the school was "low achieving" (aka filled with high poverty students). Arne Duncan, who manipulated federal dollars meant for low income students so that it became a contest to see which states could raise the caps on Charters fast enough and evaluate teachers based on test scores.

A seat at the table? Haven't we learned anything?


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The narrow pursuit of test results has sidelined education issues of enduring importance such as poverty, equity in school funding, school segregation, health and physical education, science, the arts, access to early childhood education, class size, and curriculum development. We have witnessed the erosion of teachers’ professional autonomy, a narrowing of curriculum, and classrooms saturated with “test score-raising” instructional practices that betray our understandings of child development and our commitment to educating for artistry and critical thinking. And so now we are faced with “a crisis of pedagogy”–teaching in a system that no longer resembles the democratic ideals or tolerates the critical thinking and critical decision-making that we hope to impart on the students we teach.
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Stop the Testing Insanity!


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A Manifesto for a Revolution in Public Education
Click here to sign the petition.

For over a decade...“reformers” have proclaimed that the solution to the purported crisis in education lies in more high stakes testing, more surveillance, more number crunching, more school closings, more charter schools, and more cutbacks in school resources and academic and extra-curricular opportunities for students, particularly students of color. As our public schools become skeletons of what they once were, they are forced to spend their last dollars on the data systems, test guides, and tests meant to help implement the “reforms” but that do little more than line the coffers of corporations, like Pearson, Inc. and Microsoft, Inc.

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