"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

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Life is Like a Sonnet

Today would have been Madeline L'Engle's 97th birthday. She was born on November 29, 1918 in New York.

L'Engle's writing was, according to an article in the Huffington Post today by Claire Fallon, for the oddball in everyone.

Madeleine L'Engle, The YA Author For The Oddball In Everyone
L’Engle’s Wrinkle in Time quintet isn’t just for the oddballs, though. It’s for the oddball in every single one of us. In L’Engle’s books, there’s no one standing onstage who’s simply normal, accepted, whole. Reading the series is a course in learning that every person faces their own path to feeling normal, and their own obstacles to feeling special.
L'Engle was best known for her Wrinkle in time Quintet, A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Many Waters, and An Acceptable Time. The books trace the adventures of the Murry children: Meg, her brother Charles Wallace, twins Sandy and Dennys, and others, as they travel through the tesseract.

A Wrinkle in Time is a frequently challenged book because it refers to witches and crystal balls. L'Engle herself was a strong Episcopalian...and a universalist, which resulted in objections to her work from those who insisted that their truth was the only truth.

Her biography on Wikipedia claims that she...
...wrote her first story at age five and began keeping a journal at age eight.[5] These early literary attempts did not translate into academic success at the New York City private school where she was enrolled. A shy, clumsy child, she was branded as stupid by some of her teachers. Unable to please them, she retreated into her own world of books and writing.
A writer's personal history is always instrumental in their creativity. However I have to believe that, had she been better served at school, she still would have written her stories...another reason to encourage creativity, originality, and problem solving over test and punish education.

As I was reading about her I noticed her wonderful attitude about aging. She once wrote,
The great thing about getting older is that you don't lose all the other ages you've been.
Here's to the oddballs among us.


###

Friday, November 27, 2015

Tomorrow's Teachers?

WHO WILL STAFF TOMORROW'S CLASSROOMS?

A Not Quitting Letter

Earlier this month blogger Peter Greene struck back against the increasingly frequent "teacher quits via internet post" genre. He wrote a "not quitting" letter to an imaginary school board.
So I will stay here, and I will do what I consider-- in my professional opinion-- to do what is best for my students and my community. When I am told to implement a bad policy, I will circumvent it by any means at my disposal. I will disregard directives to commit malpractice. I will question, I will challenge, and I will push back. I will speak at every board meeting. I will talk to every parent.
Unfortunately, not everyone can do that. To his credit, he did acknowledge that not everyone is in position to do what he suggested. In the school I volunteer at, for example, anyone who did what he said would get fired due to insubordination.
Yes, I know. Not everyone is in the position to be this feisty and confrontational, and not every situation lends itself to this approach. I'm not advocating this for every single teacher up against it. And yes-- lots of teachers have adopted this "stay and fight" stance-- they just haven't written a letter announcing it.

As I said, I am not unsympathetic to those who quit. You can only take as much as you can take.
I get it. Teachers who are strong will stay in the classroom...until they can't. Some teachers will leave because they can't handle the cognitive dissonance of the education malpractice they are forced to dump on their students...and would rather quit than be fired (because, while it's always been possible to fire teachers, it's even easier now).

Some teachers will do what Greene has said...they'll fight back, subvert the malpractice process, and stand up to the "reformers." Some might even be able to do that without getting fired.

Some teachers will stay and do what they're told because they believe they can overcome the educational malpractice forced upon them by "excellent teaching." Those are also the teachers who Greene is speaking of...those teachers who can deal with all the paperwork and all the wasted time in test prep and testing, and still make sure that their students are active learners...and still make sure that their students are evaluated in ways which reflect their real learning, rather than on the basis of an annual BS test (Greene's way of referring to the "Big Standardized test").

Some teachers will stay in the classroom, do what they're told, and participate in the educational malpractice because they don't know what else to do. They'll do what they're told when it's time to beat test prep into their students' heads. They'll do what they're told when they're told to limit the curriculum to "tested content." They'll ignore or repress the feelings of cognitive dissonance because they don't know how to combat them.

Some teachers – as witnessed by the numbers of people leaving the profession (and the lack of numbers entering it) – will leave.

A Not So Graceful Exit: Why I Left Teaching

How can you defend what you're doing to your students if you don't believe it's in their best interest? How can you subject them to the educational malpractice of 'reform' and tell them that you know it's not good for them, but you have to do it anyway? Someone else will do the same thing to them if you quit...someone who might not understand them as well as you do. When do you tell them that enough if enough and you can't be the one to do this to them any more?

You do it when you decide that you have to take care of yourself, too.

If you think it's easy to quit when you care about your students, read this. Staying, fighting, and risking getting fired takes courage...but sometimes so does walking away.
So, I quit. I’m not going to be the messenger that tells my students that they have to take another test. I am not going to spend another class period telling them I cannot help them get through a test they don’t understand.


Why today’s college students don’t want to be teachers

All but the most partisan (pro-"reform") among us recognize that there is a looming, if not current, teacher shortage in Indiana and the U.S. Why are today's college students choosing other ways to "give back" to the community?

The word is out. Not only do teachers have a difficult job, but they are disrespected, scolded, insulted, and derided.
Calling today’s undergraduates privileged or spoiled is similarly reductionistic. Certainly, economic diversity remains a persistent problem in American higher education. But one can find numerous examples of students who, despite growing up in poverty and navigating tragically under-resourced schools, persevere to become the first in their family to attend college. These remarkable individuals are among the most likely to pursue careers in social work, community organizing, or public health with plans to return home and give back to their communities.

But they do not want to become teachers.

This is more than just an unfortunate trend. When our brightest young college graduates, especially those who reflect the increasing diversity found in our public schools, eschew teaching we need to ask why.
The atmosphere surrounding teachers and public education has been toxic...and no amount of denial by politicians saying, "We love our teachers" will change that.
University of California-Davis Education Dean Harold Levine went further, urging leaders to do more “by creating an environment free of teacher bashing and the politicization of our jobs.”
Teachers are losing the freedom to actually impact students' lives due to restrictions and high-stakes tests. Teachers are also losing job benefits and rights such as collective bargaining, seniority, and economic stability. This is enough to direct college students' attention to other careers.
But finding candidates to fill this role, especially good candidates, may be more difficult than policymakers are willing to admit. Despite their clear interest in public service, the students I meet betray little enthusiasm for teaching as it now exists. And I see even less indication that major trends in public education—standardization, the proliferation of testing, the elimination of tenure and seniority, and expansion of school choice—have made teaching any more attractive as a career option. Prospective teachers, much like the young educators already working in schools, are especially skeptical of accountability measures that tie a teacher’s job security or pay grade to student test scores. And many are bothered by the way teachers are blamed for much broader social problems.


We must despise our kids: Our ugly war on teachers must end now: Republicans and Democrats can agree on one thing: Demonizing teachers. It's the "reformers" doing the most harm

The demonizing of teachers and teachers unions is a bipartisan effort (until, of course, one needs a political endorsement). Democrats and Republicans alike have fallen into the trap of accountability – as if teachers and schools should be held accountable for the failure of America to deal with its deplorable child poverty rate.

Instead of fixing social problems, improving schools, and providing support services, politicians take no responsibility for the problems in high poverty areas. Like the irresponsible parent who doesn't think they have to do anything to support their child's learning, politicians, pundits, and policy makers call out the schools when hungry or traumatized children have difficulty learning. They incorrectly label schools as "failing" when they, themselves, fail to do their jobs. They blame teachers and schools for not solving the problems of poverty and violence in our cities, towns, and rural areas. Accountability isn't for legislators, governors, or mayors.

Democrats and Republicans alike have sold out the public schools to "choice" and allowed the "choosers" to suck up tax money previously reserved for neighborhood schools. Parents don't get to choose. Charter schools get to choose. Private schools – using tax money to repair church steeples or add on extra classrooms for religious instruction – get to choose. If you have a high needs child you get to "choose" the now underfunded public schools because there are no other options.

Democrats and Republicans alike have allowed themselves to be bought by lobbyists working for for-profit or religious schools. The constituency is not longer the voting public, but the hedge fund managers, the "reform" think tank, or the CMO.

The attack on public education continues. Why are we surprised when fewer young people want to opt for a career in the classroom?
Obviously the main culprit of this tremendous and damaging shortfall in student learning is austerity budgeting around the country. Most funding for public schools comes from the states, and they have not rebounded to pre-recession funding levels, nor have they made education enough of a priority to keep up. Though teaching children is routinely stated as our nation’s most important priority in political campaigns, we treat it in the exact opposite manner in budget documents.

But there’s a bigger point to be made here, first brought up by blogger Duncan Black, aka Atrios. Speaking of teachers, Atrios wrote, “who could have predicted that demonizing them, cutting salaries and benefits, and reducing job security might make it a slightly less attractive option for people.”

The amazing thing is just how bipartisan this campaign to denigrate the American teacher has been... [emphasis added]


STILL HOPE

'Some of the best people I know'

And yet there's still hope. A young teacher, still untouched by cynicism, writes about her fellow teachers. Can people like this writer hold on long enough to give us a chance to turn things around? Can she and her colleagues overburdened with ever larger class sizes and ever more tests remain in the classroom long enough to see a return to America's promise of good public schools for every child in every neighborhood?
My first-year teaching experience boils down to this: No matter how rough my day is, nothing has made me regret the decision to teach. Every day I watch my students grow – not just as learners, but as people. Teaching can easily become all-consuming. While I may not have the free time I did when I worked 9 to 5, I still meet up with friends, I still run road races, I still read for pleasure. I haven’t lost myself completely. I feel free and fulfilled.

There are plenty of challenges in the field of education. Have those challenges caused a teacher shortage? It seems so. These challenges, however, aren’t a death toll; they are a call to action.

Teaching is for the brave, the caring, the quick-witted and the thick-skinned. If that doesn’t sound like you, then stay away. As for the rest of you, we have some openings.


~~~

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.
~~~

Stop the Testing Insanity!


~~~

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.

~~~

~~~


~~~

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

More Random Quotes - November 2015

PERSONAL ATTACKS ARE TAKEN PERSONALLY

A letter to the governor: This is what I take personally

A high school teacher, tired of being vilified by politicians who have no idea what it's like to teach in a public school, responded to the governor of Indiana.

Indiana's official test, ISTEP, has had a rough time lately. It was invalid, unreliable, poorly administered by the testing company, and then beset with problems during scoring. The test was harder than in previous years because: "rigor." Once the scoring was finally finished, the government decided that more students had to fail and raised the cut scores. Cut scores, remember, are arbitrary and don't reflect anything other than the whim of, in this case, the State Board of Education. The governor, Mike Pence, told teachers in Indiana not to take it personally when the scores were low...even though the scores are used to evaluate them, determine their pay, and grade their schools.

When attacks are so obviously aimed at teachers, their public schools, and their students, it's hard not to take it personally.

From Donna Roof...
When I see individuals with no educational or teaching experience making decisions that affect students and teachers, I take it personally.

When I see teachers not being viewed as the experts of the classroom, I take it personally. [emphasis in original]

TEACHERS KEEP WORKING

Carol Burris: New York’s Teacher Evaluation Crashes and Burns, Again

Since the passage of No Child Left Behind in 2001, America's teachers have continued to go to work every day, helping the children of the nation grow and learn. Despite the misinformation, distortions, and outright lies, teachers continue to do their job. Despite the public trashing of teachers, professional educators thicken their skin, close their eyes and ears to the noise from without, and take up the task of educating the next generation of citizens.

From Carol Burris...
Meanwhile, teachers and principals go about their daily responsibilities, trying to educate the state’s children, while the politicians continue to meddle in matters they don’t understand.

MEDDLING MEDDLERS

Gates Foundation put millions of dollars into new education focus: Teacher preparation

Bill Gates has no idea what public education is. At age 13 he started at Lakeside School, a private preparatory school in Seattle. He never studied education. He never taught in public schools. He dropped out of college and became a billionaire. Money, however, does not qualify one to make educational policy for the nation.

From Valerie Strauss...
There are already excellent working models for just about everything that Gates has funded in public education in the last 15 years — how to design and operate small schools, quality standards, fair and reliable teacher evaluation, and now, teacher prep. How many times do educators need to attempt to reinvent the wheel just because someone with deep pockets wants to try when the money could almost certainly be more usefully spent somewhere else?


NOW IT'S NOT FAIR

Selective outrage about testing

As long as the the schools which were damaged by inadequate, faulty standardized tests weren't in their systems, local superintendents were free to ignore what was going on. Now, the final attack against Indiana's public education is underway. The state is poised to claim that half of our schools are "failures" opening the door to opening more privately run charter schools and giving more money to religious groups, sucking the funds meant for real public schools.

Now local superintendents are stepping up and decrying the attack on public education. It's about time.

From Steve Hinnefeld...
Indiana schools have finally received their preliminary 2015 ISTEP test results, and school officials aren’t happy. Superintendents, especially, are pushing back hard.

In media stories and statements to the public, they have called aspects of this year’s tests “not fair,” “a complete fiasco” and “almost unfathomable.” The setting of grades, they said, was arbitrary and invalid.

On the one hand, good for them. On the other, where were they when test scores and a similarly arbitrary process were being used to label other people’s schools as failing?

STILL NOT QUALIFIED

NC: Queen of NCLB Takes Over University

Margaret Spellings, the Secretary of Education during Bush II's second term, had a big part in the NCLB law. Now, as the President of the University of North Carolina system she brings her lack of education expertise to the post secondary level.

Spellings, who has a bachelor's degree in political science, claimed that she was qualified to be the US Secretary of Education because she was a mom. It was her idea to fail third graders who "didn't pass the test." She was stuck in the false dichotomy of retention in grade or social promotion. The truth is Spellings was never qualified to be Secretary of Education. She was never qualified to do anything in the field of education. She's just one more, in a long line of political hacks, who needed a patronage job and was dumped on the nation's schools.

On Monday Spellings doubled down on NCLB...despite its widely recognized failure...despite the damage done to America's public schools by obsessive and punitive testing. She still voices the opinion that schools fail – and by "fail" she means test scores – when the truth, to anyone with the brains to see it, is that society fails. Spellings is still not qualified to pontificate about public education. She's barely qualified to erase the chalkboards...

From Peter Greene...
...the most troubling part of this is that Spellings was there in Texas and DC with Bush and Rod Paige, which means she had front row seats for the massive fiction that was the Texas Miracle. It was the Texas Miracle that was used to sell us No Child Left Behind, which means that anybody involved in that sales job ends up looking like either a fool or a liar.


"YOU COULD DO SO MUCH BETTER...

When People Say "Just Try Harder" to People with ADHD

...if you would just try harder." I heard that for most of my student years. My mother always told me that my "I will..." was less than my "I can..."

It wasn't until I was an adult and learned about ADHD that I realized that it wasn't a question of me trying harder...it was a question of me not being able to control the distractions that prevented me from learning. It took me until adulthood to realize I wasn't lazy, stupid, or crazy.

From Dana Rayburn...
The “just try harder” approach touches a nerve in me. Like most adults with ADHD, I have a long, unpleasant history with those words. My elementary school teachers wrote on my report cards, “If only Dana would try harder….” Teachers said the same thing in junior high and high school.

FEAR AND LOATHING IN AMERICA

Freedom vs. Fear: Restricting Religious Liberty Isn't The Answer To Terrorism

From Rob Boston...
...when you hear someone begin a sentence with a phrase like “All Muslims,” “Islam says” or even “Muslims believe,” stop and think. The statement that will flow from that isn’t likely to be accurate. Muslims account for 1.6 billion people in the world. It’s absurd to think a body that large all would believe the same thing. The 2.2 billion Christians in the world certainly don’t.


~~~

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.
~~~

Stop the Testing Insanity!


~~~

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.

~~~

~~~


~~~

Sunday, November 22, 2015

"This is Stupid!"

All we need are higher standards and harder, better tests to miraculously solve all our student achievement problems...from those caused by learning disabilities to the economic and racial achievement gaps.

STANDARDS

Feds: IEPs Should Align With Grade-Level Standards

The US Department of Education came out with new Guidance.
In guidance released Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Education said that all IEPs should conform to “the state’s academic content standards for the grade in which the child is enrolled.”
Do the unqualified and inexperienced non-educators who run the USED (yes, I'm talking to you, Secretary Duncan and your Gates Foundation cronies) understand what IEP means? Of course the goal should (and always has been) for students to learn as much as they are able, but the /I/ in IEP stands for individual. Standards which are intended as a one-size-fits-all guide to learning ought to be adjusted for individual goals.
There are caveats, however, for the “very small number” of students with the most significant cognitive disabilities, write Michael K. Yudin and Melody Musgrove from the Education Department’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services in their seven-page “Dear Colleague” letter. States are allowed to establish “alternate academic achievement standards” for these students.
We learned last year that the attorney-not-educator Yudin, seems to believe that higher expectations will yield the miracle which will equalize all students' learning capabilities. Nothing has changed, according to the USED.
The guidance does not impose new rules on states or school districts, but offers information to assist those entities in meeting their obligations under existing law, the Education Department said.
But teachers still don't have high enough expectations.
To help make certain that children with disabilities are held to high expectations and have meaningful access to a State’s academic content standards, we write to clarify that an individualized education program (IEP) for an eligible child with a disability under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) must be aligned with the State’s academic content standards for the grade in which the child is enrolled.
Apparently Yudin and Musgrove, writing for USED, don't believe that teachers have high enough expectations for students in special education. We need to raise the bar higher, call for tougher, one-size-fits-all standards, add more high-stakes tests, and "accountability."

Because that has worked so well for general education since the 2001 adoption of No Child Left Behind.


TESTING

Politicians give lip-service to "there's more to school than testing," but no one seems to be willing to remove the high-stakes from testing. Accountability, it seems, is still only measured by test scores...and if "the test" can't measure everything, then we need a new test, not a new acknowledgement that high-stakes testing is destroying our schools, teachers, and students.

Other, higher achieving countries, seem to survive with fewer tests, but the excuse that "those countries are different" comes from the no-excuses crowd and drowns out what is often the big difference in our societies – the percentage of children who live in poverty.

In a 1989 interview, Dr. Carl Sagan discussed our child poverty level.
...we have permitted the amount of poverty in children to increase. Before the end of this century [20th] more than half the kids in America may be below the poverty line. What kind of a future do we build for the country if we raise all these kids as disadvantaged, as unable to cope with the society, as resentful for the injustice served up to them. This is stupid.
Dr. Sagan's prediction about child poverty has come closer to being fulfilled. As of 2013, more than half of all public school children in the United States live in poverty. Nearly half of America's children live in low-income families, and half of them, live below the federal poverty level.

The correlation between achievement and poverty is well known. More testing doesn't help. More high-stakes tests and higher cut scores don't help. Tougher standards don't help. What children need instead of more accountability is for us to provide the schools our children deserve. The Chicago Teachers Union provided research and information on how to do this in their publication, The Schools Chicago's Students Deserve.
  • Recognize That Class Size Matters
  • Educate The Whole Child. We need to stop eliminating non-tested subjects from the curriculum. Children need the arts and Physical Education, Vocational Education, Social Studies, hands on Science, and recess in addition to Reading and Math.
  • Create More Robust Wrap-around Services. Counselors, nurses, social workers and psychologists are part of a completely staffed school building.
  • Address Inequities In Our System. Only three nations spend more money for their wealthy children's education than for their poor children's education. The U.S. is one of those nations.
  • Help Students Get Off To A Good Start. Early childhood education needs to be funded and supported.
  • Respect And Develop The Professionals.
  • Teach All Students. Public schools accept all children. Funding needs to be available to support the staff and materials needed to meet the needs of all students.
  • Provide Quality School Facilities
  • Partner With Parents
  • Fully Fund Education
All that's missing is the determination to do what needs to be done...the money backing up our up-till-now false claim that the education of our children is important to this nation.


Behind in assessment and losing the shame game

Why do we just throw out soundbites about how we're so far behind other nations? Why don't we spend time analyzing what successful nation's do?

Instead, we double down on high-stakes tests and blame students for not working hard, teachers for being lazy union do-nothings, and schools for "failing."

When we talk about the relationship between poverty and achievement we're told not to make excuses – although lately more and more "failing" charter schools have caught on that you can't eliminate the high national poverty level from within the classroom.

When students struggle we respond with harder standards. When students do well on tests we raise the cuts scores to increase failure.

Are we trying to make our schools fail? I think the answer is, "yes." Failing public schools means more privatization which means more charter and tax supported private schools. It means weaker unions which means lower wages, which means more profit.
... most Americans are generally satisfied with their local schools and dismally uncertain about all the others.

...it seems to me if we really wanted the public to look closer and try to understand why PISA, NAEP, and other kinds of assessments are important, we would need to do more than just shame public schools. We’d need to have a thoughtful and nuanced conversation about why some education systems have been able to improve student performance and others haven’t. We’d have to look at culture, resources, leadership, teacher training, and national sentiment. We’d have to analyze gaps of all kinds, not just achievement. And we’d have to use the information to help teachers and education leaders understand why others are making progress without humiliating them in the comparison.

... comparing tests scores among students and nations offers little value if shame is the only thing that comes of it. If we don’t extract some information about how to improve our own unique education system and acknowledge that real and significant differences exist among all systems, then why make the comparisons in the first place?

...In recent years, education policy has shifted toward high-stakes accountability based almost entirely on test scores. Yet the path toward a larger, more strategic investment in education that includes strategies and incentives to promote the social and emotional success of students is virtually untrodden.
It's the money. We're moving towards a profit centered education system where low overhead and profits are the goals instead of higher achieving students.

What kind of future are we building for our nation?

As Sagan said, "this is stupid."



~~~

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.
~~~

Stop the Testing Insanity!


~~~

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.

~~~

~~~


~~~

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

2015 Medley #36

Speaking Out, Poverty, "reform," Charters, Finland, Choice, A Teaching Career, 
Teacher Burnout


A SUPERINTENDENT SPEAKS OUT

A Note from Dr. Downs

A local superintendent speaks out to reassure parents whose children are going to bring home lower test scores. While the scores of Indiana students on the NAEP test have never been higher, the fools in Indianapolis have overseen a circus surrounding the ISTEP test...a more difficult (and age inappropriate) test complete with screwed up technological problems and screwed up scoring, and higher cut scores.

A principal at a local school explained it as follows. "Imagine that last year you took a test and 70% was a passing score. Now imagine that this year you're given a harder test, and then, to add insult to injury, you're told, after you took the test, that more people need to fail, so we're raising the passing score to 90%." That's what the State of Indiana has done to its children.

This is the test that will be used to grade students, schools (and by proxy, their communities) and evaluate teachers. More principals and superintendents need to speak out against the continuing test-based abuse of our children, teachers, and our public schools.
We have a system where schools are graded based on their performance on one highly flawed test. These grades have a profound and wholly unfair effect on the reputation of the school district and the residents of those districts, not to mention the children of those districts. Also, we have laws on the books that require teachers’ pay to be tied to the consistent performance of children on these flawed tests. An endearing trait of children is their desire to please. I do not care what the rhetoric on teacher merit pay says, children feel responsible for test scores in ways they should not, and that is not healthy for them.

POVERTY

New Study: Hungry kids score lower on tests. Shocking news?

In the "this isn't news any more" category, we find out that students who are hungry have trouble concentrating on learning. Not just in the US, but world wide.
Here's a shocker for you. Latest research coming out of Cardiff University confirms that kids who come to school hungry score lower on standardized tests than kids who are fed well. The latter group of the study's 11-year-olds scored twice as high as the hungry students.

More evidence that basing teacher evaluations on student test scores is bogus. What the tests are mostly measuring is student/family poverty -- not so-called "student achievement". Of course, by now nearly everyone in the field realizes this. Thus the growing movement of resistance to testing madness that have forced some small retreats in federal and state testing policies. Or maybe just lip service to change?

http://mattbruenig.com/2012/05/01/why-do-poor-kids-do-worse-in-school/

"rEFORM"

The Tide is Turning: TeachStrong has Backfired

I've already written about how I thought it was foolish of NEA to join with "reformer" groups in TeachStrong. Mitchell Robinson goes a step further giving me hope that the "reform" is starting to lose its luster.
It's becoming clear that recent events in the education reform movement, like the bungled rollout of the #TeachStrong initiative, are actually the first vestiges of the death knells of the reform agenda.

For those unaware of TeachStrong, its an initiative that brings together the two national teachers unions (i.e., NEA and AFT) with over 40 of the leading organizations from the corporate reform movement, including Teach for America, the National Center for Teacher Quality, Education Post, and the CCSSO--the good folks who helped spawn the Common Core. (For a comprehensive review of TeachStrong's 9 Step Plan, please read Peter Green's excellent essay here.)

If you think this sounds like an unlikely alliance, then you are seeing the issue more clearly than the leaders of the 2 unions, who are either denying that a partnership actually exists (Lily Eskelen: "These are not the Droids you are looking for."), or trying to unionsplain it all away as "just good policy" (introducing Randi Weingarten: your new Secretary of Education).

...It has also become increasingly clear that the reformers' efforts have had no positive impact on anything other than their investors' bank accounts...

Mom to governor: ‘Please buy my child a teacher’
Will the governor read this excellent letter? I doubt it.
Please transfer my taxes from the purchase of things to the purchase of people.
Spend less on assessment and more on relationships.
Spend less on hardware and more on hearts.
Spend less on worksheets and more on wisdom.
Spend less on standards and more on students.
Buy my child a person.
Buy my child a teacher.

CHARTERS

Study supports assertion against charters

Will this new study be buried or will it start a discussion which will lead to changing the way Indiana's charter schools operate?

Despite the fact that charter schools are publicly funded, I will never consider charters "public schools" until they are all non-profit, until they provide the same information regarding their operation and finances as real public schools, and until they are required to enroll all students and provide a free, appropriate, public education.
...a new federal study confirms that charter schools, indeed, educate fewer special education students.

Civil rights data collected by the National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools find that, on average, charter schools enroll proportionally fewer students with disabilities than traditional public schools. That holds for Indiana schools, where 14.86 percent of students in traditional public schools have disabilities, compared with 12.9 percent of charter-school students.


FINLAND

First Grade Math Tests in American and Finnish Classrooms

How is it possible that Finland's students achieve so well when they don't take standardized tests every year?
Burris made a startling observation as she studied this first grade math test. The publisher of the first grade math curriculum (where the test comes from) is Pearson. This is the same company that designs standardized tests for most New York students in grades three through eight. In 2010, Pearson inked a 5-year contract with the state of New York for 32 million dollars (US).

Can you see the conflict of interest here? The same company that is being paid to design standardized tests for New York students is also being paid to design curriculum for New York students. It’s in the interest of Pearson to design curriculum that will help students to succeed on their standardized tests.

This conflict of interest doesn’t exist here in Finland. There is just one high-stakes standardized test. Students are only eligible to take this matriculation exam after passing their high school courses. The exam is not designed by a publishing company; it’s created by an external board that’s nominated by the Finnish Ministry of Education.

In theory, this means that commercial curricular programs in Finland are designed to maximize student-learning; succeeding on standardized tests is a non-factor when curriculum is created.

CHOICE

The frightening implications of school choice

Choice, in Chicago's public schools, means Mayor Emanuel's choice to close public schools and use public funds to open privately operated charter schools. It means choosing to fund city schools so that many don't have libraries. It means choosing to fire career teachers and replace them with novices. It means choosing to eliminate the arts and physical education from some schools. It means choosing to ignore the needs and wishes of citizens so that cronies can reap the profits from privatization.
I don't care what anyone tells me about competition among schools making them all better, or how being able to pursue individual preference is paramount to all Americans. I don't care. The real impact of choice is entirely, 100% negative on our neighborhoods, on our communities, our cities. All of them.

Because "choice" of this kind quietly diminishes the real power of our democratic voice while it upholds the promise of individual consumer preferences above all else...

...Most of us are savvy enough to know that the future goal and end game of "school choice" is the breakdown of a fully funded public school system in favor of full privatization. But there's more going on here, and it has to do with the breakdown of our democratic voice as we are spoon-fed false promises of individual consumer preference. Is this a trade we're really willing to make?

IN NO OTHER PROFESSION

Let's play teacher

Many politicians, pundits, policy makers, and "reformers" seem to believe that everyone who has ever been to school is qualified to be a teacher, pontificate about education policy, or know everything there is to know about education.

People like this don't stop to think that their knowledge of education entered their memories through immature eyes and brains. They didn't know all the background work that teachers had to do in order to plan a lesson or grade a set of essays. When you were 8 years old, did you know where your third grade teacher got the construction paper for you to make turkeys at Thanksgiving? When you were 14 did you think about where your science teacher got the idea to have you dissect a frog? When you were 17 did you stop to imagine how long it took your English teacher to grade your research paper (and 120 others)?

Have you ever noticed how star athletes make their jobs look easy? In the same way, excellent teachers make teaching look easy. Policy makers who have no clue about public education remember the "good" teachers from their childhood and youth who made education look easy. They have no idea how much hard work, time, and effort goes into preparation and grading. They have no idea how much a teacher's education and experience gives them insight into how children behave,  how children think, or how children learn. Instead they seem to believe that anyone who has ever been to school can be an education "expert."
No other profession sees anything quite like it.

Sure, we occasionally see stories about a guy who declares himself a doctor and sets up a practice with no real qualifications. Or a person who just opens a law office without benefit of a legal degree. Or a person who finds ordination documents on line and declares himself a preacher.

We have names for these people. Charlatan. Faker. Con artist. And they generally keep a low profile because everyone understands that such behavior is wrong.

...These folks want to play teacher without understanding what it actually means. Being a teacher does not mean delivering a script, it does not mean focusing on BS Tests as a measure of success, it does not mean [sending] the weakest "teachers" into the neediest classrooms, and it does not mean aligning slavishly to a set of mediocre amateur-hour national standards.
Humor Interlude

Bill Maher claims that there is another profession that, like education, has people believing that anyone can do it...and he proves it with the current crop of presidential candidates.

The following link takes you to a video which is definitely NSFW. Maher uses vulgar language and may offend some readers.

Bill Maher -- what other job...
...85% of Iowa Republicans say they find the total lack of government experience to be his biggest selling point...


TEACHER BURN OUT

Burnt out: teachers overwhelmed and resigning

"Reformers" have done their best to make teaching difficult, if not impossible. Why are teachers leaving?
Amanda is not alone. Numerous teachers across the country and in Lake County [Florida] are leaving the education field because of the implementation of the standards, an impossible work load and lack of support from administration.

“About 30 percent of new teachers flee the profession after just three years and more than 45 percent leave after five,” according to the George Lucas Educational Foundation.

Further, a survey of 4,400 current and former public school teachers found about 51 percent who left teaching in 2012-13 reported their work load was better in their current position than in teaching, according to the National Center For Education Statistics...

~~~

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.
~~~

Stop the Testing Insanity!


~~~

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.

~~~

~~~


~~~

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Our Students' Voice

In my last post, I took Lily Eskelsen Garcia and the NEA to task for not acting in the best interest of children, teachers, and American public schools.

Today, however, I'd like to thank Lily for her words of support and her understanding of what it actually means to spend a year in a classroom. Here is the story of her flight encounter with a businessman, the "man in the middle seat," who challenged her to tell him what we really need in public education. Her answer was a simple sentence, and you can click on the link below to hear it, but her deeper answer was something that is important for all teachers to hear and understand.

She said to her audience...
I'm an educator. It's up to me to educate the "man in the middle seat..."
All public school educators should adopt that attitude. We are the political voice of our students. Without us they are silenced, disenfranchised, and at the mercy of policy makers, most of whom have never taught a day in a public school, who think that privatization is the simple answer to improving our schools.

It's up to us, America's educators, to educate our fellow citizens. We can't make them listen, but they will never hear us if we are silent. American public education is being dismantled and sold off to the highest bidder and it's our responsibility to shout "STOP!"

Lily listed what public education does for America's children. Her list is long, but it's still just a partial list. She didn't include that we serve some kids two meals a day, provide grief counseling, clothe children who come to school without shoes or coats, help them across the street, give them the opportunity to express themselves through the arts, and provide some with the only safe environment they experience. I'm sure there are more...

She talked very fast, and I think that she stumbled over a few words while she was racing through the list, but to the best of my ability, here is her list..

A plane passenger asked a teacher a kind of rude question about her job. She responded eloquently!
I'm an educator. It's up to me to educate the "man in the middle seat" as much as to educate a politician about what happens in any given typical school on any given typical day...
  • we serve kids a hot meal,
  • we put bandaids on boo boos,
  • we diversify our curriculum instruction to meet the personal and individual needs of all our students, the blind, the hearing impaired, the physically challenged, the gifted and talented, the chronically tardy, and the medically annoying,
  • we make sure they've had their immunizations,
  • we make sure they understand disease control,
  • we teach them to resist drugs, alcohol, tobacco,
  • we give career counseling, pregnancy counseling, mental health counseling,
  • we get them on the bus safely. we take them off the bus safely,
  • we provide computer instruction, sex education,
  • we stop bullying and teach them to say, "I'm sorry" and mean it,
  • we instill an understanding of civil rights, the political process, challenge racism, foster social tolerance, and an appreciation of our cultural and religious diversity,
  • we teach the principles of free enterprise, how to be a good sport,
  • we develop personal responsibility, practice bicycle safety and check for head lice,
  • we provide bilingual education, teach metrics, how to be a wise consumer, exercise for weight control, how to drive a car,
  • we teach the impact of wars, develop collaborative skills, how to tune a violin, how to use reason and evidence to protect the future,
  • we teach them to revere their environment and how to manage their money, how to access information, how to make wise choices, how to balance a checkbook,
  • we teach loyalty to the ideals of a democracy,
  • we build patriotism, good oral hygiene, a respect for the worth and dignity of every individual,
  • we nurture curiosity, encourage a good question, build self esteem,
...and then we teach reading, writing and arithmetic.


~~~

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.
~~~

Stop the Testing Insanity!


~~~

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.

~~~

~~~


~~~

Thursday, November 12, 2015

NEA: Acting Against Its Own Interest

I've never been particularly easy on NEA on this blog...and once again I find myself shaking my head because the NEA seems to be acting against its own best interest.

NO ENDORSEMENT

In 2011 I came out against an NEA endorsement of President Obama.
I urge the NEA not to endorse anyone...unless someone comes along who supports public education. As an individual, I will vote for the candidate who, on other issues, most closely fits my beliefs about where the United States should go as a nation, but as an educator I can't, and won't, support any of them.
They didn't listen to me, of course. After the endorsement they came out against Arne Duncan seemingly unaware that Duncan's work was either directed or approved by the same President Obama they just endorsed for reelection.
The NEA Representative Assembly directs the NEA President to communicate aggressively, forcefully, and immediately to President Barack Obama and US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan that NEA is appalled with Secretary Duncan’s practice of:
...insert a list of things Arne has done such as supporting local decisions to fire all school staff indiscriminately, focusing too heavily on competitive grants that by design leave most students behind, and focusing so heavily on charter schools...

NO TO TFA

Then, a few months later, I objected to then NEA President Dennis Van Roekel's op-ed written jointly with TFA's Wendy Kopp which called for the "best preparation possible" for America's teachers. Did Van Roekel think that TFA's 5 week training qualified as "best preparation" for teachers?
The presence of Kopp's name on the editorial implies acceptance of TFA as one of those "best preparation possible" routes.

NO TO GATES MONEY

In June of this year I was pleased to hear NEA President Lily Eskelsen-Garcia say, at the NPE conference, that NEA would not accept money from the Gates Foundation. The cheers from the NPE attendees was loud and long. A few days later she walked back that affirmation. Mercedes Schneider wrote...
But Lily Eskelsen Garcia is willing to defend NEA’s continued receiving of Gates funding on a technicality:

NEA doesn’t directly receive the Gates funding. The NEA Foundation does.

And she completely glosses over her verbal agreement at the NPE conference to no longer even collaborate with Gates.

ANOTHER ENDORSEMENT

Where does Hillary Clinton stand on public education issues? NEA has, with Lily's approval, already endorsed Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination despite her ties to corporate "reformers." We have learned that she is all for reducing testing...
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?
What about Charters? What about Race to the Top, Vouchers, and inequity in funding?

NEA shouldn't endorse anyone until their positions on public education issues are clear. NEA shouldn't endorse anyone until the NEA-RA approves. I know that the NEA rules allows the Board to endorse a candidate for a primary...and it's time to change that. Last election cycle, we endorsed someone whose education policy, Race to the Top, was as destructive to public schools and student learning as was NCLB. Haven't we learned anything from that?

NOW WHAT?

NEA has joined with other groups to "launch a joint campaign to Elevate Educators." The fact that Campbell Brown loves it makes me nervous!

I'm also concerned because, aside from NEA and AFT, and a few other groups, the "Partners" in TeachStrong are a collection of "reformers" like
  • Groups such as CCSSO, Deans for Impact, Education Post, TNTP, and others discussed by Peter Greene, in Teach Strong: Real Wrong
It concerns me that NEA has joined with these other groups whose goals include the destruction of public education and the teaching profession.

The Badass Teachers Association had this to say,

A Challenge To The TeachStrong Campaign By: Marla Kilfoyle, Executive Director, The Badass Teachers Association
To sum it up the #TeachStrong Campaign is just another corporate education reform coalition that ignores
  • Child poverty
  • Institutional racism
  • Destruction of the local school board
  • Destruction of the teaching profession (specifically targeted at Teachers of Color and Veteran Teachers)
  • Destruction of public education
On its surface, the "campaign" might be something which NEA could, or should support, but when you look who is actually participating it becomes just another group of "reformers" trying to increase their bottom line.

For more on #TeachStrong...
~~~

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.
~~~

Stop the Testing Insanity!


~~~

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.

~~~

~~~


~~~

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

2015 Medley #35

Testing (ISTEP), Politics,
Early Childhood Education,
Poverty, Vermont, Charters

ISTEP CUT SCORES

It looks like far fewer Indiana schools could earn an A after ISTEP changes

Cut scores for ISTEP are arbitrary. The new, more difficult, ISTEP, has not been proven to be better than the old ISTEP. Governor Pence and his mouthpieces in the legislature and state board of education are determined to undermine public schools and public school teachers. They confuse the public into thinking that public schools are unsuccessful and deflect attention away from the real problems of public education: inequitable funding and a 22% child poverty rate. Lower scores also mean fewer "merit pay" bonuses, and therefore less money spent on public schools. The article below predicts a 20 percent rise in the number of D and F schools.

Yet Indiana students continue to do well on NAEP...Go figure!
...the Indiana State Board of Education has set the passing cut-off scores for the ISTEP exams...

On average, a 20 percentage point drop in ISTEP scores could move the state from almost 54 percent of schools earning A’s last year to as few as 7 percent earning an A for 2015. Consequently, D’s and F’s could rise from about 8 percent and 5 percent last year to just over 27 percent for both in 2015.

Two key legislative leaders, House education committee chairman Rep. Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis, and Senate education committee chairman Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, said earlier this week that they didn’t support a “pause” in the state’s accountability system. The state board has been similarly opposed to such a move.

...Indiana students are still showing progress based on newly released scores on the National Assessment for Educational Progress at the same time ISTEP scores are expected to come in much lower. Indiana did as well or better than 2013 on NAEP when it came to math and reading scores. It also outranked most other states, most notably in fourth grade math where Indiana ranked fourth.


ISTEP POINT ADJUSTMENT NEEDED

Online ISTEP+ Scores Could See As Much As A Nine-Point Boost

The ISTEP was not ready last year. There were too many problems and it was too long, yet the state forced schools to go ahead and give it. Now, because the difficulty levels differed so much between various forms of the test, the taxpayers had to pay an "expert" to come in and figure out a way to balance the scores so they would be comparable.

People who don't know what they are doing are damaging the education of our children, wasting instructional time with useless standardized tests, and allowing their friends in the test-and-punish industry to pocket more of our tax money which ought to have been used for instruction. It's past time to end the reliance on standardized tests for high stakes decisions like grading schools, evaluating teachers, determining educator pay, and student promotion.
...expert Derek Briggs recommended the board consider awarding bonus points to students who completed the more difficult mode. And that’s what the board voted to do.

In most cases, adjustments will be made for students who completed the online exam, or those who completed paper versions with more complicated math problems. Indiana Department of Education testing director Michele Walker says no student’s score should go down as a result, but some could see a boost of up to nine points.


POLITICS

Eight K-12 Education Questions Every Candidate Needs to Answer

The Network for Public Education has posed eight questions about K-12 education for presidential candidates. Will any of them, Democratic or Republican, respond?
  1. TESTING: Will you end the federal mandate for annual high-stakes testing?
  2. SCHOOL CLOSURES: Will you put an end to school closures based on test scores?
  3. PRIVATIZATION: Will you put an end to the privatization of public education?
  4. FUNDING: Will you ensure public schools are equitably funded?
  5. EQUITY: Will you ensure that all students have equal access the services and resources they need?
  6. TEACHER PROFESSIONALISM: What is your position on the deprofessionalization of teachers?
  7. DEMOCRATICALLY CONTROLLED SCHOOLS: Will you ensure equity in education without eroding democratic control at the state and local level?
  8. STUDENT PRIVACY: Will you defend student privacy?

TOO LITTLE AND TOO LATE

How Kindergarten Teachers Carry Tax Burden of Billionaires • BRAVE NEW FILMS

The video below highlights the extreme income inequity in the US.




EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION

Preschoolers working memory forecasts teenage dropout risk

Here is more research proving that we need a greater investment in early childhood education. This, at least, is being given lip-service by some major party candidates. Many of those same candidates, however, also insist on lowering taxes for the wealthy. The question is, then, how are we going to lower taxes and pay for early childhood education at the same time?
Preschoolers who score lower on a working memory task are likely to score higher on a dropout risk scale at the age of 13, researchers at Université Sainte-Anne and the University of Montreal revealed today. "Dropout risk is calculated from student engagement in school, their grade point average, and whether or not they previously repeated a year in school. Previous research has confirmed that this scale can successfully identify which 12 year olds will fail to complete high school by the age of 21," explained Caroline Fitzpatrick, who led the study as first author. "These findings underscore the importance of early intervention," added Linda Pagani, co-senior author. "Parents are able to help their children develop strong working memory skills in the home and this can have a positive impact." [Emphasis added]

POVERTY

America's Exceptional Child Poverty

Instead of concentrating on ways to reduce poverty in the US, we hear arguments claiming that the poor in our country are better off than the poor in other countries and at least as well off as the poor in the social-democracies of Sweden and Denmark.
This week has turned out to be the week of low-hanging fruit for me. On Monday, we had a misleading Cato post that falsely claimed that the US poor are as well off as the poor in Sweden and Denmark. In fact, the poorest Swedes and poorest Danes have 48% and 63% more income than the poorest Americans, and that's not even counting their free health care and child care. Now, the National Review has decided to walk into the same trap as Cato, claiming that child poverty in the US is not worse than child poverty in other developed countries, so long as you count it in absolute terms.

This claim should strike you as strange. As I pointed out above, the poor in many developed countries are overall better off than the poor in the US. And the US also has a remarkably low level of child benefits, especially benefits that reach the poorest. Together, then, the US should stand out even more in its level of child deprivation than it stands out in its level of overall deprivation. And, of course, it does.

http://www.nccp.org/


THE "PRIVATE SECTOR"

Philanthropy Doesn’t Compensate for State Education Cuts, Study Finds

The Federal government and the various states need to support public education. We can't count on the rich to make up the difference between adequate funding and our current level of funding. Education is a legitimate responsibility of government and we need to get serious about supporting it instead privatizing it.
"There has been a lot of popular press around the issue of parents’ out-of-pocket spending [on education], and kids having to sell candy bars to raise money in recent years," she said. "We wanted to see if we could link it to a loss in revenue at the state level."

Ms. Nelson’s new research didn’t find a causal connection between spending cuts and private fundraising. And the surge of fundraising for public schools appeared to deliver the greatest benefit in communities that needed it the least. Parents in wealthy districts are more likely to have the resources and the will to give their public schools a big boost.

Meanwhile, Ms. Nelson said, "that’s just not happening in poor districts," leading to a wider inequality gap in education.

VERMONT

Vermont to parents: Don’t worry about your child’s Common Core test scores. They don’t mean much.

Vermont gets it...
We call your attention to the box labeled “scale score and overall performance.” These levels give too simplistic and too negative a message to students and parents. The tests are at a very high level. In fact, no nation has ever achieved at such a level. Do not let the results wrongly discourage your child from pursuing his or her talents, ambitions, hopes or dreams.

These tests are based on a narrow definition of “college and career ready.” In truth, there are many different careers and colleges and there are just as many different definitions of essential skills. In fact, many (if not most) successful adults fail to score well on standardized tests. If your child’s scores show that they are not yet proficient, this does not mean that they are not doing well or will not do well in the future.

We also recommend that you not place a great deal of emphasis on the “claims” or sub-scores. There are just not enough test items to give you reliable information.

MOSKOWITZ AGAIN

Eva Moskowitz and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Month

More articles about Moskowitz and her drive to expand her private education empire.
The simple fact is that Moskowitz absolutely cannot keep total control over what people say and know anymore, and it is her own policies of driving away students she does not want and burning out teachers that has put her in this position. So even if she fully recovers from this month, I think it is likely we will see many more months like this.

http://www.uft.org/news-stories/charter-war-all-about-eva

BLAME THE VICTIMS

Moskowitz, Petrilli, and the Hard Truth About America's Schools
Which brings us to a third point: why would we ever be surprised that there is friction in our urban schools given the way we ignore the needs of their students? This nation purposefully segregated its citizens. It then refused to adequately fund its urban schools, even as it ignored the needs of children outside of their schools. It then installed into those schools a hidden curriculum of obedience, even as affluent suburban children benefitted from schools that served as engines of social replication.

All this, and then we're shocked -- shocked, I say! -- to find that students in urban schools think they're getting a raw deal. Most channel their frustration in positive ways; are we surprised that some do not?


~~~

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.
~~~

Stop the Testing Insanity!


~~~

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.

~~~

~~~


~~~