Open Letter: Valerie Strauss, of the WaPo, is a remarkably reliably (and remarkably friendly) critical source on the machinations of the political "education" establishment. In her columns, on the "The Answer Sheet" blog, she has presented alternative views to the corpoRat ravings of the likes of Arne Duncan and Michelkle Rhee. Here she introduces Peggy Robertson, a "teacher explaining why she is offended":
...(She) taught kindergarten, first, second, fourth, fifth and sixth grade in Missouri and Kansas for 10 years. She was hired by Richard C. Owen Publishers in 2001 to serve as a Learning Network coordinator and spent the next three years training teacher leaders and administrators in educational theory and practice in various states. In 2004 she became literacy coordinator for the Adams 50 School District in Westminster, Colorado. A version of this appeared on her blog, Peg with Pen..She knows the bureaucracy, the money guys, and the big wheels. Her "open letter to Prez Shamwow F. Lowbar urges him to renounce the emphasis on testing/accountabilty and to return to a more wholistic conception of the art. There is considerably LESS chance of Pres. Shamwow F. Lowbar actually DOING that than there is of him selling a daughter to horny Arabs.
Strauss, Continued: Soooo-PRAHHS! Turns out all these corpoRat reforms just aren't that helpful for students who aren't already in the middle-class.Who gnu, I asks ya!@
...(A) new study on the effects of this movement in Washington, D.C., New York City and Chicago concludes that little has been accomplished and some harm has been done to students, especially the underprivileged."Market-based" accountability and assessments are short-hand for the imposition of CorpoRat "standards" on public schools for the purpose--mainly--of keeping the Negroes down.
The report looks at the impact of reforms that have been championed by Education Secretary Arne Duncan and other well-known reformers, including Michelle Rhee, the former chancellor of D.C. Public Schools, and, in New York City, Joel Klein, the former chancellor of New York City Public Schools and Mayor Michael Bloomberg. It says:
The reforms deliver few benefits and in some cases harm the students they purport to help, while drawing attention and resources away from policies with real promise to address poverty-related barriers to school success…The full study, titled “Market-oriented education reforms’ rhetoric trumps reality,” was conducted by Elaine Weiss and Don Long of the Broader, Bolder Approach to Education initiative, which was convened in 2008 by Economic Policy Institute President Larry Mishel in an effort to champion a well-rounded approach to education that goes beyond test-based accountability. It will be available here next week. The executive summary can be seen here now.
On Arne: Among the first (of many) President Shamwow, F. Lowbar's DIS-appointments was the naming of Chicago CorpoRat lawyer and "education entrepreneur" Arne Duncan to the post of Secretary of the Dept. of Education. Duncan was a disappointment first, of course, because he was and still is an advocate of Charter schools, school privatization, and the militarization of schools wherein "darkies" compose the majority of the population. It was one of the first 'tells' that ThePrez was just another CorpoRat hump.
Former, reborn, corpoRat hump, Diane Ravitcvh recently took to the pages of the NYReview of Books to grade Duncan's (and by extension, ThePrez") performance:
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan loves evaluation. He insists that everyone should willingly submit to public grading of the work they do. The Race to the Top program he created for the Obama Administration requires states to evaluate all teachers based in large part on the test scores of their students. When the Los Angeles Times released public rankings that the newspaper devised for thousands of teachers, Duncan applauded and asked, “What’s there to hide?” Given Duncan’s enthusiasm for grading educators, it seems high time to evaluate his own performance as Secretary of Education.Fyeieio: he fuukin FLUNKS, an just about every relevant measure of competence and leadership.
Meanwhile (or rather, previously), concerned students, parents and teachers had taken to the streets (in March) at Harvard to protest the Shamwow F. Lowbar/Arne Duncan reforms, when Duncan came to the school to pump corpoRat reform. One participating professor recorded her thoughts:
“As a professor of education, an educator of teachers, and someone who creates curriculum,” (Prof) Carlsson-Paige said, “I see the harm education reform is causing children—the disappearance of play, creativity, and the arts from our schools. Evaluation is now driving curriculum, and curriculum is being reduced to something mechanistic. This isn’t real learning. Children are learning information by rote in the early years that cannot give them the solid foundation of knowledge they need to build on, as school continues. And the ‘drill and kill’ methods turn kids off from school early on and keep them from discovering the joy in learning. And this is mostly about poor children, because more well-to-do communities are able to provide all kinds of compensatory learning activities, such as trips to the museums, theater and music programs, summer camps.
“We’re losing out on the opportunity to have a well-educated citizenry,” she said. “True citizens need to be able to not take things at face value, to think critically, to question authority. Tests don’t measure critical thinking or imagination. They reduce the whole learning process to lower level kinds of information that can be tested. It’s really sad and scary to see this happening.”
A Toddlin' Town: Chicago remains at the epicenter of tesistance to "reform," with the city's minority population, and teachers' unions, very nearly in open rebellion over Mayor Rahm (it-up-yer-ass) Emanuel's school closure plans--the majority of which are in majority minority districts of the city--and the President of the Chicago Teachers' Union considering a run for the mayoralty.
Stymied in its efforts to stop the city from closing scores of schools, the Chicago Teachers Union on Monday said it will turn its attention to a voter registration campaign and efforts to oust Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other elected officials.School closings threaten not only the educational prospects for many of the city's poorest students, they als o would coinstitute a blow to the minority community members hired as teachers and other school personnel, while driving children far from their local neighborhoods.
Asked at a news conference if she would consider a run for mayor, CTU President Karen Lewis quickly and loudly said, "No. Thank you." But then she added, "Not yet."
In addition to targeting Emanuel, union officials said they will be looking for candidates to replace aldermen and members of the Illinois General Assembly who "have failed to listen to the voices of thousands of parents, educators, students, school employees and activists."
The union said it will provide "boot camps" for candidates, fund political campaigns through its political action committee and canvass neighborhoods on behalf of its candidates.
Although Chicago Public Schools continues to hold hearings on school closings, Emanuel has said the time for negotiations is over. On Monday, CPS announced that public hearings for each of the schools facing closing this year will begin at its central office Tuesday. The Board of Education is expected to vote May 22 on the plan to close 53 elementary schools and one high school program.
Food Fight: While not strictly an "education item," this vid, from a TED Talk on, among other things, the outright capture of many schools' internal nutrition policies by Coca Cola and MickieD's is important and instructive: