Sunday, July 21, 2013

Ed Beat: Chicago Fired/TFA; Letter Grades; Strange Bedfellows; Dump Duncan

Ed Beat: Chicago Fired/TFA; Letter Grades; Strange Bedfellows; Dump Duncan

CBE Cuts 1000 Classroom Pros; Hires 150 TFA Subs:  Rahm Emanuel's satraps on the Chicago Board of Education released news last week that the City would be firing/laying off upwards of 3000 employees, due to school closings and reallocations.
As the district's hopes for a state pension holiday fade, CPS has confirmed it is laying off nearly 1,200 additional teachers and nearly 1,100 additional support workers, in addition to 855 teachers and other staff pink-slipped at turnarounds and closing schools last month. 
The cuts bring the total number of teachers laid off due to budget cuts and school closings to 1,742, and the total number of other staff laid off to 1,387, one of the largest layoffs in recent memory.
In addition to the 1,036 teachers laid off this week due to school budget decisions and change in enrollment, an additional 161 teachers - 28 percent of the those at closing schools who had "Excellent" or "Superior" ratings - were not able to follow students to receiving schools. These teachers are able to substitute teach for a year; for the first 5 months, they receive their previous salary.

Meanwhile, the Board announced it was HIRING 150 NEW "Teach For America" (quote-unquote) teachers --transients who are in effect no more, mostly than highly paid substitutes--to fill slots in low-income schools.
 In another clear move that contradicts the Chicago Board of Education’s claims of budget deficits and "over capacity," in Board Report 13-0626-PR46 passed last week on June 26, 2013, without discussion or objections. The Report outlines the Board’s plans to increase from $600,000 to $1,587,500.00 spending on hiring Teach for America temporary certified teachers.
This came after the school board approved the largest number of school closings in American history by saying that hundreds of district schools were "underutilized" and 50 had to be closed because of the budget "deficit." That move was followed within a week by the promulgation by the Board of "Student Based Budgeting" which is forcing massive cuts on local schools in violation of every guideline in place for decades in Chicago.
To add insult to injury, there have already been 1,000 fully certified veteran staff -- both teachers and PSRPs -- laid off since the end of the current 2013. But buried in a sea of bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo documents there is in fact evidence that the Board has no intentions on tightening its belt. Instead it is clear now that all the work the Board is doing is to engage in Union busting and the firing of veteran teachers not for the sake of making education better for the children of Chicago, but to increase the bottom line for the school Board’s influential corporate sponsors and friends of Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
My distaste and distrust of TFA is no secret. I see 'em as a corps of (possibly unwitting) SCABS whom founder and still CEO Wendy Copp, now a wealthy panderess and a player in the privatization game, hires out to schools, boards, and districts willing to pay the price for "high-priced talent." To describe this as the most depraved, despicable kind of exploitation and big-city, bureaucratic back-scratching is to be indescribably kind.But with significant school closings in citys from Philadelphia to Los Angeles, it may become the permanent status quo.

Letters, He Gets Letters: A couple of activist teachers got together to gather a body of letters addressed to computer/software/mega-billionaire Bill Gates, asking him politely as possible to "bugger off." Gates' influence, both personally and through the Gates' Foundation, has been pivotally influential in the paths toward nationally standardizing the curriculum and privatizing the management of the public schools. He knows no more about education in the modern era than he does about shoeing horses or opthalmic surgery. He wouldn't be allowed to declaim in those fields the way the lap-dog CorpoRatz' press yaps and pants along behind when he talks about education.

Recently an inventive soul over on HuffPo toddled over to the Teachers Letters To Bill Gates page and tabulated the results of the suggestions the teachers made and sorted them into seven categories. here are The top seven things that educators and education activists want Bill Gates to know:
7. Schools should teach children things that can’t be tested, too. You can't standardize tests for artistic or musical or physical skills.
6. One size does not fit all in education. See, e.g. Howard Gardner.
5. Teacher evaluations should not be heavily tied to test scores. Assessing teachers on the basis of students' test scores is equivalent to holding dentists accountable for the cavities their patients develop.
4. Not all reformers have it right. Notably Michelle Rhee. But also including Arne Duncan.
3. Give education professionals a seat at the table. Academic standards have been created as much by softwear developers as by anyone with actual classroom experience.

2. No Child Left Behind was bad. And RTTT ain't a whole lot better; in fact, in its forthrighjt bribery of bureacurats starving for funds, it may be worse.
1. Implementing Common Core standards will not fix things.The only people benefitting from the Common Core Standards and attached over-testing are those creating the tests and supporting materials.” wrote one correspondent.
A visit to the page is refreshing...

Speaking of TFA: What if other vital professions filled depleted ranks or sought to provide care or services to underserved communities, the way that TFA--which has in effect become a 'hire-a-scab' union-busting tool of the Grasping Olicarchz aand Plutocratz--does?

The other week, one of the writers at HuffPo turned a delightful spoof, in which they imagined "Doctors For America:
In a new and dramatic initiative, education wunderkind Wendy Kopp has launched her new initiative, Doctor for America. DFA will recruit graduating college seniors to staff our most needy hospitals.
"These people in the poorest communities in America have scandalous health care. The statistics show that they are dying at a far greater rate from heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and injuries. We think the most talented kids in America, those from the elite schools like I and my friends attended, can solve this problem," the spare-time entrepreneur told reporters.
DFA doctors will be placed in emergency rooms, surgery theaters, oncology clinics and throughout the hospital to provide immediate care. They will receive a summer training before starting their rounds and will take some classes in evenings and on weekends.
Read it and weep, either in laughter or tears.



Last week, the House passed a proposed revision of the ESEA--the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, rolling back educational policy which had been in place since the Chimperor took over in 2001 and rammed NCLB down the throats of the nation's schools. This was the first time in 12 years that the legislation had been re-argued min Congress.
House Republicans voted Friday to dismantle the troubled No Child Left Behind law for evaluating America's students and schools, saying states and local school districts rather than Washington should be setting rules for ensuring that kids are getting good educations...The legislation would eliminate federally required testing of students, which has been controversial from the start. But the measure passed with no Democratic support and drew a veto threat from the Obama administration, which said it would be a "step backward" in efforts to better prepare children for colleges and careers and to bring improvements to low-performing schools...
The legislation, by loosening federal "standards" and "returning" more authority to the States, also represents a pre-emptive strike against a growing, ("liberal") Dim and White House-supported initiative calling for "national" curriculum standards, the so-called Core Curriculum. The GOPhux House opposes the so-called "CCSS" standards because the science curriculum would include two "facts" which the wackloon/phuqtard/righturd lobby absolutely abhor: evolution and climate change. By pre-emptively blocking the "national standards," it permits local members of the "w/p/r" lobby to attack rationality in scuhools on the local front.

There are probably only two areas--subject matter fields--in which the Righturd/Fundie/Wackloon agendas for ideological control of the classroom which a standardized curriculum would be problematic--science and history/social studies, and would align with the general sentiments among many teachers that such standards are both inappropriate and dangerous. This case puts teachers' groups opposed to standards for professional reasons on the same side as the anti-rationality contingent who oppose them on ideological grounds.

 This past spring, Pres. LowBar's Education Secretary-cum-Chicago-hoops-shooting pal, the wealthy corpoRatz' flack Arne Duncan was invited to speak at the annual meeting of the natiopns largest and most prestigious educational research association, AERA. Duncan, a firm and fond proponent of charter schools, the militarization of (lower class) schools for 'discipline, and all things privatized, received a noisy and not very respectful welcome from the scholars gathered to hear his address.

He was roundly criticized not only for what he said to the gathered, mostly University-based researchers and scholars, but also for the way he said it. For example, Diane Ravitch wrote a column in which she remonstrated with AERA President Jennifer Jenkins for APOLOGIZING to Duncan for the booing he got from the auditors at his address. But Ravitch was not alone in her distaste for Duncan's performance. Another educational scholar, Professor Arnold Dodge, chairperson of the Department of Educational Leadership and Administration at LIU-Post, also had unkind words to say. His disputes with Duncan are fairly subtle, and too 'content specific' to quote much here, aside from his summary:
Race to the Top, with its federal dollars as leverage, has wrought untold misery on schools across the country. This fact escapes the officials in Washington as their rhetoric clearly demonstrates. The new twist - making the cheaters the issue - is a dangerous shift that we all should be wary of as we go forward. Those of us who can see through this charade need to reach out to one another through any medium we can. I say we party like its 1984 - hyper vigilant for doublespeak. Our children deserve no less.
Arne Duncan was a one of Prez. LowBar's signal Dis-appointments,, which early on signaled the regime was committed to the corpoRatz' privatizing agendas and demonstrated LowBar's dedication to the nicest possible way to undermine and reject the USofA's long-standing committment to universal, quality education. He COULD have appointed a person with actual classroom--rather than boardroom--experience. For teachers or others who despise and/or distrust Arne, there is a Facebook page with over 2000 members dedicated to the eponymous task, to "Dump Duncan."

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