Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Breitbartian Taint: Snowden, Greenwald, and Secrecy

Woody has been remarkably and commendably circumspect about Edward Snowden and Greenwald's free-lance espionage escapades to this point. Much of interest has been revealed, much more--one suspects--has not.

As you'd know, if they still taught history when you were in school, our government has been doing shit like this since at LEAST the 1870s. Only then it was the Wobblies, or the nigras, or the Irish, then Italian immigrants, or the socialists, or suffragettes, or the Mexicans, or some other acceptably marginalized group (civil rights workers, student activists, more recently), so that the good burghers didn't feel imposed upon. Now those complacent burghers feel like they're being cast with the ni**ers and the rest of the undesirables, and they don't like it; their tits are in the wringer, and they're squealing.

But it's too late for that. That ship done sailed...

For now, many, many people have very, very much different stuff invested in the Greenwald version of the story. It seems to be a huge cudgel to wield against o'er-weening power of the State. But Greenwald's a libertarian bomb-thrower, and I doubt his allegiance to principle of any kind other than self-interest. Though he's a brilliant self-promoter, you have to give that to him...

And, I've felt all along like something about Snowden "clanged." Something was "off," something was "not right."

It turns out there may have been quite a LOT was and is "off," about both of them AND the story. Its author, Milt Shook, is not an unimpeachable source, either, being accused by detractors of indiscriminately fellating the leadership of the DLC, upon occasion.

Still, I have said and felt since Day 1 of this affair that there was always the troubling whiff of the dissembling, Breitbartian provocateur about Snowden and about the whole proceeding, like Jamie O'Keefe and ACORN, the skeevey little shit "proving" a fallacious point just to create shitstorms of trouble for ideological foes. Greenwald's enough of an opportunist to exploit (or even plot) it.

So I do not give perfect credence to EITHER account. I have my own confirmation bias to deal with; but, I believe I stand confirmed in my doubts, if we may believe this report in any of its particulars...

Which is debatable, of course. Indeed, someone inquired why I should believe this account, or give it more credence than reports by Snowden's coworkers as to his "humble brilliance?"

I said, I see no reason to "believe in" the persona Snowden's projected 'at work,' where, he has as much as admitted he was working as a mole.

Yes indeed, the revelations may  spawn a necessary "national dialogue"--though it should have happened generations ago. It was a common-place among the members of the counter-culture for their business to be reported by moles and impostures. We complained. It didn't stop.

I'll gladly, NOW, admit the need for 'dialogue" on the subject, though it is altogether, utterly unlikely to result in significantly curtailing intel-gathering and analysis activities of all 16 federal bureaus and 2000(+) private corporations doing the Gummint's snooping and analysis. (and arguably, dangerous in a world where EVERY nation possesses and deploys all the intelligence-gathering resources they can afford to posses in pursuit of the same goals).

It may be that  am too cynical, but I'm not sure what's gonne result from this "national debate."
We have 'em all the time, and they're generally fruitless:
Guns, Choice, Wars, Safety Net, Banks/Markets, Corporat Personhood?
We are supposed to have had robust, national debates about all of those. Yet pretty much, the status quo ante obtains.

And, as the FISA/Church Act reforms demonstrated in their failure to prevent the expansion of the Intel mission, the exigencies of global real-politik will compelled (within the epistemic structure of the institution)  them to "stretch" and even break the law. As the "State" is the natal ground of the ends-justifying-means rationality, it is a bit hypocritical to blame it for that means of being, no matter how much we abhor it.

Here's a list of the the countries which have espionage/intel agencies. Many are maintained by nations which are adversaries and/or enemies of the US Empire. For a nation and empire--the largest, richest, most powerful, most despised, most dangerous in history-- which stands (still) atop the pyramid of global power, unilateral disarmament on this front would be as foolhardy, as dangerous as unilaterally disarming the military.

And that's NAGAHAPUN, either.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Danielson Evaluation of Thanksgiving Dinner

Woody'z gotta Holiday Treat for those teachers of his acquaintance-- PE Nolan, Suzanne Farley, Suzanne Libourel, Ellen Jampole, Susan Huddleston Edgerton, and all the rest.
(For non-teachers, The Danielson Guide is a notorious teacher-evaluation "rubric" which permits the disguises of evaluators' biases behind glossy glossaries. Here's your monthly "eval.")

The Danielson Guide to a Highly Effective Thanksgiving:
Unsatisfactory: You don’t know how to cook a turkey. You serve a chicken instead. Half your family doesn’t show because they are unmotivated by your invitation, which was issued at the last minute via Facebook. The other half turn on the football game and fall asleep. Your aunt gets into a fight with your uncle and a big brawl erupts. Food is served on paper plates in front of the TV. You watch the game, and root for the Redskins.

Needs Improvement: You set the alarm, but don’t get up and the turkey is undercooked. 3 children are laughing while you say grace. 4 of your nephews refuse to watch the game with the rest of the family because you have failed to offer differentiated game choices. Conversation during dinner is marked by family members mumbling under their breath at your aunt Rose, who confuses the Mayflower with Titanic after third Martini. Only the somewhat nice relatives thank you on the way out. Your team loses the game.

Proficient: The turkey is heated to the right temperature. All the guests, whom you have invited by formal written correspondence, arrive on time with their assigned dish to pass. Your nephew sneaks near the dessert dish, but quickly walks away when you mention that it is being saved until after dinner. You share a meal in which all family members speak respectfully in turn as they share their thoughts on the meaning of Thanksgiving. All foods served at the table can be traced historically to the time of the Pilgrims. You watch the game as a family, cheer in unison for your team. They win.

Distinguished: The turkey, which has been growing free range in your back yard, comes in your house and jumps in the oven. The guests, who wrote to ask you please be invited to your house, show early with foods to fit all dietary and cultural needs. You watch the game on tape, but only as a video prompt for your family discussion of man’s inhumanity to man. Your family plays six degrees of Sir Francis Bacon and is thus able to resolve, once and for all, the issue of whether Oswald acted alone.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Citizens' Dispatch: "Why Spy?"

Here's a question for those who want to shutter the NSA: Objectively, in the "REAL WORLD" of Nuclear politics and Big Money, why WOULDN'T ANYBODY bug everything and everyone they could? Especially when knowing that EVERYBODY is trying to bug YOU?

That's pretty much how ALL intel gathering works: scoop up everything and hope there's something useful. Back in my day, we used antennae which were pointed where we wanted to listen, and that's what we heard. Today, satellites only point DOWN, and down there, everything is available

"Real-politik" is all about power. It's a bitch if you're on the business end of it, and there is this bit of "real politik/Intel"to consider: Knowledge really is power, especially in state-craft. Information is the raw material of knowledge. You wouldn't want YOUR 'State' to have an information deficit in its dealings with other 'States," would you? You wouldn't want the Govt. NOT TO KNOW what the Russkis are doing, what the Iranians are up to, or whom the Israelis are screwing. NOT KNOWING would be foolishness, where the fate of the world/'civilization' is, often quite literally, in the balance. Ignorance is right on the brink of irresponsibility because, in fact, the world really IS a pretty dangerous place.

So: Everybody spies on everybody else. How could it be otherwise? Johnson knew, via "illegal" phone taps, that Nixon and Kissinger were sabotaging the Paris Peace talks in '68, but "couldn't" reveal it cuz it was "illegally" obtained information, or so it is often alleged. So, too, I imagine that Carter, via the same expedients--"illegal surveillance"-- probably knew that William Casey and GHW Bush were engaged in illegal negotiations with the Iranian mullahs to pre-empt an October Surprise, but "couldn't/wouldn't" blow the whistle on the Raygooners treason.

So: Nobody's really unhappy when the Govt spies on "enemies," "antagonists," etc. No worries. It just gets "tetchy" when you begin to feel like you're the object of the power.

And, NSA spied and spies on EVERYBODY! That's its job, mission, and purpose. In the super-power world of "real-politik," it's just not possible to run an Empire without nearly total supervision and surveillance, domestically and abroad.  And it won't stop, despite all the lawz, regulationz, and rulez Congress can make--there'll STILL be room for plenty of "exceptions." The "law/rule/reg-makers" themselves will see to that.

Remember "Total Information Awareness," from the bad, old days? It "went away" after being exposed, right? Only it was just renamed something more innocuous. http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cross-check/2013/06/07/u-s-never-really-ended-creepy-total-information-awareness-program/ The Govt just completed a multi-billion-dollar/multi-million square foot 'information processing'  facility in the Utah desert. What does anyone suppose they're going to do there? Have rodeos? Soccer matches?

Technically, I suppose, "spying" on your own people is ethically questionable. But states/Governments do NOT have "morals." The US Govt has been spying on its own citizens since the Gilded Age, in the 19th Century. Mostly, the targets have been on the margins of society: Wobblies, Communists, Anarchists, labor movements, civil rights activists, etc. Until recently, nobody much complained. Now some (but not all) "every-day" citizens are feeling the pinch of marginality, and are uncomfortable...

Welllll: Pay-back's a bitch, innit, hippies?

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Da Nooz: Skuled

 If there is one thing that the folks in ALEC, and the Bush crime family, and the Corporatizers, and the Charterizers, and the Privatizers all agree on, it is that schools, foremost among public services, should be conducted in accordance with "market principles." (If you have any doubt as to what those are, read Naomi Klein's invaluable book, The Shock Doctrine." Unfortunately for the business axis, it's just not true.

"Market-based educational reform" is an utter failure, and yet we still can’t shake the nasty, decaying effluent of its bad policy influence from our classrooms.
One of the more difficult things to impress upon people schooled from birth in the articles of faith of Capital, such as the"logic" and the "magic" of markets, as every, single citizen and resident of the USofA has been for every moment of the last 60 years at least, is that schools and other public services should NOT be subject to the same expectations as "businesses."

They perform different duties, do different jobs. This was illustrated for me in the following account, by a former, high-power, big-money entrepreneur, Codename: Blueberries.

The entrepreneur had been engaged as a motivational speaker at a teachers' in-service in a nearby town and, as an unabashed acolyte of the Friedman Free Markets model, had set about extolling the principles, and enjoining the teachers to adopt the model of markets in their schools. He noted a bit of a frosty reception, but it was during the Q&A after the speech that the inappropriateness of the whole speech was placed before him.

A questioner from the seats began by congratulating him on his success and the success of his product--ice cream, as it happened. The teacher, a woman, induced to speaker to admit how proud he was of his ice-cream, and his personal attention to the details, the immaculate machinery, the spotless plant, the quality of the ingredients, all the best that money could buy. Then she stuck him: "So," she said, "if you're down on the loading dock and a shipment of blueberries comes in, and they're not good enough, what do you do?"

And he knew she had him, because when he said, "I send them back," she then pointed out that she and her fellow teachers in the school don't have that luxury. They have to take what they get and do the best with that.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Ed Beat: Personnel Issues

Ed Beat: It's Personnel

He Left His Job In Tallahassee: The biggest news in many education circles in the last week was the sudden, unexpected resignation of recently hired Florida State Ed. Sec, Tony Bennett, after it was revealed that he had personally intervened to change "standards" in the State of Indiana to improve the assessment of a charter school and to preserve its status, according to sources in St. Petersberg and elsewhere:
Bennett has been the center of controversy since the Associated Press reported that school grades in Indiana, where he previously worked, had been changed to benefit a political donor.
The AP reported (last week) that Bennett and his Indiana employees “frantically overhauled” the Hoosier State’s school-grading system last year when it looked like one of his political contributors’ schools might get a “C.” But in a conference call with reporters Tuesday, Bennett said it was “absurd” to believe he inflated grades to help Christel DeHann because of her political contributions to Bennett. 
According to the Miami Herald, the larger issue is over the ways the State should conduct evaluations and  whole schools should be assessed and ranked. These rankings are crucial to charter schools, especially, because they are the the forefront of the commodification of the public schools, and are supposed to operate within the frames of 'competition.' Bad grades for schools can cost the owners a lot of money. The alleged superiority of privatized schools and charters is a big selling point. Any data or scandal which undermines that presumption  of superiority.




No Rhee-forms Are Good Reforms: Teach For American alum and well-placed corpoRatist "reformer" Michel Rhee, former "miracle-worker" administrator of the Washington, DC, schools and now a promoter of a scam called the "parental option," charter schools, and 'national standards,' is also having credibility difficulties since it has been revealed that the "miracles" she was alleged to have wrought in the DC schools were mainly accomplished with the strenuous application of smoke and mirrors. Noted education critic John Merrow, in April, took Rhee to task for her persistent obfuscation about her own involvement in reports that DC students' tests had been doctored to improve the district's appearance. Merrow also rehearsed Rhee's cronyist appointees and her lasting attachment to TFA:

The 37-year-old Michelle Rhee had been a surprise choice to lead the (DC) schools. After college, she joined Teach for America and taught for three years in a low-income school in Baltimore. After earning a graduate degree in public policy at Harvard, she took[5] over a fledgling non-profit that recruits mid-career professionals into teaching, The New Teacher Project. In that role, she eventually ended up supervising 120 employees. As Chancellor, Rhee would be managing a school system with 55,000 students, 11,500 employees and a budget of nearly $200 million.
She surrounded herself with people with no experience running a large urban school system. Her deputy would be her best friend, Kaya Henderson, another former Teach for America corps member who was then Vice President for Strategic Partnerships at TNTP. She would be managing the District’s 11,500 employees.
Her Chief of Data and Accountability would be Erin McGoldrick, whom Rhee had met at Sacramento High School some years earlier and who was an avowed fan of Rhee. A classics major at Notre Dame, McGoldrick also studied public policy at UCLA. Although she was in charge of data analysis at the California Charter Schools Association when Rhee offered her the job, McGoldrick had no experience in Rhee’s ‘data-driven decision making,’ according to several reliable sources.
Rhee's skill as an educational 'grifter' has been documented:
She appears to have started her career by greatly overstating test score improvements during her Teach for America days;
As an administrator, she was charged with abusing her authority to political ends:
and covering up a major cheating scandal;
She lent her political capital to anti-labor measures only tangentially related to education (but vital to her allies);
She oversaw the creation of a convoluted metric that assigned the top ranks to schools she and her allies were responsible for (despite those schools' terrible performance on the very metrics Rhee had previously championed);
And she endorsed a Bobby Jindal  initiative which pretty much guaranteed wide-spread fraud (in Louisiana schools).
Meanwhile her "gift for grift" in the Louisiana deal has been reported by no less reliable source than the redoubtable Charlie Pierce, of Esquire. Inexplicably (or not), Rhee still retains the apparent trust of US Dept. of Ed. Sec, Arne Duncan.


TFA BASHING, Cont'd.: My distaste for Teach For America is boundless. The director, Wendy Kopp, and her minions have taken what was once a pretty bad, thoroughly neo-colonialist idea (The "rub-off theory": Put poor kids in classrooms with upper-class college grads to be inspired) and advanced it into the national educational dialogue by becoming, in effect a "school for scabs" where poor, struggling, and/or impoverished school/districts use the slightly trained TFA "teachers" to augment and then replace skilled profesionals in the classroom. The melody lingers on.
Twenty-four years running, the rap on Teach for America (TFA) is a sampled, re-sampled, burned-out record: The organization’s five-week training program is too short to prepare its recruits to teach, especially in chronically under-served urban and rural districts; corps members only have to commit to teach for two years, which destabilizes schools, undermines the teaching profession, and undercuts teachers unions; and TFA, with the help of its 501(c)4 spin-off, Leadership for Educational Equity, is a leading force in the movement to close “failing” schools, expand charter schools, and tie teachers’ job security to their students’ standardized test scores. Critics burn TFA in internet-effigy across the universe of teacher listservs and labor-friendly blogs. Last July, it earned Onion fame: an op-ed entitled “My Year Volunteering As A Teacher Helped Educate A New Generation Of Underprivileged Kids,” followed by a student’s take, “Can We Please, Just Once, Have A Real Teacher?”

The reach of the organization is appalling.
TFA’s resources are enormous. The organization’s total assets for the 2011 fiscal year topped $350 million. That includes eight-figure support from the Broad, Walton, and Gates Foundations, leading bankrollers of campaigns to privatize school districts and ramp up standardized testing. The TFA orbit is also growing. It now has more than 10,000 corps members in 48 regions, as well as more than 32,000 alumni. Districts pay thousands in fees to TFA for each corps member in addition to their salaries—at the expense of the existing teacher workforce. Chicago, for example, is closing 48 schools and laying off 850 teachers and staff while welcoming 350 corps members. After Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans cut 7,500 school staff, converted the majority of its schools to charters, and, between 2005 and 2010, saw its share of black teachers drop from 73 percent to 56 percent. Over the past five years, TFA expanded its Greater New Orleans corps from 85 teachers to 375. (Emphasis supplied.)

 Education is becoming a decaying carcass around which all the grifters and vultures collect to feed at the public's expense:
The 11,000 alumni who attended TFA’s 20-year anniversary summit in 2011 got to hear from charter boosters ranging from Harlem Children’s Zone CEO Geoffrey Canada and StudentsFirst CEO Michelle Rhee to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Colorado State Senator Michael Johnston. TFA alums are principals at half of KIPP charter schools—which two alumni founded—and the majority of Achievement First schools. Of the corps members TFA claims remain in education after their two-year stint (a  hotly contested figure), administrators and extracurricular leaders are included.
 If TFA comes to your town or school, remember they're the genteel shock-troops of the "Rhee-form" movement.


What's Wrong With Teacher Assessment Reforms?: Much of teacher discomfort with "rhee-formers" and their plans is embodied in what are called "value-added" assessments and pay and promotion based upon it. Here, in just about three minutes, is what is wrong with those "value added" and "merit pay" schemes for teacher "assessment and accountability:


It's A War-Zone Out There: It is possible that some folks have not been affedted by it yet, but there is a silent, deadly conflict being waged in the public sphere between the Grasping Oligarchz and Plutocratz, who are adamantly opposed to ANY notion of the "commons" or of public sovereignty, and the rest of us. Schools have become a battleground in the conflict.

The terrain, described recently by economist Michael Hudson, in Counterpoint, looks like this: The depth of this has been described by economist Michael Hudson:
. . . financial elites are demanding privatization sell-offs from debt-strapped governments. Pressure is being brought to bear on Detroit to sell off its most valuable paintings and statues from its art museums. The idea is to sell their artworks for tycoons to buy as trophies, with the money being used to pay bondholders. . . .  . . .[A] new neo-feudal rentier class [is] eager to buy roads to turn into toll roads, to buy parking-meter rights (as in Chicago’s notorious deal), to buy prisons, schools and other basic infrastructure. The aim is to build financial charges and tollbooth rents into the prices charged for access to these essential, hitherto public services.
Blogger/critic Michael D. Yates observes: "Not only will working people become increasingly insecure, but to secure essential services, they will have to pay the new owners monopoly prices."
 The flashpoint of the war being waged by capital and its political allies against the public provision of services is education, especially that which serves poor and minority communities. Billionaires like Bill Gates (Microsoft) and the Walton family (Walmart) have established organizations and contributed enormous sums of money to do two things. First, they seek to revolutionize the way in which students are taught. Here they have achieved great victories, with two presidents enacting sweeping laws: No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top. Both condition federal aid to schools upon what has been described as “teaching to the test.” Literature, art, music, and all critical education are to be sacrificed so that children do well on standardized examinations. Then, how schools and their teachers fare, including whether or not a school continues to exist, depends on students’ scores.  Second, these plutocrat “reformers” want to alter radically the way in which schools are organized. The best way to describe their aim is to say that they want them schools to resemble assembly lines, with students as outputs and teachers as assembly-line-like mechanisms who do not think or instill in their students the capacity to conceptualize critically and become active participants in a democratic society. And this Taylorization of schooling has a military-like component, with pupils expected to react to commands with rote discipline and respond unthinkingly to rewards for appropriate behavior.( Emphasis supplied.)
"... financial elites are demanding privatization sell-offs from debt-strapped governments. Pressure is being brought to bear on Detroit to sell off its most valuable paintings and statues from its art museums. The idea is to sell their artworks for tycoons to buy as trophies, with the money being used to pay bondholders. ... [A] new neo-feudal rentier class [is] eager to buy roads to turn into toll roads, to buy parking-meter rights (as in Chicago's notorious deal), to buy prisons, schools and other basic infrastructure. The aim is to build financial charges and tollbooth rents into the prices charged for access to these essential, hitherto public services."
Not only will working people become increasingly insecure, but to secure essential services, they will have to pay the new owners monopoly prices.
- See more at: http://portside.org/print/2013-07-22/war-public-school-teachers#sthash.PiZVC0jX.dpuf
"... financial elites are demanding privatization sell-offs from debt-strapped governments. Pressure is being brought to bear on Detroit to sell off its most valuable paintings and statues from its art museums. The idea is to sell their artworks for tycoons to buy as trophies, with the money being used to pay bondholders. ... [A] new neo-feudal rentier class [is] eager to buy roads to turn into toll roads, to buy parking-meter rights (as in Chicago's notorious deal), to buy prisons, schools and other basic infrastructure. The aim is to build financial charges and tollbooth rents into the prices charged for access to these essential, hitherto public services." - See more at: http://portside.org/2013-07-22/war-public-school-teachers#sthash.lnTLCEi4.dpuf

A heroine of mine: Not-quite-finally, today, here's a recent contribution from one of my favorite, practical thinkers on these matters, Deborah Meiers, the ground-breaking founder of the inspirational and innovative schools lumped together as "Central park West," in NYC. Her book "The Power of Their Ideas" hasa been an inspiration to twenty-five years of teacher-educators and pre-service students. Here is a recent, thoughtful essay which is aimed at "early childhood" educators, but could be read with profit by any and all with any skin in the game.
 (C)an we shift the conversation from the “accountability/testing” mania to a real meaty discussion about how learning takes place. Maybe we have to dig deeper into what purposes we expect schooling to serve, or each step forward or back may represent just a new no-nothing fad. Until then we are avoiding the BIG question, “accountable for what?”


 Finally: Your Weekly Ravitch...

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Ed Beat: Hard Work; Starvation; I'm Flying!; Deformity; Hike! (& More)

Ed Beat: Hard Work; Starvation; I'm Flying!; Deformity; Hike! (& More)

Ask ANYBODY! Teaching is a LOT harder than anybody ever thinks it is:
Have you ever watched professional athletes and gawked at how easy they make it look? Kobe Bryant weaves through five opposing players, sinking the ball into the basket without even glancing in its direction. Brett Favre spirals a football 100 feet through the air, landing it in the arms of a teammate running at full speed. Does anyone have any delusions that they can do what Kobe and Brett do?
The author then asks, sensibly, why do folks grant less skill or talent to good teachers? This piece, from a blog I hadn't seen before, is a very tidy, closely argued, thoughtful rejoinder to those who make light of teaching as a profession. I heartily recommend it to your attention. Might provided a needed jolt of professional esteem which is too often withheld or denied.


Starve the Beast: One way in which states and local school districts are trying to further reduce the dreaded power that teachers are said to have over young minds is to replace "teachers" with "baby-sitters." This has been occurring all over the country, in districts wealthy and poor. Just as at universities, adjunct faculty are displacing and replacing tenured faculty, so to in schools, "alternatively certified" teachers are supplanting experienced faculty.

Teach for America puts "teachers" in classrooms in (usually) predominantly poor, urban and rural schools after only FIVE weeks of training.  TFA supplies a relatively miniscule fraction of the alterntively certified, too. Troops-to-Teachers, a program begun in 1994 directed many are former military into classrooms, and both the Bushevik and the LowBar regimes have actively recruited. TFA has recently begun to recruit military veterans, too.

The chart below illustrates the swiftness with which these changes have occurred.



In a similar vein: Blogger Julian Vasquez Heilig offers the following thought game:

He writes: "Unbelievably, I have travelled more than 20,000 miles over the past five weeks— Brazil, Princeton, New York City, Las Vegas and Oregon. Imagine a scenario where I showed up at the airport and the airline employee gave me the following choices:
1) You can fly on an airplane today with a pilot with 30 hours of alternative pilot certification training. 2) You can fly on an airplane today with a pilot who has five weeks of training in a special pilots corp. 3) You can fly on an airplane today with a pilot who has been certified to fly the plane and has a year of teaching experience learning curriculum planning, pedagogy, and classroom management. I mean flying the plane…
It's a powerful parable, but it's not the only point he's making. Again, I commend your close attention to what he's got to say.

The Trouble with the Common Core
Deformed Reform: One of the resources I have grown to trust over the last three decades during which I have been engaged in the world of education is Rethinking Schools. They're reliably authentic, well-researched, and authoritative. Here's their take on one of the core issues of the 'reform' movement: the Core Curriculum:
We know there have been many positive claims made for the Common Core:
  • That it represents a tighter set of smarter standards focused on developing critical learning skills instead of mastering fragmented bits of knowledge.
  • That it requires more progressive, student-centered teaching with strong elements of collaborative and reflective learning.
  • That it equalizes the playing field by raising expectations for all children, especially those suffering the worst effects of the “drill and kill” test prep norms of the recent past.
We also know that many creative, heroic teachers are seeking ways to use this latest reform wave to serve their students well. Especially in the current interim between the rollout of the standards and the arrival of the tests, some teachers have embraced the Common Core as an alternative to the scripted commercial formulas of recent experience, and are trying to use the space opened up by the Common Core transition to do positive things in their classrooms.
We'd like to believe these claims and efforts can trump the more political uses of the Common Core project. But we can't.
That is because it is a tissue of lies, exaggerations, dissembling and top-down imposition of  what amounts to ED Hirsch's "trivial pursuits" version of the curriculum, nationalized, standardized and accountable-ized.

Ed Beat: Hard Work; Starvation; I'm Flying!; Deformity; Hike! (& More)

Hut-Hut-Hut: What if the NFL had a standardized playbook? Asked nobody ever. Though it is another interesting extrapolative exercise.
NFL Adopts Common Core Playbook–Copying Education Reforms
by John J. Viall
(Washington, D. C.) In a surprise news conference today U. S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell announced plans to improve NFL performance in coming seasons.
Unlike news conferences on education, which draw sparse crowds, representatives from hundreds of newspapers, television and radio networks, and ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPN for Kids and ESPN Tales from the Crypt were in attendance.
Mr. Duncan spoke first. “We are pleased to announce a partnership involving the U. S. Department of Education and the NFL,” he explained. “We will call this new effort to improve pro football ‘Race to the End Zone.’ All the leading school reform experts insist this approach will dramatically improve the quality of football play.”



Your Weekly Ravitch: North Carolina's troglodytic, peckerwood Legislature and Tea-bagger Governor are working hard to cut the heart out of public schools in the state. A Tar-heel teacher writes:
Eliminating $110 million for teacher assistants, eliminating teacher tenure, eliminating class size limits for K-3, no raise again this year, all of these unnecessary cuts wipe out three decades of steady progress. The most damaging is allowing for our hard earned tax dollars to be transferred to private schools. The privatization of public schools threatens the very cornerstone of our democracy and violates our state constitution.
No small amount of the impetus to undercut, impoverish, asnd disable public schools comes form agents of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC.
Founded in 1973, ALEC is an organization of nearly 2,000 conservative state legislators. Its hallmark is promotion of privatization and corporate interests in every sphere, not only education, but healthcare, the environment, the economy, voting laws, public safety, etc. It drafts model legislation that conservative legislators take back to their states and introduce as their own "reform" ideas. ALEC is the guiding force behind state-level efforts to privatize public education and to turn teachers into at-will employees who may be fired for any reason. The ALEC agenda is today the "reform" agenda for education.
Founded only two years after the release of the infamous (though barely known) Powell Memorandum, which outlined how the financial interests could defeat the growing populism and egalitarianism of the 60s, ALEC epitomizes and crystallizes the document's underlying principles.
ALEC operated largely in the dark for years, but gained notoriety because of the Trayvon Martin case in Florida. It turns out that ALEC crafted the "Stand Your Ground" legislation that empowered George Zimmerman to kill an unarmed teenager with the defense that he (the shooter) felt threatened. When the bright light of publicity was shone on ALEC, a number of corporate sponsors dropped out, including McDonald's, Kraft, Coca-Cola, Mars, Wendy's, Intuit, Kaplan, and PepsiCo. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said that it would not halt its current grant to ALEC, but pledged not to provide new funding. ALEC has some 300 corporate sponsors, including Walmart, the Koch Brothers, and AT&T, so there's still quite a lot of corporate support for its free-market policies. ALEC claimed that it is the victim of a campaign of intimidation.
There is MUCH more to be said about the pernicious and malign influe4nces of the Grasping Oligarchz and Plutocratz. I wouldn't want to be a spoiler.


Meanwhile:  It's not teachers only who are feeling the sting of stingy school boards and federal bureaucrats, to say nothing of the bite of the privatizers' profits.  School support staff, too, are getting screwed. Nothing highlights the differences like comparing a union school with an "unorganized," charter school. That's what an Alternet writer did recently:
At the end of the 2012-2013 school year, two of America’s largest school districts, Chicago and Philadelphia, closed a total of 73 public schools between the two cities. Thousands of employees were laid off, including many food service, janitorial and security workers. In Philadelphia alone, 1,202 safety staffers who prevent violence when students aren’t in class, were laid off.  
These cutbacks are only the latest instances of a sustained effort to cut costs by eliminating unionized positions in public schools either by hiring support staff through private entities—like Aramark or Sodhexo—or by replacing traditional schools with charters, which are usually aren’t covered by a school district’s union contracts. There’s a vast difference between working in an unionized public school district and working in an unorganized school of any kind. For employees, non-teacher positions at non-union schools usually means little job or retirement security, limited (if any) health insurance, sick leave, vacations, and much lower pay.(Emphases supplied).
Once again, Chicago is at the epicenter.


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."

Monday, July 15, 2013

Ed Beat: Prescience; Story-boards; Venture Philanthropy; BadAss; Bad News

 BRILLIANT! Doris Lessing, from the Golden Notebook, (1962) addresses the (quite silly, but) pervasive critique of schools, that they are there to "indoctrinate" children:
Ideally, what should be said to every child, repeatedly, throughout his or her school life is something like this: 'You are in the process of being indoctrinated. We have not yet evolved a system of education that is not a system of indoctrination. We are sorry, but it is the best we can do. What you are being taught here is an amalgam of current prejudice and the choices of this particular culture. The slightest look at history will show how impermanent these must be. You are being taught by people who have been able to accommodate themselves to a regime of thought laid down by their predecessors. It is a self-perpetuating system. Those of you who are more robust and individual than others will be encouraged to leave and find ways of educating yourself — educating your own judgements. Those that stay must remember, always, and all the time, that they are being moulded and patterned to fit into the narrow and particular needs of this particular society.” (Emphasis supplied.)
Honestly, what ELSE would you expect an enormous collective enterprise (now, more that 300 MILLION people), which relies on cooperation and understanding among wildly disparate cultural and ethnic groups, and a common stock of shared meanings for it's merest survival, to do?


Lights, Camera, Ideology: The full-frontal attack on public schooling has been financially underwritten and generously sponsored by Right-wing ideologues (including the Gates Foundation). No, really.
 The cinematic portrayals of USer schools have NEVER been particularly flattering for the institution, of course, but they have been numerous, and they have almost always ended with a glimmer of hope.
One consistent theme of Hollywood portrayals of schools - from Blackboard Jungle (1955), Up the Down Staircase (1967) and Stand and Deliver (1988) to Mr. Holland's Opus (1995), October Sky (1999) and Freedom Writers (2007) - has been the idealistic teacher fighting to serve his and her students against overwhelming odds, including uncaring administrators, cynical colleagues, a stultifying required curriculum that crushes the spirit of teachers and students alike, dilapidated conditions, budget cuts, unruly and hostile students, or students suffering from the symptoms of poverty or neglect. The underlying message is that while occasionally a rare teacher can light a spark in a few students, our public schools are failing most of the students they are supposed to serve. Most documentaries about education - from Frederick Wiseman's High School (1968) to Bill Moyers' Children in America's Schools (1996) - paint a similarly grim picture.
Grim, but not hopeless. All these films hold out the prospect that change is possible if society is willing to honestly confront the social, economic, and bureaucratic conditions that have made public education less effective than it could and should be.
In contrast, the two most recent high-profile films about public education - the documentary Waiting for Superman (2010) and Hollywood's Won't Back Down (2012), starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis - portray our public schools as beyond reform and redemption. (emphasis supplied)
The difference? As Deep Throat told Woodstein: "Follow the money."
Doing so reveals that the deep pockets sponsoring and underwriting the recent spate of attacks belong to COrpoRatz who advocate the complete abandonment of Public Schools and the privatization of the whole system. The big players in this game are "philanthropic" interests: The Gates Foundation,Phil Anschutz and other Righturd billionaires are in on the deal:
It is no accident that both films promote similar themes. Both were produced by Walden Media, which is owned by Phil Anschutz, a right-wing businessman who owns two of the nation's premier conservative publications (the Weekly Standard and the Washington Examiner) and whose foundation has donated $210,000 to the antiunion National Right to Work Legal Defense Fund. Anschutz is also a backer of Americans for Prosperity, the political war chest founded by the right-wing Koch brothers and has donated to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who has made dismantling labor unions a key part of his policy agenda. Anschutz also spent $10,000 in 1992 to promote Colorado's Proposition 2, which let private property owners discriminate against gays and lesbians, $150,000 to the Mission America Foundation, which condemns homosexuality as "deviance," and $70,000 to the Discovery Institute, which attacks the idea of evolution and proclaims that "Darwinism is false."
Because Building Hope is also using government grants and tax-exempt foundation funds to provide capital to the for-profit charter sector, allowing charter management organizations and charter school landowners, like the Zuluetas, to maximize their profits.

Thanks to Joe Bruno, Ferny Zulueta has been able to use capital, ultimately subsidized by taxpayers, to increase the capacity at his charter schools and collect more in both management fees and rent. - See more at: http://jerseyjazzman.blogspot.com/2013/07/make-big-money-building-charter-schools.html#sthash.NVmaFp3F.dpuf
Thanks to Joe Bruno, Ferny Zulueta has been able to use capital, ultimately subsidized by taxpayers, to increase the capacity at his charter schools and collect more in both management fees and rent. - See more at: http://jerseyjazzman.blogspot.com/2013/07/make-big-money-building-charter-schools.html#sthash.2JwSO6Rq.dpuf
Thanks to Joe Bruno, Ferny Zulueta has been able to use capital, ultimately subsidized by taxpayers, to increase the capacity at his charter schools and collect more in both management fees and rent. - See more at: http://jerseyjazzman.blogspot.com/2013/07/make-big-money-building-charter-schools.html#sthash.2JwSO6Rq.dpuf
Thanks to Joe Bruno, Ferny Zulueta has been able to use capital, ultimately subsidized by taxpayers, to increase the capacity at his charter schools and collect more in both management fees and rent. - See more at: http://jerseyjazzman.blogspot.com/2013/07/make-big-money-building-charter-schools.html#sthash.2JwSO6Rq.dpuf
Thanks to Joe Bruno, Ferny Zulueta has been able to use capital, ultimately subsidized by taxpayers, to increase the capacity at his charter schools and collect more in both management fees and rent. - See more at: http://jerseyjazzman.blogspot.com/2013/07/make-big-money-building-charter-schools.html#sthash.2JwSO6Rq.dpuf
Thanks to Joe Bruno, Ferny Zulueta has been able to use capital, ultimately subsidized by taxpayers, to increase the capacity at his charter schools and collect more in both management fees and rent. - See more at: http://jerseyjazzman.blogspot.com/2013/07/make-big-money-building-charter-schools.html#sthash.2JwSO6Rq.dpuf
 In education reform, there is no such thing as a well-meaning amateur. They've ALL got agendas, and children, their education and/or care, aren't on them.


"Venture Philanthropy" & Zombie Capitalism: Speaking of Bill and Mal-inda Gates, here you will find a compilation of letters from teachers in the trenches beseeching the Gates' to just leave education the fuck ALONE, since neither they nor anyone associated with them knows the least fujcking thing about 'education,' other than what they learned in detention.
Follow The MONEY!
There's just pots and sacks ond and bags of money in education, if you can tickle the right buttons. Not for teachers, of course. And not for kids; heaver fuuking forfend.
Scammers are as thick as flies on a suppurating wound around the money that hemorrhages from the Privatization-enamored Duncan/LowBar DoE. The Joyce Foundation is one such blood-sucking creature. Interestingly, through the Gordian knots and labyrinthine permutations of Chicago power and politics, the name and influence of President LowBar seems to be always just below the surface, aas the moguls scheme to close schools in poor districts and free up capital for other projects.
And, if you're slick enough, and sleek enough, and reek sufficiently of sun-tanning oil, and wear enough gold jewelry, and maybe do vanilla rap, you can surely feather your nest, and improve your cash flow in the "Skule Binness." Just like in vacation condominiums.
 Just ask THESE worthies "How to make BIG money in charter schools.":

This tale, limned by the astute and well-regarded tracker of many things financial on the educational prairies, the Jersey Jazzman, lays it all out for you, in all its slime and sleeze. He, by the way, comes recommended by the patron saint of The BATs, members of the F-book discussion group, BadAss Teachers, the redoubtable Prof. Diane Ravitch. His site interferes with c&p, so ya gotta go there to read the gory details.


Re: BadAssTeachers: It's a lively group of pissed-off professional educators, unafraid to take up delicate issues, though their unshakable principles are distinctly opposed to those of the Corporatz' "reformers," like Duncan, Michelle Rhee, the Gates Foundation, Pearson Edn in Britain, and assorted, wealthy educational quacks like .What are they pissed off about? The Phi Delta Kappan, house-rag of the national educational honorary society said it this way:
And, what specifically are they not happy about? School closures in Chicago. Massive layoffs in Philadelphia. Union leaders who listen more to billionaires than the people the unions represent. Democrats who have fallen in line with conservative education reform plans. Excessive testing and evaluations based on student test scores. States undermining teachers’ bargaining rights and pensions. Being labeled as bad, bad, bad, bad, bad for everything that goes wrong in a school.
As to what they wanna do about it? From a piece in the AJC:
Our Mission: Badass Teachers Association was created to give voice to every teacher who refuses to be blamed for the failure of our society to erase poverty and inequality through education. BAT members refuse to accept assessments, tests and evaluations created and imposed by corporate driven entities that have contempt for authentic teaching and learning.
Our goals: BATs aim to reduce or eliminate the use of high stakes testing, increase teacher autonomy in the classroom and work to include teacher and family voices in legislative decision-making processes that affect students.


Speaking of Diane Ravitch: I am sorry that by the time you see this, it will already be too late. Really, this didn't show up until Monday, the 15th, and by then the vote was only a day off. Depending on when this runs on the blog. WTF: Who can justify/rationalize "national "perrformance' standards for teachers?" This is an issue about which yer ol' Perfesser still really cares.
Congress debating the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which is the basic legal framework for federal aid to education. In 2001, in response to the proposal by the new President George W. Bush, Congress added high-stakes testing as a requirement for federal aid. Congress wrongly believed that high-stakes testing had produced a miracle in Texas. We have had a dozen years of NCLB, and it has failed to improve education or to increase equality of educational opportunity.
NCLB has been a disaster for children, who are subjected to endless hours of testing; to teachers and principals, who are scapegoated for low scores; for schools, which are cruelly closed if their students don’t reach an unrealistic goal of 100% proficiency, and for communities, which are losing their beloved neighborhood schools.
Because Building Hope is also using government grants and tax-exempt foundation funds to provide capital to the for-profit charter sector, allowing charter management organizations and charter school landowners, like the Zuluetas, to maximize their profits.

Thanks to Joe Bruno, Ferny Zulueta has been able to use capital, ultimately subsidized by taxpayers, to increase the capacity at his charter schools and collect more in both management fees and rent. - See more at: http://jerseyjazzman.blogspot.com/2013/07/make-big-money-building-charter-schools.html#sthash.NVmaFp3F.dpuf
Thanks to Joe Bruno, Ferny Zulueta has been able to use capital, ultimately subsidized by taxpayers, to increase the capacity at his charter schools and collect more in both management fees and rent. - See more at: http://jerseyjazzman.blogspot.com/2013/07/make-big-money-building-charter-schools.html#sthash.2JwSO6Rq.dpuf
Thanks to Joe Bruno, Ferny Zulueta has been able to use capital, ultimately subsidized by taxpayers, to increase the capacity at his charter schools and collect more in both management fees and rent. - See more at: http://jerseyjazzman.blogspot.com/2013/07/make-big-money-building-charter-schools.html#sthash.2JwSO6Rq.dpuf
Thanks to Joe Bruno, Ferny Zulueta has been able to use capital, ultimately subsidized by taxpayers, to increase the capacity at his charter schools and collect more in both management fees and rent. - See more at: http://jerseyjazzman.blogspot.com/2013/07/make-big-money-building-charter-schools.html#sthash.2JwSO6Rq.dpuf
Thanks to Joe Bruno, Ferny Zulueta has been able to use capital, ultimately subsidized by taxpayers, to increase the capacity at his charter schools and collect more in both management fees and rent. - See more at: http://jerseyjazzman.blogspot.com/2013/07/make-big-money-building-charter-schools.html#sthash.2JwSO6Rq.dpuf
Thanks to Joe Bruno, Ferny Zulueta has been able to use capital, ultimately subsidized by taxpayers, to increase the capacity at his charter schools and collect more in both management fees and rent. - See more at: http://jerseyjazzman.blogspot.com/2013/07/make-big-money-building-charter-schools.html#sthash.2JwSO6Rq.dpuf

Bad News From Walton Mountain: Connect the dots. There seems not to be ANY 'corpoRatz' reform astroturf outfits on the fuukin PLANET into the very depths of which the Waltons have not insinuated their grimy, grubby, shit-encrusted fingers.

Makes ME feel muuuuch better; I dunno about you...


Monday, July 8, 2013

Ed Beat: The Price Is "Right;" Color Lines; Pipeline; Standardz; Marketz

An Intriguing Question:
Would you pay $6,300 in tuition to send your child to a private school with uncertified teachers, insufficient computers and no proper classrooms, and at which the "teaching" occurred mostly by plopping students in front of televisions to watch lessons on DVDs? Of course you wouldn't. But the Louisiana Department of Education would.
No. Really!

Louisiana has not actually accustomed itself to the reality of white kids and black kids going to the same schools. They do it, but grudgingly. By the late '70s, when it was becoming apparent that the precedent of "Brown v. Board of Ed" was NOT gonna be overturned any time soon, and due to a spate of lawsuits, the State BoE initiated a decades-long effort to do everything possible to stem the dark tide, particularly sanctioning "religious" schools to take white students while sending the black kids to the increasingly dismal PUBLIC ones. The Charter School movement in the state is a further out-growth of that earlier sentiment and pattern.


Either Privatize or Close:
Mass school closings have become a hallmark of today's dominant education policy agenda. But rather than helping students, these closures disrupt whole communities. And as U.S. Department of Education data suggests, the most recent rounds of mass closings in Chicago, New York City and Philadelphia disproportionately hurt Black and low-income students. Chicago's gauleiter in chief, Rahm Emanuel, is closing 49 elementary schools serving traditionally under-privileged and marginalized students. One of them, with no intended irony, I'm sure, one which US Ed. Sec. Arne Duncan STARTED as a model school.

Click here to learn about alternatives that support students rather than close school doors on them.


The School-to-Prison Pipeline: The topic has become more common as more and more examples of it are exposed. Recent investigations centered in places like Meridian, MS, have revealed utterly cynical practices which have operated to direct 'marginal' children into programs of state supervision. In May,  a federal judge in Jackson, MS, approved a deal Thursday between the U.S. Justice Department and a Mississippi school district to end discriminatory disciplinary practices in which it was alleged that black students face harsher punishment than whites for similar misbehavior.
Interestingly, according to the authoritative EdWeek, there is a growing concensus among school researchers that there is evidence that so-called "exit" exams are closely correlated with students' involuntary induction into the same pipeline. It's a return to the dread and deadly "deficit model" of understanding childrens' cognitive abilities.
Exit exams have been heavily promoted over the past decade or so, supposedly to insure employers of the value of a high school diploma. About half the states in the nation now have an exit exam as a precondition for a diploma, and billions are spent annually on the tests, and preparation for them. ...(M)any of the charter schools there have very strict discipline policies, and the students who fail to comply are sent back to a residual public school that has been all but abandoned. Students who act out are increasingly being given psychiatric diagnoses, as early as kindergarten. The expectation that all students reach the same set of academic goals at the same time creates a rigid structure that makes students who are not "on schedule," or not capable of sitting and receiving information for long periods of time "abnormal."
The very good, very smart folks at Rethinking Schools have weighed on on the matter, too.


Rethinking Schools: Standards are NOT the currirulum.

So proclaim the standardizers. But any and everyone associated with the schools must know that the standards will soon enough BECOME the curriculum, because the tests--high-stakes, promotion and graduation tests for students--will inevitably be focused on the standards, and performance by students on those tests will inevitably  become the metrics by which teachers are judged.

And the "Common Core Standards" being promoted by the Gates Foundation, among others, are at BEST "imperfect."
It is a reasonable projection based on the history of the NCLB decade, the dismantling of public education in the nation's urban centers, and the appalling growth of the inequality and concentrated poverty that remains the central problem in public education.
Nor are we exaggerating the potential for disaster. Consider this description from Charlotte Danielson, a highly regarded mainstream authority on teacher evaluation and a strong supporter of the Common Core:
I do worry somewhat about the assessments—I'm concerned that we may be headed for a train wreck there. The test items I've seen that have been released so far are extremely challenging. If I had to take a test that was entirely comprised of items like that, I'm not sure that I would pass it—and I've got a bunch of degrees. So I do worry that in some schools we'll have 80 percent or some large number of students failing. That's what I mean by train wreck.
Reports from the first wave of Common Core testing are already confirming these fears.
And states and school districts are flocking to the "standards" standard because that's where the private, foundation, and Fed money is. (By the way: Rethinking Schools is a vital resource for ANYONE involved in education, either parent, teacher, or admin.)

Chile: The Perils Of "Friedmanizing" The Schools: The dictator Pinochet invited Milton Friedman to help "modernize" and "marketize" Chile's schools.



Saturday, July 6, 2013

Soap-Box: Counting 'Coup'


Woody getz accused of Obottery, sometimes, because I don't faithfully agree with and/or amplify every shred and wrinkle of criticism cast at our esteemed President LowBar. Yeah, he's coopted, yeah, he's corrupted, yeah, he's a tool of the Oligarchs.
No, he's not an advocate of the common man. No, he's not a foe of the Capitalist/CorpoRatz. No, he's not gonna prosecute his predecessors.
And? Yer point?
For instance, a poster complained, upon posting the attached article--which should be running as a crawlo, right about now , that Prez. Lowbar was responsible for the coup which, by now, apparently (finally) has become obvious to a growing number of folks.
It's true, I replied, there's been a coup.
But LowBar didn't stage the coup.
And it won't end with him.
It won't end at all, probably.
He's just the most recent figurehead.
The instigators were the Birchers, in the '60s. You know, the guys Eisenhower said wanted to bring down Social Security, and therefore were too crazy to get far.  Koch Botherz' old man was one of them. What Ike didn't get, seemingly, izzat RICHER THAN SHIT crazy asswholes aren't subject to the same rules as anybody else, even 5-Star generals.
The first actual perps were Nixon and his gunsels.
The outline of the whole proceedings can be found in what's called the the Powell Memo. Written in 1971, by soon-to-be-apponted SCROTE Associate Justice Lewis Powell, and for the USChamber of Commerce and passed along to the Regime a couple of months before confirmation hearings.
If you're a coup-watcher, a real aficionado, you learn to tell when there's a coup coming on, because the rebels always capture the media first. Here, that started happening in the '80s. Media "Con-SOL-EYE-Dation!~ 

Captive media is what I call it when 95% of the total of USer "imaginative," "creative," "communicative" capital is owned, outright by six CorpoRatz' boardrooms. No junta, not Pinochet, not Castro...was ever so thorough, or so bloodless.
The deal was completed--the last signatures were inscribed-- in Dec. 2000, when the SCROTES installed the Chimperor. Sandra Day O'Connor was reputed to have said she cast her vote as she did because she knew her departure from the Court could be imminent, and she didn't want her seat filled by aq Dim nominee.
That mebbe was the last chance to slow it down, there, in 2000; if Gore'd had stood up, made an issue of it.
But ALGore was NEVER likely to rock the boat, then, any more than is Pres. LowBar, today. Nor anymore than any SUBSEQUENT replacement of whatever stripe or configuration.
It's a decade-and-a-half ago; Lottawatta under that bridge. That boat sailed a long-gone, long-done deal, Sparky.

This is one of those thoughts which, occurring on anniversary celebration national independence doesn't seem to present a zippy conclusion...
But enough sobriety!

Happy Holiday, Hippiez!


Saturday, June 29, 2013

Ed Beat--Read it and Weep: Twenty Times More; Activism; Strike!; Proipaganda; Empathy; Book Report

Testing "x" 20: "Standards" are the grounds whereupon the battles over "accountability" and "assessment" are being fought. The battle rages between folks of the Bill/Melinda Gates/Michelle Rhee/Arne Duncan-ilk, and especially Randi Weingarten, a political tool and fixer for the Owners who is president of the American Federation of Teachers, and a notorious shill for the standardizers and other assorted CorpoRats CONTRA the large number of teachers/professors/critics who believe the standards (CCSS) and the assessments upon which they will depend for measuring student achievement and teacher effectiveness are just another trick from the Owners to impose a national curriculum and defeat the possibility of autonomy in the classroom.
This article, written in the form of a letter to the interested parties, highlights the mendacity and dishonesty of the advocates, and has a bunch of decent zingers which would be useful in any conversation on the matter. esp[ecially when it is realized that implementing the CCSS will provide occasion for TWENTY TIMES the amount of testing as now occurs. E.g., from Prof Emeritus Stephen Krashen of USC:
“I wonder how the poll results would turn out if those taking the poll realized that the common core state (sic) standards mean a massive increase in testing and will be very expensive, at a time when money is very tight. My estimate is that the common core will require about 20 times the amount of testing that NCLB requires, with more subjects and grade levels tested, interim tests, and maybe even pretests in the fall.”  ~ Stephen Krashen, NABE Weekly eNews, (2012)


Student Activism , Chicago Style:  Members of "Chicago Students Organizing to Save Our Schools" speak out against unjust and illegal school closing and draconian budget cuts. Students addressing grievances concerning apparently targeted school closures to the Chicago School Board are firmly and abruptly removed from the chamber at a recent  board meeting.


Huelgamos, Companeros!  The Chicago Teachers' strike, as futile as it ultimately proves to be, holds the top spot in a list of the TOP FIVE! biggest education stories of the last school year, according to  a recent piece on Alternet.
Number 2 is: The usurpation of local school districts' authority by the State in Michigan in a blatant power grab by the CorpoRatist arch-stooge, Gov. Snyder.
The Seattle MAPS-Test Revolt comes in at #3. It started at one school--Garfield Middle--and spread throughout the entire Seattle school system. The issue was the administration of yet another--and this one demonstrably meaningless though commercially potentially useful--standardized test; the Seattle teachers said "ENOUGH."
Top Story #4: Organizing unions in charter schools. Randi Weingarten and the AFT seem to be behind the main efforts, but I'm always careful around her.
And "fivally": School closings, nation-wide, an epidemic especially in communities-of-color in big, urban systems. I think this one should be atop ANY list for a variety of reasons having to do with both social justice, equal  treatment, and economic parity.


Insidious & Pernicious: This is a petition, and generally I believe such instruments are about as useless as useless as a bicycle for fish. I point to this one mostly to highlight again the extent to which the CorpoRat agenda is an integral part of the curriculum of many, particularly poorer, schools where such materials, no matter how slanted, are preferable to either 1) no materials or 2) out-dated materials. The books in question are produced by a consortium of interests including Monsanto and Dow, and others, to sell students on the mythological narrative of Genetically Modified Organisms.

Similarly: When does "entertainment" = "propaganda?" (NSFW!)
It's a slippery slope. This is commentator/critic/comic mocker Lee Camp's take on last year's apple-polisher movie "Won't Back Down" starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, about heroic efforts by parents and teachers to 'reform' schools. It's no longer in theaters, so it probably no longer matters, but the story is illustrative of both the dominant narratives about schooling and the art with which they are portrayed.



Empathy & Education: The disparity between the success, achievement, and prospects for the poorer and poorest students on one hand, in "Murkin skoolz" and the middle-classes and up is immense and growing.


This piece, from the NYTimes last week, "The Great Divide: Schooling Ourselves in an Unequal America," makes the point that "while America does spend plenty on education, it funnels a disproportionate share into educating wealthier students, worsening that gap. The majority of other advanced countries do things differently, at least at the K-12 level, tilting resources in favor of poorer students." The author then inventories the differences and argues that, it Prez LowBar is serious about Murka's kids taking the lead in achievement, MORE of the POOREST students MUST begin to receive MORE of the aid and assistance.

Which EVERYBODY knows is never gonna happen.


Who'z D'Boss?

Tony D'Anza took a job as a teacher for a year, and wrote a book about it. Hardest job he ever loved.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Heigh-ho, Synechdoche: The Meme Bandits Rides Again...

For the Record, here: I am NOT aiming this meme-skewer at the figure in the image. It's the avuncular, face of Sam Eliot, and he's an ICON who has kept his personal, immigrational and demographic preferences to himself. Though he's known to be a "Republican," not every word appearing on a FB meme was actually spoken by the person whose countenance is displayed adjacent. Elinor Roosevelt said that...

Now that that's cleared up, let's agree: This is a pretty thoroughly reprehensible narrative, full of vicarious vindictiveness, bigotry, ethnic stereotyping, out-right racism and murderous intent. A rhetorical trick (anachrony) wrenches forth a grudging grunt at the payoff. But it's a cheap laugh. I'd expect better of Sam Elliot, were he actually the author.

It is useful in one respect: illustrating a favorite rhetorical fallacy: Petitio Principii. That's the Begging-the-question stuff, like "If they was both way across the river, how'd ya know it was a Mexican and an Arab? How'd ya know what they were carrying? 

"And WHERE THE HELL'D YOU FIND A MAILBOX out there anyway?."

But seriously folks:

There's some serious racism embedded in that "joke."

It's important to recognize that "Racism" is NOT manifested in individual acts of bigotry and prejudice. It does NOT consist in the mere deeds. Images and narratives such as this one function to rationalize it and make it acceptable, if only for our amusement.

Prejudice and bigotry exist in all cultures, all "races." Asswholery is a general, trans-national, trans-cultural human condition. As our old pal, Winstone so assiduously points out, elsewhere in this very programme, there are asswholes absolutely fuukin EVERYWHERE.

But "asswholery" is NOT necessarily racism--though they do often seem to cohabitate.. 

Racism, per se, consists in the political and social arrangements and agreements which accede to, or do not reprove, those expressions of bigotry or prejudice, which are designed to diminish or dispel the validity of the claims of the "despised" to their fair share of "social goods," including respect and dignity.

Minorities, as 'groups'--particularly despised groups--cannot be "racists," per se, because they cannot and do not exercise power enough to deny the Majority the social goods which the Majority DOES posses the power to deny to those whom they regard as their "inferiors."

Racism is about the power to exclude, to deny, to diminish.

As Louie CK says: I'm a white male! Call me a name? You can't even hurt my feelings.

The narrative of the meme exemplifies 'harmless' ways in which racism legitimizes itself. It's so ubiquitous, you gotta laugh. But laugh AT it. Not WITH it.

And so back to you, in Hippie Central, Mayor Smith!!! PS: Just so's ya don't think I'm "pickin" on Sam, his special kind of "folksay!" can be invoked by either side.