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