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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
 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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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:

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!