Posted in 1000 Words, Chicago, Lead, library, Michigan, Public Ed

Picture Walk – December 2017

Some images from around the internet related to children, education, and teaching.


Chris Savage, at Eclectablog, has been tracking the condition of water in Flint, Michigan. Would this environmental travesty still be a unresolved if the city wasn’t Flint, with an average income of $30,567? Would you expect this problem to drag on for more than two years in a place like Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, with an average income of $108,432? Most definitely not.

Yet, the people who have been responsible for this are still in power and still making decisions which impact people’s lives.

The same type of behavior towards communities made up of predominantly low income and/or people of color continues, as Governor Rick Snyder has recently shown. Snyder decided that Michigan’s 13th district (covering parts of Detroit and Dearborn Heights) must wait until next November to choose a replacement for John Conyers who resigned from the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this month. This means that approximately 700,000 Michiganders, the majority of them people of color, will be unrepresented for the next eleven months – effectively punishing the voters for their representative’s indiscretions. They will be unrepresented when the House votes on the Donor Relief Act of 2017 – aka the Republican tax bill. They will be unrepresented when votes are taken to keep the government running. They will be unrepresented when they pay their taxes on April 15th.

Back in Flint, the children (and their families) are still exposed to poisoned water daily. When the public schools “fail” because the children were exposed to toxic levels of lead in their water, who will get the blame? The children…the teachers…the schools…or the municipal and state leaders who are actually responsible?

Since this graphic was posted on December 12. 2017, it’s now (as of this writing) 806 days.


Betsy DeVos knows nothing about education, yet she lectures the public on the “failure” of the public schools.

Barack Obama, Arne Duncan, George W. Bush, and Margaret Spellings knew nothing about education, yet they had no trouble making policy for the 50+ million public school students in the U.S.

Bill Gates, Eli Broad, Mark Zuckerberg, Reed Hastings, and Jeff Bezos know nothing about education, yet they spend their money and time working on the privatization of public schools.

Mike Pence and Mitch Daniels knew nothing about education, yet they damaged the teaching profession and made policy damaging to public schools.

The Republicans in the Indiana General Assembly (Bob Behning, et al) know nothing about public education and work tirelessly to allow the privatization and destruction of the state’s public education.

Educators have the expertise. Educators deserve a voice.


Rahm Emanuel appeared on Stephen Colbert’s Late Show earlier this week. Colbert asked no questions about public education. He asked no questions about the closing of community schools in poor neighborhoods, and, I assume, their eventual replacement with charter schools with no record of higher performance…since the problem is poverty, not the schools. There were no questions about the lack of funding for public schools. There were no questions about the difference in the way schools are treated in different neighborhoods.

The Chicago Sun-Times, a slightly more progressive media outlet than the conservative Tribune, has called for the democratization of CPS, the Chicago Public Schools, by including elected members of the Board of Education. Because of its size, Chicago has local school councils which are elected, but the Board of Education, which makes most of the large decisions, is appointed by the Mayor. The local school councils can object if one of their school’s is marked for closing, but they have no real power. That’s why closing schools can be based on demographics – which it has been under Mayor Emmanuel.

The real problem is twofold. First, the schools marked for closing over the last few years have been in less affluent areas of the city. Once again we have schools targeted because they were/are “failing” – which in “reform” language, means filled with low income students who need more services (and which the city is unable, or unwilling to provide). The second problem in Chicago is the Emmanuel’s penchant for charter schools. Despite the scandals involving charter payoffs, and despite the fact that charters do not improve educational outcomes for students, the Mayor continues to push for charters.

Emmanuel went on The Late Show in order to join Colbert in bashing President Trump. He claims that Chicago has been declared a “Trump-Free Zone,” and is a sanctuary city (in Emmanuel’s words, a “welcoming” city), welcoming immigrants. This is all very well and good, IMHO. I applaud cities which are fighting the current administration’s anti-immigrant policies (as well as the policies which deny and exacerbate climate change which Emmanuel also mentioned).

Still, the damage that Mayoral Control is doing to the Chicago Public Schools should be acknowledged.

In 2012 the Chicago Teachers Union produced a report titled, The Schools Chicago Students Deserve. Mayor Emmanuel ought to read it…and follow its advice.

Here’s Fred Klonsky’s drawing describing the Mayor’s impact on the city schools.


A repost from years past…support your local library.

Posted in 1000 Words, Baseball, IN Gen.Assembly, Politics, Public Ed, Testing, Trump, vouchers

Food for Thought

A collection of memes and cartoons from around the internet about public education.


The national metaphor for hope…a new season.


No, not basketball – the Indiana General Assembly.

We’re in the midst of the annual attempt by “reformers” in Indiana to

  • extend the misuse and overuse standardized testing
  • expand the voucher program
  • increase funds to charter schools
  • decrease funds to public schools
  • deprofessionalize teachers
  • bust the teachers union

Winners: private and privately run schools, corporate donors, Republican campaign war chests.

Losers: Indiana public school students and their teachers, public school corporations, the future of Indiana.


Repair our public schools and the neighborhoods they occupy. Don’t close them.


Teachers are required to differentiate curriculum because all children are different, but give a standardized test which all children have to pass.


Have We Lost Sight of the Promise of Public Schools?

If there is hope for a renewal of our belief in public institutions and a common good, it may reside in the public schools. Nine of 10 children attend one, a rate of participation that few, if any, other public bodies can claim, and schools, as segregated as many are, remain one of the few institutions where Americans of different classes and races mix. The vast multiracial, socioeconomically diverse defense of public schools that DeVos set off may show that we have not yet given up on the ideals of the public — and on ourselves.


Now that we know better can we just stop the overuse and misuse of standardized tests? How many instructional hours are wasted for teachers, support staff, and students?


Nothing new for Indiana…


A voucher vs. public school comparison.

Posted in 1000 Words, Charters, Corp Interest, Testing, vouchers

Picture Walk – May 2015

Here are some graphic images and tweets from around the net — plus my own 2 cents worth of comments. Click on any image to see the full sized version.


Legislators are quick to say, ‘look how much money we’re spending on education.’ They don’t tell you, however, that much of that money is not going to public education. Instead, it’s going to vouchers and charter schools…as well as to a huge bill for poorly constructed, inadequately researched, overused, and misused standardized testing.

Indiana legislators just passed a budget which many are touting as containing a substantial increase for “education.” Unfortunately the increase is going for more expensive testing, private school vouchers, and charter schools. Also, the legislature has decided that schools in high income areas ought to get more…and schools in high poverty areas ought to get less.

“When you take the virtual schools, the charter schools and the vouchers and add them together at their most optimistic prognostications of enrollment you have 8% of the total student body of the state of Indiana. They are getting a third of that $474 million, a third. Those 137 school districts are losing $500,000.” Ann Delaney on Indiana Week in Review (start at about 2:40) this week when asked to comment about the “education session” of the indiana General Assembly and the 137 public school districts that will lose money even though the average increase is 2.3%.


Ask a teacher about Indiana’s state assessment, ISTEP+.

  • Is it aligned to a developmentally appropriate curriculum?
  • Does it really give teachers any more information about how their students learn?
  • Are results returned in a timely fashion with useful data for guiding instruction?
  • Why are we spending so many millions of dollars which could be (and should be) used for instruction?

ISTEP+ means millions of tax dollars wasted for the sole purpose of grading schools and teachers…and it doesn’t really do a good job of either of those things.

Assessment is an important part of education, but teachers assess students every day and a teacher’s assessment of a student, through grades, observations, quizzes and yes, even tests, is more accurate than standardized tests.

“Don’t label a school as failing one day and then throw your hands up and walk away from it the next. Don’t tell us that the only way to teach a child is to spend too much of a year preparing him to fill out a few bubbles in a standardized test…You didn’t devote your lives to testing. You devoted it to teaching, and teaching is what you should be allowed to do.” — Candidate Barack Obama, Summer 2007

How much of our education budget is being spent on something other than the students? Testing is one of the biggest thieves of resources from the classroom. We’re holding schools with minimal resources — lack of books and materials, poor technology, large class sizes, leaky roofs, poorly supplied bathrooms — to the same standards as schools in wealthy areas with state of the art science labs and computer access.

The corporatization and privatization of public education is hurting the most vulnerable students. The reason is profit. Testing companies are stealing billions of tax dollars which should be used for the benefit of students.




President Obama, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and the usual gang of “reformers” — who mostly know nothing about education, even less about public education, and virtually nothing about urban public education — have been obsessively focused on international test scores. We have to raise our nation’s test scores and the way to do that is to make sure that every child is “college and career ready.”

Test scores, according to the “reformers,” are the only things necessary to make all children “college and career ready” so all we have to do is make the tests better and all our children will succeed.

That is, of course, wrong. We have known for decades that there is a direct correlation between school achievement and poverty. We learned in the 70s that programs targeting children in poverty helped improve achievement. We also know that best practices for early childhood education and young children must include play, hands on learning, and multi disciplinary projects. Worksheets, and paper and pencil activities have a place early on, but a very small place, and testing certainly should not be the focus.

“College and career ready” academics are something that ought to wait until children are closing in on college and career ready chronologically! This quote from a Bloomington, Indiana mom is simple, yet perfectly on point.


The narrow pursuit of test results has sidelined education issues of enduring importance such as poverty, equity in school funding, school segregation, health and physical education, science, the arts, access to early childhood education, class size, and curriculum development. We have witnessed the erosion of teachers’ professional autonomy, a narrowing of curriculum, and classrooms saturated with “test score-raising” instructional practices that betray our understandings of child development and our commitment to educating for artistry and critical thinking. And so now we are faced with “a crisis of pedagogy”–teaching in a system that no longer resembles the democratic ideals or tolerates the critical thinking and critical decision-making that we hope to impart on the students we teach.

Stop the Testing Insanity!

Posted in 1000 Words, Politics, poverty, Teaching Career, Testing

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words – November, 2014

…with some added words. Click on any image to see the full sized version.


It’s the teacher’s fault.

…from Linda Darling-Hammond’s The Flat World and Education: How America’s Commitment to Equity Will Determine Our Future.

Teachers in the U.S. are overworked with little time for professional collaboration and professional development, yet this is one of the most important aspects of professional life needed to improve the teaching profession.


What else isn’t being taught because of “the test?”


Trying to fix the nation’s educational system without paying attention to the economic problems facing the U.S. is doomed to failure.

There is a direct relationship between family income and test scores. Causality? Poverty has an impact.

Many studies confirm that poverty has a devastating effect on school performance: The dream team, “the world’s most inspiring, transformational teachers” will have little effect when students are poorly fed, ill because of lack of health care, and read poorly because of lack of access to books.

The Democrats of today won’t save public education. People like Barack Obama (through his mouthpiece, Arne Duncan), Andrew Cuomo, Cory Booker, and Rahm Emanuel have sold out to the Gates-Broad-Walton Megabillionaire’s Club whose goal is the privatization of American education.

Republicans aren’t much better. Remember the 2012 Presidential campaign and Mitt Romney’s disgusting comment about getting “as much education as they can afford”. The only education issue discussed was how people were going to pay for college. And we know how that turned out…students now finish college buried in life-long debt.

The danger to public education is greatest at the state level. Legislatures around the country are gutting public education funding and transferring money to private run charters and, in Indiana, Louisiana, and other places with destructive voucher plans, private schools.

America’s child poverty problem is an indication of the disdain we have for our children…and our future.


All who envision a more just, progressive and fair society cannot ignore the battle for our nation’s educational future. Principals fighting for better schools, teachers fighting for better classrooms, students fighting for greater opportunities, parents fighting for a future worthy of their child’s promise: their fight is our fight. We must all join in.

Stop the Testing Insanity!
Posted in 1000 Words, Accountability, Charters, read-alouds, Testing, WaltonFamilyFoundation

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words – May, 2014

Here are some graphic images from around the net — plus my own 2 cents worth of comments. Click on any image to see the full sized version.

Reading Aloud — The Incentive that Works

In the Read Aloud Handbook, Jim Trelease wrote about the 1983 Commission on Reading and the subsequent report Becoming a Nation of Readers.

“The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.” “It is a practice that should continue throughout the grades.” The commission found conclusive evidence to support reading aloud not only in the home but also in the classroom.

In their wording—“ the single most important activity”—the experts were saying reading aloud was more important than work sheets, homework, book reports, and flash cards. One of the cheapest, simplest, and oldest tools of teaching was being promoted as a better tool than anything else in the home or classroom— and it’s so simple you don’t even need a high school diploma in order to do it.

Reading is still the most important daily activity for most American adults — reading an email from their supervisor, reading a manual for installing an appliance, or reading the want ads looking for a job. During leisure time people read tweets, Facebook posts, blog entries, emails from friends and relatives, newspapers and magazines, and even books…including ebooks or tree books (traditional paper and ink books).

Has the focus on reading (through standardized tests) improved the reading of Americans? Most Americans are functionally literate…and can read enough to get through their days…some with great facility.

But deeper reading requires an incentive. That incentive is reading aloud.

On the whole, children whose parents read to them learn to read earlier, better and faster than children whose parents don’t read to them. Parents who read a lot have children who read a lot. It’s that simple.

The End-All: Testing

As adults we read for a purpose…either for work, for interest or for pleasure. Children need a purpose for reading as well. Is testing the only reason we teach reading? Sometimes it seems that way.

While politicians, school boards, principals, and teachers are focused on data and testing, students are focused on what they have always been focused on — learning about the world and developing relationships with the people around them.

We can claim that our insane obsession with testing is an appropriate way to measure learning and hold schools, teachers, and students accountable, but that doesn’t make it true.

We understand that a healthy diet is necessary for our children’s growth and long life, but we don’t seem to understand that children’s minds need a healthy diet, too.

Charter School Under Construction

Corporate charters drain funds from public schools and have about the same success rate. The difference is that public money is going into the pockets of corporate shareholders and CEOs. Meanwhile public schools are left with fewer resources, more expensive to educate students, and in some cases, less space in their building.

How much does it cost you at Walmart?

We subsidize the richest family in America — the Waltons — through our taxes. Our money goes to their workers, who make such low salaries they qualify for public assistance, and to the wealthy owners through tax breaks. Still think you’re saving money at Walmart?


All who envision a more just, progressive and fair society cannot ignore the battle for our nation’s educational future. Principals fighting for better schools, teachers fighting for better classrooms, students fighting for greater opportunities, parents fighting for a future worthy of their child’s promise: their fight is our fight. We must all join in.

Stop the Testing Insanity!
Posted in 1000 Words, Common Core, Evaluations, poverty, Privatization, Public Ed, Testing

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words – March, 2014

Here are some graphic images from around the net — plus my own 2 cents worth of comments. Click on any image to see the full sized version.

What CCSS Really Means

The Common Core State Standards – Standards we didn’t need, which require that billions of tax dollars are spent on replacements for tests which are misused, in order to give those dollars to test-prep and test publishers who (along with billionaires who don’t know anything about education) donate money to politicians (who also don’t know anything about education) who then pass laws about education, including the adoption of new standards.

U.S. is [not] #1

U.S. Students from low-poverty schools score very high on international tests. Nearly one-fourth of our children live in poverty.

The problem is not “failing schools” or “bad teachers.” The problem is that in our society the children of the poor are not valued. We’re one of only three OECD nations who spend less money on our students in poverty. The “education crisis” is really a crisis in poverty and greed.

Just Your Typical Class

No More Tests

Once during a parent conference a parent said to me, “I don’t know why he won’t behave. I spank him and spank him…but he doesn’t get any better.” My response was something like, “If it’s not working then stop doing it and try something else.”

The same is true for test scores…we keep making public education more and more test focused, yet the test scores don’t go up. Maybe it’s time to end our test obsession and try something else…like helping teachers teach, reducing poverty, and increasing support and resources to public schools.

Learn From Mistakes – Don’t Repeat Them


Privatizers want to take over the public sector because that’s best for everyone. “The government can’t do anything right. Public sector unions, for example, are only in it for the money.”

Is it possible to trim government waste without “throwing out the baby with the bathwater?” Is government really the “public sector” since Citizens United? Are corporations “people, my friend?”

Mother Jones has a corporate seating chart for congress, showing who the members took money from to get elected. They also have a list of Capitol Hill’s top 75 corporate sponsors over the last 25 years.

If private corporations are already controlling the government by buying elections does that mean that there is no public sector any more?

What Would Gates or Duncan Do?

I’d love to see how Arne Duncan or Bill Gates would do in front of a Kindergarten class or Middle School class for a year, but that wouldn’t be fair to the students. Neither Duncan nor Gates have the slightest idea what teaching a class of students really entails.

Pick the business of anybody on the Gates Foundation board of directors. Pick any one. Now imagine me, a teacher, showing up at the CEO’s office and saying, “Hey, some of us at my high school formed a study group and we’ve come up with some recommendations about how your business should be run. And if you don’t want to listen to us, we’ll call up our friends in DC and make you listen to us.” — Peter Greene in Curmudgucation: The Wrongest Sentence Ever in the CCSS Debate

Teacher Evaluations

Here’s the formula used for evaluating teachers in New York State. What happens if you don’t teach a tested grade or subject? In some places your evaluation is based on the success of how students do in other grades or classes. Some places are threatening to add tests for every grade/subject.


All who envision a more just, progressive and fair society cannot ignore the battle for our nation’s educational future. Principals fighting for better schools, teachers fighting for better classrooms, students fighting for greater opportunities, parents fighting for a future worthy of their child’s promise: their fight is our fight. We must all join in.

Stop the Testing Insanity!
Posted in 1000 Words, SchoolFunding, Taxes, Testing, WaltonFamilyFoundation

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words – February, 2014

Here are some graphic images from around the net — plus my own 2 cents worth of comments. Click on any image to see the full sized version.

No More Taxes vs. You Get What You Pay For

We’re a selfish lot. As a nation, we don’t really care about each other or our collective children very much…other than the lip service we pay during elections. The “common wisdom” is that we’re over-taxed. Unfortunately that’s just a lie. We’re among the least taxed people in the industrialized world…and we have the lack of social safety nets to show it. Poor medical care and our incredibly high child poverty rate lead to a crisis in learning for our most vulnerable children…and we, as a nation, are unwilling to pay more. The “community” of America doesn’t exist. The attitude has become “what’s mine is mine and you can’t have it.”

As taxes on the wealthy and corporations continue to drop we keep waiting for the “job creators” to let the wealth trickle down to the bottom rungs of the economic ladder. In the meantime our “leaders,” bought and paid for by the low-tax-paying corporate donors, are redistributing the wealth to themselves and their supporters.

We are diverting a big chunk of what tax money we do have to privately operated schools. People expect high quality public services — snow removal, street repair, fire and police protection, military protection — but are unwilling to pay for it. Yet, we continue to vote against our own interests year after year…

Subsidizing the Richest People in America

Still shopping at Wal-Mart because you think it saves you money? While the Walton’s are avoiding taxes through loopholes allowed to the wealthy, their customers are paying the taxes that help support the store’s workers who make so little they’re entitled to public assistance. In other words, America’s taxpayers are subsidizing the payroll of Wal-Mart.

What are the Walton’s doing with their billions? They’re giving it to school privatizers who in turn, work to divert tax money from public schools to privately owned schools. Money lost to public schools means less materials, fewer teachers and larger class sizes, and less support.

Still think you’re saving money?

The Walmart 1%: Education

While the family funds charter schools, it seems clear that its real interest lies with voucher programs, a mechanism for school privatization through which public tax dollars can be diverted to private institutions. The late John Walton, son of Walmart founder Sam Walton, was recognized by Business Week in February 2000 as “a leading advocate for using ‘consumer choice’ to reform America’s schools”—that is, through the use of taxpayer-funded private school vouchers. Indeed, the family apparently began working on charter schools as a sort of compromise, only after it became clear that privatization of schools was a very controversial idea. [emphasis added]

Walmart Heirs Worth Same Amount As Bottom 40 Percent Of Americans In 2010: Analysis

…bringing a new Walmart to town may cost a community big time in lost wages. A planned Seattle-area Walmart could cost the area $14.5 million in lost wages over the next 20 years, a local advocacy group found…

Just Four Members of the Walton Family Have a Higher Net Worth Than All Walmart’s Workers Combined

But as many Walmart workers go on strike today, asking for wages high enough to lift them out of poverty, it’s worth pausing to consider just what they are asking for: Among other things, they essentially want those four Walton family members—who, together, still own a big chunk of the company—to be satisified with a tad less in shareholder returns.

Money Isn’t Going Where it’s Needed

We’re giving away our tax dollars to welfare for workers in low wage jobs at places like Wal-Mart and McDonalds. We’re giving away our tax dollars to privately run schools which leave the most expensive to educate children in the cash-strapped public schools. A larger and larger chunk of the money that is going to public schools is being spent on test prep, testing materials, and technology for testing.

Subsidizing the Rich in Education

U.S. Rare in Spending More Money on the Education of Rich Children

“The United States is one of few advanced nations where schools serving better-off children usually have more educational resources than those serving poor students,” writes Eduardo Porter for the New York Times. This is because a large percentage of funding for public education comes not from the federal government, but from the property taxes collected in each school district. Rich kids, then, get more lavish educations.


When can we stop wasting time and money on the overuse and misuse of tests? Here’s an idea…“Let’s have private school students take the same standardized tests that public school students now take each year.”

Study: High Standardized Test Scores Don’t Translate to Better Cognition

Even when students improve their scores on standardized tests, they don’t always improve their cognitive abilities…


All who envision a more just, progressive and fair society cannot ignore the battle for our nation’s educational future. Principals fighting for better schools, teachers fighting for better classrooms, students fighting for greater opportunities, parents fighting for a future worthy of their child’s promise: their fight is our fight. We must all join in.

Stop the Testing Insanity!