Category Archives: Daily Show

Random Quotes – April 2015



Three quotes from the Network for Public Education 2015 National Conference. See the videos at

From Jitu Brown, one of the directors of the Network for Public Education and the national director for the Journey for Justice Alliance.

“They look at our students as instruments of profit” — Jitu Brown

From Yong Zhao, Presidential Chair and Director of the Institute for Global and Online Education in the College of Education, University of Oregon, where he is also a Professor in the Department of Educational Measurement, Policy, and Leadership.

We are in the U.S. one of the very, very few systems that allow everyone to “play in the system” for twelve years. That’s something amazing. We do not select. We do not judge, and that preserves the diversity of talents. Once we privatize…once we allow people to select…you exclude people, normally too early. You don’t know who they might become…any privatized entity has the right to reject. We are not running a country club. We’re running a public education system…that is for the prosperity of the nation and the community and the individuals. — Yong Zhao

From Lily Eskelsen Garcia, President of the National Education Association.

“What is wrong with the world where testing has become so absurd and so harmful to children that parents are protecting their children from a test [by opting out]…The solution has to be changing the world so we do not have toxic testing…” — Lily Eskelsen Garcia

The Resistance Meets on Weekends

Peter Greene covered the Network for Public Education 2015 National Conference (as did many other bloggers…see here, here, here, here and here, for example) in an article about how many who support public education are busy with the actual work of education, while “reformers” are full time, anti-public education, privatizers.

At the close of the NPE conference, Diane Ravitch called on pubic education supporters to engage parents and grandparents, students (especially high school students) and retired educators…in other words, folks who can’t be fired for standing up for public education.

From Peter Greene, Curmudgucation.

…the irony here is that while [educators] are amateurs in the field of shaping, twisting, and spinning policy, [“reformers”] are the amateurs in the actual field of education. They may have the tools, the money, the hired manpower, and the paths of power on their side, but we are the one who know the territory.


Demonizing Teachers, Privatizing Schools: The Big Lies and Big Plans Behind the Atlanta School Cheating Scandal

More about the Atlanta trial which sent public educators to jail.

From Bruce Dixon, Black Agenda Report

The one-percenters need us to believe public education in our communities is some new kind of sewer infested with incompetent teachers who are cheating children and the public every week they draw paychecks. The long, long crisis of public education has been designed, engineered and provoked by powerful bipartisan forces to justify their long game, which is the privatization of public education. That’s the Big Plan.

Jon Stewart: Cheating teachers go to jail. Cheating Wall Streeters don’t. What’s up with that?

Jon Stewart, who is leaving The Daily Show late this summer, will be missed. Valerie Strauss analyzed his review of the Atlanta cheating scandal. The entire segment of The Daily Show follows.

From Valerie Strauss, Answer Sheet

Jon Stewart on Wednesday night made the inevitable comparison between the former teachers and administrators in Atlanta who were sentenced for cheating on standardized tests — a few for as much as seven years — with Wall Street denizens who in 2008 connived in a way that nearly brought down the country’s financial system. Only one was sentenced to 12 months in jail.


Indiana superintendents rail against proposed school funding changes

Under the guise of “equalizing school funding” the Indiana legislature is threatening to reduce funding for large, high poverty urban areas and increase funding for low poverty suburban areas.

From Wendy Robinson, Superintendent of Fort Wayne Community Schools, quoted in Chalkbeat.

“The state is trying to act as if I don’t need different resources for that high school in the high-poverty area,” Robinson said. “The standards I set for the students I receive is the same. We treat our kids in poverty like it’s their fault. … That’s the fallacy of the (state funding) formula.”


The One about Bullying, Threats and Arne Duncan…

The justification for annual testing is “parents need to know how their students are doing.” Most teachers could provide the same information during any week of the school year, more quickly, and with more accuracy.

The real justification for annual testing, and test prep, and every other expense accompanying annual testing, is money…plain and simple.

From Mitchell Robinson, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Chair of Music Education at Michigan State University, quoted in Badass Teachers Association.

…no teacher needs yearly standardized tests to know if their students are “making progress or growth.” Just as parents don’t need these tests to know if their children are growing. The people that teach and love these children are well aware of what they are learning, what challenges and successes they are encountering, and what strategies will work best to help them continue to grow and learn. Let’s not pretend that a once-per-year multiple choice test will somehow magically provide some special sauce that will reveal what kids know and are able to do.

Report: Big education firms spend millions lobbying for pro-testing policies

How much of our national treasure, some of which used to go to helping students, is now going to testing companies? Imagine how much they’re making in profits if they can afford to spend in excess of $20 million in lobbying…

From Valerie Strauss, Answer Sheet

..four companies — Pearson Education, ETS (Educational Testing Service), Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and McGraw-Hill— collectively spent more than $20 million lobbying in states and on Capitol Hill from 2009 to 2014.

Computerized Testing Problems: 2013 -2015

When you give a test before students are ready they often do poorly on it. The same is true when you give a test before the test is ready. The technical failures of the “new” computer based tests has added to the failure of the tests themselves. The testing companies still get their billions, though. FairTest has a list…


The ongoing litany of computer exam administration failures reinforces the conclusion that the technologies rushed into the marketplace by political mandates and the companies paid to implement them are not ready for prime time. It makes no sense to attach high-stakes consequences to such deeply flawed tools


At the Network for Public Education 2015 National Conference, one of the speakers commented that privatization is more than just an “education problem.” It’s occurring in various places in America’s economy. The most recent post of Privatization Watch covers much more than just education. It includes articles about a Senate cafeteria worker, a growing movement to transfer federal land to state control in Western states, the military pension system, the privatization of the state-run charity hospital system in Louisiana, and various toll road privatizations (because toll road privatization worked so well in Indiana).

Today’s Privatization Watch post includes a link to an Atlanta blog article about privatization of public education…

GA: Opinion: Why competitive model fails schools. No one should lose in education

From Maureen Downey, Atlanta-Journal Consititution (

The Texas Miracle used to design No Child Left Behind was a case of cooking the books; the Atlanta Miracle included systemic cheating to save jobs and schools from being closed and educators are now sentenced to serve time behind bars; the New Orleans Miracle continues to be an embarrassment with the retraction of research reports indicating success and criticisms about bad data; and in 2013 there was confirmed test cheating in 37 states and Washington D.C., but surely it is more widespread than that given the high-stakes of the very tests that have been criticized for their bias, invalidity, very high cost, and damaging effects on what schooling has become. Not everything is a competition, not everything should be designed as a competition, and education – especially – should not be treated as a competition where there are guaranteed winners and losers. No one should lose in education. [emphasis added]


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!


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Filed under Curmudgucation, Daily Show, FairTest, NPE, poverty, Ravitch, Test Cheating, Testing, Valerie Strauss

2014 Medley #24

On Teaching, Testing, Vouchers,
Privatization, The Daily Show


The process of deprofessionalizing public education continues. The number of teacher candidates at colleges and universities continues to decline. Secretary Arne Duncan is now getting ready to blame colleges of education for students’ low test scores.

Why are college students choosing not to enter teacher training programs? Could it have anything to do with how teachers are portrayed in the media? Could it have anything to do with how Duncan and those like him blame teachers and their unions for everything?

Even the privatizers and “reformers” are going to need teachers for their children and grandchildren. “Reformers” constantly call for more “great teachers” in the classroom. Where will they come from?

School reform pushing potential teachers away from profession

Over the last decade, teacher salaries in constant dollars in Indiana have decreased by more than 10 percent. Outpaced only by North Carolina, which experienced teacher salary decreases of 14 percent, Indiana had the second largest decrease in the country.

…The only clear winners so far are the test companies making billions of dollars in profit from the standardized test accountability craze in an experiment never before tried anywhere in the world, especially not in countries that have attained the highest levels of achievement in international comparisons of student performance.

…In Indiana, enrollment in teacher education programs has decreased by more than 30 percent over the last decade, and the rate of decrease recently has accelerated. Indiana is not unique in experiencing a drop in teacher education enrollment fueled by disinvestment in public education and contentious public policies that discourage talented students from going into teaching as well as encourage experienced teachers to leave the field. It is happening nationwide.

…If Indiana continues down the “education reform” path, Hoosiers will soon face the same problems bigger states are already experiencing. The research is incontrovertible that regardless of the type of institution a student attends, the single most important school-based factor for improving student achievement is the quality of the classroom teachers and school leaders.

[Ball State University] Teachers College enrollment declines

“I think kids in schools nowadays they say, ‘Why would I be a teacher? This is not an exciting thing,’” Jacobson said. “There’s a lot of challenges to classroom management, to authority, so the respect is not there. And of course young people want to choose a profession that they feel is respected.”

He said the respect for teachers has diminished over time.

Across all races, teacher education losing students

Illinois teaching institutions aren’t the only ones losing students. According to a national survey by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, the number of full-time undergraduates enrolled in education degree programs fell by 6 percent between 2006 and 2011 – even though overall enrollment at the 581 institutions surveyed grew by more than 7 percent during that time period.

… “Amongst people of color, becoming a teacher has zoomed down to [no] more than 8th place in their interest level,” says Dominic Belmonte, president and CEO of Golden Apple, a non-profit organization dedicated to recruiting and developing good teachers in Illinois. “There is a sense out there that teaching is a difficult task that has a limited payoff as far as salary, as far as prestige, as far as challenge. Trying to make teaching cool again with all of these obstacles is a tad difficult.”

Fewer NC college students aspire to teach

…since 2010, fewer young people seem to be interested in the teaching profession in North Carolina. Even as overall enrollment at UNC schools has grown, enrollment in teacher education programs has declined, according to figures provided by the UNC system.

…”I think people are saying I don’t want that job because it has a reputation of being a job that doesn’t pay well and doesn’t pay well enough to be able to support you for just an average living,” said Dawn Rookey, an Owen High School teacher. “I think also there’s been a lot of low teacher morale over the past three years with a lot of the legislative changes that have impacted the profession.”

Young people may not see enough incentives to go into education, she said.


NEA Survey: Nearly Half Of Teachers Consider Leaving Profession Due to Standardized Testing

Arne Duncan finally admits that there’s too much testing. Since 2001 and the passage of No Child Left Behind, the U.S. public education system has been wasting billions of dollars on excessive testing. Everyone has known it. Candidate Barack Obama knew it when he spoke to teachers in 2007. President Obama knew it when he talked to HS students in 2011 and when he spoke to the Congress in 2014. But the money flowing into, around, and through the test creation industry is too much for a politician to ignore.

Teachers and their students are the “innocent bystanders” in this corporate feeding frenzy. The misuse and overuse of testing is excessive, inappropriate, and educational malpractice, but the voices crying out against it don’t have the billions of dollars that the Gates, Broad or Walton Family Foundations have. Teachers don’t have anything to match the economic volume of Pearson’s corporate voice.

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan recently conceded that too much standardized testing was “sucking the oxygen out of the room” and causing “undue stress.” Although the nation’s educators may have been encouraged by Duncan’s words, they have been calling for an end to the high stakes testing culture for more than a decade. “As experts in educational practice, we know that the current system of standardized tests does not provide educators or students with the feedback or accountability any of us need to promote the success and learning of students,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García.


True cost of school vouchers 

Dumping millions of dollars of state tax money into parochial education is just wrong. Public tax money should go to public schools. American’s United for Separation of Church and State says, “Ninety percent of American children attend public schools. Our focus should be on fully funding and improving this system, not siphoning money into private systems.”

With voucher numbers escalating, an accounting of their effectiveness and their effect on public schools should be required.

Figures released recently by Rep. Greg Porter, D-Indianapolis, show the number of voucher students this fall increased more than 47 percent, from 19,809 to 29,146.

“If we continue to see this kind of explosive growth in vouchers over the next few years, how is that going to help make our public schools whole again?” asked Porter, ranking minority member on the House Ways and Means Committee. “If more funding is provided for education, how much will have to be siphoned off to pay for vouchers?”

…Parents of public school students know the increased funding claims are bogus. With new attention to public school funding, taxpayers statewide might finally have a say in where their dollars are directed. Those discussions should begin with a detailed report on voucher funding and accountability. What is the real cost to students and Indiana schools?


There’s a Big Problem With Time’s Teacher-Bashing Cover Story

I don’t miss Michelle Rhee’s pontifications about public education, her complaints about how terrible unions are, or how “bad teachers” are destroying the country. On the other hand, others have stepped up in her absence and have focused their educationally-inexperienced attention on teachers. It seems every legislator, retired news caster, frustrated basketball player, and corporate billionaire knows how to evaluate teachers. You do it by looking at their students’ test scores. If students don’t have test scores in the teacher’s subject (music for example) you make something up.

Time magazine has glorified California’s Vergara case through it’s November 4 cover. It seems that the editors of Time, whose covers have bashed teachers for decades, also know all about evaluating teachers…

Except that they don’t.

So the whole foundation of this approach to “fixing” American public schools could very well be bogus? If that’s the argument–which, it should be stressed, is not new (Extra!, 4/11)–then why is this at the end of the piece? And why doesn’t the cover advertise the fact that the millionaires “saving” public education could very well be relying on a highly flawed method of sorting out the “bad apples”?

When you’re profiling millionaires who prefer “concrete facts” to “taking sides” in their drive to “repair” public schools, it seems like you might want to do more to emphasize what the facts are.


Pence at Lighthouse Christian Academy on Veterans Day (behind pay wall)

Indiana Governor Mike Pence doesn’t even try to hide his preference for private education over public education.

“I find it very telling that Gov. Pence would come to our area and only choose to stop at the private religious school. It is in keeping with his policies that benefit private schools over public schools,” said Cathy Fuentes-Rohwer, chairwoman of the Indiana Coalition for Public Education of Monroe County and South Central Indiana.

“Gov. Pence should have come to our MCCSC public schools and seen the magic that goes on in each of the buildings, regardless of his stigmatizing letter grade labels,” she said.

From her point of view, Pence’s choice emphasized his support of schools like Lighthouse Christian that accept students with school-of-choice scholarships or vouchers.

“Voucher schools get to choose which kids come through their doors or stay,” she said. “Public education is dedicated to all children.”


This is from a while ago, but still worth watching…


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!

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Filed under Article Medleys, Daily Show, Pence, Teaching Career, Testing, vouchers

Rheeform on the Daily Show

Michelle Rhee, the former DC Chancellor and 3 year TFA teacher was a guest on the Daily Show last night to plug her new book, Radical (see the interview in 3 parts, below). “Effective teachers” and “Failing Schools” were her go to buzz words. Beginning sentences with “So…” (a pet peeve of mine) happened frequently, too.

Rhee’s definition of “effective teacher” however wasn’t apparent as she waffled back and forth between “must have a way to measure student achievement” and “teachers are disrespected.” She never answered the objection that the tests weren’t appropriate to evaluate teachers — or maybe it never got asked. The point is, though, that standardized tests for students are NOT valid measures to evaluate teachers. Just because we may not have something which is better (which I don’t believe is true) doesn’t mean we should use something invalid.

[NOTE: Maryland has just forced Montgomery County Schools to quit using their effective evaluation plan because it doesn’t include evaluating teachers using student test scores. Read about the excellent plan they had in this article by Michael Winrip, Helping Teachers Help Themselves. The plan can be found HERE.]

Failing schools was another phrase that she kept repeating. No matter how good a teacher is, they can’t make up for students who are suffering from the effects of poverty — lead poisoning, community violence, poor nutrition and health care, lack of access to books. A good teacher is the most important IN-SCHOOL factor in achievement. Out of school factors, however, account for a larger percentage of a child’s achievement. See Poverty and Potential by David Berliner.

In addition, she mentioned that it was “common sense” to close “failing” schools. No, it’s not. If we were using common sense we would improve the schools in which children were struggling by providing them with MORE resources and MORE support.

Jon Stewart was too polite, I think (though she might have not stayed if he wasn’t). Rhee has very little experience in education and she wasn’t all that successful at what little she had. Like many TFA teachers she wasn’t prepared for what greeted her in a real classroom…she quit after 3 years. As chancellor, she threw the DC Public Schools into chaos and the voters couldn’t get rid of her and the mayor who appointed her fast enough.

I don’t know what her motivation is…money, glory, whatever…but her participation in the privatization movement is not in the best interest of students.

The Daily Show Interview with Michelle Rhee

Stop the Testing Insanity!

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