Posted in ALEC, Article Medleys, Charters, Equity, Finland, kindergarten, poverty, Racism, Teacher Licensing, Teaching Career, Testing

Instead of Equity

Inequity, both economic and racial, in the U.S. is so common, so embedded in our society that no one in America should be surprised to hear what John Green has to say about life expectancy in the video below.

In the doobly doo, below his video, Green links to a study – Inequalities in Life Expectancy Among US Counties, 1980 to 2014, wherein we learn…

Much of the variation in life expectancy among [U.S.] counties can be explained by a combination of socioeconomic and race/ethnicity factors, behavioral and metabolic risk factors, and health care factors.

So, life expectancies, like test scores, are correlated to ZIP codes…

SCHOOL IS ABOUT FINDING YOUR HAPPINESS…

In contrast to the inequity in the U.S., Finland is one of the most equitable societies on the planet. This equity is reflected in Finland’s education system. In his 2015 documentary, Where to Invade Next, Michael Moore asked the Finnish Minister of Education, “If you don’t have standardized tests here in Finland, how do you know which schools are the best?” She responded…

The neighborhood school is the best school. It is not different than the school which can be, for example, situated in the town center, because all the schools in Finland, they are equal.

Equity.

In Finland, the richest families send their children to the same schools as the poorest families. That means, as Moore says,

…the rich parents have to make sure that the public schools are great. And by making the rich kids go to school with everyone else, they grow up with those other kids as friends. And when they become wealthy adults, they have to think twice before they screw them over.

Equity.

Equity in the nation yields equity in education. Equity in education yields high achievement and reinforces equity in the nation. If we were actually interested in improving American education we would do what the Finns have done…and, as Moore said elsewhere in the documentary, the Finnish education system is based on ideas from the United States. We just have to do what we already know.

But, whine the contrarians, “Finland is not the U.S. We can’t just import their whole education system. They’re a smaller country…not so diverse!”

True.

In order to do what Finland has done we would have to support and invest in our children, eliminate the inequity in our society, and…

  • end the racism inherent in America. We would have to heal the damage done by Jim Crow and the nation’s slave past. We can’t build an educationally equitable nation until we have a racially equitable nation.
  • stop dismantling our public schools. When a school system, riddled with poverty, inevitably fails, the solution in the United States is to privatize…to close the schools and replace them with charter schools…instead of working to change the environment and support the schools. Charter schools, however, aren’t the cure to low achievement.

See also…

  • quit trying to fund two or three parallel school systems. We need one public school system for all Americans, poor and wealthy, black and white. As long as there are multiple school systems divided and ranked by economic and racial privilege, there will be “haves” and “have nots.” There will be inequity.

…INSTEAD WE BLAME TEACHERS

A school is not a factory; teaching is a process

Instead of increasing educational equity we point fingers and try to find someone to blame. “Reformers” love to blame teachers.

Instead of giving teachers the professional responsibility of teaching, politicians and policy makers make decisions for public schools. They decide what should be taught and how it should be taught. Then, when their ignorant and inappropriate interference doesn’t result in higher test scores, they blame the teachers.

On every occasion possible, they talk about incompetent and ineffective teachers as if they are the norm instead of the rare exception. They create policies that tie teachers’ hands, making it more and more difficult for them to be effective. They cut budgets, eliminate classroom positions, overload classrooms, remove supports, choose ineffective and downright useless instructional tools, set up barriers to providing academic assistance, and then very quickly stand up and point fingers at teachers, blaming them for every failure of American society, and washing their own hands of any blame.

…INSTEAD WE LOWER STANDARDS FOR TEACHERS

In Arizona, teachers can now be hired with absolutely no training in how to teach

We pass legislation damaging the teaching profession. Then, when fewer young people want to become teachers and a teacher shortage is wreaking havoc on public schools, we claim that “we have to get more ‘good people’ into the classroom,” so we remove licensing restrictions and let anyone teach…

New legislation signed into law in Arizona by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey (R) will allow teachers to be hired with no formal teaching training, as long as they have five years of experience in fields “relevant” to the subject they are teaching. What’s “relevant” isn’t clear.

The Arizona law is part of a disturbing trend nationwide to allow teachers without certification or even any teacher preparation to be hired and put immediately to work in the classroom in large part to help close persistent teacher shortages. It plays into a misconception that anyone can teach if they know a particular subject and that it is not really necessary to first learn about curriculum, classroom management and instruction.

ALEC: ALTERNATIVE CERTIFICATION ACT

ALEC is a voice for lowering standards for teaching. They say, “certification requirements prevent many individuals from entering the teaching profession.” That’s true, and that’s as it should be.

They say, “comprehensive alternative certification programs improve teacher quality by opening up the profession to well-educated, qualified, and mature individuals.” What is their definition of “improved teacher quality?” What is their definition of “qualified?”

Teachers need to understand and know their subject area, of course, but they also need to understand educational methods, theory, and style (whatever that means) which ALEC so disrespectfully dismisses.

Why should teachers know anything about education methods, learning theory, classroom management, or child development? If you’re ALEC, the answer is “they don’t.”

Teacher quality is crucial to the improvement of instruction and student performance. However, certification requirements that correspond to state-approved education programs in most states prevent many individuals from entering the teaching profession. To obtain an education degree, students must often complete requirements in educational methods, theory, and style rather than in-depth study in a chosen subject area. Comprehensive alternative certification programs improve teacher quality by opening up the profession to well-educated, qualified, and mature individuals. States should enact alternative teacher certification programs to prepare persons with subject area expertise and life experience to become teachers through a demonstration of competency and a comprehensive mentoring program.

Paul Lauter: Why Do Dentists Need to be Licensed?

In response to ALEC…

I think we should propose doing away with dental licenses. After all, there’s nothing that can’t be fixed with a piece of string and a door knob.

…INSTEAD WE OBSESS OVER TESTING

An advertisement from Facebook.

Is this what we ought to be focusing on…better test-prep? In America the purpose of education has become the tests.

Don’t Use Kindergarten Readiness Assessments for Accountability

I’m afraid we have completely lost any valid use of tests in the U.S. Now there’s a move to use Kindergarten Readiness Assessments (KRAs) in order to grade schools and children.

Tests should only be used for the purpose for which they were developed. Any other use is educational malpractice.

…there are also several tempting ways to misuse the results. The Ounce delves into three potential misuses. First, the results should not be used to keep children from entering kindergarten. Not only were these assessments not designed for this purpose, but researchers have cautioned against this practice as it could be harmful to children’s learning.

Another misuse of KRA results is for school or program accountability. According to the Ounce report, some states have begun using these results to hold early learning providers accountable. One example the report highlights is Florida. While Florida has since made changes, the Florida State Board of Education previously used the results from its Kindergarten Readiness Screener to determine how well a state Voluntary Prekindergarten Program (VPK) provider prepared 4-year-olds for kindergarten…

…Finally, the Ounce report raised issues with using KRA results for pre-K and kindergarten teacher evaluation. Once again, the assessments are not designed for this purpose…[emphasis added]

INSTEAD…

…of making excuses and blaming school systems, schools, teachers, and students, policy makers should take responsibility for low achievement caused by the nation’s shamefully high rate of child poverty.

…of wasting tax dollars on a second (charters) and third (vouchers) set of schools of dubious quality, trying to duplicate our already neglected public schools, we should invest in our children, in our future, and fully fund a single, free, equitable, public school system.

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Posted in A-F Grading, Article Medleys, DeVos, Finland, library, Politics, Privatization, Teaching Career, Testing, vouchers

2016 Medley #30

Politics, The Teaching Profession,
Privatization, Testing, Libraries

POLITICS

My Letter to President-Elect Trump

Your entertainment for today consists of a teacher from Oklahoma, with no political or diplomatic experience, who has never traveled abroad, yet claims he is qualified to be the next US Secretary of State. How is this possible? If Betsy DeVos is qualified to be the US Secretary of Education, with no public education experience as a student, a teacher, an administrator, or a parent (has she ever even visited a public school classroom?), then the qualifications for other Cabinet positions should have similar requirements.

Maybe I could be appointed as the Attorney General. I’m not an attorney…never written a brief…never even appeared in court (although I have watched Lawyer shows on TV). Sounds like I’m perfect for it.

I know you are a busy man so I will get right to the subject of my letter. I would like to formally announce my strong interest in your administration’s open cabinet position as U.S. Secretary of State.

I think you will find my qualifications and experience to be exactly what you are looking for.

Meet Betsy DeVos: Your New US Secretary of Education

There are so many articles and blog posts being written about the nomination of Betsy DeVos for US Secretary of Education (see above), that I thought it would be nice to collect them in one place. This is undoubtedly not all of them, but so far (as of noon ET on Nov. 29) I have listed about 80 and arranged them by date.

Full disclosure: Most of them are opposed to her selection as Secretary of Education. Someone else will have to collect those posts and articles which are in favor.

A collection of articles and information, sorted by date, about President-elect Trump’s choice for US Secretary of Education. Check back frequently for additional articles.

THE TEACHING PROFESSION

When Finnish Teachers Work in America’s Public Schools

“Reformers” frequently claim that the US is “behind” the rest of the world in education. Finland, because of the high scores of its students on international tests, is often held up as an example of good education…until anyone suggests that we do the same sorts of things that the Finns do in education: no standardized testing, no privatization, 15 minutes of recess for every hour of school, teacher collaboration, and an investment of time. Then, “we can’t” duplicate it because education in the US is too decentralized and the population too diverse.

That is true. We also have four times the child poverty rate, less effective social safety nets for our children, and the future of our country, based on our interest in educating everyone in a free, uniform, public education system, is a low priority.

Learning about the Finnish school system is an eye-opening experience for anyone who understands public education in the United States. The experience of these teachers, who came to the US from Finland, was certainly eye-opening to them. They “don’t recognize this profession.”

“I have been very tired—more tired and confused than I have ever been in my life,” Kristiina Chartouni, a veteran Finnish educator who began teaching American high-school students this autumn, said in an email. “I am supposedly doing what I love, but I don’t recognize this profession as the one that I fell in love with in Finland.”

In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.

Todd Gazda, Superintendent, Ludlow Public Schools (MA) has written an insightful piece about turning lemons into lemonade. The end of the piece, however, is where his comments really had an impact on me.

…it seems that every time those discussions arise the end results rarely align with what educators in the field believe is important to improve our system.

American educators are kept out of the room when public policy for public education is discussed. A mere three out of the eleven US Secretaries of Education (DeVos included) have had K-12 experience as a teacher. Most decisions are made by state legislators, governors, and school board members, only a few of whom have likely had public school experience. Medical decisions are made with the input of medical professionals. Legal decisions are made by those with experience in the US Legal System. Why is it different with education?

…all that educators are looking for is an accountability system that gives a fair and accurate picture of the health of a district. I still assert that standardized testing alone will not accomplish this goal and that we need a more comprehensive accountability system that takes a holistic approach based on more than test scores…

PRIVATIZATION: CHOICE

The Essential Selfishness of School Choice

Steven Singer, edu-blogger at Gadflyonthewallblog, has presented as good a case as I’ve ever read against school “choice.”

We have a large, functioning, public school system in the US which serves every child. If there are problems we need to fix them, not just throw the system away.

…school choice is essentially selfish. Even in cases where kids do benefit from choice, they have weakened the chances of everyone else in the public school system. They have increased the expense and lowered the services of children at both types of school. They have allowed unscrupulous profiteers to make away with taxpayer money while taxpayers and fiscal watchdogs are blindfolded. And when students return to their traditional public school after having lost years of academic progress at a substandard privatized institution, it is up to the taxpayers to pay for remediation to get these kids back up to speed.

Choice advocates talk about children being trapped in failing schools, but they never examine what it is about them that is failing.

Almost all public schools that are struggling serve impoverished students. That’s not a coincidence. It’s the cause. Schools have difficulty educating the poorest children. Impoverished children have greater needs. We should be adding tutoring, counseling and mentor programs. We should be helping their parents find jobs, providing daycare, healthcare and giving these struggling people a helping hand to get them back on their feet.

But instead we’re abandoning them.

See also

The Problem with Choice

We should improve our public schools, not close them.

If parents truly want choice, this is where we as parents and educators need to concentrate our efforts. In Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the statement that “Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children” should be taken literally and used to fix public education for all, not to give choice only to the wealthy and the fortunate.

If we want true education reformation, we need to make sure the public tax dollars are being used correctly to create an actual choice movement within the public school system itself: Increase money being spent on public education to improve ALL schools, regardless of location; increase teachers’ salaries to create a true competition for quality teachers; increase public school autonomy so that principals and teachers can use their knowledge and experience to innovate and create the right learning environment for their students.

Scores drop when students move to private, magnet schools

What’s the purpose of “choice?”

The Indianapolis study suggests more choice won’t boost achievement and may hurt it. But Waddington notes that families choose schools for a variety of reasons. Some may find a private or magnet school a better fit. Evidence from Indiana’s voucher program suggests parents choose private schools for religious instruction, raising questions about whether the state should support sectarian education.

Berends and Waddington said the Indianapolis study provides more evidence that the key to improving student achievement doesn’t lie with a particular type of school. They said research suggests we should get past the “horse race” question of whether public, charter or private schools are better and seek a better understanding of the characteristics that make some schools more effective than others.

PRIVATIZATION: VOUCHERS

Recent Research Shows Vouchers Fail Children

The two most recent studies indicate that students do worse with vouchers.

TESTING

Feds say Indiana can drop its A-F system. But does it want to?

We’re still misusing standardized tests. Standardized tests are developed to evaluate the achievement of students, not teachers. Not schools. Not school systems. Not nations.

If Indiana wants to make changes to its A-F school grading system, new rules from the U.S. Department of Education announced today could make it much easier.

The question is: Does Indiana want to make a change? And what would an overhauled school rating system look like?

LIBRARIES

The value of reading and our neglect of libraries

Does your neighborhood public school have a library for its students? Did you know that there are schools in the US, the richest nation in the world, without a library or a full-time librarian for its students?

Isaac Asimov was right in 1995 and his insight is still valid: “When I read about the way in which library funds are being cut and cut, I can only think that American society has found one more way to destroy itself.”

See also:

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Posted in Article Medleys, Finland, Gates, Literacy, read-alouds, reading, reading recovery, Review, vouchers, Walsh

2016 Medley #9

Book Review, Vouchers, Reading Recovery, Reading Instruction, Read-Aloud, Gates, Finland

NOT JUST FOR PARENTS

Russ Walsh’s new book, A Parent’s Guide to Education in the 21st Century: Navigating Education Reform to Get the Best Education for My Child, is now available from Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.

Walsh is a literacy expert, Coordinator of College Reading at Rider University, and blogger at Russ on Reading.

A Parent’s Guide to Education in the 21st Century isn’t just for parents. It’s for anyone who wants to understand the “reform” agenda and what it has done to American public education. Call it “reform” 101. Walsh clearly outlines the ways that the “reform” movement has damaged the nation’s public education system and harmed the education of children.

It’s not misnamed, however. He includes chapters for parents (of benefit to teachers as well) on identifying a good school, good instruction, and helping children succeed.

The book begins with his Bill of Rights for School Children…which ought to be posted in every public school in the nation…and includes informative chapters on standardized tests, the privatization of public education, and the Common Core. A must read…

For example, from Chapter 3: Readiness For School

It is not your child’s job to be ready for school; it is the school’s job to be ready for your child, and to meet your child’s needs through rich curriculum, highly trained teachers and a system of learning supports.

…and from Chapter 11: School Choice: Charter Schools and Vouchers

In our society we have come to recognize that choice is a good thing as long as it does not interfere with others’ choices. What if an inner-city parent’s choice is to send a child to a clean, safe, well-resourced, professionally staffed, neighborhood public school? By draining away the limited funds available for public education, charter schools and voucher schemes infringe on that parent’s choice. It would be wise to spend our public tax monies on providing good local public schools. In public education, as with smoking and seatbelts and the military, the government must choose to limit our choice in order to provide for, as the Constitution says, “the common good.” Public education is a common good that privatization in the form of charters and vouchers will destroy.

PRIVATIZATION: VOUCHERS

Less-than-full disclosure

The distribution of public tax money ought to be under the watchful eye of the public. Elected school boards, no matter what their limitations, are held accountable to the public through elections. Every penny in every public school in Indiana is accounted for. Why, then, is money awarded to private schools through vouchers or to SGOs to award “scholarships” to private schools, with no public oversight whatsoever?

What happened to the $116 million that Indiana spent on privatization in 2014-2015 (and even more for the current year)? Was it used for instruction? If so, how did the students perform? Was the money used for building additions, church steeples, or CEO salaries?

For taxpayers, however, there’s a gaping hole in accountability. Reports are available for public schools, including charters; not for voucher schools. The state awarded almost $116 million to private and parochial schools in 2014-15, but the General Assembly does not require posting and publication of voucher school performance reports.

After 10-year fight, Md. lawmakers vote to fund private-school scholarships

The Democrats in Maryland have abandoned public education in favor of vouchers. Which of the two main political parties do public educators turn to now?

After years of resisting, and over the objections of the state teachers union, Maryland lawmakers have agreed to state-funded private-school scholarships.

The decision to create a $5 million grant program was part of the negotiations on the state’s $42 billion operating budget, which received final approval in the Democratic-controlled General Assembly on Tuesday.

TEACHING READING

Robert Slavin on the Success and Promise of Reading Recovery

I was trained in Reading Recovery in 1999 and taught in the program for seven years. I used the techniques and knowledge I gained even after the program was canceled. I still use the skills I learned as a Reading Recovery teacher in my volunteer work with first graders.

Reading Recovery is a one-on-one tutoring program for at-risk first graders. It works, but because it’s a program for individual students, it’s expensive. A Reading Recovery teacher can only work with a few students during the school year. Most school systems in my part of the state have stopped using it because of funding shortages.

Yet, how important is teaching reading to a first grader? How much is it worth? Is it worth the cost of a $2 billion mobile cannon which was never used? Is it worth the tax we ought to be, but aren’t, collecting from GE, CBS, or Mattel? Is it worth the money spent to (over)compensate Wall St. Execs who caused the Great Recession?

Would it be worth it if we could pay the salaries (at @ $90,000 salary and benefits) of more than 2,000 Reading Recovery teachers for the next 10 years with the money we spent on the cannon that was never used? My guess is that the city of Flint, Michigan might need some extra help for the next few years.

Instead we’re spending billions of dollars on standardized tests, vouchers, and charters…as well as cannons, tax write offs, and exorbitant salaries.

Priorities, America. Priorities.

“…in schools throughout the United States and in other countries, there is a well-defined group of struggling readers that can readily be taught to read. The evidence establishes, beyond any doubt, that nothing about these children means they are doomed to fail in reading.”

…“In a country as wealthy as the United States,” he says, “why should every struggling reader not have access to Reading Recovery or a tutoring program with equal evidence of effectiveness? The reading success of first graders is far too important to leave to chance, yet in this as in many other areas of education reform, vulnerable children are left to chance every day. Why can’t educators use what they know to solve the problems they can solve, while working at the same time to expand their knowledge?”

10 Reading Instruction Non-Negotiables

Here’s a second shout-out to Russ Walsh. Along with his Bill of Rights for School Children, this list of non-negotiables for a good reading program ought to be required reading for parents, teachers, and school administrators.

Here he lists components of a true reading program instead of the prepackaged test prep and constant assessment that is strangling the joy of reading in our schools. His list includes things like shared reading, self-selected reading, rereading, and word work, complete with research to back everything up.

Here’s what he says about my favorite part of the teaching day, Reading Aloud…

One of the more disturbing aspects of current trends in literacy education is the reports I keep getting from classroom teachers who tell me that reading aloud is being discouraged because it is not “rigorous” enough or because more time needs to be devoted to test prep. So, let me state this as clearly as I possibly can, read aloud is a central part of effective literacy instruction and should be happening daily in every classroom. This is not open for debate. Don’t take my word for it, here is a list of 13 scientifically based reasons for reading aloud to children. Among these well researched benefits are exposing students to a greater variety of literature, encouraging students to view reading as a part of their daily life, building background knowledge, providing a model of fluent reading, encouraging student talk about text, increasing vocabulary and helping students view reading as a pleasurable activity. Here is another resource on the importance of reading aloud.

When choosing a read aloud, I would encourage teachers to choose the very best that literature and informational text has to offer, whether that be picture books, novels, histories or scientific texts. When reading aloud, we can aim high because kids listening comprehension outpaces their reading comprehension by about two years and because we can easily scaffold their understanding by “thinking aloud” about the text as we read. Read aloud also provides a great opportunity for teachers to model important comprehension strategies. Just do it.

Need more resources for reading aloud?

BILLIONAIRES ARE NOT EDUCATION EXPERTS

Hillsborough schools to dismantle Gates-funded system that cost millions to develop

When are we going to stop taking education advice from Bill Gates? When are we going to quit letting him experiment with America’s students?

Just because Bill Gates is rich doesn’t mean he knows anything about the education of children.

[Superintendent] Eakins said he envisions a new program featuring less judgmental “non-evaluative feedback” from colleagues and more “job-embedded professional development,” which is training undertaken in the classroom during the teacher work day rather than in special sessions requiring time away from school. He said in his letter that these elements were supported by “the latest research.”

PROTECT CHILDREN

Why Finnish school students lead the world on Life Matters

Here’s an Australian radio interview with Fulbright Scholar William Doyle about Finnish education. He talks about the strong teaching profession, and the focus on how to help children learn, rather than how to be #1 in educational assessment.

A Finnish teacher quoted by William Doyle

Our job is to protect children from politicians.

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Posted in Article Medleys, Charters, Choice, Finland, poverty, reform, TeachersSpeakingOut, Teaching Career, WhyTeachersQuit

2015 Medley #36

Speaking Out, Poverty, “reform,” Charters, Finland, Choice, A Teaching Career, 
Teacher Burnout

A SUPERINTENDENT SPEAKS OUT

A Note from Dr. Downs

A local superintendent speaks out to reassure parents whose children are going to bring home lower test scores. While the scores of Indiana students on the NAEP test have never been higher, the fools in Indianapolis have overseen a circus surrounding the ISTEP test…a more difficult (and age inappropriate) test complete with screwed up technological problems and screwed up scoring, and higher cut scores.

A principal at a local school explained it as follows. “Imagine that last year you took a test and 70% was a passing score. Now imagine that this year you’re given a harder test, and then, to add insult to injury, you’re told, after you took the test, that more people need to fail, so we’re raising the passing score to 90%.” That’s what the State of Indiana has done to its children.

This is the test that will be used to grade students, schools (and by proxy, their communities) and evaluate teachers. More principals and superintendents need to speak out against the continuing test-based abuse of our children, teachers, and our public schools.

We have a system where schools are graded based on their performance on one highly flawed test. These grades have a profound and wholly unfair effect on the reputation of the school district and the residents of those districts, not to mention the children of those districts. Also, we have laws on the books that require teachers’ pay to be tied to the consistent performance of children on these flawed tests. An endearing trait of children is their desire to please. I do not care what the rhetoric on teacher merit pay says, children feel responsible for test scores in ways they should not, and that is not healthy for them.

POVERTY

New Study: Hungry kids score lower on tests. Shocking news?

In the “this isn’t news any more” category, we find out that students who are hungry have trouble concentrating on learning. Not just in the US, but world wide.

Here’s a shocker for you. Latest research coming out of Cardiff University confirms that kids who come to school hungry score lower on standardized tests than kids who are fed well. The latter group of the study’s 11-year-olds scored twice as high as the hungry students.

More evidence that basing teacher evaluations on student test scores is bogus. What the tests are mostly measuring is student/family poverty — not so-called “student achievement”. Of course, by now nearly everyone in the field realizes this. Thus the growing movement of resistance to testing madness that have forced some small retreats in federal and state testing policies. Or maybe just lip service to change?

http://mattbruenig.com/2012/05/01/why-do-poor-kids-do-worse-in-school/

“rEFORM”

The Tide is Turning: TeachStrong has Backfired

I’ve already written about how I thought it was foolish of NEA to join with “reformer” groups in TeachStrong. Mitchell Robinson goes a step further giving me hope that the “reform” is starting to lose its luster.

It’s becoming clear that recent events in the education reform movement, like the bungled rollout of the #TeachStrong initiative, are actually the first vestiges of the death knells of the reform agenda.

For those unaware of TeachStrong, its an initiative that brings together the two national teachers unions (i.e., NEA and AFT) with over 40 of the leading organizations from the corporate reform movement, including Teach for America, the National Center for Teacher Quality, Education Post, and the CCSSO–the good folks who helped spawn the Common Core. (For a comprehensive review of TeachStrong’s 9 Step Plan, please read Peter Green’s excellent essay here.)

If you think this sounds like an unlikely alliance, then you are seeing the issue more clearly than the leaders of the 2 unions, who are either denying that a partnership actually exists (Lily Eskelen: “These are not the Droids you are looking for.”), or trying to unionsplain it all away as “just good policy” (introducing Randi Weingarten: your new Secretary of Education).

…It has also become increasingly clear that the reformers’ efforts have had no positive impact on anything other than their investors’ bank accounts…

Mom to governor: ‘Please buy my child a teacher’
Will the governor read this excellent letter? I doubt it.

Please transfer my taxes from the purchase of things to the purchase of people.
Spend less on assessment and more on relationships.
Spend less on hardware and more on hearts.
Spend less on worksheets and more on wisdom.
Spend less on standards and more on students.
Buy my child a person.
Buy my child a teacher.

CHARTERS

Study supports assertion against charters

Will this new study be buried or will it start a discussion which will lead to changing the way Indiana’s charter schools operate?

Despite the fact that charter schools are publicly funded, I will never consider charters “public schools” until they are all non-profit, until they provide the same information regarding their operation and finances as real public schools, and until they are required to enroll all students and provide a free, appropriate, public education.

…a new federal study confirms that charter schools, indeed, educate fewer special education students.

Civil rights data collected by the National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools find that, on average, charter schools enroll proportionally fewer students with disabilities than traditional public schools. That holds for Indiana schools, where 14.86 percent of students in traditional public schools have disabilities, compared with 12.9 percent of charter-school students.

FINLAND

First Grade Math Tests in American and Finnish Classrooms

How is it possible that Finland’s students achieve so well when they don’t take standardized tests every year?

Burris made a startling observation as she studied this first grade math test. The publisher of the first grade math curriculum (where the test comes from) is Pearson. This is the same company that designs standardized tests for most New York students in grades three through eight. In 2010, Pearson inked a 5-year contract with the state of New York for 32 million dollars (US).

Can you see the conflict of interest here? The same company that is being paid to design standardized tests for New York students is also being paid to design curriculum for New York students. It’s in the interest of Pearson to design curriculum that will help students to succeed on their standardized tests.

This conflict of interest doesn’t exist here in Finland. There is just one high-stakes standardized test. Students are only eligible to take this matriculation exam after passing their high school courses. The exam is not designed by a publishing company; it’s created by an external board that’s nominated by the Finnish Ministry of Education.

In theory, this means that commercial curricular programs in Finland are designed to maximize student-learning; succeeding on standardized tests is a non-factor when curriculum is created.

CHOICE

The frightening implications of school choice

Choice, in Chicago’s public schools, means Mayor Emanuel’s choice to close public schools and use public funds to open privately operated charter schools. It means choosing to fund city schools so that many don’t have libraries. It means choosing to fire career teachers and replace them with novices. It means choosing to eliminate the arts and physical education from some schools. It means choosing to ignore the needs and wishes of citizens so that cronies can reap the profits from privatization.

I don’t care what anyone tells me about competition among schools making them all better, or how being able to pursue individual preference is paramount to all Americans. I don’t care. The real impact of choice is entirely, 100% negative on our neighborhoods, on our communities, our cities. All of them.

Because “choice” of this kind quietly diminishes the real power of our democratic voice while it upholds the promise of individual consumer preferences above all else…

…Most of us are savvy enough to know that the future goal and end game of “school choice” is the breakdown of a fully funded public school system in favor of full privatization. But there’s more going on here, and it has to do with the breakdown of our democratic voice as we are spoon-fed false promises of individual consumer preference. Is this a trade we’re really willing to make?

IN NO OTHER PROFESSION

Let’s play teacher

Many politicians, pundits, policy makers, and “reformers” seem to believe that everyone who has ever been to school is qualified to be a teacher, pontificate about education policy, or know everything there is to know about education.

People like this don’t stop to think that their knowledge of education entered their memories through immature eyes and brains. They didn’t know all the background work that teachers had to do in order to plan a lesson or grade a set of essays. When you were 8 years old, did you know where your third grade teacher got the construction paper for you to make turkeys at Thanksgiving? When you were 14 did you think about where your science teacher got the idea to have you dissect a frog? When you were 17 did you stop to imagine how long it took your English teacher to grade your research paper (and 120 others)?

Have you ever noticed how star athletes make their jobs look easy? In the same way, excellent teachers make teaching look easy. Policy makers who have no clue about public education remember the “good” teachers from their childhood and youth who made education look easy. They have no idea how much hard work, time, and effort goes into preparation and grading. They have no idea how much a teacher’s education and experience gives them insight into how children behave,  how children think, or how children learn. Instead they seem to believe that anyone who has ever been to school can be an education “expert.”

No other profession sees anything quite like it.

Sure, we occasionally see stories about a guy who declares himself a doctor and sets up a practice with no real qualifications. Or a person who just opens a law office without benefit of a legal degree. Or a person who finds ordination documents on line and declares himself a preacher.

We have names for these people. Charlatan. Faker. Con artist. And they generally keep a low profile because everyone understands that such behavior is wrong.

…These folks want to play teacher without understanding what it actually means. Being a teacher does not mean delivering a script, it does not mean focusing on BS Tests as a measure of success, it does not mean [sending] the weakest “teachers” into the neediest classrooms, and it does not mean aligning slavishly to a set of mediocre amateur-hour national standards.

Humor Interlude

Bill Maher claims that there is another profession that, like education, has people believing that anyone can do it…and he proves it with the current crop of presidential candidates.

The following link takes you to a video which is definitely NSFW. Maher uses vulgar language and may offend some readers.

Bill Maher — what other job…

…85% of Iowa Republicans say they find the total lack of government experience to be his biggest selling point…

TEACHER BURN OUT

Burnt out: teachers overwhelmed and resigning

“Reformers” have done their best to make teaching difficult, if not impossible. Why are teachers leaving?

Amanda is not alone. Numerous teachers across the country and in Lake County [Florida] are leaving the education field because of the implementation of the standards, an impossible work load and lack of support from administration.

“About 30 percent of new teachers flee the profession after just three years and more than 45 percent leave after five,” according to the George Lucas Educational Foundation.

Further, a survey of 4,400 current and former public school teachers found about 51 percent who left teaching in 2012-13 reported their work load was better in their current position than in teaching, according to the National Center For Education Statistics…

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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.

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Stop the Testing Insanity!
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A Manifesto for a Revolution in Public Education
Click here to sign the petition.

For over a decade…“reformers” have proclaimed that the solution to the purported crisis in education lies in more high stakes testing, more surveillance, more number crunching, more school closings, more charter schools, and more cutbacks in school resources and academic and extra-curricular opportunities for students, particularly students of color. As our public schools become skeletons of what they once were, they are forced to spend their last dollars on the data systems, test guides, and tests meant to help implement the “reforms” but that do little more than line the coffers of corporations, like Pearson, Inc. and Microsoft, Inc.

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Posted in Finland, REPA, SBOE, Teaching Career

Don’t Make Students Wait

Teachers need to be trained before-the-job…not on-the-job.

The Indiana State Board of Education has a plan, approved by a 6-5 vote, to allow non-credentialed college graduates to teach in public school classrooms. The Career Specialist Permit will provide pedagogical training on-the-job.

SUCCESSFUL COUNTRIES DO IT RIGHT

Education Reform Has Failed; Here Are Four Lessons From Abroad to Make It Succeed

In successful countries teachers are not trained on-the-job for teaching. They are experts in pedagogy first…before they’re allowed to enter the classroom. The Indiana State Board of Education is attempting to reduce the qualifications for becoming a teacher in Indiana. A slim majority of school board members favor allowing anyone with a college degree to teach. This is not education “reform.” It’s an ignorant attempt to destroy the teaching profession.

…in Finland, primary teachers are required to both major in education and minor in two subjects taught in primary education. Primary education is usually considered grades one through eight, depending on the country. Upper-level teachers are required to major in the subject they will teach. If a person has a master’s degree in a specific subject only, the person must get a master’s degree in education before teaching. All teachers spend significant time studying pedagogy, the art and science of teaching. [emphasis added]

State Board of Education member visiting schools

One of Indiana’s school board members claims that, while the new rule would allow schools to hire people with no teaching credentials, no one is being forced to. He claims that the outcry about the new rule has been “overstated” and “the sky is not falling.” Blogger Steve Hinnefield comments…

…“will not cause the sky to fall” doesn’t seem like the strongest argument for pushing through a policy with near-unanimous opposition from educators and public-school advocates.


JUSTIFICATION FOR UNTRAINED (AKA LOW-COST, AKA NON-UNION) TEACHERS

by Mark D. Naison in the Foreword to Doing The Right Thing By David Greene

While attorneys like Gordon Hendry (the Indiana State Board of Education member quoted above) would never think of allowing “anyone with a college degree” to practice law, they have no qualms about lowering the qualifications for public school teachers. Why?

– maybe because it’s legal for charter schools to hire unqualified people to teach and there’s still the attempt to claim that charter schools are “public schools.”

– maybe because it’s legal for private schools receiving public money in the form of vouchers to hire unqualified people to teach.

– maybe because it will give Teach For America temps legal standing to be in a classroom with inadequate training.

You would think, given the difficulty of the task that teachers confront–the incredibly long hours they spend preparing lessons and grading assignments, as well as the tremendous time and expense they put into decorating their classrooms–that teachers would be revered and respected by the American public. But, in fact, the opposite is true. Americans–more than any people in the world–seem to resent and even hate teachers!

How else to explain the propensity of people on all sides of the political spectrum who blame teachers for the persistence of poverty in the United States, for the failure of the United States to be economically competitive with other nations, and for disappointing test scores and graduation rates among racial minorities? We have the spectacle of the president of the United States praising the mass firing of teachers in a working-class town in Rhode Island where test scores were low; a school chancellor in the nation’s largest city demanding the publication of confidential–and often misleading–teacher-rating data in the press;and a mass-market film about the power of teachers, which focuses exclusively on privately funded charter schools, conveniently leaving out the thousands of dedicated, often brilliant, public school teachers working in the nation’s high-poverty districts.

I would like to see how well Secretary of Education Arne Duncan or New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott would do prepping students for tests if they taught in a Bronx middle school or high school where half the students are on the verge of dropping out because of family pressures or problems reading and writing in English. The teachers who come to these schools and give students love as well as instruction are not cynically collecting their paychecks; they are taking responsibility for all the problems our society has neglected and for the family and community services it fails to provide.

HENDRY GOT IT RIGHT…

                                …BUT DIDN’T KNOW IT

Union calls on state board to drop teacher licensure plan

What Gordon Hendry seems to have missed is that he, and the “young law students” he referred to below, were attending law school at the time that they “completed legal work” or “wrote [a] legal brief.” That’s very different from someone who has never learned anything about teaching coming in and taking over a classroom. In fact, it’s exactly like students who are in teacher preparation programs and studying to be educators working as interns in classrooms under the direction of professional educators!

“On-the-job-training” for a profession doesn’t mean dropping someone with no experience into the real world of an unknown field. It means taking someone who is “in-training” and giving them realtime experience. The students Mr. Hendry referred to were not untrained in the law. They were current law students working under the direction of professionals.

He was right…students in law school benefit from working as interns under the direction of professionals. Similarly, students in education schools benefit from working as interns and student teachers under the direction of professionals.

Board member Gordon Hendry compared the process a new teacher would follow under the career specialist license to the work of young law students, who often deal with clients and complete legal work before passing the state bar exam under supervision from experienced lawyers.

Hendry, himself, wrote legal brief that was submitted to an appellate court as part of an active case when he was a law student.

CREDENTIALS MATTER

from 50 Myths and Lies That Threaten America’s Public Schools by David C. Berliner and Gene V. Glass

Teachers who are trained as teachers are better for our students.

It turns out that when you compare apples to apples — that is, similar student populations — public schools actually are outperforming private schools (Lubienski and Lubienski, 2013). This might be because private school teachers tend to have fewer credentials and to cling to traditional teaching styles, such as lecturing while students sit in rows and take notes. Public school teachers, by contrast, are much more likely to be certified, to hold higher degrees, and to embrace research-based innovations in curriculum and pedagogy (Lubienski and Lubienski, 2013). Perhaps for reasons like these, results from Ohio and Wisconsin show that students who used vouchers to attend private schools did no better academically than comparable students who remained in public schools (Richards, 2010; Witte, Sterr and Thorn, 1995). A long list of studies also has demonstrated that public schools perform on par with or better than charter schools, despite the fact that public schools serve a larger percentage of students who are harder to teach because of disabilities, English language learning needs, or behavior and other challenges (see Myths 3 and 4). Once again, this may be linked to the comparatively weak credentials of charter school teachers and administrators.

Teachers should be qualified to teach the day they enter the classroom on their own. Students shouldn’t have to wait until on-the-job training kicks in before they start their school year.

Indiana citizens should write to the members of the BOE and urge that they reverse this rule.

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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.

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Stop the Testing Insanity!
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Posted in Darling-Hammond, Finland, PISA, Teaching Career

Time to Teach and Learn

AMERICAN TEACHERS NEED MORE TIME

High achieving nations around the world have shown that less is more…less teaching time with students and more learning time for teachers results in higher learning for students.

10 Ways to Fix Education: #1 – Increase Planning Time

One thing that [high achieving nations of China and Finland] did have in common – as do most of the top schools in the PISA – is that they provide ample time for teachers to plan and prepare. And they’re compensated for it.

The Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education released a report in August 2010 comparing how little time the United States has dedicated to teacher planning and preparation (3-5 hours per week) to how international educators average 15-25 hours per week to plan. In fact, the United States is put at a major disadvantage because more than 80% of our teacher time is spend educating and interacting with students, not on planning or development of curriculum.

…In Finland, the best way to learn about the stark contrast between the stressed American teacher and the relaxed one there is to read a blog titled Taught By Finland, in which Tim Walker, an American teacher comments on what he’s learning while teaching in the Scandinavian country. His posts are both insightful and reflective of the lack of prep time in America. For example, one post notes how colleagues insist he take a coffee break for 15 minutes instead of grading papers. In another entry, he struggles over the fact that he’ll see his students in class just 600 hours per year (in comparison to America’s 1,080). Finnish teachers receive about 40% of their time to plan. I know what you’re thinking – unbelievable.

Believe it. In educational systems across the world, teachers have more time to plan than their American counterparts. Period.

Tim Walker, who now teaches in Finland, wrote the following about his teaching in the U.S. I don’t doubt that every American public school teacher will recognize the pattern…

Work-Life Balance in Finland: Americans on a Different Planet

At the time, Johanna’s friend and I shared several things in common. We were both first-year teachers at the first grade level and we were under 25 years old. But that’s really where our similarities ended.

My first graders’ 7-hour school day was nearly twice as long as her students’ school day. By the time she had left school, I hadn’t even completed my last class. And I had a mountain of planning waiting for me as soon as I waved goodbye to my kids.

In my first year of teaching, I would typically spend about two hours planning before school and three hours planning afterschool. I had virtually no boundaries, spending these additional hours of work either at the classroom desk or the kitchen table at home. And even when I had the chance to enjoy a break during a lunch block, I’d often work through this time, zigzagging across my classroom with a peeled banana in one hand, nibbling on-the-go.

All told, I was putting in 12-hour days of work. It’s no wonder why I was bothered by the hours of Johanna’s friend in Finland. My workday was twice as long.

Given her lighter workload, I was arrogantly convinced that she was an inferior teacher. I believed that teachers proved their strength by the number of hours they devoted to the teaching profession. By my estimation, she didn’t measure up.

By the end of my first year of teaching, I discovered that I was, by far, the weaker one. A dreadful lack of work-life balance had caught up to me. I was brimming over with stress and anxiety. And worst of all, the job of teaching was no longer joyful.

We spend so much more time with our students than in Finland, yet, on average, our achievement levels are lower. Why?

The short answer is that teachers who spend time in collaboration with colleagues, planning lessons, and increasing their own learning, are able to help students learn better. Teachers who work 11 hour days trying to keep up with planning, grading, and data collection, become overstressed, overworked, and less able to do what they were trained to do.

There are other factors, of course, including student SES, and cultural differences in the attitude towards education, but teacher quality is the most important in-school factor for learning. We don’t give our teachers time to improve their quality of teaching because they’re so busy trying to keep up with the huge class sizes and mountains of paperwork dumped on them.

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

Whereas teachers in high achieving nations spend 40 to 60% of their time preparing and learning to teach well, most U.S. teachers have no time to work with colleagues during the school day. They typically receive only about 3 to 5 hours weekly in which to plan by themselves, and they get a few “hit-and-run” workshops after school, with little opportunity to share knowledge or improve their practice. A far greater percentage of U.S. teachers’ work time is spent teaching than in most countries — about 80%, as compared to 60% on average for secondary teachers in the 31 OECD countries. U.S. teachers have more net teaching time — nearly 1,100 hours per year — than any other OECD country, far greater than the OECD average of 800 hours per year for primary schools and 660 hours per year for upper secondary schools.

She reports on high achieving nations…

Ongoing professional learning, embedded in 15 to 25 hours a week of planning and collaboration time at school, plus an additional 2 to 4 weeks of professional learning time annually to attend institutes and seminars, visit other schools and classrooms, conduct action research and lesson study, and participate in school retreats.

The OECD comparison between Finland and the U.S. is clear. More time for teachers pays off…

Teachers in the U.S. spend so much time trying to keep up with the workload that they don’t have time to improve their skills, or share what they’ve learned with other teachers.

WINTER

Winter 2014. Lots of snow all over the country. My local school district in northeast Indiana has cancelled school 12 times because of snow or bitterly cold temperatures.

What does this have to do with teaching and learning time?

Our teachers get about a half hour a week for colleague collaboration and about 5 hours a week for planning. Instead of adding more days to the school calendar, the school system will likely cancel collaboration time, and extend the school day reducing the amount of time for teachers to collaborate and reducing the amount of in-school planning time. Many teachers are in favor of this as an alternative to adding days to the calendar at the end of the year. The school systems are caught by the demand for student contact time…the requirement that, in order for a year to be “valid” students have to be in attendance for 180 days.

Other OECD nations, however have shown that to be unnecessary.

Obviously the Finnish system, or any other high achieving country’s school system, can’t easily be transplanted into the U.S. The Finns, for example, spent years improving teacher education and developing a national school system which was equitable. They provide broad safety nets for the few children who live in poverty (about 4% compared to the U.S. 23%). They don’t waste resources testing every student every year. Unlike the U.S. they have a culture which understands that education is “paying it forward” to improve the future.

Meanwhile we’re wasting our money on an obsessive reliance on tests and punishments, lowering standards for teachers, ignoring the massive number of students living in poverty, fighting each other over providing health care for our children, and privatizing the public school system which is one of the foundational institutions of our democracy.

Until the U.S. becomes serious about public education and the educational future of the nation, we’re stuck with overworked teachers — and students — and making up snow days by extending already long school days.

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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.

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Stop the Testing Insanity!
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Posted in Finland, Public Ed, Ravitch

We Cannot Be Ignored

HOPE AND DESPAIR

I waver back and forth between feeling DESPAIR and thinking we can’t possibly compete with the billions and billions of dollars being poured into school “reform” by the foundations of Bill Gates, Eli Broad and Alice Walton…and thinking that we do have HOPE that somehow we’ll get our message across that school “reform” is actually a thinly-veiled movement to privatize public education. It’s true we have numbers — very likely a majority of the 3+ million public school teachers in the country — a large number of parents who are aware of what’s going on, and social media to connect us all. The “reformers” on the other hand, have both major political parties and the media.

On the HOPE side are people who are spreading the word.

This morning I watched a presentation at Vanderbilt University by Finnish Educator, Pasi Sahlberg, author of Finnish Lessons. In the two hour presentation he talked about the differences between the countries who are now under the status quo of GERM, the Global Education Reform Movement, and Finland. He listed 5 differences…and the Finnish alternative to each. It’s his contention that these, along with other changes made to their education system (especially changes in teacher training) has made the Finnish public school system one of the best in the world. In a nutshell, then, here’s what he said (for a more in depth look, see his book, Finnish Lessons),

  1. Instead of academics, focus on the whole child. Take a holistic approach to education.
  2. Instead of standardization, move towards personalization.
  3. Instead of competition, build community. He said that there is a lot of competition in Finnish society, but not in education.
  4. Instead of choices for different schools, establish equity. Give the schools what they need to do the job no matter where they are.
  5. Instead of accountability develop responsibility, and trust.

At the end of the 11 minute clip below he said, “Don’t try this at home” meaning that we can’t just transplant the “Finnish Model” in the US and expect it to work the same way. At the end of the talk he said that instead we should use Finland as an example of hope…that change is at least possible.

In order to change our direction in education and adapt some of the things that have worked in places like Finland we would, he said, have to work together in a unified way…something not likely to happen in the US right now.

How can we, supporters of public education, overcome the damage and misinformation coming from the corporate offices of the Gates, Broad and Walton Foundations, groups like Stand For Children and Students First, governor’s offices and statehouses across the country, and the US Department of Education?

PROVIDE EVIDENCE

Another voice on the HOPE side is Diane Ravitch, one of the nations most vocal supporters of public education. She has a new book coming out in a little less than a month (pre-order here). Yet, before the book has even been released, the privatizers and “reformers” are attacking it. After accusing Ravitch of making straw man arguments and ad hominem attacks on “reformers”, Peter Cunningham does exactly the same thing in attacking a book he hasn’t even read yet.

Monitored and Ignored: Ravitch and the Rest of Us

Discussing Cunningham’s article, Anthony Cody wrote that that we have to present facts in such a way as to make it impossible to ignore.

…Unless we actually connect in such a compelling way that we cannot be ignored. That is what happened when I pointed out that President’s off the cuff comments at a town hall meeting were actually a devastating critique of his own administration’s policies. That earned me an email from one of Peter Cunningham’s staff, Justin Hamilton, with the subject line “correction to your post,” offering to “clarify any confusion” over the administration’s position. This was the most substantive exchange, as he had put himself in a position where I could ask him some real questions in order to clear up all this confusion. This exchange even made it into the New York Times.

And it is about to happen again, in spades, when Diane Ravitch releases her new book. That book will be the best rebuttal to Cunningham that we could wish for. It is packed with evidence of the failure of the phony reform project led by Duncan and Gates. And solid proposals to improve education for all children.

I have two thoughts about the fact that critics are trashing Dr. Ravitch’s book even before it’s published. On one hand, they are not going to let her get away with telling the truth without a fight. This “review” by Cunningham is, I’m afraid, just the beginning of an all-out attack by “reformers.” On the other hand, and more important, if “reformers” are attacking her book before it’s published, then they know that it is now impossible to ignore her.

TWO VOICES

I’m reminded of the words of Randy Olson, a marine biologist and filmmaker whose 2006 film, A Flock of Dodos highlighted the debate between proponents of Intelligent Design and the scientific consensus that supports evolution (Actually I was reminded of the film just last week when it was mentioned in another blog somewhere which I can’t remember).

He talked about getting the message out…and I think his words have some meaning for public education supporters in our current situation. To paraphrase his words from the end of the film so they reflect our topic here…

So in America today we now have two voices for public education. The first voice, that of supporters of public education, is handicapped by its blind obsession with the truth. The second voice, emerging from corporate board rooms, hedge fund operators, politicians, and billionaire philanthropists, understands the need to tell simple, clean stories not constrained by the truth.

There’s a famous quote that nothing makes sense in biology except in the light of evolution. We can modify this quote to account for our situation now by saying that nothing in our society today makes sense, except in the light of the information explosion.

Our cultural environment has changed drastically over the past 50 years as we’ve witnessed our knowledge and information increase exponentially. The result of this changed environment is a general public that is less interested in processing the surpluses of information they’re handed. And this has led to new techniques for mass communication.

Privatizers and “reformers” have figured out the need for simple slogans, and instead of wasting time explaining entire stories to the general public, they know how to jump to the conclusions and provide followers with what have come to be known as the talking points…

  • public schools are failing
  • the problem is bad teachers
  • the problem is bad schools of education
  • testing will solve everything
  • poverty is just an excuse to fail
  • …and on and on and on…

And so we’re faced with a question of who will dictate public education policy for our society. Will it be the supporters of public schools? Or will it be the privatizing “reformers?”

Will public school advocates adapt to this new communication environment, or will they go the way of species who failed to change along with their environment?

We have to “connect in such a compelling way that we cannot be ignored”. Our voices must be heard above the money…

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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.

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Stop the Testing Insanity!
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