Posted in Article Medleys, Charters, FirstAmendment, NAEP, retention, Science, Teaching Career, Testing

2018 Medley #10

Teacher Activism, Retention-in-Grade,
Charters, Testing,
First Amendment, Science

TEACHER ACTIVISM

The 9 states where teachers have it worst

According to CBS teachers have it pretty good, specifically because of pensions,  which they imply make up for low salaries…a debatable proposition at best. Why, if pension programs are so great, did we stop providing them?

In the meantime, Indiana teachers have seen their inflation-adjusted earnings drop by nearly 16 percent since 2000. Have Indiana legislators seen the same drop? What about the CEOs of Indiana’s Fortune 500 companies – Eli Lilly, Anthem, Cummins, Steel Dynamics, Zimmer Biomet Holdings, NiSource, and Simon Property Group? Have they seen the same loss of income? Would you like to hazard a guess?

As a sample, click here for the salaries of Eli Lilly’s executives.

So Indiana is having trouble finding enough teachers. What a surprise.

From CBS News

Pay for Indiana teachers has suffered the biggest inflation-adjusted drop since 1999-2000, according to the Department of Education. They now earn almost 16 percent less.

Average annual pay is about $50,500, slightly lower than the national average.

Indiana is having trouble finding enough qualified teachers to fill its classrooms, with some pointing to pay as a culprit.

“People won’t be as interested in going into a field where they will have to take a huge lifetime pay cut,” said Partelow of the Center for American Progress’. 

Bill Maher Zings Eric And Donald Trump Jr. As He Comes Out Fighting For Teachers

Perennially obnoxious Bill Maher comes up with a commentary in honor of the teachers on strike…

From Bill Maher

We pay such lip-service to kids…they’re the future, our greatest natural resource, we’ll do anything for them. And then we nickel and dime their teachers?

If we really think children are our future, shouldn’t the people who mold their minds make more than the night manager at GameStop?

…Here’s an idea. Don’t give the teachers guns, give them a living wage. 

‘I need a college degree to make this?’ asks Arizona teacher who posted salary online

Arizona teacher Elisabeth Milich reminds us that teachers are underpaid because school systems are underfunded. In what other job would you be forced to buy your own paper clips and tape? Do the CEOs in the article, above, have to buy their own sharpies?

From Elisabeth Milich

I buy every roll of tape I use, every paper clip i use, every sharpie I grade with, every snack I feed kids who don’t have them, every decorated bulletin board, the list could go on.

HOW DOES RETENTION HELP TEST RESULTS

Reforms that work: Worldwide data offer useful hints for US schools

Education “reform” in the United States requires us to use unfounded and even damaging education practices such as retention in grade. Dozens of U.S. states require third graders to pass a test in order to move to fourth grade. Research has found that retention in grade is ineffective in raising student achievement and retention in grade based on a single test is tantamount to educational malpractice.

In Indiana, however, retention of children in third grade is grounds for celebrating. With the lowest achieving third graders removed from the pool, those who did move to fourth grade scored a higher achievement average on the NAEP. High enough to brag about…

Want your students to score higher on standardized tests? Simply remove the low achievers.

From the Editorial Page of the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette

The IREAD 3 exam, which third-graders must pass to be promoted to grade 4, went into effect in 2012. As a result, 3 percent of Indiana students were retained that year.

“Those who weren’t held back took the fourth-grade NAEP tests in 2013, and got positive attention for how well they did,” Hinnefeld noted. “Advocates credited Indiana reforms like expanded school choice and limits on teacher collective bargaining. But a more likely explanation is that removing the lowest-performing students gave the 2013 fourth-grade scores a boost.”

CHARTERS AND TESTING

Indiana students’ scores lag after transferring to charter schools, new study shows

Another Educational “reform” popular in Indiana is the expansion of charter schools. When a district’s poverty levels rise too high, resulting in lower achievement on tests, the state moves in and hands the school over to private charter operators.

The only problem is…the charter schools are, as we’ve said so many times before, no better. In fact, a recent study shows that kids lose achievement points after transferring to charter schools.

From Shaina Cavazos at Chalkbeat

“Overall, these results indicate that the promise of charter schools as a vehicle for school improvement should be viewed with some skepticism,” said study co-author Gary R. Pike, a professor of education at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis. “Our results suggest that charter school experience for most students does not measure up to expectations, at least for the first two years of enrollment.”

Never one to miss tossing in an excuse for privatization, Chalkbeat uses an excuse despite the fact that “no excuses” is the cry used by “reformers” to declare public schools “failing.”

ISTEP scores during this time, the researchers note, were not the most reliable. In 2014-15 and 2015-16, test glitches and scoring problems invalidated thousands of students’ scores. Also during this time, the academic standards on which the tests were based changed, as did the test itself and the company that administered it.

WHAT FIRST AMENDMENT?

DHS to Track Thousands of Journalists

Where are the people who were marching to protect the Second Amendment?

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

From Ed Brayton

Mr. Orwell, please report to your office immediately.

“The U.S. Department of Homeland Security wants to monitor hundreds of thousands of news sources around the world and compile a database of journalists, editors, foreign correspondents, and bloggers to identify top “media influencers.”…”

SCIENCE DEFIERS

Gang of Foxes

The science deniers in the current administration are trying to remove the barriers protecting us from poisoned air and water.

From Dan Pfeiffer, former Senior Advisor to U.S. President Barack Obama for Strategy and Communications.

We do sort of gloss over the f-ing insanity of the fact that one of our [political] parties not only doesn’t believe in climate change, but is actively trying to make it worse.

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Posted in FirstAmendment, Public Ed, Religion

Public School Prayer and the Constitution – Conflict in Louisiana

Religion and Government will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together. ― James Madison, Letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822.

Teachers and administrators in a public school in Webster Parish, Louisiana, were sued by a student and her family for leading students in prayer, encouraging prayer and bible reading, and generally promoting the Christian God.

What happened when a public school student sued over prayer

The Coles [those who brought the lawsuit] say that prayer over the loudspeaker each morning is just the beginning of an unconstitutional indoctrination of students that is promoted and supported by teachers, the principal, the superintendent and the school board.

“Virtually all school events — such as sports games, pep rallies, assemblies, and graduation ceremonies –include school-sponsored Christian prayer, religious messages and/or proselytizing,” according to the lawsuit filed with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union.

This is clearly unconstitutional. Neither a public school nor its representatives (teachers, administrators, or any other employee) can legally promote religion or religious beliefs (see Abington School District v. Schempp).

One of the parents who favored continuing the religious instruction in the public schools was Greg Lee.

…Greg Lee’s fifth-grade daughter was upset, not relieved. She and her friends took it upon themselves to pray anyway, Lee says.

Lee, a banker who also views himself as a servant of God, says he’s instilled his sense of deep faith in his children. It has always been a part of their life. They have always prayed — at church, at school, and whenever they feel the need to.

Lee’s daughter’s choice to “pray anyway,” was completely legal, and in fact, it is what should have been happening all along.

Despite the protestations of some on the Religious Right, it is legal for students to pray in school, as we shall see in a moment, which is all Greg Lee claims to want.

That is all Greg Lee and others in Webster Parish say they want. To fight for their longstanding beliefs. For the rights and souls of their daughters and sons — and America.

“If you begin to tell me that my children do not have the right to pray in school, then that’s an attack upon the relationship I have with my God and the relationship that they have with our God,” Lee explains.

If that’s all he wants. It’s true that every child, in every public school in America, already has the right to pray whenever they want to as long as they don’t disrupt the learning process and as long as they don’t harass their fellow students.

According to the Joint Statement of Current Law and Religion in the Public Schools, a document signed by 35 religious and civic groups,

Students have the right to pray individually or in groups or to discuss their religious views with their peers so long as they are not disruptive. Because the Establishment Clause does not apply to purely private speech, students enjoy the right to read their Bibles or other scriptures, say grace before meals, pray before tests, and discuss religion with other willing student listeners. In the classroom students have the right to pray quietly except when required to be actively engaged in school activities (e.g., students may not decide to pray just as a teacher calls on them). In informal settings, such as the cafeteria or in the halls, students may pray either audibly or silently, subject to the same rules of order as apply to other speech in these locations. However, the right to engage in voluntary prayer does not include, for example, the right to have a captive audience listen or to compel other students to participate.

In other words, Greg Lee’s daughter has always had the right to pray in school.

Is that really what Lee and others who object to the lawsuit want? If so, then perhaps this is all just a misunderstanding about what the law requires and a careful reading of the Joint Statement of Current Law and Religion in the Public Schools will educate the parents and educators of Webster Parish, Louisiana.

It’s more likely, however, that they actually want their own brand of Christianity taught in their local public school. They might be willing to let others, who do not have the same beliefs, attend the school, and sit quietly while the local version of Christianity is being taught, but even with that, it would not be legal.

No, people like Lee and others quoted in the article, seem to believe that they have the right to impose their religious beliefs on a captive audience. They consider anything else an attack on their religion.

Again, from What happened when a public school student sued over prayer

The questions spread far beyond this corner of Louisiana, and were raised by none other than President Donald Trump last summer.

“Schools should not be a place that drive out faith and religion, but that should welcome faith and religion with wide open, beautiful arms,” Trump says during a Faith and Freedom Coalition conference. “It’s time to put a stop to attacks on religion.”

But this is not an attack on religion. It is, however, an attack on their right to use government facilities and spokespersons in the form of public schools and its employees, to proselytize.

It’s clear that the President doesn’t understand the law either (no surprise there). Students are welcome to pray. No one has attacked religion. But our laws don’t allow a government entity to choose one religion over another, or to choose any religion over none. The Establishment Clause requires government, and its representatives, to remain neutral in the area of religion. That means no school sponsored prayer. No captive audience religious services.

I’m pretty sure they would be arguing the exact opposite if their child attended a public school which began each day with a prayer to Zeus, Marduk, or Allah.

Just as I was getting ready to post this blog entry, I read the following by Ed Brayton about the same lawsuit…

The Same Bad Arguments in Every Public School Church/State Case

So if your beliefs are so deeply rooted, why do they need the government to force others to go along with them for you to feel satisfied? Your kids already have every right to pray in schools. They can prayer [sic] any time they want as long as they don’t disrupt the functioning of the school. They can pray 100 times a day if they want. You know what they can’t do? Force others to listen to it or participate in it.

And you know how easy it would be to get you to recognize that reality? One single Muslim prayer would do it.

Exactly right!

Further Reading:

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Posted in Civics, Constitution, FirstAmendment, Jefferson, Madison, Religion

The Bill of Rights, 1791

The United States Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution, was ratified on this date, December 15, in 1791.

THE FIRST AMENDMENT: CURRENT CIVIC IGNORANCE

The First Amendment within the Bill of Rights guarantees freedom of speech, religion, a free press, assembly, and petition.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances

Today, many Americans are unfamiliar with the details of the First Amendment. The recent Annenberg Center civics survey revealed that American’s knowledge of the First Amendment is sorely lacking.

Nearly half of those surveyed (48 percent) say that freedom of speech is a right guaranteed by the First Amendment. But, unprompted, 37 percent could not name any First Amendment rights. And far fewer people could name the other First Amendment rights: 15 percent of respondents say freedom of religion; 14 percent say freedom of the press; 10 percent say the right of assembly; and only 3 percent say the right to petition the government.

The chart below shows the number associated with each First Amendment guaranteed Freedom, as well as the percent of people who included things which are not included in the First Amendment (6, 7, and 8). A full 37% of Americans surveyed could not name even one freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment.

The apparent ignorance of Americans about their own government is disheartening.

[For a recent example, see the TV interview with a spokesman for a U.S. Senatorial campaign and his ignorance of the Constitution.]

THE FIRST AMENDMENT: RELIGION

As a child, I listened to my grandfather tell stories about growing up in Dvinsk, Russia (now Daugavpils, Latvia). One story which stands out in my memory was about his hiding in their home during one of the frequent pogroms against the Jewish communities. He emerged when it was over only to be told that his grandfather had been killed by the Tzar’s cossacks.

That story has given me a strong feeling of gratitude to the American Founders for the First Amendment. Because of its scope, the First Amendment is, to me, the full expression of the intent of America. It acknowledges the freedom of thought which is, as Jefferson (or possibly another member of the Committee of the Five) put it, the unalienable right of every citizen.

The guarantee of religious freedom is that part of the first amendment which comes to mind when I think about my grandfather’s story, and for that we have Jefferson (The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom) and Madison (Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments) to thank.

The Virginia Statute was the first time an English speaking country or colony, in this case, the Colony of Virginia, DE-ESTABLISHED the state-sponsored church and gave full religious freedom to people of both all religious faiths and no religious faith. Because of Jefferson’s leadership in this context, when my grandfather became a citizen in the early part of the 20th century, he was not taxed to pay for a state-sponsored religion, and he was given the same rights of citizenship as everyone else.

THE FIRST AMENDMENT: SPEECH

Eleanor Roosevelt said,

…freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility.

The First Amendment provides Americans with great freedom…which we tend to take for granted.

We have the freedom to misunderstand, ignore, or be ignorant of, the responsibilities of citizenship. Freedom of Speech is one area where many people do not seem to understand the relationship between freedom and responsibility.

Simply put, Americans’ right to self-expression is extensive, but there are limits. You can say what you want, unless you’re putting others in danger (e.g. shouting “fire” in a crowded theater), or lying about someone or group of someones (e.g. libel laws). For a comprehensive discussion of limits to free speech, see United States free speech exceptions.

Consequences

Finally, within the limits discussed above, we can say what we want, but with that freedom-with-responsibility comes consequences.

This concept is difficult for some Americans to understand. If you call your boss a vulgar name, you won’t be arrested for your speech, but chances are you will be looking for another job. If you make a controversial statement, you will likely be criticized.

Criticism of your speech is not an abridgment of your right to say it. Criticism of a political candidate’s speech is not an abridgment of his or her right to say things. When a controversial speaker is denied a platform by a University or civic group, the speaker’s Freedom of Speech is not abridged. The speaker is free to speak to other groups, or write and publish his ideas.

There are way too many Americans who believe that criticism of someone’s opinions is akin to restricting their freedom of speech. It’s just not so.

CIVIC EDUCATION

Understanding how our government works should be an essential part of the education of American citizens. Unfortunately, the obsession with standardized tests in U.S. schools has pushed out content areas including Social Studies and Civics. It’s time to change that.

Jefferson wrote,

If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilisation, it expects what never was and never will be…

In order to maintain our freedom it’s the responsibility of every citizen to understand the basis of, and the processes involved, in running our nation. It’s our responsibility as a society to give every citizen the opportunity to learn how the government works, our rights under the law, and our responsibilities as citizens. When we neglect the Civics Education of our children, we fail in our duty to raise up the next generation of citizens.

We require immigrants to learn basic Civics in order to attain citizenship. We ought to require the same for our children.

How’s your civics knowledge? Take the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Civics Practice Test.

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Posted in FirstAmendment

How Much Free Speech is Too Much

Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech…

The constitutional guarantee to free speech is in the news. On university campuses across the country protestors are lining up to do battle against university sponsored, or university-based group sponsored speakers. Does a speaker have the right to be heard no matter what he or she espouses? The following is a partial list (which I compiled by searching the internet for who has been prevented from speaking at universities) of people who have been “disinvited” to speak at universities, disrupted in their attempt to speak, or prevented from speaking by the threat of protest.

  • anti-feminists
  • anti-muslims
  • anti-semites
  • conservatives
  • mysogynists
  • liberals
  • online celebrity “trolls”
  • police commissioners
  • policy makers
  • politicians
  • pro-Israel supporters
  • pundits
  • racists
  • speakers with violent and sexually explicit language
  • supporters of police
  • transgenders
  • trans- and homophobes

Articles have been written in favor of and against the trend…

No matter what your position on allowing offensive (and everyone in the list above is offensive to someone) speech at a university, or anywhere else, there are certain things about the First Amendment protection of free speech that should be remembered.

FREE SPEECH HAS CONSEQUENCES

You can, in most situations, express your opinion about almost anything, but by doing so you open yourself up to criticism. Criticism is also protected free speech.

For example, if you don’t like what I write on this blog, you can, in the comments, dispute what I have written and tell me I’m wrong. Your comment is the consequence of my self-expression and you have the right to criticize me. (On the other hand, I also have the right to delete your comment if it violates my rules or I find it offensive. That’s the consequence of your speech in my comments. Click here to see commenting rules).

GOVERNMENT PROTECTED SPEECH

The government protects free speech. Private citizens or groups do not. If I own a venue and invite speakers to visit on occasion, I can choose who I want to invite. If I invite Bernie Sanders, but not Mitch McConnell, I have not limited the free speech of Senator McConnell. I simply haven’t invited him to my venue. He is free to find his own venue in which to speak. If I do invite Senator McConnell, and then change my mind, I might be considered an ill-mannered jerk, but I’m still within my rights, and I have still not restricted the Senator’s free speech.

When UC-Berkeley decided to postpone Ann Coulter’s speech (Coulter herself is the one who chose to cancel), they didn’t restrict her free speech, even though you might consider them jerks for changing the date of the invitation. Ms. Coulter still has the option of writing books and op-eds, speaking at rallies, talking on television, radio and podcasts. In fact, she did just that in the article linked in this paragraph. She has every right to rail against those who prevented her from speaking. But she still has freedom of speech.

When universities cancel speeches because of the threat of protest, they have the right to do so. This is not limiting the canceled speaker’s free speech. Every one of those speakers is free to find other locations to speak, or write their opinions, or find broadcasts on which to express themselves.

We can disagree with a group or university who prevents or denies someone the opportunity to speak at a particular location, however, that someone still has the option of arguing against the denial on their own.

[The preceding argument is definitely true when the university is privately owned, but does this change if the university is publicly funded like UC-Berkeley? If so, does that mean that anyone who wants to can demand to speak at a university? See the article by the ACLU, below.]

SPEECH IS NOT 100% FREE

In other words, free speech, under the U.S. Constitution is not 100% guaranteed. There are restrictions and consequences. See here, here, and here for discussions of ways that free speech can be denied in the U.S. Here are a few…

1. First, we’ve already discussed…

  • You do not have a right to free speech in a forum owned by someone else. They can kick you out. They don’t have to allow you to speak.

2. Those folks who incite to riot in order to prevent someone from speaking need to be careful…

  • It’s illegal to incite others to criminal acts or to riot. In Brandenburg v. Ohio the U.S. Supreme Court set the standard for what is permissible. This includes so-called “fighting words” which would also incite violence.

3. The following description is the basis of a settled suit against the defunct Trump University.

  • You are not allowed to make false or fraudulent claims in the course of business.

4. Keep this in mind if you want to keep your job…

  • You are not guaranteed free speech in your workplace, except union organization, which is protected by law.

5. This applies to all students.

  • Students have restricted rights to free speech in school.

6. Is “knock the crap out of them” a violent threat?

  • You don’t have the right to threaten someone with violence.

COMPLICATIONS

The American Civil Liberties Union states that objectionable speech may not be restricted at government-financed campuses.

Academic freedom (and freedom of speech) protects the rights of a person who makes objectionable statements, but does it also protect the right of the governing body of an academic institution to change its mind? Once someone is invited is there no option but to let them speak? What about someone who is not invited? May they “invite” themselves?

Furthermore, in the case of Ann Coulter, as in many other of the disinvited speakers’ cases, the university itself didn’t invite her. She was invited by the Berkeley College Republicans, a university supported, but private organization (Note: The Berkeley College Republicans are the people who also invited Milo Yiannopoulos, who was also “disinvited” by the university).

Hate Speech on Campus

Many universities, under pressure to respond to the concerns of those who are the objects of hate, have adopted codes or policies prohibiting speech that offends any group based on race, gender, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation.

That’s the wrong response, well-meaning or not. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution protects speech no matter how offensive its content. Speech codes adopted by government-financed state colleges and universities amount to government censorship, in violation of the Constitution. And the ACLU believes that all campuses should adhere to First Amendment principles because academic freedom is a bedrock of education in a free society.

The American Library Association fights censorship every day…but are they against censoring everything?

Intellectual Freedom and Censorship Q and A

What Are The Most Frequently Censored Materials?

Throughout history, books have been challenged for many reasons, including political content, sexual expression, or language offensive to some people’s racial, cultural, or ethnic background, gender or sexuality, or political or religious beliefs. Materials considered heretical, blasphemous, seditious, obscene or inappropriate for children have often been censored.

Since the dawn of recorded human expression, people have been burned at the stake, forced to drink poison, crucified, ostracized and vilified for what they wrote and believed.

Aren’t There Some Kinds Of Expression That Really Should Be Censored?

The United States Supreme Court has ruled that there are certain narrow categories of speech that are not protected by the First Amendment: obscenity, child pornography, defamation, and “fighting words,” or speech that incites immediate and imminent lawless action. The government is also allowed to enforce secrecy of some information when it is considered essential to national security, like troop movements in time of war, classified information about defense, etc.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Should objectionable speech be allowed on public campuses?

What’s the difference between objectionable speech and hate speech?

Is name calling protected speech?

What about name calling in the form of racial or ethnic slurs?

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Posted in Early Childhood, Evaluations, FirstAmendment, NewOrleans, Politics, poverty, Quotes, TeacherShortage, Teaching Career

More Random Quotes – May 2016

LOBBYISTS

About Those School Lunches…

OpenSecrets.Org tells us this about Lobbying

The primary goal of much of the money that flows through U.S. politics is this: Influence. Corporations and industry groups, labor unions, single-issue organizations – together, they spend billions of dollars each year to gain access to decision-makers in government, all in an attempt to influence their thinking.

Just how much did the top three industries spend on lobbying in 2015?

Total for Pharmaceuticals/Health Products: $230,693,261

Total for Insurance: $156,801,882

Total for Oil and Gas: $129,836,004

Think about those totals when you pay for your medications, your insurance premiums, and the energy needed to power your car and heat your home. How much of your dollars are going to pay for lobbyists who work against your interests?

Which sets the stage for the following simple and important quote…

From Sheila Kennedy

…poor kids don’t have lobbyists…

DEVELOPMENTALLY INAPPROPRIATE

The Disturbing Transformation of Kindergarten

We have pushed down the curriculum and now expect kindergarteners to learn what first graders learned a generation ago — and then we blame the children for not learning and their teachers for not teaching.

From Dianemarie

It may satisfy politicians to see children perform inappropriately difficult tasks like trained circus animals. However, if we want our youngest to actually learn, we will demand the return of developmentally appropriate kindergarten.

INVEST IN THE FUTURE

It Takes a Policy

We are only one of three nations in the world who invest more money in schools for our wealthy children than for our poor children. We have one of the highest childhood poverty rates – nearly 25% – of any advanced nation in the world and we know that students who live in poverty have out of school factors which inhibits their achievement.

“Reformist” politicians, instead of taking responsibility for the high levels of poverty in our nation, blame schools and teachers for low achievement.

Instead of investing in our future – our children – we’re wasting tax dollars on privatizing our education system.

From Paul Krugman

America is unique among advanced countries in its utter indifference to the lives of its youngest citizens.

…In other words, if you judge us by what we do, not what we say, we place very little value on the lives of our children, unless they happen to come from affluent families.

…it would indeed be an investment — every bit as much of an investment as spending money to repair and improve our transportation infrastructure. After all, today’s children are tomorrow’s workers and taxpayers. So it’s an incredible waste, not just for families but for the nation as a whole, that so many children’s futures are stunted because their parents don’t have the resources to take care of them as well as they should. And affordable child care would also have the immediate benefit of making it easier for parents to work productively.

NEW ORLEANS

Now reformers want to “give back” New Orleans charters. ‘Can’t avoid democracy forever’.

Local public schools provide more stability than “market forces.”

From Mike Klonsky

…eliminating neighborhood schools has undermined the most vulnerable students by uprooting them from their communities and scattering them to schools citywide.

TEACHER SHORTAGE

The big trouble in Indiana public schools, as explained by a troubled educator

It’s almost as if they purposely wanted to create a teacher shortage.

From school counselor Brenda L. Yoder

“…Yes, the mess in education isn’t just affecting those of us who are in education. First, legislators thought we weren’t doing our job, so they legislated the pay scale so good teachers would get paid more for their efforts. In reality, the legislature has capped teacher salaries, not allowing years of experience or education to fiscally matter. Being a highly effective or effective teacher results in a minuscule stipend, maybe enough to get the brakes fixed on your car.

“Salaries for teachers statewide are stagnant. Your income does not rise over time. Families cannot be supported on a teacher’s salary over time, and yet college costs the same for them as it does to be an engineer.

“I wonder why there’s a teacher shortage…”

STAND UP TO THE MONEY

A master teacher went to court to challenge her low evaluation. What her win means for her profession.

This teacher decided that it was time to take a stand against testing companies and “reformers.”

From Carol Burris

It is time for the madness to stop. It is time for other teachers to stand up and legally challenge their scores. And it is past time for taxpayers to stop these silly measures that cost them millions while enriching test companies and the research firms that produce the teacher scores.

MORE THAN FULL TIME

#TeacherAppreciationWeek? Enough, already.

Teaching is high intensity work and teachers carry their job with them wherever they go, sometimes physically, usually mentally, often emotionally. Most teachers have take-home paperwork…themes, assignments, or tests to grade, but they also bring home the mental and emotional quandaries which they deal with every day in the classroom. While fixing dinner a teacher may think about how to reach the hard to educate child in their classroom. While watching TV a teacher might worry about the child living with a dangerous home life. Most teachers don’t leave the classroom when they go home at night.

From Aubyn Scolnick

Teaching during the school year isn’t a full time job. It’s a full time life.

CONGRESS SHALL MAKE NO LAW…

“His freedom guarantees mine”: J. K. Rowling at the 2016 PEN Literary Gala

Silencing those we disagree with doesn’t help anyone.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech…”

That freedom is not available all over the world. In Bangladesh, for example, freedom of speech can be severely punished. In the last few years more than a dozen bloggers – citizen journalists celebrating their own free speech – were murdered because of what they wrote. Self proclaimed “speech police” determined that their words were worthy of a death sentence. The government has tried, weakly, to stop the murders, however, they can’t seem to prevent them. They have even stooped so low as to blame the writers for their own death.

PEN America is a group dedicated to the view that “people everywhere have the freedom to create literature, to convey information and ideas, to express their views, and to make it possible for everyone to access the views, ideas, and literatures of others.” This year they honored, among others, British writer J.K. Rowling.

From J.K. Rowling

I find almost everything that Mr. Trump says objectionable. I consider him offensive and bigoted. But he has my full support to come to my country and be offensive and bigoted there.

His freedom to speak protects my freedom to call him a bigot. His freedom guarantees mine. Unless we take that absolute position without caveats or apologies, we have set foot upon a road with only one destination. If my offended feelings can justify a travel ban on Donald Trump, I have no moral ground on which to argue that those offended by feminism or the fight for transgender rights or universal suffrage should not oppress campaigners for those causes. If you seek the removal of freedoms from an opponent simply on the grounds that they have offended you, you have crossed the line to stand alongside tyrants who imprison, torture, and kill on exactly the same justification.

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