Posted in NPE, Privatization, Quotes, Ravitch, reform, Teaching Career, vouchers

From NPE 2017 – Listen to this #13

Memorable quotes from Saturday at the Network for Public Education 4th Annual Conference. Check out the live streaming and video, here (Facebook link) for much, much more.

#NPE17CA

NETWORK FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION

From Colleen Wood

Now More Than Ever – it’s not just a theme, it’s what we do.

From Diane Ravitch

In the coming election [our organization] will not endorse anyone who supports charters or vouchers…

…We want to improve education, not monetize it.

From Yohuru Williams

We reject Betsy DeVos. We reject Donald Trump. We reject Race to the Bottom. We reject privatization. We reject vouchers. We reject inequality. We reject alienation. We reject your narrative of inequality. We stand for justice.

Yohuru Williams at #NPE17CA

TEACHING

From an Arkansas legislator/teacher

How is shutting the door and saying ‘Just let me teach’ working out for you?

Jonathan Foley in United We Stand Divided We Fall

[Teachers, as first responders, are] willing to risk it all for the next generation.

PRIVATIZING AND REFORM

From Michelle Gunderson

Kindergarten is the new Second Grade, and a really, really bad Second Grade.

From Frank Adamson

This is not an evidence battle. This Is an ideological battle.

From Steven Singer

We invest the majority of our educational funding in rich white kids. The poor and minorities are left to fend for themselves.

From Tanya Clay House

[When speaking with a pro-voucher privatizer,] Every child deserves the benefit of a quality education. That’s why we have public education that you’re not funding.

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Posted in Anti-Intellectualism, Competition, Darling-Hammond, DeVos, library, NancyBailey, Quotes, Ravitch, Segregation, Stephen Krashen, TeacherShortage

Listen to This #12

WINNERS AND LOSERS

Please. Education is not a horserace.

We Americans are selfish and self-centered. Peter Greene’s tweet about DACA elsewhere in this post expresses it well…as does this quote from Jim Wright in his Stonekettle Station post, Ship of Fools, where he says,

“F*** you, I got mine” is a lousy ideology to build civilization on.

PZ Myers, a curmudgeonly biology professor/blogger from Minnesota, discusses education…and how it should NOT divide winners and losers. Education he says, is a process by which everyone should gain knowledge.

When we make education a competition, we resign some students to the “loser” category. What would be better for the long-term health of our society…to have a large group of “losers” trying to survive under the heel of the winners? or a society where everyone is educated with greater knowledge, where everyone grows up a winner?

From PZ Myers

The mistake is to think of education as a game where there are winners and losers rather than an experience in which we try to make sure every single student comes out at the end with more knowledge. It’s not a competition.

TEACHER SHORTAGES

Where have all the teachers gone?

The so-called “education reform” movement has been successful at making the teaching profession unattractive. We are losing teachers at an alarming rate, and some schools are forced to fill classrooms with unqualified adults. Schools with more resources can afford to hire actual teachers, and schools with fewer resources – commonly those schools which serve low-income, high-minority populations – end up staffing classrooms with untrained teachers.

In order to overcome the shortage (as well as strike a blow against teachers unions) states, like Indiana, are adding pathways to teaching so unqualified adults can get into the classroom quicker.

What kind of future are we building for ourselves?

From Linda Darling-Hammond in The Answer Sheet

…even with intensive recruiting both in and outside of the country, more than 100,000 classrooms are being staffed this year by instructors who are unqualified for their jobs. These classrooms are disproportionately in low-income, high-minority schools, although in some key subjects, every kind of district has been hit. This is a serious problem for the children they serve and for the country as a whole.

DEVOS

8 Powerful Voices in Defense of Public Education – Diane Ravitch

The Network for Public Education (NPE) is producing a series of videos in support of public education and against the movement to privatize our schools. NPE President, Diane Ravitch, is one of the strongest voices in support of public education today.

From Diane Ravitch

[Betsy DeVos] is the first Secretary of Education in our history, who is actively hostile to public education. We’ve never had this before.

SEGREGATION

School Segregation, An Ever-Present Problem Across America

Humanity’s past is littered with wars, murders, assassinations, conquests, and other horrible events caused by our narrow, selfish, racist, and tribal, impulses. If we want to survive into the next century, we’ll need to overcome those baser characteristics of our species…and learn to accept that we are one, diverse, human race.

From Jan Resseger

Hannah-Jones concludes: “What the Gardendale case demonstrates with unusual clarity is that changes in the law have not changed the hearts of many white Americans.” These articles—Felton’s and Hannah-Jones’—are worth reading together. They are a sobering update on America’s long struggle with racism and the unresolved and very current issue of school segregation which is always accompanied by educational inequity. Quality education is supposed to be a right for all of our children, but we are a long way from having achieved justice.

Integrating Little Rock Central High School, September 25, 1957

PERSONALIZED LEARNING

Teacher Appreciation As School Starts

A personal relationship with another human being is an important part of “personalized” learning.

From Nancy Bailey

While the focus appears to be on transforming teaching into digital competency-based instruction, or personalized learning, real human teachers are what make learning for every child personalized. That title was stolen from them.

LIBRARIANS AND LIBRARIES

Credentialed school librarians: What the research says

From Stephen Krashen

We cheerfully spend billions on unvalidated tests and untested technology, yet we ignore the impressive research on libraries and librarians, and are unwilling to make the modest investments that will ensure that school libraries are well supplied with books and are staffed with credentialed librarians.

ANTI-INTELLECTUALISM IN AMERICA

A Confederacy of Dunces

The Roman philosopher, Epictetus, wrote,

We must not believe the many, who say that only free people ought to be educated, but we should rather believe the philosophers who say that only the educated are free.

That is a concept which Americans would do well to learn. We are living at a time where people are proud of their ignorance.

From Shiela Kennedy

There’s a saying to the effect that the only foes that truly threaten America are the enemies at home: ignorance, superstition and incompetence. Trump is the trifecta.

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Posted in Anti-Intellectualism, CTU, Ravitch, Sagan, Science

The Charlatans Are Here

[Part 2 of 2: A followup post on the recent increase of anti-science and anti-intellectualism in America. Click HERE here to read Part 1, Standing in Denial, Rising to Power.]

GOOD TEACHERS RETEACH

What can we, as actual educators (not the Betsy DeVos kind), do to change the country’s direction when it comes to science, and to learning in general?

1. When students don’t learn the first time, good teachers reteach. As teachers, we can take it upon ourselves to reteach history, including scientific innovations and developments, to the American people. Even the know-nothings like Pruitt and Perry use science every day with their cell phones, their cable and satellite TVs, and their kitchens. It’s important to remember how those advancements came about. This, of course, won’t deter those who deny science or are “reforming” schools in order to enrich themselves. However, it might help support regular citizens who are interested in planning for the nation’s future.

As teachers, we must become active lobbyists. We should lobby parents, local, state and federal legislators and policy-makers to do what needs to be done to Make America Smart Again.

Teachers need to speak out, write to legislators, support public education advocacy groups like the Indiana Coalition for Public Education or the Network for Public Education, and educate their friends, neighbors, and relatives.

TEACH THE COMMUNITY

Specifically teachers should lobby for the following.

2. End the waste of our time and money on standardized tests and use the savings to pay for professional development for teachers teaching science, and for equipment and supplies to help them. Use the savings to pay for professional development and supplies for all teachers.

3. Make sure children come to school ready to learn. To that end, we need to spend dollars on countering the effects of poverty beginning with good prenatal care for every pregnant woman in the country. The U.S.A. is 57th in infant mortality rates behind countries like Slovakia, Cuba, Singapore, Canada, and the U.K. Science has taught us what to do…we need to see to it that there is carry-over of scientific knowledge into the real world.

4. The next step in countering the effects of poverty is to invest in early childhood education in which children can explore themselves and the world. Our enrollment rates and expenditures on Early Childhood programs lag well below the OECD average.

5. Provide every child with a full and balanced curriculum,

…including the arts, science, history, literature, civics, foreign languages, mathematics, and physical education.

6. Support students by lowering class sizes.

7. End the diversion of tax dollars to unaccountable and unregulated charter schools, and vouchers for private and parochial schools.

8. The relationship between poverty and achievement is well established, but instructional innovations, improvements, and support can’t overcome the effects of poverty alone. Students need support services to help ameliorate the effects of poverty. Services such as nurses, social workers, counselors, after-school programs, and transportation, should be available. See .

9. End the scourge of high-stakes testing. See #2.

10. Ensure that every school is staffed with fully-trained, professional educators and support staff.

Research-based strategies and proven models for improving the teaching profession should guide the maintenance and growth of a dedicated, experienced, and multi-racial teaching staff…In Finland, a country known for high-performing students, teaching is a respected, top career choice; teachers have autonomy in their classrooms, work collectively to develop the school curriculum, and participate in shared governance of the school…They receive strong professional support throughout their careers and ample time for collaboration with colleagues built into their workday. They are not rated; they are trusted.

11. Public schools should be controlled by elected school boards. Lack of transparency should not be an option. See #7.

12. The privatization of public education has increased school segregation. We know from research that desegregated schools narrowed racial and economic achievement gaps. It’s time to fulfill the requirement of Brown vs. Board of Education.

More than 60 years after Brown v. Board of Education, federal education policies still implicitly accept the myth of “separate but equal,” by attempting to improve student outcomes without integrating schools. Policymakers have tried creating national standards, encouraging charter schools, implementing high-stakes teacher evaluations and tying testing to school sanctions and funding. These efforts sought to make separate schools better but not less segregated. Ending achievement and opportunity gaps requires implementing a variety of desegregation methods – busing, magnet schools, or merging school districts, for instance – to create a more just public education system that successfully educates all children.

[Editorial aside: I disagree with one part of the above quote. It’s clear to me that federal education policies explicitly accept, and in fact, encourage, “separate but equal” schools in America.]

13. Acknowledge “that public education is a public responsibility, not a consumer good.“✩

The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people, and must be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the expense of the people themselves.John Adams

These suggestions will cost money, and you might ask, “How can we afford that?” Ending the overuse and misuse of standardized testing will provide one source of income for schools to use. Ending the diversion of tax dollars for privatization will provide more, but that won’t cover everything.

A better question might be: how can we afford not to have these schools? Where else is public money being spent? We must invest in our children.

SCIENCE TEACHERS (AT ALL GRADE LEVELS)…

  • Do your part to help students (and their parents) understand the scientific method, to see science in everyday life, and to dispel myths and misconceptions about science (e.g. “evolution is just a ‘theory'”).
  • Work with your colleagues to develop multi-disciplinary projects. Science can be found in history, geography, philosophy, physical education, the arts and other subject areas.
  • Invite scientists from local industry and academia into your classroom to explore ideas with your students.
  • Be an advocate for science. Teach so that your students become as excited about science as your are. At a minimum, ensure that they are scientifically literate when they leave your class.
  • Join scientific organizations to advocate for science education and to keep up with the latest news in your field…groups like

○ The National Science Teachers Association
○ The American Association for the Advancement of Science
○ The National Science Foundation
○ The Association for Science Teacher Education
○ The Association for Science Education

  • Read about ways to improve science education in the U.S.

○ The Improving science education in America
○ The Ideas for Improving Science Education in the U.S.
○ The How can we reform science education?

CHILDREN ARE OUR FUTURE

Reversing the anti-science direction of the country will take time and won’t be easy. We can do it if we focus on the today’s students…tomorrow’s leaders.

In his last interview (go to 3:55 for this quote), Carl Sagan warned (1996),

Science is more than a body of knowledge. It is a way of thinking; a way of skeptically interrogating the universe with a fine understanding of human fallibility.

If we are not able to ask skeptical questions, to interrogate those who tell us that something is true, to be skeptical of those in authority, then, we are up for grabs for the next charlatan (political or religious) who comes ambling along.

The charlatans are here…it’s time to step up.

[The numbered list, above, is taken from ✩Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools, by Diane Ravitch and ✪The Schools Chicago’s Students Deserve: Research-based Proposals to Strengthen Elementary and Secondary Education in the Chicago Public Schools from the Chicago Teachers Union. Quotes from those sources are noted either ✩ or ✪. Other quotes are linked.]

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Posted in Charters, Curmudgucation, John Kuhn, poverty, Quotes, Ravitch, Teachers Unions, TeacherShortage, Testing

Random Quotes – August 2015

A PLAYGROUND BULLY

Hey, Governor Christie, Punch My Face!

It’s all over the web…New Jersey Governor Chris Christie wants to punch the “national teachers union” in the face. Christie apparently doesn’t understand — or perhaps he just doesn’t care — that the “national teachers union” is made up of millions of teachers, not to mention that there is more than one national teachers union.

On the other hand, Trump’s numbers soared after he badmouthed immigrants. Perhaps Christie’s numbers will increase when Republicans see how much he hates unions and teachers.

Was Chris Christie bullied as a child…and his teacher failed to protect him? Is that why he hates teachers so much?

In any case, the best response to the New Jersey Bully has been…

from Russ on Reading

“I regret that I have only one face to give for my profession.”

TEACHERS KNOW MORE THAN ARNE DUNCAN

CHARTERS

Indiana: Charter Advocate Says It is Time to Close Down Low-Performing Charters

People are starting to see that Charters are no better than real public schools. Thirty percent of Detroit’s charters have closed because they “failed.”

In Indiana, someone has noticed that charter schools are not doing any better than our real public schools — and, in many cases, a lot worse.

From Diane Ravitch

The hype, spin, and empty promises of the charter movement have run their course. Teach for America’s claims that its inexperienced kids could close the achievement gap are obviously hollow. Chris Barbic’s Achievement School District in Tennessee is a failure. The chickens are coming home to roost. You can’t fool all the people all the time.

TESTING

Test and Punish and Civil Rights

Has any teacher ever said, “I won’t have any idea if my students are learning without standardized test scores.”

From Peter Greene

Actually, test scores don’t tell us much of anything, because the Big Standardized Tests are narrowly focused, poorly designed, and extremely limited in their scope. Furthermore, we can predict test score results pretty well just using demographic information. So to claim that we would be fumbling in the dark without these tests, with no idea of how to find schools that were in trouble, is simply ridiculous.

TEACHER SHORTAGE

The Substitute Shortage

Schools around the nation are facing a teacher shortage and many will have to rely on substitutes. Just one problem…there’s a shortage of substitutes, too.

From Peter Greene

Substitute shortage is yet another problem to which we know the solution. It’s just that the solution costs money, and we don’t wanna. A good substitute teacher is worth her weight in gold, but we prefer to offer only peanuts.

Missouri school district billboard in Kansas

We Won’t Get Great Teachers By Treating Them Badly

How can you get more people to invest their time and energy in the quest to become a teacher?

From The Education Opportunity Network

…it just stands to reason that when you make a job more stressful and negative, you’re going to get fewer qualified people who want to do it.

DOES AMERICA REALLY HATE ITS CHILDREN?

How To Train Teachers

We live in a nation that hates education…and doesn’t really care much for our children. We’re a nation that lives only in the present. We aren’t willing to invest in our future — our children — because that would mean sacrificing a little money now.

From Peter Greene

And so we arrive at the same old problem that badgers education around every turn– we know how to do it right, but that would be expensive, and we don’t want to spend a bunch of money on education.

More children are in poverty today than before the Great Recession

How can we justify tax breaks for rich people when so many of our children live in poverty? Why isn’t this a national embarrassment?

From PBS

One out of five American children live in poverty…

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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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Posted in AFT, Corp Interest, JimHorn, NEA, Privatization, Ravitch

Under the Ravitch Umbrella

Diane Ravitch posted information about the AFT and NEA move to unionize teachers at charter schools.

What Happens When Charter Teachers Join a Union?

The NEA and AFT are actively trying to organize charter teachers. This is challenging because of high teacher turnover and often hostile charter management. As the numbers show, they have had limited success, but Cohen says that the unions have softened their opposition to charters in hopes of establishing unions in more charters.

Her post references an article at the American Prospect discussing labor’s push to unionize charters…a distinctly non-union part of the education world.

When Charters Go Union

In 2014, the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University released a report that documented a host of charter school problems, ranging from uneven academic performance to funding schemes that destabilized neighboring schools. The report laid out national policy recommendations designed to promote increased accountability, transparency, and equity.

The AFT and NEA came out strongly in support of the Annenberg standards, and have been working to promote them to state legislatures and school boards around the country. Leaders in the charter world, however, were less than pleased. The National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA), an organization that seeks to influence the policies and practices of state authorizers, called the standards “incomplete, judgmental, and not based on research or data.” Michael Brickman, then the national policy director at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative education policy think tank, said the Annenberg standards would stifle charters’ innovation by “bludgeoning them with regulation.” He accused the authors of “standing in the way of progress” with their “overzealous statutory recommendations.” (The president and CEO of NAPCS, Nina Rees, told me she actually likes the Annenberg standards, but doesn’t know if they should be adopted across the board.)

In response, Jim Horn, at Schools Matter, took time off from fighting the privatization of public education to update his attack on Diane Ravitch, the Network for Public Education, and Anthony Cody, claiming that they’re pro-charter. [This is not the first time he’s gone after the Ravitch branch of the pro-public education movement. See HERE and HERE, or just search his blog for Ravitch.]

Ravitch Rationalizes NEA/AFT/NPE Pro-Charter Position

The anti-reformy groups and self-promoting individuals that crouch under the Ravitch umbrella, along with the bloggers who are kept in line by NPE’s censorious Anthony Cody and Jon Pelto, go about their business pretending that the corporate unions are allies of corporate education resistance. Nothing could be further from the truth.

First of all, I agree with Horn that the NEA and AFT are not as anti-reformy as I would like them to be. I’ve written against Dennis Van Roekel’s support of CCSS and “reform” in order to get a “seat at the table,” Lily’s misguided support of the CCSS, how NEA endorsed President Obama in 2012 completely separating him from the work of his Education Department, and the fact that neither Randi nor Lily seems serious about rejecting corporate funding from “reformist” foundations.

However, I disagree with his description above about those who agree with Diane Ravitch and Anthony Cody. I’m a member of both the Education Bloggers Network run by Jonathan Pelto and the NPE that he references above. Neither Diane Ravitch, Jonathan Pelto nor Anthony Cody dictate what gets written on this blog, nor do I hesitate to disagree with Ravitch, Pelto, Cody, or anyone else if I choose to.

I also don’t agree that the Education Bloggers Network or the NPE “pretend” that there is nothing wrong with the AFT and NEA positions on education reform. However, instead of lashing out angrily at them, those of us who are sometimes “under the Ravitch umbrella” understand that the unions are made up of teachers…and it’s in our best interest to try to get them to change rather than just berating them because we disagree. That’s why Diane Ravitch put both Randi and Lily on the spot earlier this year by asking them if they would refuse “reformy” foundation money. That’s why the crowd cheered when they answered in the affirmative (even though Lily walked back on that position later). That’s why thousands of us across the nation are working hard to influence voters, legislators, teachers, and parents to join us in the fight against privatization and “reform.”

Furthermore, I don’t think Horn’s “my way or the highway” attitude is productive. Even if I do agree with his positions on school reform, I find his attitude towards the rest of us to be condescending and his language bordering on abusive. His attacks sound more like the anonymous trolls who populate the comments sections of political web sites rather than an educated, pro-public education advocate. If he doesn’t like what you stand for he does indeed argue against you, often with good reason…but he paints with a wide brush and tells you to go to hell in the process. This is, of course, his right…it is his blog after all, and I’m sure he really doesn’t care what I think, but it’s counterproductive.

His attitude plays right into the corporate “divide and conquer attitude” so popular with “reformers.” If we are busy blasting each other for not being “pure enough” in our pro-public education policy making, then we are that much weaker when we need to work together to end the misuse and overuse of testing, the destruction of the teaching profession and the privatization of public education.

Horn needs to quit playing the equivalent of the education “Hunger Games” by fighting those would should be allies instead of focusing his energy on Gates, Duncan, the Waltons, and the rest. It’s helpful…and even important to speak our disagreement when we differ on particular issues, but we need to stand together against the real enemy.

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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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Posted in Curmudgucation, Daily Show, FairTest, NPE, poverty, Ravitch, Test Cheating, Testing, Valerie Strauss

Random Quotes – April 2015

NPE 2015 NATIONAL CONFERENCE

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Resistance Meets on Weekends

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

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

From Peter Greene, Curmudgucation.

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

ATLANTA CHEATING SCANDAL

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

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

From Bruce Dixon, Black Agenda Report

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

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

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

From Valerie Strauss, Answer Sheet

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

POVERTY

Indiana superintendents rail against proposed school funding changes

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

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

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

TESTING

The One about Bullying, Threats and Arne Duncan…

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Valerie Strauss, Answer Sheet

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

Computerized Testing Problems: 2013 -2015

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

From FairTest.org.

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

PRIVATIZATION

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

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

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

From Maureen Downey, Atlanta-Journal Consititution (AJC.com)

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

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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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Posted in Curmudgucation, Duncan, John Kuhn, poverty, Quotes, Ravitch, Stephen Krashen, Teaching Career, vouchers

2014 in Quotes

This is the 102nd and last post of 2014 for this blog. Here are some of my favorite quotes from it’s pages during the past year. The quotes are my words, unless otherwise (and often) noted. Go to the links provided for the original context of the quotes.

JANUARY

From the Bottom of Duncan’s Barrel

“If we were serious about education, we would never entrust our nations [sic] educational leadership to men who have no training or experience in education at all and who only listened to other men with no training or experience in education at all. If we were serious about education, we would demand leadership by people who were also serious about education, and we would demand leadership based on proven principles and techniques developed by people who truly cared about the education of America’s students.” — Peter Greene

FEBRUARY

2014 Medley #5

“Your editorial sends the message that our public schools are failing. They aren’t. When researchers control for the effects of poverty, American schools rank near the top of the world. Our overall scores are unspectacular because the child poverty rate in the U.S. is very high, 23%, second-highest among all economically advanced countries. Children of poverty suffer from hunger, malnutrition, inferior health care and lack of access to books. All of these have a powerful impact on school performance. The best teaching in the world won’t help when children are hungry, ill and have little or nothing to read.

“Our focus should be on protecting children from the impact of poverty.” — Stephen Krashen

MARCH

Public Education: For the Public Good

How do you respond to voucher supporters who claim that they should be allowed to take “their tax money” out of the public school system and use it to send their children to private schools? What good are public schools to people who don’t have any children or whose children have grown?

Consider:

  • What would happen if citizens withdrew the portion of their tax money used for public libraries because they wanted to buy their own books instead?
  • What would happen if citizens withdrew the portion of their tax money used for fire departments because they had purchased a fire suppressant system?
  • What would happen if citizens withdrew the portion of their tax money used for roads because they didn’t drive a car?
  • What would happen if citizens withdrew the portion of their tax money used for parks because they never used them?
  • What would happen if citizens withdrew the portion of their tax money used for police departments because they hired their own, private security force?

The government — local, state and national — is responsible for various aspects of our lives, from safety to clean air to public parks. Public money is spent for these “public goods” because everyone benefits — even those who never use the services.

JUNE

Billionaires Win in California

Professional educators provide students with high quality education — we know this because wealthy “reformers” make sure that schools for their children are filled with highly qualified, well-trained professionals. In high poverty schools, however, educators alone can’t overcome the effects of societal neglect. Nearly one-fourth of America’s children live in poverty which has the single, largest affect on student achievement, yet the billionaires’ battle is against teachers…not politicians.

When will politicians and their billionaire handlers accept responsibility for their part in the education of our children?

2014 Medley #15: Reactions to Vergara

Jack Schneider, LA Times quoted in Making it easier to fire teachers won’t get you better ones.

Instead of imagining a world in which teachers are easier to fire, we should work to imagine one in which firing is rarely necessary. Because you don’t put an effective teacher in every classroom by holding a sword over their heads. You do it by putting tools in their hands.

JULY

The Case Against “reformers”

“Somewhere along the line we’ve forgotten that education is not about getting this or that score on a test, but it is about enlarging hearts, minds, and spirits. It’s about fulfilling human potential and unleashing human creativity. It’s about helping children understand that the world is a place full of wonder, truly wonder-full. It’s about giving children the tools they will need to participate in a complex global world where we can’t imagine today what the next twenty years, let alone century, will bring.” — Susan Zimmerman, in Comprehension Going Forward

OCTOBER

2014 Medley #22

Homeless children comprise one of the fastest growing demographics in America’s public schools. We know that poverty has a negative effect on student achievement, and homeless students, like other students who live in poverty, have lower achievement levels and a higher dropout rate than children from middle class families.

Politicians and policy makers can’t solve the problem of homelessness, hunger, and poverty. They dump it on the public schools, and then blame teachers, schools, and students, when the problems don’t go away.

American schools are not failing…American policies towards unemployment, poverty, and homelessness are failing.

DECEMBER

Random Quotes – December 2014

“Public education is a promise we make to the children of our society, and to their children, and to their children.” — John Kuhn

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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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