Posted in Anti-Intellectualism, Article Medleys, Charters, DeVos, Privatization, Teachers Unions, Teaching Career, vouchers

2017 Medley #23

De-Professionalizing Teachers,
Anti-Intellectualism, Vouchers,
The Destruction of Public Education in Indianapolis

DE-PROFESSIONALIZING TEACHERS

The Many Ways We Are De-Professionalizing Teaching

De-professionalizing teaching is just one front of the war on public education. Nancy Flanagan addresses the confusion of privatizers claiming that becoming a teacher is too easy through the traditional routes…colleges and university schools of education. She talks about the difficulty of the new Florida test that teachers must pass in order to become a licensed teacher…and then goes on to remind us that the same privatizers want to allow anyone to teach in private and charter schools…easier paths to teaching.

Here in Indiana, for example, the EdTPA which pre-service teachers must complete, requires intense attention to, and hours of investment in, teaching and planning lessons…and at the same time, REPA III allows anyone with a content area degree to start teaching in a high school with no experience in actual teaching.

The point? De-professionalize teaching. End the existence of the career teacher who has the best interest of the students at heart. Instead, fill classrooms with idealistic young college graduates on their way up the corporate ladder, who don’t really know anything about teaching and will accept minimal pay for parroting direct teaching scripts…and who will leave after two years, thereby making room for other minimal pay teachers.

Drive out the career oriented teachers by making the requirements for teaching onerous and expensive. Bring in the unqualified and inexperienced who won’t ask for benefits or pensions.

The policy goal here is de-professionalizing teaching, establishing it once and for all as a short-term, entry-level technical job designed to attract a revolving door of “community-minded” candidates, who will work diligently for cheap, then get out because they can’t support a family or buy a home on a teacher’s salary.

Emphasis on the word cheap. This is about profit and control, not improving education.

In addition to shutting out promising candidates by stringent testing or changing policy to allow virtually anyone with a college degree in the classroom, policymakers, spurred by ALEC and a host of education nonprofits, are also de-professionalizing by:

  • Messing with pension, retirement and insurance packages to encourage young teachers to move in and quickly out of a job that has no financial future.
  • Bringing community-based artists, musicians, sports trainers and library aides into classrooms that used to be staffed by certified teachers.
  • Confiscating teachers’ professional work–instruction, curriculum, assessment, collegial mentoring, etc. Decisions that were once a teacher’s prerogative are now outsourced to canned curricula designed to raise test scores, or standardized assessments that don’t take knowledge of students and their context into consideration. Who should determine the curricular frameworks, design lessons and set goals for students? Teachers and school leaders who know the students and community where they work? Or a Gates-funded, agenda-driven organization?
  • Defunding the schools where the vast majority of professionally prepared teachers are working.
  • Borrowing from the success universities have had, by designing “part-time” jobs (think: K-12 “adjuncts”) with pro-rated benefit packages, a lure to get good teaching for even less money than base pay.

Do You Think Every Child Deserves a Qualified Teacher?

New York is considering allowing anyone to teach…because, after all, it really doesn’t require any special skill set to stand up in front of a class of 30 kids and drill them on test prep materials.

The charter school committee of the State University of New York will soon decide whether charter schools will be allowed to hire uncertified teachers.

Forbes Says 18 Dumb Things

The Forbes article, Teacher Certification Makes Public School Education Worse, Not Better, by University of Chicago Law Professor, Omri Ben Shahar, announces that certified teachers are actually a detriment to our education system.

Peter Greene takes him to task on 18 of his statements which make no sense…to someone with any K-12 teaching experience, that is. Before you read Greene’s breakdown of Bar Shahar’s ignorant pontificating on a subject he knows nothing about, consider this…

Ben Shahar has three law degrees and two economics degrees. He’s spent his more than 20 year professional career working in higher education as a professor of law and economics. One look at his CV gives one a picture of a man who has spent decades perfecting his understanding of economics and law.

But nowhere in his experience has he spent time living and working with K-12 students and teachers. His claim that teacher certification makes public school education worse, is based on standardized test scores. One wonders if he would allow himself to be judged by the bar exam success rate of his students. He wrote…

…America has excellent higher education. Yet primary and secondary school students have long performed poorly on tests compared with students from many industrialized countries.

His understanding of what goes on in a traditional public school is based on what? His own experience? His children’s experience? What he reads in the media? It seems obvious that he based his entire argument on the fact that “many industrialized countries” have higher test scores than we do. The very fact that he uses test scores as the measure of K-12 public education success or failure underscores his ignorance. There are several reasons why the average test scores of American students are below those of some other OECD nations…and none of them have to do with teacher certification.

For example…

In other words, if you want to compare the achievement of America’s public school students to students in other countries, standardized test scores are probably the worst way to do it.

When Bar Shahar can match my 40 plus years of experience as a paraprofessional, teacher, and volunteer in K-12 schools, then I’ll listen to his reasons why teacher certification doesn’t work…

This is the final line of the article, and nothing in it has been proven in any of the lines that came before. Great teachers are somehow born and not made, and they alone can fix everything, and they are apparently distributed randomly throughout the population. Somehow by lowering standards, lowering pay, destabilizing pay, and removing job security, we will attract more of them and flush them out.

That’s 18 dumb things in one short article. I suppose Forbes could get better articles if they paid less and let anybody write for them.

ANTI-INTELLECTUALISM IN AMERICA

Elevating Ignorance

It seems to be a source pride among some Americans, to be ignorant.

It’s irrational.

What is worth thinking about, however, is what has been termed “America’s Cult of Ignorance.” An article addressing that issue began with my favorite Isaac Asimov quote:

“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’”

VOUCHERS DON’T WORK, BUT THAT DOESN’T MATTER

Indiana Legislators Don’t Care About Negative Results of Vouchers

Here are some reasons that Indiana’s legislators don’t care about the negative results of vouchers.

Legislators don’t care. They want to send more money away from public schools. The results don’t matter. They have stopped claiming that vouchers will “save” poor kids from failing schools. No one was saved.

They don’t care. They want to do harm to the schools that enroll the vast majority of students.

Why? I don’t know. What do you think can explain their determination to throw more money into vouchers now that they know they are ineffective?

Betsy DeVos Is Not My Secretary of Education

There’s no academic reason for vouchers. Politicians and policy makers ought to quit pretending that they’re pushing the privatization of public education “for children.”

Then there is DeVos’s promotion of tax cuts for the wealthy under the guise of vouchers. Vouchers are another avenue for school choice. Students take the money allotted to educate them in a public school and move it to a private school in the form of a scholarship. Yet even voucher supporters must reckon with research showing vouchers don’t work. If the most recent studies show that vouchers don’t work, how does that create equity for our students? If equity isn’t the goal, then why the need to pretend we need vouchers for our most marginalized families?

INDIANAPOLIS: THE “DESTROY PUBLIC EDUCATION” (DPE) MOVEMENT

A MUST READ! Think National, Fight Local: The Story of Indianapolis and the DPE (Destroy Public Education) Movement

This excellent post by Diane Ravitch explains how the Indianapolis public schools are being destroyed and privatized. The quote below is from a commenter…

Comment from “Retiredteacher

Privatization is like a creeping virus that slowing erodes the immune system and the ability to fight the infection. We have seen similar patterns at work in numerous cities. Privatization is the result of collusion between the local government and a variety of foundations backed by dark money, and it is supported by members of both major political parties. Supporters of public education must organize to fight back in the media, the courts and the voting booths. We should remind people that no system of privatization has ever solved society’s problems. The big byproducts of privatization are destruction of public education, increased misuse of local tax dollars, loss of democratic power, and increased segregation. Privatization is a massive shift of wealth from the working class to the wealthy.

Recognized charter school shuts down two Indianapolis locations

The last sentence below clearly states the bottom-line for charter schools…

According to charter school admission documents, the Shadeland Carpe Diem’s funding was composed of the following:

$245,000 Philanthropic Donation
$90,000 Federal Start-up funds (1st year)
$240,000 Federal Start-up funds (2nd year)
$240,000 Federal Start-up funds (2nd year)
The charter also gets $500/student from the Charter School Grant Fund. (This is a property tax replacement fund. Charter schools do not get property tax dollars.)

Like Indiana public schools, the Charter also received funds from the Common School Loan Program.

“In retrospect, it was really too fast, too soon,” said Carpe Diem Board President Jason Bearce. “We just weren’t able to get the enrollment to make the budget balance.”

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Posted in A-F Grading, Choice, DeVos, ESSA, Public Ed, Quotes, retention, special education, Teachers Unions, TeacherShortage

Listen to This #9

THE BEST IN THE WORLD

Sometimes They’re Right

America’s public schools are not “failing.” However, that doesn’t mean that they can’t improve. After reminding us how the nation’s public schools are the best in the world, Rob Miller goes on to remind us that many criticisms of public education are true. It’s up to us to make public education the “unequivocal BEST choice for America’s children.

From Rob Miller

…public education is an absolute right for every child in America, not just the privileged. No other school system anywhere in the world exceeds the United States in providing free access to education for everyone. And that, alone, makes us exceptional.

CHOICE

I got to choose private schools, but will vouchers really help other kids make it?

Indiana’s voucher program began as a way to “save poor children from ‘failing’ schools.” It was restricted by income, and parents had to try the public schools before they could get a voucher to send their child to a private school. It didn’t matter that it was the state, not the schools that was “failing” the students. All that mattered was that privatizers rationalize a way to give tax money to private schools and churches.

Once it was clear that private and parochial education didn’t provide better services for poor children, the argument changed.

The voucher program has been expanded to include middle class students, and students who have never set foot in public schools. Public dollars are being used to pay for religious instruction.

The call is now for “choice.” There’s no attempt to claim that private and parochial schools are better. The entire reason for the voucher program is now “choice.”

From Emmanuel Felton in The Hechinger Report

School choice by its very nature uproots its customers from their communities, increasing the proportion of Americans without any stake in what’s going on in public schools, the schools that will always serve the children most in need of attention.

GRADING SCHOOLS IN INDIANA

Board members favor counting test scores more than growth

From Christopher Tienken quoted by Steve Hinnefeld

Whether you’re trying to measure proficiency or growth, standardized tests are not the answer…

ESSA INDIANA

Diploma rule a setback for Indiana schools, students

Federal law requires that students with special needs have an IEP, an Individual Education Plan. It’s required that the IEP describe a modified program appropriate to the student. Yet, now we find that the same Federal laws which require those accommodations for special needs students, requires that they, along with their teachers and schools, be punished for those accommodations.

Since charter schools and schools accepting vouchers enroll fewer special needs students than public schools, it is the “grade” of the public schools which will suffer because of this loathsome and abusive practice. It is the students who were told what they needed to do, and who did it, who will be told, “your diploma doesn’t really count.”

From Steve Hinnefeld

…students who struggle to earn the general diploma and likely wouldn’t complete a more rigorous course of study, the change seems to send a message that their efforts aren’t good enough. About 30 percent of students who earn a general diploma are special-needs students.

TRUMP-DEVOS

After Six Months, What Has Trump-DeVos Department of Education Accomplished?

The sooner this administration is history, the better.

From Jan Resseger

To summarize—Betsy DeVos has said she intends to “neutralize” the Office of Civil Rights, which can only be interpreted as weakening its role. DeVos is delaying rules to protect borrowers who have been defrauded by unscrupulous for-profit colleges. While DeVos promotes school accountability through parental school choice, her staff are busy demanding continued test-and-punish accountability from the states. And finally, the D.C. voucher program remains the only federally funded tuition voucher program, despite that DeVos has declared the expansion of several kinds of school vouchers to be her priority.

DEVOS ON SPECIAL EDUCATION

The deep irony in Betsy DeVos’s first speech on special education

From Valerie Strauss, in the Answer Sheet

We should celebrate the fact that unlike some countries in the world, the United States makes promises that we will never send any student away from our schools. Our commitment is to educate every student. Period. It’s but one of America’s many compelling attributes.

The irony in this statement is that it is the traditional public education system in the United States that promises a free and appropriate education for all students. There is no question that many traditional public schools don’t meet this promise, but the goal is aspirational and seen as a public good. And it is the traditional U.S. public education system that DeVos has labeled a “dead end” and a “monopoly,” while the alternatives to these traditional public school districts that she promotes don’t make the same promise.

PUNISHING THIRD GRADERS

FL: Third Grade Readers Lose

The attack on public education, and on eight year old children in particular, continues. Florida uses a “third grade reading test” that students must pass, else they face retention in grade. Just like Indiana…
Just like Ohio…
Just like Mississippi…
and Oklahoma…
and Arizona…
and Connecticut…
California…
Michigan…

Another abusive “learn or be punished” policy.

From Peter Greene in Curmudgucation

What sucks more is that the final outcome maintains Florida’s power to flunk any third grader who refuses to take the test, regardless of any other academic indicators. In fact, the whole mess of a ruling would seem to suggest that Florida intends to ignore the part of ESSA that explicitly recognizes parental rights to opt out.

…the state had to explicitly declare that it doesn’t believe in the grades on report cards and that it values test-taking compliance above all else AND that it fully intends to ignore the opt-out portion of ESSA. So the face of education policy continues to be ugly, but at least they were required to show it without any mask or make-up.

TEACHER SHORTAGE: PAY

Teacher Pay Penalty Driving Educators Away From Profession

8 steps to destroy public education…

  1. Schools are labeled “failing.”
  2. Teachers are demonized for not raising test scores.
  3. Tax money is diverted to private and charter schools creating a public school funding crisis.
  4. Funding crises yields a drop in teacher salaries.
  5. Fewer young people choose a career in education creating a teacher shortage.
  6. Fewer teachers means larger class sizes.
  7. Larger class sizes means lowered achievement, especially for poor students.
  8. Lowered achievement means more schools will be labeled “failing.”

This quote deals with step 5 in the process.

From Lawrence Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute.

“We are moving into a world where fewer people are trying to enter teaching, in part because the profession has been degraded by misguided accountability measures and also because of the erosion of pay,” says Mishel.

TEACHERS UNION

Blaming Unions for Bad Schools

From Walt Gardner

It’s so easy to scapegoat teachers’ unions for all the ills afflicting public schools (“State of the Teachers Union,” The Wall Street Journal, Jul. 6). The charge is that they are more interested in protecting teachers than in teaching students (“This is what teachers unions really protect,” New York Post, Jul. 6). Critics point to the success of charter schools, which are overwhelmingly non-union, as evidence.

But what these critics don’t admit is that states like Massachusetts and Minnesota, which have strong teachers unions, also post high test scores. Is that merely a coincidence or is it evidence that the critics are wrong? (Correlation is not causation.) Moreover, not all charter schools post positive results by any means.

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Posted in Article Medleys, Public Ed, Teachers Unions, TeacherShortage, Teaching Career, WhyTeachersQuit

2016 Medley #18: On Teachers and Teaching

On Teachers and Teaching

NOTHING TO IT

Anyone can teach, right? We all went to school, after all, and watched it being done. There’s nothing to it.

Years ago I had a first grade student whose father epitomized this attitude in two separate instances.

First, I was told by this man that if his child didn’t understand something I should just tell her what I wanted her to know. Just tell her and then she’ll know it.

Second, I was explaining why his daughter, as a first grader, was not expected to spell every word she wrote correctly. I talked about “invented spelling” and explained why it was an important step in the development of reading and spelling. This was unacceptable. His child was going to spell correctly from day one. Apparently all my years of experienve in the classroom, a Masters degree in elementary education, and a specialization in Reading didn’t really mean I knew what I was talking about.

Why is it that the profession of “teacher” is something people assume is easy? Most people don’t assume they know how to build a building just because they might live or work in one. Police officers don’t assume that they can build bridges. Attorneys don’t assume they know how to do surgery. Doctors don’t practice law. Electricians don’t design skyscrapers.

Yet, politicians, TFA recruiters, other “reformers,” and many general citizens assume that they know all about teaching just because. Gordon Hendry, a member of the Indiana State Board of Education, once…

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 wanted to allow anyone with content knowledge into Indiana’s classrooms. His comparison of teaching to law showed his ignorance about teaching internships and student teaching.

Now, in Indiana, REPA III allows anyone with a college degree to teach high school in their major area with certain restrictions such as grade point average and years of experience in their field. They need no pedagogical training to walk into a classroom on the first day of a school year and start teaching. Just as our obsession with testing assumes that knowing facts is everything, in teaching all that matters to these folks is the content.

That’s wrong and it shows the ignorance and inexperience of those who are making education policy for our public schools.

The Dangers of Eliminating Teacher Preparation

Nancy Bailey provides a “reality check” for those who are interested in education. Don’t just assume that, because you spent your childhood and youth in a classroom that you know how to teach. You don’t learn a skill just by watching – real teachers understand that. That’s why good teacher preparation programs insist that their students spend hours and hours with real children in real classroom settings.

In the excerpt below, Bailey explains a little about child development. That’s just one area where teachers know more than “reformers.”

Child Development

Unless teachers understand appropriate milestones, or steps for each age and developmental level including middle and high school, children will become frustrated. We already see problems with school reform that places an unreasonable burden on children in the early years.

Increasingly, despite pleas for restraint by child specialists, very young children are being pushed to learn more before they are developmentally ready.

Good teacher education includes serious study about timing for appropriate instruction according to where the child is developmentally.

UNIONS AND “BAD” TEACHERS

“Reformers” might claim that there are too many “bad” teachers…and the teachers unions are only there to protect them. The “reformers” are only trying to help the children by busting the union and getting rid of teachers who cost too much money the “bad” ones.

Turns out that this is also something that the “reformers” and the general public think they know, but is actually untrue. In fact, the presence of teachers unions increases the quality of the teachers. Who would have thought that good teachers want to work in places where they have job protections and higher salaries – go figure.

The Myth of Unions’ Overprotection of Bad Teachers: Evidence from the District-Teacher Matched Panel Data on Teacher Turnover

The data confirms that, compared to districts with weak unionism, districts with strong unionism dismiss more low-quality teachers and retain more high-quality teachers. The empirical analysis shows that this dynamic of teacher turnover in highly unionized districts raises average teacher quality and improves student achievement.

WHY TEACHERS QUIT

Education “reform,” led by people who know nothing about teaching, and funded by the “billionaire boys club” who think that money equals knowledge, has driven good teachers away from public education.

Why do teachers end their careers early? People change or leave careers for myriad reasons, but when it comes to education “reform,” teachers leave because…

Commentary: Why One First Grade Teacher Is Saying Goodbye

I guess the big-picture problem is that all this stuff we’re talking about here is coming from on top, from above, be it the federal government, the commonwealth of Massachusetts, the school administration. But the voices of teachers are lost. I mean, nobody talks to teachers. Or, if they do talk to teachers, they’re not listening to teachers.

And that’s, I think, the frustration — that this stuff just comes down, and we sit with each other: “Well, who thought of this?” or “Why do they think this is a good idea?” It’s kind of like “Why not come and talk with us first?” We actually are professionals who work with kids. We want what’s best for kids. We know what works. We know what doesn’t work.

When you make a profession unattractive people won’t want to do it. They’ll leave when they realize what it’s like, or they’ll just never go into teaching to begin with.

TEACHER SHORTAGE

Without the slightest hint of irony, legislators in Indiana claimed not to understand why there’s a teacher shortage. So the legislature established a panel to examine the causes of the shortage and come up with some solutions.

Last October the legislature had an “open meeting” in which citizens and experts were allowed to voice their opinions about the teacher shortage. “Experts” (from the Friedman Foundation and other privatizer organizations) testified that there was no shortage. Supporters of public education reminded the legislators that the shortage, which did exist, was of their own creation (See the reports from the Indiana Coalition for Public Education – Monroe County, HERE, HERE, and HERE).

 

Educators devise eight solutions for Indiana’s teacher shortage

The panel charged with creating solutions to the teacher shortage returned the following ideas…some of which are in direct opposition to “reform” [emphasis added].

  • Establish ongoing state funding for a flexible, locally designed mentoring program for new teachers and teachers new to a particular school corporation.
  • Create and implement a multimedia marketing campaign promoting the teaching profession.
  • Allow for locally developed teacher pay models that provide for regular salary increases and reward advanced degrees.
  • Reduce the number of standardized tests by promoting teacher-constructed student assessment models.
  • Provide more scholarships and financial aid to college students considering a teaching career.
  • Improve collaboration between schools and teacher preparation programs so potential educators have as much classroom experience as possible before they begin working.
  • Enhance on-the-job professional development opportunities for current teachers.
  • Re-imagine teacher career pathways and pay to enable teachers to take on school leadership roles and still remain in the classroom.

THE PROBLEM IS POVERTY, INEQUITY, RACISM

The real problem isn’t teachers

Teachers and public schools can’t solve the problems of poverty, inequity, and racism alone. Starving the public schools by diverting tax dollars to charter schools or to private schools through vouchers won’t change anything. Policy makers have to stand up and accept their responsibility for the economic conditions in which children grow up and in which the nation’s public schools are required to operate.

One, how much responsibility for unequal education can be reasonably laid at the feet of public schools and teachers — and how much belongs to the broader community for failing to dismantle persistent and durable barriers to equal opportunity such as poverty, systemic racism and income inequality?

Two, is the way we currently measure teacher quality helpful, or even accurate?

…For example, access to a good education is not going to make up for the fact that mom and dad lack jobs or that their full-time jobs do not pay enough to keep the family clothed, housed, healthy, and fed. The highest-quality teachers in the world do not have the power to lift an individual student out of poverty if the country’s system of wealth distribution is rigged against her. Teachers and public schools are not equipped to end the systemic racism that underlies the fact that five times more young black men are shot dead by U.S. police than young white men and that one in three black men can expect to go to prison in their lifetime. There are some problems in the community that cannot be surmounted by education alone, yet education and teachers are persistently portrayed as a panacea for all of society’s ills.

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Posted in Article Medleys, class size, NEA, NEIFPE, Politics, poverty, Privatization, Public Ed, reform, Teachers Unions, WhyTeachersQuit

2016 Medley #14

Why Teachers Quit,
Candidates’ Positions on K-12 Education, Privatization, Unions, Priorities, Poverty, Class Size, Support for Public Education

WHY TEACHERS QUIT

‘In some ways I don’t feel like a teacher at all any more’

It’s happening all over the country and around the world as well.

  • developmentally inappropriate content
  • teaching to the test
  • obsession with data
  • changing “cut” scores
  • more tests
  • frozen salaries
  • media smears
  • new tests
  • cutting budgets and underfunding

A teacher from the UK writes an open resignation letter to Nicky Morgan, a British Conservative Party politician who has been Britain’s secretary of state for education since July 2014.

It’s been happening across the pond, too. Just as standardized test-based corporate school reform has taken hold in the United States, elements of it have also been implemented in England too — and a lot of teachers don’t like it a bit. For some time now, authorities have been increasing school “choice opportunities” for families under the theory that a market approach will force poor-performing schools to improve or close. Standardized testing has increased as well as the consequences for schools if students don’t score well. The reforms, not surprisingly, have not worked the miracles they were intended to.

Polk Teacher’s Resignation Letter Hits a Nerve

…and an American teacher gives up rather than allow herself to be forced into harmful educational practices.

Like many other teachers across the nation, I have become more and more disturbed by the misguided reforms taking place which are robbing my students of a developmentally appropriate education. Developmentally appropriate practice is the bedrock upon which early childhood education best practices are based, and has decades of empirical support behind it. However, the new reforms not only disregard this research, they are actively forcing teachers to engage in practices which are not only ineffective but actively harmful to child development and the learning process.

THE CANDIDATES

The Candidates on Public Education

Blogger Nancy Bailey posted three articles discussing the education policies of the three remaining presidential candidates. Determining their official K-12 education policy is a challenge. Hillary Clinton, the only one of the three with a K-12 Education link on her Issues page, has vague policies which don’t really say anything about her plans for when she is elected. It speaks of “support” in general terms. Bailey got most of the information from candidate speeches and voting records where available.

Here are some excerpts from her posts for each of the three candidates (in the order she posted them).

Education Mirages and Presidential Politics—Hillary Clinton

…she supported lowering class size…

…backed No Child Left Behind…

…said that teachers need better pay…

Clinton seems to support Teach for America, although I have not heard her discuss it. She does, however, speak in terms of a “new” teaching workforce. I believe this is a euphemism for TFA.

Hillary Clinton sees charter schools as public schools. Charter schools were started under the Clinton administration. So when she says she is for public schools it is important that she distinguish between real public schools and charters that are only public because they get tax dollars.

…she is also against vouchers and tax credit scholarships to private schools.

Donald Trump’s Education Mirage

…no one really knows what a President Trump would do when it comes to public schools and education. He complains but offers few real solutions.

Trump constantly says he will get rid of Common Core…

…Trump praises choice and vouchers yet claims school boards and “local” communities should be in charge of schooling.

In his favor, Mr. Trump is liberal leaning when it comes to the student debt crisis. He blames the federal government for profiting off of students.

…Donald Trump is a businessman when he compares schools with a failed telephone company. He believes they should be shut down if they aren’t working!

…doesn’t seem to understand the kinds of failed reforms that have taken place due to business pals who know little about children.

Public Schools With a President Bernie Sanders

  • He voted against No Child Left Behind and was especially against high-stakes standardized testing.
  • He stood by Chicago’s principal and public school activist Troy LaRaviere and students, teachers and parents. He spoke out against LaRaviere’s firing.
  • He, like Clinton, opposes private charter schools and school vouchers.
  • He gets that poverty directly affects students and is concerned about health care, mental health, nutrition, and other supports. He wants wrap-around services for poor children.
  • Sanders did not vote for or against the Every Student Succeeds Act but seemed to support it.
  • In one debate Sanders stated his admiration of Bill Gates. This did not specifically refer to schools. Also, when Jane Sanders was interviewed by Nikhil Goyal and asked about corporate involvement in public schools for The Nation, she said, I think some of them, like Bill and Melinda Gates, have very pure motives.
  • Bernie Sanders did not vote for or against Common Core State Standards. But in early 2015, he voted against an anti-Common Core amendment.
  • In 2001 he voted to authorize $22.8 billion to track student progress through testing.

PRIVATIZATION: REFORM

The assault on public education in North Carolina just keeps on coming

Another state falls to the “reform” monster – vouchers, charters, attacks on teachers. Students end up the losers.

Meanwhile, lawmakers have also embraced charter schools and school vouchers without appropriate accountability, and the teaching profession has been “battered,” as educators are being asked to do much more with much less.

UNION POWER

Teachers’ Unions Are Associated with Higher Student Test Scores

American politics, and the politics of education specifically, doesn’t change based on facts, but here are some to think about: Union teachers increase student test scores more than non-union teachers. Union teachers are better qualified than non-union teachers. Union teachers work more hours than non-union teachers.

Are teachers unions standing in the way of students’ education?

In general, members of unions tend to be more productive due to high-skill training. Over half of union members who are educators, trainers, and librarians have a master’s degree or higher (Figure 2). Compared to their nonunion counterparts, members of teachers’ unions are 16 percentage points more likely to have advanced degrees – which increase the quality and skills of the employee. In addition, union employees earn 22 percent more than non-members in educational occupations. Union teachers also work 14 percent more hours per week than nonunion teachers.

AMERICA’S PRIORITIES

A War for Education

It’s no secret that America’s children are a low national priority. The collective well-being of the nation’s future citizens is only given lip-service. A child is their parents’ responsibility, and if parents can’t (or won’t) provide for them, then screw the kids. This is one more example of American shortsightedness and selfishness…and the tendency we have to work against our own interest, which, in this case, is the education of our future leaders and citizens.

One out of every five American children live in poverty. It’s a national disgrace. It should be a national emergency…

Peter Greene suggests a way to raise the priority of our children. “What if we treated education like a war…”

…we tolerate that sort of thing with real war, considering it part of the cost of Getting the Job Done. You can’t say it’s because resources aren’t infinite and we can only afford to spend so much, because that doesn’t restrain us one whit when i comes time to throw another hundred billion dollars into Iraq or Afghanistan. No, I suspect the truth is less appealing. We just don’t value education and children all that much. Or at least– and I’m afraid this may really be it– not ALL children. I mean, for my own kids, I really will spend whatever it takes (check that college debt total) and do whatever I can for my own kids, but Those Peoples’ Children? I don’t really want to spend a bunch of my money on Those Peoples’ Children.

POVERTY

Science says parents of successful kids have these 13 things in common

Quick quiz…What’s one thing that parents of successful students have in common?

They have enough money to live on. They have enough money not to be homeless. They don’t live in poverty.

Children don’t choose to be poor, but poverty has an effect on their achievement. We know that poverty correlates to lower achievement due to

  • lower birth weight
  • higher exposure to environmental pollutants (such as lead)
  • insufficient medical care
  • food insecurity
  • increased rates of family violence and drug or alcohol abuse 
  • higher mobility and absenteeism
  • lack of preschool
  • lack of summer programs

Every one of those factors are out of the child’s control…and out of the school’s control yet all are associated with lower achievement levels. And “reformers,” even those who are charged with solving the problem of societal poverty, continue to blame schools, teachers, and students for low achievement.

Policy makers should take responsibility for the high level of child poverty in the nation before they blame students’ low achievement on public education, teachers, or the students themselves.

11. They have a higher socioeconomic status.

Tragically, one-fifth of American children grow up in poverty, a situation that severely limits their potential.

It’s getting more extreme. According to Stanford University researcher Sean Reardon, the achievement gap between high- and low-income families “is roughly 30% to 40% larger among children born in 2001 than among those born 25 years earlier.”

As “Drive” author Dan Pink has noted, the higher the income for the parents, the higher the SAT scores for the kids.

“Absent comprehensive and expensive interventions, socioeconomic status is what drives much of educational attainment and performance,” he wrote.

CLASS SIZE MATTERS

What is a “Just-Right” Class Size in Public Schools?

When I started teaching, before the “reformers” in Indiana started their attack on children and public schools, the state had a class size limit built into law for grades K through 3. Kindergarten and first grade had a limit of 18 students per class, 20 in second grade, and 22 in third grade. Researchers, in an Educational Leadership report, said, “…our study data show that students are learning more in smaller classes.” But Project PrimeTime cost too much money. Our students, apparently, weren’t worth it.

In this post, adapted from his new book, A Parent’s Guide to Public Education in the 21st Century, Russ Walsh reminds us that class size does matter. He recommends class size limits for every grade. Check out the entire article for his suggestions.

…class size does matter and it matters especially for low-income and minority children and it is likely to be worth the taxpayers’ money to attempt to keep class sizes down.

SUPPORT YOUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Sharing from NEIFPE and NEA: What can YOU do to help support public education in your community and state?

Are you frustrated about what is happening in public schools? Here are some actions that you CAN do to ensure your child has opportunity for success:

“Here are seven things you can do to raise your hand for equity, get involved, and ensure your child has access to a great public school.

1. Serve on the school board and/or attend school board meetings where you can be vocal and persuasive. Attend school district meetings when academic issues are discussed.

2. Contact school leaders and state education officials to express support for policies that provide all children—no matter their ZIP code—with access to great public schools.

3. Talk to community and faith-based leaders about why they must be involved in the schools in their communities and fight for what’s right for children.

4. Write a letter to your local newspaper editor describing the issues your children face in school and what can be done to help support their teachers.

5. Visit your members of Congress when they are at home so that they appreciate your level of commitment to ensuring great public schools. Or, send them an email from NEA’s Legislative Action Center. (www.nea.org/lac)

6. Talk to local business leaders and military families who understand how educated citizens benefit the economy, communities, and the nation.

7. Discuss education issues with friends who may not have children in public schools. Talk about education when you’re in the grocery store, and at community sporting events. Wherever you are talk about why it is important to support public education!

Want to know what makes a great public school? Check out NEA’s Great Public Schools (GPS) Indicators (www.nea.org/gpsindicators) – a tool that can help you advocate for the policies and practices that are integral to the success of schools and students. Don’t miss the special section on parent and community engagement.”

See also Raise Your Hand for Public Education

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Posted in Curmudgucation, Teachers Unions, Tenure

2016 Medley #10: Vergara Overturned

Vergara Overturned

Two years ago a judge in California found for plaintiffs who essentially claimed that low student achievement of  children in poverty was caused by due process and teachers unions. They blamed due process, sometimes called “teacher tenure” for allowing “bad teachers” to remain in the classroom. Here’s what I said back then.

2014 Medley #15: Reactions to Vergara

SO MANY “BAD TEACHERS

How many bad teachers are there in California…and why do they seem to be located only in schools with high levels of student poverty?

  • FACT: High levels of poverty interferes with student learning to a much larger degree than is publicly acknowledged by “reformers.”
  • FACT: Many states (here, for example) aware permanent status to K-12 teachers giving them the right to an impartial hearing in disputes. The right is to due processwhich simply means that there must be a legitimate reason to fire them. This is frequently misnamed “Tenure.”

After an extended discussion with a (non-teacher) friend who lives in California it’s clear that there are some aspects of California laws that could be changed. California has one of the shortest probationary periods in the country before permanent status is awarded. It was also clear that (in my friend’s opinion) the process of firing a teacher for cause in California is too cumbersome and takes too long (similar objections have been made about the process in New York and other states).

This week the appellate court reversed the decision. Here’s what the California Teachers Association had to say…

Breaking News: Vergara Overturned!

“This is a great day for educators and, more importantly, for students,” said CTA President Eric C. Heins. “Today’s ruling reversing Treu’s decision overwhelmingly underscores that the laws under attack have been good for public education and for kids, and that the plaintiffs failed to establish any violation of a student’s constitutional rights. Stripping teachers of their ability to stand up for their students and robbing school districts of the tools they need to make sound employment decisions was a wrong-headed scheme developed by people with no education expertise and the appellate court justices saw that.”

…and from  NEA…

Vergara v. State of California Decision Reversed

“Today was a win for our educators, our schools and most importantly, our students.

“Now we must return to working on real solutions to ensure all of our students succeed. Only when teachers, school boards, and administrators work together can we ensure that there is a great public school for every student.

“The Vergara v. State of California lawsuit was an example of using our court system for political goals. The unanimous three-judge panel’s opinion states it clearly. The plaintiffs’ case–instead of addressing and proposing solutions to the real problems–focused on the wrong issues, proposed the wrong solutions, and used the wrong legal process. It was not about helping students and has become a divisive distraction from the real work needed to improve student success.

Peter Greene, at Curmudgucation, did his usual excellent job of analysis. First, the reason Vergara was pursued in the first place…

Vergara Pt. II– Now What?

There is no question that Vergara (and the New York case and the new Minnesota case) were breathed to life for one reason and one reason only– to try to stick it to those damn unions. We know the people– we’ve read their articles, talked with them on twitter, seen them in the comments section of a thousand different online conversations. They hate the union. Hate it. They think the roadblock to everything decent and good is the teachers’ union, that the teachers’ union is a giant scam to make teachers and union reps rich while thwarting the plans of brilliant visionaries who just want to be free to implement their grand design without having to answer to anybody, least of all the hired help. They think that public schools are a scam that the union came up with to suck the taxpayers dry while teachers sit and eat bon-bons and ignore the cries of downtrodden children. They hate the union, and like many people on many sides of many issues these days, they are looking for any argument, no matter how disingenuous and cynically constructed, that can be used to make the union shut up and go away.

He continued with a good description of why teacher seniority is a positive thing…and why job protections such as due process (aka tenure) are important.

I believe that the benefits of a seniority-based system are huge. Huge. It incentivizes people to look at teaching as a career, a job to which they can devote their entire life, which in turn encourages them to be the very best they can be and to invest themselves in training and self-improvement. It gives stability and institutional memory to a school, creating ties that bind a community together and making a school a community institution that connects people to a history that matters. It helps draw good people to the work because you may not ever be paid real well, but at least you don’t have to spend half your time worrying about losing your job over something stupid. And it protects teachers so that they can do their job like professionals with an educational mission instead of political appointees who are busy trying to suck up to whoever has the power to fire them this week.

School boards and teachers unions negotiate together for a contract. Outside arbitrators can be used when there are stalemates. The two parties should work together to give teachers a decent contract which includes ways to help teachers who need help and to remove teachers who are not doing their jobs.

There is no need to keep bad teachers in the classroom. Teachers and school boards can work together to help school systems function efficiently and allow teachers to teach. Due process for teachers means that administrators have to do their jobs and document why they think a particular teacher needs to be removed from the classroom, and what they have done to help the teacher improve.

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Posted in Article Medleys, climate change, Lead, MLK, Teachers Unions, Testing

2016 Medley #2: MLK, Get the Lead Out, Testing, and the Earth

Dr. King, Lead Poisoning, 
Testing, Climate Change

DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING

In honor of MLK Day I present this quote from Dr. King for the benefit of the Indiana General Assembly which is doing its best to “bust the union.” The legislators have already taken away most of teachers’ rights to collective bargaining, benefits based on seniority, due process in labor disputes, and have forced school corporations to use the junk-science of evaluating teachers using test scores. This year they have another collection of bills including one which would “[pit] teachers against one another in a bidding war” for salary dollars.

The plan is to further weaken the Indiana State Teachers Association because “UNION!”

Dr. King said,

Weekend Quotables

The two most dynamic movements that reshaped the nation during the past three decades are the labor and civil rights movements. Our combined strength is potentially enormous. — Speech given to the Illinois State AFL-CIO, Oct. 7, 1965

POISONING FLINT

Why is lead poisoning even an issue any more? We know the damage it does. We know how to get rid of it. We are just too focused on making money to spend what we need to spend to fix our problems.

The news about Flint Michigan’s lead-polluted water supply isn’t news any more. The damage however has been done…

Why should we care? Take some time to read about the risks of lead poisoning for our nation’s children and the damage it does.

Lead Poisoning Is Still A Public Health Crisis For African-Americans

Before Freddie Gray died of spinal injuries he received in police custody, sparking weeks of protest in his native Baltimore and around the country, he was a “lead kid,” one of thousands of children in the city with toxic levels of lead in their blood from years of living in substandard housing — and long-term health problems as a result.

“Paint was peeling off the windows,” recalled Gray in the 2009 deposition of a lead-poising lawsuit he and his siblings filed against the owners of the building they grew up in. For children like Gray, who was 25 years old when he died in April, lead poisoning can mean ADHD, behavior problems, and irreversible brain and central nervous damage.

Lead Poisoning

What’s the future of the children of Flint and other places where lead poisoning is prevalent?

Even small amounts of lead can cause serious health problems. Children under the age of 6 are especially vulnerable to lead poisoning, which can severely affect mental and physical development. At very high levels, lead poisoning can be fatal.

Lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust in older buildings are the most common sources of lead poisoning in children. Other sources include contaminated air, water and soil. Adults who work with batteries, do home renovations or work in auto repair shops also may be exposed to lead.

I’ve written about lead poisoning before. I’ll ask the same question I have on numerous occasions; When are we going to get serious about the health of the children in our nation?

From earlier this year…Poisoning Children, then Blaming Them: The Lead Connection

The World Health Organization (WHO) says of lead poisoning…

The consequences of brain injury from exposure to lead in early life are loss of intelligence, shortening of attention span and disruption of behaviour. Because the human brain has little capacity for repair, these effects are untreatable and irreversible. They cause diminution in brain function and reduction in achievement that last throughout life.

From April, 2013…Update to Poisoned Children and “Reform”

The Arizona School Boards Association has published a report (available in pdf) titled, A Strange Ignorance The role of lead poisoning in failing schools.. The executive summary contains the following.

Not all children can learn, not when they have been poisoned. If environmental lead, instead of calcium, is incorporated into a child’s rapidly developing brain tissue “between birth and age three,” those tissues will not function correctly. Ever. By the time children reach the public schools, the damage has been done, and it is irreversible.

Lead is an incredibly potent neurotoxin prevalent in older neighborhoods. It takes a surprisingly small amount of lead to damage developing brains, a few sand-grain sized paint chips will do it. Those children, in turn, will sustain brain damage that ensures both educational and social problems for the rest of their life. This early lead poisoning has been linked to:

  1. an inability to learn because brain tissues constructed of lead do not bind properly to form the neural learning connections,
  2. to attention deficit disorders because lead damaged brain tissues have a tendency to misfire and disrupt normal concentration,
  3. to violence because the careful balance of brain structures in the prefrontal cortex that inhibits impulsivity and violence is disrupted, and
  4. to drug use because untreated sufferers find illegal drugs help to medicate the agitation caused by lead damaged brain cells.

From May, 2011…No Excuses

Study links lead exposure, low student test scores

Children who ingested even small amounts of lead performed poorly later on school tests compared to students who were never exposed to the substance, according to a new study of Connecticut students.

The Duke University study also found that black children were much more likely to have experienced lead poisoning from paint residue, dust or other sources by age 7 than the state’s white children. Educators worry that factor might be among many contributing to Connecticut’s status as the state with the largest achievement gap between the races…

Several other government and university research studies nationwide over the years have found links between lead poisoning and delays in academic and cognitive growth, although the Duke study is Connecticut’s first research linking individual students to their test results.

TESTING

High Stakes Testing Doesn’t Protect Civil Rights – It Violates Them

NCLB was sold to the American people to fight the “soft bigotry of low expectations,” as if “expectations” alone were enough to increase student learning. The nation’s children are still waiting for its adults to invest in their children. Instead we have invested in testing companies and private corporate charter operators. Children are still not our nation’s priority…

Our school policies for the past few decades have been about denying the right to an equitable education to our poor and minority students. Though the ESSA holds promise to limit federal meddling, it does nothing to change that. And all these people who cry foul at a potential loss of federal power are either ignorant or crying crocodile tears.

It’s no wonder that hundreds of civil rights organizations oppose high stakes testing. Nor is it surprising that the media rarely reports it. And it shouldn’t be a shock to learn that the overwhelming majority of civil rights organizations who have suddenly began championing testing are those who get big donations from the philanthro-capitalists pushing this agenda.

How Measurement Fails Doctors and Teachers

The New York Times decries the test and punish culture, but they start with a false assumption. When “education reform” moved into full swing about 2 decades ago, our schools were not lagging behind those in other countries. What was lagging behind…and what still lags behind…is our ability to take care of our children. We still remain the nation with the highest child poverty level among wealthy nations in the world. Poverty and our neglect of poverty is what’s causing failure in our schools.

In education, it became clear that our schools were lagging behind those in other countries.

The times goes on to speak about the damage done to the profession of teaching by the test-and-punish policies of the last two administrations.

…the objections became harder to dismiss as evidence mounted that even superb and motivated professionals had come to believe that the boatloads of measures, and the incentives to “look good,” had led them to turn away from the essence of their work. In medicine, doctors no longer made eye contact with patients as they clicked away. In education, even parents who favored more testing around Common Core standards worried about the damaging influence of all the exams.

We have ignored teachers’ voices.

Whatever we do, we have to ask our clinicians and teachers whether measurement is working, and truly listen when they tell us that it isn’t. Today, that is precisely what they’re saying…

Our businesslike efforts to measure and improve quality are now blocking the altruism, indeed the love, that motivates people to enter the helping professions. While we’re figuring out how to get better, we need to tread more lightly in assessing the work of the professionals who practice in our most human and sacred fields.

(h/t Cumudgucation)

Afflicting the afflicted

At least as important as protecting our students from the damage done by bad tests is that student test scores shouldn’t be used to measure schools or teachers to begin with. There is no basis it.

Steve Hinnefeld notes that in Indiana legislators are once again focusing the damage done by standardized tests on the schools trying to teach high poverty children.

Indiana schools that get successive Fs face increasingly severe state sanctions. Schools that reach six Fs in a row – and apparently there are three that could this year – face state takeover.

This doesn’t make any sense. The only reason for SB 200 in the first place is that the spring 2015 ISTEP tests were so difficult that it would be unfair to base grades on those results. But if that’s the case for schools that got an A, B, C or D in 2013-14, it should be just as true for schools that got an F…Schools that had been getting Fs may have made extraordinary efforts to improve. If ISTEP had stayed the same, maybe their grades would have gone up. But with the tougher 2015 test and the much higher bar for passing, they may have fallen short.

Many of these schools serve the largest numbers of poor children. For them, accountability can seem an affliction. And now the legislature is giving other schools a break but not them.

New Jersey Study Commission on Testing: Keep Weighing the Pig

Russ Walsh understands that you don’t improve learning by more and more testing. He asks three important questions…SPOILER ALERT: The answer to all three questions is NO!

Are standardized tests an effective way to hold schools accountable?
[…]
Are PARCC tests “high quality?”
[…]
Are standardized tests effective in narrowing the achievement gap?

…I have an idea. Instead of yearly testing, let’s all just stipulate that the achievement gap exists and that it is in reality an opportunity gap. Then we can do away with all the tests that keep telling us what we already know and focus our attention on things that are likely to reduce the opportunity gap like cleaner, safer schools, wrap around health and wellness programs, and attracting high quality teachers.

CLIMATE CHANGE

Your Participation is Not Optional

Aside from ignoring science when it comes to using high stakes tests for purposes other than that for which they were developed, we are a nation of anti-science anti-intellectuals. In the recent Republican debate we heard that we won’t ruin the economy in order to move to cleaner power (also read: we’re not going to disappoint my donors from the fossil fuel industry) and since we can’t solve the problem by ourselves let’s not worry about it.

I wonder if Trump with “believe” in science once his buildings on the coasts start taking on water…

Belief in global warming is optional, but participation is mandatory.

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Posted in Article Medleys, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Teachers Unions, WhyTeachersQuit

2015 Medley #27: Surprise! There’s a Teacher Shortage

Surprise! There’s a Teacher Shortage

Why are there teacher shortages in Wisconsin, North Carolina, Arizona, New York, New Jersey, New Mexico, Illinois, Texas, Ohio, Michigan, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, California, Louisiana…

Over the past few years, I’ve written about the local and nation-wide impending teacher shortage and why teachers quit. It should come as no surprise to anyone…it has been obvious to anyone who has been paying attention. Teachers have been blamed for all the ills facing public schools especially low achievement…even though we know that low achievement accompanies low income. Poverty implies lower achievement — no other in-school or out-of-school factor is as consistent. Republican politicians are quick to blame teachers unions, and some Democrats have joined in with that song as well, but blaming unions doesn’t explain why there is such low achievement in a state like Mississippi with very few unionized teachers. It doesn’t explain why achievement is higher in states like Massachusetts and New Jersey — states with high union membership and strong unions. Poverty does.

“Reformers” don’t seem to be willing to discuss poverty as a factor in school achievement. They don’t seem to be willing to expend as many resources and as much energy “fixing” poverty as they do destroying public education. Yet, killing the teaching profession has only made things worse.

On the other hand, is it possible that “reformers” want to destroy the teaching profession along with public schools? No teaching profession means cheap labor as states pass laws allowing anyone to teach…it means no professionals who understand the teaching and learning process and who will call out the practices that get in the way of student learning. It means no pensions…and more profit.

Below are articles about Michigan, Indiana, Kansas, Florida…and one final punch in the face to Chris Christie.

MICHIGAN

Another One Bites the Dust

A Michigan middle school math teacher (and Facebook friend of mine) wrote a piece which was picked up by Valerie Strauss, Diane Ravitch, mlive, Common Dreams, and the Huffington Post. We originally posted it on the Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education (NEIFPE) blog and Facebook page.

The teacher, Stephanie, wrote a heartfelt letter explaining why she decided to leave public education and take a job at a private school. In her letter she reported on what Michigan “reformers” have done to damage public education and hurt public school teachers.

…I have been forced to comply with mandates — from the Republicans at the state level and the Democrats at the national level — that are NOT in the best interest of kids. I am tired of having to perform what I consider to be educational malpractice, in the name of “accountability”. The amount of time lost to standardized tests that are of no use to me as a classroom teacher is mind-boggling. And when you add in mandatory quarterly district-wide tests, which are used to collect data that is ignored, you get a situation that is beyond ridiculous…

…due to a chronic, purposeful underfunding of public schools here in Michigan, my take-home pay has been frozen or decreased for the past five years, and I don’t see the situation getting any better in the near future…

Starve the public schools, then blame the teachers for not performing miracles. Drive career teachers out and replace them with cheap temps.

Stephanie explained that she didn’t want to leave public education. She was a product of public schools, a public school mom, a public school teacher, and a public school advocate. She has supported public schools throughout her career. Leaving is heartbreaking and difficult for her, but she, like so many others have had enough.

Reactions

Aside from the comments of support…and a few from the usual trolls claiming that teachers are overpaid and have it easy…

…there was an interesting reaction (which also wasn’t a surprise) from a public school supporter.

After reading her letter, Jim Horn at Schools Matter focused on the fact that Stephanie attended the last two Network for Public Education (NPE) conferences, and, since he drools in anticipation whenever he has an opportunity to badmouth anything to do with Diane Ravitch, he minimized Stephanie’s commitment to fighting for public education as “endless cheerleading.” Yes, because she attended the NPE conferences.

Perhaps he wanted her to organize and rally at the state capital. Wait…she’s done that.

Perhaps he wanted her to confront legislators and publicly go on record against anti-public school legislation. Wait…she’s done that, too.

I’ve mentioned his Ravitch-bashing before…Anything relating to Diane Ravitch is fair game for his attacks. I think it’s clear he’s jealous that Diane Ravitch has actually done something productive by forming the NPE to help support public education. Then there’s the fact that she has a large following…whereas all he can do is complain that we all don’t agree with him 100% of the time.

I’m not going to link to his blog. If you want to read what he wrote you can google it.

INDIANA

Indiana’s got a problem: Too many teachers don’t want to work there anymore

Senate Education Committee Chair, and State Senator Dennis Kruse and his House counterpart, Representative Robert Behning want to “study” why there is a teacher shortage in Indiana. Behning has spent the last 15 years bashing teachers and trashing public schools. He entered the House of Representatives in 1992 as a Florist…but now he runs an “educational lobbying company.” Both have worked to make public education less public.

The teacher shortage in Indiana is becoming such a problem that some state lawmakers want a legislative committee to study the issue and come up with solutions. According to the Indianapolis Star, the Republican chairmen of the House and Senate education committees have asked General Assembly leaders to approve having the legislative education study committee review what is causing the drop and how the state could respond.

For one thing, they can look in the mirror. The Republican leadership of the state — including Gov. Mike Pence — showed their respect for teachers by working very hard this year to strip power from Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz, a veteran educator who won election to the post in 2012 (by defeating Tony Bennett, the incumbent who was a protege of former Florida governor Jeb Bush). Oh, by the way, she is a Democrat. David Long, the Republican president of the Indiana Senate, said while explaining why the legislature would want to remove Ritz as chairman of the state Board of Education: “In all fairness, Superintendent Ritz was a librarian, okay?”

Why a teacher shortage? Try asking a teacher

A former principal understands what is driving student failure. He also understands that giving wealthy schools and poor schools equal per pupil funding is inherently unequal.

…To take inner-city resources (Indianapolis, Gary, etc.) to reward “A” schools (Carmel, Zionsville, etc.), which already have abundant resources, is immoral. In other words, the competitive model of accountability does not fit in a democratic institution that cannot afford to have winners and losers.

Everyone should have the opportunity to grow and learn. Since not every child is blessed equally, it is incumbent upon policy makers to help overcome this difference by allocating resources where they are needed most. Current policies do just the opposite. Is it any wonder why inner-city schools will have the hardest time filling teaching positions?

Your solution, offering monetary rewards based on a test, is insulting to those who know the vagarious nature of such tests, and it falsely assumes teachers just need to work harder. Such extrinsic rewards miss the point. If the goal is to attract people to the profession, we should start by realizing teachers are motivated by something much more meaningful than money.

…A teacher shortage? It was inevitable. It seems everyone saw it coming but the ones who tried making policy in a vacuum devoid of solid, authentic research and educational expertise.

So, chairmen Kruse and Behning are forming a committee to study the cause of a shortage they helped create. I have a suggestion: call a teacher — any teacher — and ask them. They’ll give you the answer.

KANSAS

Kansas Underfunded Education And Cut Tenure. Now It Can’t Find Enough Teachers To Fill Classrooms.

Kansas has joined with other states in the process of destroying their own public education system. Do they wonder what’s causing the teacher shortage?

Teachers are being forced to do more with less, and not necessarily getting appreciated for it, said Dean Katt, superintendent of Hays Public Schools.

“Teachers are working many more hours, much harder. They’re doing it on their own and don’t have the support we should be giving them,” said Katt.

He continued, “[They face] constant bashing from the governor and legislature, [who] in my opinion are trying to privatize education and just destroy it.”

The governor’s office did not respond to a request for comment regarding the teacher shortage.

A Memo To States: This Is How You Create A Teacher Shortage

A satirical, but accurate look at how to destroy a profession. The links were included in the original. With very little effort we could also provide links to the same sorts of sites for Indiana…

The How To Create A Teacher Shortage Recipe

Ingredients:

1 cup of rhetoric against teachers

2 pounds of bills and programs that attempt to de-professionalize teaching (specifically, a proposed bill that would make it easier to jail teachers for teaching materials deemed offensive and a new program that lifts teacher licensure requirements in certain districts)

3 tablespoons of a lack of due process rights for teachers

½ cup of finely diced repeated budget cuts amid a state revenue crisis

1 stalk of a new school funding system that is currently being challenged in state court

2 grinds of growing child poverty throughout the state

3 tablespoons of low teacher pay

1/3 cup of large numbers of teacher retirements

FLORIDA

Brevard teachers leave ‘in droves’ for other jobs

Jeb’s legacy is still strong.

Teachers in Brevard County have cited low morale as their main concern about teaching here — and many are leaving the district for greener pastures.

Four pages worth of resignations and retirements filled part of the last school board’s agenda, citing personal reasons, relocations and other employment. On this agenda item, 73 teachers resigned and 80 retired.

According to human resources information from Brevard Public Schools that is just one fragment of the group of teachers leaving. Data show that 368 teachers voluntarily resigned this year, the biggest number in the past five years — however that is not too far off from the 365 who voluntarily resigned or retired over the 2014-15 school year.

The Single Most Destructive Force in Public Education

Chris Christie said that he wanted to punch the “national teachers union in the face” and teachers unions were “the single most destructive force in public education.” Apparently Christie doesn’t know that states with strong teacher unions have higher student achievement than states with weak or non-existent unions.

Russ Walsh turns the tables on Christie.

The single most destructive force in public education is income inequity. Poverty has a devastating impact on a child’s educational achievement. With 25% of school children living in poverty, it is small wonder public education is struggling in impoverished areas.

The second most destructive force in public education is politicians and corporate education reformers who wish to ignore income inequity and blame teachers unions for the problems in public education. Teachers and their unions, want a strong viable system of public education. We would like politicians and well- financed reformers to work with us and stop threatening to punch us. [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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