Posted in Election, Politics, Public Ed, Teaching Career

Don’t Bother Me With Politics. I Just Want To Teach.

A DAY IN THE LIFE

You come to school early every day, work your hardest to help the children in your classroom, stay late to finish getting ready for tomorrow (or take work home).

You buy materials for your classroom, averaging around $500 a year, but sometimes you spend more, as much as $1000. Sometimes you forget to keep track of what you get…things like snacks for the kids, stickers, posters, paper, pencils, markers/crayons, and books. It doesn’t matter too much, only a portion of what you spend is deductible on your taxes.

You find yourself worrying about the struggling students in your class. There just aren’t enough hours in the day for you to get to them. There are too many other students in your class…and it’s impossible to help all of them who need extra help during the school day. So you often stay after school or come in early, to help one or two who have transportation. Some of your students need extra help, but there aren’t enough specialists to help them. Some need medical attention, but the school nurse is only at your building three days a week. Some of them need time with the school’s counselor or social worker, but their schedules are full. You end up being a nurse and counselor, as well as a teacher.

It’s Saturday, time to catch up. You spend the morning at school and rush to your own child’s soccer game after a few hours. You get home, make dinner, eat, and clean up, then collapse on the couch.

As you fall asleep watching TV, you think about the upcoming “Test week” and you worry that your students aren’t ready. Your evaluation is dependent on their success or failure despite the fact that you can’t go home with them to make sure they get enough sleep, do their homework, and are food- and housing-secure. If you teach third grade you understand that your students’ academic futures depend on their ability to pass the “reading” test.

You’re an average American teacher. Your classroom is overcrowded. Your school is underfunded.

How did this happen to American public school teachers?

 

TEACHERS AND THEIR SCHOOLS UNDER ATTACK

American public school teachers are under attack, along with their schools and students. The attack is coming from the very people who should be supporting teachers the most. The attack is coming from their neighbors, friends, and relatives…and even from their colleagues…through their votes, or lack thereof.

The attack comes from the state legislature, the federal government, and those who voted for anti-public education politicians, or those who didn’t vote at all.

I’ve heard teachers say, “I don’t want to be bothered by politics. I just want to teach. I probably won’t vote anyway.”

It may not be to their liking, but teaching is a political act.

“[Teachers] want to tell legislators what’s going on, they want legislators to visit their classrooms, they want people to help them have the tools and conditions they need to do their job,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the 1.6 million-member American Federation of Teachers. “They don’t see that as political, they just see that as part of, ‘Help me do my job.’”

But: Curriculum is political. Standards are political. Testing is political. Funding is political.

Education is political. Can teachers not be?

Phyllis Bush, a co-founder of NEIFPE, the Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education, wrote,

…if we CHOOSE not to vote, we are allowing those who do vote to make decisions for us in our towns, our states, and our nation.

In Indiana, the members of the state board of education chosen by the Governor, and the legislature (led by the Governor), all elected by the voters of Indiana (the voters, including teachers’ friends, neighbors, relatives, and colleagues) have…

  • reduced funding for public schools by diverting tax dollars to private schools, parochial schools, and privately run charter schools. Many Indiana classrooms are now overcrowded.
  • passed legislation limiting teachers’ due process, collective bargaining rights, and salary increases. Salaries for Indiana teachers have shrunk by 16% since 2000.
  • passed legislation removing incentives for advanced study and experience.
  • supported reducing the requirements for becoming a teacher, thus trivializing the time, energy, and cost teachers expended to become licensed in Indiana.
  • made the overuse and misuse of standardized tests required for all public schools.
  • placed the blame on so-called “failing” schools and their teachers for students’ achievement difficulties due to out-of-school factors associated with poverty.

If you (or your friends, neighbors, relatives and colleagues) didn’t vote or voted for policymakers who don’t support public education, then you (and they) have contributed to the legislation damaging public education in Indiana.

Teachers who don’t vote allow others to make decisions about what goes on in their classrooms. As the former first lady, Michelle Obama said this week, “Democracy continues, with or without you.” If you don’t vote, it goes on without you.

“Democracy continues, with or without you.”

Teachers, vote for candidates who will protect and support your profession and against those who pass legislation and make policy that will damage public schools.

Parents, vote for candidates who will support the public schools that 90% of our children attend.

Taxpayers, vote for candidates who will invest in the future of your state by supporting the constitutional mandate for a free, public school system. It is the duty of the General Assembly to

…provide, by law, for a general and uniform system of Common Schools, wherein tuition shall be without charge, and equally open to all.

REGISTER THEN VOTE

Indiana voter registration ends on October 9. You can register or check your voter registration at the Indiana Voter Portal.

Then vote on November 6, 2018.

The public schools of Indiana need you

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Posted in Due Process, PDK, Personal History, poverty, Public Ed, read-alouds, Teaching Career, Testing, US DOE

Just in Case Someone’s Listening

Today is the twelfth anniversary of this blog (see my main blog page, here). In the last dozen years of blogging, the education world hasn’t changed significantly. I started writing in the middle of the No Child Left Behind era, didn’t stop during Race to the Top, and continue now in the era of Betsy the Billionaire.

The sad news is that things have gotten worse for public education since I started writing here in 2006. We’re still dealing with privatization, union busting, teacher scapegoating, the overuse and misuse of tests, and the lack of funding or support for public schools. When we add to that, a teacher shortage designed and implemented by those same “reformers,” the task of saving our schools seems overwhelming.

I should probably rename this blog, “The Dead Horse Blog,” “Think Like Sisyphus,”  “The Wall: Beat Your Head Here,” or maybe simply “Belabored.”

On the other hand, my mission, when I began here, was to have a place to vent. It still works for that despite the depressing political and educational landscape. And who knows, maybe last year’s “Teachers’ Spring” will catch on and the teachers in Indiana will rise up. So I’ll keep going…just in case someone is listening.

Here are a dozen things I wrote in the early years of this blog…mostly about things that haven’t changed yet.

How to Guarantee School Improvement – September 2009

And here’s another idea to guarantee that no child would be left behind…

Legislators, other politicians, and policymakers who are responsible for public education policy must send their children to the lowest performing traditional public school in their home district.

If they did that, I would bet my retirement that America’s public school system would become the envy of the world.

 

Teaching is Doing – January 2014

Nearly half of all teachers leave the field within their first 5 years. Many find out the hard way that they aren’t cut out for teaching…or that it’s not as easy as they thought it would be. Many didn’t realize that it’s not a 6 hours a day, 9 months a year job, but one that takes hours and hours of preparation, thought and work. Many can’t handle the emotional investment in the lives of children.

The old adage which states that “those who can’t, teach” has it backward. Teaching is doing…and it’s those who can’t who must move on to some other, less important line of work.

 

American Schools are Not Failing – October 2014

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 policymakers 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.

 

If I Could Go Back and Do It Again – March 2010

This quote names my biggest teaching frustration, written a few months before I retired. Now, eight years later, when I think about the years I spent teaching I try to remember the successes I had – and there were many – but it’s hard to forget the failures. I regret 1) not being able to help all the children I wanted to help, and 2) my failure to reach all the students I should have been able to reach.

My biggest teaching frustration has been allowing myself to do things in the classroom which, while mandated by federal, state and/or local authorities, were things that I knew were not in the best interests of my students.

 

Where Are All the Failing Schools – August 2010

This quote refers to the PDK Poll of the Public’s Attitude Toward the Public Schools. The most recent poll put the respondents who grade their school an A, B, or C, at 81%. Local schools continue to poll well, and even higher for those who know the schools best – parents of public school students.

A majority of 82% of the respondents to the poll do NOT see their local schools as failing giving them a grade of A, B or C. 49% scored their local schools as an A or a B. In other words, the school we know best we score higher than the schools we don’t know. We’re very negative about the quality of schools nationwide. But if such a high percentage of people are giving their own schools average to above average ratings where are all the schools that are doing so poorly?

 

Time For Some Therapy – March 2011

We’ve become a nation of cruel, angry, screamers. The national discussion has become nothing less than a national tantrum.

There’s no room for compromise…no room for discussion. There’s no time for sadness at the death of another human being. There’s no place for cooperation…no desire to work towards a common goal or define a common good.

Find someone to blame. Lash out blindly.

This country needs some serious therapy.

 

The Status Quo Hasn’t Changed – April 2011

When the so-called reformers — the Gates’s, the Broads, the Duncans — rail against the status quo they’re referring to nothing that exists today. The real status quo is a killing curriculum based on mindless bubbles on a test. That’s today’s status quo…and that’s no way to educate children.

 

One Size Doesn’t Fit All – March 2009

For the last three days, I have been administering the Indiana state standardized tests or ISTEP+ to students with learning disabilities. These tests are not valid for these students because they do not measure what they claim to measure.

The test maker, McGraw Hill, claims that the test shows what students have learned and provides diagnostic information for remediation.

However, for these students the tests in their disability area are so difficult that they have 1) no hope of passing, 2) little chance of doing well enough to get a score that would provide anything more than a generalized list of their weak areas.

Students with learning disabilities are enrolled in special education because they are not able to perform at “grade level” in their area of disability. The purpose of special education is to provide extra support for the students so that they will be able to learn as much as they are capable of.

Simply put, the standardized tests that we are giving are not appropriate for all students. There is no one-size-fits-all curriculum or test.

 

It’s Time For an Educated Secretary of Education – January 2010

For the last 34 years, I’ve searched for ways to improve my teaching and for ways to reach hard to reach students. The challenge is always there and what we as teachers do affects the lives of children in ways we can’t imagine. It’s frustrating that the people who control what goes on in the public schools of America (in the form of standardized tests, funding, etc) don’t have a clue. Am I self-righteous about my quest to improve my teaching? Yes…of course I am. I have worked hard to learn what I have learned about education and children. To have a basketball player with a degree in Sociology, who NEVER ATTENDED OR WORKED IN A PUBLIC SCHOOL and who is NOT a teacher, lead the nation’s public schools is, dare I say it, irresponsible on the part of the federal government.

 

Follow the Money – March 2010

When you scratch the surface of the current attacks on public education you’ll find big corporations (e.g. Pearson, McGraw-Hill) and wealthy businessmen (e.g. Bill Gates, Eli Broad). There’s money to be made in the new education industry – charters and private schools, vouchers programs, and the re-segregating of the American public school system.

Poverty is still the main issue that WE as teachers have to deal with nationwide.

 

Read Aloud to Your Students Every Day – April 2010

If you don’t read aloud to your students EVERY DAY you’re not doing enough. Every elementary teacher…no matter what grade…should read aloud to his/her students each day. See Jim Trelease’s Web Site and the Read-Aloud Handbook.

 

Due Process: Not Anymore – May 2010

In 2011 the Indiana General Assembly removed due process which gave teachers some job protection.

There’s no doubt that there are inadequate teachers in our schools…and there’s no doubt that teacher’s unions protect their members (which is what unions are supposed to do). However, in Indiana, at least, unions can only guarantee that teachers receive due process. It’s the responsibility of the school leaders, the administrators and school board, to prove just cause that a teacher is incompetent. Believe it or not, teachers unions do not want bad teachers teaching. Tenure in Indiana means that a teacher has to have a hearing in which their inadequacies are proven…they get their day in court to defend themselves against the accusations of those who would fire them. A fair hearing…day in court…confronting the accusers…that’s how we do things in the US.

 

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Posted in Article Medleys, Duncan, Lead, poverty, Privatization, Public Ed, reform, SchoolFunding, Teaching Career, vouchers

2018 Medley #22

Still Poisoning Our Children,
Public Education, Teachers Get Angry, Vouchers,
School Improvement,
Arne Duncan Wasn’t a Good EdSec (but you knew that). 

 

WHO IS ACCOUNTABLE FOR POISONING OUR CHILDREN?

Still a problem and still outrageous: Too many kids can’t drink the water in their schools

History will likely reflect negatively on how we Americans have treated our children. Take their health, for example.

We know that lead causes damage, especially to young children. It causes things like developmental delay, learning difficulties, hearing loss, and seizures (It’s also not that great for adults causing high blood pressure, mood disorders and reproductive problems). There is no safe level of lead in the bloodstream.

Are we doing enough to eliminate lead from the environment? Not according to this article. We spend billions on military defense, but can’t afford to keep our children safe from poisoning at home. The problem is that most of those who are affected by environmental toxins like lead are poor children of color. Chances are if we had lead poisoning in areas where wealthy white people lived, it would be taken care of immediately.

…it’s not just in Michigan: A new U.S. government report says millions of children were potentially exposed to unsafe drinking water at their schools, but nobody really knows how many. Why? Because many states don’t bother running the tests.

A July 2018 report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, which surveyed school districts across the country on testing for lead in drinking water in 2017, found:

● 41 percent of districts, serving 12 million students, had not tested for lead in the 12 months before completing the survey.

● 43 percent of districts, serving 35 million students, tested for lead. Of those, 37 percent found elevated levels and reduced or eliminated exposure.

And then there was this: 16 percent of the districts replied to the nationally representative survey by saying that they did not know whether they had tested.

 

PUBLIC EDUCATION: A RIGHT, A PUBLIC GOOD, OR A CONSUMER PRODUCT?

Why School Reform Flounders

Is education a Right, a Public Good, an American tradition, a vehicle for fixing social inequities, an imposition on non-White/non-middle class children, or a public utility? Is it a private matter, a religious affair, a consumer product, or a national security imperative?

It would seem that the Indiana Constitution, quoted above, considers it a right.

Here is an interesting read about public education and its place in our society…

As historians like Prof. Cuban have long pointed out, the question of whether or not education is a basic right needs to take its place in line with all the other fundamental questions about education. Is it a right? Is it a public utility? Is it a tool of class domination?

 

TEACHERS GET ANGRY

The Teachers Movevement: Arizona Lawmakers Cut Education Budgets. Then Teachers Got Angry

It’s been a long time coming, but teachers are finally standing up for themselves and their students. Read this excellent piece on the Arizona teacher uprising.

The attacks seemed only to galvanize teachers. “They called us socialists, Marxists, communists! I’m a Republican!”

ANTI-PUBLIC EDUCATION: FUNDING

Arizona Supreme Court Blocks Ballot Initiative to Fund Public Education

Years of budget slashing, tax cutting, and lack of support for the public good, has left Arizona schools underfunded and struggling.

Paying taxes for the common good? That time has, apparently, passed us by.

From Jan Resseger

Paying taxes for the common good. What a novel idea these days—and something blocked last week by the Arizona Supreme Court. Failing to connect the taxes we pay with what the money buys, many of us find it easy to object to more taxes, but the case of Arizona makes the arithmetic clear. After slashing taxes for years, Arizona doesn’t have enough money to pay for public schools and universities. Not enough for the barest essentials.

 

TEACHERS MUST STAY ANGRY

Standing Up

The test-and-punish, micromanagement, and belittling of teachers/public schools, has been a constant for decades. It doesn’t work to help children learn, but it’s apparent now that children’s learning has never really been the reason for so-called “education reform.” It’s all been done for privatization.

Privatization is not just for better schools any more (since it’s been shown that it doesn’t help). Now it’s for “choice.” The privatizers believe that parents should get to choose where their education tax-dollars are spent, and to hell with the common good.

I wonder how many of those pro-choice parents and politicians are pro-choice when it comes to women’s reproductive choice, or a parent’s choice to opt out of “the test.”

Public school teachers — and those who are hoping to become public school teachers — have to accept the fact that it is up to them (along with parents and pro-public education citizens) to fight for the survival of public schools.

Teachers, you can’t just close your doors and teach anymore.

After twenty years of ed reform, teachers have arrived at a point where they cannot shut the door and teach. Every teacher has to be an advocate for her profession, her school, and the institution of public education. Every policy and directive that descends from above has to be examined for its various effects, both on education and the profession, because teachers can no longer trust the People In Charge. The people who should be helping to smooth the road are building speed bumps and brick walls instead. To shut your door and teach is to the door to your room in a burning building; you may not feel the heat yet, but if you do nothing, you will surely feel it soon.

When we talk about reasons that so many fewer people pursue or stay with a teaching career, I’m not sure we discuss this point enough. You may want to Just Teach, but that will not be an option. You will have to fight constantly just to get to do your job. It’s a huge disincentive– “I would really like to do that job, but it looks like I won’t really get to do the job I want to do.”

 

PRIVATIZATION: VOUCHERS

Ready, Fire, Aim: Vouchers Hurt Math Scores for Low Income Students

After seven years of running the nation’s most expansive voucher program…

After a half billion dollars of public money diverted to private, religious, schools…

We now hear policy makers suggesting that we “study and evaluate” the concept of vouchers.

Now?

Low income students were the ostensible reason for Indiana’s aggressive voucher policy. I’ve argued for a long time that this was a pretext — the real reason was 1) subsidizing religious education; 2) hurting teachers unions; and 3) diverting money to friends and well-wishers of policymakers — but, if you take lawmakers at their word that this was being done to help low income students, then it looks like we’ve wasted a lot of money and done some harm in the process.

Says State Board of Education member, Gordon Hendry, “The conclusions are somewhat concerning. It demonstrates the need for further study and evaluation so we can have more data about the results of this program.” With all due respect (and at least Hendry responded to the South Bend Tribune), the time for study was before we jumped into the voucher pond with both feet…

 

SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT

Indiana officials didn’t have to go far to find a new model for improving schools

I’m all for school improvement and it’s possible that this program will provide needed help, although I’m not sure that Chicago should be our role model for improving schools. You can learn about 5Essentials here and here.

My big fear with this program, and others like it, is that politicians and policy makers will impose a program on the public schools and then blame students, teachers, and schools if and when it doesn’t work. They don’t accept their share of the responsibility. Accountability is never taken by the policy makers, it’s only imposed, along with the mandates, on those in the schools.

Politicians and Policy makers, try this program, to be sure, but accept responsibility for our state and nation’s shamefully high rate of child poverty and it’s impact on school achievement!

The 5 Essentials model focuses on five qualities that strong schools share — effective leaders, collaborative teachers, involved families, supportive environment, and ambitious instruction. The Indiana Department of Education has built its own evaluation around these attributes. The state will start using its model based on the 5 Essentials at low-performing schools in their annual school quality reviews, which begin in October and are done by a team of experts, local educators, and school administrators or board members.

Arne Duncan with his boss…lest we forget that the Democrats are/were complicit in school “reform.”

THE EDUCATION LIES

Duncan and DeVos Are Both Wrong, We Need Old School Reform

The education lies discussed in this article are

  • money does not matter
  • ineffective teachers are ruining public schools
  • charter schools will outperform public schools
  • federal leadership on rigorous standards will save us all

Rod Paige and Margaret Spellings may have been worse. Betsy DeVos might be the VERY worst. But Arne Duncan was no slouch when it came to running a damaging U.S. Education Department!

The “education reforms” that Duncan says worked—desegregation and more equalized school funding—preceded his tenure as Secretary. He did nothing to further those reforms. Instead, he routinely pushed through reforms that didn’t work. An honest appraisal of the past decade reveals that Duncan caused more harm than good.

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Posted in Personal History, retention, Teaching Career

What Being a Teacher Has Taught Me

Thoughts on teaching…

LEARNING

As a student in education I learned about curriculum development, child psychology, child development, teaching methods, formal and informal assessments, and literacy. I developed communication skills and learned how to read educational research. I practiced/interned in different schools, with different students, and different age groups.

EXPERIENCING

After years of university classes and field experiences I became an educator. I spent more than 40 years as a paraprofessional, a certified teacher, and a volunteer practicing the skills, applying the knowledge I gained as a student, and learning about education through my experiences.

During those years I…

  • taught 5 year-old kindergartners, 30 year-old graduate students, and those in between.
  • counseled students and parents.
  • analyzed the behavior of students as they read difficult material and while they played at recess.
  • deciphered standardized test scores and used assessments to understand children’s abilities, preferences, and achievement.
  • wrote lesson plans, revised them in the middle of the lessons, and reflected on unsuccessful as well as successful interactions with students.
  • daily rehashed events in my classroom in an attempt to improve on my own failures or identify what it was which sparked my successes.

I continued to learn as a graduate student throughout my career, earning certifications and endorsements in three additional areas.

I have…

  • conferred with colleagues about ways to improve our practice and developed in-service presentations which I shared with teachers to inform and support them.
  • worked with administrators to help them find ways to support teachers so they could support students.
  • spent evenings checking and examining student work which helped me decide whether to reteach concepts for students who needed it, or move ahead to new material when students were ready.
  • comforted students who were afraid during tornadoes and fire drills or who experienced psychological or physical trauma at home.
  • cheered students who, after struggling, learned to read a difficult passage or solve a confusing problem.
  • told parents the sometimes difficult truth about their children’s achievement and comforted them when their own guilt was misplaced or overwhelming.

I had successes as a teacher which provided life-changing experiences for my students…and I had spectacular failures with students who I was unable to reach, some of which still haunt me. I cared about all my students, even those who were the most difficult to reach.

…especially those who were the most difficult to reach.

WHAT I’VE LEARNED ABOUT TEACHING

I learned that

  • You probably won’t learn to be an effective educator with just five weeks of summer training.
  • You don’t know about how children learn just because you were a child and a student.
  • You don’t know about Education just because you have a lot of money. Founding Microsoft, Netflix or Facebook doesn’t qualify you to make education policy. Neither does buying politicians with your family’s fortune. (Betsy DeVos…this means you.)
  • Just because you are elected to a governmental position doesn’t mean you are an expert on education. 

WHAT I’VE LEARNED ABOUT LEARNING

  • Children who believe they can grow, will grow. Adults who believe they can grow, will grow. No one ever “finishes learning.” Some people stop learning because 1) they don’t think there is anything left for them to learn or 2) they don’t think they are able to learn more. Both are wrong.
  • A “lazy” child (usually after fourth grade) probably got that way not because he decided he didn’t want to do hard work, but because he found it too painful to face failure. It doesn’t hurt as much to be seen as lazy as it does to be seen as incapable. The same goes for the “class clown.” Being singled out for misbehavior is less painful than being singled out for being “less smart.”
  • All children can learn, but children don’t learn at the same rate. Expecting all children to grow at the same rate academically is as foolish as expecting all children to grow physically at the same rate. Not everyone learns to walk at the same time. Not everyone learns to read at the same time. Punishing (and retention is punishment) children by retaining them based on a third grade reading tests (IREAD-3) is expensive and ineffective.

Teaching is more than just providing students with information. It takes specialized training and experience to be a good teacher – just like every other profession!

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Posted in Adams, Election, Jefferson, Madison, poverty, Quotes, SchoolShootings, Teaching Career, vouchers

Listen to This #4

Recent quotes and comments…

THE AMERICAN FRONT

Reflections on Noblesville shooting: Our schools shouldn’t be war zones

When did sending our children to school become the same as sending our sons and daughters off to war?

From Elaine Monaghan

I know my children are in a war zone because at least once a month they practice getting shot at.

MAY 7, 1945

Defeated Neo-Nazi Candidate Patrick Little Thinks He Actually Came In ‘First Or Second’

Thankfully, this candidate lost decisively, but the fact that nearly 55 thousand people voted for him is disheartening.

May 7, 1945 is the date of the Nazi surrender in World War II. There are thousands of Americans who apparently wish to reverse that defeat.

From Jared Holt

Patrick Little, the neo-Nazi candidate who sought to represent California in the U.S. Senate, received 54,507 votes, giving him a dismal 1.4 percent of the popular vote and ending his chances of challenging Sen. Diane Feinstein in 2018.

Scene at German surrender in World War II, Reims, France, May 7, 1945.
Ralph Morse—Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

TEACHING IN AMERICA

There is No Dignity in Teaching

A Must Read: Teachers take care of our children…sometimes at the expense of their own…

From Kelly LaLonde

There is no dignity in teaching.

We are blamed for the ills of society. We are tasked to perform miracles every day. We are told “I pay your salary, you work for me.” by parents who don’t like their kids’ grades. We are called racist, lazy, discriminatory, and overpaid. We are told over and over again that we are failing our kids.

INDIANA’S TEACHERS

Teacher pay in Indiana continues its downward slide

…and this is how we reward them?

From Carmen McCollum

In Indiana, teacher pay has suffered the biggest inflation-adjusted drop since the 1999-2000 school year, according to the Department of Education: Teachers now earn almost 16 percent less than they did two decades ago.

APATHY WINS THE POPULAR VOTE

Public Schools and Donald Trump

We can no longer afford to be apathetic. Less that 26% of eligible voters elected President Trump.

From John Merrow

…if “not voting” had been a choice, it would have won the popular vote in every presidential election since at least 1916.

INVEST IN OUR CHILDREN

We know the “root cause” of poor school performance.

Krashen’s “voice in the wilderness” reminding us to invest in our children.

From Stephen Krashen

…until we eliminate poverty, we can do a lot to protect students from the negative impact of poverty. Children of poverty suffer from food deprivation, lack of medical care and lack of access to books, each of which effects school performance. We can invest more in food programs, improved medical care (eg school nurses), and libraries and librarians.

We don’t have to worry about “improving teaching and classroom practice.” The best teaching in the world will have no effect if students are hungry, ill, and have nothing to read.

FALSE PATRIOTS

Marijuana Arrest Statistics Show Racist Nature of Our ‘Justice’ System

My comment for the quote below from Ed Brayton is with a quote from Carl Schurz; “My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.”

From Ed Brayton

Fake patriots — tribal nationalists — view any such criticism as hating America. The opposite is true. Some of us care enough about our country to demand that it do the right thing. The rest are just mindless cheerleaders for the status quo.

DEVOS AND THE DRIVE TO EXPAND VOUCHERS NATIONWIDE

Religious Vouchers

Public education is a public good and a public responsibility. The purpose of religious schools is the furthering of a particular set of religious principles. Giving tax dollars to religious schools is in direct conflict with the establishment clause of the first amendment. The Betsy DeVos/Mike Pence/Donald Trump quest for national vouchers is not constitutional.

From Peter Greene

…it’s not just a matter of “It’s my kid so I’ll teach her what I want to” personal freedom, because every student who gets this kind of education is one more misinformed uneducated person released into society, and that damages and diminishes us as a country. When uninformed miseducated hold jobs, or raise children of their own, or vote, bad things happen that cause problems for everybody.

The two following quotes are more than two hundred years old. They are from two of the men who founded The Republic. We should not allow public money to be spent for religious schools.

Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments, [ca. 20 June] 1785

From James Madison

Who does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other Religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other Sects? that the same authority which can force a citizen to contribute three pence only of his property for the support of any one establishment, may force him to conform to any other establishment in all cases whatsoever?

Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom

From Thomas Jefferson

…no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever…

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Posted in IREAD-3, reform, SchoolFunding, SchoolShootings, Segregation, TeacherShortage, Teaching Career

Listen to This #3

Here are a few of last week’s interesting quotes and comments…

SCHOOL FUNDING, TEACHER PAY

Teacher pay is a problem in Indiana, too

Teachers have marched in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona, Colorado, Kentucky and North Carolina. They marched for more funding for education…only partly for higher pay. In Indiana, teachers pay has dropped 15% since 2000. Class sizes have grown due to loss of funding as well as from funding redirected to charter and voucher schools.

Former Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction, Glenda Ritz, warned Indiana lawmakers to “take steps” to avoid and “impending education crisis.” I don’t expect the Republicans, with an 80% majority in the State Senate and a 70% majority in the State House, to ease up on school “reform.” It will be up to teachers to make their voices heard.

Will Indiana teachers step up for their students like teachers in other red states have?

From Glenda Ritz in IBJ (Indianapolis Business Journal).

Support for our students is really the most important issue for educators in the field. The protests around the nation are about teachers—and parents—making their voices heard about the decline in public education spending used to provide students with the learning environments, resources and opportunities that they deserve.

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Indiana schools might struggle to hire teachers, but there’s no shortage of ways to become one

Indiana politicians are scrambling trying to find ways to lower the requirements for teachers in order to offset the teacher shortage. In truth, the shortage is a result of years of anti-public education legislation making the teaching profession less and less desirable to young people entering or graduating from college.

Each year the super-majority in the legislature passes laws against public education. They have nearly eliminated collective bargaining for teachers, diverted needed funds to charter and voucher schools, adopted a flawed grading system for schools, and insisted on using student test scores to evaluate teachers. The current and past Republican leadership in Indiana has made the teaching profession more difficult and less attractive. It’s disingenuous for them to complain about a teacher shortage they created. It’s an insult to all the public school teachers in the state who were actually trained in education.

From Shaina Cavazos in Chalkbeat

Controversial policies paring down licensure requirements have spawned debates about how to balance a teacher’s education and preparation with a school’s need to fill jobs. State legislators and policymakers have argued for years now that relaxed rules will encourage more people to become teachers — but the data shows that so far, relatively few are taking advantage of those opportunities.

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Opinion | Don’t punish schools because Johnny can’t read. Invest in them instead.

Public schools in many states, like Indiana, punish students and their schools for their learning difficulties. Third grade retention laws require students to repeat third grade, a misguided plan which is contradicted by both current and past research.

We need to provide services to students, not label them as failures. Politicians may respond “…we don’t have enough money.” To that, I say, quit cutting taxes on corporations and people who can pay more.

From Nancy Flanagan

Michigan’s third grade mandatory retention legislation is a dramatic but useless remedy to the problem of children who struggle to read when they’re eight or nine years old. We’re not doing kids favors by flunking them. Says educational psychologist David Berliner, regents professor of education at Arizona State University:

“It seems like legislators are absolutely ignorant of the research, and the research is amazingly consistent that holding kids back is detrimental.”

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How Unequal School Funding Punishes Poor Kids

  • We have a much higher rate of child poverty than other advanced nations.

Our short-sighted attitude towards our children and their education does not bode well for our future strength as a nation.

From Michelle Chen in The Nation

In 17 states, including relatively affluent Connecticut and Maine, the school systems “provide less funding to their higher poverty school districts, even though students in these districts require more resources to achieve.” In many states, including Michigan and Arizona, poor kids are priced out of educational equity: “only the lowest-poverty districts have sufficient funding to reach national average student achievement outcomes.”

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A Guide to the Corporations that are De-Funding Public Education and Opposing Striking Teachers

Our representative democracy has sold itself to the small number of citizens with the most money. We have become an oligarchy where the ultra-wealthy buy candidates for political office or buy the office for themselves.

From Molly Gott and Derek Seidman in Little Sis

The austerity and privatization agenda for education goes something like this: impose big tax cuts for corporations and the .01% and then use declining tax revenue as a rationale to cut funding for state-funded services like public schools. Because they are underfunded, public schools cannot provide the quality education kids deserve. Then, the right wing criticizes public schools and teachers, saying there is a crisis in education. Finally, the right wing uses this as an opportunity to make changes to the education system that benefit them – including offering privatization as a solution that solves the crisis of underfunding.

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ON THE 64th ANNIVERSARY OF BROWN

In today’s America, schools are more segregated than before the 1954 landmark decision, Brown v. Board of Education.

From Nikole Hannah-Jones

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ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER SCHOOL SHOOTING

This Is School in America Now

A government which does nothing when the nation’s school children are being shot in their classrooms, does not deserve your vote. #RememberinNovember.

From James Poniewozik

You send your kids to school, and one of the things they learn is how not to die. 

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WHAT ABOUT THE CONSTITUTION?

With Trump Impeachment at Stake, Will Evangelical Voters Show up for the Midterm Elections?

In the following quote, Evangelical leader David Lane indicated his preference for establishing a theocracy in the U.S.  There are millions of non-evangelicals living in the U.S. who wouldn’t vote to be ruled by the Religious Right. In addition the Constitution stands in the way.

First, theocracies generally expect the leaders of the government to be part of the ruling religion. Article VI creates a problem with that, since…

…no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

Second, the First Amendment clearly states that

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…

By definition, establishing a biblically-based culture, establishing a religion.

It’s strange how the Religious Right (which now owns the Executive Branch) ignores the founders’ desire to create a secular society.

From Evangelical leader, David Lane

We are really clear about what we are doing,” Lane tells CBN News. “There is no hidden agenda about it. We’re trying to restore America to our Judeo-Christian heritage and re-establish a biblically-based culture in America.

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Posted in IN Gen.Assembly, SchoolFunding, TeacherAppreciation, Teaching Career

Appreciation? Not From the Legislature…

Teacher appreciation week has ended for another year, so now politicians and privatizers can go back to trying to undermine the work and livelihood of our nation’s public school educators.

In my last post I quoted Corinne Driscoll of Syracuse who, in 2012 wrote about politicians statements during Teachers Appreciation Week,

All of these words are empty and merely paying lip service to something they do not believe. By their actions, these “leaders” have made it obvious that they neither appreciate, admire, respect nor comprehend the jobs of the people who spend their days with the nation’s children. Nor do they understand the first thing about the children in those classrooms.

Not much has changed in the last 6 years since that was written except perhaps, that the role of public school educator has gotten more difficult, with more restrictions and barriers placed in our way by those who would destroy public education.

Despite the change in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in 2015 (ESSA), students are still forced to spend too much of their school career testing. Here in Indiana the legislative supermajority has taken the flexibility offered to the states by ESSA and doubled down on testing. Teachers and schools are still being punished for enrolling students of poverty. Teachers are still being evaluated by unreliable student test scores, and schools are still being closed, privatized through charters, or taken over by the state instead of being helped and supported.

POLITICIANS MAKE THE RULES…

Driscoll continued…

They cut budgets, eliminate classroom positions, overload classrooms, remove supports, choose ineffective and downright useless instructional tools, set up barriers to providing academic assistance, and then very quickly stand up and point fingers at teachers, blaming them for every failure of American society, and washing their own hands of any blame.

Indiana’s public schools are trying to survive while sharing their funding with charters and voucher schools. Some are doing well, especially those in wealthier areas. Some, however, are losing the battle.

For example, in two days (May 14, 2018) the state legislature will vote to take over two school systems because of fiscal mismanagement. The school systems obviously need some help, and already have the benefit of emergency managers. In the past, the state legislature has provided loans to charter schools and then forgiven those loans – to the tune of $90 million. But, instead of simply providing loans to these two distressed school systems along with the emergency managers, the one-party ruled state legislature is poised to allow a take-over of the schools, silencing the local school boards and by extension, the voters. The bill, HB1315, also eliminates transparency and excuses one of the two systems from following hundreds of regulations required of other public schools

…THEN BLAME THE TEACHERS

The bill rewards [sic] teachers for their hard work in the classroom with the loss of collective bargaining rights, and gives the emergency manager the right to lay off 5% of their numbers in the middle of the school year (the latter applies to any emergency manager, in any school system in the state). Teachers, then, are being held responsible for the condition of the school system’s finances!

And some of these same legislators wonder why young people don’t want to go into teaching!

In other words, policy makers have made the rules, restrictions, and requirements for education in this state, and then blame teachers when things don’t work.

So much for appreciation.

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