July 2011 Archives

Save Our Schools Rocks the Capital!

Wow. What a day. Friday the temperature had hit about 104, but Saturday was breezy and cooler, topping out in the mid-90s. We had a couple of tents behind the stage for all the speakers and performers, and folks started to arrive. We had a little time to fill between the first band and the rally kickoff, so I arranged for some teachers to read some of the messages we had gathered from Teachers' Letters to Obama, and our more recent petition to the President. We also shared the wonderful videos made for Save Our Schools by Tom and Amy ...


We are in Washington to Save Our Schools and We Want Answers!

For me, the journey to today's Save Our Schools March started when I wrote an open letter to President Obama raising serious questions about where we are headed with education reform in America. Those questions have still not been answered. Yesterday I had a chance to ask Arne Duncan a question, after his "Working Toward 'Wow'" speech. What I asked him was this: I worked in high poverty schools in Oakland for 24 years. The turnover rate for our interns is 75% after three years. Your proposal for the reauthorization of ESEA continues to label the bottom 10% of our ...


Alfie Kohn: We Have to Take Back Our Schools

Alfie Kohn has been at the forefront of the resistance to test-based reforms for more than a decade. As we approach the Save Our Schools March this Saturday, I asked him to share some thoughts about the challenges we face. When many of us point out the narrowing of the curriculum that has been the result of high stakes testing, we are told that the next generation of tests, which the Department of Education has invested $350 million to develop, will be far better at measuring complex thinking. What do you think of this? First, history alone should make us ...


John Thompson: On the Eve of the March, Phony Reforms are on the Ropes

Guest post by John Thompson On the eve of our Save Our Schools March, we should look anew on the "reform" wars. The S.O.S. March will highlight educators' ideas for improving our schools. To save and improve our schools, teachers and school administrators must show that we have the better ideas for helping our kids. But we should also remember that we will be rallying at a time when data-driven "reform" is on the ropes. The devastating indictment of bubble-in accountability by the National Academies of Science did not get the attention it deserved. But the cheating scandals ...


Complex Thinking is not Tested and Won't be Taught

Marion Brady offers us some words to chew over this morning: Kids can't be taught to think better using tests that can't measure how well they think. The logic should be obvious. What gets tested gets taught. Complex thinking skills -- skills essential to survival--can't be tested, so they don't get taught. That failure doesn't simply rise to the level of a problem. It's unethical. This is the reason so many of us are so fed up that we will take our own money and time to go to Washington, DC, next week to protest. Test-based accountability has taken our ...


The Scaled Down Contract: Boon or Bane to the Teaching Profession?

Today I am sharing a guest post by Moira Saucedo, who is the mother of a special needs student in the Arlington County Public Schools, in Arlington, Virginia. by Moira Saucedo. My interest was sparked by a June, 2011 notice on Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's website of a $500,000 grant to the Future Is Now Schools, (FIN) a charter schools management organization founded by Steve Barr. FIN has been recently re-branded (some say divorced) from the LA-based Green Dot Public Schools, founded by Barr, and from Green Dot America, an effort by Barr to open charter schools nationally. ...


Confronting the Inequality Juggernaut: A Q&A With Jonathan Kozol

Jonathan Kozol has been a tireless advocate for civil rights in education for the past five decades. His book, Savage Inequalities, was a call to conscience for the nation. He will be among the speakers at the Save Our Schools March and Rally in Washington, DC, on Saturday, July 30th. I asked him to explain his reasons for marching this summer. You published Savage Inequalities back in 1992. What has happened to the level of inequity in our schools in the two decades since then? The inequalities are greater now than in '92. Some states have equalized per-pupil spending but ...


Teach Plus: Astroturf In Indiana?

On Thursday I shared an interview with education historian Diane Ravitch on the controversy surrounding the video of Jonah Edelman, CEO of the non-profit advocacy group Stand For Children. She discussed how a number of supposedly grassroots groups like this have cropped up and had a significant impact on education policy. She listed several groups, including one called Teach Plus. I did a bit of digging to find out more about the role Teach Plus played supporting Senate Bill 1, passed this spring in Indiana. I found out that Stand For Children was responsible for active support of the law, ...


Diane Ravitch on Edelman's Astroturf Enterprise

Yesterday I shared some reactions to a video making the rounds, in which Jonah Edelman describes the way his non-profit organization, Stand For Children, maneuvered to get legislation enacted in the state of Illinois. This seems to represent the sort of money-fueled policy that education historian Diane Ravitch has been warning us about, so I asked her for her thoughts. What do you think that Jonah Edelman's remarks reveal about how education policy is being shaped in states across the country? I attended the Aspen Ideas Festival but did not go to Edelman's session, which was titled "If It Can ...


Jonah Edelman Reveals Corporate Education "Reform" at Work in Illinois

When people like Diane Ravitch talk about the billionaires taking over education policy, they are sometimes dismissed as being alarmist, or even of promoting conspiracy theories. But a recent video details exactly how this has been happening, in the state of Illinois. The video released last week of Jonah Edelman describing how he and his group, Stand For Children, managed to maneuver education "reform" legislation is still reverberating through the education blog world. It was reported by Substance News, who several months ago reported on how Stand For Children gathered more than $3.5 million in funding in a few ...


Stephen Krashen: Race to the Top for Tots: Don't Measure the Temperature of the Fire - Put it Out!

Guest post by Stephen Krashen The federal government plans to establish detailed standards and assessments to see if children of poverty are ready for kindergarten and are healthy (The "Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge," termed the "Race to the Top for Tots," by the New Brunswick Patch.) The standards and tests include "all (sic!!) of the Essential Domains of School Readiness" (Selection Criteria, section B (3)). This means setting detailed standards and testing children in mathematics and literacy, and as well "a progression of standards for ensuring children's health and safety, ensuring that health and behavioral screening and ...


The Brooks/Ravitch Dialogue Expands

A week ago New York Times columnist David Brooks launched a broadside against Diane Ravitch. This was rather reminiscent of the recent attack by Jonathan Alter. These pieces generally lack substance, but seem designed to reassure those inside the policymaking circle that their assumptions are safe, in spite of the relentless waves of evidence that have emerged, and the sharp critique offered by the nation's leading education historian. This week, the New York Times ran a short rebuttal from Dr. Ravitch, and has invited readers to contribute to he dialogue. Letters should be no more than 150 words in length, ...


Those who can, Tweet! What Would You #AskObama?

The White House is holding the first ever Twitter Town Hall. Let's make sure he gets plenty of questions from the teachers of America! At 2pm EDT, Wednesday, July 6th, President Obama will participate in the first Twitter town hall at the White House to discuss the economy and jobs with Americans across the country. The entire event will be streamed live at WhiteHouse.gov/live. Detailed instructions on how to participate can be found here. Here are some of the questions I am tweeting today (follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody): 1. When will you advocate low-stakes tests for ...


Why Pedro Noguera will be Marching to Save Our Schools July 30th

Pedro Noguera has been a leader in education reform for decades. I came to know him during the battle to end apartheid in the 1980s, when we were both students at UC Berkeley. As a parent, he became very involved in the local schools, served on the Berkeley Board of Education, and went on to center his research on finding solutions that work for all children. He will be joining us at the Save Our Schools March this month, so I asked him to share some thoughts with us. You have expressed some frustrations with Department of Education's policies. Where ...


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