September 2012 Archives

Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody The recently released film, "Won't Back Down" has presented education activists with something teachers long for: a teachable moment. The movie's director, Daniel Barnz, has his homework assignment - begin to understand the mess you have landed in. A little less than two years ago Davis Guggenheim, director of "Waiting For Superman," asked teachers to send him feedback on his movie. He got an earful, as I described here. This week, Daniel Barnz, the director of "Won't Back Down," also headed to the Huffington Post to try to explain himself. His essay suggests that ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody It is hard sometimes for advocates of public education to see our own movement, when we are active participants in it. But the critical and public reaction to the movie "Won't Back Down" is providing us with some evidence of how far we have come in the past two years. It was two years ago that documentarian Davis Guggenheim released "Waiting For Superman," heavily loaded with the message that unions protect bad teachers, tenure provides jobs for life, and charter schools are the only hope for our children. The movie was a commercial failure ...


Guest post by Rog Lucido. NCLB ushered in the national era of high-stakes testing in all of our schools. Soon the consequences of this testing became apparent. The Alliance for Childhood revealed that parents, teachers, school nurses, psychologists, and child psychiatrists reported that the stress of high-stakes testing was literally making children sick. Kathy Vannini, the elementary school nurse in Longmeadow, Massachusetts, said she dreads the springtime weeks when children must take the MCAS -- the lengthy tests now required of Massachusetts students starting in third grade. "My office is filled with children with headaches and stomachaches every day," she ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody Chicago's students and teachers returned to their classrooms last Wednesday, having taught us all some valuable lessons. I spent some time this summer with a couple of teacher activists from the big city, Xian Barrett and Adam Heenan, and they were clear about what was giving them strength. This strike action was not a whim. It was carefully built from the ground up. Today we will take a look at what we can learn from their experience. In many cities across the country, our unions have practically taken the strike off the table. It ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody This has been the year of the revealing video. This week we saw that Governor Romney and many of his millionaire donors view almost half the country as parasitic dependents. That famous 47% includes many of our students. Last summer's video of Stand For Children leader Jonah Edelman at a conservative gathering in Aspen revealed how his group had maneuvered to pass a law that they thought would make a strike in Chicago impossible. Our schools are being starved of funding, at a time when taxes have never been lower, and the concentration of ...


Guest post by Andre Dunbar. My name is Andre Dunbar. I am a senior at William L. Sayre High School in Philadelphia, and I am a student organizer with the Philadelphia Student Union. The Philadelphia Student Union is fighting back against school closures and the transformation plans we are seeing in Philadelphia and nationally. As students we don't want to see what other cities are seeing now--closures that that are hurting their communities. These closures destroy our education. Governor Corbett's cuts to education leave my district with less money, which leads the district to say that they cannot afford to ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody Though our dialogue with the Gates Foundation has ended, some interesting questions continue to stir things up. In the comments that follow the Gates Foundation's last post in the series, a reader named JT posed this question: You might be right, but if you were giving away your money, how would you fix poverty? I would invest in education. What are the alternatives? We have deep divides in our society about the role of individual responsibilities and government which have been going on basically forever. To think a family foundation should focus its resources ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody I have been in conversations with the Gates Foundation for the past two months. In my early exchanges with representatives of the Gates Foundation it felt as if we were barely scratching the surface of the many issues that I thought should be explored. I thought that this dialogue might serve to delve into the issues more deeply. Yesterday the Gates Foundation responded to my last post, focused on the problems associated with a market-driven approach to education reform. I want to revisit the ten posts in this exchange, and have chosen excerpts from ...


Guest post by Celena Rodriguez. As a student in CPS, I would like to share the student perspective on the ongoing Chicago strike. Some may say I don't fully understand why CPS teachers are on strike but actually, I do. I may not understand everything to its fullest extent but I do know that our teachers are fighting for a good cause. They want us to succeed, but how can we do that when we attend a school "like Gage Park High School"? At Gage Park, there are brilliant teachers there who dedicate and devote all of their time to ...


Guest post by Irvin Scott and Stacey Childress of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This post can also be read and commented on at the Gates Foundation's Impatient Optimist blog. This is the last post in a series of five sets of posts, and responds to this post from last week: What Happens when Profits Drive Reform? . Irvin Scott: The interaction on this blog began with a spoken agreement and wish between us and Mr. Cody during a conversation this summer: to truly engage with those who have different views from our own. To listen to one other, potentially ...


Guest post by Katie Osgood. There is jubilation on the streets of Chicago. The excitement is tempered with humility. No one wants a strike. Chicago teachers are very aware that this strike is difficult on parents, on students, and on the teachers themselves. But for the first time in decades, Chicago's teachers are standing up. They are saying "no more" to the countless waves of harmful, poorly-planned, and unproven education reforms. There is freedom in drawing a line in the sand. For too long now, teachers have known that they were participating in something cruel. Giving test after standardized test, ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody The strike by Chicago teachers is reminding all of us of the reason we have unions, and the reason why they are so feared and hated by those who are in command. The ability of these 29,000 teachers to act as one, to withhold their labor, gives them a power far mightier than the sum of their parts. So long as they stay unified, and have the support of parents in their community and others across the nation, they will prevail. Unions don't just exist to handle grievances and negotiate contracts. Unions are ...


Follow me on Twitter at @AnthonyCody This is the last exchange in this formal dialogue with the Gates Foundation. The tension uncovered by this dialogue reveals a disconnect between the work of the Gates Foundation and many of us who have spent our lives working in schools. Nonetheless, this represents an opportunity to move beyond the impasse. Similar to the polarization that has occurred in the national political scene, the battle lines over education reform have become so hardened that it seems as if we cannot even agree on a common understanding of reality. Therefore bridging our differences requires us ...


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