March 2013 Archives

I have to say that as someone who grew up learning about the snooping the FBI was doing on American citizens, I am disturbed by the pervasiveness of this data collection. If you think about all the ways data is being gathered from our children, from kindergarten onward, it is not comforting to imagine this information being made available to corporations. I do not even like the idea of all that data existing, because once it is there, it can be leaked or distributed. This is one thing I may have to agree on with Glenn Beck. I do not ...


At the end of their balanced histories, Carr and Garland voice concerns about our increasingly segregated schools, and the willingness of policy wonks to impose their theories on poor children of color. Garland concludes that "desegregation should have been a two-way street." She is frustrated that desegregation was dismantled without "salvaging its undeniable benefits." Contemporary reformers have ignored its lessons. They also focus on "tearing out dysfunction and blight, instead of finding existing strengths and building on what people value." Garland, explains, "Once again, ... those in power are treating black schools as they did black neighborhoods during urban renewal - ...


If there is evidence that the Gates Foundation is slowing the pace of merit pay and VAM-based evaluations, we need to hear it. In Memphis, class sizes are up, merit pay is on the way, and the public school system is in crisis. The Gates Foundation's role appears to be decidedly unhelpful.


The Gates Foundation has absolutely zero credibility on the subject of teacher evaluation due to the pervasive role they have played in promoting the terrible policies now sweeping the nation. I entered my dialogue with them last year hoping they were prepared to shift their views in meaningful ways. When it ended, they gave little reason to believe they had done so. To co-author anything with their representative means you are lending credibility and standing to them.


As Deming (1994a) points out, beware of common sense when we think about such issues as ranking children by grades, ranking schools and teachers by test scores, and rewards and punishments. Deming believes that grades should be abolished, and that the ranking of people and schools should not occur. And significant to the issue of school closure, Deming suggests that taking action (such as closing a school today) may produce more problems in the future, and that a better remedy would be investigate why children in poor neighborhoods are not doing well on state mandated tests, and then do something ...


Not surprisingly, the voucher program drafted and approved by this ALEC-connected group conformed to ALEC's recommendations for a voucher program in Colorado : it uses "scholarships" given to parents for their "choice" of schools; it draws exclusively on state, rather than local, monies; it is structured in a way that claims not to run afoul of the Colorado constitution's Compelled Support Clause and so-called Blaine amendments; and it is even named the "Choice Scholarship" program, in conformity with the ALEC model legislation.


I have referred to the whole "reform movement" that is happening in NM as colonialism in it's newest form, with the secretary designate and governor wanting to implement the templates from Florida and ALEC. I've stated this in comments to colleagues, but not in any public forum. While TFA found support in the previous governor's and secretary's administration, only a few Native American educators (including myself and staff) disagreed with their acceptance as a means to get teachers into the rural schools. The TFA process is like the missionary teachers who came to our lands, supported from the Department of ...


These great documentaries may not mention the prime theory that "reformers" brought to school, but they explain the trauma that the kids carry to the classroom. They do not diminish the importance of classroom instruction as they focus on the socio-emotional keys to schooling. These documentaries can now take their place in a great tradition of print and internet journalism.


We want to make our schools safety the administration's priority, but that's not enough. In order to make a better future for the students who come after us, we must make voices be a permanent part of decision-making at the school and not just have administration take action upon what we request. To accomplish this, we need to teach administration to communicate more effectively with students so we can make our own decisions about our safety and our learning. They must inform students when things happen and honestly inform us which tests are voluntary tests so students can choose what ...


Economists and politicians have long assumed that there are really only two sectors for governing things and "adding value" -- the state and the market. Markets are seen as the vehicle for economic progress while the state deals with governance and everything else. It is becoming increasingly clear, however, that there is another sector - the commons - that is at least as important to our lives and well being. The commons consists of those many resources that we share - the atmosphere, water, public spaces, the Internet, scientific knowledge, cultural works, and much more - as well as the ...


So we acted. We talked to other seniors and got them to wear black and taught them about how they didn't have to take the test. We told them that this wasn't a service learning opportunity, and that the NAEP scores might be used against schools like ours. We talked through texting and social media. On the day of the test, we were called out of class to attend the test. Some of my classmates refused to come. We went to the location and we told the test proctor that we didn't want to take the test and asked if ...


Today we are launching a new organization, the Network for Public Education. This group will serve to connect all those who are passionate about our schools - students, parents, teachers and OTHER citizens. We will share information an research on vital issues that concern the future of public education. We hope to inspire one another as we work together and learn together about how to resist the attacks on public education.


Paul Thomas asks a provocative question this week. Are the poor too free? Are our schools providing students with tools and skills to foster their independence? Or teaching them to be compliant cogs in a machine whose levers of control they will never touch? Thomas describes the paternalism that has become central to modern education, as well as efforts to "reform" it even further.


Addressing the Save Texas Schools rally in Austin on Feb. 23, Superintendent John Kuhn nailed the essence of test-driven "reform." "Some people have forgotten that good teachers actually exist. They spend so much time and effort weeding out the bad ones that they've forgotten to take care of the good ones. This bitter accountability pesticide is over-spraying the weeds and wilting the entire garden." He later rebutted a key argument of market-driven "reform," reminding us that "They say 100,000 kids are on a waiting list for charter schools. Let me tell you about another waiting list. There are 5 ...


Confirmation hearings for acting secretary of education Hanna Skandera in New Mexico took a decided turn towards the sensational yesterday, as testimony revealed details of the inner workings of what is looking more like a political machine advancing the combined interests of education "reformers" and the companies whose interests they are often found to serve. Skandera has been strongly supported by New Mexico's Republican governor Susana Martinez, but these revelations could throw a monkey wrench into the process.


To be clear, what is happening here is that individual taxpayers can direct the funds that are being diverted from the state tax coffers towards their own children's tuition, or that of their friends. Vouchers have proven to be highly unpopular with voters, as they divert scarce funds from public schools and unconstitutionally allow them to pay for religious instruction. This violates the state constitution's prohibition against tax moneys being spent "directly, or indirectly" on religious organizations. This law is an end run around the Constitutions of the State of Georgia, and the United States, and if Earl Ehrhart has ...


This campaign is going to be fascinating to watch, because it shows the raw power of the wealthy supporters of corporate education reform, and their ability to bring that power to bear on a local school board race. The issues at stake are central to the direction of education reform. Will charter schools continue to expand at the expense of traditional public schools? Will teacher evaluations give more weight to test scores? Will seniority and due process protections be eliminated? The big question hanging over all of this is who will a locally elected school board represent? The interests of ...


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