April 2013 Archives

The Post editors waste our time and energy in their editorials, presenting their own motivation in "education reform" as entirely disinterested. They attack opponents of their for-profit business expansion as defenders of the "status quo", who are opposed to "innovations" to "transform" American education. The reality is that the education policies promoted by the Post drain desperately needed resources, and are destructive of the educational mission itself. Research shows that virtual charter schools are educational disasters. Parents, however, are unaware that the Washington Post Corporation is selling its own tax-funded online charter schools while it closes their neighborhood schools.


You began speaking out about the need for greater test security almost two years ago. In recent months we have seen two very different scenarios play out. In Atlanta, dozens are behind bars for conspiracy to cheat. In Washington, DC, there is ample evidence of wrongdoing, but no thorough investigation has been done. Why has your office not demanded a real investigation? Has Michelle Rhee also received special consideration as a result of her political connections?


I have come to look at schools as a critical focal point in the fight for the soul of the nation. Our schools are foundational for our cultural life, and so much depends on our having a flourishing, humanizing public-education system. The battle over the schools is a microcosm of the battle that is going on everywhere else, but which most people feel too powerless to fight. Maintaining local control of our public schools system is essential for enabling even the possibility of such a fight.


When it comes to education, however, Obama asserts a policy that has nothing to do with progressive ideas about education. While progressive ideas of education emphasize children as individuals who must be given opportunities to stretch their innate capacities within an organic context for learning, the President and Mr. Duncan have embraced the data-driven high-stakes-testing-model retooled from President Bush's No Child left behind days.


Guest post by John Thompson. Back when "Dandy Don" Meredith was host of Monday Night Football, when the game was all over but the shouting, he would break into song. We need a 21st century way of saying the obvious. Test-driven school "reform" failed. To borrow a phrase regarding "closing time," test-driven "reformers"do not have to go home, but they can't stay here in our children's schools. In the short run, educators can read the tea leaves and speculate how and when the big boys will pull the plug on Michelle Rhee. D.C.'s local school system, such ...


We are over-tested, under-resourced, and fed up with the policies put in place by Mayor Emanuel and the Chicago Board of Education. Today, students from across the city are fighting back! CPS officials have tried to threaten and intimidate us but students and the community have been silenced for too long. We know this is an action that puts us at risk of retaliation, but it's a risk we are willing to tak


Guest post by Sheila Resseger. I recently participated in the inspiring and informative webinar "How to Organize a Grassroots Group" put on by the Network for Public Education and the Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education. I am a retired teacher of the deaf, having retired from the Rhode Island School for the Deaf in the fall of 2011 profoundly dismayed by the unreasonable sanctions placed on the school by the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE), headed by Deborah Gist (Broad Superintendents Academy 2008). During my 25 years as a teacher in the high school and middle school, I ...


I am deeply troubled by the path our state is headed down in assessing our elementary school students, and I strongly urge you to re-think both the design of and the importance placed on state assessments. You are making it that much harder to recruit talented individuals to the teaching profession. The tests are also souring the educational experiences of our youngest citizens, the ones we are preparing so hard for college and career readiness. However, we must also invest more in breaking the insidious, concrete-walled cycle of poverty in our nation. A much greater importance must be placed on ...


The problem is many of us AGREE WITH conservatives on much of their critique. Or we ought to. We are not opposed to loose curricular guidelines, but we should NOT be in favor of the sort of highly prescriptive standards and high stakes assessments that are coming with Common Core. And we also need to be concerned about the shift of resources away from classroom professionals and into technology, and the huge expansion of data systems, both of which are part and parcel of the Common Core project. And they are also correct about the undemocratic process that has been ...


Teacher unions have not been the dynamic organizations they could or should have been. But to make them responsible for the reactionary tidal wave of phony reform upon which Michelle Rhee has surfed like one of the Beach Boys is absurd. It is like blaming climate scientists for the backlash against global warming. There are significant motivations powering corporate education reform, and its sponsors have poured billions into their project. They own this, and they own Michelle Rhee. They bought her, and now Merrow has helped to break her. Rhee and her billionaire sponsors, and the media who promoted her, ...


The Democratic Party has an internal battle ahead that goes to the very core of its spirit. Educators remain a core constituency, and public education reflects absolute core values. But the resolution by the California party convention is a signal that the road may no longer be smooth for leaders who embrace privatization and school closures. And the new focus by the GOP on an ever-less popular Common Core puts some Democrats in a spot where they do not have much wiggle room.


Rhee has not been alone, however, in foisting high-stakes testing on the entire nation. She has done so with the financing of billionaires and Duncan's D.O.Ed. So all three groups of accountability hawks should be held accountable. Rhee and her team in D.C. should all be subpoenaed. Corporate funders should demand an accounting of Rhee's StudentsFirst. Above all, they should reveal the what factual basis, if any, the organization has for its teacher-bashing soundbites.


Please understand that this is not a partisan issue. Democrats and Republicans are reaching across the aisle in Illinois and other states to fight side by side against the RTTT mandates and the Common Core Standards in the same way that Democrats and Republicans worked together to create NCLB and RTTT. The corporate middle of both parties has driven these mandates, it is up to the non corporate elements of the Democratic and Republican parties to join together in the true spirit of "we the people" to reject a national curriculum that has been mandated without constitutional due process or ...


As all educators know, the reading of non-fiction is supposed to be significantly increased as a result of the new Common Core (wanted to be national) Standards. It seems to me that the recently uncovered "Erasure Study" memo, written by investigator Sandy Sanford in 2009 makes a fine primary source document to be used as the basis for student inquiry. This memo has been hidden since it was first written. Its existence sheds light on the behavior of some of the nation's most well-known education reformers, including Michelle Rhee.


Teach For America faces a showdown in California, as this state's Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) considers new restrictions that could limit the placement of TFA's corps members in places with English learners. Since California has a large immigrant population, with 1.4 million English learners, this will be a significant barrier. The CTC, now chaired by Stanford professor Linda Darling-Hammond, will vote on a proposal on April 18th


In his invitation, Anthony pointed out my schools are outside the field of vision of technocrats and policy makers who have bet the farm on high stakes standardized tests and school reformers (charters mostly) who have drunk the Kool-Aid and see the tests as a way to disrupt the overall system. I will add that there are very few people from the education establishment have invited my schools into the fold. They find them threatening to their monopoly status and categorize us with all the CMOs with which they compete. However, I don't think I'm in a "no man's land" ...


Now, we see standardized test scores used to justify privatizing our schools. Over and over again our downtown administration starves neighborhood schools of resources and refuses to address the needs of our impoverished students. Then when these schools have low performing test scores, they are closed. Charter schools, which are private enterprises even when non-profit, are opened up to fill this void. Hence, in my career as a CPS teacher I've witnessed standardized testing used to sort, punish, and privatize. And I am saying enough is enough.


Our students need to be given the freedom to learn from their mistakes in the classroom environment. The classroom protocol must have forgiveness of errors with the opportunity to reengage as a fundamental element of its process. Education needs to wake up and teach to the human condition. Our children's lives are at stake.


But let's imagine we could turn the tables on Mr. Gates and evaluate his performance as a philanthropist. Might we establish some goals to which we could hold our billionaires accountable? We do not have any measurable indicators such as test scores to use, but since I do not find these to be of great value in any case, I will offer a more qualitative metric, based on my knowledge of the subject's work. Since he has spoken glowingly of the salutary effect of feedback on teachers, surely he will welcome this feedback, even though it is unsolicited.


This amounts to an attempt to distance the Gates Foundation from the asinine consequences of the policies they have sponsored, while accepting no responsibility for them whatsoever. This is a non-starter, as far as I am concerned. When Bill Gates states he is all for accountability, perhaps he might start with himself. Until then, I really do not value his views on what good accountability systems for others ought to consist of.


It is significant also that this analysis comes from the conservative/Libertarian source, the Cato Institute. As I have noted, opposition to the Common Core is rising in conservative circles, where people have historically been against Federal involvement in schools. The debacle of No Child Left Behind left educators weary, and as Common Core has been promoted as an improvement, many have embraced the shift. I have been


A personalized learning environment is driven by the relationships between learners and one another, and with their teacher. That is why class size is so important. That is why it is so important to honor the knowledge, skill and culture that our students bring to school - because a respectful relationship with each student is based on our acceptance of them, and our desire to help them achieve their goals, rather than force them to meet predetermined benchmarks.


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  • Jackie Conrad: National standards will result in making teachers as dishonest as read more
  • Marsha Ratzel: I couldn't agree with Anthony any more about that national read more
  • Anthony Cody: Leslie, Thank you for stating so eloquently the reason so read more
  • Leslie S. Leff: Dear President Obama, I became an elementary teacher over 20 read more
  • marc: Well, since you're asking for my professional opinion, first I read more