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.


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