Parents may end up being the deciding force in determining the direction of our nation's schools. Will we continue to use an ever-larger share of instructional time and scarce dollars for more and more tests? Will we continue to starve local public schools and expand semi-private charter networks? Or will we reclaim the institution of public education for future generations? These short videos have been created to build awareness of the Save Our Schools March, coming up July 30th in Washington, DC. Three months ago I shared some scripts for some video spots to build interest and awareness for the ...


California Governor Jerry Brown has taken a big step towards reducing the testing mania in the nation's most populous state. Up until his administration we have been on an accelerated path towards the comprehensive data-driven system that test publishers and corporate reformers have convinced leaders is needed to improve schools. But in the May budget outline from Brown's office, he makes it clear he is putting on the brakes. From the Thoughts on Public Education blog comes this: Gov. Jerry Brown is proposing to suspend funding for CALPADS, the state student longitudinal data system, and to stop further planning for ...


An excellent new book, "The Myths of Standardized Tests," has hit the shelves, and its authors, Phillip Harris, Bruce M. Smith and Joan Harris, are taking a systematic look at the belief system driving current education reform. They explain their outlook in the introduction: We are referring to the barrage of standardized testing besetting our schools and districts. No Child Left Behind is only its most recent, and most punishing, incarnation. And the Obama administration's proposals for "amending" NCLB reflect a similarly misguided reliance on test scores as the primary measures of success for students, teachers, and the education system ...


Yesterday I posted some concerns about the recent decision by leaders of the National Education Association to seek an early endorsement of President Obama at their Representative Assembly (RA) meeting in the first week of July. I also voiced concern about a statement on teacher evaluation that allows for the use of standardized tests for this purpose. A friend who is the President of his local teacher's association wrote me the following note, and gave me permission to share it here. By Romero Maratea By endorsing Obama's reelection without making his administration answer to their record on public education, the ...


In the past week we got news of two very significant moves by the nation's largest teacher's union (and actually the largest union of any kind). The National Education Association's Political Action Committee voted to recommend an endorsement of Barack Obama, and the NEA Board of Directors approved a statement adjusting their stance on teacher evaluations. Both of these recommendations must be ratified by the Representative Assembly, which will meet in Chicago during the first week of July. To put this in perspective, the National Education Association has more than three million members in the US. That is about one ...


A couple of months ago I shared some scripts for some video spots to build interest and awareness for the Save Our Schools March in Washington, DC, this summer. I asked readers to share images, and then I worked with talented film makers Tom and Amy Valens, who created the wonderful documentary August to June. They put some of the photos we gathered together with some of their video footage, and have thus far produced two wonderful videos, narrated by actor Jim Griffiths. Today we are sharing the second video, Here's to the Students! Please share it far and wide. ...


Today a "counter-manifesto" was released, opposing the move towards a common national curriculum. Entitled "A Critical Response to the Shanker Institute Manifesto and the U.S. Department of Education's Initiative to Develop a National Curriculum and National Assessments Based on National Standards," it was signed by people with a range of beliefs, but most of them are on the conservative end of the political spectrum, including Grover Norquist and a number of fellows from the Hoover Institute. Though I do not often agree with most of the signers, I find myself sharing much of their critique in this case. I ...


Teacher Appreciation Week got off to a rocky start for Arne Duncan. He posted a letter to America's teachers, acknowledging our frustration, but expressing his determination to push forward the agenda that has us so frustrated. His letter was posted in three places that I have seen. Here, on Teacher Magazine, where there are now 76 responses, only about three of which could be interpreted as vaguely supportive or even neutral. The rest ran the gamut from skeptical to caustic. On the Huffington Post, and the Department of Education web site, here, where there are 74 comments, the response is ...


Today, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recognized Teacher Appreciation Week with another of his confusing tributes - a mixture of fulsome praise, acknowledgment of the errors of NCLB, and a reiteration of the fierce urgency he feels for pushing forward his agenda. This has become a familiar message, offered every time he encounters teachers. In my continuing effort to engage this administration in meaningful dialogue, I offer the following open letter in response to him. Dear Secretary Duncan, I continue to be confused by the messages you are sending to teachers. Your letter states: In today's economy, there is no ...


We celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week with the release of a video we created to honor teachers. It has been almost two months since I reported on a project we started, to create a series of short videos that would celebrate teachers, students, parents and public schools, and encourage viewers to stand together for them at the Save Our Schools March this summer in Washington, DC. We got a great response from many of you, who sent in photographs and Flickr feeds. Tom and Amy Valens, the talented film makers who created the movie August to June, have been hard at ...


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