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May 06, 2013

Will a Year's Delay Save the Common Core? A Response to Weingarten's Proposal

Teachers - and union leaders -- may feel as if they should get on board, to try to steer this process. However, I think this is a ship of doom for our schools. I think its effect will be twofold. It will create a smoother, wider, more easily standardized market for curriculum and technology. This will, in turn, promote the standardization of curriculum and instruction, and further de-professionalize teaching. The assessments will reinforce this, by tying teachers closer to more frequent timelines and benchmark assessments, which will be, in many places, tied to teacher evaluations. And the widespread failures of public schools will be used to further "disrupt the public school monopoly," spurring further expansion of vouchers and charters and private schools.

April 22, 2013

Time for Teacher Unions to Hop Off the Common Core Train

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 pursued to develop the Common Core, and the way the Department of Education has used Race to the Top bribes and NCLB waivers to coerce states into adopting the Core. We also disagree with some of their critique. But we cannot put forward a clear, compelling vision so long as we are on the sidelines in this debate - much less if we are on the wrong side altogether.

April 19, 2013

Who Created Excuses for Michelle Rhee?

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, they are the ones responsible for her rise to power way beyond that which she could have achieved without such support.

March 27, 2013

What Has the Gates Foundation Brought to Memphis?

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.

March 26, 2013

Association with Gates Foundation Subtracts Value from Weingarten

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.

March 24, 2013

Jack Hassard: School Closings in Our Cities: A Deep Ecological Problem

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 about it.

March 03, 2013

New Mexico Education Secretary's Hearings Bring More Light to Corruption in Education Reform

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.

February 24, 2013

Yes, Virginia, There Really IS a Billionaire Boys Club

One does not need to be a "conspiracy theorist" to connect the dots here. We have a local school board race that has become the focus of a coordinated effort on the part of the wealthy advocates of corporate reform. This is no conspiracy. It is neither secret, nor is it illegal, thanks to rulings like Citizen's United. It is perfectly legal for billionaires to, in effect, buy up local school board races. And it is perfectly legal for them to hire "journalists" to write stories largely sympathetic to their point of view. Fortunately, it is also still legal for skeptics to point out all of the above, and suggest the voters of Los Angeles might want to think twice before they vote.

February 05, 2013

Does the Battle in Seattle Foreshadow Trouble for the Common Core?

We are approaching a real crossroads. Educators, parents and students have come to loath NCLB and the tests that have become ever more intrusive in our schools. Secretary Duncan and well-paid functionaries from all sides have promised that the "next generation" of assessments will be so superior that we will no longer object to high stakes being attached to them. Unlike any large scale standardized tests ever devised before, they will measure and promote critical thinking. But we n longer need to suspend our judgment. Teachers in Seattle have seen the future. Their verdict is clear. The emperor has no clothes.

December 20, 2012

Public School Teachers Claim Our Heroes

The tragic shootings in Newtown have given us all a heavy dose of grief, as we contemplate the horror of twenty young lives snuffed out, and the loss of six brave educators. As we have read of the heroic behavior of the teachers and administrators at Sandy Hook, there has also been reflection on t...

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