I am not a teacher basher, or a union basher. I am a teacher and a union member!
But Oakland, California's union, the OEA, has put out a letter to parents regarding a one-day strike that teachers hope will bring about negotiations that were ended when the school board decided to impose a contract on the teachers, as districts are allowed to do under certain circumstances.
The letter, below, starts out fine. It's the last paragraph. Go read it...
There is a thread going on at The Education Report, a local blog by a local reporter. I made some comments there, and folks responded.
I think the letter is outrageous and they should be ashamed of themselves and retract it. What do you all think?
From Think Progress:
According to KOLD Channel 5 News in Arizona, local militiaman Bill Davis is recruiting “combat veterans, with kill records, to camp out and patrol” along the U.S.-Mexico border. “If it comes to when shots are fired in the general direction of these guys, they have my authorization to return fire, if they’re in defense of their life or their buddy next to them, return fire, stop it as fast as it starts, and they’re capable of it,” Davis told reporters. Despite a warning from Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada that the militia’s plan is “very dangerous” and “very risky,” Davis is pressing forward:
“If we think they’re carrying drugs, weapons, contraband, we’ll get out in front of ‘em and stop ‘em,” says Davis. “They won’t get past us. You can write into that what you want, short of shooting them.”
John Boehner is up for re-election and is being challenged by Justin Coussoule, a Democrat and West Point grad. Alan Grayson sent Ohio a letter regarding its upcoming choice of representative:
Dear Ohio:h/t DWT
You have a choice.
You can elect a Congressman who spent five years as a West Point graduate in the service of our country, or you can elect a Congressman who spent eight weeks in the military and then quit.
You can elect a Congressman who will fight the lobbyists, or you can elect a Congressman who handed out tobacco lobby checks on the Floor of the House, when the House was voting on a tobacco bill.
You can elect a Congressman who will prevent bailouts, or you can elect a Congressman who bailed out of the stock market minutes after he attended an emergency meeting with the Treasury Secretary and the Chairman of the Federal Reserve.
You can elect a Congressman who will work hard to create jobs, or you can elect a Congressman who works hard on his tan.
You can elect a Congressman who will spend his time working hard to improve your lives, or you can elect a Congressman who will spend his time playing golf.
It's your choice. I know whom I'd choose. And it ain't the guy in the white shorts:
A Pretense of Science and Objectivity: Data and Race to the TopMore at the link.
Education has a new god: data. It is believed to have the power to save American education and thus everything in education must be about data—collect more data about our children, evaluate teachers and administrators based on data, and reward and punish schools using data.
The US federal government has been dangling $4.35 billion to recruit worshipers through the Race to the Top (RTT) program, and possibly a lot more through the upcoming reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Already 40 states have somehow made the conversion, although only two (Delaware and Tennessee) were deemed to have developed a system powerful enough to generate more converts in schools and thus rewarded with a total of $600 million. Other states will have a second chance and many are working to rewrite their pledges.
Both Delaware and Tennessee did an excellent job pledging to build an education system around data. The Delaware application for RTT lists three strengths that “few states can match:”
All three are about data. With the RTT money, Delaware promises to become even more faithful—moving from data-rich to data-driven (watch the panel interview on Youtube). The State will “administer up to three formative and summative assessments per year per student in core subjects” (p. B-10), provide “immediate information that a teacher will use” (p. B-10), “provide data coaches to aid in the use of assessment data,” make tenure and licensure decisions for new teachers based on student performance (D-8), and include in teacher and administrator annual evaluations (p. D-16). With all these plans, Delaware will be “poised to promote data-driven instruction across all schools” (p. B-23). (http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop/phase1-applications/delaware.pdf)
- Delaware’s state-of-the-art system (emphasis original) captures longitudinal information about both students and teachers, and links them together. Today, the State can quickly analyze the performance of any teacher’s students over time, can track how graduates perform in college, and can link teachers to teacher preparation programs, providing rich opportunities to use data to drive performance at the system, school, and classroom levels.
- Delaware’s rigorous statewide educator evaluation system is based on the most respected standards for teaching and leading. The system provides a multi-measure assessment of performance that incorporates student growth as one of five components…an educator can only be rated effective if they demonstrate satisfactory levels of student growth.
- Delaware’s newly-defined regulatory framework for school turnaround gives the State the authority to intervene directly in failing schools and requires schools to demonstrate results b achieving AYP within two years. (p. A4-A5)
Tennessee embraces data as enthusiastically as Delaware. Its RTT application begins with a poetic piece that asks the reviewers to:
Imagine, for a moment, a new day that is coming for Tennessee’s children and families, teachers and principals, and the State’s economic future….It is a day when middle school students will have the benefit of formative assessments, with immediate results so their teachers can measure their progress and make adjustments in time for the annual test. And then principals will use that student achievement data as a significant part of more rigorous teacher evaluations, and work with their teachers to help them succeed (p. 10).
I could go on, but you could read the applications and/or watch their presentations/panel Q&A on youTube (quite fun, actually).
Full inclusion requires that people actually practice the tolerance they preach:
Walking the PlankI have some experience with this kind of intolerance. Schools are not built (but could and should be) to deal with full inclusion. Most parents of autistic kids either get lucky and get a teacher who cares enough to do what's necessary, or end up spending time with their kid in school to make sure things go well. It's a sad commentary on the state of public schools and speaks volumes about how we treat kids generally.
This morning, when J took our boy onto the school yard for morning lineup, he noticed the other kindergartners pointing. He heard them talking about the Rooster as they entered campus. "He is not normal," they said. J held Roo's hand and approached the group, who continued to point and talk animatedly about our boy. "He is not a normal human being," a little girl said, "he spits." Another boy in the throng didn't like my husband telling the kids to back down, telling them to not say that any more. "He is not normal," the boy said, turning his back on my husband and my Roo.
Around 1:15, J called me. He told me what happened, how my son began his Monday morning after our first decent weekend in months. He told me my son did not even react, he simply held firmly to J's hand. "Why did you wait so long to tell me this?" I shouted, looking at the clock, torn between listening further and racing to call the principal before the school day ended. "That was 5 hours ago!" And then my resilient husband's voice broke.
I'm the kind of girl who compulsively asks people, "Are you okay?" I have asked J about a dozen times a day for a decade. It's a reflex; he gives the same honest answer every time except for today. Today he said, "No."
The teachers tell us this: It does not begin with the children. It comes from the parents. Parents who worry that No Child Left Behind means All Kids Left Behind, and think my son will keep their kids from a good education. Parents who know little or nothing about autism. Parents who think inclusion is like a tax they don't want to pay, a charity they don't wish to bestow. Parents who think "those kids" like mine should be in "other" places.
I have to end this post now even though I have so much more to say. I have 20 pirate birthday party invitations to fill out, address, and stuff with treasure maps to our house. I have 20 children to kill with kindness. I have almost 40 parents to think about, long and hard, so I can remember my empathy, my compassion. I have toy eye patches and other booty to buy for a six-year-old Matey who is very much a normal human being, a normal human being who has what is becoming an all too normal challenge: intolerance and discrimination because of his autism.
Jim Horn catches Bill Gates in a common lie the oligarchs like to spread about KIPP and graduation rates. Is there any reason to listen to Gates? Not that I can tell.
So Gates has upped the ante on the lie that Jonathan Alter wrote in Newsweek in 2008 about 80 percent of 16,000 KIPP students going to college. What Caroline Grannan found out from KIPP, Inc.'s home office at that time is that only 447 KIPPsters had entered college when Alter wrote that lie. And now Gates's figure of 95% going to college. Pure fabrication. Does the Harvard Gazette bother to fact check public education's greatest philanthropic enemy? With such a wad of money stolen from the American treasury ready to shape the world in a perfectly white dweeby image, who can doubt him?More at the link.
The Lower Merion School District spied using webcams. Yes they did!
But in at least five instances, school employees let the Web cams keep clicking for days or weeks after students found their missing laptops, according to the review. Those computers - programmed to snap a photo and capture a screen shot every 15 minutes when the machine was on - fired nearly 13,000 images back to the school district servers.
From Open Left:
At the same time Duncan was lamenting the effects of teacher lay-offs on children, his staff was busy on Capitol Hill pushing a "blueprint" for education reform. A key element in the blueprint is that at least 5% of the nation's schools - potentially 10% - that are deemed "lowest performing in state" will be forced to adopt a federally mandated "intervention model." Of the four models prescribed in the blueprint, only one does not involve mass firings of teachers.Lots more at the link.
As Randi Weingarten, the leader of the American Federation of Teachers, pointed out, adopting Duncan's blueprint will quite likely "cost teachers their jobs."
In another fit of cross-purposeful policy making, Duncan's team is also pushing a National Education Technology Plan (NETP) that urges schools to pursue ambitious learning goals such as teaching students twenty-first century skills, critical thinking, complex problem solving, collaboration, and multimedia communication. The plan also "calls for engaging and empowering learning experiences for all students," where teachers conduct "personalized learning instead of a one-size-fits-all" approach to curriculum and instruction.
While most educators would probably regard NEPT's goals as worthy, they can't help but point out how these goals conflict with the Obama administration's overall blueprint for education. How can a school system that emphasizes high-stakes testing in just two subjects - reading and math - fulfill the curriculum goals of teaching "collaboration and multimedia communication?" How can an approach to schooling that values test data more than any other output at the same time assert that it is "personalizing learning? "As one commenter in the previous link states,
"The focus of the federal and state governments on high-stakes testing is in direct contradiction to creating an environment where humans learn best... Stop attaching funding to only standardized test scores. Then, perhaps schools could begin moving towards creating an environment where 21st-century skills can develop."So here's the deal: At the same time that our federal government is mustering financial resources to save teachers' jobs, it's also pushing measures to eliminate them. [emphasis mine]
From Barbara Miner at Rethinking Schools:
But what if one accepts TFA’s assumptions—that its purpose is purely to address educational inequity by recruiting the best and the brightest, training them briefly, and having them teach for two years in a low-income school? And that its model trumps the value of recruiting accredited teachers who view teaching as a career?h/t KL
Given that the revolving door of unqualified teachers is a key factor in the poor performance of many low-income schools, what are the repercussions of those assumptions? Is TFA aggravating a problem that it claims to be solving?
It is Kopp herself who perhaps best answers that question. Speaking in a 2007 commencement speech at Mt. Holyoke College, Kopp said:
What I have come to appreciate is that things that matter take time. We live in an era when it is rare to meet people in their 20s and 30s who have stayed with something for more than a few years. And certainly, in some cases the right thing is to experiment and move on. But in many cases, the right thing is to stay with something, internalize tough lessons, and push yourself to new levels of knowledge and responsibility. Deep and widespread change comes from sticking with things.