Thursday Cartoon Fun: The 4 Branches Of Government Edition


Here Are Some Questions I Would #AskArne

Picture from http://firearneduncan.com/
Here are my questions for Arne Duncan, who is hosting a Twitter Town Hall on August 24th at 1:30 in the afternoon when every teacher in America will still be in class.
Do all American parents have the right to opt their children out of state tests per Prince V Mass, or is it a state by state issue? #AskArne

What qualifies you to be Secretary of Education? You are not credentialed, you have no education degree, you never taught school. #AskArne

Why does the NAEP, when disaggregated, show an almost 1 to 1 correlation between SES and academic success? #AskArne

Will you volunteer to take, say, a 2nd grade class for a whole day? Oh wait, you can't. You don't have a credential. #AskArne

Charter schools cream their students by default-passively. Is that going to re-segregate our schools? #AskArne

Do you know that there is no such word as "incent?" #AskArne

Why can charter schools hold kids to higher behavior standards, and then boot them for failing to meet them? #AskArne

Did you know Geoffrey Canada once kicked out an entire class just to raise his graduation numbers? #AskArne

Have you ever had to feed a malnourished American child who has a cellphone? #AskArne

Have you ever been yelled at by a parent for not educating the child they ignore? #AskArne

What is percentage of bad teachers? 5%? 10%? 15%? It's a completely unknowable quantity, yet you claim one of those numbers anyway. #AskArne

Are impoverished kids stifled from birth, or does their Kindergarten teacher make them forget their letters and numbers? #AskArne

Do you agree that what is good for the wealthiest families is also good for the poorest families? Or screw the poor ones? #AskArne

Do you agree that without prior knowledge (poverty stifles) some kids don't do as well on the test, but could if they lived w/me? #AskArne

Have you ever seen and had to comfort a 7-year old right before the test they have been hearing and worrying about all year? #AskArne

Why are kids receiving services for developmental issues required to take the test? To bring down our scores erroneously? #AskArne

Did you know that the name "KIPP" comes from this: "Knowledge is Power. Power is Money. I want it."? #AskArne

I had 2 autistic students my last year in classroom. They did poorly on test. Is that my fault? And, why the fuck did they take it? #AskArne

Should trad. pub. schools be able to boot misbehaving kids and send them to the neighborhood charter, and keep the $$? #AskArne

VAM developed for agriculture industry. Developers caution against using it for teachers, say it can't do job. Why u support it? #AskArne

Do you have an advanced degree of any kind, or just a Bachelor's? #AskArne

Do you believe (erroneously) that tenure means a job for life? #AskArne

Why do I have to actually write the standards on the board for my 2nd graders? Is that for them or to make it easy to write me up? #AskArne

Are teachers to be trusted with things larger than lining kids up and testing them? #AskArne

Do you believe teachers are the least professional professionals? (I think it's pretty common) #AskArne
Feel free to tweet them endlessly.

Coming Up On TFT's Blog Talk Radio Show...

TFT Welcomes Peter Hooke

TFT Welcomes Sahila ChangeBringer

TFT Welcomes Dr. Stephen Krashen


Tuesday Bonus Cartoon Fun Bonus: What Was That? Edition

Tuesday Bonus Cartoon Fun: Poverty Edition

Tuesday Cartoon Fun: Passive Sap? Edition


Teachers Should Be Principals

I wrote this about a year ago as a guest post at Dangerously Irrelevant. I think it deserves a fresh look!
What Do Teachers Need From Administrators?

What do I need from administrators? It seems to be a huge question, and I am not sure why. Administration, in my experience in elementary schools in California's Bay Area, seems to be a tool of policy makers, not defenders of good, wholesome educational practices--they are the purveyors of fads. Or maybe they are simply trying to stay employed.

I have had principals who never taught in an elementary classroom. I've had principals who have been out of a classroom for 20 years, yet still think they are current. My district has gone through 3 superintendents in 10 years, each with his/her own "bee in the bonnet" about something that has more to do with money than educating kids. It's a sorry state of affairs.

thinkers_cartoonAdministration/principals in a school, IMHO, should be made up of current teachers. Actually, administrator should be a non-education based job--administrators should not be principals. At big hospitals there a managers who manage the business side, leaving medical personnel to do medicine. Sure there is a chief medical person, but that person is chiefly medical and only meets with the MBAs when money versus best practices is at issue, not to decide on medical procedures, ideally.

I want this for schools. Principals are too busy dealing with budgets--being the tools of the board and superintendent. School districts spend an inordinate amount of time dealing with money--cutting programs, overworking staff, eliminating positions--because America has chosen war over children, or something similar. Principals, who started as teachers, are not best used as OMB-type employees. They started out as educators, and should remain leaders of education in schools, not budget cutting consultants who come in fresh, ready to cut and slash.

I would like to see an administration separate the double role principals play into 2 distinct roles: the money role (administrator) and the educational leader role (principal). I propose to do it like this:

Let's assume a district with 12 elementary schools--a 1-high school town. In this town there would be an MBA type administrator (or 2) who would deal with the money for all schools--budgets would be prepared and analyzed by this MBA's staff and then presented to the educational leaders at each school. I call them educational leaders because they would be teachers. Let me explain, because here is where I go nuts:

The principal of an elementary school should be working with parents, teachers and children, not budgets and money management. In order to have an educator (teacher) as principal we would need to do something very different in terms of credentialing. Imagine if all teachers were not just credentialed as a teacher, but also as an administrator (principal)? The administrator classes one needs to take to get an administration credential are few, making them an easy addition to a regular credential program. By combining a regular credential with an administrator supplement, making a new, more robust single credential, there is suddenly a large number of those who could be principal.

In my scenario, teachers with the new credential would rotate from year to year as principal. Sure, it is similar to a teacher-led school, but my idea changes credentialing and traditional administration of schools. If I am a classroom teacher this year, I might be principal next year, then my buddy teacher the year after that with me returning to the classroom. This puts educators and colleagues in charge of the school--with no worries about finances because they are taken care of by the "money-man."

I like the idea because my experience with administration has been an adversarial one with money pitted against what's best for kids. What would this new principal/teacher be able to do? Freed from an Excel spreadsheet a principal would have time to help with the actual teaching of students and professional development of teachers. Staff meetings would take on an air of a team working toward more cohesion and attentiveness to the needs of students as opposed to the constant strum and drang of management-speak.

A principal should be a classroom expert, especially in elementary school.  They should be part of the school team, not part of the management adversariat.

Teachers should run schools.  Schools are not businesses.


TFT Will Interview Bradley Rees Monday, 8-15-11

Join me tomorrow at 3:30 Pacific (Blog Talk Radio) for what should be an interesting conversation with Bradley S Rees, former congressional candidate and Tea Party member.

We will talk about education reform and why the reformers seem to ignore the truth.

The show will only be a half hour long, and surely won't be enough time. And that is why I am asking you all to help me fund a Pro Account at Blog Talk Radio--a $400/year investment. I also need a new computer, and am hoping to raise $900 to fund both those things. Please consider making a donation.

Interview With Diane Ravitch--An Hour Well Spent

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