Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tony Bennett’s policies have narrowed the curriculum to Math and English/Language Arts.

Tony Bennett's  focus on high stakes testing has put a huge priority on the two subjects schools must score well in for a high grade.   Even survival as a school is at stake under the threat of state closure or takeover.  Going further in this campaign, Tony Bennett has proposed state takeovers of whole school districts based on math and English/Language Arts scores.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Closing a Public School what Tony Bennett Calls a Beautiful Day

--Tony Bennett, Superintendent of Public Schools, 
September 2010.

--Michael Milken, venture capitalist billionaire, 
convicted felon for racketeering and securities fraud, 
established controversial  K12 company

State Superintendent Tony Bennett has received nearly 1.5 million dollars in campaign donations, but only a handful cannot be traced to the corporate school reform movement.  These donors are not acting out of benevolence to Hoosier children.  Through recent changes in the law, charter schools are manipulating real estate purchases then extorting rent from the public tax payer.

Estimates are Bennett will "grade" more than 20% of schools  in serious need of improvement or failing.  This ploy is so the Indiana Department of Education can hand over these schools to charter corporations.  One can easily imagine that at the end of his tenure as superintendent, Bennett will be richly rewarded.

Hoosiers, don't be charter fooled.  What most people want from charter schools is simply what we should want from all public schools.  Instead, Bennett's system of charters do not outperform public schools and simultaneously weaken the public school system.  As John Kuhn demonstrates
Our nation’s model charters haven’t cracked a code for educating inner city students; they have cracked a code for isolating motivated inner city students and parents who see education as a way out of poverty, and filtering out the rest. 
…When they hold up choice and charters as our nation’s panacea, their sleight of hand may temporarily obstruct our view of the kids left out on the sidewalk, the kids unwelcome in their brave new dynamic, but it doesn’t disappear them from the face of the earth.

Tony Bennett's strategy for improving pubic education is not a "public" solution at all. It excludes and shuffles poorer students around like a hustler with a shell game.  All the while, Bennett continues to open markets to his corporate sponsors while never once addressing that Governor Daniels  cut $300 million dollars from the state's educational budget, or that nearly 25% of Hoosier Children now live in poverty.  

Hoosiers must recognize that Tony Bennett's charter school solution is nothing more than a bit of trickery: it funnels public tax dollars to big corporations while providing an illusion of choice to Hoosier families.

Glenda Ritz is Bennett's challenger.  She is in favor of restricting charter school distinctions and reining in the corporate siphoning of public education tax dollars.

Please talk with neighbors and friends who are not familiar with education issues to enlist their support for Glenda Ritz.  That is a vital step to counteract the enormous advantage in TV advertising held by Tony Bennett and his campaign that has been so well funded by those profiteering from Hoosier education.  Your actions will make all the difference if Glenda Ritz is going to win in this grassroots campaign. 


Below are just a few of the stories of Bennett's phony reform plan.

My last post described my concerns about one charter school application, Nexus Academy of Indianapolis, that seems to be more about profits and expansion than meeting educational needs of a community. Another similar charter school type is also being proposed during this Fall 2012 charter application cycle called Premier High School by Responsive Education Solutions, Inc

A Teacher's Fight
October 14, 2012

If a number of schools in a single district fail, Bennett says the state’s takeover model may be expandable.

“I think that is a discussion I hope the General Assembly has in 2013 is how we address systemic failure of districts,” (Bennett) says.

September 3, 2012 
Indiana Public Media

"I'm fed up," (parent, Kelly Shafer) said. "For somebody who supported Charter Schools USA and believed in them, they have lost my trust and respect. It breaks my heart." 

In general, parents and others do not believe Charter Schools USA has done enough to ensure safety at the Eastside school. Hallways are chaotic. Fights have broken out. 

Beyond that, Shaffer says her daughter's health class had no permanent teacher for six weeks, and what was supposed to be an Advanced Placement calculus class was folded into a college preparatory calculus section. She also said about a half-dozen teachers have quit.

--by Scott Elliot
September 21, 2012, IndyStar

In his university lectures on business ethics, Dennis Bakke, President and CEO of Imagine Charter Schools,  often says that “leadership is about… freeing people to make decisions,” but his actions running over 70 public charter schools in 12 states and the District of Columbia shows that money and control are the main issues, not civil rights or children’s educational or safety issues.

Headquartered in Virginia, Bakke often sends his people into poverty-stricken areas in big U.S. cities, hand-picks a school board to use Imagine’s non-profit branch to become a charter school, then uses Schoolhouse Finance, Imagine’s for-profit real estate affiliate, to buy the school buildings.  Then Schoolhouse Finance charges the school rent, which is sometimes nearly 40 percent of the school’s overall budget.  Or, as is the case with Imagine Schools’ selling of 27 school buildings for $206 million to Entertainment Properties Trust, a real estate owner of theaters, Imagine leases back the buildings and then subleases them to the charter school holders. If anyone on the school boards, or in the schools themselves, protests, Imagine quickly gets rid of them.

But Bennett, an unabashed charter-school supporter, also stands to benefit directly if the education bills are approved. His wife, Tina Bennett, is school improvement/new schools development consultant for the Indiana Public Charter Schools Association. Her work would presumably increase with the opening of new Indiana charter schools.

Tina Bennett is also assistant director of the Teach for America program at Marian University in Indianapolis. Marian's president is Daniel J. Elsener, who also happens to serve on the Indiana State Board of Education.

The small Catholic university was awarded a $500,000 principal training grant from the Indiana Department of Education last year. A spokeswoman for Tony Bennett told the Indianapolis Star at the time that the superintendent's wife wasn't involved in the program, but the contract proposal cites Marian's partnership with Teach for America as an example of prior leadership in the area of school turnaround programs.

February 7, 2011, Journal Gazette

If you are willing to believe that the market will solve school quality problems you must also believe that, by its nature, the market will also bring Hoosier school children and our education system racketeering, security fraud, and insider scandals.  They always accompany each other. In fact, under Tony Bennett, it's already here.

Even More Resources

Charter schools appear to have about 17% high achieving, 46% average, and 37% low achieving characteristics when compared to public schools.

charter schools were substantially more segregated by race, wealth, disabling condition, and language. While charter schools have rapidly grown, the strong segregative pattern found in 2001 is virtually unchanged through 2007.

Many states appear committed, then, to contradictorypolicies: Increasing charter schools and thus their autonomy while decreasing public school autonomy within an accountability system that prescribes curriculum and expands the testing regime.


A Teacher's Fight
Reflections on teaching from my experiences as a 6th grade public school teacher and 5th grade charter school teacher in Indiana.

Excellent resource about charter school myths from Massachusetts.  Hilarious.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Out of the Frying Pan (REPA), and into the Fire (REPA II)

Update October 5th, 2012:  The REPA II hearing  took place in June where about 30 people spoke against the plan.  No one supported it.  Tony Bennett was not there to listen.  In fact, only one member of the state board was present to hear concerns.

REPA II was expected to be acted upon in August, but the vote was delayed until December.  Since it seems the first hearing was purposely held after most schools dismissed and teachers would be left unaware, one must wonder if the August vote was purposely delayed so this bill can quietly pass after the election.

June 8th

This summer, the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) is recommending even more changes to the Rules for Educator Preparation and Accountability (REPA II) despite warning cries again from all directions; State Superintendents, Indiana’s Music and Art teachers, advocates for special education, and the Dean of Education at Indiana University, who recognizes REPA II as "nothing less than the de-professionalization of teaching."

To start at the beginning, in 2010 the IDOE passed REPA.  REPA originated from flawed sources: The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) grade of “D” for Hoosier teacher preparedness; the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) requirement for “highly effective teacher training”; and Race to the Top (RttT) requirements to compete for federal funds.

Tony Bennett: An Indiana Fiasco


That is the best description of the way Tony Bennett is implementing his A-F system for school letter grades.  If you think fiasco is too strong a word, consider the following facts:

1)    On August 30th at the State Board meeting, Tony Bennett announced that the preliminary grades which were to be given to schools that day were not ready but would be delayed until September 10th.

2)    On Sept. 10th, a memo announced a further delay.  Preliminary grades were finally released to schools on Sept. 19th --- 21 days late.
3)    On Sept. 19th, schools began checking the state's student data lists against their own lists to prepare possible appeals which were due by Oct. 3rd.  One superintendent told me it would take three staff members working full time for two weeks to check all the data.

4)    On Sept. 20th, the data websites suddenly disappeared for several hours.  It was later learned that corrections were being made by IDOE.

5)    On Sept. 21st, Friday, late in the afternoon, a whole new set of revised preliminary grades were posted to schools.  Local officials who had been checking the data lists for two days had to start over.  Fiasco. The appeals deadline was not extended.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Contextual Accountability

John Kuhn, a Superintendent of Public Schools in Texas, unveils not only the charter school myth but also why new teacher evaluation schemes will not work in this piece that calls out  faux reformers.

Every school is a microcosm of the community it serves—that is, every school that serves any and all students in the neighborhood. Peaceful schools are nestled in peaceful environs. If there are drugs or violence in the streets, educators will contend with drugs and violence working their way into the school like crickets through unseen cracks. If there are racist or misogynistic attitudes in the homes, they will manifest themselves on campus. And so it goes. If there is materialism, superiority, entitlement, narcissism, coldness, anti-intellectualism, vanity, laziness, or greed ensconced in the hearts of the parents or grandparents or neighbors or pastors or businessmen or family friends who act out their human dialogues in the public space shared with students, then students will bring traces of those attitudes with them into class and the air will hang with secondhand dysfunction.

Educators spend entire careers—some without even realizing it—trying to accentuate and play off of students’ positive outside influences and minimize or at least sidestep their negative ones, just to prepare the groundwork so they can teach their content. Teaching doesn’t happen in a vacuum, an obvious fact which bears repeating only because it’s so common to hear people go on and on about teacher quality as the ultimate driver of student learning. Too many experts spout the mogul-endorsed “no excuses” mantra reflexively when the conversation turns to the context of student lives, and in so doing effectively refuse to talk seriously about the increasingly debilitating conditions of that context.

As though it doesn’t matter. As though it needn’t be tended to. As though a serious education can occur no matter what is going on there. “Poverty isn’t destiny” is trite and meaningless and pretends to honor poor kids for their wide-open potential while actually disrespecting their experiences and neglecting to patch their holes; it posits that there is no such phenomenon as generational need and that neither public policy nor wealth distribution warrants consideration as a contributing factor in the formation of American kids. Poverty is water in the gas tank of education, but its apologists facilely condemn a pit crew of teachers who—not allowed to say the water won’t combust—are pushing sputtering lives, but not fast enough, around a track where youthful suburban rockets whiz by in their mall rat garb.

Meanwhile, high-performing charter schools are portrayed as having cracked the code when it comes to educating poor inner city students. In reality, the quiet secret to their trumpeted success is simply a strategic divorce of cultures. Via lottery-purified enrollment, high-hurdled parent involvement, and hair-trigger expulsions, the highest of the high-performers embrace select children from the neighborhood while flatly rejecting the broad sweep of the neighborhood’s culture, preferring to substitute their own pre-manufactured culture-like products. Culture goes to neighborhood schools; it is there that we see the health or frailties our nation’s policies have wrought in our neediest zip codes. Tragically, creatively-selective charter schools portend national blindness to the suffering our policies foster.

This is, of course, far less inspirational than the heroic charter school packaging we see on Education Nation’s store shelves. Our nation’s model charters haven’t cracked a code for educating inner city students; they have cracked a code for isolating motivated inner city students and parents who see education as a way out of poverty, and filtering out the rest. They do this by implementing exclusionary practices not available to traditional schools. Charters are free to purify their campuses of undesirable test scores, and the media will reliably gloss over attrition rates and highlight academic results that have been fully uprooted from the context that saddles every nearby traditional public school. Ultimately, the hope of the school reformer is tangled up in a knot with non-universal education. When they hold up choice and charters as our nation’s panacea, their sleight of hand may temporarily obstruct our view of the kids left out on the sidewalk, the kids unwelcome in their brave new dynamic, but it doesn’t disappear them from the face of the earth. After charters capitalize on the manipulation of context, that context still exists and it still has a name and a face and a future. The media ulimately asks us to pretend that shuffling ruffians fixes them, that a shell game with troubled kids is something noble, is “the answer.” But context will win out.

Monday, September 10, 2012

So, how's your school year going so far?

Here might be the simplest thing every teacher in Indiana can do to create the best positive outcome for public education and Hoosier students this year.
Everywhere I go, friends and family ask me, “So, how’s school this year?”
I simply say, “Great!  Could you please do me one favor?”  When they give me that curious look implying, tell me more, I continue with, “Please do not vote for Republican Tony Bennett for State Superintendent.  You could really help out public education by voting for Glenda Ritz this year.”

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Study: Students from high schools with improving ISTEP scores perform no better on ACT exams

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A study published this week in the Journal of Research in Science Teaching covering thousands of Indiana high school seniors from three graduating classes finds that students at schools showing consistent improvement on the Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress exam performed no better on the ACT science and math college entrance exams than classmates from declining schools.

Click here to read entire article at the original source.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

ISTEP + Scores Released: Winners and Losers Announced

Tony Bennett, Superintendent of Public Schools in Indiana, is using student tests scores this election year to be the big winner after ISTEP results were released July 10th.  The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) homepage boasts Hoosier Students Set New Performance Records”.
Indiana’s students earned another year of record breaking scores on the Indiana Statewide Testing for Education Progress Plus (ISTEP+), State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Tony Bennett announced today … “More students are getting a world class education in our schools.”

Bennett translates improved scores on the ISTEP as “getting a world class education.” Ironically, the opposite is true.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Two New Pieces @ the Chalk Face

  1. Education Reform: A Putrid Experience and an Undesirable State of Being

    If you are curious as to the direction education reform will eventually take public schools, a more evolved, parallel model …
     July 5, 2012 by ahuntingtonteacher
  2. Better School Principles Needed

    What I learned about school in 2nd grade is schools need good principles. We need a good principle at our …
     July 4, 2012 by ahuntingtonteacher

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Now @ the Chalk Face

I'm teaming up with the group at @ The Chalk Face working to dismantle high stakes testing, Common Core State Standards, teacher evaluation shams, voucher and charter schools that attempt to privatize education for profit, and every other aspect of the ruse misrepresented as education reform.

This blog will continue to communicate local and state issues.  Links to national issues will be posted here as needed.   

Thanks for the continued support of public education.



Latest pieces at  @ the Chalk Face

Common Core Skills Not Enough: Common Core Emotional Behavior Needed

June 25, 2012 by ahuntingtonteacher
Dear Council of Chief State School Officers, I wish to express my gratitude for your hard work and allegiance in …
Continue reading


June 29, 2012 by ahuntingtonteacher
Thank you, ed deformers, for dragging public education into the black market alleyways of business tactics. Another one of these …
Continue reading

Career Test for Kindergartners Article Rejected by Parody Newspaper

July 2, 2012 by ahuntingtonteacher
Dear sir; Thank you for your submission to our parody newspaper about career testing for kindergartners.  At this time, we cannot …
Continue reading

Friday, June 29, 2012

RISE and _____________________

Do you remember the old game show, Match Game?  Contestants tried to match fill in the blank answers with celebrities.   Here's how I imagine the game show would transpire if Indiana teachers tried to match the IDOE.

Host Gene Rayburn:  Alright Indiana teachers, you just need to match the IDOE in order to win a year's worth of confidence in public education.  RISE is the name of the new evaluation plan for Hoosier teachers.  How do you think the IDOE responded:  RISE and ______________?

Indiana Teachers:   We'll guess, RISE and SHINE!
(Applause erupts from a naive audience of Hoosiers.)

Gene Rayburn:  The Indiana Teachers think you would say, it's RISE and SHINE.  Well, IDOE, do we have a match?

IDOE:  We have RISE and FALL.  It's the RISE evaluation to see the FALL of  seniority, teacher unions, skill level and ultimately Public Education.  

Gene Rayburn:  That's what makes this game so hard.  You're sure it means one thing, and all along it means something else.  Good luck, teachers.  Sounds like you're going to need it.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

“Greetings, Public Education! Welcome to (the backroom of) Wal-Mart!”

How Public Education will fit into the new business model

Dear Education Associates,

We’re glad to have you aboard finally.  We’ll need to tell you a bit about how we do business here so you'll know how things operate.  

Start by imagining school as a business. Those little kindergarteners are the raw materials.  Your job is to take that raw material and create a product out of it.  It’s a long process, but when you’re done, the product you make is a graduating senior.  Now, you should know we asked you to imagine this, because some of you are more idealistic about it.  Well, we’re here to tell you now, don't imagine. This is the way it is.

It shouldn’t come as some big surprise. We’ve hired important spokespeople on all sides to spread the word. 

“Mr. Romney’s plan for education reform ensures a chance for every child from kindergarten through their careers.”  --- Indiana State Superintendent Tony Bennett

“Last September, we opened an innovative new school in partnership with IBM that focuses on computer science… so students graduate with a Regents degree and an associate’s degree and they also get a place in line for a job at IBM.” --- New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg

"A world-class education is the single most important factor in determining not just whether our kids can compete for the best jobs but whether America can out-compete countries around the world. America's business leaders understand that when it comes to education, we need to up our game.”

If you don’t recognize that one, you really need to start reading your boss's main message board.  Do note what's not mentioned; life long learning, wellness, pursuit of happiness - you get our point.

Lesson #1:  School is business.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Value Added Measures Victory! First Lazy Bum Thrown Out

Jacksonville, FL:  George Hincklemyer, a self-professed lazy bum, was dismissed from West Ashley Middle School this year after fourteen years of staffing room 7A.  Hincklemyer had outlasted five principals in his time at West Ashley, but due to new Value Added Measures, current principal Melinda Harris snuffed him out.  

“We’re just as surprised as everyone else about this,”

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Weekly Wrap Up: A Shadow of Things That Will Be?

 "Men's courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead. But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change. Say it is thus with what you show me!" 

"I wear the chain I forged in life. I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it. Is its pattern strange to you?" 
 For the past 10 years and more, public education has been led astray by the tangled dealings of the Federal Department of Education and private corporations. The Federal DOE targets lower education costs, big business has amassed huge profits - all at the expense of our nation's children.   
"There are some upon this earth of yours," returned the Spirit, "who lay claim to know us, and who do their deeds of passion, pride, ill-will, hatred, envy, bigotry, and selfishness in our name, who are as strange to us and all out kith and kin, as if they had never lived. Remember that, and charge their doings on themselves, not us."  

"Improving Education for the 21st Century" defined


On the surface, Merit Based Pay , new Teacher Evaluation schemes, and relaxing teaching licensing appear bizarre, ineffective, and mean. Look a little deeper.

Oh, they're certainly mean, that's indisputable, but they're only bizarre when their purpose is misunderstood, and they're likely to be *highly* effective in their real aim.

America wants to "improve" education in much the same way it wants to make American workers more "competitive." Chinese workers do not out-compete Americans because they're smarter or more skilled; they out-compete Americans because their labor can be had for a small fraction of the cost of that of an American counterpart. Furthermore, Chinese laborers will work six days a week all year long, live in on-site dormitories and get up en-masse in the middle of the night to modify a production process. From the perspective of capital, Chinese workers are highly valuable and American workers must increase their value to compete for capital's wages.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Shall We Fight Each Other, Or, FOR Each Other?

Recently, our teachers received two messages containing information from our administration.  In one, administration notified us of “voluntary” training dates throughout much of summer vacation. The other message  from our Superintendent  clarified that according to the RISE evaluation model, anyoneeven highly effective teachers, could be riffed.  These highly effective teachers, if recalled, potentially would not be rehired if a new-hire candidate from out of corporation was found to be a better match for the school; which ultimately, the Superintendent can decide.

At first glance, these two messages might seem unrelated.  But upon further inspection, one sees the “hidden message”: if you want to keep your job, you should attend “voluntary” training.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

It Takes Less Than Eleven Minutes to Understand...

It takes less than eleven minutes to understand...
  • Merit Based Pay for teachers is counter intuitive and counter productive. "Higher incentives (in anything but rudimentary tasks) lead to worse performance," and  "The best way to use money as a motivator is to pay people enough as to take the issue of money off the table."
  • teachers feeling demoralized by being told to teach Common Core standards.  "If you want engagement, self directed is better. If all you want is compliance management is better."
  • This congruently explains then why high stakes testing for children is also wrong and why basing retention on a single test, or teacher pay on a single test, is wrong.
 In fact, the video explains why everything Ed Reforms are doing is wrong.

The only thing it explains going right in education today is why bloggers like us are popping up everywhere.  We want autonomy, to be allowed to mastery of our domain, and to feel a sense of purpose to what we are doing.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Parent Alert / A Letter to President Obama

Parent Alert!

Parent Alert! Do you really believe the nightmare of high-stakes testing of children as young as 5, the grade retention policies that fly in the face of decades of research, scripted curriculum, narrowed offerings, larger class sizes and lack of classroom resources is going away on its own? Have you heard of ALEC, Broad, DeVos, or Whitney Tilson? Are you aware that the rich and powerful want to privatize public education, close public schools and turn them over to big business, remove the authority of local school boards, get rid of experienced teachers who will be replaced by short-term neophytes and that they are doing it with the help of the US Department of Education?

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Weekly Wrap Up: It's Time to Let 'em Have It

We live in a collapsing global economy where capital seeks any opportunity for profit in a shrinking marketplace and public education offers a unique opportunity to appropriate public resources for private ends. ---Mark Naison| 
Smart people saw decades ago that changes in demographics and resources would severely limit the growth that capitalism requires.  Sacrificing public good to support continued capital growth has been part of the plan for a long time.  We are now in a zero-sum game, at least until some deus ex machina rescues us.  So,  Microsoft wins, Apple wins, Wal-Mart wins, Boeing wins, Raytheon wins, but public education LOSES. ---R Gary Valliant.

National Interest

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

McEducation in the Corporate Age: i'm loving it

May , 2012

Dear Teacher  School Worker,

Ask the kid in back with the McGrease-stained shirt what his job is and he'll tell you, "I work at McDonald's."  He doesn't say "I'm Sous Chef at McDonald's."  There are no Sous Chef at a McDonald's.  Just like there will soon be no more teachers left at schools. (I'm not sure there are many left now.)  When government gets done "reforming" public education, there will only be those who say, "I work at a McLearning Center on such and such street."

McDonald's hired scientific managers to figure out how to improve our lives by producing the cheapest, quickest hamburger around.  We no longer have to hire those with culinary skills, just minimum wage workers who stand on an assembly line and slap two pickles and shredded lettuce on top of the cheese and goo before passing it down the line.

Now I can sit in my car and get a Big Mac for about $3 in less than the time it would take me to park, walk, open a door, and get seated by the maitre d'.  You want to convince me this isn't a good thing?  Look up at the sign saying Billions and Billions Served.  Billions and billions can't all be wrong.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Why Does Education Reform Attract so Much Resistance?

Why Does Education Reform Attract so Much Resistance?
It’s All for the Kids, Right?

Reform, by any Other Name

Let’s get one thing perfectly clear: reform just means change. Change can be good. Change can also be bad. Reforming your daily routine by not brushing your teeth anymore would be a bad a change.
Despite what education reformers say, (It’s all for the children!) their “changes” are, in fact, viewed as “bad” by some people. Sometimes negative reactions to change can be explained by partisan differences, or philosophical differences, or even sour grapes. If that were the case for education reform, wouldn’t most people - those not suffering from sour grapes - be for it? It’s just disgruntled teachers that are against school reform, right?
Actually, many groups of people are against education reform. Which groups think education reform is bad? The answer to that last question might surprise you.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Weekly Wrap Up: 30% Pay Cuts and the Dissolution of the School District Coming to Your Hometown Soon

That is, unless you live in Milwaukee or Philladelphia.  Then it's not coming soon.  It's already here.  Be sure to check out current events in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.  Also, an op ed from Gail Collins in the NY Times finally sheds a little light to the public this week.

NO to Education Reform. YES to Education Redefined.

The Corporatocracy of America has set its claws on dismantling public education by blitzing the populace with Orwellian tactics.
Spread Fear with Misinformation:  failing schools, outdated educational system maintaining the status quo, lagging behind, shortcomings of schools pose national security threat
Denial of Truth:  Refuses to admit or find solutions to the  equity and  poverty problem plaguing our nation, which especially effects our children.
Manipulate support with Propaganda Doublespeak:  Education Reform, No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, Common Core embedded with 21st Century Skills
Impose Surveillance and Limit Divergent Thinking: States' Department of Education have reorganized their education support into an Office of Accountability.  This office's responsibility is to closely monitor and evaluate teacher practice through bogus accountability measures. Also, the purpose of the Core Curriculum is to create a national database on every student.
So, who are we?  Who are we that resist?

Monday, April 23, 2012

DIBELS: Harming Students and Wasting Money

Ask some primary teachers what they'll be doing in language arts from now to the end of the year and you'll probably hear, "Dibeling."  It's not a teaching method, it's another test taking up valuable teaching time.  

The Scoop on DIBELS
What makes DIBELS the perfect literacy test is that it takes total control of the academic futures and school lives of the children it reaches from the first day they enter kindergarten when they are barely five years old. It keeps control of their literacy development and indeed their whole school experience for four years from kindergarten through third grade.. And the more poorly the children respond to DIBELS the more they experience it. Norm referenced tests usually are not given until third grade and then only once a year. Diagnostic tests are usually used selectively with pupils to provide teachers with information on what strengths and weaknesses learners may have. DIBELS, once it gains a foothold, is administered a minimum of three times a year at the beginning, middle and end of each grade from kindergarten to third.

There are many things wrong with DIBELS. It turns reading into a set of abstract decontextualized tasks that can be measured in one minute. It makes little children race with a stop watch. It values speed over thoughtful responses. It takes over the curriculum leaving no time for science, social studies, writing, not to mention art music and play. It ignores and even penalizes children for the knowledge and reading ability they may have already achieved.

From DIBELS, the perfect literacy test, just like Katrina was the perfect storm: Entire article here.

What to tell the teacher who says, "I don't like what's going on in education, but I'm just going to do what they tell me to do and not stir up trouble."

Stanley Milgram, noted for his From Obedience to Authority Figures study, realized while reading through the transcripts of the My Lai Massacre, the Nuremberg trials, and statements from Lieutenant Henry Wirz, commandant at Andersonville, this theme recurs:
Obedience does not take the form of a dramatic confrontation of opposed wills or philosophies but is embedded in a larger atmosphere where social relationships, career aspirations, and technical routines set the dominant tone. Typically, we do not find a heroic figure struggling with conscience, nor a pathologically aggressive man ruthlessly exploiting a position of power, but a functionary who has been given a job to do and who strives to create an impression of competence in his work.
Milgram said this of his obedience experiments:
They raise the possibility that human nature, or-more specifically-the kind of character produced in American democratic society, cannot be counted on to insulate its citizens from brutality and inhumane treatment at the direction of malevolent authority. A substantial proportion of people do what they are told to do, irrespective of the content of the act and without limitations of conscience, so long as they perceive that the command comes from a legitimate authority.
In an article entitled "The Dangers of Obedience," Harold J. Laski noted:
...civilization means, above all, an unwillingness to inflict unnecessary pain...Those of us who heedlessly accept the commands of authority cannot yet claim to be civilized.
...Our business, if we desire to live a life not utterly devoid of meaning and significance, is to accept nothing which contradicts our basic experience merely because it comes to us from tradition or convention or authority.

A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defence of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason.  ---Thomas Paine:  Common Sense

Chris Hedges at Truthdig cites Immanuel Kant, Socrates, and Hannah Arendt to put it all together in  the last few paragraphs of his recent article, Why the United States is Destroying its Public Education:

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Weekly Wrap Up: Connecting the DOTS

Start a conversation about the systematic dismantling of public education and it is hard to find a starting point.   What is destroying public education is much  like Hydra, the multi-headed beast from Greek Mythology. When one head was cut off, two more would grow back. Where does one begin to counter the attack of a multi-headed beast?  

Here's a timely reminder from Steven Krashen who was speaking of the infamous "Pineapple Questions":  

The problem is not bad test items, the problem is the massive and unnecessary testing that is killing our children and stealing money from our citizens. Even if the tests were perfect, I would be against them.
I understand the need to expose these bad items and I am all for it. But we need to make it clear that we are not just saying, "Please sir, give us better tests." 
Thoreau: There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Weekly Wrap Up: A Revolt Against "Reform"

Education Reform is its own worst enemy because when it has swept aside opposition and has imposed its testing and assessment regimen on the nation's public schools, parents will be horrified to discover that their children hate school, and those with options will depart the public school system or rise up in revolt, joined by teachers and in some cases students fed up with measures that squeeze every ounce of joy and creativity out of school communities. 

The signs of revolt are already all around us, but because the school reformers have limitless funds at their disposal and a media monopoly which makes their policies seem parent and student friendly, they are likely to get everything they are asking for. Then, after a generation of teachers and students are beaten down and demoralized, the real revolt will begin.      --Mark Naison

I've only been blogging and actively engaged in ending public school "reform" for a couple of months.  With a few Internet searches, a few comments to others fighting this same battle, and posting my blogs, I am already connected to thousands of people united in this cause.  Each week, that number grows.

Also growing is the amount of information available.  The more connected I become, the more I am able to find.  Support is growing.

Mark Naison is a history professor. His predictions are well constructed in his post above found on  Children are more than test scores , Testing hurts kids, or  Dump Duncan.  Still, I hope some predictions are not quite correct. I hope opposition is not swept aside and it doesn't take a generation of teachers and students to be beaten down.  I hope we will look back and see the roots to the real revolt had already begun.

Teacher Unions

If you have time to read just one other article this week, I recommend Teacher Unionism Reborn by Lois Weiner. In her post,  she explains teacher unions need to build quickly to defend public education.  With deference to those who support unions and those who do not, she openly confesses the faults with unions, but logically argues a restructured, or totally new form of union, is the way to stop government/corporate "reform".

Other websites with more about teacher unions and collective bargaining include teacher solidarity.com,
Why Teachers Like Me Support the Union, and
a new blog to me from Wisconsin with this article on Collective Bargaining.
Losing collective bargaining is losing a huge piece of the democratic process.

Seniority and Tenure Matter
If you have ever wondered why Seniority and Tenure mattered, one example in the news this week is  Brooke Harris, a teacher voted Teacher of the Year twice by her colleagues. She was  Fired over a Trayvon Martin Fundraiser.  (Teaching Tolerance).  Also find it here:  I was fired for organizing Trayvon Martin fund-raiser  (Detroit Free Press).