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).




ALEC, DeVos, and  Privatization of Public Education
I've had several colleagues of mine tell me they are frustrated, but weren't really sure why because they didn't really know what was going on outside their classroom door. The following articles help one put together the big picture.
Don't Just Pressure ALEC's Corporate Sponsors, Name and Shame ALEC Legislators | The Nation
Martin Case Pushes ALEC into the Open
Strategy for Privatizing Public Schools Spelled out by Dick DeVos in 2002 Heritage Foundation Speech
In "Hidden Privitization of Public Education,  the authors conclude It is not simply education and education services that are subject to privatization tendencies but education policy itself – through advice, consultation, research, evaluations and forms of influence – is being privatized.
Call the Gates Foundation: Stop Funding ALEC! 
How private companies are profiting from public schools is all about the dreaded "P" word:  Pearson.


(Pearson) promotes its many education-related products on a website that features an idyllic, make-believe town. It’s called Pearsonville, and it looks like the international conglomerate version of SimCity. In this virtual town, school buses whizz through tree-lined streets, and the city center features skyscrapers and a tram. Tabs pop up to show you just how many Pearson products are available. A red schoolhouse features young kids using Pearson products to learn math (with Pearson’s enVision Math) and take standardized tests online. Nearby, at the Pearsonville high school, students use the company’s online instructional materials to study science. The high school also features online testing. Pearson online courses are available at the town library. At the model home, parents can use Pearson’s student information system to track their children’s grades. The “test centre,” not shockingly, provides even more testing options. It’s a beautiful little town.


On a positive note, Education reform critic Marion Brady's blog went viral  when he blasted education reform.  This sums it up nicely.

How would you describe the education reform movement currently?
Answer: A catastrophe.

The Perils of Standardization Testing
More States are Retaining Struggling Third Graders

Protests and Resistance to Testing and Standardization
TEXAS School Systems: Over 230 Texas School Systems Pass Resolution to Rein In High Stakes Testing

High School 11th grader:  Ricardo Fuentes: Student Suspended for Northwestern High School’s Walk-Out 



The Cost of PARCC and Standardized testing
If you are like teachers in our district, we have lost a huger percentage of our wages over the last few years.  Yet, the state will bespending BILLONS on standardized testing as reported by pioneer institute in this document.


Bloggers
For What It’s Worth | ruralteacher Great blog with an honest voice.

http://savearteducation.blogspot.com/ Standardized testing

Pro-Reform | Valiant, Etc  Dr. Valiant, a leading voice in the fight against reform

Friday Thoughts: Is there really a point to advocating both standardization and choice?   When Duncan and the Corporates use duplicitous language they can't help getting caught in their own snare.

Schools Matter:  This is one to bookmark and read daily.
Dump Duncan  Spread the Word

http://mathequality.wordpress.com/2012/04/11/may-the-odds-be-ever-in-your-favor/  This author's wit keeps the blog lively.

A statement of our just grievances:  The Declaration Against School Reform by John Kuhn

Blog Talk Radio
How did I miss this one the first time around?:  http://education-radio.blogspot.com/
Check out this week's Education Radio: The Ongoing Sham of Teach for America: Part Two
In this second of our two-part exploration of Teach for America, we'll explore TFA's larger goals and connection to corporate education reform, its impact on professional teachers and their unions, and their hijacking of a social justice discourse in an effort to manufacture public acquiescence to the imposition of an agenda that ultimately seeks to further consolidate knowledge, wealth and power for a few at the expense of the many.
Other News
NATO, Chicago's Cheapskate Public Schools Insult City's Children Again | Black Agenda Report

Resources
Good stuff here that's been around awhile but keeps resurfacing.
Pioneer Institute ›› White Papers
Noam Chomsky on the Role of the Educational System - YouTube


Well, if you've made it this far you are quite the dedicated individual.  The statements below were written by Dr. Valiant.  Copy and email, or post on Facebook, or print them out for everyone to see.

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?

There is something you can do to stop this travesty. It is small, but significant. Thousands of parents and teachers have signed a letter to President Obama calling for an end to high-stakes testing and the punitive actions associated with them. The letter call s for the involvement of parents and teachers in the policy decisions of the USDOE. Finally, the letter calls for the dismissal of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, the man who should be defending your children against privatization efforts, but instead is complicit in the dismantling of the public education system. To read the letter, go tohttp://dumpduncan.org/. If you agree with the premise, sign the letter and speak out for your children.




Teacher Alert! Do you really think the nightmare of high-stakes testing, teacher evaluation based on value-added measures, scripted curriculum, narrowed offerings, larger class sizes and lack of resources is going to go away on its own? Have you even heard of ALEC, Broad, DeVos, or Whitney Tilson? Are you aware that the rich and powerful want to privatize public education, end collective bargaining for teachers, cut back your pension, close schools and replace them with corporate owned charter schools and that they are doing it with the help of the US Department of Education? 

There is something you can do to take a stand. It is a small action, but it is significant, Thousands of teachers and parents have signed a letter to President Obama calling for an end to high-stakes testing and the punitive actions associated with them. The letter proposes the involvement of teachers and parents in policy decisions of the USDOE. Finally, the letter calls for the dismissal of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, the man who should be defending you, but instead is complicit in the dismantling of our public education system. To read the letter, go to http://dumpduncan.org/. If you agree with the premise, sign the letter and speak out for public schools.

2 comments:

  1. Hello. I think Mark Naison is wrong. Teachers are by their nature rule followers and behavors. The ones who are left standing will continue to fall in line and occupy themselves with the challenge of how to apply the new rules. The new teachers will believe that this is how it is supposed to be and both will blame themselves for not being able to accomplish the tasks. As it is now if a teacher stands up for rightiousness they will get knocked down by the administration, school board and other teachers. Been to a faculty meeting lately? The fact that education deform has come as far as it has is an insult to and the fault of weak unionism. We,as a union,are supposed to stand up to the wrongdoers not roll over and play dead. I support Mr Naison but I have my doubts. There should have been a national strike years ago.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Patrick, You stated that "teachers are by their nature rule followers." When I think of great teachers; Socrates, Plato, Jesus, Mohammed, Confucius..., I don't come up with a group of obedient rule followers. In fact, quite the opposite - not rule breakers, but Path Finders.

      Your statement is a testament that we need higher standards for getting a teacher's license, not weaker ones (if we assume that there are many 'teachers' today that are compliant rule followers.)

      I do agree that if we fail in making a change now, there will be a culture change. We'll have a turnover in education, and the new generation will never know what they didn't have. That is my tag line at the top of my blog, and the philosophy behind my article, Culture Change or Paradigm Shift.

      Thanks for a challenging post that makes me think.

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