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.