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."  
 -- For more information see the 2011 report  Incentives and Test-BasedAccountability in Education (also highlighted in yellow under Perils of Standardized Testing ) by the prestigious National Research Council.

"I wish to be left alone. Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer."  
Corporate profiteering and assault on public education, school district's loss of progressive values creativity, autonomy, and democratic processes, high stakes testing on eight-year-old children, data collection for a national data base,  socioeconomic and racial inequity built into charter schools and voucher systems... 
"I am the Present! Look upon me!" 
For more information see any link below, especially those highlighted in yellow.

"Future, I fear you more than any spectre I have seen." 
Federal policy will deskill teaching through merit based pay programs and relaxed teacher licensing.  Compliant and strict assistant facilitators, working at half the wage, will institute common core standards with corporate provided software programs to massive classes.  This will prepare a future citizenry to compete against counterparts in a global economy, such as third world nations. Loss of middle class standards to be expected for most.
"This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. "  
  -  For more information see "Improving Education for the 21st Century" defined (also highlighted in yellow under Merit Based Pay).
"Are these the shadows of the things that will be, or are they shadows of the things that may be only?"
Right now, some good people are working hard to change the future.  Check out this abridged declaration by The United Opt Out Administrators:

We don’t negotiate with children’s lives. Do you?
A cornerstone of our democracy is a free and high-quality public education available to all.  Yet, every minute and in every corner of the country, essential elements of public education are being chipped away. These are not random attacks: altogether, they evince a carefully coordinated strategy designed toreplace our public education system with one that is privately controlled. Success will be measured by cost effectiveness and profit.
Prevailing education reform policies are not supported by peer-reviewed research studies. Instead, they are being foisted upon communities to destroy public education. More importantly, the opportunity for students to experience real learning is eroded, valuing test-based choice, accountability, and punishment over caring relationships, creative and critical thinking, arts-based methods, and inquiry and experimentation within their world. All in the name of the almighty dollar, our children have become their profit.
We have asked, we have explained, we have met – all to no avail.  We say, “Enough!”
We begin by asking – if you too are unwilling to concede to this corporate takeover, how can we help you?  Call us.  Email us. Tweet us. If we can use social media to help publicize what your local paper will not, we will do it. If we can be on the ground in your city to conduct teach-ins, to facilitate organized mass actions, or to assist in any way needed; we will be there.  We do not negotiate with children’s lives. (See link to entire statement highlighted in yellow in Petitions and Protests section.)

GET ACTIVE in your local school community.  Check out Parents Across America,, United Opt Out, and Save our Schools!
Perils of Standardized Testing

The National Research Council is the nation’s leading research organization and an arm of the National Academies. This 2011 report,Incentives and Test-Based Accountability in Education, has been ignored by the U.S. Department of Education, the states, and the mainstream media as we send our children plunging like lemmings over the cliff of high-stakes testing and the other failed policies of No Child Left Behind (Bush II) and Race to the Top (Obama). Our children and their teachers/schools are the primary victims of this debacle which extends to state legislatures, governors, mayors, and even local school boards who rushed to the trough of incentive money without bothering to ask if the measures being implemented were likely to succeed or to check along the way to see if they were working. Now, more than 10 years into the unwise experiment, we are told by the nation’s most prestigious research organization that it didn’t work and moreover, it shouldn't even have been tried without more careful analysis in the beginning.
"DOE is not the only department where this is happening – where the legislative intent gets changed, but I just started seeing more and more where I would vote on something based on the way it was discussed and it turned into something very different. … I spent a lot of time in the last session trying to vocalize my concerns. It just kept getting worse and worse."

Common Core and National Database

**Are the Common Standards & Assessments the Antithesis of Progressive Values?**

Common standards and assessments were conceived and developed in an undemocratic and authoritarian manner, and have minimized our freedom to have an education system that empowers its citizens to a life that is rooted in progressive ideals. Instead we have enabled conservative thinking and conservative think tanks, acting in their own self interests, and those of their corporate partners, especially publishers and testing companies, to take over pubic education and open it to for-profit corporations and privatization.

 What’s wrong with Common Core State Standards anyway?

Grumpy Educators: Data Mining: An Education Reform Strategy

Mathematical Intimidation: Driven by Data

But the most common misuse of mathematics is simpler, more pervasive, and (alas) more
insidious: mathematics employed as a rhetorical weapon—an intellectual credential to convince the public that an idea or a process is “objective” and hence better than other competing ideas or processes. This is mathematical intimidation. It is especially persuasive because so many people are awed by mathematics and yet do not understand it—a dangerous combination. The  latest   instance of   the phenomenon  is valued-added modeling (VAM), used to interpret test data.

"Improving Education for
the 21st Century" defined

Let's say we can get rid of 20% of our existing teachers and replace them with classroom “assistants” who'll work for half the wage. We can use the billions in savings to pay for standardized hardware and software to teach children in large classes, overseen by compliant and strict adults who understand that their real purpose is to keep the kids in line. Maybe this could even help to eventually change the uncompetitive nature of American workers and prepare them to be as valuable as their peers from China.

Petitions and Protests
The end of the school year approaches and we cannot undo the damage caused by this year's high-stakes testing frenzy, the school closures, the teachers' humiliation from the release of unreliable and invalid VAM rankings, the children's stress, the lost instructional time, or the dollars wasted on disproven "reforms."

What we can do is stop the stupidity from being repeated. You can join the over 7100 parents and educators who have recognized what is happening and have signed the Open Letter to Obama calling for:

*An immediate end to high-stakes student testing and the use of incentives or penalties to compel states and municipalities to use student scores as a basis for evaluating teachers, preferring charter schools to existing public schools, and requiring closure of low performing schools.
*The removal of Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education and his replacement by a lifetime educator who has the confidence of the nation’s teachers.
*The incorporation of parents, teachers, and school administrators in all policy discussion taking place in your administration, inside and outside the Department of Education.
*Create a National Commission, in which teachers and parent representatives play a primary role, which explores how to best improve the quality of America’s schools.

Please come on board before the mistakes of the past are revisited on our children next school year.

We don’t negotiate with children’s lives. Do you?Sometimes you just have to say no.  Period.  No negotiations. No compromise. Today is such a time. 
A cornerstone of our democracy is a free and high-quality public education available to all.  Yet, every minute and in every corner of the country, essential elements of public education are being chipped away. These are not random attacks: altogether, they evince a carefully coordinated strategy designed toreplace our public education system with one that is privately controlled. Success will be measured by cost effectiveness and profit.

Standing Up to Pearson: Speaking Out, Sharing Stories, Growing Resistance on Education Radio with Barbara Madeloni

National Interest

Payola Policy: NCTQ Prepares its Hit on Schools of Education

A reader of Diane Ravitch's post about NCTQ clued us in to a remarkable footnote to this story. In 2004 and 2005, as No Child Left Behind revealed its ugly results, the Bush administration paid NCTQ more than $600,000 for disseminating propaganda supportive of the administration. The law required this sponsorship to be disclosed, but in numerous articles and op-eds authored by NCTQ and Kate Walsh there was no such disclosure. This was literally payola in action. 

Episode 56 of At the Chalk Face

by Chalk Face

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Blue (School) Skies Ahead


President Obama
It's time to change direction
If teachers stay home
You won't win this election
Hedge fund boys love Duncan
... TFA and Rhee
But if teachers sit this out
You'll lose to Mitt Romney  --Mark Naison


 Finnish note 2: Highly unionized, there is no formal teacher evaluation system, there are no formal outcomes in education - it is holistic in its aim, a typical middle school teacher teaches about 400 hours less annually, they only lose between 10 to 15% of their teaching force before retirement, whereas we lose close to 50% of our teachers in the first 5 years.

Race To The Top 2012 Invites School Districts To Compete

Rules Proposed for District Race to Top Contest

When an extremely wealthy individual, Bill Gates, who has never taught a day in his life, and has never been elected to public office, has more influence on education policy than any elected official, including the President of the United States, you have to wonder whether the nation where this is occurring can truly be called "a democracy."

Bill Gates has 'invested' 5 billion dollars in education since 2000. With RttT at 4.35 billion, that's almost 10 billion, which if it would have been used correctly, could have built many new schools for our poverty stricken kids. Can you imagine what results we could have seen in various urban centers with beautiful, new schools, higher paying salaries for teachers who chose to work there - and none of this pay-for-performance crap - guaranteed money. Can you imagine the technology that could have been infused in those brand new beautiful schools. Do you know how bitter I am? 

Corporate Assault on Public Education

Chicago Teachers Union Gears Up To Speak Out Against 'Harmful' Proposals

Does Ed Secretary Duncan agree with Romney on class size?

Vouchers, Charter and Virtual School News

I'm Fed up With Advocates of Charter Schools and Vouchers: Public Schools Made America Great

Charter schools and vouchers are just another way for the one percent to make a profit off of the poor. It's no coincidence that wealthy and well-off suburbs and neighborhoods don't have the "shock doctrine need" for charter schools and vouchers.


  1. This is amazing! What great information. We need to all read this. I will be sharing all over!!