"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"...no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities." – Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Break Public Education All to Pieces.

Below are seven stories and a video about teachers, schools, communities and students in America...from a state legislator threatening to "break [public education] all to pieces" to an educator suggesting that we suspend all testing in order to save money.

These are just a few of the stories I have read in the last few days. I'm trying not to be pessimistic, but as one after another state legislature passes bills which cripple teachers (and other public sector) unions, take funding from public schools and transfer it to charters and private schools, and create more and more tax breaks for the wealthy and for corporate America, I'm having trouble keeping a positive attitude.

Schools across the country are in trouble. Instead of support, school systems and teachers are facing deep cuts to programs, staffing, and facilities. Instead of fixing schools, states are closing schools. Instead of increasing the tools teachers have to teach, states are taking money away from schools and pouring it into charter schools and vouchers for private schools, even when research continues to show these are no better than public schools.

The privatization of our public schools continues unabated. Despite large demonstrations in places like Madison, Columbus, and Indianapolis, legislatures are taking money away from the public schools.

The same is happening nationally through Race to the Top, a program designed to reward states who push for merit pay for teachers and privatization of public schools -- this doesn't help students in any way...research continues to show that. It's not about the education of children...and never has been. It's about money. America's public schools are a $500 billion industry in the United States. Privatizing it will make the already wealthy much richer.

As you read through the following keep in mind these words from my young cousin (who said she got it from a friend, who got it from a friend...) in California:
Remember when teachers, public employees, Planned Parenthood and PBS crashed the stock market, wiped out half of our 401Ks, took trillions in TARP money, spilled oil in the Gulf of Mexico, gave themselves billions in bonuses, and paid no taxes? Yeah, me neither.

-- Jill Gorman
Don't miss the video below...

Tennessee's tea party declares war on public education
From the floor of the state Senate, tea party Republican Jim Summerville recently warned Tennessee's teachers to mind their own business where education reform is concerned.

"Make no mistake,'' he said, "the final responsibility is ours — and we are warriors.''

Lest his point be missed, Sen. Summerville added, "We will bend public education to our awe, or break it all to pieces.''

Teachers, 'If Not Now, When? If Not You, Who?'
I remain convinced that teachers and administrators are in the most vulnerable of positions during this destructive reform movement based on high-stakes testing and so called accountability. I remain convinced that any form of resistance to the market-based reform narrative being thrust on schools will be met with swift repercussions. However, I also remain convinced that if teachers and administrators remain silent, they are committing professional suicide.

Performance pay at schools Obama, Duncan picked for their children?
President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan are also parents who naturally want the best for their kids. Obama enrolled his two children at Sidwell Friends, a private Quaker school in Washington, D.C., and Duncan enrolled his two children in the Arlington, Va., public schools, respectively.

Do these excellent schools evaluate or pay teachers on the basis of student standardized test scores?

Schools facing rise in homeless students
Experts say the economic recession has exacerbated youth homelessness, and schools serving this vulnerable population are now being challenged to keep up with the students and offer the unique services to which they are entitled under federal law. According to a 2009 report [PDF] released by the National Center on Family Homelessness, an average of one in 50 children in the United States has experienced homelessness, which is defined as not having a stable, long-term place to stay. This ranges from children temporarily living with extended family members to living in homeless shelters or inside cars.

The sad legacy under Rhee: a DC community speaks out

Shame on Michelle Rhee
Her celebrity results from the fact that she has emerged as the national spokesman for the effort to subject public education to free-market forces, including competition, decision by data, and consumer choice. All of this sounds very appealing when your goal is to buy a pound of butter or a pair of shoes, but it is not a sensible or wise approach to creating good education. What it produces, predictably, is cheating, teaching to bad tests, institutionalized fraud, dumbing down of tests, and a narrowed curriculum.

Think teachers and other public sector employees don't need unions? Read this.
I Couldn’t Believe It Happened to Me
You’re a high school teacher. You work out with your students a rubric for grading a small-group project. One group, unfortunately, really blows this project off. According to the rubric, they deserve a D, which you deliver. Parents complain to the principal. He tells you to raise the grade. You say, no, and you point out that the students took part in designing the rubric that guided you in giving them the D.

Do you lose your job?

A not-so-modest proposal
Given present unwillingness to fully fund education, all 50 states should immediately cancel their contracts with testing companies. What teachers did for at least a century and a half before corporate interests and politicians took over education policy they can do again, at least for the duration of the present economic emergency.


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